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The Road Less Traveled

By bethany beach, boats, delaware, dewey beach, life's a beach, lifestyle, music, road trips, summer, take me away, the places you'll go, travel One Comment

I’ve been making the same trek up and down the Eastern Shore for going on nine years now (not to mention all the times my parents drove us up and down that route when I was a kid), and sometimes the drive gets a little redundant. Certain trips stand out more than others — crazy thunderstorms, timing the sunset perfectly at the bridge, a decent soundtrack — but rarely do I ever experience anything new on these little jaunts up and down the coast from VB to NJ and back. Lately, I’ve been taking the ferry (even though it takes a little longer) to break up the monotonous drive. It’s always the same old corn fields, farmer’s markets, run down abandoned houses, and gas station bathrooms.

But this time was a little different.

Of course, I was excited — I’ve got a whole week to relax by my parents’ pool up here, shop my face off, and enjoy the beautiful weather — but as usual, there was a six-hour drive in my way. I managed to snag a 7:45 reservation on the ferry out of Lewes, DE, which brightened my outlook a little — a sunset cruise to NJ for me and my Hyundai Tuscon.

I managed to escape work and VB a little earlier than anticipated, over and under the Chesapeake Bay and well on my way up the Delmarva Peninsula before rush hour*. (*That was sarcasm. There is no rush hour on the Eastern Shore. Only traffic lights.) I had plugged the route to Cape Henlopen Drive into my phone for directions (I still haven’t quite memorized the ferry route because I’ve traditionally gone the way of the Delaware Memorial Bridge), and when I stopped for coffee at the 13/113 fork, I noticed my ETA was well ahead of schedule. So, as I sipped on an icy sweet Dunkin’ decaf, I made the evening-altering decision to re-route and take the long way.

Now, you know me. I typically either refer to Delaware in one of two ways: (1) I think I’m so witty when I rhyme “The First State” with “The Worst State” or (2) I say, “[Whatever weird thing just happened on my drive] and Delaware is in my way.” It’s not that I have anything against Delaware as a state. I’ve just never had any reason to stop there, and so to me, it poses a geographical problem because it takes me two hours to drive through there, and I find it quite boring. (If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, look at a map of Delaware. It’s kind of long and skinny. And there’s not much going on there as far as scenery.)

Anyway, I sat in my car in the sweltering heat, condensation from the air conditioning dripping on my toe, and reviewed the re-routed directions. “Oh, Lighthouse Road?” I said out loud to myself. “That sounds promising. Sold.”

I turned east off the highway about 10 miles sooner than I normally would have. I rolled back the sunroof, put down the windows, and for close to an hour, I wound my way through these beautiful farms and corn fields, over picturesque creeks, and past signs advertising “New Construction: Beach Country Homes.” I could tell I was approaching the beach when the soil turned sandy, and pine trees towered above. The houses on either side of me stood on stilts, so I craned my neck looking for water or beaches, but for another 10 minutes I saw nothing. I made a right onto Garfield Highway, and a sign welcomed me to Bethany Beach. A giant totem pole and a little downtown area lie straight ahead, and then the beach.

I banked left onto Coastal Highway, still making my way north towards the ferry terminal. On my left stood beautiful beach houses in gated communities, glowing in the sun, which had just begun to turn golden over the Indian River Bay. Gorgeous. A bridge took me over an inlet, and then I was driving through Delaware Seashore State Park on a narrow spit of land bordered by sand dunes to the east and Rehoboth Bay to the west. A sign informed me “Turtles Crossing the Road Next 3 Miles”. Kite surfers skimmed the surface of the glittering water to my left. Then I coasted into Dewey Beach, where a mix of sun-kissed beachgoers littered the streets — some just coming off the sand and some freshly showered and dressed for dinner.

“Huh,” I thought to myself. “Parts of Delaware are awesome. Who knew?”

About 45 minutes later, I was boarding the ferry. I believe the Cape May-Lewes Ferry runs a fleet of three ships, and I never realized I’d only ever been on two of them before Friday night. As I stepped aboard the M/V Delaware, I was informed there was a bar(?) and a live band(?) on the top deck? What? Okay. Amazing. As we pushed away from the dock, I sat at the bar, amongst lots of friendly people, sipped an ice cold root beer (two hours left to drive after this), and watched the sun go down as the band struck up the first few chords of “Margaritaville.” Best. Ferry ride. Ever. πŸ™‚

After I slurped down the last of my root beer, I moved to the front of the boat, where I found some lovely wooden lounge chairs, and settled in for a relaxing 40 minutes of reading (Red Right Return by John H. Cunningham borrowed from Amazon Prime on my Kindle). The moon glowed overhead and a warm breeze kept my bangs out of my face for a little while. πŸ™‚

Two hours up the Parkway, and I had finally arrived at my destination. A bit more time in-transit than usual, but totally worth it.

MDW 2013

By boats, holiday fun, life's a beach, lifestyle, memories, new jersey, photography, road trips, spring, style, summer, the places you'll go, travel, weather 4 Comments

belmar marina

Greetings from the Jersey Shore! I’m up here on a sort of half-vacation this week, spending time with my brother before he moves to Jacksonville and leaves for his first six-month deployment on the USS The Sullivans.

This is the first Memorial Day weekend I’ve spent in NJ since 2006. It’s actually been seven years to the day that I took this somewhat infamous photo of my favorite little boats in the Belmar Marina (above). I can’t remember exactly what we were doing or where we were going, but I ordered my dad to swerve off Rte. 35 into the marina parking lot, so I could snap some pictures of the sunset. It was a gorgeous night. I ran around taking as many photos as I possibly could and lucked out with this one. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since. It later served as a Christmas present for my dad, and it now hangs framed in my parents’ entryway with a little note on the mat:

Thanks for stopping.
Love, Lisa

I got on the road as the sun was coming up yesterday morning. Mine was the only car in sight all the way across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and I made such good time that I was able to catch the 9:15 ferry leaving Lewes, DE, rather than the 10:15 I’d been planning to take. I spent late morning sipping a Bloody Mary, catching up with some of my Virginia Beach friends in Sea Isle City. We had lunch of sauteed vegetables and braciole on the deck, followed by a stroll through some of Sea Isle’s poshest little boutiques and possibly the best French vanilla milkshake I’ve ever had.

I departed Sea Isle and made my way north to Atlantic City, where I spent an hour browsing the outlets and the Pier Shops at Caesar’s before I met my parents for dinner at the brand new Margaritaville entertainment complex at Resorts. Little did I know that the player’s card I signed up for three years ago would save me $5 on parking, which I promptly spent on Parrothead sunscreen in the gift shop. Not to worry, though. I kept my AC winning streak alive by scoring $55 from a Triple Diamond slot machine.

My plans for the rest of the week include some time at the spa, working from my parents’ patio, a day in NYC, catching up with friends and family, reading about seven magazines I haven’t had time to look at, and a graduation/bon voyage party for my brother Saturday night. Oh, and some shopping. (I may have already done a little of that.)

Anyway, I’m glad to be here. The weather’s not quite as summery as I remember last year’s was, but today was a perfect day to cook out, and it’s supposed to warm up this week. I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day weekend and took some time to remember those who have lost their lives serving our country.

OpSail 2012

By boats, events, norfolk 4 Comments


Once every six to twelve years, OpSail comes along to celebrate a special occasion, and what with this year being the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner, Hampton Roads welcomed ships from around the world into its ports for 12 days this June. It was all-out nautical extravaganza in downtown Norfolk a few Saturdays ago with tall ships from all over the world moored next to Waterside and Nauticus, flying colorful flags, and just looking plain awesome.

Many of these photos were taken aboard the Spanish ship Juan Sebastian Elcano — a four-masted topsail, steel-hulled schooner built in 1927. She is a training ship for the Royal Spanish Navy, and at 370 feet long, she is the third-largest tall ship in the world. And drop dead gorgeous, if I do say so myself.

OpSail has been making its way up the Eastern seaboard these last few weeks, and if you happen to be in the area, you can still catch the event in Boston from June 30 through July 5 and/or in New London, Connecticut from July 6 through 8. These magnificent ships from around the world are quite a sight to see, and they only come around once every several years.

This year marks the sixth OpSail event since the very first one, which was held as a tie-in with the New York World’s Fair in 1964. The last time OpSail came through Norfolk was in the year 2000, and while I didn’t live here yet, I was lucky enough to be in town for a few days visiting a friend, and I’ll never forget how fabulous the fireworks were. =)


















Around the World

By blogs, boats, extreme sports No Comments


While I was doing a little research on St. Maarten last night, I stumbled upon this article about 15-year-old Laura Dekker — a Dutch sailor attempting the youngest solo sail around the world. She’s in port in St. Maarten right now! After I read the article, I found her website and blog here.

Laura set sail in her yacht, Guppy, from Gibraltar on August 21, heading south to the Canary Islands and then further to the Cape Verde Islands. She embarked on her most recent leg (the longest so far), sailing west from the Cape Verde Islands 2,200 nautical miles west across the Atlantic to St. Maarten.

What an amazing feat. I can’t imagine trying to sail around the world. Alone. At 15! That’s pretty impressive.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: admiring
And I’m singin’ along to: Holiday from Real – Jack’s Mannequin

An Oceanographic Anomaly

By boats, navy 4 Comments

I’m supposed to be packing, but instead, I’m procrastinating by reading about the five Navy Avenger torpedo bombers and the rescue plane that disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle in 1945.  This is the most factual account I have found — the only one that doesn’t involve aliens or giant octopi caputuring the six aircraft — complete with citations.

Here is the Flight 19 story as it is usually told. On December 5, 1945, at 2:10 P.M., five Navy Avenger torpedo bombers took off from Fort Lauderdale. The experienced pilots were to fly a routine training mission, following a route that would take them 160 miles east, forty miles north, then 120 miles west back to Fort Lauderdale. Each plane was supposed to have a crew of three, but one crewman failed to show up (Cohen 53).

All five planes had passed preflight inspection, and all were well equipped with electronic homing devices (Massey 7), self-inflating rafts (Kusche 97), and ten-channel radios with emergency channels (Massey 7). Each crewman wore a life jacket (Kusche 97).

The first message from the crew came in at 3:45 P.M. “Control tower, this is an emergency… We seem to be lost.” (Kusche 98). Tower replied, “Head due west.” (Massey 7). However, the pilots didn’t know which way was west. “Everything looks strange,” they replied. “Even the ocean looks strange.” (Massey 7). This puzzled the tower. Even without a compass, the team should be able to use the sun to fly west. At 4:25, the flight leader announced, “We’re not certain where we are. We must be 225 northeast of base. It looks like we are…” (Massey 7). Silence.

Immediately, a Martin Mariner flying boat with a crew of thirteen took off to look for Flight 19. The Mariner sent several routine messages back to base before it, too, disappeared near where Flight 19 should have been (Massey 7-8).

At 5:04, the base received the last message from Flight 19. It was a faint message that repeated the flight’s call letters, FT FT (Berlitz 16). Search planes continued to look for Flight 19 for weeks, and still today the Navy has a standing order for crews to keep a lookout for the lost squadron (Kusche 100).

I found this all intriguing, but also a bit boring, so I moved on to read some of the wacky theories people have invented about the Bermuda Triangle over the years…

1.  The Coast Guard’s Theory

Countless theories attempting to explain the many disappearances have been offered throughout the history of the area. The most practical seem to be environmental and those citing human error. The majority of disappearances can be attributed to the area’s unique environmental features. First, the “Devil’s Triangle” is one of the two places on earth that a magnetic compass does point towards true north. Normally it points toward magnetic north. The difference between the two is known as compass variation. The amount of variation changes by as much as 20 degrees as one circumnavigates the earth. If this compass variation or error is not compensated for, a navigator could find himself far off course and in deep trouble.

I read a little big more about this theory and basically discovered that except for a tiny corridor within the Bermuda Triangle, its basically, well, wrong.  Most of the ships and planes that were lost over the area were not within the area in which the compass problems would exist, and those that were, were pretty well-prepared for the phenomenon.

2.  The Gas Theory

Although Dr. Ben Clennell, of Leeds University, England,  is not the first to make note of the possibility of methane hydrates as a source for causing ships to disappear, he has become identified with the theory which, on September 21, 1998, at the Festival of Earth Sciences at Cardiff, Wales, he proposed methane hydrates as the future of energy.

As a part of his elaborate disertation he claimed that methane locked below the sea sediments in the Bermuda Triangle can explain the mysterious disappearances. He told how subterranean landslides can unlock the vast beds of methane hydrate. This would be disastrous, he told the audience, because large amounts of methane would reduce the density of the water. β€œThis would make any ship floating above sink like a rock.” He went on to explain how the highly combustible gas could also ignite aircraft engines and blow them to pieces.

Apparently, this is also wrong because the Bermuda Triangly isn’t really the area of largest methane concentrates in the world, and because there are experts in geology who say that a natural eruption of these gasses would be so rare it might happen once every 400 years.  The methane would have to go through thousands and thousands of feet of sediment and ocean before breaking the surface and the chances of a ship or airplane being over the precise location of an eruption is “mathematically astronomical.”

3.  The UFO Theory

The information on this particular theory is too vast to copy and paste or paraphrase.  Basically, some believe that the Bermuda Triangle is situated on some sort of Blue Hole or time warp that can be used to communicate with and transport aliens to other planets.  Often, these aliens capture ships and planes to use for experimentation in their own universes.


4. The Atlantis Theory

Again, a long and drawn-out tale.  The great empire of Atlantis house on a continent the size of Europe is reduced to rubble on the floor of the Atlantic thousands of feet below what is now the Bermuda Triangle.  While the ruined temples now host a variety of sea life, the great Atlantean fire-crystals that once provided tremdendous energy and power to Atlantis long ago, still exist and are still emitting strong beams of energy into the universe.

Unfortunately, however, when the destruction occurred some of these fire-crystals were partially damaged, which has resulted in them only being able to project their energy rays at random. It is said that each fire-crystal would have been at least twenty feet high and some eight feet wide. In Atlantis these fire-crystals would have been erected in a series of three, thus creating a vortex of astronomical energy and a power of the first magnitude.

From time to time, the force field emitted by these damaged Atlantean fire-crystals becomes very powerful and any plane or ship coming within the influence of this force field disintegrates and is transformed into pure energy. Hence the inexplicable and mysterious disappearances that has very often been blamed on the area of the ocean known as the Bermuda Triangle.

I don’t know that there is any proof against this theory, but it is a little out-there.  However, when push comes to shove, I think I like this one the best.  It’s rather mystical, not a bit evil, and makes a cool story.

What do you think?  Compass problems, methane gas, UFOs, or the Atlantean fire-crystals of Atlantis?