The sun is shining, lost tourists are breezing around on bicycles and seagulls are chirping as we finally pull into the Quarterdeck Motel in Wildwood, New Jersey for the almost-seventh year in a row (one year skipped). However, even after the fitting relief that comes from arriving from your destination after a three-hour drive, something is definitively different.
For all of these years, Sandra and I have been coming to Wildwood for two or three nights in the summertime. It began as a couples’ trip with our then-boyfriends – two breakups later, we now do the same itinerary, minus two people, despite both of our new ‘taken’ statuses.
There’s something incredibly comforting about this trip. Usually, I spend the before-days of my other vacations reading guidebooks, planning restaurant outings and checking out reviews online. But when we go to Wildwood, our itinerary remains pretty much the same, with a few safe detours.
We go to Cape May for the day, where we visit the Cape May Winery and Cape May Brewing Company, before stumbling our way to The Lobster House for a casual meal on the deck. We watch the sun set at the appropriately named Sunset Lake. We spend the rest of our time in Wildwood, where we go on a few rides – always including the log flume and Ferris wheel – hang out on the beach, consume way too many fudge samples, eat at the Boathouse and go out on the town. It all culminates the next morning with a leisurely bike ride down the boardwalk. And through it all, we stay at the charmingly seedy Quarterdeck Motel.
However, this year, the Quarterdeck Motel isn’t charmingly seedy – it’s just plain seedy. We’re sober walking down the boardwalk on Saturday night, and the drunken antics of the tourists are no longer something we want to join in on, but look down upon. The boardwalk pizza has lost its comfort and just tastes cheap.
Now don’t get me wrong here – as we always do, we still have a great time. Sandra and I dance to the live music at the Wharf after dinner, laugh at the tacky grills of our henna tattoo artist and spend the night drinking at Keenan’s North Wildwood with our Uber driver (who, I’m assuming, had to call an Uber home). But maybe, just maybe, we’ve outgrown our Quarterdeck stay.
This isn’t easy to admit. Hell, half the clothes I packed are the same ones I packed seven years ago. We still laugh at the long pilgrimage from ‘under the boardwalk’ to the ocean. But, at 28 and 29-years-old, we’re not 21 anymore and we don’t really fit in here.
So next year, the trip will get an upgrade. I won’t be killing any grasshoppers in the bathroom or sleep in a bed that’s filled with sand from its previous occupant. Maybe we’ll go straight to the top and stay at Congress Hall, America’s first seaside resort in the heart of Cape May. Maybe the trip needs to evolve, just as we did.
Is there a trip that you’ve outgrown? Let me know in the comments.