Delaware Beaches

This is the last of ’em (the beach posts).  It might be the last of the photos for a while, too.  We’re heading back to the Bogs tomorrow.

We took our time going home, stopping occasionally to take short walks along some of the beaches in Delaware. To be honest, I never really gave Delaware much thought in terms of beaches so I was pleasantly surprised to find they have some really nice beaches. The towns are nice, too (more like family oriented towns than beach resorts, lacking in the tackiness of places like, say, Ocean City).

The beaches were fairly big and the search for shells was most productive on the Delaware beaches. It’s a good thing we didn’t have a lot of time to spend walking and looking for shells or I might have come home with far too many of them. One of my favorite activities is walking the beach, looking for shells. I’ve put in many a mile on the beach that way, getting hypnotized by the walking and looking.

Yeah, it looks something like that.

These towers are kind of interesting:

There are 11 concrete observation towers along the Delaware coastline. They were part of the U.S. defenses during World War II. You can read a little about them and how they were used in this article: Looking Back: Downstate Delaware’s Cape Fear.

We eventually made it to Rehoboth Beach where we went in search of the Dogfish Head Brew Pub. Rehoboth is a pretty little beach town. Family oriented. Possibly family-with-money oriented as it appeared pretty upscale.

But it was not without some of the tacky beach town look:

After a drive up and down the main drag, we found our destination:

Dogfish Head makes some wonderful IPA’s (India Pale Ales). As a homebrewer, I have become a bit of a hop head. I love hoppy beers. IPA’s are usually about as hoppy as you can get. IPA’s were originally brewed strong and hoppy to preserve the beer as it made its long voyage from England to the far-off lands of the British Empire (especially India, as you can tell by the name). The typical British dark ales and porters just didn’t hold up well on a 6-month (or more) trip in the hold of a ship. The beer would arrive musty, sour, and flat. Blech. Not very good for the export business. By adding more hops and raising the alcohol level of a pale ale, the British came up with a beer that would travel well.

Side note: Victory Brewing, a brewery near Sabbaticalville, makes an incredible IPA called Hop Wallop. It does, indeed, pack a wallop with an alcohol content of almost 9%. The typical beer, say Budweiser (yuk), has an alcohol content of about 5%.

We had a pint and a very good dinner at Dogfish Head. The food was unexpectedly and surprisingly good after our experience of eating at another of their pub/restaurants in Maryland and finding the food was basically okay, but nothing to write home about. We shared a delicious plate of hummus with fresh veggies, olives, and pita bread for an appetizer. I had crab cakes for my entree. Yummy. M had their jambalaya which was excellent with just the right kick of spiciness.

This vehicle was parked near Dogfish Head:

It had plenty of interesting reading material in the form of bumper stickers. This was one of my favorites:

And so ends our off-season trip to the beach. I highly recommend off-season explorations at the beach. You’d be amazed at how interesting and how much fun it can be.

We arrived back in Sabbaticalville to find the leftover snow from Friday’s storm. I’m not really sorry we missed it.

The High Street Caffee

As some of my readers may know or remember, our youngest son is spending part of his spring break here with us in Sabbaticalville. Poor guy. Anyone else would be somewhere much further south, enjoying the beach and girls gone wild or whatever it is they do for fun and jollies during spring break these days. Being a good son (and one with no money), he came to visit us instead.

He arrived on Wednesday on a cheap flight from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia (the hour drive from the Bogs to Pittsburgh is worth it for the $49 flight). We went to New Jersey to visit with my parents, where we had a great time. We had hoagies for lunch. Mom made ham and cabbage for dinner (if you’re reading, thanks Mom!). I’m beginning to think M the Younger was right when he said that every time we come out east, all we do is eat.

Yesterday we went into Philadelphia to see the King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute. In my opinion, it wasn’t worth the drive, the gas, or the major amount of money they want you to shell out to see the exhibit. With various discounts, it cost us about $70 for the three of us. I thought the exhibit was a lot of hype with little substance. Don’t get me wrong. There were some interesting aspects to it. But it tends to build tension, as if you’re going to see great things, when it’s mostly a very small portion of the artifacts found in King Tutankhamum’s tomb.

$70 might not seem like a great deal of money to some, but I happen to think it’s a lot now that I’m not working. For that amount of money, Steve Martin should have been there doing the (Saturday Night Live) King Tut skit which Mr. Martin did in honor of Tut’s first visit to the States.

Then, too, it could be the M&M’s and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the hype because we had the opportunity to visit the British Museum several times when we lived in London for a summer. The BM is free (except for special exhibits) and has an extensive Egyptian collection that is, in my opinion, much more impressive than what we saw at the Tut exhibit. I know there is some controversy surrounding some of the BM’s exhibits and collections, but I’m not going to get into that.

Today we spent most of the day not doing too much. M the Younger is feeling a little under the weather so we gave him a chance to rest. While M the Elder went to work this morning, M the Younger slept in. After breakfast we went down to the club room to shoot some pool. We’re both terrible at it, but it was fun. I won the first game, he won the second, and then we quit. We’re not a terribly competitive family.

For lunch, we met up with M the Elder at the High Street Caffee. The whole purpose of this post is to rave about it. I loved the purple decor and the whole feel of the place. I can’t wait to go back and try their dinner menu. We started with an appetizer of Cajun Popcorn, fried crawfish tails topped with creole mustard. Delicious! Whatever they dusted the tails in was light and spiced just right, they were fried well (not at all greasy), and the creole mustard mix of sweet and spicy was nice.

Although there were a number of lunch specials that looked inviting, we all ordered the jambalaya. Wonderful! Fabulous! Marvelous!! There aren’t enough good words for the High Street Caffee’s jambalaya. And there was enough to feed us at least one or two more times. The sauce, or roux, was a wonderful shade of dark, nutty brown and spiced perfectly (spicy enough to make our noses run, but not so spicy it set our tongues on fire). The holy trinity (onions, peppers, and celery) of cajun/creole cooking were present in abundance and nicely cooked with some crispness still present (not mushy and overcooked). It comes with Andouille sausage and your choice of chicken, chicken and shrimp, or crawfish. We all ordered the chicken version. $9.95 for enough food to feed at least six.

I’m going to try the etouffee next time. I like etouffee, a lot, but only if it’s cooked right. The jambalaya was so wonderfully good that I’m sure their etouffee must be heavenly.

The M&M’s are currently at the American Helicopter Museum. I decided to take a pass on that as I’m not all that interested in helicopters or flight in general. I like having my feet firmly planted on the earth.

Tomorrow we’re going back into Philly to solve a murder mystery at the art museum. We’re going to meet up with M the Elder’s sister and two of her friends so we’ll have a team of six. Since none of us are familiar with the museum, we don’t expect to win. We do expect to have a good time and enjoy some great art.

Hi Dad!

I’m almost finished boring you all with photos from our trip to the beach.  I have to interrupt to do a “Per Your Request” entry.

Here you go, Dad.  You’re on the blog!  🙂

Leaving Assateague

The horses made sure we had a good send off when we left the National Seashore portion of Assateague.

Ok, ok. Enough with the horses.

That’s a beautiful view of the bay and the few clouds that appeared in the sky.

After leaving the National Seashore, we stopped for a brief visit of Assateague State Park. It should be noted, for those that want to know such things, that it costs $10 for a 7-day pass to access Assateague Island National Seashore. It’s $3 for one day at Assateague State Park. The national park portion does have someone checking for passes. The state park portion is on an honor system and I don’t think there was anyone out there checking to see who paid and who didn’t. I would imagine they’re stricter about enforcing that during the warmer months. For the record, we paid our $3, being the honest folks that we are.

The beaches on Assateague (both the National portion and the State portion) are much nicer, in my opinion, than the beaches in Ocean City. The Ocean City beaches seem so small to me (maybe because I’m used to the Jersey shore where, in places like Wildwood, it seems it’s a mile between when you first hit the sand and when you reach the water).

You can see Ocean City way in the background of this next photo:

The dunes:

It was quite windy and sand was blowing all over the place. We were getting blown all over the place too.

I’ll never understand people. The dunes were clearly marked with signs asking people to stay off of them (it’s a delicate ecosystem, walking on them disturbs the plant growth, etc.). In addition, there was an electric fence, clearly marked “electric fence.” Yet there was a guy who managed to climb over the fence (maybe the juice wasn’t turned on?), walking all over the dunes. What is it about “keep off” or “don’t feed” people don’t understand?

We sat on the beach for a little while, wrapped in a blanket, trying not to get too much sand in our hair and eyes. Then we drove down to the fishing pier.

That’s the bridge that goes to Assateague from the mainland.

Fishing pier.

That’s it for our visit to Assateague. We took the coastal route for part of our trip home, making our way up to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. We stopped occasionally to look at some of the beaches in Delaware.

More to come.

Back to Assateague

Sunday morning’s sunrise was gorgeous. I woke up just in time to catch it from the balcony of our room.

I love sunrise at the beach. What’s nice is that I automatically wake up for it, without the obnoxiousness of an alarm, no matter how deeply asleep I might be. (Side note: After the torture device — futon — that we sleep on in the Sabbaticalville apartment, a motel bed is pure luxury.)

Assateague is only 8 miles from Ocean City. Although it’s south of where we ultimately were heading (back to Sabbaticalville via the coastal route), it was close enough to make another trip back there and spend a little more time on the hiking/nature trails.

We took our time on this trail, enjoying the beauty of the dunes. We saw plenty of evidence of horses, but not a single horse appeared before us as we walked this trail. I don’t know if you can read it on the above sign, but there’s a warning for would-be hikers about the strenuousness of walking in soft sand. It’s a good workout, that’s for sure. Well worth it, too.

Look at that sky! It was the most amazing shade of blue.

I think that’s pretty much the only wildlife we saw, a buzzard circling overhead.

The wind does some pretty interesting things to the trees and other plant life on the island.

Back in the 1950’s, as I mentioned in a previous post, developers came to the island in hopes of making money by turning it into another “Gold coast” of vacation homes, motels, hotels, condos, etc. Thankfully, Mother Nature had other things in mind and a series of strong storms in the 1960’s pretty much leveled the island and the developments, thereby convincing investors to leave the island to the gulls and other wildlife.

Not knowing this at the time we took our little hike, we were a little puzzled by the presence of what appeared to be an old road.

A little further on, we were enlightened.

Enough of the blah, blah, blah from me. Let’s just go for a walk and let the wonderful dune trail of Assateague speak for itself.

Doesn’t the following tree almost invite you to have a seat and enjoy the beauty of the place?

Ah yes, sunbathing on the dunes:

Too bad it was so cold and windy. It’s hard to work on one’s tan in those kind of conditions.

Next: Leaving Assateague.

Ocean City

I went to Ocean City, Maryland once as a child. I don’t really remember much of it other than having dinner. I think that was the first time I tried lobster (and very much enjoyed it). I don’t know why I’m mentioning it other than as a lame attempt at a segue.

On the way to Ocean City, we saw this bar (which I happen to think is very cleverly named):

Entering the main drag (Baltimore Avenue) of Ocean City:

The next few photos are from our drive down the main drag. There’s something about the look of beach towns that I love. All that tackiness and really bad taste, I suppose.

See what I mean?

No beach town would be complete without a Flamingo Motel or Hotel or some kind of -tel:

This is where we stayed (because we got a good “off season” rate):

The Spinnaker Motel wasn’t a bad place to stay. It’s in the southern part of Ocean City with some decent ocean views and only a half block from the boardwalk and the beach. The room was huge (an efficiency) and I could see us staying there for a week or two during the summer.

Ocean City, Maryland has a big St. Patrick’s Day parade every year. I’m not sure why they do this or what the history of it is. Did a lot of Irish folks settle in OC? Or is it just an excuse for a party? Inquiring minds want to know, but I’ve had no luck in finding information on the internet other than it’s an annual tradition.. Because of the parade, off season rates aren’t as low as the usual off season rates. Keep this in mind if you should get the urge to stay in OC during the off season.

We arrived too late for the parade, so we went right to our motel. After checking in, M and I went in search of a St. Patrick’s Day dinner (and maybe a few beers to go with it). One of the women working the front desk at the motel recommended a place that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of, which is either a reflection of my poor memory or a reflection of the fact that it wasn’t very memorable except for the hostess who was really into the spirit of the day:

Isn’t she cute? She made a great leprechaun, being a person of very small stature and big personality. She talked a big, beefy guy, filled with St. Patrick’s Day spirits, into giving her the little leprechaun on her shoulder.

The corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes dinner was the special (of course). It was pretty bad. Not inedible bad, as we did manage to eat it. But the corned beef wasn’t a real corned beef brisket. It was that lunch meat stuff, the kind of meat you really can’t identify other than it has the correct color for corned beef. The potatoes were canned and had that tinny taste that comes with canned potatoes. The cabbage, though, was quite good. Not overcooked, not undercooked. Just right.

All this was served on a paper plate with soft white bread that was pretending to be rye. The beer special, we were told, was served in a commemorative glass which turned out to be one of those cheap plastic cups with Miller Lite and leprechauns decorating it.

Cheap and tacky. We’d definitely hit the beach.

After dinner, we took a walk on the boardwalk. It was during this walk that it snowed. 🙂

We were the only fools out there walking in the cold, snow, and wind. It was a neat thing, having the boardwalk all to ourselves. I would imagine that it’s wall-to-wall people during the summer months.

The ocean looked pretty at sunset.

And M looked quite cold (if you look carefully, you might be able to spot a snowflake or two in this photo):

Next stop: Back to Assateague.

I leave you with one more photo. Make of it what you will.

Childish? Me?

Maybe just a little.  🙂

Assateague (Part 2)

I have lots of photos of the horses so you’ll have to bear with me as I post a few more. Don’t worry. I won’t post all of them.

There are signs posted everywhere which clearly state that the animals are wild and one shouldn’t feed or pet them. They even make a point, clearly underlined, to mention that this includes the horses, followed by at least one exclamation point. As you can see, the parents of these children know how to follow the rules:

After this close encounter, we decided it was time to move along and have at least a glimpse of the ocean before we set out for our hotel in Ocean City. On the way to the beach we met up with another of the small deer:

M managed to get him to look up by asking what he was listening to on his iPod. Smarty.

On the way to the beach:

The dunes:

And finally, on the beach:

One more horse encounter before we move on to Ocean City:

Coming soon: Ocean City.