A reader writes:
Not much to go on this week. A long stretch of beach and homes that look vaguely Western and a wide road. Trees look rather stunted and the area rather dry, so I'll take a stab and say Perth, Australia. But that's all I got.
OK, this is just a stab in the dark: The 2nd floor northwest corner room of the Mosselbank Bed & Breakfast in Paternoster, South Africa. Just because.
This is my first ever communication with the Dish so here it goes. I have never been there, but in two weeks my family will be vacationing at the Outer Banks, North Carolina. More specifically in Duck, just north of Nags Head. I think this resembles that area very much. Am I in the ballpark?
More so than Paternoster. Another:
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina?
Nice try. Another:
This has to be the Jersey Shore or I'll eat my boot. If this is a larger shore town then it's definitely on the "quiet end of town." Actually, rather looks like it's at the end of the island (most shore towns in SJ are islands). It really seems like Ocean City, NJ to me but it could be one of the smaller towns between OC and Sea Isle City. The dark brown house in the photo looks like an exact replica of a house that you pass by out of town in Strathmere on the way to Sea Isle, though I know that this one is not that one. I'm going to go with Ocean City.
Those trees, that sand, the boardwalk, and those houses all suggest a Delaware beach to me. Rehoboth seems like a likely candidate.
Quite close. Another nails it:
Super excited – I never play the contest, but knew this one immediately.
We are looking at a picture of Bethany Beach, Delaware from just south of the boardwalk. The water tower in the background is the give away as my family stayed right next to it this spring. The picture was taken from the condo complex in the attached bing maps "bird's eye view" picture. I tried to estimate the window, but I'm just guessing at that point:
Bethany Beach is a great place to stay. It's never too crowded.
Another names the right resort:
You guys must have decided to give us lesser lights a break this week. Either that, or I've spent too much time on Atlantic barrier island beaches, which I knew this was instantly from the color of the sand, color of the water, beach-erosion-prevention fencing and just general familiarity. There was not a palm tree in sight, not even a palmetto, so it had to be a barrier beach somewhere north of South Carolina, but still far enough south to attract such a crowd. Once I had that, I just started with the barrier beaches of North Carolina and let my Google Earth glide up the coast on it's own steam till I came to the right configuration of roads and houses next to the beach. The photo was taken from the 7th floor or so, of the taller of two buildings that make up the northernmost part of a complex of resort condos called Sea Colony Resort.
Yeah – I know this. I worked in Bethany Beach Delaware serving breakfast fare to tourists for most of my adolescence. I'd take South Atlantic Avenue Home towards Fenwick after ever shift. South Atlantic dead ends at the Sea Colony condos. The photo was taken from one of the balconies facing north east. These are condos my mother used to rent to out-of-towners from Baltimore, Philly and Washington. Nest week I go home to Fenwick Island and will probably stop by my old haunts in Bethany. I am so excited that this is the view from your window. I can't stop chatting about to my coworkers here in Chicago. On that note I'd better get back to work.
It seems like every week, at least when the contest is somewhere exotic, that one of the entrants not only gets the answer right but rattles off some amazing story about teaching English to orphans or traveling in the merchant marine, laden with details providing further evidence of their incomparable worldliness or daring. This is not one of those times.
This is taken from a balcony at the Sea Colony resort in Bethany Beach, Delaware, which is where I used to rent cottages and get plastered with my friends in college. There's a photo on Trip Advisor showing the building where it was taken. If I had to guess, I'd say it was the unit second from the left and second from the top. I can tell you literally nothing about the town of Bethany Beach, nor about anything I did on my several trips there except that I'm pretty sure it involved very small wicker couches, a bathroom floor, and lots and lots of sand.
As soon as I saw this I recognized it. Not from summers on the beach, but from cold Thanksgivings spent there with my family. Here is a video of us doing the polar bear plunge about ten years ago:
You have me at a disadvantage here with this contest. I am actually here at this location, but I made a very conscious decision this vacation to unplug, so I did not bring a laptop. However, I recognized the view immediately, as it is taken from the resort I am currently residing. The photo is taken from the Annapolis House in the Sea Colony resort looking north up Atlantic Avenue into downtown Bethany. I'd recognize those buildings anywhere, I've been coming here for vacation so long. Here's a photo from my run this morning (the rain that has broken the DC heat is moving through now, unfortunately for those of us at the beach):
My parents recently sold their home at this massive beach expanse in Delaware, with enormous misgivings. (They're not beachfront but inland about half a mile. Although "inland" is relative, since the entire peninsula is a narrow strip with ocean on one side and a bay on the other.) Although the beach condo was becoming an enormous financial and logistical hassle for them – insuring it has become a nightmare – they enjoyed many years of visiting, at some points almost weekly year-round – from the Washington area. My older child is now just at the age where she can enjoy the beach, and we had a final visit three weeks ago to celebrate my father's 75th birthday, just a couple of days before their home closed. On our last morning there, the rain cleared long enough for my father, my daughter, and I to step into the gray waves, and I hope we all remember her delight for many years to come.
Another aims for accuracy:
It's been a year and a half since I've entered a VFYW contest – it seems, life's responsibilities and pursuits (like a new baby and a major home remodel) take precedence over my online treasure hunting. But this week's view was right up my alley, so I couldn't pass up the chance to enter. I suspect mine will be one of many correct answers. (For what it's worth, I got four views correct so far but I'm too lazy to look up links now.)
I immediately recognized the view as being somewhere along the Mid-Atlantic coast. The color of the sand and water, the houses, and the trees are all very familiar to me – they've been a playground for me for most of my life. I spent a lot of my childhood visiting my grandparents in Rehoboth, and now after taking up surfing as an adult, I regularly search these shores for a rideable wave within three hours of my house outside of Washington.
Since "a beach in the Mid-Atlantic" certainly won't win this week, here are the clues I used to pinpoint the precise location: High rise building overlooking single family homes. There are only a handful of beach communities where you see this mix of housing types. This clue ruled out Ocean City, MD; Rehoboth/Dewey, DE; and a few towns in New Jersey. Lack of visible jetties on the beach ruled out most of the New Jersey towns I've visited. The kickers were the dunes – which look new and manmade, just like those in Bethany – and the familiar shade of brown on the roof of the building in the foreground. The large, brown high rises of Sea Colony certainly stands out along that stretch of Rt. 1 in Delaware.
Pinpointing the exact building was easy – clearly the northern most high rise of the entire complex – but the unit number, 703, required a bit of triangulation and guesswork using satellite and overhead images and videos from a local realty company. Here's the promotional video for unit 703:
As I said, given Bethany's popularity among the DC/MD/VA crowd, I expect you'll receive many correct answers this week. Interestingly, I also expect that one of the correct guesses will be from my brother, a fellow Dish junkie and map nerd, and my surfing companion. This might be the first time two brothers answered correctly in one week, so that's got to count for something, right? As his older brother, however, I'm compelled to point out that he has fewer correct VFYW guesses than I do. Anyway, thanks for picking a such a great view of a stretch of sand I love so much.
The brother indeed got the right town but didn't go for the room number. The visual portion of his entry:
Of the hundred or so readers who answered Bethany Beach, a handful of those correctly guessed #703. But only two of them have gotten a difficult view in the past without winning, so we have two readers this week who will receive the book prize. The first one is the older brother above. The other winner:
After a long string of windows where I had NO idea where to begin, I'm pretty excited to have guessed 2 in three weeks. This week's view is from Bethany Beach, DE, more specifically, Condo #703 in Annapolis House at the Sea Colony Resort. At first glance, it was clear that this shot was taken at a beach somewhere on the northeast Atlantic coast (the lack of palm trees made that pretty obvious). I did some searching for water towers, like the one in the distance, and beaches with blue umbrellas. Both searches led me to Rehobeth Beach, DE, which I was convinced it had to be for a wasted hour. When I gave up and scrolled to the next beach south on the map, I finally found a satellite view that matched. I'm crossing my fingers that the correct window is #703, and not #704, because the views are pretty similar. (Here's #703's listing, I think the second picture is closest.) My fiance and I just moved to a new apartment (we met while in law school at #27 – Washington University in St. Louis) and the VFYW book would look pretty awesome on our coffee table!
Details from the submitter:
The photo was taken from the balcony of Sea Colony, Annapolis House, Unit #703. My new wife and I had actually rented the unit for our honeymoon. We left for Bethany the morning after the derecho struck the DC area, and living in our downtown apartment with buried lines we hadn't realized anything close to the level of devastation that actually happened. It was only when we arrived and began to unpack and listen to the news on the radio that we realized that we had just left quite the mess. So you can imagine that we were even more grateful to be in such a beautiful, peaceful place at that particular moment than we could have even predicted, as I'm sure many of the beach-goers, largely Washingtonians as well, also felt. I believe I followed taking and sending that picture by opening a bottle of wine.
One more email:
As you probably can figure out from my email address, I was the person lucky enough to have one of his VFYW submissions selected for contest #100 (Liege, Belgium). I am on the left of the attached picture (Andrew might remember me from my introducing myself to him while he was at a Starbucks in Tenleytown – I offered him a coffee and petite vanilla scone, I am such a groupie). I recently introduced my younger colleague (on the right in the picture) to the Dish. (He sits next to me in the office, so he could see me reading the Dish at lunch time).
Well, he and his girlfriend were the winner of the VFYW #105. I thought you'd be as amazed as I am about the coincidence.
Okay, one more: a follow-up email from a reader who guessed room #604:
My twelve year old has written an ode to 604 in the hope of improving our chances. She is quite insistent that I include it in my entry. She titled it "Ode to 604 Annapolis House":
We moved in one day
Because we decided our kids
Needed more room to play.
At Bethany Beach we have it all
And everybody swims
Until they’re ready to fall
I suppose we could have chosen 603 or 605
But everyone found number 604 best kept the story alive.
The kids got through elementary and middle
Then they needed extra study space
To learn and to try their hardest to whittle.
All their friends came to 604 to play
Though they could have gone to someone else’s house any day.
The people next door in 603
Let the kids come over
And help trim their bonsai trees.
The tenants of 605 were old
And had wonderful stories,
Or so I was told
Later, when Billy Joe left
College was easy for a Delaware gent
But always he returned
We’d camp in a red and white tent
We’d roast marshmallows
With Billy Joe’s oldest friends,
Five or six mighty fine fellows
But by and by, the demands of age took a toll
And we were forced to leave the home of old.
Mary Lee left and we tried to sell
But we just couldn’t tell
Where we were going to go,
What we’d do after we left
The homeland true
Would we go to a nursing home?
Would we run away
To someplace like Rome?
So we had Billy Joe move in
And we could keep the beautiful condo
To stay forever
Or at least until it was our time to go
And all our friends still laugh and dance
And twirl around and sometimes even prance.
This condo saw two children grow up
And two adults grow wiser
And several evenings
Of sitting by a fire.
To this I say thank you, number 604
For being a gateway
To opportunity’s door.