Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of Sketchandtravel.com and Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as a guest Mary Beth Temple, author of Touring New Jersey's Lighthouses, who will be sharing her expertise pertaining to the New Jersey coast and lighthouses as a romantic getaway.
Good day Mary Beth and thank you for accepting our invitation to participate in this interview.
Mary Beth, could you tell our readers something about yourself, your educational background and writing experience?
Well I have wanted to be a writer since the 6th grade, when I had a very encouraging teacher, and I think I started a novel when I was 14. But with one thing and another, I went through a variety of other careers first. I never did manage to finish my bachelor's degree, although I intend to one of these days.
I have done wardrobe on Broadway, film, and television (a highlight was working for Bill Cosby for 2 seasons), owned a company that bought and sold antique textiles (which led to my first book Rescuing Vintage Textiles (St. Johann Press, 2000), and appeared as a co-host or guest expert on several cable TV shows. Now, I work for several magazines, providing wardrobe support services for fashion shoots, and writing on a freelance basis.
You have indicated to me that you are in the process of writing two books, one on US lighthouse bed and breakfasts, and another on Jersey Shore ghost stories.
Would you consider staying in a B&B lighthouse a possibility for a romantic getaway, and if so, why? Also, how does one go about finding out about these B&B lighthouses?
The wonderful thing about lighthouse B&Bs is that whatever romance means to you, there is a lighthouse B&B to suit your mood.
They range from full service, with spas and gourmet restaurants, to NO service, where you are transported to an isolated location by boat and haul your own water.
Most of these properties have a relatively small number of guest rooms, which means you can get plenty of alone time as a couple, unbothered by herds of other guests. And no matter which one you choose, what could be more romantic than a windswept beach?
As for finding one, well I don't know what any of us did for travel plans before the Internet! Check out this SITE for a list of lighthouse B&Bs, with hyper links to those that have web sites.
Remember, there are lighthouses on these lists where you can stay over night, but calling them B&Bs is a real stretch of the imagination. Check carefully before you book so that the location you choose will meet your expectations.
I understand you are quite familiar with Cape May, New Jersey. Would you consider it to be ideal for a wedding celebration, honeymoon or romantic getaway, and if so, why?
To my mind, few places on the East Coast are more romantic than Cape May, New Jersey. Located at the southernmost part of the state on the Atlantic Ocean, Cape May was built in the 19th century as a resort town for wealthy Philadelphians trying to escape the heat of summer in the city. The whole town is a historical landmark, and it has a fabulous array of well- kept Victorian homes. Many have been converted to Bed and Breakfast Inns, some of which can be rented for weddings. In addition, anyone of them would be perfect for a romantic getaway for two.
For large ceremonies there are several hotels, the queen of which is the recently restored CONGRESS HALL HOTEL.
Visitors to Cape May enjoy beautiful architecture, food choices ranging from French Fries on the boardwalk to four courses at the Merion Inn, clean beaches on which to play and swim, horse drawn carriage rides and whale watching boats. No matter where your wedding guests live, they will not regret travelling to Cape May!
And no visit to Cape May can be complete without a drive down Sunset Blvd to the aptly named Sunset Beach. Every night at sundown, Amazing Grace is played over the sound system while the American flag is lowered. You get an unimpeded view of one of the most glorious sunsets on the coast.
If you were to choose three unique venues along the New Jersey coast, other than Cape May, to celebrate a wedding, a romantic getaway or a honeymoon, which ones would you choose and why?
· Let's start with Atlantic City. Known for its ocean views, and casino gambling for those who are so inclined, the town is also an odd conglomeration of antique buildings and ancient hotels cheek by jowl with massive, flashy casinos! Fun of all sorts abounds, from restaurants to rides to celebrity appearances, and the convention center is host to a variety of events from antiques shows to car and boat shows. While there are no Vegas style wedding chapels (one needs a minimum of three days in NJ to process the paperwork needed for a legal wedding), many of the hotels and casinos offer wedding or weekend getaway packages. For more information click on this SITE.
· For an unforgettable wedding location will check out Lucy the Elephant in Margate New Jersey. A 65- foot tall wooden elephant, Lucy was built in 1881 as an incentive for families to stop and look into a real estate scheme. This national landmark was recently completely restored and last year hosted the wedding of two veterinarians among others. Visitors can go up the spiral staircase in one of her legs, visit the room that is her belly, and climb all the way up and out the top for a lovely view of the ocean.
· For a Jersey Shore town that has all of the beauties but none of the tourist traps, consider Spring Lake, a lovely town to visit for a little quiet romance SPRING LAKE, home to several lovely Bed and Breakfast Inns. Here you have all of the lovely parts of the Jersey Shore with none of the distractions views unimpeded by boardwalks, tattoo parlors, or Ferris Wheels.
We sometimes hear about couples planning vacations where they visit various lighthouses located throughout the USA and Canada. Could you tell our readers what is so interesting and romantic about visiting lighthouses?
At a recent meeting of the New Jersey Lighthouse Society, I heard a speaker say that one of the things she enjoyed most about planning trips to different lighthouses, was that their locations caused her to visit places that she might not have thought about travelling to otherwise.
Not only are lighthouses interesting destinations, there are often stops along the way to or from a lighthouse that make a vacation a lot of fun.
Of course there is the location aspect lighthouses are located on the ocean, a river, or a Great Lake. Some are isolated, and a challenge to get to, which gives you an air of accomplishment when you finally attain that stellar view! And for history buffs (and I am one myself), there is a sense of looking into the lives of the keepers and their families that kept the lights burning. Standing where they stood, seeing the water pretty much as they saw it, one gets an almost visceral connection to times past.
What resources are available on the Internet pertaining to lighthouses in the USA & Canada, and what should we take into account when deciding which ones to visit?
A great source for lighthouse links is THE LIGHTHOUSE DIRECTORY. They have links to both US and Canadian lighthouses.
In my humble opinion, the most important thing to take into consideration when planning a lighthouse trip is access. Often, arrangements to get into a lighthouse have to be made in advance, so make sure you know the difference between land based sites with regular visiting hours, and water based lights that you need a boat to get to!
Since many lighthouses are accessible only by boat, or in certain weather, make sure that if the weather takes a turn for the worse and you can't get to your lighthouse of choice, that there are other things to do in the area so that your vacation isn't a total bust.
I once ran into a busload of tourists in Maine that had planned ahead for months to visit a series of lighthouses that are not accessible to the public at all, but can be seen and photographed from various points along the Maine coast. They were socked in by fog for two days, and couldn't even SEE the lighthouses they had come to take pictures of! Not much you can do about that when travelling with a busload of people, but if I were travelling on my own or with family or friends, I would definitely have a Plan B.
Is there anything else that we have not covered that you would like to comment about?
I thought you asked me a question about getting married at a New Jersey lighthouse, and now I don't see it, so I am not sure if I imagined it, or erased it.
Sea Girt Lighthouse in Sea Girt New Jersey offers weddings. Sea Girt is a beautifully restored late 19th century Victorian style house with attached light tower. CLICK HERE
Thanks once again for participating in this interview.