A two week visit to the city that never sleeps
  • Day14

    The long journey home begins

    July 20, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    It was with much sadness we packed our bags and hugged everyone goodbye this morning. Kelly made pancakes for breakfast for the troupe while Andrew and I went next door to the Casablanca for the "guest experience". I had Moroccan Eggs and Andrew had Chocolate Waffles.

    We drove to the house to pick up our other suitcase and repack everything. We also had to change into "travelling clothes" ready for the Arctic we will be returning to.

    Philadelphia is about 90 minutes from Cape May. It was a pleasant drive through some older townships dating back to the 1700's. On the way we stopped at a Wawa (brand of gas station that sells good, edible food as well) to fuel up the car and ourselves. They had an 8 bay Tesla recharge station. Recharging is free.

    As we had left early in the morning we had time to sightsee in Philly. Having sought advice on the top things to see and do (thanks Phil Matsis) we made our way to see the Liberty Bell which is mostly famous due to the fact that it is cracked. Some claim it was rung on the 4th of July 1776 to celebrate independence and it has been considered an important historical artifact since.

    We then crossed the road to Congress Hall to see where the first Congress was held for the first 10 years while they built Washington DC. It was fascinating to see the first real seat of power. It was in that building that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution were announced and ratified.

    After less than 90 minutes in Philly we were on our way to the airport to catch the first of 3 flights home. We hit a small snag when it turned out our bags were a tad overweight. Following much grumbling and finger pointing we redistributed the weight amongst the luggage and our carry on.

    Security was a little less daunting this time as we knew what to expect. Poppy and I recieved special treatment which wasn't traumatic at all.

    We are now sitting in the airport lounge waiting for our flight which departs in an hour bound for Houston.

    PS we didn't see The Fresh Prince or Rocky
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  • Day12

    The last hurrah!

    July 18, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Tonight is our final night with Andrew and the family and we decided to go out in style. We drove to Wildwood (that is what the town is actually called) to visit a good old fashioned American boardwalk. The boardwalk runs parallel to the sea and is a huge wooden structure that you walk along. There are shops on the road side of the boardwalk selling all kinds of junk food and trashy souvenirs. There are also 3 piers which have amusement rides on them.

    We went to Pier One first and tried many of the rides. There were wild roller coasters and tamer rides for the smaller children (and me). We went on the log ride first. I can confirm that Andrew squeals like a little girl on the scary parts of the ride! We got wet but it didn't matter because it was so hot. The kids went on roller coasters while I held their phones!

    The beach is in between the piers. It is 750m from the road to the beach along a long flat stretch of sand. At high tide, it is only a few metres to the beach.

    Once we had tired of Pier One we moved to Pier Two. We timed things just right and came across a brightly coloured marching band. Poppy followed them doing cartwheels and front and back walkovers!

    On Pier Two Andrew insisted on taking me up the Ferris Wheel - it was one of the biggest Ferris Wheels I have ever seen and it was a bit nerve racking. It was also a spectacular view.

    The kids went on heaps of rollercoasters and other thrill rides while I watched from a safe distance. At 9pm we insisted on feeding them and walked back to the boardwalk to find a place selling something that resembled food. The"restaurant" we found was next to the paintball place. At the paintball, you could shoot a live human target! They had guys dressed in a ton of padding with helmets on dancing around the zone and you were encouraged to shoot them with paintballs. Only in America!

    After dinner the older members of our party returned home while Andrew and I stayed on with the 4 children and supervised them on the rides. More outrageous rollercoasters and a few tamer rides as well. By 11pm we had had enough and decided to come home.

    On the way out we passed 'The Guesser". For $5 a lady would guess either your age (to within 2 years), your weight (to within 3 pounds) or your birthday (to within 2 months). If she guessed wrong, you got a prize. She did not guess Poppy's birthday (she picked August instead of April) nor Oliver or Eva's weights and she guessed Mercina was 13 years old (how rude)! They each came away with a prize - which was worth less than the $5 we paid. Each child was happy to have a memento of their time at Wildwood Boardwalk.

    So now our trip is almost at an end. Tomorrow we begin the long journey home. It will take us 2 hours to drive to Philadelphia, 3.5 hours to fly to Houston, 15 hours to fly to Auckland, 1 hour to fly to Wellington and 1.5 hours to drive to Levin plus all the waiting in between!
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  • Day12

    Cape May Treasure Hunt,

    July 18, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    They say there is no rest for the wicked - there is even less rest for the busy innkeeper. While Andrew and Kelly attended to business matters, I took the 4 children on the Cape May Family Treasure Hunt. Organised by the Mid-Atlantic Centre for the Arts and Humanities, this was designed to make the architecture and sights of Cape May interesting for small people. We picked up a map with the clues from the Information Centre and began walking around the town looking for answers eg What is pictured on the painted mural across from the park in Decatur Street? or What colour are the doors on the church down Decatur Street etc.

    The kids took turns reading the directions and the questions and we all trooped around the streets looking for architectural features. It was a lot of fun and we learnt about cupolas, turrets, acroterian, mansard roofs and hitching posts. We took a photo at every stop for posterity.

    In the end we went to Ben and Jerry's to get the treasure!
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  • Day12

    Cool Wheels dude!

    July 18, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    This morning after breakfast, Andrew and I went for a walk to the Harrison. In the garage at the back, he has parked his '55 MG which he restored himself. We took it for a spin in town and along the waterfront. The car was fabulous to ride in and many heads turned. Upon returning to the Ashley Rose, he took each child for a ride around the block. He is officially Cool Uncle Andrew!

    Then we drove (in the regular cars) to Beach Plum Farm which was a short drive out of town. It is a small farm specialising in Beach Plums, herbs and eggs. We walked around and fed the chickens and looked at the pigs. This farm provides ingredients for the restaurants at Congress Hall in town. It was beautifully set up and quite nice to visit. Andrew thinks I could create my own version in my back yard. Build it and they will come!

    On our way back into town, Andrew let me have a go at driving the Tesla. It was quite a different experience. Although the pedals are in the same place, the gear lever was on the steering column. Also, when you take your foot off the accelerator, it immediately applies the brake. That was a little disconcerting. Then Andrew showed me how to use auto pilot. I took my foot off the accelerator and my hands off the wheel and the car drove itself! That was really freaky! It was hard to do and quite nerve racking even though I realised that the car was better at driving than I was. The display on the dash shows you where you are in the lane so it was a bit easier for me to stay in the middle once I got used to it. Driving the Tesla was fun. It is the future of driving.

    Back in town we visited and arts and crafts market and then had a lovely lunch.
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  • Day11


    July 17, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 23 °C

    Just after my last post, the heavens opened and we had lightening and thunder and very heavy rain. Despite this, we chose to drive to a Japanese restaurant for dinner Habachi style.

    Habachi is a theatrical cooking style. We sat in a square around the chef who cooked in front of us and threw food at us. We had to catch it with our mouths. It was all in good fun and we had a lot of laughs. The food was great and plentiful. I really enjoyed my meal. I sat next to Pat and we got on like a house on fire (her accent reminds me of Franny the Nanny's mother).
    By the time we finished eating the worst of the storm was over.

    Back home, Andrew and I sat on the porch and chatted for a bit.
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  • Day11

    Historic Cape May

    July 17, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Andrew barbequed hot dogs fr lunch so we felt like real Americans as we ate on the front porch. Kelly's mother arrived and we finally got to meet her. The kids were excited to see Granny Pat.

    Mercina, Andrew and I (the cultured ones of the group) walked into town to see the Emlen Physick Estate which is a huge house in town which has been restored and turned into a museum. We learned all about Dr Physick (who gained his qualification but never practised medicine, preferring to live on his inheritance as a gentleman farmer) his mother Mrs Ralston (who buried a couple of husbands) and her sister who lived with them and never married. The house was an excellent example of the way the extremely wealthy lived in Victorian times.

    Then we took a trolley bus tour of historic Cape May. We had seen these buses pass by the Ashley Rose many times and had wondered what they said about the property. The tour was 45 minutes and very interesting. There are so many beautifully restored Victorian houses - each brightly painted with delicate lattice work. We leant a lot about the history of the town. It was a summer retreat for the wealthy until the mid 1800's when it fell out of favour. In the late 1800's it again became popular with the middle classes.

    In 1880 there was a huge fire which destroyed a third of the town. The town was rebuilt in the Victorian era which explains why there are so many houses built in that style. Most of the houses have large wrap around porches, bay windows and gingerbread trim.

    As we got closer to the Ashley Rose, we became more excited. Finally, the moment had a arrived - "When indoor plumbing was finally available, they just built rooms onto the sides of their houses. You can see on the second floor of this house there is an addition which houses the new fangled indoor bathroom". Andrew was extremely disappointed to learn that his house was a bathroom stop! He is going to speak to the president of the association that runs these tours. Despite driving past the Casablanca and the Harrisons as well as the Ashley Rose a few times on the tour, this was the only mention of one of his properties!

    We really enjoyed the tour.

    A storm is brewing outside. Thunder and lightening and heavy rains are on the way. It should be very exciting
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  • Day11

    Fun in Cape May

    July 17, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    This morning for fun we decided to go kayaking in one of the nearby inlets. Kelly's son Jake arrived last night so we are now a party of 8. We drove to a marina and rented two person kayaks. The girls shared one, Jake went with Eva, Kelly and Andrew shared and I decided to have some quality one on one time with Oliver. Things didn't get off to such a great start as we drifted out into the path of a large whale watching vessel. The yelling and tooting advised us to move and we managed to get out of the way in time! We kayaked off in the opposite direction to the boats and enjoyed the scenery. We saw nesting osprey and other birds. After 20 minutes of this fun, Oliver and I decided to drift for a while. The others continued on up the estuary for a longer paddle. We chatted which was way more appealing than paddling. Finally the others had had enough and joined us and we made the slow paddle back to civilisation. Of course, as we approached the marina, the whale watching boat was ready to leave. We managed to avoid a collision and get back to shore in one piece. It was fun but rather hard on a whole lot of muscles I haven't used in a while!

    We are home for a rest and lunch before continuing with the fun later in the day
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  • Day11


    July 17, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Photo 1 the Ashley Rose where we are staying
    Photo 2 the Casablanca
    Photo 3 the Harrison
    Photo 4 street scene
    Photo 5 beach tag

  • Day10

    Evenings in Cape May part 2

    July 16, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    I'm doing this on my phone and hit a wrong button.

    Poppy had several hours on her favourite game. Each time she rang the bell, she won some tickets. Between them the kids won enough tickets to claim a prize.

    They also had the Beanbag Toss game where you had to throw the beanbag into the hole on a board. I was terrible at this. I wasn't letting go at the right moment and I kept throwing the beanbag straight up or in the wrong direction. The crowd found this hilarious. Those within range found it dangerous. In the end Oliver suggested I should stop before someone got hurt!

    We had a fantastic dinner at The Blue Pig and then walked home
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