Monthly Archives

August 2017

Lightship Overfalls

Canal Park in Lewes, DE. has got to be one the best parks on Delmarva. It has nearly everything. It has basketball. It has tennis courts. It has a playground with a shade covering. (Thank you!) It has a baseball diamond. It has the canal. It has a fishing pier. But best of all, it has Lightship Overfalls.

What exactly is the Lightship Overfalls?

It is a floating museum that was painstakingly restored by the community. Actually, it was once a floating lighthouse. This particular ship was in service in the New England area between the 1930s up until it was taken out of service in 1972. The ship was given to the Lewes Historical Society by the U.S. Coast Guard and was eventually taken over by the Overfalls Foundation.

The kids and I had wanted to check out the ship, but every time we went to the park it was always out of season. So we had to wonder what the Lightship Overfalls was all about and admire it from afar.

Then at the spur of the moment, we decided to head over to Lewes and Canal Park. This time, the Lightship Overalls was open. We were in business. We chatted with a nice lady in the tiny gift shop, jotted down our name in a book, paid our $5 and headed on board the Overfalls.

It was money well spent. We were paired with a docent, a. local volunteer, who gave us the tour. He walked us through the ship, which was primarily used nearly a century ago. We walked down the metal steps from the deck to the sleeping quarters and the mess hall. Everything on the ship looked as though maybe those who served just got up and walked away.

The kids loved it and the docent was great. He answered each and every one of their many, many questions. We got to see where the crew washed their laundry, ate their meals, showered. We even learned that they had to sleep to the endless sound of a siren. I cannot imagine.

Then we headed up to the control room, where the docent let my son and daughter ring the bell. They were thrilled. Then we walked to the back of the boat, where I snapped pictures of the kids next to the life preservers on the boat. We looked out over the canal and then headed off the boat to play in Canal Park.

If you find yourself in Lewes or Cape Henlopen State Park between Memorial Day and early October, be sure to check out Lightship Overfalls. If you are interested in Maritime history, or if you just like boats. It is a cool little museum on the canal. The docents are great. The kids loved listening to the volunteers recount history. It also gets your kids off their devices, out in the fresh air and learning a little bit about history. For us, that is a win, win, and a win.

Here is what you need to know if you plan on going:

  • The ship is open Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend every day, but Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • After Labor Day, the ship is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until early October.
  • If you want to take a group tour out-of-season, think a class trip or some such, contact the volunteers at the foundation. Here is a link to their website. Click here.
  • Parking is free at Canal Park.
  • Admission is $5.
  • Bring your camera or phone for photo opportunities.
  • Enjoy!

 

Cape May-Lewes Ferry: Better than any highway.

One of my dearest friends invited me to a birthday party in Northern New Jersey earlier in the month. Love my friend. Love New Jersey. (Yes, I actually do.) I hate driving on Interstate 95 and Northern New Jersey traffic.

Reasons why:

  • It is terrifying with kids and a minivan.
  • It is not the most exciting or attractive trips.
  • Tolls, Tolls, and more Tolls. ( I need to get E-ZPass.)

Well, those are my reasons for not loving driving in the New York/New Jersey area. Actually, it is not great. But, it is not that bad. But, I really do not want to do it with kids.

But enough about my anxieties of Interstate 95 and the Garden State Parkway. My daughter and I went to the party in Hackensack, NJ. We had a great time. When it was time to leave, I didn’t want to just drive home on the turnpike and then sit in traffic. (Boring!)

We decided we would drive down the Garden State Parkway, stop in Red Bank, NJ (One of my most favorite places in the world. I highly recommend a visit,) and then down the Parkway all the way to Cape May, NJ. If you are of the mindset that NJ is all concrete, people, and traffic, you need to take a road trip to Southern New Jersey. It is beautiful.

Cape May is one of our favorite places to visit, but on this trip, we were just passing through. Our real purpose was to get to the ferry. We would drive our minivan on the ferry and take it back to Lewes, DE and drive home from there.

The ride down the Garden State Parkway once we got past the Atlantic City area was devoid of traffic and beautiful. We saw wetlands and lush trees and foliage on the ride down.

It was an easy drive. We made our reservation for the ferry that day over the phone while we were finishing up lunch in Red Bank. We were taking the 5 p.m. ferry. We arrived a little early. If you are driving on the ferry, I recommend arriving at least 45 minutes or an hour before your trip departs. We drove our car into Lane 3, locked the car and went inside the terminal. There are bathrooms, ideas for future trips, a gift store and, of course, food. Outside, there is a playground and benches.

We only had 30 minutes before we were to drive on the boat. My daughter and I headed to the terminal, she had five minutes on the playground then we needed to get back to our car. As we waited, the ferry mascot walked past us waving at all the passengers.

We were then told to drive onto the ship. We did. We parked and then went upstairs to the deck, where there was a bar and snack food area. My daughter got a cotton candy ice cream bar and I ordered a glass of white wine. (We would have an hour on the boat.)

We found deck chairs on the top deck, a cool breeze, another bar and a two-piece band from Rehoboth Beach. This sure as heck beat looking at the back of someone’s bumper on Interstate 95 and Coastal Highway.

The bay was a little choppy, but the people working on the boat were friendly, the views were spectacular, the band played The Cars, Jimmy Buffett and some other bands from the ’70s and ’80s.

This is the way to travel. We saw the lighthouses in Cape May and in Lewes. We saw the wind turbine in Lewes and the town as we were approaching. I believe we will do this again.  The next time, we will take a day trip to Cape May or some of the other New Jersey attractions.

If you are taking a road trip to say Florida or North Carolina or you are heading to Ocean City, MD  from New York or points further North, I would highly recommend taking the ferry and then using Route 13 through Delmarva. I am not sure if you will save a lot of time, but you will save your sanity and leave the boat feeling refreshed.

 

If you go:

  • Bring a camera
  • Call ahead of time and make a reservation and ask about the departure times, or go online: https://www.cmlf.com
  • Be prepared to pay $7 for a glass of wine, about $3 for an ice cream and about $2.50 for a soda. You are on a boat. You are going to pay more for food.
  • It is not a cheap way to travel, but when you factor in tolls and gas it may actually balance out. It cost us $10 for my ticket, $5 for my daughter’s ticket and $37 for our minivan. All in, it cost $52.

 

Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge: Hiking, Fishing and Quiet

One of the things that surprised and amazed me the most about Delaware and Delmarva is that you can turn off the main highway and suddenly be in the middle of nowhere.

And once you get to that nowhere you are bound to see some pretty amazing things: lush foliage, bodies of water and birds. Even if you are not into nature and birds all that much it is really hard not to be in awe when you see a heron pass by or see an osprey perched in a tree.

I had no idea that Sussex County, DE, sandwiched in between New Jersey and Maryland and just two hours from Philadelphia, could be home to Falcons, Bald Eagles, and Herons. Technically, Delaware is not their home. It’s more like a layover during a really long flight south. Nonetheless, since we moved here we have seen some amazing wildlife.

One of the places where we recently visited is Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge. If you are looking for peace, quiet and nature, this is the place to be. It is tucked off Route 1, Coastal Highway, at the cross-section of Route 16. It is one of the few intersections with a stop light on Coastal Highway in Milton, DE.

We have been there a few times. Once on a field trip and another time just to check it out. We will be back. That is for certain.

Prime Hook has trails to hike and waterways to fish. It is also just down the road from Broadkill Beach. My son and I found a fishing pier all to ourselves. Had we planned it, we would have brought a cooler and fishing poles. This would be the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon fishing.

If you stop by in the summer months, you can stop by the Broadkill Store for snacks or lunch. My kids love this little seasonal store. They have push-up pops, ice cream sandwiches. They also have baked goods and sandwiches. You also stop at Food Lion in Milton or Milton Quick Stop. The Quick Stop is known for its fried Delaware chicken.

 

The trails are great for hiking. You truly feel that it is just you alone in the woods. It would be a good idea to put on some bug spray or check yourself for ticks after your hike.

If you are into bird watching, Prime Hook is a must. Prime Hook’s website gives you are run down each month of which birds you are likely to see during your visit. This is the place where migratory birds take a pit stop on their where North or South. You are going to see some amazing birds. We will go back in the fall and winter months because that is when we are most likely to see Bald Eagles.

Photography is huge on Delmarva and with good reason. Everywhere you look there is a gorgeous sunset or sunrise. Then there is the beach, which always amazing. The wildlife here, though, is incredible. If you are a budding nature photographer this is the place to go. Right now, you will see a lot of shorebirds, and according to the refuge, the green-winged and blue-winged teal are starting to arrive.

This would also be a great place to canoe. Can’t say much about kayaking or canoeing. We have yet to do either since we have been here, but we are leaning toward making that investment.

If you are bringing your kids with you, stop by the visitor contact station and your kids can become Junior Refuge Managers. They will get a cool badge. There are some coloring books on Prime Hook’s website, too, if you want to get your kids excited about the trip. The coloring pages are educational, so head’s up.

We have not spent nearly enough time at Prime Hook, but we plan to change that. If you visit, please let us know what you think and share some of your tips. Enjoy!