We had really big travel plans for this Summer but, of course, the Covid 19 pandemic means that all of our plans were cancelled. As a family, we are taking the risks very seriously and are being super cautious with what we do. My youngest brother contracted Covid and had a really gruelling time getting through what is considered a mild case. That only served to underscore how important it was to stick to our strict way of operating. However, for various reasons too personal to get into, we did decide to get away for a few days. We found a beach house in Delaware where we could maintain our isolated ways and that had a robust, Covid specific cleaning regimen to put our anxiety at ease. We were also the first guests to stay in the house for several months. Our oldest son opted to stay home with the cats.
We obviously spent a lot of time at the beach. The property we rented was a two mile walk from the closest public access point and parking lot so it was exceptionally quiet and we never had to get remotely close to any other beach users. In addition to paddling and swimming, the boys loved collecting horseshoe crab moults (or horseshoe husks as the kids dubbed them). They gathered husks of various sizes over a few days and then my 14 year old had the idea to turn them into a sculpture. What my youngest loved doing was finding these peculiar little burrowing sea critters at the shore line. I think they are a type of isopod but I am not completely confident in even that vague identification. He enjoyed scooping them out of the wet sand and then watching them quickly burrowing back down. The beach was also home to a type of crab that ran at comically high speed and scurried from hole to hole. My 14 year old also found a hermit crab.
We also experienced some lovely sunrises and terrific sunsets on the beach. The boys also liked being out on the beach in the pitch dark. Mr Pict is into astronomy so he enjoyed using his binoculars to pick out details in the clear night sky.
I can only tolerate sand for so long so I liked having some other outdoor spaces to use. There was a raised deck at the house where I could sit and read, draw, and paint while being able to see the rest of the family larking about on the beach. Beneath that raised deck, there was a space enclosed with screens that was perfect for outdoor eating.
On the subject of eating, we mostly ate food at the house whipped up from ingredients we brought with us. One evening, however, we decided to have a treat because Mr Pict had spotted a place selling British style fish and chips. As Brits, how could we not go sample some grub there? They were doing roadside pickup so we placed our order and then parked up to eat it while it was all still steaming hot. It really was all pretty authentic and passed muster with our British tastebuds. The one exception was the brown sauce which was far too good quality for proper chippy sauce. Just the aroma of clouds of malt vinegar wafting off of hot chips transported me home. It was a delicious treat.
We did take a couple of excursions. We thought about exploring historic Lewes but it was far too busy and most people we saw were not wearing masks so we promptly nixed that idea. What we did instead was head to Cape Henlopen for a wander around Fort Miles. We have been there before, in 2017, and we planned on also exploring new areas of the coast, but every other spot was just too busy for comfort.
We went on two woodland walks. The first of these was at Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge. We had to pass a few people at the head of the trail but otherwise we seemingly had the whole place to ourselves and we ended up covering the entire network of trails partly intentionally and partly because we got ourselves a bit lost and looped certain trails twice. We definitely got our steps in that day! We encountered lots of birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and also lots of frogs or toads – I cannot confidently identify the species so please let me know if you can. My 11 year old also found a complete shed snakeskin but unfortunately we did not meet any snakes.
Our final trip was to Redden State Forest but that was a much shorter trek and we were literally the only people there. It was a very humid day, however, and we were being constantly bitten by insects. I have a severe reaction to insect bites so my left hand ballooned up. We, therefore, moved around the trail paths swiftly and skedaddled back to the car.
It was definitely restorative to get away for a few days and be hermits in a different space. It is not the Summer vacation we had planned for but it were definitely grateful for a simple getaway.