New Jersey towns change from one to another like night and day. This ride up the south Jersey shore accentuated that.
I arrived at Cape May, the southernmost tip of New Jersey, by ferry from Delaware. I had been to Cape May a couple times previously, but many years ago. I was prepared to say that Cape May is the best looking beach town in America. It has an intact infrastructure from the late 1800’s. Maybe I like Cape May because it looks like I imagine my hometown Virginia Beach used to look, before it was torn down in the sixties, to be replaced by modernist motels, which have now been pretty much torn down as well. My current judgement of Cape May is that it is indeed great looking, but maybe a bit too cute, too precious.
Cape May is like almost every other beach town in New Jersey; they have this insidious practice of Beach Tags; you have to pay to go on the beach.
As you bicycle up the coast the fifty or so miles to Atlantic City, you pass through town after town. Some areas look undeveloped, even like the North Carolina Outer Banks.
There is serious commercial fishing going on here as well.
The Wildwoods, just north of Cape May, have tried to protect modernist motels of the fifties and sixties. Myrtle Beach and Virginia Beach should copy their actions, if it is not too late. A lot of the motels in the Wildwoods have the same types of plastic palm trees.
Many of the Jersey beach towns are purely residential. One of these towns Ventnor City is just before Atlantic City. This block between the main road and the beach appears even nicer than my mother’s neighborhood in north Virginia Beach, except that in a half a mile all hell breaks loose, and it becomes casino and slum madness.
Atlantic City is a complete mess. A lot of the slums have been torn down, so there is a mix of empty lots, gaudy casinos, and slums.
The boardwalk is actually OK; families walking around in a dirty carnivalesque atmosphere.
Away from the beach and boardwalk, and if you are not in one of the garish casinos, the street life is pretty scary. I was tired from all the bike riding, so on my cellphone I booked a room at the Trump. I feel guilty that I spent money on a room there.
For dinner, I really did not want to eat at a chain restaurant, or anywhere in those gross casinos. I found an Irish bar on Yelp, half a block from the boardwalk towards the slums, and it is on your left. Once inside, it was really quite nice; great roast beef sandwich. One complaint: on overhearing the others at the bar, there was semi-racist talk from middle aged white people. They felt this place was their final refuge from the hoards of people of color outside. They felt this country was going to hell.
The bar had great genuine old pictures of Atlantic City on the walls, including this one of Jack Dempsey. Looks like Boardwalk Empire.
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