The Fourth of July – and other summer holidays – often feel like a little slice of hell for us. We’re those spoiled brats who enjoy camping areas all year round, especially enjoying the solitude and non-hectic aspects of them. We like to roll up without much advance reservation and claim whatever the best open site in the campground happens to be. On summer holidays, it feels like the rest of the U.S. joins us at camping areas – forcing us to preplan. It’s really fine and dandy and good for everyone in the U.S to flock to outdoor retreats during holidays. Healthy and relaxing and blah-blah-blah and stuff.
But, like I admitted above, we’re spoiled.
The Fourth of July camping rush has historically seemed to attract very territorial campers into our midst. I’m not sure why. I was actually hoping that maybe the Coronavirus pandemic would keep the typical Fourth of July assholes at home.
Spoiler: it didn’t.
We rolled into a jam-packed Delaware Seashore State Beach campground and were immediately greeted with overly ‘helpful’ drunk men letting me know the best way to park our rig. Yay, my favorite! At least they were trying to be helpful…
We directed Dexter to read the rules of the park, partly so he knew the rules, partly as a sneaky way to sneak in some reading comprehension practice, and
partly mostly to occupy him while we quickly tried to set-up camp before being accosted by more helpful non-sober folks.
Having Dexter read the park rules, which include ‘no smoking’ and ‘no alcohol’ proved to be a fail on our part. Or possibly on the part of all the patrons in the park who ignored these rules. Dexter spent the next day chastising adults in the park for ignoring the rules (rules are very important in his nine-year-old life). We got a visit from a drunken delegate the next evening informing us that our nine-year-old, who we allowed to bike around the park with his walkie-talkie, was bothering everyone and that the large smoking, drunken group that had sent the delegate was displeased by his declarations that their behaviors were against the rules. After being told, then reminded, and reminded again, that this group had been coming to this state park campground for years and that if we wanted to ‘fit in’ we better ‘get with it’. Oh, and Dexter was also apparently banned, by this group, from riding down their aisle ever again. Cool, awesome. What a joyful experience at a public park.
We were very happy when Eden, delivered by Jake’s sister Emily, arrived a few hours later to entertain our small rule enforcer. We informed both children that we would all just be ‘avoiding further conflict’ and staying away from that aisle, where the ‘regulars’ had staked their claim with high-flying Trump flags. And then we explained to both children how some adults don’t have to follow rules because that’s just the way the world works and yes, that sucks and is confusing, but welcome to America, small humans.
Before Eden saved Dexter from the temptation of not being able to play with other kids due to rampant virus catching potential and also because their parents proved to be dicks, we spent an afternoon meeting up with Jake’s college friend Kirk, who also happened to be in the area. We met at a beach a few miles down the strip, where Jake and Kirk sat not too near to each other and chatted while Dexter and I frolicked in the waves for a few hours.
We spent the remainder of our time at Delaware Seashore State Beach trying – often unsuccessfully – to protect Eden and Dexter’s pale complexions from the ravages of the sunshine, frolicking in waves, and hunting down the resident turtles who roam the state park. We never left the park with the kids (Jake and I each ran out once for more sunscreen). The swell of COVID-19 across the U.S. made for very little incentive to do anything beyond hang out at and around Dyna.
The beach is a short walk from the camping areas at the park, which is awesome.
After a day spent with a few too many people on the beach for comfort, we figured out that if we could entertain the kids away from the beach until mid-afternoon, the beach cleared to a comfortable level of ‘crowding’ (which, for us, was nearly none) and the sun had less burning effects on the skin of the nine-year-olds.
So, we spent our mornings playing legos, chess, circuit sets, and exploring the horseshoe crab ‘graveyard’ which could be found via a quick walk down the road.
We spent the Fourth visiting the beach early in the day, then returning in the late afternoon for a second visit. We were treated to a full-360º display of amateur displays of fireworks, which we accompanied with a few sparklers of our own.
After an initial experience of ‘good lord I hate living in campgrounds on the Fourth of July’, Eden and Emily’s arrival provided an awesome reprieve and ability to refocus on enjoying family – and a barren-by-afternoon beach.
The added perk of all of us being exhausted by bedtime every night lead to peaceful sleep even in the crammed confines of Delaware Seashore State Beach’s campground. And, if the nine-year-olds insisted “we aren’t tired” we just plopped them in front of the projector outside and napped until they were.