Out and About in Delaware's State Parks
|by Stephen Schilly|
Winter's Chill I must admit that for me the arrival of winter is never a cause for much celebration. Brisk temperatures and snow do nothing but remind me of how much I prefer the warmer months.
It's not that I don't enjoy winter activities...I'm a big fan of sitting by the fire or sleeping in a warm, comfy bed. I can even appreciate the cold outdoors...especially from the vantage point of a nice, toasty hot tub. I just don't like the feeling of discomfort that comes from getting excessively cold. Without a doubt, I was never meant for winter activities like skiing, sledding or skatinggive me a cozy ski lodge any day!
Since early December, the resort area has been experiencing an extended string of cold, breezy days and periodic snowfalls. While the snow added a refreshing new look to the region, it often discouraged all but the most determined individuals from enjoying the out-of-doors. I must confess, for all my complaining, even I have made an occasional effort to bundle up and get outdoors to enjoy the special beauty offered by the winter landscape. While I doubt this will ever become a favorite personal pastime, I must admit it was well worth the effort!
Out with the Old...in with the New The end of the calendar year is always a favorite time for me. I really enjoy the busy holiday season spending time with friends and family. I always like to save vacation to make the most of the season. This year was no exception. I was especially fortunate to get much of December off. Amid all the festivities, the highlight of my holidays was a trip my partner, Bob, and I took to Paris. Our friends Matt Carey and Frank Sterner joined us there. Matt and Frank are "Rehoboth locals" who had just recently moved to the Netherlands. The trip was a great opportunity to re-connect with good friends in a very special place.
The week was filled with the requisite tours of major attractions including the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and the Palace of Versailles. Although I enjoyed each of these attractions, my favorite activity was simply sitting and talking in Paris cafes while watching people wander by on the streets. Of course, no vacation would be complete without shopping. I got to indulge my personal obsession with collecting compact discs by exploring every music store I could find. Bob indulged his latest hobby, collecting Japanese tetsubins (iron teapots), at the massive Paris Flea Market. While he didn't buy any, he got the opportunity to see quite a few exquisite examples of the antique iron teapots. Of course, this just served to "fan the flames" of his enthusiasm. I'm afraid I can see a lot of teapots in our future!
Park Updates With Paris just a fond memory, it's been back to work for me. The winter months are always a hectic time for everyone in Delaware State Parks. In many ways, this is our most important time of year. We take this time to assess the past year and plan the necessary changes for the coming season. The preparations we make during the winter months ensure our success in meeting visitors needs in the coming summer months.
It appears that 2003 will be an especially challenging time for the Division. Tight budgets throughout state government means our staff will need to work extra hard to keep our parks functioning smoothly. Not only are financial resources tight, but a "freeze" on filling open fulltime positions has left a significant number of vacancies throughout the Division. While this creates many challenges, I am confident our dedicated staff will continue to go the extra distance to provide quality service to our park visitors.
At Cape Henlopen, progress continues to be made on several important projects. At the Gordons Pond parking lot, "phase I" landscaping was completed this past autumn. Bids will soon be solicited for "phase II" landscaping which is anticipated this spring. The "phase II" project involves planting all "open" areas with various varieties of native shrubs, trees and plants including 40,000 American beachgrass plants. The final landscaping should really set off the renovated parking area.
Another project at Gordons Pond will be the construction of a picnic pavilion at the north end of the parking lot. The pavilion will have a similar design to the one located at the fishing pier on the Lewes side of the park. This new structure will likely go out to bid in the next couple of months. If necessary, construction may be delayed until autumn to avoid impacting summer use of the parking area.
The final "major" project at Cape Henlopen is "phase I" construction of the Junction and Breakwater Trail. This trail will ultimately connect Lewes and Rehoboth on the west side of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. At this time, the Division hopes to award the bid for the project in late February. Hopefully, construction will begin in the spring with completion in autumn. Stay tuned for future updates on this important project.
Valentine's Day I always look forward to the arrival of February 14Valentine's Day. No matter who we are, we all have special peoplepartners, friends or familyin our lives. While we shouldn't need a special day to remind us how important these people are, it is a nice opportunity to acknowledge what they mean to us. In honor of the holiday, here's my personal list of the best "romantic" spots in our beach parks:
The Point of Cape Henlopen. Unquestionably one of the most scenic and photographed locations in Delaware. The parking lot offers spectacular views of the Delaware Bay and nearby lighthouses. Views of sunsets on the bay are especially beautiful! Those of you who are hardy might want to "bundle up" and take a hike around the Point before it closes on March 1 to accommodate the arrival of nesting shorebirds. Towers Road Bay at Delaware Seashore State Park. A quiet bayside parking area located just south of Dewey Beach off Route 1. The parking area features incredible views of the Rehoboth Bay at sunset! Gordons Pond Trail Observation Platform. Located at Cape Henlopen State Park, this facility offers scenic views of the pond and the nearby ocean. This is a great site to observe waterfowl and shorebirds. Sunrise over the Atlantic from any ocean-side area. Simply spectacular! Fishing Pier at Cape Henlopen. Located on the Delaware Bay, this pier gives amazing views of the Point of the Cape and the inner breakwater.
Why not check out one of these great places with your special someone? You won't regret it!
For more information about upcoming programs and activities, check out our website at www.destateparks.com. And if you have any questions or suggestions for future topics, please e-mail me at email@example.com
Nature's Best Bets
If you are looking for fun winter activities, some "best bets" at Cape Henlopen Nature Center include:
Predators Of The Sea Saturday, Feb. 15, 1 p.m. Orcas, sharks and barracudas, oh my! Whelks, jellyfish, crabs and a whole host of other less fearsome creatures are predators of the sea as well. Explore what it means to be a predator and learn about some of the interesting marine predators that inhabit the waters around Cape Henlopen.
Last Call Saturday, Feb. 22, 10 a.m. Take a last hike around the Point of the Cape before it is closed in preparation for the arrival of piping plovers and other beach nesting birds.
Jacob Jones: The Man, The Ships, And The Tragedies Sunday, Feb. 23, 1 p.m. Jacob Jones, Delaware native and American naval hero, was the namesake of two ill-fated destroyers that met their ends at the hands of German U-boats during World Wars I and II. The second ship lies on the ocean floor just 50 miles off the coast of Delaware. Join us to learn about this intriguing Delawarean and the ships that bore his name.
For more information on these and other park programs, contact the Seaside Nature Center at 302-645-6852.
Stephen Schilly is Park Operations Administrator Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 13 No. 1, February 7, 2003.