In late April, we took the boys to visit the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge Area. The Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Area encompasses 2000 acres of hardwood forests and six miles of Potomac River shoreline, which means hikes there get a nice mixture of marsh and forest. So “Woodmarsh” was an accurate name for the trail. The Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge is free. There is an entrance fee if you choose to drive to the nearby Mason Neck State Park afterwards.
The Woodmarsh Trail is about three miles long. With a couple of cut-through trails at Hickory Pass and Fern Pass, you have the ability to “Choose Your Own Adventure” and loop back whenever you feel like it. We took the Spur Trail down to Eagle Point and since we were hoping to see Great Blue Heron nests (See Fauna below), we kept on the eastern most section of trail to skirt along the marsh. We returned via the western section of trail through the woods.
Back when I hiked alone, my decision criteria for “a good trail” would be something like:
- Invigorating climb (to make you feel accomplished)
- An overlook or a waterfall (to make you feel awed)
Now that I’m hiking with two small children, a previously overlooked trail feature has taken on new importance:
- Bridges or wooden walkways.
Wooden structures just call to my older son. He loves running across them. Sometimes over and over and over and over again. : ) For younger children who are just learning to stand and pull up, bridges are a nice opportunity to practice. This trail sported a number of bridges so it was a win for the boys. And then more importantly, there was a nice wooden viewing platform at Eagle’s Point. That simple structure was probably the highlight of the trail for the boys. It was wooden with benches for the boys to climb and crawl on… AND it had a FREE telescope to take in the views. It was their own little private jungle gym with great water views. We only had to walk a flat mile for a “home run.”
The Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest Blue Heron Rookeries. Nesting peaks in April and May, so we came hoping to see one of those 1300 Great Blue Heron nests. Alas, nesting views can only be approached through water or during the annual Bald Eagle Festival at the nearby Mason Neck State Park. We couldn’t see any nests from our vantage point on the land. Nonetheless, we saw our fair share of wildlife. We saw herons and Bald Eagles flying by. We saw a large brown bird (perhaps an an owl) in the tree canopies. Small, but just as entertaining, we found an inch worm at the viewing platform at Eagle Point.
Mayapples are a favorite wildflower of mine. I love how the big umbrella leaves conceal a tiny, single white flower underneath. We saw Mayapples on this hike and they were budding, but we were just a little bit too early to see the blooms.
What we did seem blooming was Virginia’s State Flower, the dogwood.
The trail passed through a section called “Fern Pass.” Our assessment was that was aptly named. It was one of the more beautiful sections, carpetted in green, with the fiddleheads uncurling away.
More pictures of our Woodmarsh Trail Hike at Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge can be found on my Flickr site.
Length: Varies – 3.0 Miles of Trail to Choose From
Elevation Gain: Flat!
Entrance Fee: FREE!
When I was a child, one of the highlights of the beach was heading down to the boardwalk at nearby Rehobeth Beach. My favorite thing was the “Horsey Game” at Funland (I believe the game is officially called “Derby”) Contenders roll balls (sort of like skeeball without the ball going airborne). The hole your ball goes down determines how many steps your plastic race horse takes. The first person’s horse to make it to the end wins a prize.
This year, Sagan was old enough. I wanted him to see the horsey game. August 1st was our last day at the beach, so it was now or never. It turns out a number of family member were interested in Funland. We ended up with quite the crowd of relatives up there! : )
My mother spent some quality time with Dyson, while I had some rare Mommy-Sagan time. I was determined Mommy-Sagan time was going to involve a prize, by golly. Not just any prize, a Horsey Game prize. En route to the Horsey Game, we stopped and played Wak-A-Mole. We won a cute white stuffed dog.
Onward to the Horsey Game. It was $1 a game. I was going to spend up to $20 dollars, maybe even more, playing that game to win a prize. Luckily, it only took four games. Sagan sat on my lap the entire time and at times opted to roll the ball. It was fun to share that with him. When we did win, he got to pick between two different bears.
Win prizes for my son? Check. I met my day’s goal. Everything else was going to be bonus.
We ate some lunch and then headed back to Funland. All of a sudden Sagan wanted to ride some rides. Another Funland memory came rushing back to me. My father used to get terribly motion sick. So back in the day, whenever we came to Funland, my younger (and more courageous) brother would point to some kind of crazy spinning, flipping, rotating contraption and announce, “Daddy, I want to ride that.”
Well, it would not have positive results for my father to ride with him, so each time my father’s voice would snap out my name, “Vicky! Take your brother on that ride!”
I wouldn’t want to ride those rides, but I also didn’t want to disobey my father, so I would reluctantly do my duty as the big sister.
Some of that same ancient dread snuck back in when Sagan asked for rides. It took me a moment, but then I realized, “Wait a second. He’s a little kid. I can handle little kid rides.” : ) And it turned out Sagan didn’t need *me*. He was perfectly happy going on rides with his beach buddy, Mya.
Funland is VERY young-child friendly. They have a whole section of rides dedicated to the smaller children where the young kids can even go by themselves without an adult or older child. In addition, they have games where the child gets to play until he/she finally wins. This came in handy with the balloon pop game for Sagan.
Funland did an excellent job of tiring both boys out. When we got back to the beach house, they both napped at the same time… AGAIN. Ah, I love vacation. While they napped, I packed. My mother and I had decided it would be best to travel at night while the children slept.
We had one final supper with my extended family– a delicious array of pasta. After supper was over, we hit the road.
Smooth Trip Home
Traveling after the kids’ bedtime was definitely the way to go! We had a very smooth trip home and it was swift. It took us less than half the time to get home as it did to get to the beach. Oh and those Funland prizes? Sagan cuddled with them in his car seat the entire way home. : )
Body Pump, Seltzer Water, and Gingerale
So the day before at Sea Colony, I was looking over some of their literature and I squealed with delight to see that they had a BodyPump class. Not only that, there was a BodyPump class the very next day!!! At home, BodyPump is one of my favorite parts of the week. How amazing that I can attend a class at the beach! My Uncle generously allowed me to borrow his passes so I could attend the class. I love BodyPump so much, I talked it up, as one is very apt to do when something super fun like BodyPump is concerned, and my cousin Jennifer decided to join me. Knowing how much I love BodyPump, my mother agreed to watch the boys and away we went to Sea Colony to pick up fitness passes and attend the class.
My great Aunt Maisie is a woman in her eighties, but she carries with a childlike curiosity and enthusiasm for the world. She sees everything with an innocence you would expect to find in someone decades younger. Earlier in the week the topic of Seltzer Water came up. Great Aunt Maisie told a simple story about a time she was in the airport and got a soda. She thought it was Gingerale, but it was actually Seltzer Water.
With wide eyes and that innocent, pure voice of hers, she talked about that first unexpected sip.
“And ooooooh my,” she shook her head, “It wasn’t Gingerale!”
When you are expecting something sweet like Gingerale, and you get Seltzer Water, it’s quite a shock. It doesn’t mean Seltzer Water is bad, mind you (I’m a fan). It just means you were expecting something different. And it tastes worst than it is just because of your expectations.
Back to our BodyPump adventure, I had noticed that BodyPump class at the beach was only 45 minutes long, but I didn’t think much of it. I also failed to notice that the schedule read “Body Pump” instead of “BodyPump” and that at no point was Les Mill’s branding touted.
We showed up and paid our seven dollars and I promptly noticed there were no bars.
“Huh. I guess we just use free weights here,” I thought, still oblivious that the Gingerale I was about to drink was, in fact, Seltzer water.
They wanted us to get Exercise Balls, which I also shrugged off, “Oh I guess this is going to be our T-bows for tricep dips.”
Then the warm-up began. There were no squats. We weren’t doing it in time to the music. Wha– you want me to kick my feet out?
All the signs were there all along, but it took me until then to realize I wasn’t at Les Mills BodyPump.
I was miffed. There was some pride involved because I enticed my cousin to come. But really, what I was most upset about was wasting my “mom babysitting time.” During our first set of biceps (which Hello…. everyone knows that Biceps are supposed to come later at Track 6) I drafted my stern letter in my head to Sea Colony Recreation because it was entirely out of the realm of possibility that I read what I wanted to read. ;)
But then here’s the thing. Exercise (at least for me) makes everything better. As my body started moving and my muscles started working, my mood improved. It wasn’t Les Mills’ BodyPump, but it was fun and it was a solid workout. My abs were sore the next day. And my cousin had fun too.
Gingerale/Seltzer Water/BodyPump/Body Pump, it’s all good. : )
Lunch and Another Compliment
I solicited another compliment from a different Aunt about my kids’ eating habits. My Aunt Julie marveled at Sagan eating an avocado and concluded, “You’re so healthy!” Score!
I took the kids down for some more beach time. When Sagan tired of the beach, he just started walking home all by himself. I was curious to see how far he would go by himself, so I quietly tailed him. I couldn’t believe that kid didn’t even look back until our entire family was out of sight. Boy, he was unnervingly determined to escape the beach! : )
Once he saw me, he wanted his shoes, but he didn’t want to go back to the beach to get him, so he sat on a bench with my cousin Jennifer while I fetched his footwear. When I came back to the bench, I could hear them talking.
“Really?” Jennifer said, “Banana cake?”
“Yeah!” Sagan replied, “It was yellow and orange.”
And I had to laugh. In June, we went to a friends’ birthday party and they had a healthy banana cake for dessert. Sagan talked about that banana cake for an entire month and how he wanted it for his birthday. My friend gave me the recipe and he got his birthday wish. Apparently it went well because here he was at the beach STILL talking about banana cake. It was good, maybe like average good. I didn’t realize it was good enough to talk about for months. : )
Every year at the beach, our extended family gets together for a loud and boisterous fancy dinner at Magnolia’s Seafood. I remember in 2007, I had a little bit of vanity going on. The entire week I was meticulous with the sunscreen. Not because of skin cancer or the likes. Nope, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t get sunburnt before the family dinner. I wanted to look good for the pictures. This year I didn’t even shower for the family dinner! (TMI – I only showered once at the beach and that was with a baby throwing shampoo bottles in the bath tub). But I did give both boys baths. : )
Dyson stayed on the beach with my mother while I took Sagan back to the beach house. I bathed Sagan and he went down for a nap. By the time Sagan was sleeping, Dyson and my Mom came home, so then I bathed Dyson and he went down for a nap, while Sagan was still napping. Double Nap AGAIN. BOOYAH!
So really my afternoon was pretty much bathing kids. : )
Fun fact– did you know you can’t do Lasik eye surgery when you are breastfeeding? The breastfeeding hormones can have an effect on your eyes, so they prefer to wait to map your eyes until at least six weeks after weaning. I found that out with my first child, so my game plan has been after Dyson is weaned perhaps getting that Lasik surgery.
Family dinner is making me reconsider that notion. I wore contacts to the family dinner and apparently I looked especially tired and frazzled. A few people mentioned it. I hypothesize when one has glasses on, it better camouflages fatigue. I was tired, but I’m always tired (I still night nurse). I didn’t feel any more or less tired than your usual day. Mitigating the two kids was hectic with the particular challenge of our entrees arriving well after our usual bedtime. I certainly didn’t have a lot of ample time to socialize or take pictures, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed (that would come the next day) and I had plenty of friendly faces and helping hands around. Even my child-free-by-choice sister pitched in!
At the end of the night, though, as I loaded two tired and cranky kids into the carseats, one of my aunts told me she felt sorry for me.
Well, poop. My outward appearance was terribly misleading. For years I attended Family Dinners without the children I wanted so very much, but with that special type of nagging loneliness that comes with being committed to someone who doesn’t care. Here I am in 2014 with all those missing pieces– An amazing husband who is a partner in every way and the children I was scared I would never have. I have everything right now… except maybe a full night’s sleep and a shower, but it is so worth it. : )
“There’s nothing to feel sorry for. I wanted to have children. I am blessed,” I told my aunt. Hopefully I sounded convincing. : )
Maybe next year I should wear glasses… and makeup. Perhaps makeup will help. : )
Most Pleasant Night Night
And dude— we got home again well before everyone else. AGAIN– a most pleasant night night. Both kids went to sleep right away!
My Uncle Mark and Aunt Denise were staying at a Condo at Sea Colony. On Wednesday, July 30th they invited us to spend the morning with them at the pool and other Sea Colony facilities. My cousin’s daughter, Mya, joined us.
Sea Colony’s great and I am seriously considering staying there in future years. They have pools, walking trails, tennis courts, playgrounds, and a fitness center. I really enjoyed my time there.
Sagan was a little weary about the pool, but we did get some smiles out of him. He also obliged me while I carried him around the “big pool” for a while and showed him the filters that picked up all the trash and bugs in the water.
Ultimately though, Sagan preferred to be on land. Mya asked him to give her a massage and to my surprise, Sagan started kneading her shoulders. Where did he learn to do that?
Dyson is fearless and enjoyed the kiddie pool. He liked feeling empowered and climbing in and out of the pool himself.
Once everyone was tired of the pool, we decided to hit one of the nearby playgrounds which was a big hit.
And after the playground, it was lunch time. We headed back to Uncle Mark and Aunt Denise’s condo for PIZZA!!!! Everyone loved that.
Traction at the Beach
In the afternoon, I took the kids down to the beach. No trauma or tears this day. For the most part, we just stayed up in the sand. I did take Sagan down briefly to kick the waves and to pretend jump them. I didn’t push it though and we quickly returned back to play in the sand. I took a bunch of pictures with my phone so Ryan could see Sagan was actually playing and smiling at the beach. :)
Joint Nap– AGAIN!
The pool and the beach wore the kids out. I was pleasantly surprised that Sagan and Dyson napped at the same time AGAIN! They never do that at home, but it kept happening at the beach. One of the best parts of the vacation. : )
Chinese Food and a Great Compliment!
We were so close to having pizza TWICE in one day, a notion I have to confess I was somewhat excited about (Hey, I’m on vacation!). It was pointed out that we had pizza for lunch so we got Chinese Food instead. It wasn’t pizza, but hey, it’s a good option as well.
Sagan, Dyson, and I ate outside on the deck. I like eating outside and without dogs to clean up the aftermath (think rice strewn EVERYWHERE), strategically it makes better sense. Sagan amused me by asking for tofu. When we get Chinese Food at home, I get a Tofu General Tso’s which Sagan typically eats half of. Luckily, he’s a big fan of chicken as well.
I alternated handing my two boys pieces of broccoli, peas, rice, and chicken. Everything was delicious, so the kids were devouring away.
And then I got the BEST compliment.
“He’s a miracle,” My Aunt Denise observed as Sagan swallowed some more peas, “Usually kids won’t eat vegetables.”
That totally made my day… as vegetables are near and dear to my heart. I did have to confess, however, that there are days where Sagan will only eat chicken nuggets and fries. We have good days and bad days. I LOVE that Denise happened to be sitting next to us on a good day. The compliment STILL makes me happy.
After dinner, Sagan had a fabulous time playing with all the cousins…and eating an unknown amount of fortune cookies. I don’t know how many, but I am pretty sure it was a lot. I don’t think Aunt Denise noticed, because she didn’t retract her “miracle” statement. : )
I discovered walking for Frozen Custard after dinner was significantly easier when Ryan was around. It was tricky keeping Sagan situated with his napkin demands (he hates when things spill on him, even if it is delicious melted ice cream) and trying not to drop Dyson whose center of gravity was making dramatic shifts as he kept trying to dive-bomb my chest. Stress level, I think it was probably the second most flustering moment at the beach, but it all worked out.
We took early leave from Dickey’s which put us back at the beach house before everyone else. And SHEBAM! Another easy and pleasant night night time. The kids went right to sleep AGAIN! Our beach sleep schedule RULED!
Tuesday, July 29th was Ryan’s last day at the beach as he had to return to work. The ONLY thing on his request list for the beach was to kayak with Sagan. First thing in the morning, we went back out to Coastal Kayak. This time the conditions were much better. We also had company! My Aunt Denise and Sagan’s Best-Beach-Bud Mya joined us.
We saw an osprey’s nest and mussels growing in some of the tidal grass.
Sagan was all smiles. He really enjoyed the kayaking.
Mya seemed to enjoy kayaking a little less than Sagan. She and Denise turned around shortly after arriving at the wetlands. I had the only keys to the car, so we followed them back. The outing was more abbreviated than originally planned, but as a side perk, Sagan never had a chance to tire of it. He left his first kayaking outing wanting more, which is a good thing! Oh and once on land, Sagan still found joy in the oar. He used it to dig sand. :)
And here’s something neat. Back in 2007, when Mya was just a little baby, I went kayaking with her mother at the exact same place. So now I have kayaked with both mother and daughter.
Mother in 2007
Daughter in 2014
Mickey’s Family Crab House
For lunch, we took the kids to Mickey’s Family Crab House. Dude. That was fun and delicious. We ordered clam strips, steamed shrimp, steamed Maryland Blue Crabs and grilled asparagus. This was a GREAT destination for young children. It’s socially acceptable to make a lot of noise. It’s socially acceptable to make a gigantic mess. And the meal comes with its own entertainment– mallets! Both kids really, really enjoyed hammering.
Sagan and Dyson Having a Good Ole Time with Hammers
We had such a great time picking apart and devouring crabs, Ryan declared this is what he wants to do for his birthday. Done and done.
More Biking and Beach
After lunch, we did some more biking. Little Dyson would not keep the bike helmet on (It was ill-fitting anyway), so he just got a quick bike debut up and down the street. Just long enough for us to say he went bike riding.
After that, Ryan and Sagan took the bike out for a couple of hours.
While Ryan and Sagan were out and about, I took Dyson back down to the beach. He was in a much better disposition today. He was so courageous, in fact, when he saw some cousins he wanted to play with, he just crawled across the sand to get to them.
We packed five binkies for the trip and only came home with three. One I have no idea where it went. And one…well, it fell down a storm drain.
Adventure in the Small Things – Harris Teeter Shopping Cart
Remember yesterday when I talked about adventures coming in smaller packages with kids? Well, on the flip side, you get to see things through your children’s eyes and small things, even mundane things, become exciting and fresh again. With kids, anything can be an adventure…even going to the grocery store.
Before Ryan got back on the road to head home (Sadness), we went for a family shopping trip to pick up some provisions. We put the two boys in a specialty shopping cart shaped like a truck where both boys could have their own steering wheel.
Sagan and Dyson LOVED it. They spent the entire trip wrestling and laughing and tickling.
It was probably the most concentrated amount of fun they had the entire trip and it was just a joy to watch.
When we arrived at the beach the previous Saturday, I mysteriously lost my voice. By the end of Tuesday, I had some congestion. I thought it was pretty safe to take some Benadryl, but boy, the drowsiness was really getting to me. So I left the children on the beach house deck with my mother to take a nap.
Before I could fully drift off the sleep, I heard Sagan in the living room. I went out there to see what was going on and found him laying on the floor with a beach towel over him like a blankie trying to take his own nap.
He looked up at me and asked, “Can I nap with you, Mommy?”
Well, who could turn that down? We returned to the bedroom and we both fell in such an extended sleep, my mother had to wake us both up for supper.
A still-sleepy Vicky and Sagan meandered their way over to Aunt Julie’s Beach House where we were having Family Taco Night (one of my favorites). The food and company energized both of us.
Most Pleasant Night Night
I was somewhat worried about the notion of putting both kids to sleep by myself in such an exciting environment, but “night night” could not have gone smoother. The kids and I got back to the beach house before everyone else. In the dimly-lit bedroom, I changed diapies, put on jammies, and other night-time tasks. Both Dyson and Sagan went to sleep right away and I wasn’t too far behind them.
Sometimes if takes a little while to get your stride. The important thing is to keep trying. : )
Our second full day, we paid homage to my late father and walked down to The Frog House and had breakfast. We made another quick stop at Comics and Games and then we went to the beach! We like to consider us an adventurous family. We hike and kayak and camp and canoe and bike. But our kids are significantly less adventurous when it comes to the ocean. Sagan is more vocal with his fear. Ryan did get him a little more comfortable with being in the ocean… that is until a wave splashed him in the face. Dyson, on the other hand, liked looking at the ocean, but would whimper when a big wave touched my feet (It wasn’t even touching him!). Dyson did enjoy playing in the sand.
Sagan, however, was so miserable from the whole “water in the face” incident that not even the binky, or the arrival of Uncle Jay could convince him to enjoy the beach.
And I learned a very good lesson that day. Don’t wait until the baby is exhausted and tired to leave the beach. Why? Because you still have to walk back to the beach house. You still have to contend with all that sand. You still have to get him in a dry diaper and clothes. This produced a lot of crying from an already over-fatiqued baby. Lesson learned. I would not make the same mistake in the coming days.
And then another obstacle to adventure. Dyson napped…. and then when he woke up, Sagan went down for a nap. Gah! This was somewhat disappointing to Ryan. He only had a limited time at the beach and he wanted to get out and do things, not wait for the children to sleep.
Corn Husking Fail
One of my fond memories of the beach as a child was husking corn with my cousins and squealing should we peel away the green and find a worm underneath. I mentioned yesterday I had hoped a new generation of cousins could have the same experience. It didn’t quite work out, but Sagan, Mom, Ryan and I had fun enough husking corn and snapping beans. Dyson didn’t exactly help, but he had a great time moving beans back and forth between the bag and the colander.
I didn’t take any pictures of the husking that day, but corn husking is something I enjoy, so I happen to have pictures of family husking from 2012 (when Sagan was 1), 2013, and 2014.
When Sagan woke up, we left Dyson with my mother and headed down to one of my favorite places– Coastal Kayak! In the past few months, Sagan has gone canoeing and rowboating and he loved both. We wanted to add kayaking to his resume and kayaking was the only thing on Ryan’s list when you asked him what he wanted to do at the beach. Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived, the flapping windsocks and the ample whitecaps in the usually calm Assawoman Bay made it clear it wasn’t going to happen. The Coastal Kayak staff was kind and upfront. They didn’t think it was going to be a great day for Sagan’s kayaking debut.
Defeated, defeated, defeated, Ryan and I started back to the beach house. The vibe in the car wasn’t a particularly happy one. This day was definitely not going as planned.
“We’re Ryan and Vicky!” I said, “We’re adventurous! We can turn this around! We can find something!”
“No, we used to be adventurous,” Ryan mumbled.
And then, a brainstorm. Biking! We got down to the Bethany Bike Shop right at closing. We had just enough time to rent their last beach cruiser with an attached car seat for 24 hours. Ryan loaded up Sagan and went for a long ride back down to the Delaware Seashore Fresh Pond park we hiked the day before. He had a phenomenal time and found better trailhead parking for the park.
While Ryan and Sagan biked, I wrapped up little Dyson in the MobyWrap and we went for a two mile walk in the wet sand of the shoreline. Oh my goodness. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed that walk. The sea breeze on my face, the salt air in my nose, the purring of the ocean and laughter of children in my ears. Everything about that walk was just perfect. Unlike the morning, Dyson was unconcerned with the waves, he rested his head on me and just watched as they rolled in and out, in and out. Soon he was asleep. His left ear was against my chest, listening to my heartbeat. The right, the ocean. How peaceful that must of have been.
While he slept, I loved watching the teenagers surf their wakeboards from the shore *into* the incoming breakers. The forces propelled them up into flips in the air. And then my favorite part– I saw not one, but two, ospreys dive into the ocean and catch a fish…on the very first try. For some reason, I thought they would have to make a lot of attempts to catch a fish. They made catching fish look easy, though they did make flying around with a fish look a little awkward.
I didn’t have my camera, but this wonderful Creative Commons photo by Andy Morffew is a good illustration of what I saw.
Osprey and Barracude (Photo by Andy Morffew)
Dinner and a Defection from Dickey’s
Dyson and I returned home right as Sagan and Ryan finished their bike ride. Together, we all walked over to my Aunt Julie’s for supper. My Aunt Denise made a delicious pork roast with fresh rosemary. We also had the freshly husked Farmer’s Market corn which solicited a lot of compliments. But what took the cake– my Uncle Timothy took those Farmer’s Market green beans, microwaved then for 4 measley minutes, and added the Farmer’s Market mushrooms, which he sautéed in white wine and butter (I believe this recipe was his inspiration). It was delicious. I normally try to do everything I can to encourage my children to eat vegetables. But that dish was so delicious, I actually stole some from Sagan’s plate when he wasn’t looking.
After supper, Ryan and I walked the kids down to the main drag to get some frozen custard. In past years, our family has had unwavering support for Dickey’s Frozen Custard. We defected that night and got Kohr Brother’s instead. :)
Although the day had a series of fails and frustrations, we ended up with an ample supply of happy memories. As parents, adventures come in smaller packages and sometimes that is a mental adjustment for Ryan and I. Compared to our previous selves, it feels like we aren’t get anything done. But you compromise, you regroup, you do what you can, and little by little you end up with a full experience.
And as little as it felt like we got done that day, we still eked in tons more adventure than we would have if we stayed in the beach house all day looking at our phones. : )
Our first afternoon at Bethany Beach, we were in the market for a Family Hike. I pulled up Google Maps on my phone and scanned for green patches near us. That’s how I found a section of Delaware Seashore State Park called “Fresh Pond”. I’ve been coming to Bethany Beach ever since I was a little girl, but I was never aware of this park 2.1 miles away from our beach house!
It turns out there were other relatives interested in hiking. We ended up with Ryan, Vicky, Sagan, Dyson, Mom, my Aunt Priscilla, my Aunt Denise and my first cousin once removed, Mya. It was a Family Hike…with 100% more family!!!
After serving us extraordinary well the past two days, Google Maps had a little bobble. It directed us to a residential neighborhood with less than optimal park access– it required bush-wacking. Instead, we parked at a trailhead on the northeast corner of the park off Coastal Highway 1, about a half mile north of Silver Sands Drive.
We took a 0.2 mile connector trail and turned right on the Prickley Pear Trail. In about a 0.5 miles, the trail took us to a gorgeous view of Beach Cove and arguably less than gorgeous views of horseshoe crab corpses in various stages of decomposition. : ) We continued along the Prickley Pear trail and formed a loop back to the connector trail. I believe we went roughly 1.4 to 1.6 miles total. The trails were flat and well-worn, perfect for the children.
On the connector trail, we found two women who were crabbing. They were vibrant and friendly and were kind enough to show the kids a Maryland Blue Crab. Then they interrupted the amorous activity of a pair of horseshoe crabs (poor things) so the kids could get a closer look. Sagan declined to touch the living horseshoe crab. Later, to my dismay, he would want to touch some dead ones at Beach Cove. We compromised and I let him “pretend” to touch the dead one. : )
The best part about this trail was I got to learn a new plant. I have been on other trails called “Prickley Pear” before, but it never occurred to me to find out what a Prickley Pear looks like. My Aunt Priscilla, a resident of Arizona, was quite familiar with Prickley Pears. She recognized the cactus immediately. They were plentiful along the trail and we even saw one blooming.
Another lovely find was Passiflora incarnata (Purple Passionflower). They are so intricate and lovely.
We also found some blueberries, but they weren’t ready for eating yet. At least, that’s what Ryan reported after tasting one. : )
Although short, it was a great family hike with plenty to see. We all had a great time visiting with each other, particularly little Sagan and Mya.
More pictures of Delaware Seashore – Fresh Pond can be found on my Flickr site.
Delaware Seashore – Fresh Pond
Length: Varies – 4.2 Miles of Trail to Choose From
Elevation Gain: Flat!
Entrance Fee: FREE!