Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Our Saturday Tour of Delaware Beaches--"Pack your Patience"

The tiny state of Delaware has around 30 miles of Atlantic shore line, and we decided to do something crazy--we explored that stretch of road on a weekend. Hang on to your sun bonnets, because it's a busy Saturday and it's going to be crowded!

Our Boondockers hosts warned us against making this trip. They know all about the summer weekend crowds. They don't go to the beach in the summer any more, because they much prefer the solitude of the spring and fall shore line. But we can't wait around for a less crowded day because we're leaving tomorrow. Their last words of advice for us today were, "Pack your patience." So we got in line with the rest of the state of Delaware and headed towards the ocean. We used some of that patience we packed when we hit the traffic.

Our first stop is the beach in Fenwick Island, Delaware. According to the Delaware tourism brochure entitled "Find Your Beach," it describes Fenwick Island as "Intimate and Easygoing." It's still early on this Saturday morning, so the beach does feel easygoing. We found that if you walk about a half-mile from the entrance of the beach, you could still find a slice of sand with few people.

Plus, it's a little cloudy this morning and wonderfully cool by the water. We have been blessed with nice temperatures so far this summer.

This is the most southern of all Delaware beaches. In fact, the state line is right at the point where we crossed over into the sand.

We found that an interesting thing happens at that state line. The cars on the left are in Delaware, and they must pay a parking fee to go to the beach. The cars on the right are in Maryland, and they can park for free while they are at the beach.

Denisa stood by the Maryland state line sign on the other side of the street. It does feel like Maryland is more welcoming to beach-goers.

We would experience that state line a couple blocks off the water as well. The border between these two states is not determined by a physical landmark like a river or a mountain top. It is determined by this "transpeninsular line." This stone marker was placed here in 1751 as the dividing place between the three southern Pennsylvania counties and the colony of Maryland. Those three southern Pennsylvania counties would later become the state of Delaware, and colonial Maryland would also become a state. So the Fenwick Island Lighthouse behind us is in Delaware, while the photographer was standing in Maryland in this picture.

The photographer was the docent at the lighthouse, and we enjoyed listening to his stories about it. It has been standing at this location since 1858, and its brick walls are 27 inches thick. 

Visitors may go inside to view the little museum, but we were only allowed to go up 4 of the cast-iron stairs leading to the top of its 87-foot height.

Our goal today is to visit several Delaware beaches, and to "experience" the weekend crowds. After leaving Fenwick Island, we drove 6.5 miles north on Highway 1 before our next stop stop at Bethany Beach. As we checked our beach brochure, it's described as "Quiet and Family-Friendly." Because finding a parking place (and paying for it) is a chore, Mark dropped Denisa off at the entry of Bethany Beach while he circled the area and she took a few pictures.

They have a nice entry to the half-mile-long boardwalk that has everything from crabs to crepes. More importantly, the entry is decorated with beautiful over-sized planters that caught Denisa's attention.

When she walked over the dune, she got her first look at the massive crowds on the Delaware beaches on a Saturday. We had read that this was a quieter beach with less crowds, but it looked pretty noisy and crowded this Saturday afternoon.

In the next stretch of Highway 1, we crossed the striking Charles W. Cullen Bridge over the Indian River Bay. The blue cables on the bridge look stunning against a cloudy sky.

It was a 9.5-mile drive to get to our next beach stop--this time on the bay side. Delaware Seashore State Park has beaches on both the Atlantic Ocean and the bay. We stopped to see the kite boarders that were enjoying the winds propelling them along the shore line in the bay.

We went back to Highway 1 and drove another 2.5 miles further before we stopped in at a quiet town beach in Dewey, Delaware. They don't have a fancy entry way or a nice boardwalk. That's probably also why you could still see some sand between the beach umbrellas here at the lesser-known Dewey Beach. Our beach brochure describes this one as "Young and Energetic." Maybe those young people haven't gotten up yet to fill this beach. Parking is also very limited, so Mark again dropped Denisa off during this beach tour day. Just like you, he experienced most of this beach tour via pictures.

It was only another 2.5-mile drive to get to Delaware's most popular sand at Rehoboth Beach. Last night, after exploring Cape Henlopen State Park, we found a parking spot and walked to Rehoboth Beach. We were here for the live music in the pavilion overlooking the ocean. They have performers here on a regular basis, and the chairs and the sidewalks around it were packed with people.

We walked out on the sand to see the ocean last night, when most of the sun-worshipers had left.

This boardwalk and beach are some of the most famous in Delaware, and it still had a nice crowd strolling after sunset. They offer a free beach and a free boardwalk--something we would learn is hard-to-find on the eastern seaboard. Of course the city still makes money on visitors, because parking is $3 per hour.

But on our Saturday afternoon tour of beaches, that same beach was packed! Our travel brochure described Rehoboth Beach as "Sophisticated and Friendly." Denisa didn't hear any friendly "hello" greetings, but we are in the northeast. We're finding that it's a less friendly culture than the midwest.

Rehoboth Beach only allows round umbrellas--no square tents or shades. The round ones can be packed together tighter on the weekends. We saw the back-row beach-goers on this busy weekend, ten rows of umbrellas away from the water. They couldn't see the water or hear the waves from their location so far away from the ocean--but they were at the beach! It was a crazy crowded beach on a summer Saturday afternoon! We hope all of them packed their patience today!

After our frantic tour of beaches, we were ready for some calmer touring. So we headed inland to the charming little town of Lewes, Delaware. We didn't know how to say the name of the town, but we heard some of the locals pronounce it like it was spelled "Lewis."

It is home to the Zwaanendael Museum. No, we have no idea how to pronounce that word either. The building is modeled after the town hall in Hoorn, in the Netherlands. The museum commemorates Delaware's first European settlement by the Dutch in 1631 that had the catchy name of Zwaanendael--the Valley of the Swans. 

Lewes is a charmingly historic town, just far enough away from the ocean to keep the crowds at bay. It was easy to find a parking place and then walk to several other historic places in town. We stopped in at the Ryves Holt House--the oldest house in Delaware still standing on its original location.

Built in 1665, its doorways were not made for the 6-foot-tall bodies that are more common today.

Down by the harbor, we were too late to get a tour of the Overfalls Lightship Maritime Museum.

Since Denisa loves to see light houses, she was of course interested in this lightship. In waters that are too deep to build a structure, the best alternative was a floating lighthouse. This lightship was one of the 179 boats commissioned for that job, and one of the last ones in the country open to the public as a national historic landmark.

It has been a good day of getting our first look at the 30 miles of the Delaware coast. Our Delaware host at our Boondockers Welcome site was certainly right when she said to "pack you patience" with the crowds. But it's obviously a nice place to visit or there wouldn't be so many people enjoying it with us.


Monday, August 8, 2022

What does Mark have in common with Joe Biden?

We want you to take note of the title of this blog, so you can be speculating on the answer to the question we posed, "What does Mark have in common with Joe Biden?" In the meantime, we'll continue to blog about our travels. After a couple days of exploring the inland portion of Delaware, we are ready to head towards the ocean side of this tiny state. We're moving the motor home just 18 miles to our fourth Boondockers Welcome site. We've landed into another great yard with our private patio and full hook-ups. Wow! We feel so blessed!

While the physical parts of this camping spot are first-rate, we found that our hosts were even better. We enjoyed getting to know this couple that so generously share their property with complete strangers like us. They also share their culture, which includes their membership in the Nanticoke tribe. Mike is a life-long member, and his wife, Linda, is an associate member. She is an important part of the tribe, using her talents as a seamstress to make dance costumes for the annual pow-wow.

When she found out that Denisa also likes to sew, she opened up her sewing room and explained how she makes ribbon shirts and vests for the men, and jingle dresses for the girls.

She's almost finished with this new jingle dress for a granddaughter that includes 109 jingles. Denisa found out that they are made from skoal can lids, and that dress is quite heavy!

Many Boondockers ask a nominal fee to cover the cost of the electricity we might use. But Mike absolutely refused to take any money. So when Mark noticed that their back yard water connection was leaking, he offered to fix it as payment. They didn't have all the parts to make the fix, but it should be finished later this week.

After Mark worked with that water project, we headed to the beach to play in the water. We drove the 17 miles to Cape Henlopen State Park. Since it was later in the day, we had this section of beach almost to ourselves.

Henlopen beach is smaller than usual, because much of it is closed to protect the piping plovers that can nest here.

That complicates our mission today. Denisa has a couple lighthouses on her list in this area. But we can't walk out to the point to get the best view of them because of the nesting plovers. She can only stand here on a deserted beach and pretend to hold that far-away lighthouse in her hand.

Looking the opposite direction, we could see that we were not nearly alone. On the other side of a barricade, vehicles are allowed to drive on the beach and set up a day camp.

Armed with all the beach apparatus that will fit into a pickup, they stake a claim for the day. They have chairs and umbrellas and portable stoves on the beach. They also unload fishing equipment, and we have learned that this ruins our beach experience. We love to walk up and down the waterline, searching for shells and enjoying the waves. With that line of fishing poles--and the fishing line unfurled into the surf--we can no longer walk at the edge of the water without getting tangled up in fishing line. We could walk behind the poles, but that is usually blocked with chairs and beach gear. Walking down that beach behind the cars puts you so far away from the water that it doesn't feel like a walk on the beach at all.

So we left the ocean side of Cape Henlopen State Park, and decided to check out the bay side. Here Denisa could get a peek at the second lighthouse she was chasing today.

It's low tide, and there's thousands of snails out of the water now.

They are looking forward to the tide covering them up again soon.

While it makes the snails uncomfortable, low tide allowed us to walk further into the bay to get a better picture of the lighthouse. The camera is zoomed in, and we can see the Breakwater Lighthouse pretty clearly now.

As we looked across Chesapeake Bay, we could also see the ferry that makes the trip between Delaware and New Jersey several times each day. We're especially interested in this ferry, because we will be driving the motor home onto its deck to make that ride in a couple days.

We spotted the other ferry coming from the opposite direction, so we waited to take a picture of the two ships passing near the lighthouse. The one on the left is carrying passengers from Cape May, New Jersey, heading to Lewes, Delaware. The one on the right is making just the opposite journey.

After we left the bay, we headed to explore other parts of Cape Henlopen State Park. They have a nice wide pier that allows visitors to walk out over the deep water.

It also allowed us to get a better zoomed-in picture of the second lighthouse. This is the best picture we could get of the Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse compliments of the zoom lens.

This state park also has another collection of tall round structures. We found out that this edge of the state served as a military base during World War II. These concrete watch towers were built to survey the water for enemy ships approaching.

Now visitors are allowed to climb the steps to get the same view. We could also see the old military buildings that are fenced off from the rest of the state park.

Our final exploration of the day is to ride this bicycle path that starts on the edge of Cape Henlopen State Park.

The sun was already lowering in the sky when we took off on Gordon's Pond Trail, which starts with a nice boardwalk ride.

After we rode over the sand dunes, it brought us out to marsh grass views over the wetlands. The clouds and the views make us feel like we have wandered into another of God's wonders.

The only wildlife picture we have today is the baby bunny that was hunkering down in the grass along the bike trail. Our ride also took us along the water views of Gordon's Pond. This is one great bike ride with nice views and flat surfaces!

When we got to the end of this picturesque ride, we found ourselves in a paved parking lot in the town of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. In fact, Mark did a little research and determined that this bike trail is a favorite with our country's president.

In fact, just a couple weeks ago Joe was in this very parking lot at this very cross walk. That's where he had a little bike wreck.
So in answer to the question of "What does Mark have in common with Joe Biden?" the answer is that he also laid his bike down at this cross walk in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Of course, instead of falling off it, Mark gently laid his bike down and then crawled under it. But the pose is very similar.

Marl didn't have secret service men to help him up, or adoring fans to swoop in with cameras. Actually Mark had one adoring fan--Denisa--who thought this was a crazy funny idea. Mark merged his picture with one from the news media.

Mark picked up his bike and we headed back down that nice bike trail to our pickup. Unlike the president, who owns one of the mansions in Rehoboth Beach, we drove back to our little home on wheels where we are boondocking for free. Mark really doesn't have much in common with the president, and we'd like to keep it that way.