Friday, March 29, 2013

Let's Go Fly A Kite

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!

Today dawned bright, clear and with the promise of a little bit of warmth. I was up at the crack of dawn to do a small job for Mom, having every intention of writing the day away. Sometimes, however, it is just too pretty to sit inside at a computer. When one is given a day like today, the only thing to do is to get outside and enjoy it. So, I packed up my camera, my notepad and my list of things I wanted to see and headed north to Cape Henlopen State Park.

Before I entered the park, however, I had to stop for breakfast. As I have been doing my research into the best of Delaware, one name that comes up consistently as a great place for breakfast is Surf Bagel. As I was going to be up that far anyway, I decided to give it a chance. What a treat! About twenty different kinds of bagels and ten different kinds of spreads, or you can really splurge and get a breakfast sandwich. One of the bagel choices was Old Bay, so I had to try it. With a little bit of veggie cream cheese, it was stupendous. To wash down the bagel, Surf Bagel makes smoothies from fresh fruit and serves it to you in an enormous cup. I had pineapple, orange and banana. Not only did it taste fantastic, but I got three of my five in one feel swoop!

Feeling well set up for the adventure in front of me, I headed off to the State Park. While I am sure that I have been here in the past, it has been so long that I didn’t really remember anything about it. It is beautifully set up; easy to navigate and very well signposted so that I could get where I wanted to go with a minimum of fuss.

I started off at the Fort Miles Historic Area. Frankly, I am embarrassed by how little I knew about the importance of this area during the Second World War. If you look at the map to the right, you will see where Cape Henlopen is. It is in a strategic spot to defend the Delaware Bay, which provides direct access to the important ports of both Wilmington and Philadelphia.

Ironically, the fort became fully operational only a few days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a result of the declaration of war, more guns and personnel were added to the fort for the duration. Some of the guns are still on show and they are scary looking things, not to mention the enormous ammunition that they would fire. One of the guns could fire its ammunition clear across to Cape May. Take another look at the map above; that’s an impressive distance.

Battery 519, shown on the left, sits on top of what is called The Great Dune. The tallest dune between Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras, it used to be the site of the Cape Henlopen Lighthouse. As coastal navigation improved, the lighthouse was no longer needed and it fell into disuse finally collapsing into the ocean in 1906. The army built the battery among the ruins. The gun that was housed in here could fire a foot long projectile greater than fifteen (15!) miles. I find things like that fascinating.

Having seen all there was to see of Fort Miles, I went on my first geocaching adventure, but more about that in a later blog.

One of the reasons I wanted to go to the State Park today was because it was the 45th Annual Great Delaware Kite Festival. Held every year on Good Friday, it is a day long competition and showcase for all things kite. Kids, teens and adults all compete for the best kite, the most attractive kite, and the most unusual kite. I arrived in time for the Highest Kite competition. All I could think about was that old saying, how long is a piece of string…

I was able to see the Stunt Flying Competition which was truly amazing. Two guys had kites, each of which was maneuvered with four lines (strings to those of us not in the game). What they could make their kites do was truly remarkable. Even better, however, was the Ballet Competition. Each competitor choreographs kite stunts to a piece of music. I genuinely did not know that kites could do such sweeps and swoops and dives, all in time to a piece of music. I loved it.

The biggest laugh of the day came during the Individual Precision competition. The flyer must do a series of named stunts with his kite. The emcee called up the first competitor and, while we were waiting for him to walk onto the field, the emcee said, “He’s very likely to be the winner.” Just as I was beginning to think that such a statement showed a lot of cheek, he continued, “as we only have the one entry.” Huge laugh. To everyone’s credit, the man went out on the field, did his stunts and everyone applauded wildly.

While all this competition is going on, families have set up picnics and many people were flying kites. It looked amazing, the sky filled with colorful kites against the blue. It is a sight I will not forget for a long time.

I was impressed with the day. Cape Henlopen State Park is extremely well run and well cared for. The historic bit can be done in about an hour, probably a lot less if you are not as OCD as I am when it comes to reading every plaque and notice. There are areas for fishing, swimming and camping, all of which looked gorgeous. Every ranger I met was charming and friendly, going out of his or her way to be helpful.

The Kite Festival is also worth a trip. While I’m not sure I would have gone along if the weather had been less cooperative, it is a fun and relaxing way to spend some time in the sun watching a skill that certainly I have not seen much of. And, all this for the cost of entrance to the park. Hard to beat for a day out with the family.

How do you not love this sign?  I laughed when I saw it.
The view out to sea from the Great Dune.


  1. Not sure if I should thank you or not for starting this post off with that song... it brought back very fond memories, but now I've got it stuck in my head and all I can think about is heading out to fly a kite!!! Couple of problems with that: I don't have a kite! Oh, and it's dark out! :p

    That kite festival sounds amazing!!! I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Hmmm... I'm not even sure when was the last time I saw anyone flying a kite! I haven't done it since I was a kid! (would really like to again)

    Only and hour to visit a historic site and read the information plates? Seems pretty short to me! I spend hours in places like that! Drives people nuts so I tend to go alone... :p

    Can't wait to hear about that first Geocaching adventure!!!

    1. Your comment made me laugh out loud, Cris. I have had that damn song stuck in my head for two days now!

      People hate going to anything historic or to museums with me. I get completely caught up and want to know simply everything. I get the audio guides when they are available; I read every single plaque and notice; and, of course, I have to take photos of everything. Like you, I tend to go alone so that I don't annoy anyone else. The only one who is even slightly tolerant of me is Mom, but I think it's because she's my mom!

      I want to do one more find before I write the geocaching article, so it will probably come out in a couple of days. I have to tell you; I thought about your geocaching video a lot yesterday!

    2. lol! The only person who is tolerant of me is my Mom too!!! But that's just because she's even WORSE than I am when it comes to these things!!! :p
      Needless to say my dad and sisters have always had an intense dislike of going into a museum or historical monument with either one of us! ;o)

      Cool about the article! I have to prepare a new one about the ones I found in Santander when I went up for the wedding... but am getting sidetracked by sorting through the 400+ photos I took during the wedding which I have to send to my friends, AND the 300 photos I took while hiking around the coast there and looking for the caches! Oh, and the video snips to edit of course! Lots of work, but it's almost as much fun as being out there searching for the damn things! :p

    3. I love the fact that you have so many photos to edit. I thought it was just me! For this piece, I edited nearly 200 photos down to the 45 I kept. You're right. It does bring back good memories.

    4. Bringing 200 down to about 45 sounds about right to me! Sometimes I manage to bring it down to 30.... but that's very rare! I just love how the photos help illustrate it so much better! (that and it gives me an excuse to actually do something with all my photos! :p )