We made our annual pilgrimage to Maui's Dog House, which has the best hot dogs -- including the best veggie hot dogs -- you will ever eat. That's a photo of my favorite: the Chicago veggie dog with a side order of "salty balls," small potatoes cooked in brine and spices and served with drawn butter. Delicious! (Note the dog bowl serving dish.) When my kids made their poster-size list of things they wanted to do this summer, "Eat at Maui's" was right up there.
It's a great family-owned little shore restaurant whose owner used to be a chef in Maui. Hence, the name. It's not only the food that's great, though. We love the atmosphere and attitude. This year we actually wrote our order down ahead of time since you're kind of expected to know how it works when you walk up to the window to rattle off your dinner wishes. When Noah said he wanted cheese on his BBQ burger, I refused to place the order, sure that this substitution would be unacceptable. I made Dennis do the ordering. But it was cool, and dinner was great, and the place was more crowded than we've ever seen it. Could have been the hour, or the fact that Maui's was featured on the Food Network. The show will run again today (Friday, July 17, at 10 p.m.) and again at 1 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday if you want to check it out. And if you are in the Wildwoods, or anywhere near the southern tip of NJ, make sure Maui's is on your itinerary.
Let's start a movement to ban smoking on New Jersey beaches -- all U.S. beaches, for that matter. This week, every time we settled down to breathe in the ocean air, all we got was second hand smoke. I am amazed at the number of people here who apparently haven't heard the news that smoking can kill you and that it ain't so great for the rest of us who have to put up with others' smelly addictions. And that's before we even get to the fact that the beach is littered with thousands of cigarette butts. It sort of takes away from building sandcastles or lounging in the sand if you're constantly digging up butts. At one point today, when we were completely surrounded by smokers who seemed to have timed their fixes so that one of them was always lighting up at a different time, I had to close all the "windows" in our beach tent so that napping Chiara didn't get smoked out. It was disgusting. When I got back to our rented condo, I immediately joined two Facebook pages promoting a smoking ban on beaches. One of those sites, Campaign for Smoke-Free Beaches, gave the following statistics:
"4.5 trillion cigarette butts wind up as litter every year. That's over 1.69 billion pounds! Considering it takes 10-15 years for one cigarette butt to break down, it's no surprise that cigarette butts make up an amazing 30% of waste on U.S. beaches."The butts alone should be reason enough to start a ban, but the fact that one person's unhealthy and unpleasant habit can ruin things for so many others makes it that much more important. Can we do something about this? I love the New Jersey shore, but this could be the thing that drives me away for good.
Our L.L. Bean Sunbuster Shelter is the envy of beachgoers. We've had it for three years and still people come up to us to admire it and ask where we got it. It not only offers the obvious respite from the summer sun, but it also offers much-needed protection from hungry seagulls when breaking out the snacks and lunches. Other people are eating chips under sandy towels or running down the beach with a sandwich in hand chased by a flock of seagulls. We hunker down in the Sunbuster and eat in peace and relative quiet. And this year the tent was especially important when I developed a case of sun poisoning. I did not set foot in the sun today. I sat in my beach chair in the sun shelter, reading and complaining about the smokers. The tent has three screen windows with covers that can roll up for privacy. And newer versions have an extra privacy screen to allow you privacy for changing or napping. It was a great investment. Highly recommended.
Why can't we pump our own gas in New Jersey? We have the technology. We can do it. Really. In fact, we prefer it. When you're sitting in a long line waiting for one guy to serve eight pumps, it can get a little frustrating to those of us who regularly pump our own gas. We could have filled our own tank twice in the time it took to have the attendant pump for us tonight.
After a week away from home, all of us are ready to head north and get back to our "normal" routine, although it would be really nice to have just a few days off at home. I think that should be built into vacation time, don't you? A week away and then three days at home to catch up on laundry, email, snail mail, and all the other stuff that's piling up while I'm sitting on the sand. I have to admit that I'm already starting to worry about the work awaiting me when I return. If I just had even two days to get things in order once I'm home, I'd feel better.
We took a wonderful "starlight dinner cruise" the other night from Wildwood Bay around Cape May. It was two and half hours and included a buffet dinner, which was the most challenging part of the trip. Paper plates and plastic cups do not hold up well to a boat speeding across the Atlantic. Chiara's dinner ended up in my lap. But, once dinner was done and we were at a more reasonable cruising speed, the trip was fantastic. We saw dolphins and brown pelicans, a great blue heron, the Cape May Lighthouse, a sunken ship, a gorgeous sunset and more. That's St. Mary by the Sea in front of the Cape May Lighthouse in the photo above. I do some work for the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who run the retreat center, so I feel a connection to this place. What a beautiful location!
We've had another great vacation in North Wildwood. Perfect weather, beautiful beaches, loads of fun on the boardwalk, and too much good food. Although we're just about ready to go home, we'll be just as ready to come back again when next summer rolls around.