For starters, it's very humid and rain breaks out sporadically out of nowhere even when it's hot. I'm not used to that. I did not see any of the big three; which I consider to be Applebee's, Chili's and TGI Friday's. Not even a single Starbucks. I think Dunkin' is the champ there. On the drive from Milton to Gaithersburg we didn't hit an actual highway, for at least an hour. It's mostly two lane roads with wheat fields and lots of trees on either side. The fields stretch out as far as the eye can see, dotted with barns, horses, goats, and homes that seem to sprout out of nowhere...in the middle of nowhere. Curious deer on the side of the road poke around the bushes oblivious to the cars zooming past and the pitch black night sky is pierced by lighting bugs you would miss altogether if you don't know what they are. "Is this really it? Is this where you grew up?" I asked MJ trying to wrap my head around it, because there is just nothing there and it's so different than where I grew up. "Yes," he replied. "You can see why I was so anxious to get out."
Yes, Delaware is different than what I'm used to, but we made the best of it. Wilmington and Dover are Delaware's largest cities, but we spent most of our time in a small town I'd never heard of called Milton. These are the highlights and a nice list of things to do should you ever find yourself in Delaware.
- We went directly from a red eye flight to Cracker Barrel where we ate what we consider to be the best pancakes ever. This may not be the biggest deal to some, but sadly, California does not have one so we never ever miss an opportunity to eat there when we travel. It has to be pancakes. I ordered french toast once and was very disappointed. I hear they serve lunch and dinner, but all I want is the pancakes.
- Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton offers free beer tasting, which is a first for me. You get four pours, which is pretty nice. There is outdoor seating at giant wood community picnic tables, bocce ball (but with frisbees which I'd never seen before), and a food truck with limited food offerings. The atmosphere was lively and they had a really cool tree house out front.
- I ate a delicious build your own salad at this cute little place called The Back Yard, in Milton. Normally I have to make substitutions or pick something out, but my salad was just the way I like it and so good. If you order a bottle of wine there and don't finish it they let you take it home. We did not order a bottle of wine or take advantage of the happy hour but I thought both were pretty cool deals.
- MJ's dad took us to a great spot for breakfast called The Southern Grill of Ellendale. It's seat yourself, and it took us a long time to get served, but the waitress apologized, the food came fast, and it was delicious. There were lots of options for putting together the perfect breakfast; whatever that is for you. I had the 2 french toast, 2 egg (whites), 2 sausage meal.
- Spence's Bazaar in Dover is worth a visit, but not for the bazaar. The bazaar was mostly junk, and I knew that because we went the last time I was there. We checked it out just for kicks, but as expected I didn't see anything that I imagine people actually would want to buy, but one man's trash is another man's treasure and all that. The draw for this place is the Amish Market. The smells coming from that place were delicious. We made the mistake of going there right after breakfast (again). I wanted to eat more than one hot doughnut, but I was stuffed. It's best to go hungry because they have all kinds of food. Cookies, cakes, brownies, pies, pizza, chicken wings, sandwiches, meats and more. All made and served by Amish people in their traditional Amish garb. We took home a Chocolate Peanut Butter cake that was to die for. So, so good.
- Tax Free shopping came in handy. I've been on the hunt for polarized sunglasses. Why is it that when you finally spring for "expensive" glasses they get scratched, and yet the cheapies are still kicking? I'd tried a pair from Amazon that I hated on my face, so I figured, why not buy some in Delaware where I can get it tax free? We hit up the Sunglasses Hut at Tanger Outlets in Rehobeth. Plastic frames are so so cute and I'm drawn to them, but really hate the oversized look on my face. I never would have considered metal framed aviator style Ray Ban's, but I put them on and...sold! Love them.
- Most important, was the reason that brought us out there in the first place. Family. Why else would anyone else visit Delaware? I know, I'm such a snob. His family on his mom's side gets together every other year for a reunion. The last time I was in Delaware was for the 2013 reunion so it's been awhile. Killen's Pond State Park in Felton is really beautiful. There is boating, nature trails, and a water park. We didn't get to spend much time with his mom, due to a travel error. In MJ's head we were staying until Tuesday, but our flight home was scheduled on Monday morning and I didn't make the connection until Sunday night. Oops. But, I got to meet most of his siblings for the first time so that was cool.
We will probably never have the privacy that you get with a lot of land or the square footage. No Cracker Barrel either, but I don't think I can bear to part with So Cal. For now, it's worth it.