Delmarva Drives
Talk about Niche Tourism! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 15:01

Every business wants to find a special niche, that tweak that sets them apart from their competitors, something that they offer that no one else can duplicate. Tourism is no different. Each destination wants to create a unique draw for its public image. Chincoteague has the ponies; Tilghman Island has the (most) skipjacks, Crisfield has the Crab Derby.


Forks, Washington has vampires.


Talk about niche marketing!


Fork is a real place. It's on the edge of the only rainforest in North America. It's gloomy, gray, wet, isolated. Only about 3,000 people live there.


It's also the setting of the Twilight series of books by Stephanie Meyer. They've been turned into movies, which may not be getting great critical reviews, but are delighting its large and returning audience.


In case you've been off-world for the past year, the Twilight series deals with the romantic liaisons of the town's young adults, some of whom just happen to be vampires. Meyer chose Forks as the setting of the books because it had the perfect climate and atmosphere for her 'sunny-weather-phobic' characters.


Forks was caught a little off-guard by the popularity of the books and by the response of its readers. They began arriving in the town in droves, looking for buildings and locations Meyer describes. Pretty soon, the Chamber of Commerce began offering Twilight Walking Tours, houses mentioned in the book converted themselves into B&Bs, restaurants offered Twilight-themed meals, and a whole line of Twilight merchandise went up for sale.


There's even a website: Twilight in Forks: A Twilight Travel Guide to Forks, Washington. (http://twilight.inforks.com) with information about traveling to the town, where to stay, locations mentioned in the book and movie (which was shot in Portland, Oregon, not Forks), and on-line purchase of souvenirs. My personal favorite is the sign that reads: Welcome to Forks: Population 3175, Vampires 8.5.


So how does Delmarva compete? We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars pouring into that little town. There has to be something we can come up with! What sort of extra-worldly phantasm can we create? The ghosts of tourists who vanished trying to find The Red Roost in Whitehaven? A confirmed sighting of Chessie, the Bay's answer to Loch Nessie? Mutant killer nutria in Blackwater Wildlife Refuge? Zombies taking over Ocean City?


Guest Blogg: Find a Tombstone PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:29

If you are at all interested in Genealogy and you are on Twitter, you should follow @baysideresearch. Based in Easton, she is a Tweeting reference on all matters relating to tracking down your ancestors. On Delmarva, that can be quite a hobby, since the entire peninsula has only about a half-million residents, and many family names go back many generations. Cross-referencing surnames often creates family trees as intertwined as the rubber bands in the center of a golf ball.


@batsideresearch also maintains a blog about all things genealogical: http://baysideblog.wordpress.com. She recently posted this blog about finding the final resting place of your relatives, some of whom you may not have known you had!


"This past weekend, I took my first volunteer photos of a gravesite for another user of the Find-A-Grave web site. For anyone who is interested in family history but hasn’t been to this site yet, I highly recommend you give it a visit.

On this site, which is free to join/peruse, users can post photos of gravesites of family members and others, along with biographical information. It’s a treasure trove for genealogists. I’ve found several unknown-to-me relatives by browsing relatives of ancestors with memorials on the site.

Users can build virtual cemeteries on the site, which can contain memorials for relatives, etc., even if they are actually buried in many different cemeteries. This is a handy way to keep track of far-flung ancestral burial sites.

I visited Woodlawn Memorial Park in Easton, Md., Saturday to take gravesite photos at the request of another user. If you live far away from the burial site(s) of family members, you can make a similar request of others in the area of the cemetery where your relative is buried. Their photos may allow you to “visit” a grave you may not otherwise have the chance to see.

Headstones often have quite a bit of information that can be handy for family history research (birth and death dates, names, nearby graves of relatives, etc). However, these facts should always be confirmed using other records as mistakes are often made in the production of headstones."


Thanksgiving on the Shore PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:14

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?


My husband, my son, my friends, my dogs, and my horses. Depending on my mood, the order of that list changes.


Living on the Eastern Shore. Capt. John Smith said it all, "Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man's habitation."


May your Thanksgiving be filled with the warmth and comfort that comes from being with those you cherish.


Wicomico's Ferries PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Monday, 23 November 2009 21:29


It's raining. Again. Which means the Wicomico River is running high.

And it's November. Which means is gets light late and dark early.

Want to bet on whether the ferries are running?


People who live on the west side of the Wicomico River have a real love/hate relationship with Upper Ferry and the Whitehaven Ferry. On the one hand, the lack of a bridge across the river limits the development along Nanticoke Road. (The high water table and limited perk-ability of the land helps, too. But developers and the county could work around that -- laying sewer lines or installing high-tech septic systems. )


On the other hand, having to make that freakin' loop up to Salisbury, only to cut back down Riverside Drive or Rt. 13 to end up 25 minutes later only 3 miles from where you started can be a tad annoying. There's something of a guessing game with the ferry. Is the high tide covering the ramp? Is it too foggy/stormy/icy for the ferry to run? When do the hours change? If it's late in the day, will I make the last crossing? In the middle of the day, will it be down for maintenance? Are barges heading up or downstream and shutting down the ferry for 15 minutes or more? How much of a conversation can you have with the pilot during the 45-second crossing at Upper Ferry? Is the county going to shut them down to save money during the winter? Which one will be closed for several months for refurbishment this year? Are they really closing them for the annual county Christmas party?


On the other hand, there are benefits. The ferry masters are a better source of current and credible news than The Daily Times. It's nice to watch the osprey and eagles at Upper Ferry, or to envy the old men and young boys fishing off the pier there. The Whitehaven crossing is a peaceful mental oasis on most hectic days. And there's that assurance that the lay of the land won't allow that to change.


That's a fair trade-off.




Last Updated on Monday, 23 November 2009 21:32
Black Friday Shopping! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fran Severn   
Monday, 23 November 2009 20:57

I'm not sure who coined the phrase "Black Friday" for the official start of the holiday shopping season. It's an ominous moniker for what's supposed to be a joyous time of preparing for the season by finding treasures to delight your nearest and dearest. "Black Friday" sounds more like a disaster -- like The Good Friday Earthquake of 1964 or Black Tuesday -- the day the stock market crashed in 1929. Probably don't need to be reminded of that this year.


As you prepare to brave the teeming and seething throngs at the mall or decide to avoid that particular method of self-abuse by going on-line, you might consider a third option. (Ok, there's always the option of ditching the whole holiday thing and taking the money you'd spend on 'obligatory' gifts, buying a ticket to Aruba, and spending Christmas week on the beach, but you'd probably never hear the end of it.)


No, the third option is to buy local. There's a group called "The 3/50 Project" that's done some research and come up with these figures. For every $100 spent in local businesses, $68 stays in the community. Spend $100 at a national chain store and only $43 stays here. On-line, nada. None of it stays local.


If half the employed U.S. population spent $50 in local businesses, they'd generate more than $42.6 BILLION in revenue. If 3/4 of the population did that, it's add up to $63.9 BILLION. A tidy sum.


So as you draw up your shopping list, give a thought to checking out the local shops first. Front and Second Streets in Lewes are filled with charming shops. So is Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth; Main Street and Maddox in Chincoteague, Mason Ave. in Cape Charles, all of Onancock and Rock Hall and Oxford and Easton, High and Cross Streets in Chestertown, Talbot Street in St. Mike's, and Berlin and Snow Hill. Don't miss the small galleries and historic attractions: Salisbury Art & Framing, the Barrier Islands Center, Lewes Historical Society, the Studio of 24, Hidden Treasures in Parksley, and the incomparable Dixon's Auction.


I feel a little like an Academy Award winner, afraid of missing someone in my speech. Point is, those are all local people with local shops. They are here because they want to be, not because their corporate marketing office decided Delmarva is a good profit center. They're our neighbors, potential friends. They'll deliver good service, good products, and work toward building our communities, which only strengthens our region. Supporting them helps preserve the lifestyle and landscape that makes Delmarva the place that we love.


You can find out more about "The 3/50 Project" on their website: www.the350project.net. In the meantime, I'm making sure I've got my debit card and heading out tomorrow. I'm avoiding Black Friday. Is the day before Thanksgiving Grey Wednesday?


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