Saturday, July 12, 2008

Day 34 - Hail to Thee, Proud Delaware

July 10 - We got back on the road Thursday morning, bound for a return visit to the Wilsons in Chester, VA. I left my Phillies cap there on the way down. Allen offered its return in exchange for beer. With the unspoken promise of a night's lodging and a meal, this seemed like a no-brainer to me.

En route we drove through Delaware. In particular, I wanted to see what the University of Delaware looked like. I graduated there in 1976 and haven't often (ever?) been back since I left the Delaware Valley for South Carolina in January 1977.

The quad where my dorm was located, and the adjoining academic quad were essentially unchanged, but otherwise I could hardly recognize anyplace for all the new construction. Main Street was still the commercial district, but as you'd expect, all the business names had changed in the intervening 32 years, and many old buildings had been torn down and replaced. I saw a poster for the Deer Park Tavern, notorious watering hole for underaged drinkers in my time at the U of D, but didn't see the tavern itself.

The basketball arena and football stadium on South Campus were also easy to spot. Delaware's basketball team has produced no legends or reasons to upgrade the arena. Delaware Stadium exhibited one change--the field was named after legendary coach Tubby Raymond, who led the Fighting Blue Hen football teams through the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s. He was also the father of Dave Raymond who was at Delaware the same time as me. He went on to fame as the first Phillie Phanatic, the greatest mascot in sports, as I've mentioned at least twice before.

Kallie drove when we left Newark, giving her the privilege of driving over Delaware's greatest physical landmark, the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, affectionately known as the "Big Ditch". The bridge was under construction, but Kallie held herself together well driving on a narrow lane with pylons on one side and a concrete barrier on the other.

Later I drove across the large and much more impressive Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which connects the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, get it?) peninsula to the mainland. The remaining trip through Maryland and Virginia was uneventful. We found some Yuengling Beer (brewed in Pottsville, PA) in a convenience store in Chester and were ready to go.

After dinner we watched History Channel shows about car crashes and the history of ice cream. The youngsters (now there's an old-fashioned word) went to see Will Smith in Hancock. Later on we switched to Baseball Tonight and watched Ryan Howard hit two home runs vs. the Cardinals. The Phillies won the afternoon game 4-1, and the series with the Cards two games to one.

Tomorrow the Wilsons board a plane for Florida and we continue south by CRV to Myrtle Beach, SC for a couple days on the beach.

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