8 unforgettable days of fun, family, travel and phenomenal food!! - Part 2

8 unforgettable days of fun, family, travel and phenomenal food!! – Part 2

Visiting the Hamptons again was a delight for sure… But I had never been to the Vegas of Jersey – Atlantic City!! Home of the annual Miss America pageant! That’s where we all head out to on the day after my sister and brother-in-law landed in Jersey…

It was a little over a two-hours drive from Jersey to get to Atlantic City. My husband had found information online about dolphin-watching cruises. How exciting that was?! So we hit the road again and must mention before I forget – the weather was perfect, both on the day when we went to the Hamptons as well as when we ┬ávisited Atlantic City. Nice, sunny and bright with no traces of clouds!

Just as we were getting closer to entering Atlantic City, we saw a bunch of huge windmills! And also big billboard signs, hoardings advertising casinos, hotels and so on. All of it actually reminded me a little of the road to the Cochin International Airport, back home, in my very own state of Kerala, India…On calling the phone number of the Atlantic City Cruises about an hour before, we were informed that the parking lot was getting full and that it would be better if we got there as early as possible. So we got there about an hour earlier and found out from the traffic police that another event was taking place, organised by fire wardens. So basically it was an outdoor event on a lawn with many kiosks selling all kinds of food from burgers to hot dogs to empanadas. There was also, what I saw for the first time, a truck converted to a performing stage for live music bands!! My husband and I found that pretty groovy! There were also competitions for the fire wardens testing their skill and speed. And in the middle of it all, there were several tables with benches for not just people to sit and eat, but also for a gazillion seagulls to come swooping down, chasing for food!! Literally these gulls were all over, especially surrounding every table with anyone holding food! To the extent that we actually saw a seagull swoop down and steal away a young girl’s hot dog, right off her table!! And then another funny sight – that seagull being chased by a bunch of other seagulls and getting into a brawl!! hehe..Poor girl though! That incident must have scared the bejesus out of her!! So coming back, while we waited for the cruise to begin, my husband, sister, brother-in-law and I munched on a little. We didn’t have much of a breakfast. And lunchtime was closing in. As always, the bottomless pit in me needed refueling, ASAP! So I had a hamburger, while my sister had a teeny-tiny empanada. After a little while everyone else was hungry. So they shared a hot dog amongst themselves, and then we were good to go, just in time for the cruise.

None of us had been to a dolphin-watch cruise before. So we were all rather excited! Thankfully, the cruise was not jam-packed with people! And on board, there was a guide who spoke on a microphone. As the cruise began, he gave a lot of interesting information on dolphins and the Atlantic City skyline, that we would soon see along the course, during our journey into the ocean. There was a bar on board with light snacks and refreshments. But we just stayed around the starboard side to simply enjoy the sight of beautiful water and the cool breeze…which then soon became little chilly as the cruise began! So much so, that my sister and I wrapped our bare legs (as we were each wearing a dress that day) with her pashmina! But at one point, we all even walked to the forward of the boat and enjoyed the water splashes, as we cruised and slapped down the waves..That was so much fun..

About 45 minutes or so later, we were drawing nearer to the shore, where we could see the Atlantic City skyline lined by the many ginormous casinos and hotels like Revel and Trump Taj Mahal. And then the guide informed us that it would be around this region where we would soon sight glimpses of dolphin fins! So all of us, and I could see many others on board too, started getting all alert to spot those beautiful mammals….and then soon, we were watching groups and groups of dolphins inching closer to our boat!! It was spectacular, a vision! No kidding – that afternoon, we ended up seeing at least twenty dolphins in a span of an hour!! And no matter, how many we saw, all of us and so many others on board could not help but exclaim ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ each time a dolphin or a group of dolphins was spotted! There were times when the dolphins were so close to the boat, just a few inches away..I loved that experience! And so did my sister, my brother-in-law and my husband…

Some of the information I remember from the guide, was that these were all bottle-nose dolphins. And we saw so many around that time of 1:30 pm ish, because the dolphins were on the hunt for lunch! How cute! The guide entertained questions from the crowd as well and someone asked him ‘when do dolphins sleep?’. That was an interesting question and answer round. I learnt that dolphins don’t have any particular pattern of sleep. But when they do, their sleep has a name. It’s called ‘logging’ because the dolphins just float at the water surface resembling logs, and enter deep states of sleep.. Oh, we even saw a couple of dolphins ‘frisking’, in the guide’s words!! hehe.. That was pretty amusing a sight, of a couple of dolphins swimming under water speedily! Once we even saw a dolphin jump a little! I unfortunately, despite my constant attempt of capturing all these moments on camera, ended up with many photos of plain water with some white splashes, but no dolphins!! I clicked and clicked away each time the dolphins came up for air, but in vain. However, I did get a few mediocre shots. But the memory lasts, fresh in my mind, even now…

After that beautiful experience, we cruised by the skyline for a bit. The guide provided us with information on the many tall buildings we could see..Finally the cruise came to an end. As we got closer to the point of boarding, we could see several beautiful ships of various colors, some even beautifully rusted! And then we saw a couple of ships loading tonnes of fresh clams!! Wow! With that sight, we were sure ready for some good seafood! Now before boarding the boat, we all decided that we must have lunch at Gilchrist Restaurant and Marina, another highly rated and popular place for seafood on Yelp, which was just right next to the point of embarkation. However, Gilchrist closed at 2 pm. Our cruise ended about an hour later..So after Yelping again, we found another option – Kelsey and Kim’s Southern Cafe. I’m so happy we went there for lunch. You’ll soon find out why…

I had never experienced Southern Soul food, until I came to Kelsey and Kim’s. My word! What an experience?! And I will go as far as saying that what I had here, was the highlight of all the meals last week with my sister, brother-in-law and husband! When we entered Kelsey and Kim’s, I and my brother-in-law, who also has a sweet tooth like me, immediately caught sight of the various cakes and pies on display by the cashier. What really caught our eyes, was the tall red velvet cake with white frosting!! We had made up our minds that we were surely having a slice of that for dessert!!

How naively we overestimated ourselves?! Yet again, the portions were HUGE!! I don’t think anyone could finish what was on their plates. Except for ‘bottomless pit’ me of course!! I loved the food here!! It was different!! Flavorsome!! And so interesting! So these are what we ordered – for starters, we chose the catfish nuggets. Yumminess!! The fish was so soft! And served nice and hot! But not ‘burning the tongue’ hot!! (Just realized I got myself a little poem there!! Like a lil’ rap!!) We all shared a portion of freshly baked corn bread. Now I’ve had corn bread in the past. And it’s not my most favorite type of bread in the world. But that opinion changed after I had the corn bread at Kelsey and Kim’s! You have to taste it to believe it!! I think it had come right out of the oven, onto our table because it seemed so fresh and soft, with a hint of sweetness. Perfection! And then, for the main course, I went for the Southern style fried chicken with sides of collard greens and get this – candied yams!! Has anyone tasted this before? Ohhh!! It’s like sweetness on your plate!! The collard greens were very good. But the chicken!! That was the best batter-fried, Southern style chicken I have ever had in all of my 27 years!! Delish!! My sequence of eating – collards first, chicken second and save the best for last, the candied yams!! Satisfaction! Other orders on the table were Southern fried chicken and waffle (a Southern favorite!), authentic slow smoked ribs with sides of collards and baked beans, and a sandwich of barbecued pork, with fries and coleslaw on the side. Everyone was happy with their orders… Although my sister was later upset, as she felt she had missed the chance of ordering some really, really good fried chicken! With all that food, my brother-in-law and I obviously had to turn down the idea of having a slice of the gorgeous red velvet cake! But we still exited Kelsey and Kim’s gleefully, absolutely content with the late lunch at Atlantic City!!

The last stop of the day was the famous Atlantic City boardwalk! We parked in a ‘pay-and-park’ lot and from then on, we just kept walking and walking, for miles and miles! The weather then was not too sunny, neither too cloudy. It was nice to just simply walk on the boardwalk, aimlessly, and stumble upon popular names such as the Hard Rock cafe, the Trump Taj Mahal casino, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not…Eventually we saw a space full of rides, sort of like an amusement themed corner. When we went closer, we came across a ride called the Slingshot aka, the reverse bungee!! I had much fun watching my sister squeal with horror and excitement, as she watched people literally being flung up to the sky!! I even took photos of her reactions and today, I smile to myself when I see the pictures! Then my sister surprised me. She wanted to go on the Flying Aces ride!! Now I’m an amusement theme park fanatic!! I love going on rides!! Especially roller-coasters!! Incidentally, I’ve even been on the Kingda Ka, the world’s second fastest roller-coaster! And I loved it! Well, the Flying Aces ride with my sister was so much fun too! We both left our ballet flats aside on the floor before we got onto the ride, lest we get the feeling that our shoes are falling from that height and hit a panic attack, mid-air!! The speed kept increasing and all my sister and I could do were laugh and laugh hysterically. Because one, we both were actually scared. Two, we couldn’t believe we were doing this. And three, we wanted the ride to stop!! Our eyes were actually shut for most of the ride. My eyes only opened a minute or two later. My sister’s eyes were closed throughout! Finally it ended. But we both had such a good laugh throughout the ride. My husband and brother-in-law snapped some pictures. Even they caught our eyes shut pretty much throughout! hehe..The day was coming to an end. The last few photos taken that day were by the water. On some beautiful boulders, covered with moss. It was a beautiful sight. A lovely ending to a beautiful day. Bye bye AC! You were so much fun!!

To be continued..

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