You looked so very pretty when we met in Ocean City
Like someone oh so easy to adore.
I sang this little ditty on our way through Ocean City
Heading south along New Jersey’s shore
On the way to Cape May I fell in love with you
On the way to Cape May I saw my dreams come true.
I was taken by your smile as we drifted through Sea Isle.
My heart was really gone when we reached Avalon.
On the way to Cape May, Stone Harbor skies were blue.
We were naming the day when Wildwood came in view.
If you’re gonna be my spouse, we better head for that courthouse
On the way to Cape May,
On the way to Cape May.
Thanks to Abigail Parker for sharing this song with myself and Heidi Genter during our visit to Ocean City and Cape May. Abby and Heidi are both accomplished vocalists, not so myself. “On the Way to Cape May” was penned by Maurice ‘Buddy’ Nugent around 1960 and sung by a variety of artists since. The most popular version is performed by Philly Cuzz and the Shoobies, and played regularly on a certain Philadelphia radio station on Fridays.
I like to think that the song also describes my time getting to know Heidi, and while we didn’t stop at the courthouse, I think we fell in love with Cape May, as well as with each other. Easy to do with the beaches, dunes, salt marshes, and balmy weather in mid-October.
The cape is a world-famous destination for birdwatchers (“birders”), especially during fall migrations, and is it ever a great spot. The Cape May Bird Observatory makes birding easy, with events almost every day and volunteer bird experts helping you find and identify the birds.
Cape May Point State Park is where most of the action is. The lighthouse serves as a beacon to orient to. Close by is the Hawk Watch, an elevated platform overlooking a wetland set back behind the dunes and the beach. Spotting scopes are usually available for sharing, and interpretive signs inform you of the wildlife you are likely to see. Adjacent picnic shelters afford meeting places for bird, butterfly, and dragonfly walks. Trails originate there as well, and boardwalks take you through the marshes.
Besides Cape May Point State Park, there are other locations worth exploring. Rea Farm is a working agricultural enterprise open only to members of the New Jersey Audubon Society, Bird Observatory, and their guests. The fields and swampy woodlands offer superb habitats for a variety of songbirds and insects. Lily Lake, surrounded by a fairly upscale suburban neighborhood, lures waterfowl and wading birds. Sunset Beach, with its landmark “concrete ship” is a great place to find “sea glass” and quartz agates, as well as knick-knacks at a truly wonderful gift shop.
I’ll be adding more installments about some of these places as time allows. For now I bid you farewell, along with this Great Egret departing the wetlands near the Hawk Watch.