We have completed two full weeks of our volunteer job at Killen Pond State Park outside Felton, Delaware. Of course that means we have had two weekends off as well.
Our weekends are Monday and Tuesday which are good days for a lot of reasons. First, we are off when the campground is at its least busy time for the week. Since we are the only couple on the volunteer list, having two people gone at the quietest time makes the most sense. Secondly, Mondays and Tuesdays are pretty quiet for the other tourist attractions in the area therefore getting us away from the crowds for the most part.
The work at the state park is considerably different from what we did at Kings Bay and what we have observed as we have moved around the country staying in a variety of public, private and military campgrounds. Some of the differences are driven by the fact that we all support the entire state park, not just the campground. With the campground traffic being centered on the weekends the workload in the campground is not exactly level from day to day. That makes it difficult to schedule hours for each person guaranteeing 24 hour workweeks. The folks who schedule our time in other areas of the park know our days off, but not necessarily how busy we would be day to day working our assigned tasks at the campground. At this writing we are all struggling a bit trying to get schedules that give the park and campground what is needed and at the same time blocking our work time so that our four or five hours a day are not spread over an eight or nine hour period. It remains a work in progress.
The campground is very well laid out within a dense stand of trees. The trees provide good shade and really do a great job of keeping the temperatures down. There is usually about a twenty degree difference between under the canopy and out in the open along the roadway. That makes work around the campsites pretty comfortable even on the hottest days. Our other assignments are not always so environmentally friendly. I work several hours a week in the boat rental area where I am out in the sun and actually doing some real physical work. Connie works in the Main Park Entrance Fee Booth collecting money as visitors come through the gate. The park has a variety of users’ fees. There is an entrance charge per carload to get into the park. There are additional charges to gain access to the water park, boat rentals, hay rides, guided walks and other scheduled events. There is a different entrance to the campground and a different fee structure. Once you pay for your campsite you get access to the main park, but not the water park or boat rental, etc. There are also eleven cabins that are rented.
The first two weeks were a little rough as we tried to learn our jobs and get our routines worked out. Towards the end of last week we saw things getting a little easier. There is more change in the wind, so who knows what this week will bring.
Enough talk about work. The more important topic is what we do on our time off. Of course in our house the fun cannot begin until the laundry is done so we don’t have that hanging over our heads at the end of the weekend. We were issued two work shirts and one polo shirt to be worn when we are working with the public. So we have to wash those at the end of the week in order to have something to wear the next week. I mention this because doing laundry in this area can be a real adventure. The park has one washer and one dryer that are at our disposal. However, with two or three loads to be done each week we would spend a lot of time in a little room with little to do but watch the machines go round and round. Therefore, we have opted to take our laundry to town after we are done working on Sunday. The first week we went to a coin laundry that is advertised in the area tourist guide. In the guide it really looks nice. In actuality it is a sauna and not really well taken care of. All the machines were in working order, but you certainly didn’t want to let anything fall on the floor. This last Sunday we went to a different coin laundry and, if anything, it was worse. Next week could be a rock and a stream.
We wanted to go to Rehoboth the first weekend off to do some shopping and to see if we could remember having been there before. We were successful in the shopping but neither of us had even a glimmer of recognition of the place. We now need to do some records searching to find out if we were ever there. We did find a wonderful little restaurant in a new “town center” community just north of Rehoboth. It was one of those restaurants with a modern menu offering some dishes and side dishes you don’t often see. For instance the featured appetizer was a white bean and garlic spread with thinly sliced toast. The beans were served warm and had been hand mashed like potatoes. The dish had a similar consistency to humus, only not as smooth. It was really quite good. The portion was ample to share half at the restaurant and take the other half home for later in the week. I had a wonderful salmon dish while Connie had shrimp and grits. All in all it was pretty darned good dining experience. Since we had stopped earlier in the day at a Starbucks, I found it to be a very successful outing.
The next day we traveled north and east to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Preserve. We were looking for the one and only Little Egret that took up residency there this spring and has been feeding alongside Snowy Egrets for the past several weeks. Unfortunately we did not spot him although he had been seen earlier that day. This bird belongs in Eurasia, not North America. In breeding plumage the differences between the Little Egret and Snowy Egret are considerable. When he loses his breeding plumage he will blend in with the Snowy Egrets and will be nearly impossible for someone with my limited skills to tell apart from the Snowy Egrets, especially at the distances he seems to be sighted. Even though we failed to see our target bird, we had a wonderful time putting glass on everything that was white. I must have made a hundred birds into the Little Egret at one time or another. In addition to the scores of Snowy Egrets we also saw Great Egrets, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron and some twenty other smaller songbird species. So, it was not a total loss of a day.
This past weekend was a little less stressful from a driving perspective. On Monday we went to Newark, Delaware to, you guessed it, shop. We are actually looking for some special flip flops called Switch Flops. The straps that hold the flip flops on your feet are made of hook and loop fabric. Each pair comes with one set of straps but you can buy several others giving you a great deal of flexibility in the design of your shoe. Neither of us wears flip flops, but we have a great friend who just loves them. We are looking for these Switch Flops for her. I am beginning to think it would be easier to make them myself. Anyway the search continues. We were not successful in finding the Switch Flops, but we were successful in not spending a lot of money on a lot of other things we don’t need. Therefore, it was another successful day.
Tuesday we were expecting our good friend Pat to come over from Northern Virginia, so we stuck a little closer to home. We did go up to Dover to do some grocery shopping and pick up a few non-essentials we avoided on Monday. When we did finally hear from Pat we learned he was going to be spending the night in Dover. We wanted him to see our motorhome, so we gave him directions to get here. He brought his friend Trish along so we got meet someone new. Trish is a nurse practitioner, so she and Connie hit it off right away. As it turns out they worked for the same company in Northern Virginia at the same time, but did not know one another. After a tour of the coach and a glass of wine we all went to Dover to an Italian Restaurant we keep driving by called Roma. We knew nothing about this place, but since Pat had taken us to the crab-less all you can eat crab dinner at Ft. Belvoir we figured we had a free pass if the restaurant turned out to be a bomb.
It was anything but a bomb. When we arrived they were fairly busy and asked if we minded a ten to fifteen minute wait. Of course that just gave us an excuse to visit the bar. Roma had a pretty extensive wine list, but all by the bottle. However, their house wines are nothing to cry about, so we were easily satisfied staying away from the bottles. While at the bar we had appetizers consisting of Calamari and Bruschetta. They were both wonderful. Connie even liked the Calamari and that is saying something. The dinner menu was huge. I told myself that if my entrée was half as good as the appetizers we would return a few more times to sample other seeming delights on the menu. Among the four of us we had three different dishes. I had the Seafood Marinara. It seems that here lately I have been using that dish to sort of compare Italian restaurants with. Roma scored very well. I could not have asked for a better meal. I brought half of it home for later this week. Connie and Pat each had the Sea Bass on Cannelloni. It looked delicious and I heard no complaints. Trish had Veal Scaloppini Picante. It is a good thing she never left the table as she would have lost some of her dinner to my wandering fork. It really looked wonderful. We were all too full to squeeze in any dessert, but Pat and I did each get a cappuccino. If there is a weakness at Roma, it is either in the cappuccino machine or the operator as they were a bit thin. All in all it was a wonderful dinner and of course it was really great to get together with Pat as always. It was great to meet and get acquainted with Trish. She is a lot of fun.
So, that pretty well rounds out our first few weeks of life in Central Delaware. There are six more weeks of this adventure left. I have a feeling there will be few if any dull moments, especially if the noises I hear outside the coach as I have been writing this indicate what I think they do.
Stay tuned, there may be some dirt to come.