Yes, Delaware IS flat -- and that's great!


    You have probably heard the trivia question: “What is the only state in the nation which is flatter than Delaware?”

    The answer is: “Florida!”

    But what is the advantage to Delaware in having such a flat terrain?

    Well, if you are an avid bicyclist and go to events like the Amish Country Bike Tour held locally earlier this month, one aspect of a bike route you are likely to appreciate is not having hills to climb. Flat is just fine!

    Cindy Small, executive director of Kent County Tourism, the tour’s sponsor, said that in planning for the 23rd annual Amish event an effort was made to get comments from bicycle tour participants. A survey asked for tour preferences and 168 responses came in. The “flat” comment popped up again and again.

    Cindy had her misgivings about this year’s tour because it is billed as a “rain or shine” event and it had to be postponed in 2008 because of wind and heavy rain. She was concerned that bicyclists would be discouraged from coming.

    The lagging economy was another factor to consider.

    It turned out, though, to be one of the best bike tours ever, she said, even if the number of participants, at a little under 1,000, was less than last year.

    “We were absolutely thrilled” is how Cindy puts it.

    She has expectations of the tour, taking advantage of the plusses Kent County offers, growing much larger.

    After all, there is an annual bike tour in Salisbury which attracts up to 6,000 riders.

*****

    We were on the Eastern Shore of Maryland over the weekend and mentioned to a waitress in St. Michaels that we were from Dover.

    She immediately assumed that we must have been glad to get out of Dover and finding a quiet place like St. Michaels.

    We like St. Michaels, we said, but we were very happy to be living in Dover.

    Why did she think Dover wasn’t such a pleasant place?

    It was because she thought of it as being as busy as Annapolis, or even Baltimore. In other words, she thought of it as having a big city atmosphere. And she said she comes to Dover fairly often.

    The explanation is that she has only been to the Dover of Route 13, with all the commercial places. She has never been in downtown Dover or to other parts of the city beyond the main highway.

    Naturally we told her what she was missing. The incident, though, served to illustrate that too many people, even those who shop here, just don’t know the real Dover.

    We stopped at the St. Michaels harbor area and asked the guy running the marina whether or not Johnny Depp had been on his 156-foot motor yacht when it docked for a couple of days earlier in the week. The huge yacht, and the possibility of sighting the famous actor, attracted a flurry of people, especially women. Rumors abounded about where Depp might have been seen around town.

    If he had appeared on deck it would have been a major Depp charge for the ladies.

    But, we were told at the marina, he wasn’t on board, no matter what the rumors were.

*****
    One other item from that neck of the woods. We stopped at Knapps Narrows, which separates Tilghman Island from the mainland, and were fortunate enough to see a great artist at work.

    His name is Bill Fish (real name). He is captain of a fishing party boat and takes people out on Chesapeake Bay. It’s been his occupation for more than 30 years.

    What is artistic about him is the effortless way he fillets a fish. First he sharpens his special fillet knife, then uses it to make a cut just below the fish’s gills. Next, with a single smooth sweep of his hand, the meat on that side of the fish is perfectly cut off down to the bones.

    A flip to the other side and the same effortless stroke completes the procedure.

    The day’s catch of bluefish, perch and rockfish (stripers) by the fishing party of five older men was quickly made ready for a kitchen.

    There was another viewer present, although high in the sky. A bald eagle, its white head shining in the sun, glided back and forth for a few minutes, doubtless able with its very keen eyesight to see the fish. But there was no chance of swooping down for a meal.

    *****
    News that there are strong murmurings on Capitol Hill about the Air Force being pushed into buying more C-17s instead of retrofitted C-5s is an indication of politics getting in the way of the better course to follow.

    As Sen. Tom Carper is quoted as saying, and his comment reflects what is well known by anyone familiar with the differences between the two options, the retrofitted C-5M carries nearly twice as much cargo as the C-17 and flies almost twice as far without refueling. He might have added that it also flies faster.

    What gives the C-17 a boost, besides it being a fine airplane, is that it is made up of parts from nearly every state in the country. This means its backers in Washington realize that producing parts means jobs, and of course jobs trumps logic.

    One other thing. Between two and three C-5s can be modernized, and be good for another 30 to 40 years, at the cost of one new C-17.

    For responsible legislators the correct decision is clear. What is decided will affect Dover Air Force Base.


*****
    What do you do if you spy an unwelcome cricket which has crept into your house or garage?

    The answer: Use a Reader’s Digest.

    I have found that this small magazine is the right size and weight to drop on an unsuspecting cricket. The results are immediate. A plop! and the cricket is efficiently dispatched. The magazine can then be easily wiped off for resumed reading, as well as being handy for the next cricket to appear.
*****
    Patient: “Doctor, I have this terrible problem. I think I’m a dog. I keep walking around on all fours and I eat dog food. And I keep barking in the middle of the night.”

    Doctor: “Very interesting. Please lie down on the couch.”

    Patient:  “I’m not allowed on the couch!”