“We’ll stay forever this way. you are safe in my
heart and my heart will go on and on”
State 38: Delaware May 15, 2018
We woke up in a Walmart in Berlin, MD refreshed and excited to get on the road again. Yesterday, we took a private ride on the oldest original and longest continually operating merry-go-round in America, and we could not wait to see what adventures lie ahead! Today, we drive North to enter the 40th state on our cross country journey to discover America and find a new state to call home; Delaware: The First State! Apparently, Delaware wants the world to know, “We’re number one! We’re number one!”. Honestly, why shouldn’t they? In the 18th century, Great Britain was a major world super power, and on December 7, 1787 the tiny territory of Delaware was the first US Colony to ratify the US Constitution. Delaware’s bold actions way back when would be today's equivalent of the US Territory of Guam declaring their independence from America! Will Delaware’s deep rooted fearless patriotism inspire the Cross Country Couple to call the state our new home? We cannot wait to begin our week long exploration of Delaware!
The first task of the day is a 35 mile drive North to Rehoboth Beach for the Cross Country Couple's “Famous Food” for Delaware: Thrasher's Fries. French Fries may not be as exciting as some of our “famous foods” of the past such as the Pasty or Bierock, which you can read more about by clicking here and here. While searching for a “Famous Food” candidate for Delaware, Thrasher's Fries kept coming up over and over again.
On second thought, it's about time someone pays homage to the humble french fry!
French fries are often an overlooked side dish we mindlessly munch on while eating our burger! In Rehoboth Beach, french fries are more than a co-star to the standard american lunch, these taters are woven into the very culture of this community! For over 80 years, generation after generation has ventured to the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk braving long lines and inclement weather to partake in Thrasher's French Fries.
Founded in 1929, native Georgian J.T. Thrasher moved to the area to open a concession stand along the boardwalk with one goal in mind: make the best tasting french fry ever eaten. At the time the concept of opening a food stand selling only one item was so unconventional it created quite the waves in this tiny beach community back in the day. Nevertheless, Thrasher persevered with his french fry stand perfecting his recipe and cooking process. Five generations and eighty years later, the business owners who once mocked J.T. Thrasher are long out of business, while Thrasher’s is still thriving by refusing to deviate from their original french fry recipe.
McDonalds original menu consisted of hamburger or cheeseburger, fries, and a shake. The food was made fast, cheap and with quality ingredients. Today, McDonalds have over 100 menu items, the service stinks, and the quality is so poor I would not feed their “food” to a dog. I have great respect for a business who does one thing well, and then continues to do that one thing well year after year! I am really looking forward to tasting Thrasher's Fries. However, I must warn you I am a bit of a french fry snob!!
Although the exact methodology is top secret, Thrasher's Fries are simply made with salt, peanut oil, and the highest quality potatoes served with malt vinegar. Aside from vinegar, Thrashers does not serve ketchup or any other condiment, so nothing competes with the wonderful flavor of the french fries. Asking for cheese sauce or ketchup will send gasps of horror cascading down the line of people waiting behind you for their french fries!! According to a local legend, an out of towner once approached a Thrasher's counter asking for ketchup on their fries initiating what has come to be known as French Fry Riot of 1983. Spuds went airborne, people were blinded by plumes of salt, and the scent of malt vinegar lingered in the streets for months! Mandatory curfews were issued, streets were quarantined off, and the National Guard was called in to restore order! It was near anarchy on Rehoboth Beach! In response, Delaware’s Congress proposed legislation to make the public consumption of Thrasher's Fries with any condiment other than malt vinegar a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine and/or 3 months in jail! The moral of the story; Thrasher's Fries was, is, and will forever be served with only one condiment: malt vinegar.
Apparently, there are three Thrasher's French Fry stands in Rehoboth Beach. We picked a location at random, and they were closed when we arrived. Off we headed to the 2nd Thrasher's stand, and this one was also closed. Wait there was a break in the case! I found a note taped to the building saying “Thrasher's is open across the street”. Typically, I am all for scavenger hunts. However, I was currently having a serious hankering for french fries, and was finding the situation particularly frustrating!!!
After crossing the street, I finally found a Thrasher's stand open for business! Hooray! The third time is truly a charm! The lady behind the counter stated the other two locations do not open up until after Memorial Day, and I suggested someone should update their website. The reviews I read prior to arriving stated the lines for Thrasher's french fries typically extend across the street and down the boardwalk! Fortunately, there was only one person ahead of me in line. This is the reason I love to visit places off season.
Upon approaching the counter, I placed an order for a large french fry for $10.00, which came in a container the size of an 18 piece fried chicken bucket! Since Nate and I were about to collectively consume in excess of 7,000 calories, we figured we might as well workout while doing so. Up and down the entire boardwalk of Rehoboth Beach we walked with our big o’ bucket of fries, and along the way, we encountered many other couples doing the same. We felt like genuine Delawarians! Please see the pictures below.
While Thrasher's French Fries were good, there were by no means the best I have ever had. However, I dare not say anything negative about Thrasher's Fries in fear of reprisal. Surely, if I trash talk Thrasher's I will have an empty Thrasher's fry bucket placed over my head, while I am assaulted by an unknown number of assailants. They take their french fries extremely seriously around these parts! You have been warned!
After exploring 40 states on my cross country journey, I have noticed a few striking differences between the beach towns of the West Coast and East Coast. On the West Coast, the beach communities such as Santa Monica make the pier the center of activities, which you can read more about by clicking here. On the East Coast, the beach activity centers around a boardwalk such as Myrtle Beach, which you can read more about by clicking here. The one thing most beach towns have in common is over commercialization with towering hotels and an endless sea of souvenir shops blocking the beautiful view.
However, Rehoboth Beach was the best beach town we have encountered on our cross country trip. All of the commercialism was concentrated on a single street one block off the boardwalk allowing vast and unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean. When you visit Rehoboth Beach, the parking is ample, the boardwalk is well maintained and the sandy beaches are clean! I would love to one-day return to Rehoboth Beach. However, next time I will skip the overpriced, obscenely supersized, mushy, oil saturated, vinegar soaked Thrasher french-fries! I know! I said I wouldn’t, but it had to be said! Now, I am going to have to watch my back over the next week, because them be fighting words in Delaware! EEK!!! Below are the pictures of the boardwalk and Rehoboth Beach.
After departing Rehoboth Beach, we drove 8 miles North to Lewes, DE to visit the Cross Country Couple's "Historic Location" for Delaware: Lightship Overfalls. The thought of lighthouses typically evokes images of tall tapered cylindrical stone structures perched high above rocky coastlines with glowing glass globes shining deep into the darkness of the night! However, there is a less commonly known type of lighthouse called a lightship. Essentially, a lightship is a vessel built to serve as a floating lighthouse, and is stationed in areas unsuitable for traditional lighthouse construction. Lightships have three means to provide navigational aid: light for navigation at night, a horn to warn mariners in fog, and a radio beacon for longer range identification. Of the 179 lightships built for the United States Lighthouse Service between 1820 and 1952, only 17 are still in existence today, and Lightship Overfalls is one of only seven open to the public!
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, and designated a National Historical Landmark in 2011, Lightship Overfalls was the last lightship built for the United States Lighthouse Service before the service merged with the United States Coast Guard in 1939. The Overfalls required a crew of 14 to operate, and would rotate shifts with a second crew serving one week on and one week off. Lightship Overfalls main aid to navigation was a duel diesel powered electric lantern located 57 feet above the water line. The lantern flashed every 3 seconds from dusk until dawn, and could be seen from over 12 miles away. The ship is also equipped with a fog horn with a range of 5 miles, which sounded every 30 seconds during inclement weather. The ship's radio beacon had a range of 25 miles, and could be synchronized with the fog horn. Between the blinding flashing light, and a continuous thundering fog horn, can you imagine how awful life must have been for the sailors on one of these ships? How in the world did they get any sleep?
From 1938 to 1970, Lightship Overfalls, served at the stations in: Cornfield Point, CT, Cross Rip, MA, and Boston, MA. In December of 1970, a severe storm damaged the lightship, leading to her decommission and subsequent donation to Lewes Historical Society in Lewes, DE. Over the next three decades the ship's condition continued to deteriorate, and the Overfalls Maritime Museum Foundation was founded to save the historic ship! Over the next 11 years, the foundation raised the 1.2 million dollars needed to fund the restoration, and recruited hundreds of volunteers who donated thousands of hours of their time preserving a fading piece of American maritime history for future generations. Today, Lightship Overfalls serves as a museum ship educating visitors about the mission of this historic vessel.
I have never heard of a lightship before, and I find the concept of a mobile lighthouse quite ingenious. Unfortunately, the ship was undergoing maintenance during our visit, and would not be open for tours for another two weeks. The crew graciously agreed to allow Lori and I to walk around the deck of the lighthouse ship, but we were not permitted to go inside. I could not resist going up to the very bow of the ship to take a “Titanic selfie”. The slope on the ship's deck was quite steep, so taking this picture was no easy task. Fortunately, I happen to be wearing the best hiking shoes in the world; my Merrill Moab Ventilators! While standing at the bow of the ship, I took the opportunity to sing the soundtrack from the 1997 Blockbuster Movie “Titanic “, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. With my arms fully extended, I belted out the song's crescendo at the top of my lungs:
“YOU’RE HERE, THERE’S NOTHING I FEAR
AND I KNOW THAT MY HEART WILL GO ON.
WE’LL STAY, FOREVER THIS WAY!
YOU ARE SAFE IN MY HEART!
AND MY HEART WILL, GO ON AND ON!!!”.
All of a sudden, I heard an announcement over the ship's speaker:
“Attention all crew and passengers this is your captain speaking. There is currently someone on deck singing extremely badly, and in order to save the souls on board, I have no choice but to give the order to abandon ship.”
Although I am no Frank Sinatra, I found the Skipper’s public proclamation quite rude. With mutiny on my mind, I walked over to the ship's wheelhouse to confront the captain. When I arrived, the Skipper said, “Don’t get mad it me! This was all her idea!”, and I saw Lori on the ground laughing hysterically. Ok Lori; you got me good! I will give credit where credit is due! That was a good one!
After departing Lightship Overfalls, we drove 15 miles Southwest to Georgetown where we found a Walmart to spend the night.