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What and where is Delmarva anyway?

 

Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia

When we lived outside of Baltimore I knew about Ocean City, Md. and I had also heard of Assateague, but that was about it. My knowledge of Maryland’s eastern shore was limited to Ocean City, Assateague, and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge that you had to drive over to get there.

Once my husband took me to Cape Charles, Va. and that might have been the first time I heard someone reference Delmarva. I am sure, like most people, I thought what the what? Then we moved to Delaware and decided that we would live at the beach. That is when we learned that not only do we live in Delaware, but we live on Delmarva.

Delmarva is a rather large peninsula on the East Coast of the United States.

It encompasses all of Delaware. Delaware is often a forgotten state sandwiched between Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. It is a slice of rural amidst densely populated Mid-Atlantic states. Delaware is three counties large and has less than 1 million people. When we moved here, people said that everyone knows everyone in Delaware. I have found this is pretty much true. Maybe that is why people are so nice here or maybe it is that they live at the beach? I don’t know, but I will take it.

So Delaware explains the Del in Delmarva, so what about the rest? Well, if you have ever looked at a map of Maryland you would notice that it is has a pretty odd shape and a body of water splits the state. The mainland has Baltimore, the D.C. suburbs, Annapolis, and Frederick. The land separated from the mainland by the Chesapeake Bay is Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Think Ocean City and Assateague. To get there from the mainland, you have to drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. For me that is scary, white-knuckle driving. I cringe every time I drive over it. Maryland’s Eastern Shore is the Mar in Delmarva. Maryland takes up a large middle chunk of the Peninsula.

Index

NY City Digital Public Library

Virginia’s Eastern Shore looks like the tail. Virginia’s Eastern Shore is connected to Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel that connects the Peninsula to Virginia Beach., Va. The kids loved going through the bridge-tunnel. It is a 20-mile ride above the bay and under it. They did not talk at all when we took the bridge-tunnel. They were too busy taking it all in. If you have kids that tells you something about this engineering marvel. How do they build such things anyway? We were in awe. Virginia’s presence on the bottom of the peninsula puts the Va in Delmarva.

Some people believe that Delmarva comes from the U.S. Postal services abbreviations for the states. I looked it up. It doesn’t. Maryland has always been Md; not Mar.

Regardless of the name’s origin, it is an amazing place that seems largely unknown and unexplored and it is all located just two hours away from Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. The Peninsula is nearly surrounded by water. The Chesapeake Bay is to the West of the peninsula. The Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is to the East. Delmarva is 183 miles long and 71 miles wide, according to the World Atlas.

We have not explored every inch of it, but we are trying. If you are intrigued like we are and want to visit. It is an easy drive from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. You can take a train down from NYC to Wilmington, DE and take a Dart bus down from there or drive. If you are flying into the area, most people fly into Philadelphia International Airport or Baltimore Washington Airport and rent a car.  You can also take the Cape May-Lewes Ferry if you are coming from New Jersey. You can drive your car, minivan or RV  onto the ferry and cross over the Delaware Bay.

Need some more encouragement to come explore Delmarva? Think about this: This is where Capt. John Smith docked his ship and explored many centuries ago. It was ripe for exploration when he arrived, and in many ways, it still is so many centuries later. Come see for yourself. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Discovering shipwrecks on Fenwick Island

 

Pirates of the Caribbean, The Goonies, The Titanic. Who isn’t intrigued, just a little, by a story of a ship that has been lost at sea?

The kiddos were not nearly as excited as I was to learn that there is a museum devoted to shipwrecks on Fenwick Island. When I learned that DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum was down the road in Fenwick Island. We had to go.

 

Seas Shells Fenwick Island

I was expecting a standalone museum. I drove past the museum a few times before I realized that it was actually on the second floor of a Sea Shell City. I am glad that we found the museum. That is the thing about Delmarva, you could pass by something really awesome and never know that it is there.

 

We did not learn about Blackbeard or One-eyed Willie, but we did get to see a map that lights up showing the ships that have wrecked off the coast of Delmarva. Apparently, quite a few landed on the bottom of the seas off Delmarva. By some accounts more than 1,000. Others reference materials say the Delaware Bay is littered with about 2,000 shipwrecks. That’s a lot of ships.

 

The museum houses all sorts of artifacts. The artifacts come from around the world. There are shells, a skull, and jewelry. There is even a pirate downstairs in the store for the kids to pose for a picture. The kiddos loved it. It was also free. But, be forewarned there is a huge store downstairs and if you have kids you will be spending money. We almost ended up the proud owners of a hermit crab. I am not sure how we dodged that one, but we did.

 

The museum is a great way to spend a rainy day or get a break from the sun. For us, it was a nice little road trip with some great scenery along the way. Fenwick Island is in the southern most part of Delaware, just over the line from Ocean City, Md. If you go, be prepared to buy some souvenirs or provide a nice home for a hermit crab.

 

 

Fort Miles: Pulling out the big guns

Before we moved to Delmarva, our family lived less than half an hour away from Gettysburg, Pa.

We never once visited Gettysburg as civil war buffs. In nearly 20 years, my family never once drove over the state line to witness a Civil War reenactment. Considering that my family has a whole North/South thing going on, the Civil War is not something I am very interested in revisiting.

World War II, well, that is different. Delmarva has everything a World War II buff could want all right at Fort Miles at Cape Henlopen State Park. We have lived on Delmarva for a little more than a year. We have been to Fort Miles at least four times.

It is pretty freakin’ cool. The kiddos love the big gun turrets. The turrets make great photos. The kids also loved climbing on them. Hands-on history. It doesn’t get better than that.

We also got to breeze in and out of some of the old buildings that the military used back in the day. The kiddos liked checking out what once was the mess hall.

Apparently, Fort Miles has a museum. I will admit we have never been to it when it was open, but we will make it a point to visit it this season. We already bought our Delaware State Park annual pass, which more than pays for itself if you visit Delmarva often. You can buy an annual pass when you visit Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, or you can click here. As residents, we pay $35. The pass is good at all Delaware State Parks. The pass we bought last year got a lot of use.

I am not a history expert on Fort Miles. Here is what I know. During World War II, Fort Miles was part of the country’s coastal defense program. The military personnel who were stationed there were keeping a watchful eye on the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, making sure that the German navy was not able to intrude upon American shores.

Fort Miles has beautiful views overlooking the bay. It also has a bit of a hill, which skateboarders make full use of. Hills are rare in this part of Delaware. So in addition to taking in history, spectacular views, some pretty talented skateboarders are also thrown into the mix.

Fort Miles is worth the trip. It is a great place to stop if you want to teach your kids more about American history. It really brings that era to life for them.

If you are considering visiting, this week to do it. Fort Miles will be presenting “Fort Miles: Delaware Goes to War _ Victory in Europe.”The event will be held Saturday, April 29, at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes.  The event starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. The event is free for veterans. Other people will pay a $5 admission fee.

This is one reenactment I believe we will go to this year. If you would like more details on the event, please click here.