Final vacation flings as summer’s conclusion nears

August 25, 2017

Children in Pennsylvania go back to school next week. In Maryland, schools won't open this year until the day after Labor Day, a week later. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan changed the school starting date so students would be able to carry their summer jobs through the Labor Day weekend. He made the announcement in Ocean City, which of course depends heavily on students to fill resort jobs.

In Delaware, schools start at different times. Cape and Indian River students won't go back until the day after Labor Day. But in other districts in the state, schools will be opening a week earlier, like the Pennsylvania schools.

Sen. Gerald Hocker of Ocean View has been leading an effort the last few years to make Delaware school starting time uniform up and down the state. Hocker, representing a district with a number of resort areas, would like that statewide starting time to be as it is in Cape and Indian River districts. There's the employment angle, and also starting schools later means families up and down the state have a longer summer season and could make the three-day Labor Day weekend a stronger one economically for the beach.

Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carol Everhart said her group has supported Hocker's efforts, but so far the idea hasn't gained traction. She said she didn't know how much impact the Maryland change would have on the Delaware beaches. "I think it can only be positive," she said.

In the meantime, the state's beaches are already cutting back on the areas and hours being lifeguarded. High school and college students fill the lifeguard ranks, and many are taking off now to go back to school or to get a little vacation time in before classes start.

Back to Pennsylvania

Becky and I pedaled into Ohiopyle on the Youghiogheny River last weekend. A town of 37 residents in the middle of Ohiopyle State Park, its streets and sidewalks teemed with people of all ages.

A hot and sunny Sunday drew them from miles around in this Laurel Highlands section of western Pennsylvania. They played in the shallow, swift-flowing and broad river they call the Yough (yok), its 65-degree water refreshing in the 93-degree heat.

They kept the many outfitters in town busy taking busloads upstream with trailers filled with kayaks and rafts and canoes to navigate the rocky rapids. In between the rapids, they could sit back and relax and let the river do the work.

The Yough is one of the few rivers in the east that flows from south to north. Rob texted me and said Youghiogheny is a Native American Algonquian word meaning "waterway that flows in a contrary direction." It gets its direction straightened out after it empties into the Monongahela which in turn joins forces with the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh to become the Ohio.

But back in Ohiopyle, people were making the most of their final vacation weekend. This weekend they will be scrubbing the children's ears, lining up their school clothes and supplies, and fighting with them to get them to go to bed at a decent hour before the schools open early Monday morning.

On that final summer weekend fling, they filled the town's streets, licking ice cream cones and frozen yoghurt, grabbing beers and burgers and pizza in one of the town's three or four restaurants, coming in off the river and listening to musicians belting out an eclectic mix of country and rock songs, sunning themselves on big, flat rocks in the river, enjoying life.

Not unlike our beach towns, Ohiopyle is all about the outdoors with its river activities, and a number of hiking and bicycling trails that converge in the town. The 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage, connecting Pittsburgh and Cumberland, passes through town.

On our way to Traverse City, Michigan, we bicycled for 184 miles on the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath, which starts in Washington, D.C., and then on the Great Allegheny Passage trail that winds its way into downtown Pittsburgh before finishing at Three Rivers Park. We finished that 350 miles of trail riding on Tuesday afternoon this week.

Counting the first leg of our trip across Delmarva, our total of pedaled miles has just hit the 400 mark.

Pittsburgh is a dynamic city tucked between mountain ridges where these rivers come together.

When we tell people where we're from, they invariably show recognition. They've been vacationing along Delmarva's beaches for decades. We are happy to return the favor.

In the next few days we will pass into Ohio and start pedaling northwestward on a combination of trails and back roads toward Oberlin where we went to college back in the late '60s and early '70s.

  • Dennis Forney has been a journalist on the Delmarva Peninsula since 1972 and has been writing his Barefootin’ column for The Whale and then the Cape Gazette for more than 30 years. Contact Dennis at