Thursday, September 26, 2013

Delaware Beach and Camp Times

This summer flew by. Between my two biggest excursions to North Carolina and Lake Champlain, I certainly can't say that I didn't get my fair share of swimming done, but somehow I struggled to find a weekend to dedicate to my annual Delaware beach camping adventure. In previous years I've gone in the early summer and then again in the latter part of the season. This year I wasn't sure I was going to go at all. I've gained some new responsibilities at work and they were making me feel slightly less capable of taking vacation days...but I made it happen. I arrived on the Wednesday before Labor Day and quickly set up my tent. Rain was also in the forecast, so I set up a tarp so I could still enjoy at least a little time sitting outside. After setting the site up I did as I often do and went to Fin's for happy hour and oysters. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera so you'll just have to trust me when I say that I had a dozen oysters and steamed shrimp and enjoyed a Troeg's beer while making friends with an older woman who has a hair cutting license in three states.
The next day it was beach times. I brought a beer with me. I also brought Let's Pretend This Never Happened, which is a pretty good read if you're interested in a funny woman with a wacky childhood recounting her various anxieties and triumphs.
The water was really perfect that first day. The waves weren't crashing as much as lolling and I was able to comfortably float without fear of being smashed to the ocean's floor. So the campground is about a mile away from an access point for the beach. This access point is about 2 miles away from the primary beach area for the park, which features a giant parking lot,  large bath house, concession stand and life guards. Generally speaking the section of beach that you can walk to from the campground is far less crowded. The area by the beach house is always pretty chock full of bodies and umbrellas, while this more remote spot certainly isn't going to give you a sense of being totally alone but does give you a little more space between people. This was very much the case on that Wednesday, when it was pretty much me with my set up and then a young couple a couple hundred yards away from me on one side and a lady with her two sons on the other. It wasn't quite as solitary or remote as the beaches of Eleuthera, but it was still nice. Oh and there was an Amish couple playing baseball because of course. I have many thoughts about the Amish/Mennonite folks also camping but I'll perhaps share that in my next post.
After a day at the beach it was time to seek out a meal. I decided to return to the Surfing Crab and debated whether I was going to go the soft shell or hard shell crab route. In the end I decided that I was up to a solitary round of crab cracking and ordered half a dozen medium crabs. In the past I've been seated, or have seated myself, in the dining room to the left when you first walk into the space, which has long picnic tables that are perfect for large parties. This time, however, I went to the room that actually had seats with backs. I was, as is often the case, the only person by myself and the majority of the other tables were older couples on what seemed like double or triple dates. In one instance three couples came in together and quickly the men sat at one table while the women sat at another. I guess that makes sense? As a woman who sometimes finds the conversation of men more interesting than those of women (not always of course), I always hate that breakdown, but maybe after you're married for 30 years you just don't feel like hanging out in a coed group anymore?
I also ordered fries. This was a generous basket of very hot and crispy fries. I enjoyed them but didn't make that much of a dent, as my real focus was on the crabs.
This crab was a dictator in life, and a high five enthusiast in death. I made it through four crabs but couldn't quite bring myself to eat the last two. Service was good and fast. I could have perhaps done without my waiter touching my shoulder in a way that I felt was a little pitying or presumptuous. Or maybe I was just being overly sensitive. I didn't see him touching anyone else's shoulders. So it is a funny thing, my simultaneous desire to want to talk about how it actually is a little bit of a bummer to do things I like by myself and my annoyance if anyone other than me assumes that I am bummed. I had a fine time on this evening. The crabs were good. I had a book. I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. Yes, I would have liked to have a little company, but not having a companion didn't immediately make the meal (or any other aspect of the trip) suddenly sad. And yet I felt like those shoulder touches were somehow supposed to buck me up. Or it was all in my head. Hard to tell really.
And then it was a new day. The water was a little rougher and I was reading a new book, also good: Beautiful Ruins. This day was definitely more packed as far as folks, which made sense given the fact it was now a Friday on Labor Day weekend.
I worried after hearing stories all summer about these massive dolphin deaths in the Atlantic that I wouldn't see any on this trip. Luckily that wasn't the case. One of the positive things of being on a beach with other people, some of whom are children, is that I could focus on reading my book with the knowledge that if there were dolphins to be sighted, the parents would call out to their kids loudly enough for me to to into zoom photo action. As always, it was neater really to actually just watch their fins skim the water's surface than to try and photograph it. Really neat. Though I still haven't seen another one jump out of the water like I did quite a few years back.
Looking toward the main beach/bath house area.

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