Weekend at Cape May

Posted By BrokenClaw on July 27, 2005

For Trailwalker’s birthday, I planned a surprise weekend getaway to the New Jersey shore. I went online and made reservations at a bed and breakfast in Cape May, but I didn’t tell Trailwalker where we were going. We stopped for gas and snacks, and Trailwalker picked up a copy of Southern Living magazine to read along the way. I wanted to start the weekend with a trip across the Cape May – Lewis Ferry, so we started driving south through Delaware.

I had printed the Ferry brochure from their website, so I had an idea of which departure we could make. The state of Delaware has essentially one main highway from north to south, and on summer weekends it is always congested. In the last few years, they have tried to relieve some of the traffic by building a limited-access toll road. However, as soon as we merged onto the new highway, I was immediately reminded of why I despise driving to the beach in summer. Traffic came to a complete stop. Everyone has their own experiences of being stuck in highway traffic, so there’s no point in narrating ours here.

However, when we exited the highway and turned toward the Lewes ferry terminal, we met more traffic congestion. While we crawled along in stop and go traffic, I finally told Trailwalker that I had made reservations at the Chalfonte in Cape May. She asked me how that was spelled. As I spelled it out for her, she flipped back through her magazine and there it was — an article about Cape May B & B’s, with a photo of the Chalfonte. Truly a coincidence! Anyway, as I recall it took us about 45 minutes to go the last 2 miles to within sight of the terminal. By now it was almost 2:00 PM.

At the last intersection, a highway patrolman was stopping each vehicle. He asked us if we had reservations for the ferry. Uhhh… no. He then informed us that, without reservations, we probably wouldn’t be able to board until the 4:15 departure. Bummer. So we drove past the terminal entrance and pulled off the road. I called the terminal on my cell phone and asked if I could make a reservation. They said, Yes, they still had a few spots left on the 2:45. Cool.

So I gave them the payment info and they gave me a confirmation number. We immediately drove back to the terminal. We gave our confirmation number to the attendant at the toll booth, and they gave us our ticket. Ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing! We were on the ferry in a few minutes and on our way across the Delaware Bay to Cape May. The lesson is, always make reservations.

Crossing the Delaware Bay

Using the directions from their website, we found the Chalfonte without any problem. The Chalfonte is a unique hotel, not appropriate for those who demand all the comforts of modern travel. They clearly explain the different accomodations on their website, but here are the important points.

  1. The rooms have no air conditioning. What that means is, you can open your windows, you can even leave your room door open, but there is no air conditioning. Really.
  2. The rooms have a basin sink, but no bathroom. What that means is that you must share the bathrooms down the hall with the other residents. They have mens and ladies, and you lock the door, but they are shared nonetheless.
  3. The rooms have no TV or telephone. What that means is that they have no TV or telephone. For emergencies, there is a TV in the lobby, and everyone has a cell phone, anyway. I actually had read the website, so I brought a portable radio for our room.

While we were registering in the lobby, a woman came to the front desk and asked if she could exchange her room for one with air conditioning. Uhhh… no.

The Chalfonte Hotel

Readers of this website know that Trailwalker and I have spent many nights in a tent, sleeping on an air mattress, with a walk along a dirt trail to the nearest bathroom. Certainly the price of accomodations at the Chalfonte is in no way related to a campground, but we viewed the accomodations at the Chalfonte as just another adventure.

Our stay in Cape May was romantic, and it was a memorable birthday for Trailwalker.

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