When you’re a military family and you get asked where you’re from, the explanation can oftentimes be complicated. Normally the spouses are from two different places, sometimes having been born one place and raised another. The kids have all been born all over the globe. Mostly you refer to them by base or the town right outside the main gate of said base. We had friends who had a Houston, a Cherry Point, and a San Diego. A Coast Guard wife I knew had a LAX baby (conceived in the parking garage after a loooong deployment). All these kids were as different as could be and honestly, I believe their personalities reflected their base (or airport as it were) namesakes. What can make explaining where you’re from if you’re a military family even more complicated is if your home stomping grounds is unrecognizable when referred to by how the locals call it. For my husband, that would be the Eastern Shore.
Where are you from?
The Eastern Shore.
Oh! Is that Virginia?
Then what Eastern Shore?
That Eastern Shore. I’m just not from the Virginia end.
A long explanation normally ensues at the huh?…
Many who aren’t actually from the Eastern Shore, but have heard of it in passing, have no idea that the Eastern Shore encompasses the ocean fronts of three adjoining states that make up the Delmarva Peninsula. If you’re from the Eastern Shore you could have been born and raised anywhere from eastern Maryland to southern Virginia, or slower lower Delaware in between. This bit of Americana is an entity and culture unto itself. It’s where crabs are king and the ground is fertile. You can own a farm and be within minutes of any number of stretches of sandy beach. Big city life is no more than a couple hours away with D.C., Baltimore, and Virginia Beach within close proximity. It’s a wonderfully unique place and one I’ve adored since first meeting it just weeks prior to MarshFox and I saying I do. It’s where my heart went when the idea first flitted through my mind for The Delaneys of Delaware series.
I’ve spent a few posts talking about people, places, and things in those books which were formed from inspirations all around the Seaford, Delaware area. Today I thought I’d share a few things one could squeeze in on a whirlwind weekend trip to the Eastern Shore, and some of which did make their way into the books if by nothing more than a passing mention. Like…
A monkey fish. What?! Get out! No, I am serious, y’all. At the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes, Delaware there resides within the displays a Fiji merman. It is in fact the head of a monkey attached to a fish. I was both appalled and intrigued when my husband took me to view this grotesque little piece of Lewes history. The museum is free, but donations are accepted. It’s worth the trip to get a view into the maritime history of the county, and of course be grossed out by the monkey fish. Also located in Lewes is the Cannonball House, Cape Henlopen State Park, and the Roosevelt Inlet Shipwreck. The Cannonball House still sports the damage done to the structure in a wee altercation with some British in 1813. At Cape Henlopen you can visit the remains of some WWII bunkers, and the Shipwreck is pretty self-explanatory. These four attractions make for a full day in Lewes. If you want to get your seafood on while in Lewes, try The Surfing Crab.
Beaches…What’s a trip to the Eastern Shore without a day in the sand, surf, and sun? The first beach I ever laid eyes on was in Ocean City, Maryland. I was 27 years old. I was absolutely taken aback by the vastness of it. It was in November, so most of the boardwalk was closed down, but we did grab a pizza at Grotto and thus began my love of Grotto pizza. During the season, Ocean City is the place to find a spot on the sand and enjoy all the fun features of the boardwalk; the games, the rides, the clubs if you’re old enough, and the carnival atmosphere type foods. If you’d like a more rustic beach experience with fewer crowds and less attractions, I’d recommend Fenwick or Dewey Beach, or I’d recommend a trip to southern Virginia to see the wild horses in Chincoteague. You can actually arrange a private “tour” out to see the horses. Visit their tourism site for more information.
Shopping! Gravy, my sugars. How many places can you shop without paying sales tax? Delaware is one of those places. When we lived on the coast of North Carolina not a few hours away and trips home were more frequent, I always saved up for a shopping spree tax-free. That being said, one of my favorite places to shop when on the Eastern Shore is The Country House on Main Street in Salisbury, Maryland. If primitive deco is your thing, this is the place to be! They even have an outlet store attached to the main shopping area. Hours are limited though, so be sure to call ahead to see if it’s open for the day. Now, granted The Country House does have an online presence and delivers, I’ve used that service in a pinch, but nothing beats actually walking the store and finding that primitive treasure to add to your own country house at home.
I have to tell you, friends and readers, I’ve wondered the past few weeks as I’ve shared all my favorite people, places, and things about the Eastern Shore, what in blue blazes I’m doing living in the Smokies…
Release day is getting close. You’ll be able to pick up a digital copy of The Delaneys of Delaware, a three-book boxed set, at Amazon next Thursday, May 9.