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Saturday, February 28, 2009

GET READY FOR SUMMER--THINK REHOBOTH BEACH, DELAWARE

Mr. McSweeny first told me about Rehoboth Beach, Delaware way back in 1967 or 1968, He loved it, and I’ve wanted to visit since then. Finally last July we were there at the beautiful beachfront Boardwalk Plaza Hotel, a perfect place to meet Allison and Don who had made all the arrangements for us.

Isn't there always a bit of a kicker in any vacation? Allison and Don had been to Rehoboth before and told of an ocean as calm as a lake with a fine, sandy bottom. We've met people from St. Louis who vacation there every year and say the same thing. Though our weather is beautiful, the sky clear and blue and temperatures in the high 80s, Hurricane Bertha sits off the coast of Bermuda and seriously impacts our beautiful weekend. The surf is rough! There are lots of pebbles. This ocean is angry; it’s no lake! We have no trouble going into the ocean which is a rather chilly 68°, but what the heck. It’s so hot on the beach. The water is refreshing. Some of us get tossed around a bit including me. Getting out of the water is a lot more difficult. The strong undertow keeps knocking me over and I get slammed around and tossed head over heels under the waves a few times. But I don't get hurt, and I find the experience more embarrassing than frightening. There is a man, however, who emerges with a chest scraped and raw. He was beaten down by the waves and pulled by their power across the pebbly bottom. Still, fighting the waves is part of the fun of the beach, and we do it enthusiastically. Other beachgoers are loving it. Some dig in the sand and build their own “levees” to hold back the flood. We’ve become used to seeing levees fail, and these do, allowing the ocean to sweep across the beach to form lakes and gullies wherever a declivity exists. That’s fun too, and the children splash or ride their boogie boards on these shallow ponds.

We raise our beach bags high above the sand and allow the water to wash over our feet. It’s an adventure! Leaving the beach around 5 PM each day, we four head to the rooftop spa and deck of our hotel, and we watch from on high the futile attempts to stem the tide. The water gets rougher and rougher and floods the entire stretch of sand. Rehoboth Beach is a beautiful city established in 1873 specifically as a resort. Over the years it has been popular to different demographics, and the result is a comfortable mix of people looking for a peaceful beach, good restaurants, interesting shops and an “olde tyme” feeling. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll find it all here. The main street is great. You walk past the big gazebo where you hear big band sounds on Saturday night. A trolley runs to other beaches in the area. Shops line the streets. One interesting aspect is that many shops have several outlets. There are several Grotto Pizzas (we didn’t try them) and Thrashers French Fries—a long-time staple. These french fries, vinegary and salty, are sold only at Rehoboth Beach. We tried them—Rob and I shared a $4.00 medium bucket. It’s huge. And nice. The repetition of outlets cuts down on the lines, and that’s pretty good on a hot day at the beach when you’re yearning for a nibble. I had to pop into Gidgets Gadjets to buy my sister a present. It hearkens back to our childhood and one of her favorite puppet characters. Of course I stopped in Del Sol but not before we watched a street chess game. Back on the boardwalk the atmosphere changes at the gazebo. Walk in one direction and you stroll past restaurants and hotels. The boardwalk is lined with benches just right for people watching. What is notable is that Rehobeth Beach is not lined with bars as so many other beaches are. If you’re into a louder scene, you have to move to beaches south of Rehoboth.
In Rehoboth, civility is the order of the day. Bike racks are provided, but for much of the year there’s no bike riding on the boardwalk after 10 AM. Dogs are not allowed for much of the year. It is a calmer world where you can rent your beach umbrellas and chairs and sit back and relax.

Walk in the other direction from the gazebo, and you enter fun land. At night this part of the Boardwalk is busy with people strolling in the pleasant, cool beach night. Many people enjoy ice cream cones from one of the many homemade ice cream stores.

There are games and rides galore. On one roof is a miniature golf course. Among the other games is that old horse race game where you squirt water to make the horse move. There’s 10¢ SkeeBall (REALLY) and old style bumper cars. I got a real kick out of these, and no, I didn’t ride the bumper cars—this time.

Rehoboth Beach is a lovely place to visit. You’ll enjoy the welcoming atmosphere, the apparently lovely and varied accommodations available, the spacious and clean beach, the restaurants and shops, and the amusements. It could be a perfect summer vacation. Check it out.
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