My Beach, Gingerbread, Philly, Bear, Pretzels, Chicks and CIA Vacation

Okay, so here’s the thing; I have a really hard time blogging about gardening when I have other things on my mind, things like my vacation. So I have to write this post and fill you in so I can move on with my life sometime tomorrow, maybe after the ten loads of laundry are folded and this post is published. If your bored please feel free to stop now, click off, come back next week, whatever works for you. I completely understand.  If you can just bear with me we’ll be all set and back to the tomatoes before you know it.

It started with a quick plane ride (all by myself), then real Philly cheesesteaks with some of my bffs  and my college roomies’ beautiful new yard..DSC03232This is peace and tranquility. There are no children living in this house or in this yard. They are all grown up and it was very, very quiet here. I took a nice walk in the garden, out past the Willow tree. A little while later Room’s (do you call your college roommate Room? Room and I do)  husband showed us a photo of a five foot long black snake that he had removed from their deck a few minutes earlier.  I took a few photos from the deck. Mr Snake was probably watching me do that. You know how I love snakes. I was watching for them too. Sorry, I can’t help it, moving back to the vacation…

P1070727We completely surprised another roommate for her birthday (a gift from her amazing husband) and enjoyed a Cape May weekend full of relaxing beach time and the kind of conversation that you only have with your college roommates who have known you forever and beyond. It was a really, really, really (really) … fun weekend. I love those ladies, there’s no one else like them!
P1070809Cape May is known worldwide for it’s  awesome gingerbread trim. I absolutely love awesome gingerbread trim.
WP_000406Then I went back to Philadelphia where I had even more fun, this time with my wonderful sister and my niece.
photoShe very kindly took me all the way up to the Pocono Mountains to meet up with my family and this big bear that traipsed through my mom’s yard. I looked out the kitchen window and he looked back at me. The photo credit goes to my quick thinking littlest girl who grabbed her Dad’s phone and took this picture.

photoThis one was taken by my little guy with his ipod.
IMG_2581He hopped up on the big rock to the left then walked through the spot where I grew my very first garden, right where that white grass grows now. This happened on my little guy’s eleventh birthday. Needless to say it made his day!
IMG_2565We all enjoyed a visit with the Callie’s Pretzel Factory guy…
IMG_2606and a mother hen and her chicks, and some school shopping. No photo needed for that, you all know what school shopping looks like.
IMG_2632We made a quick stop at the the Culinary Institute on our way home to Salem. This just might be my oldest daughter’s next educational environment.
photoThe view from this school is spectacular and the gardens are beautiful too. Stay tuned for more about that next week.

IMG_2658We came home last night to lots of tomatoes (I told you we’d get back to the tomatoes)
IMG_2652

and a very happy Winnie!

More Cape May and CIA coming soon! Gardens, more gardens, porches and gingerbread!

Whew, I think I’m back! Can’t wait to read my favorite blogs and catch up!

Thank you all! Enjoy Everything!

Michele

Awesome Camping, Right Here in Salem!

I love camping! This week I decided to pack the kids up and head down to Winter Island for a few days.  Winter Island is a city park that is an island (connected by a causeway) right on the ocean.  It has a few amenities like a very rustic bathhouse and a camp store but it’s really all about the beach, the water and a little bit of history.

We’ve been going to the beach there for twenty five years but had never family camped. I was amazed that I could be so “on vacation” this close to home.

Our campsite was wooded and spacious.

And  the  views are spectacular!

This is looking in toward Derby Wharf and the city.

The island was historically a fort and more recently a coast guard base.

Here’s a post about it’s history that was written by  Salem blogger Beth Melillo a few weeks ago:

http://connectshore.com/2012/07/03/winter-island-a-personal-and-public-history/

There’s always something interesting to ponder.

Was this building used to store munitions or was it used for holding prisoners?

We really need to research that and figure it out.

Here’s the old sea plane hanger…

and a view from the back with one of the Salem Community Gardens sites in the foreground.

There’s the old barracks. I’d love to see this building restored and used again.

My kids have grown up playing at the playground.We used to go down for an hour before lunch and nap time when they were little.

There are flowers blooming all over the island.

One of the former caretakers loved to plant things and his handiwork is everywhere!

Casey’s gardens make me feel right at home.

The kids spent lots and lots of time exploring the tide pools…

Here’s a close up of some star fish that they found.

My little guy spends hours out there.

We did have to watch out for the critters that came out at night.

There were ground hogs and wharf rats. One night a skunk wandered right through our site as I was tucking the kids in.

We knew it was time to head home very early yesterday morning when Michael caught a raccoon pulling a bag of marshmallows through this hole that he (the raccoon) had chewed in our tent!

A little duct tape to repair the hole is nothing compared to wonderful family time and views like this!

Whether you spend a few hours or a few days, Winter Island is a perfect place to relax and get away!