Out and About in Delaware's State Parks
|by Stephen Schilly|
|Experience...the Best Teacher
What's summer without a little excitement? That's what I thought when my partner, Bob, and I took an end-of-summer vacation to our new home in southern Florida. A quiet trip, some work around the house and exploring the area had great appeal to me. A relaxing vacation was about all the "excitement" I was looking to have. As it turned out, we ended up getting a bit more than we bargained for on this trip! The week started off pretty much according to plan. Bob was having a wonderful time shopping and decorating the house. I, on the other hand, was doing my levelheaded best to play the beach "bum" enjoying the surf and sand. By mid-week, I happened to go online and checked out the National Weather Service site for tropical storm information. This had become something of an obsession for me since we bought the house following Florida's rough hurricane season in 2004. I was shocked to see a tropical storm, Katrina, had formed in the Bahamas! Unlike many typical storms that you could track weeks prior to their arrival in the Caribbean, Katrina seemed to form out of nowhere. What made matters worse, it was tracking right towards our part of the coast and was expected to hit in a couple days as a hurricane! I've lived in Delaware all my life. My experience with hurricanes has been passing blows...not a direct hit. Fortunately, as a precaution, Bob and I had been slowly accumulating the recommended goods for storm protection. While we were not completely prepared, we did get our generator ready, gassed up the car and extra fuel tanks, and filled plenty of water bottles. It surprised me how many people waited until the last minute to prepare. Even more surprising was how quickly stations ran out of gas. With storm shutters locked tight, I figured we hunker down, relax and ride out the storm. Bob, however, had other plans in mind. With cordless drill in hand, he calmly informed me this was the perfect time to continue decorating. I thought he was nuts. It was definitely not in the hurricane preparedness manual as a recommended past time! Bob won out. He had me retouching paint and doing other chores until we lost power with the storm. We were incredibly lucky. Katrina hit 30 miles south of our home as a category 1 hurricane. While weak for a hurricane, it caused considerable damage and a number of deaths in the Fort Lauderdale-Miami area. Even given a glancing blow, it was real awakening for a neophyte like me to the power of such a storm. The destruction Katrina caused 4 days later on the gulf coast as a monster storm was unimaginable to me. Bob and I learned a lot from this experience. The lessons learned will no doubt serve us well in the future. I couldn't help but think of my home state, Delaware. We are blessed year after year to be largely bypassed by such destructive events. But we should all learn from this. It is important to take these storms seriously. It pays to be properly prepared!
Park Explorations: Lums Pond State Park
In the on-going series exploring Delaware State Parks, our next stop is Lums Pond State Park. Located amid the suburban development of northern Delaware, the park is an oasis of natural delights. The most prominent feature of the park is, of course, the pond. The 200 acre body of water is Delaware's largest freshwater pond. It was formed in the early 1800s when the St. Georges Creek was dammed. At that time, water from the pond was used to fill the locks of the nearby Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, as well as power a saw mill. Today, the pond is a popular destination for park visitors looking for water based recreation including fishing and boating. During the summer months, the park operates a rental concession that includes canoes, kayaks, row boats and paddle boats. It's one of the best ways to get out and experience this special place! The park also provides numerous land-based recreational opportunities. An extensive system of trails crosses the park's scenic 1,790 acres of deciduous forest and meadows offering visitors a chance to hike, bike or horseback ride around the pond. If you don't have your own horse, don't fret! The Lums Pond Equestrian Center operated by Sunset Stables (302-834-7588) is the perfect place to arrange a trail ride. Another popular activity is hayrides offered in autumn and spring by park concessionaire Pony Express (302-834-4249). The park also provides ball fields, tennis courts, playground equipment, picnic pavilions and Nature Center. A modern camping facility is available in close proximity to the pond. Among the campground's unique features are equestrian sites to accommodate riders and horses! For novice campers, the park's two "Yurts" are a perfect way to experience the great outdoors. "Yurts" are round, stationary structures with rigid cloth walls. They are outfitted with a single and double bunk bed, a double size futon, and include electricity, water, and a grill. It's a great way to try camping for the first time. For information about Lums Pond State Park, its programs and fees, call the office at 302-368-6989.
With the arrival of autumn, visitors should be aware that hunting resumes in many of our State Parks. The Division allows the activity as a tool to manage wildlife on our facilities. The decision to permit hunting is based on annual surveys of wildlife populations, as well as an assessment of their impact to ecosystems. Signs are posted to designate active hunting areas. In some cases, trails or other facilities may be closed during the season. For your safety, please comply with all posted areas. Maps and other information concerning hunting areas are available on the State park website.
Natures Best Bets
If you are looking for fun and exciting ways to spend your spare time, why not check out the Seaside Nature Center at Cape Henlopen State Park? The Center is open year-round, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A highlight of any visit is viewing the five 1000-gallon aquariums that feature different aquatic habitats.
Monarchs in Motion Sat., Sept. 24 & Oct. 15, 10 a.m. -11 a.m.
Monarchs are moving through our area on their long and amazing journey to South America. Come learn about their travels, why they migrate, where they go, and how to tag them for migration monitoring.
Maritime Festival Saturday, Oct. 1, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
This program is held in conjunction with Lewes' "Boast the Coast" and Coast Day weekend. We'll host activities for all ages, focusing on the rich heritage of Delaware's maritime history.
For more information, contact the Seaside Nature Center at 302-645-6852 or visit www.destateparks.com
Stephen Schilly is Park Operations Administrator for the Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 13 September 16, 2005