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Cape Henlopen and the Ferry

October 28, 2012

Delaware – Wednesday, October 24

Once again, Tula and I spent the whole morning walking on the trails in the state park, and finished our 8 miles a little after noon. Cape Henlopen is a wonderful state park – there’s a huge sandy beach that people can access by a couple of pedestrian walkways over an extensive dune system. The “great dune” is about 80 feet tall and is the biggest dune between Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. Away from the beach area, the park has lots and lots of big loblolly pines (my new favorite pine tree!) and it smells so good to be walking among them. Cape Henlopen was also the site of a fort and ammunition supply bunkers during World War II and many of the structures remain. The ammunition bunkers were big concrete structures that were built into the dunes, and covered in the front and sides with sand, grasses, and even trees. They remain in place today. From the ocean, one wouldn’t be able to tell there were any structures there. There are also several WWII observation towers in the park, and others along the coast. The fort area was built to help protect the mouth of the Delaware Bay – a strategic bay leading to Wilmington and Philadelphia, and consisted of 6-7 long low buildings to house the soldiers, the mess hall and administration areas. There are also a lot of huge mounted guns – one of them required 27 men to operate – and all of that stuff is still here. When spotters in the observation towers spotted an enemy ship, they could use triangulation methods to tell the gunners what to load and in what direction to fire – although in the end, the fort never fired in defense. So there were lots of things to see out on the various trails.

I was hoping to make my donation today to the Jusst Sooup Mobile Soup Kitchen and Ministry, but no one answered the phone so I left a message. I had hurried through the last part of my walking this morning, because I had noticed that the state park was right by the ferry docks from Lewes, DE to Cape May NJ – across the whole Delaware Bay. One of the things I want to do on my annual state trips is something in or on the water, and the idea of a ferry ride out on the ocean was a welcome one after all the walking. Plus they allowed pets on board! It was an auto ferry, but so many foot passengers also go that they have their own parking lot. I was able to get my ticket in time and Tula walked right on like she gets on ships all the time! We went to the top deck to enjoy another perfect sunny day, and Tula was a bit startled when the horn blew and gazed up at the smokestack. The ocean was calm, and once we were through the first small swells on the open water, she settled down for a nap, and I thoroughly enjoyed being out on the water – seeing a couple lighthouses and a big breakwater. There was a freighter in the distance and smaller private boats out fishing. The soup kitchen lady called back while I was on board, and we made plans to meet at Wal-Mart when I got back – she currently provides meals on Mondays and Thursdays. Once we were docked in New Jersey, I had enough time to get Tula off the ship to take care of business, and then we walked back on again to enjoy the ride back. It was a very peaceful few hours!

Once we were back on land in Delaware, I met up with the lady from Jusst Sooup (I forgot to ask her about the significance of the spelling!). She’s not easy to miss – her shirt identifies her, as well as a colorful van. She had already loaded up a cart with some of the stuff she needed for tomorrow’s meals and I paid for $56 of it – stuff like gallons of water, cups, a case of yogurt, ginger ale, juice, crackers, cleaning supplies, syrup etc. She’s been using a building across the street for 13 years (I think the van is more for some of the ministry work) and it’s an older building, but serves the purpose well. I went over there to see it and helped her unload the groceries. She told me she had been on the TV show Extreme Makeovers where they fixed up a beautiful facility for her to help feed homeless people, but there were complaints from the neighbors about the kind of people who came to her place, so she had to return to her current location for feeding the homeless, and I think the other place is used for church purposes. She seemed very dedicated and efficient (starts with breakfast at 4:30am so the people who have been out all night have a place to come inside), and she even called me back the next day to say thank you again, and that 105 people had shown up.

From there, I decided to loop around southern Delaware – I was sort of eyeing Delaware Seashore State Park for my next camping place, but I didn’t like the campgound at all. It was on a narrow strip of land and was flat and wide open with no trees and the sites looked close together. Plus some bridge construction was going on practically right at the entrance, and I drove away again right away. It sort of looked like a big sandy parking lot. (But very easy access to water for people who boat and fish!). There was another state park campground to the west – Trap Pond State Park – so after splurging for soup and salad at Panera, I drove out there. Since it’s no longer a busy camping season, I usually have to self-register because the office closes at 4 or 5 and they leave out the envelopes needed to do that. So I registered, and noticed they didn’t have many tent sites (which is what I use because I don’t have any hookups). As I got back to that part of the campground, I discovered that their tent sites were not accessible by car – parking was provided outside of the camping area. And that wouldn’t work for me because I couldn’t strap the van onto my back and walk in! So I just found a fairly empty row of campsites in the big rig area, and had several empty spaces on both sides of me, and that seemed to be fine – no one questioned it. They must be having special Halloween festivities this weekend because I was quite astonished at some of the Halloween decorations! Scarecrows and huge inflatables and flashing orange and black lights – RVs and fences and canopies were decorated, and there was still quite a bit of activity going on even as late as 10:00 – most campgrounds I’ve been at have been dead quiet by 8:00 or so. Three nights of camping in a row!

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One Comment
  1. Jan permalink

    While reading about the ferry ride and noting that it referred to last Wednesday (today is Sunday), I wondered where you were in all the Hurricane Sandy warnings. Hope you’ve traveled inland!!!

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