Nikole and I just returned from a somewhat relaxing week in Cape Cod (see our photo album of the week for visual insights). Outside of some ridiculous holiday traffic and a too-early return home, it was a very relaxing week.
SATURDAY, JULY 1: We left Richmond after breakfast, jumping onto Route 301 just north of Richmond and following it to Baltimore at which point Nikole made the mistake of letting me "go with my gut." Actually, the mistake was traveling with a map that lacked details, and we wound up exploring parts of North Baltimore; we felt like extras in an episode of "Homicide: Life on the Streets." Our destination was a Hampton Inn in Absecon, New Jersey, just west of Atlantic City. Our friend Judy Anderson was having an art opening in nearby Avalon, and we were looking forward to spending some time seeing art at the beach. Traffic had other plans.
No sooner had Nikole taken over the driving duties than we hit a wall of parked cars on I-95. It took almost three hours to get through the narrow swath of Delaware between Maryland and New Jersey. We got to Absecon just after 5, cleaned up and headed for Avalon. Since I was driving again, we headed for Avalon by way of Atlantic City -- another of my famous around-your-elbow detours that got us lost, lost us time and gave us a snapshot view of a city we probbably will never visit again.
We were tired and famished by the time we got to Avalon's The Gilt Complex, a combination art gallery and frame shop on one of the small vacation town's main drags. Judy looked wonderful, and her work -- a collection of paintings from old photos of Avalon and other oceanside destinations -- more than filled the room. The gallery was also featuring an opening of works by another Richmonder -- Matt Lively -- whose works are simply amazing. I think Matt was in VCU's sculpture program with my friend Bob Gorman, but his painting is leagues beyond what VCU taught him to do.
Apparently, Matt hit the same traffic we did, but turned back for Richmond. If we weren't on our way to the Cape, we might have done the same.
SUNDAY, JULY 2: Pretty much a repeat of Saturday, minus the art. We left Absecon for Eastham, Massachusetts, around mid-morning. Nikole took the wheel as we headed toward New York -- just in time to creep through the NYC stretch of I-95 at a snail's pace.
We were startled when we drove into Cape Cod. Our expectation was that we'd be cruising serenely along a narrow road with gently sloping sand dunes around us and the ocean within view. Surprise. No, the view was pretty much of scrub pines thick as ticks. Because we came in on the main highway, it really wasn't until we hit Eastham that we got a glimpse of life beyond other passing cars.
It was almost 8 when we checked into the Captain's Quarters in Eastham, which looks very nice from the outside and very average from the inside. Our plain, spartan quarters were fine for sleeping but not exactly good for relaxing -- especially when the rattle of the window air conditioning unit kicked in.
A quick dinner at the Sea Dog Cafe -- fish and chips for me, clam strips for Nikole -- and we were off to bed.