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A Cape May Thanksgiving Bike tour

by Jane Kelly

Editor's Note: This column first ran 2 years ago. It's even more relevant today.

There are a lot of big issues to address this Thanksgiving.  I'll let others deal with them.  My list of things to be thankful for can all be seen on a bicycle tour of Cape May. 

1.  Start Along Beach Avenue for a Good Look at the Atlantic Ocean.

I am endlessly quoting, or more likely misquoting, Burt Lancaster in the movie Atlantic City.  (Let's call what follows paraphrasing.)  Lancaster's character is reminiscing about the old days when he tells a young waitress (Susan Sarandon) that she should have seen the Atlantic Ocean back then.  "The Atlantic Ocean really used to be something."  The Atlantic Ocean still is.  I am thankful to live nearby.

2.  Enjoy the Ocean Breezes.

I like wind.  (To our British friends, I am referring to the meteorological phenomena only.)  I especially like the breezes that blow off the ocean.  Okay, I remember New Year's Day 1998 when the wind chill on the beach fell below zero.  That day, I didn't appreciate the wind.  But on many other days, the breeze is a welcome, cleansing agent.  And, (cosmetologists and dermatologists please skip this part), I think I look good when windburned.  (NOTE:  If you are taking your bike hike on an especially windy day, you might wait until you're riding with the wind to give thanks for this item.)

3.  Appreciate the Autumn Day.

Autumn days are glorious - and this year we've had more than our share of them.  While appreciating the unique feel of fall days, keep in mind that each of the four seasons offers something special to relish.  So actually once you finish appreciating all four seasons, this item could be items four through seven - but I'll group our thanks for convenience.

4.  Notice the Lovingly Maintained Houses throughout Town.

Ride down almost any thoroughfare in Cape May and you will happen upon residences lovingly restored to their Victorian beauty.  I am grateful that there are owners who take such care with their homes.  They may not do it for my enjoyment but that is a clear side effect of their efforts.  Add to that the arrangement of fall flowers, pumpkins and dried corn and you have a real feast for the eyes.  Observe, enjoy and say thank you.

5.  Be Grateful that Good Cooks Run Restaurants.

As you ride through town, you will pass many eating establishments.  I am always thankful that those who cook much better than I share their talents with the world.  If I had to rely on my own cooking ability, I would never have tasted - well, we can pretty much leave it at that.  I would never have tasted.  Thanks to those who made sure that I have.

6.        Give Thanks for People Who Give Us Things to Do and See.

Ride by the harbor where sightseeing boats dock, then go past the Nature Center, the Emlyn Physick estate, the Washington Street Mall ... and give thanks to those and so many more who give their time so that our time may be well spent.  I can't list everyone..Simply be thankful for a town with so many activities to keep the residents and tourists busy - and for the people who make it all happen.

7.  Rejoice at Innocent Vices.

I wouldn't have gotten off the Boardwalk without giving thanks for fudge, but you will have other chances.  You'll pass several candy shops as you go through town (but please don't take your bicycle down the mall to reach all of them).  Be grateful for the easy access to items that provide moments of concentrated pleasure.  (I like fudge. You can substitute coffee, cake or your own innocent vice of choice.)

8.  Head towards the Point and Appreciate Open Space

I am never sure what we are supposed to call what my parents always named the tall grass or the land that hosts the waving fronds.  Nonetheless, I love their wild beauty.  Be grateful that there are people on the planet who have saved chunks of land like Cape May Point State Park so that such environments remain for us - and the birds -- to enjoy.  For a better look at the birds enjoying the area, make a stop at the Cape May HawkWatch platform in the park.

9.  Salute the Cape May Point Lighthouse

I heard a commentator say that lighthouses are America's castles.  I'm quite sure if I agree but I do find them fascinating.  Of course, I enjoy looking at them silhouetted against the sky i.e. from the ground.  For those of you with the energy to climb to the top, lighthouses also offer gorgeous three hundred and sixty degree views.  Even a slug like me has to admit that it's worth the climb. 

10.     Pedal out to Sunset Beach for the Big Show. 

I am grateful that sunsets are held at a time that I find convenient.  Early risers may have noted that when I started the tour at the ocean, I failed to note the rising sun.  I am sure for many the sun's daily resurrection is the key glory.  To me, however, sunrise just doesn't come naturally.  I've seen the sun come up over the eastern horizon a couple times in my life (usually in October when sunrise comes later in the morning).  Sunrise seemed very nice.  Those of you with more experience can expound on its glories.  I'm not qualified.  I do, however, recommend the sunset. 

And one last thing.  As you finish your trip, say a word of thanks for the bicycle itself.  I am grateful to the person who invented the bicycle -- or for that matter the kayak, ice skates, rollerblades -- any device that allows me to move faster than my short legs will carry me.  Especially, with minimum physical effort. 

I am thankful for the means to get outside and enjoy glorious days in a beautiful town.  Of course, if any of you happen to videotape your trip, I could always watch from the comfort of my sofa.  You see I am also grateful to the inventor of the VCR, central heating and the couch.

Jane Kelly is the author of three mysteries with a humorous twist set at the Jersey shore.

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