Saturday, June 27, 2020

Reflections: Vacation During a Pandemic

Although I would say that overall, this vacation was much like any other that we have taken, there were some things that were different about going on vacation during this global coronavirus pandemic.

There were certainly many others who had made the same choice that we had, and who went ahead and took their trip.  Things were not super crowded, but we never went anywhere and found it deserted, as often happens when we go for a weekend in the fall!  That said, social distancing was never an issue.  There were not so many people gathered in any one place that we all had to crowd together.

Indoors, facing coverings were required.  Any time I was going to do something indoors that would require covering the whole time, I took my regular hat/shield and used that because it is more comfortable, easier to see though, and, actually, easier to hear with.  If we were going in somewhere to eat, or if we were mainly outdoors, and just going in somewhere for a minute, I would use my pink "crushable" hat/shield.  That one is easier to carry around, although it is not as nice to see through, and I have something of a hard time hearing people when I am wearing it.  I think the plastic the shield is made from is thicker, and it sits closer to my ears.

Most places where we wanted to go were open.  Restaurants were open for takeout, and many were accepting eat-in customers.  We don't do bars or the nightclub scene, so I really have no idea how any of that might have been impacted.

Outdoor areas were more or less normal.  With plenty of room for everyone on the beach, and at the Ecological Preserve, everyone could safely enjoy being outside barefaced, breathing the healthy fresh air freely!

Although we were able to do pretty much everything we wanted, there were a few things that we had originally planned that were impacted.

Several years ago we had visited a theater and had seen a very fun magic show.  When we originally planned our trip in February, we had hoped to return, but their season is cancelled.

We also had hoped to go out on a boat tour, but those were also not running.

Finally, we avoided the boardwalk.  They were requiring face coverings on the boardwalks in Delaware, and we just weren't interested in walking around at an outdoor attraction with our faces covered.  We don't always go to the boardwalk, but, again, when we had originally planned the trip before all of this, the boardwalk was on our list.

And while we would have enjoyed doing these things, not being able to do them did not impact our overall enjoyment of the trip in anyway, especially given the fact that we almost did not get to go at all!

Really, I was so grateful to be able to go and spend time by the shore, and to have time to play with the dogs in the water, that I didn't really miss these other activities.  They will keep for another time when life gets back to normal.

In the end, the biggest benefit of this trip was psychological.  Just having a change of scene, and spending time in a setting where things just felt a lot more normal and relaxed was refreshing, and it provided a much-needed mental boost! 

And, of course, I will forever be grateful to have had this trip with Dean Dog.  I strongly suspect that it will be his last one.  I will always be glad that we got to go and share this time with him.

Bandit and Tessa's Last Day Outing

Since Tessa had stayed with Rocky when we took Dean Dog and Bandit out to the James Farm Preserve on Thursday evening, I wanted to take Tessa back one more time for a hike and swim, so, once again, Bandit, Tessa, and I headed down one more time.

It was pretty hot, so we hiked directly back to the beach, and we played in the water for some time.  And then, we hiked the bigger loop after we had cooled off.

After we had finished, I had a look at some of the flowers near the parking lot.  Their blanket flowers look great!

The Black-Eyed Susans were in bloom, too!

After that, we headed back up to the cottage, and I stopped on the way home and got some donuts from the Fractured Prune.

If you have never had Fractured Prune donuts, and you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend it!  They make them fresh while you wait, and they have all kinds of unusual and creative toppings.  These truly are like no donuts I have come across anywhere else!

Ben's favorite is "Rollo", which has a caramel topping with chocolate chips.  Mine is "Peppermint Patty", which has a mint topping (delicious!) and chocolate chips!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Back to James Farm!

Yesterday evening, we took Dean Dog and Bandit back down to the James Farm Ecological Preserve.

I am well aware of the fact that it might be the last time Dean will ever do this.  His back legs are getting weaker.  I could see a very big difference in his ability to use them now compared to our trip last October.

So, even though it was a little bit of a stretch for him, it meant a lot to me to go with him for one last hike and swim at this particular place, where we have had so much fun together for so many years.  And yes, there is a very slight possibility he will go there again, but ... really, I seriously doubt it.

He was excited to go, of course, and although he hiked slowly, he had no trouble.

The tide was out .... waaaaay out!  So, we all had quite a walk out to get to where Dean Dog and Bandit could actually swim!


At first Dean looked a little confused - like he was not quite sure how to get himself going!  But, Ben helped him "shove off" and after that he swam and swam and swam!

His back legs were not working properly, but he is still the strongest swimming dog I have ever seen!  He managed very nicely using mostly his front legs.

We had forgotten Bandit's life jacket, but he swam anyway!!  He did better when he had it, but he did very very well in spite of the fact that he did not have it.

Some photos from their swim:

 And some photos from the hike back:

All in all, it was a wonderful time.  Bittersweet.  But, a memory that I will treasure always.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Enjoying Time at the Cottage, and More!

We have spent a good bit of our time just enjoying quiet time at the cottage.

The dogs are comfortable here, as are we.  The far back room of the cottage has a sun-porch kind of a feel to it.

 There are two of these chairs, and Rocky loves them!  He has spent most of his time chilling on one or the other.

Dean Dog likes to survey everything from the dining area.

 Outside in the newly fenced dog area!  It was from our visit here last fall that I drew inspiration for white lattice around the decks and butterfly bushes! Ours aren't so big, though!

Speaking of ideas, I absolutely love this one!  Our cutlery drawer is overly-crowded.  Considering putting together something like this!

 Of course we have not spent all of our time at the cottage.

One thing that we have really loved on this trip has been going out to eat - something we have not done, save one very recent exception, since before mid-March!  We had two delicious meals out - one at the Outback Steakhouse, and one at Chaps Pit Beef (unbelievably good!)

It is all done very safely, with people spread out all over the restaurant, and lots of cleaning.

And, of course, we went and sat on the beach.  We usually take the dogs, but Dean's back legs are just not in any condition for him to play the way he would want to, so this time we went dog-less and just sat on the beach, watched the waves and talked.

The beach was not deserted, by any means, but there was plenty of room for everyone to spread out and enjoy one of the most exquisite pieces of God's creation.

We are hoping to head back to the James Farm preserve with Dean Dog and Bandit again this evening ....

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Hiking and Swimming at James Farm Ecological Preserve

One of the reasons why I love to visit the Delaware shore is having the opportunity to take the dogs hiking and swimming at the James Farm Ecological Preserve.

While all three of our "big dogs" love to go, we choose to leave Rocky at the cottage because being in a place like that really only frustrates him, so we ended up leaving Tessa back to keep him company.

Ben, Dean Dog, Bandit, and I headed off on our outing.

Dean struggled a bit on the hike.  It really isn't that long of a walk, but it was a challenge for him.  But, he made it, and before long, he was in his favorite place in the entire world .... the water!

We brought along a life jacket for Bandit.  He does not tend to enjoy the water all that much, and I was thinking that having assistance with floating might help.  It seemed to because he swam out with Dean and was having a fantastic time.

We spent a good half hour out in the water!

Some photos:

Dean Doggie

Playing Together!

Throw It!

Dean is, forever and for always, the Master Swimmer!

Love Shades at the Beach!

It was a beautiful evening!

"Let's go again!"

Tessa, Bandit, and I returned in the morning, but I did not get any photos on that outing.

I am hoping we will get down at least one more time before our time here is finished.

Hopkins Farm Creamery

On our first evening here, we were speaking with the owner of the cottage, and she recommended that we visit a local spot called "Hopkins Farm Creamery". 

The creamery/ice cream shop is right on the grounds of the farm itself and they use all their own milk!

Now, getting milk from a farm is no novelty to us, nor is locally made ice cream.  But, we couldn't say that we had ever had ice cream made and sold right on the farm, so we headed over!

Now, here is the really fun thing.  Usually people go there and park and stand in line, but because of the pandemic, everyone stays in their car!  You line up in your car - just like at a drive-in movie, and inch up until you get to the area where you order.

Here we are waiting in the line ...

And here are the cows, as we were getting closer to the area where we would order ...

The creamery ....

And the ice cream .... absolutely delicious!!

If you are ever in the Lewes, Delaware area, I high recommend giving Hopkins Farm Creamery a try!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A Needed Vacation

Well, here we are in June of 2020.  I have not kept up with blogging at all, but with the social implosion that seems to be happening on social media lately, I am seriously considering doing more blogging.

I turn to this blog now to write about our much needed vacation!

We almost didn't have this one!  We reserved the "Cozy Cottage at Minos" back in February.  I was so excited to snag the last week that they had open - the last full week in June.  Ben got the week off of work, and we seemed good to go!

And then the coronavirus hit, everything closed down, and it really looked like this whole trip was going to be cancelled!  In fact, at one point it was cancelled!  In early May, the owner of the cottage contacted us and told us that they were not allowed to rent to out-of-state guests, and that all people who came into Delaware from out-of-state would have to quarantine for 14 days.  Which, of course, was not going to work for a 6 day trip!

So, we cancelled.  And then, just a few days before June, we were contacted again.  Things had changed!  They were allowed to rent to out-of-state guests, and the quarantine was no longer required!  We re-booked, and here we are!!

Some may question the wisdom of taking a vacation in the middle of a global pandemic, but we considered the matter very carefully.  Pennsylvania and Delaware, neighboring states, have both been on a steady down-trend in cases. 

We are not really boardwalk people, and we don't really get out into crowds on our trips.  Mostly, we go off into nature with our dogs, and .... eat!

And, there was Dean Dog to consider.  He turned 14 in February.  And, while he is managing, and doing fine in many ways, every year his back end weakens more and more.  This may well be our last chance to share a beach trip with him, and I absolutely did not want to miss out on what might be his last trip with us.  Now, had we judged that it was dangerous, we would not have come, but - all things being as they are, we definitely did not want to miss out on this one with him.

So, we are here, and I am SO glad that we came!  Yes, things are different than they normally are.  But, there is still a sense of near-normalcy here that I haven't experienced in a long time, and it is really just good to get away from home, and enjoy some down time!

This is the official "emblem" of our trip!

 Because I have a physical issue that makes it impossible for me to wear fabric over my nose, I use a hat/face shield when I go into public spaces where masking is required.

At home, I use this pumpkin to set it on when not in use.  When we were packing, Ben said, "you better bring the pumpkin", and I thought, "yes, I will need it", so I brought the pumpkin!!  It is the first time I have ever taken a pumpkin decoration on vacation!

Our trip down was uneventful.  No problems!  By Sunday evening, we were settled into the cottage!

Here is Bandit, ready to GO!

Rocky has claimed this particular chair as his very own!

Tessa, pretty as you please!

All of us are very glad to be here!!

More photos to come soon!