• Katey Ladika

Close to Home: Volume I

Traveling in 2020 had me worried about two kinds of distances… distance traveled and social distance. While I would usually hop on a plane and fly to my dream destination, I found myself focused on road trips and staying close to home. Many people scoff at the idea that you can find beauty near your hometown, especially when you live in rural Maryland, however a brief drive through the countryside can land you in some pretty amazing places. That’s why I decided to start this series about beautiful places Close to Home.

Volume I - Cape Henlopen

Located just over two hours from my home in Glen Burnie lies the beautiful Cape Henlopen State Park. Cape Henlopen is a coastal peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic then curls back to shore as if it is reaching to grab the Delaware coast once more. Originally, Gabe(my adoring boyfriend) and I planned to visit this beach with the hopes of a simple date watching clouds, however we awoke at 6am to a massive rainstorm and knew our little trip had just gotten so much more interesting.

Fast forwarding through the snack stop at the local gas station and through my time spent as a passenger seat DJ, Gabe and I arrived at the entrance and began navigating our way through the maze of campsite points until we found the beach parking lot. We giggled at the rain droplets slowly trickling down the windshield and stepped out of the car .

It was freezing. Not just slightly cold, but as if we stepped into a windy ice box in soaking wet clothing. With big eyes and a squeal, I looked at Gabe in panic.

How was I to stand this ocean breeze and east coast freeze?

But Gabe held up the Coast Guard motto “Semper Paratus” and was over prepared for the cold weather with a bag of extra clothing for me to put on over my leggings and hoodie. Adorned with two pairs of pants, socks, and a giant men’s jacket, I wobbled my way through the sand to catch a glimpse of the playful sea. If you know Gabe and you know me, you know we never step down from a challenge and this rainy adventure was just that.

Because of the storm, the ocean was rough. She was kicking up monstrous waves and marine life, but that made a perfect backdrop for a beachy photo series! Gabe with his bag of shells and me with my camera slowly walked the shores for miles finding crabs, shrimp, seabirds, and even a headless shark.

Cape Henlopen is also known to be covered in Horseshoe Crabs, but I didn’t have high hopes that we’d see them on this stormy trip. However, we were lucky enough to find a few crawling across the shore and even more that had been smashed to pieces by the rogue tides. We watched the lighthouse from afar and let the rain soak us down to our bones before heading back to the car to drive to our second location.

Another amazing element near Cape Henlopen State Park are the military towers submerged in the sand and that is just where we were headed.

Around 30 minutes from the state park gates lies Towers Beach, a system of 40 WWII observation towers located across the Delaware shoreline! They were used by US troops to spot German U-boats/enemy vessels and are really amazing to see. Windblown piles of sand poise gracefully against the brick. If you are lucky enough, though, the door to the towers will peak out of the sand just enough to stick your head in and marvel at the interior of this 1940’s architecture.

I feel Towers Beach is definitely an underrated spectacle of the East Coast and was well worth the trip out of the state park to explore a bit more of our military history. (I’d like to note that a few towers are located in Cape Henlopen State Park, such as the one pictured below, however Towers Beach is a separate location than Cape Henlopen.)

As night began to fall in our Delaware Oasis, I had one more location in the state park I wanted to photograph. The rain and fading light didn’t stop me as I drove us 20 minutes back into the state park to find the fishing pier. Mind you, the new fishing pier is absolutely gorgeous as it is lined with elegant light posts and gulls, but it was the old fishing pier that I had in mind...

I wanted to take a long exposure image of the waves lapping against the broken remnants of the original pier. It was a shot that I just couldn’t get out of my head. Leaning my body against a life ring and shielding my lens from the still-falling droplets, I took my long exposure without a tripod and with the hope that it would come out perfectly. I took one image, and another, but my third image was the art piece I was looking for! A fantastic exposure, stunning color, and it looks just as I had seen it in my mind.

With my perfect shot still illuminating my camera screen, I looked up to Gabe with a smile and said, “Let’s go home” before heading to the car to make our way back to Glen Burnie.

It was a short, socially distanced trip that ended up being one of my favorite trips in a while. Wildlife, wild seas, and two lovers wild at heart.


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