Biking at Rehoboth, Delaware

Early Morning Biking

Early Morning Biking

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is go to the beach. While I love sitting in my comfy beach-chair with a good beach read, I love to bike as well. Why do I love biking at the beach in particular?

I am a leisure biker and am working on getting in a better state of fitness. That said, the beach becomes a favorite simply because it is mostly flat and beautiful! There are many parks and scenic places to bike in the beach area. However, many beach towns are very bike friendly, as is the case with Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

I have friends that can bike from Lewes to Rehoboth and on to Dewey in Delaware. I can bike from Rehoboth to Dewey very easily, although there is often traffic to deal with most of the way their are designated bike lanes. I recommend using the bike lanes when ever you see them. I enjoy biking in the parks and around Lewes as well.

I also wear a helmet when ever and where ever I bike. I am a nurse and have seen the results of not wearing a helmet – enough said – wear a helmet! You also need to remember to follow the same rules you would if you were driving a car when you are riding your bike in traffic. Remember, car drivers are at the beach and easily distracted driving in unfamiliar surroundings. Therefore, stay alert to cars!

There are some beautiful nature areas to bike near Rehoboth. One of my personal favorites is Cape Henlopen State Park. There are well maintained bike trails and the scenery is fantastic! I hope this will inspire you to take your bike to the beach next summer!

Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park

View from the bike!

View from the bike!

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My first iBook!


Reading my first iBook! I am reading “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk.” Love the book and really do like some if the iBook features – like making a note, hi-lighting, no book to store. I miss the feel of a book in my hand – but then I can knit and read. I was a skeptic as may friends can tell you as I am an avid “reader” of books. I say “reader” because I listen to books on tape and CD – yes my nurse-mobile has both – lucky me! Then I read traditional books as well. While I do not think I will give up any of my other methods I believe I have found a new addition to my “reading” methods. I know it will be great for travel – I tend to read two to four books on a vacation, add the ever present Bible and my Journal and that is a lot of weight for flights. So I have a Bible on the ipad, can journal (by not paint so will keep my other journal on hand) – end result will give up some of my books for my upcoming trip to KY.



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First Landing (Seashore) State Park, VA Beach, VA


DSCN4598In my humble opinion this is one of Virginia’s Treasures. It was the first “Natural Wonder” of Virginia I declared as a child. The Bald Cypress trail was what led me to declare it a “Natural Wonder.”

In my childhood this park was known as Seashore State Park. It is now known as First Landing State Park as per the Park Ranger, “There are several Seashore Parks up and down the east coast so we changed the name. Also the new name commemorates the 1607 landing at Cape Henry of the settlers that eventually moved west and formed Jamestown which was the first permanent English settlement in North America.”


I say there are two sides to this park, the beach side and the cypress side. Let’s take a walk on the cypress side first. This is a magical world that for me really confirms that God has a very vivid imagination. The topography changes are so vast and great that you feel like you stepped into another planet. There is the cypress swamp, a salt marsh, dunes, freshwater wetlands, maritime forest and the Chesapeake Bay beach all in a short distance from each other. A topographical buffet for sure!



Sounds quickly change from birds chirping to an occasional scampering of some critter. In our short three hour visit we saw; turtles, lizards, numerous birds, and my favorite an opossum.

The opossum was a rare sighting indeed as I had never seen one in the wild. Fascinating Fact: The Virginia Opossum was the first opossum written about in 1610 – and here I see one in the First Landing Park from 1607, the park not the opossum! You just have to keep your eyes peeled in this unusual habitat as you never know what you might find.  There are dragon-flies a plenty and depending on the time of year some mosquitoes, so be prepared with some bug spray.

The swamp naturallDSCN4522y has murky water in which the Bald Cypress grows. The Bald Cypress is also unique in that the trees have these “knees” that protrude from the water. They are part of the root system to give stability and provide oxygen for the tree. These “knees” are a great place to spot dragon-flies and turtles.DSCN4570





My favorite trail at First Landing Park is the Bald Cypress. This trail is really a long board-walk through the swamp. There are times when you are on dirt around the swamp but I really like walking the board-walk through the swamp. It is truly a multisensory experience. You can smell the air is humid and clean as the trees make for a natural air filter. The sights and sounds abound too numerous to detail. The sandy soil is easy to walk on, there are steps in some places but there are some areas of the swamp specifically handicapped accessible as well.DSCN4696

Now you literally cross the street into the campground beach section of the park. Admission to the park is $4 weekday and $5 weekends per car and includes both sides of the park.  On the beach side there is a boardwalk to the beach over the dunes. There is a mile and a half beach on the Chesapeake Bay side of the park. There are no lifeguards and swimming is at your own risk.

There are numerous trails in the park for hiking and some for biking too! There is a 6 mile bike trail but most of the trails are for hiking. I was there DSCN4703before Memorial Day, the traditional opening beach season, so the beach is not crowed in my photos. Come summer there will be many campers enjoying the beach. Camping is available at the park and they have all the necessary amenities for  campers and tents. I spent many a childhood family vacation in this campground. I have continued to come back and visit this “Jan’s First Natural Wonder of Virginia” – albeit my personal declaration and endorsement. I hope you will take the opportunity to visit the area for yourself and enjoy!


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The Great Dismal Swamp

On a recent trip to Virginia Beach, Virginia I was looking for someplace to go for a bike ride. Of course I goggled parks and came up with the Great Dismal Swamp.  So I asked my friend, “How about a bike rDSCN4308ide in the Great Dismal Swamp?”

Oh the reaction, “DISMAL swamp, why would  I want to go to the DISMAL swamp?” To wit I replied, “It is the GREAT dismal SWAMP you are focusing on dismal, focus on GREAT SWAMP. It will be GREAT!”

So we decided to load up and tackle a ride in the Great Dismal Swamp! I have been to First Landing State Park (formerly called Seashore State Park, more on this one in an upcoming post) and so I knew a little about what to expect. I anticipated murky water, mystery and if we were luck unusual wild life.DSCN4344

I was not disappointed. It was as if we biked into another planet. The landscape quickly changed from the gravel parking lot to murky water tree filled expanses. The reflections of the trees in the water was stunning. The forest, thick in some areas, suddenly opened up into water filled areas.

DSCN4333The bike path appeared to be a berm of packed dirt topped with some gravel and grass that had been trucked in. I later learned from my Dad, who grew up in the area, that when he was a teen the Dismal Swamp was off-limits for the most part except some small areas for Scout Troops to visit and camp. They were only able to go on guided tours as there were no roads. He told me a friend of his father had gotten lost and they searched for him for a week before they found him. Thankfully, he was fine as he was a very experienced outdoors man.

Today, the Dismal Swamp has many bike paths, boardwalks and roads all with scenic views of the swamp. There are some areas after heavy rains that can become a bit muddy. They had such a rain two days before our arrival and we were able to bike six miles into the swamp before we were stopped by too much mud. DSCN4452

I was also not disappointed in the wild-life. We saw some unusual birds, I especially liked the blue heron.  I was able to capture photos of several turtle families sunning on logs. We did see one snake while biking, it was as stunned seeing us as we were it and it squirmed away before I could get a photo. I never felt threatened by it.


As always in the woods there are beautiful plants, unbelievable ferns, some wild flowers and unusual trees. There are many wonderful sights to see. HDSCN4358owever, if you are like me you do need to be vigilant to watching for Poison Ivy. For those who do not know what it looks like I took the photo that shows not only the leaves of three but also the hairy vine. The plant can grow in small plants which can be seen growing along the ground; I learned the rhyme “leaves of three leave it be.” For the vine type of poison ivy in the photo I learned, “Hairy vine no friend of mine.” I am highly allergic to poison ivy so I have learned to spot it at a distance in all forms, both plant and vine.

At the end of our bike ride we decided to take one of the roads back to Lake Drummond. This is a 3,100 acre lake with an average dept of 3 feet located in the Dismal Swamp. This was where we saw a large Blue HDSCN4420eron.

All in all we had a great day and a great adventure at the Great Dismal Swamp. It is a unique ecosystem that is located on the Virginia North-Carolina border. We entered in Suffolk Virginia and totally enjoyed our visit. If you are in the area I highly recommenced it!


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Had a Ball Biking in Virginia Beach!

DSCN4167I had a ball biking in Virginia Beach on the Boardwalk!

     I love the separated boardwalk in Virginia Beach, VA.  It is unique in that it has clearly marked individual lanes for walking and biking. They are both excellent surfaces and have an exceptional view of the beach. While the photo here is obviously early in the season before the area becomes filled with beach goers the dual areas make going to the boardwalk all day long a pleasure.

I have been a fan of Virginia BeacDSCN4219h since childhood. Primarily because I had two sets of grandparents that lived at the beach. Many years, as children, we would go for one week with one set of grandparents and the next week with the other set of grandparents. That meant two weeks at the beach! So Virginia Beach holds many special memories for me to begin with.

I recently went for a week back to this childhood treasure. It is still a joy to go to the beach, enjoy the sun and fun. I still love setting on the beach feeling the warmth of the sun while I read and people watch. I know we all do it – see the folks on the beach and make up snippets of stories about those strangers. You know, you see a guy and girl in the water playing in the waves, turn to your friend and say “look at the cute honeymooners.” We see people on vacation and make a momentary connection… the old girl friends, oh maybe sisters who have plastic bags in their hands looking for shells… the father and son digging sand to make a hole to china… we love to catch snippets of their conversations. We find enjoyment in the joy of others having fun! The beach brings this sense of community out in me for sure.



I really like seeing the families having fun! Dad’s and Mom’s playing with their kids, that is joy! I watched this Mom and Dad help their child learn to ride a bike. It was amazing, it has been years since I have seen that simple common act of parents teaching a child to ride a bike. I have always loved to ride a bike and watching this gave me a walk down memory lane. I found myself cheering inside for this boy to succeed in his solo bike ride. It was fun to have time to take joy in the success of others.

I found myself wanting my photo taken at many of the places along the boardwalk. I do not recall the giant beach balls, turtles or fish along the boardwalk for photo shoots as a child. But they sure were fun on this trip! We all need to have fun and call up our inner child from time to time! My family tells me I am the oldest 12 year old they know because I like to have the fun and remember the wonder of childhood.


DSC00053      I saw the fish and I had to have my picture taken just so I could say “fish you were here!” So where is  your favorite beach? Why? What makes it special and fun? Let’s have some fun and share our beach memories!


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Always wear clean underwear – especially when traveling


If your mother is anything like mine she told you more than once, “Always wear clean underwear, in case you get into an accident.”  You mom had a fear that if you got in an accident that God forbid the emergency room doctors and nurses would see your worn out dirty underwear.

How funny, even as an adult these trite sayings of mom stick with us. This blog came to mind because of a conversation with a sick friend. I said “take a shower you will feel better.” She said “I have to so I can put on clean underwear in case I have to go to the hospital.”

Now I have been a nurse for many, many years. I have worked in many areas including the emergency room. This is a conversation I have never heard.  “Hey Doc you have got to go see that guy in room three his drawers have more holes than a guy shot with a Saturday night special.” Never once has the topic at the nurse’s station been, “Ok ladies who wants to see the worst grayish old fashioned granny panties to come through this ER because I got the lady wearing them.”

“Airway, breathing, circulation, underwear,” Not part of the nursing assessment. We are far more concerned with the patient ailment than their underwear. I have heard, “room two broken femur, room three laceration, room four in labor.” Never once have I heard, “room one boxers, room two briefs, room three tightly whites, room four pink lace panties.”

Nor have I ever had a doctor write an order, “Send underwear to lab for cleanliness testing.”  No doctor has ever said, “Wait do not touch that guy, no CPR here, he has on contaminated soiled underwear.” The registration process does not say, “Name, address, birth date, clean or dirty underwear.” There is no board in the nurse lounge listing the names of the “Underwear Hall of Shame.”

The only things I recall concerning underwear as a nurse were as a supervisor counseling a nurse about her underwear and laughing with one patient. When one young nurse wore her white uniform with great big red hearts on her underwear that shown through I had to counsel her. I took her aside and told her I could see huge hearts all over her butt. She was mortified and wore her sweater tied around her waist the rest of the shift. The patient we laughed with was a lady who came in wearing a coat with nothing on under it except leopard underwear. She had been getting ready to go somewhere when she realized she left something in the car. She threw on her coat to go and get it and slipped in the ice and broke her leg. A passer-by called 911 and stayed with her until they came. When she came into the ER and we wanted to take her coat off to put her in a gown she said, “They are clean I promise but I don’t have anything on except my underwear,” we all laughed. Doc said he would give her a note to send to her mother that she was in fact seen in the ER with clean underwear on.

So mom’s ever where take note, tell your kids to drive safe and don’t worry about their underwear we really never look. Of course we would like them to wear some and that thread they call a thong does not qualify as underwear.

(I recently wrote this fun piece for my friend Cindy Brookshire’s blog and I just had to share on my blog too  check out my friend Cindy’s blog at )

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Tamela Ritter – Guest Blogger


The Things You Find on the Side of the Road                                            0055_IMG_9539

Every year that I’m away from Washington state, it gets harder for me to think of it as home, and yet, it’s really the only connection I have to family and the place that I still go to when I set down to write. Now when I land in Seattle and get in my rental car for the long, beautiful drive to the other side of the state—what everyone who isn’t from Washington calls, “The Not Seattle Part,” it’s not my life that flashes in nostalgia and memory, it is the characters of my book, From These Ashes. They are the roads he traveled, the mountains he hiked through. They’ve been lost to me for a long time now.

Or they usually are.

Last time I was driving to Spokane, I took my customary stop in Ritzville, a little gas-stop town. No matter where I was going when I was young, we always had to stop there for the best milkshakes in the world. And although the shake shack is no longer there, I still have to stop every time, just in case. This time, the delicious dessert was still absent, but what I did wind up picking up was my 20 year old self.

She was hitchhiking from Oregon to Montana for that year’s Rainbow Gathering and she was accompanied by a dog and a guy she had met on the road. Sitting next to her in my rental SUV, the whole decade of my 20s flashed through my mind as wind-turbines that were not there when I lived there, peppered the landscape.

Yes, back then I was what was fondly (at least to me) called a Granola. A Gen-X hippy is another term—or a Pacific Northwester in their 20s. Anyway, I too had relied on the kindness (and sometimes, let’s be honest, the creepiness) of strangers for a ride. In fact, 20 years ago that summer, I too had made my way down to the Rainbow Gathering, that year held outside of Taos New Mexico.

I remembered how easy life had been then, mostly. How while in New Mexico, I had gotten lost hiking back out of the Gathering and had no idea where I was and no way to get the information or notify the people I had come with that I had lost my way. I tiny Mazda pickup drove by and stopped and a man called out asking if I needed a ride. He was a Hara Krishna and he was perhaps the nicest person I’d ever met. I had so many questions.

So many questions that I didn’t ask.

And as I sat next to my 20 year old self, I had so many questions for her too, so many things that I wanted to tell her. I wanted to tell her to not put things off; to take the opportunities that she was presented with, no matter how scary, no matter how much work was involved. To take risks, to stop when she see something that she wanted to record, reflect or take a picture of, because chances are, she wouldn’t be down that road again and she’d regret the stops she didn’t take.

Mostly I wanted to tell her to trust herself, to trust her dream, and for the love of all that is holy, STOP WAITING FOR THINGS TO HAPPEN! Make them happen!

Of course I didn’t say any of those things. I convinced myself that the reason was because if she really was me 20 years ago, she wouldn’t care what some 40 year old senior citizen was saying. Really though, it was because I’m horrible at taking my own advice and there will always be things I regret not doing.

But now? Now at least I stop and take the pictures.


Tamela J. Ritter was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, her debut novel From These Ashes was published in March 2013 by Battered Suitcase Press. She now lives and works in Haymarket, Va. You can find her on Twitter or on Facebook.

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Staycation – Washington Style

Have you ever tried a staycation? As a travel blogger I have learned to appreciate the word go as well as stay.  One of my favorite forms of a staycation is my day – I call it a “Jan Day.” So what does a “Jan Day” look like?

When I really feel the travel bug biting and I really want to go but I can’t go I have a Jan Day – It is all about me. Sometimes it is due to lack of vacation time off, wrong time of year, lack of funds or I am saving for a particular trip. Just recently I felt the need for some battery charging adventure but I only had the weekend off. Meanwhile I am saving for a trip to Hawaii. So what’s a girl to do?

Luck for me I live in Northern Virginia. Quick internet search tells me there is an exhibit at The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC of “The Dying Gaul.” It is a statue that had not left Italy since 1797. It is a beautiful work of art. The exhibit is through March 26, 2014,

The next step on my Jan day was to have some food from a foreign country so that I could feel like I actually went somewhere even though I was never more than thirty minutes from home. For me that meant Ethiopian food. There is a great Ethiopian restaurant in Centreville, Virginia called Manna Bistro, . I really found it very authentic. I lived in Ethiopia for many years as a child and have always loved the food.  I asked for my meal to be served in the traditional manner, which means on top of Injera, a flatbread that also serves as your utensils. Don’t worry they have utensils too. If you like spicy and want an adventure for your taste buds as for Dura Watt. It is a spicy chicken dish that will be served with a hardboiled egg in it, it is my favorite. All the vegetables are excellent as well.

For Cindy


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Cindy Brookshire – Guest Blogger


Thanks, Jan, for letting me stop and visit your blog today. Jan and I are fellow members of Write by the Rails, and she also helped me as a home health nurse when I was recovering from a knee replacement last summer.

At one of our Write by the Rails meetings, I had the pleasure of hearing Jan read an excerpt from of a piece she wrote about being a camp nurse. It made me think about my friend, Kathleen McClelland, who is now a certified nurse midwife at Manassas Midwifery & Women’s Health Center, and used to be a camp nurse at Camp Glenkirk in Bristow, Virginia. Camp Glenkirk doesn’t exist anymore. The land was sold and part of it is now a housing development. But while it still existed, Kathleen secured permission to use the camp lodge for her winter wedding to Dan Nellis, who is now an outdoor educator at The EDGE at George Mason University. Kathleen decorated the walls of the lodge with borrowed quilts. She wore her mother’s wedding dress from the 1950s. During the ceremony, the bell choir from her family’s church played the music. For the reception, we ate hot soup and bread, apple pie and then danced, danced and danced to a live square dance caller and band. When we left, one of my best memories was driving away through the camp woods and looking back at the lodge and, seeing through the windows that people were still dancing, dancing, dancing and having a good time. On February 14, Kathleen and Dan will celebrate their 21st wedding anniversary.


Photo:  Dan Nellis and Kathleen McClelland

I’m sorry Camp Glenkirk isn’t a place you can visit anymore, except in the minds and memories of those who shared time there. If you go on Facebook, yes, you can probably find a group that remembers Camp Glenkirk with their memories and photos. But there’s nothing like walking the paths again.

One last note before I move on, Jan.  I also visited Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument back in 1984. Korczak had a vision of not just the sculpture, but also a Native American university there – it’s been 30 years. I hope his full vision will be realized one day, though I realize it may be many more generations before his descendants see it through.  Happy and safe travels, Jan!

Cindy Brookshire

Freelance Writer/Editor



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Crazy Horse – South Dakota

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A trip to the Black Hills to Mount  Rushmore would not be complete without going to see Crazy Horse.  The Crazy Horse Memorial was started June 3, 1948 by Sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear.  The mission of the Crazy Horse memorial is to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians.

The work on the largest stone sculpture continues by the Ziolkowski family.  Korczak and his wife Ruth had ten children many of which have worked on the Crazy Horse Memorial and continue the work there today.

There is a wonderful Indian Museum of North America on the Crazy Horse Memorial Grounds.  Several years ago my grandmother told me we are Choctaw Indian.  Ever since that revelation I have become more interested in the Native American Heritage and the museums.  There are beautiful arts and crafts on display.  The Museum is home to a massive tribal flag collection that is on display.  There are amazing artifacts which bring the history and culture of the Native American Tribes to life.

I encourage you to include this as a destination on a trip to South Dakota. They have events and displays for all ages including children of all ages. It is a full day to see both Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore in the same day.

For more information see the Crazy Horse website:

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