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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cape Henlopen State Park, New Year's Day 2008

We've been pretty busy since the start of the new year - only 17 days ago! After First Night in Dover we wanted to do something to start the year off right and took at hike in Cape Henlopen State Park, not far from where we live. My mother used to say that whatever you do New Year's Day is what you will be doing for the rest of the year. Or something like that! So I always try to do something positive, hoping it will stick. To say "hike" in this part of the world is kind of a misnomer because truth be told, it is pretty flat here. No majestic mountains to be climbed. But we did discover that the Great Dune, at 80 feet above sea level at Cape Henlopen, is the highest sand dune along the eastern shore from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina!

Cape Henlopen State Park encompasses nearly 4,000 acres. The Pinelands Trail winds through wooded areas and a side trail lead us out onto the beach where we walked all the way around the Cape from the bay to the Atlantic Ocean. It was very cool! We could see the lighthouse at Lewes and large numbers of shorebirds hanging out. There are campsites, picnic areas and biking trails as well as a Nature Center and small aquarium with local sea life. Since arriving in Delaware we've been fascinated by the series of World War II towers that dot the coastal areas. These Observations Towers were used to keep an eye on German submarine activity off the coast (who knew the Germans got that close???). We walked around the remains of Fort Miles, where lucky soldiers got to spend their war service at the beach in cushier accommodations that most G.I.s, protecting the beaches of Delaware from invasion.

The weather was pretty nice that day and we wore ourselves out exploring this lovely place. Here's a website with information about all the Delaware State Parks and Cape Henlopen in particular: http://www.destateparks.com/greenway/trailguides/autotour/sc/cape.htm . As you can tell, there's a lot here for us to explore and we've only just begun!

There was a bunker buried in the dunes

The dune grasses along the shore

A small side trail through the pine woods lead us to the bay

Sand dunes with the Cape in the distance

One of the WWII Observation Towers in the park

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