As a family, we always talk about taking a bike ride while vacationing at the beach, but we almost never do it. We are at the beach for the love of the beach, and most of what we do revolves around the ocean activities. In the hottest most humid summer months, straddling our bike seats with helmets strapped to our heads does not sound as good as splashing in the waves. But on July 4th 2015, the weather was perfect for a bike ride. It was a bit cloudy, in the 70s and the forecast called for rain later—not the best beach day.
We brought our bikes to Cape Henlopen State Park and set out from the Ocean Beach/Bathhouse parking lot with our red white and blue pinwheels attached to our handlebars. (If you don’t have bikes with you on vacation here, you can borrow bikes for FREE from the "Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park" Bike Barn in the Nature Center parking lot--first come first serve). Our family of 4 including our 12 & 14 year old headed out on the Bike Loop Trail, then picked up the Walking Dunes Trail, then the Gordon’s Pond Trail, and then the roadways of Rehoboth Beach to the Double Dippers Ice Cream Shop. Then we peddled the same route in reverse. The ride including stops took us about 3 hours and most of the terrain was flat. You can find trail maps here.
The great thing about this bike route is the variety of fun stops along the way. Our first stop was at Fort Miles where a sign beckoned us: “Program Today.” We had already missed the start of the tour, but for $5 each we could have taken a tour of Battery 519, the underground bunker that houses a Big Gun stationed here during WWII. We’ve already been on the bunker tour, but we made plans to go on the lantern tour later this summer to see how much progress the restorers are making. Fort Miles is an area tucked inside the seashores of Cape Henlopen State Park, but during WWII instead of sun worshippers the area was occupied by U.S. military protecting this strategic area from the enemy. We contemplated climbing to the top of the Observation Tower, but since it was kind of cloudy, we decided to just poke around the big guns a bit and then continue on our way.
Our next very brief stop was near Herring Point. A new parking lot has been built here and there are port-a-potties. We sometimes come to the beach here for picnics and to watch the surfers who gather on the north side of the jetty. Leashed dogs are allowed on this beach. This time we just stopped for the port-a-potties and a drink from our water bottles. I checked the weather on my smart phone—no rain on the radar—woohoo—we were going to go all the way to Rehoboth Beach. So we headed down the Gordon’s Pond Trail.
The wetlands along Gordon’s Pond Trail pulse with life. In recent years the trail was finished off with a boardwalk that leaves our footprints and bike tracks off the tender environment below. We stopped several times along this pathway to observe a bunny, a turtle, egrets, an osprey nest, and many other birds. I can’t seem to come up with the words to describe the vivid green of the marsh. We had begun to get SWEATY by now, and the ocean breezes felt wonderful. The views were stunning. The trail pops out onto Gordon’s Pond Beach, a local favorite.
Next we made our way past multi-million dollar homes, a lemonade stand, and people walking to the beach to our final stop on this ride: Double Dippers ice cream on First Street in Rehoboth. My favorite flavor this time was the moose tracks, but anything chocolate is fine with me. We sat outside on a white wooden bench and licked our cones while each of us picked out which M&M’s character in the window we were. I was the green one with eye lashes dancing to the juke box. Then we peddled back to the car at the Ocean Beach parking lot and vowed to do it again.
Cape Henlopen bike ride...what to bring:
bike, helmet, sunscreen, water bottle, cash for ice cream, park pass or $ for park entrance fee, camera, binoculars, pick up a trail map at the park entrance. Bring your swimsuit and bike lock if you want to stop along the way for a swim.
You could rent bikes in Rehoboth Beach and do this same ride beginning in town instead of the state park.
A vacationer who will be staying at One Particular Harbor this summer inquired about natural food stores and farmers' markets in the Rehoboth Beach area. Unfortunately, I don't believe we have a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's (yet). I've been begging Wegman's to come to Delaware.
Here's the rundown of options for healthy food shopping.
Good Earth Market gets good reviews. It is on Rt. 1 in Rehoboth--sort of near Dewey Beach.
Good News Natural Foods and Grub Grocery Pub both have convenient locations for on the way home from Rehoboth Beach. Grub is more of a sandwich-to-go place. Lingo's Market is also a favorite in downtown Rehoboth Beach; it's been around a long time.
There are two wonderful farmers' markets:
Lewes has theirs on Saturday mornings. (Not so great when people are arriving and leaving our house on a Saturday)
Rehoboth Beach has theirs on Tuesday afternoons.
The 4 largest grocery stores in the area all have some natural foods and organic selections.
Giant is the closest to the house.
Harris Teeter is just a bit further than Giant.
Super Fresh is a good one for on the way home from the beach if you are coming from the Lewes Town Beach or Cape Henlopen State Park. Super Fresh is my favorite large grocery store in the area.
Safeway is probably not the best for organic choices, in my opinion.
For the following I don't know if these are organic, but they are good:
Ann's Produce is very near the Angola By the Bay community where One Particular Harbor is located. Ann closes at 6 PM, sometimes 5:55 PM. I love the convenience of being able to pick up some fresh produce right near the house. She's at 32747 Angola Rd. Lewes, DE, 19958.
Hopkins Farm Creamery is probably not organic, or they would say so on their website. But we sure do love their fresh ice cream and their cows watching us while we scarf down their sundaes.
And if you are looking for the freshest just-picked sweet corn, go to the corner of Plantation and Robinson Road where you can often find a farmer selling corn under his shade tent. I almost didn't post that info because it feels like such a local secret. Sorry locals! All around in the countryside you can find little produce stands near the farms. I am hungry for that fresh sweet corn right now!
Leave a comment below if you have a favorite place in the area to get the freshest food.
As I felt better, I remembered what a good friend once told me: that the ocean’s action stirs up negative ions. So I googled this idea, and what do you know? The first link is to a WebMD article telling us what we instinctively already know. According to the article, "While part of the euphoria is simply being around these wondrous settings and away from the normal pressures of home and work, the air circulating in the mountains and the beach is said to contain tens of thousands of negative ions." And negatively charged ions are GOOD because they "are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy."
Besides the negative ion thing, I am sure that the solitude you feel on the beach in the off-season also has healing powers. When it is just me walking—no chair, no umbrella, no toys—I am uncluttered and my mind clears. Whatever was bothering me 5 minutes ago is on hold. It’s just me and the sea gulls facing the wind in their sentinel formation. Occasionally you find some wonder of nature that you might not get to enjoy during the busy summer months at the beach. Once we were thrilled to see a baby seal on the beach! The local marine mammal rescue people, MERR, were on hand to make sure no one bothered the little fellow. There are many migratory birds that you just won’t see in the summer. Plus your shell, beach glass, and beautiful rock lottery chances are much better when fewer people are playing on the beach.
So what are you waiting for? You know you want to go!
And here in Rehoboth Beach is a seal someone caught on video....not the one we saw though:
Spring break 2014 is in mid-April, so hopefully it will be a warm one! The cost for renting that week is $550 (Apr 12 - 19).