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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Family Fun at the U.S. Coast Guard Community Festival in Cape May

U.S. Coast Guard Community Festival in Cape May, New Jersey
The U.S. Coast Guard Community Festival is held every year during the month of May in Cape May, New Jersey. This annual festival honors the men and women of the United States Coast Guard and celebrates the county's designation as a Coast Guard Community.

The official training center located in Cape May is the only designated recruit training center in the United States. According to statistics, 80% of their workforce begin their enlisted careers in Cape May County. The center graduates over 2,000+ recruits annually.

We had the opportunity to attend the festival back on Saturday, May 5th, 2018 at the training center. You can find parking spots along Pennsylvania Avenue if you arrive early, otherwise you'll want to park in one of the designated parking lots and take the trolley over to the event. Photo ID is required to get in for all adults and all bags are subject to a security search. The festival started at 10 AM and ran until 4 PM with different activities and events throughout the day.
U.S. Coast Guard Community Festival in Cape May, New Jersey

U.S. Coast Guard Community Festival in Cape May, New Jersey

Here are a few of the activities that you can experience:

Ship Tours - These are guided on-ship tours that require a lot of walking and climbing of stairs. They require you to wear proper footwear when taking a ship tour. (in other words, no open-toe shoes or flip-flops are allowed).

Trolley Tours - The Cape May Trolley was available to give visitors a trolley tour of the Training Center Cape May. We didn't participate in this one, but it is available to visitors & guests.

Children's Fun Zone - At the festival they had a Kid Zone set up that offered kids face painting, games, arts & crafts and they had a lot of fun playing in the inflatable bounce house. My grandchildren really enjoyed all of these activities while we were there.

Exhibits and Events - As you walk around the grounds at the festival you'll be treated to various cultural and historical exhibits and entertainment.

Food & Beverages - There are food trucks and vendors at the festival where you can get something to eat and drink.
U.S. Coast Guard Community Festival in Cape May, New Jersey

U.S. Coast Guard Community Festival in Cape May, New Jersey

Throughout the day you can watch live demonstrations of recruits marching in formation, "mock" search and rescue demonstrations over Cape May Harbor, K-9 demonstrations and U.S. Coast Guard Recruit Band performances. There is something for everyone to enjoy.

A few tips: You'll want to dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring along your sunscreen, sunglasses and other "sun" protective gear. If they're calling for rain showers, bring along an umbrella too! They really discourage visitors in bringing along large handbags, tote bags, backpacks, etc. Please leave them behind. This event can get extremely crowded and busy...be prepared for long lines and congestion.
U.S. Coast Guard Community Festival in Cape May, New Jersey


Cape May - Lewes Ferry Festival Float in Cape May, New Jersey

Additional events were held on Sunday May 6th at the Cape May - Lewes Ferry Terminal at 1200 Lincoln Blvd. in North Cape May. Festivities included a community brunch, classic car show, a band performance and a magic show with Ken the Magician. We opted to not attend those.

My family had a great time attending the U.S. Coast Guard Community Festival in Cape May on May 5th, 2018. We're hoping to attend the next one in May 2019 and hoping to spend the entire week on a family vacation. You can learn more about the U.S. Coast Guard Community by visiting their official website online.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Shenandoah National Park and Scenic Skyline Drive

Shenandoah National Park and Scenic Skyline Drive in Virginia
The Shenandoah National Park is located in the great state of Virginia and encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the major draws to the National Park is the scenic Skyline Drive that passes through 8 Virginian counties, for a total of 105 miles. The Shenandoah River runs to the west and to the east you'll find the Virginia Piedmont areas. It was established as a national park in December, 26th, 1935.

One of the best times to visit the park is during the fall season to see some of the prettiest fall foliage on the east coast. We've driven through Skyline Drive twice during the past 10 years and found that mid to late October was a great time to go. Of course, that will depend on the weather and the fall foliage outlook for that particular year. If you plan on visiting during the peak of the fall foliage season, you'll want to monitor the weather before your trip.
Shenandoah National Park and Scenic Skyline Drive in Virginia

Shenandoah National Park and Scenic Skyline Drive in Virginia

Another big draw to the park is the Appalachian Trail which runs through the park for 101 miles. In total, there are over 500 miles of walking & hiking trails within the park for visitors to enjoy. Some of the trails are great for beginners, while other's are more appropriate for experienced hikers. You'll find camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, etc. within the park, along with some of the best waterfalls on the east coast.

The highest peak is Hawksbill Mountain at 4,051 feet. Several of the photographs that we're featuring in our travel blog post were taken while at Hawksbill and nearby. Along Skyline Drive you'll find designated areas where you can pull off to the side of the road and get out to take photographs and to stretch your legs. We saw people pulling off in non-designated areas, but frankly, I don't recommend doing that. When traveling, safety comes first.
Shenandoah National Park and Scenic Skyline Drive in Virginia

All animals within the park are protected by law. This means that you can't feed them, hunt them or try to touch them. If you're camping within the park, the "Leave No Trace" rule applies. In addition, all food & beverages needs to be secured in bear-proof bags and/or containers. You're not permitted to make campfires and you must clean-up your campsite before leaving. Please keep our National Parks clean for future generations to enjoy. There are several campgrounds and lodges for you to enjoy if you're looking for overnight accommodations.

If you're a fan of waterfalls, you'll find many of them within the park. The most popular waterfalls to visit are: South River Falls, Lewis Falls, Overall Run (the tallest), Rose River, Cedar Run, Dark Hollow Falls, Jones Run Falls and Doyles River Falls. Some are fairly easy hikes and other's are more difficult to get to.
Shenandoah National Park and Scenic Skyline Drive in Virginia

You can learn more about Shenandoah National Park and the Scenic Skyline Drive by visiting their official website online and by connecting with them over on Facebook for the most current up-to-dates and news.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ship's Bell from the Historic S. S. Cape May

When we travel we like to look for historical markers and historical sites that are a little bit off the beaten path. While vacationing down in Cape May, New Jersey, we stumbled upon this historical marker and reminder about the S. S. Cape May.
Ship's Bell from the Historic S. S. Cape May in New Jersey

You'll find it at the Washington Street Mall on the brick walkway. The bronze historical marker containers the following information:

Ship's Bell
S. S. Cape May
Built 1943
Retired 1969
Length 417' 9" Beam 60' Draft 27' 6" Crew 49
Presented to city by U.S. Maritime Administration in 1974
Served in European War Zone in World War II
Later served in peacetime commerce
Plaque courtesy of Cape May Kiwanis Club ~ 1981
Ship's Bell from the Historic S. S. Cape May in New Jersey

The ship's bell from the S. S. Cape May hangs in the center of a wooden platform with the wording Cape May written across the top. If you walk down the brick walkway that runs down the center of the Washington Street Mall, right across from the historic Lady of the Sea Church.

We have been to the Washington Street Mall several times over the past few years and never ran into it until our last trip down there. I can't believe we've missed seeing it all of these years! If your heading to the mall...make sure you check it out while you're there.