We are in beautiful Bethany Beach, Delaware, where we arrived after a long drive in and out of traffic across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and through Maryland's Eastern Shore. The Bay Blues Festival was in full swing when we reached the bridge with surprisingly little traffic -- we could see it spread over the beach as we drove through the toll booths and onto the bridge -- but there was construction all over Kent Island that took a long time to weave through. We stopped for a picnic lunch behind Wye Mill, originally built in 1682 -- the oldest working mill in Maryland, once "the breadbasket of the Revolution" as Eastern Shore grist mills sent flour along the Chesapeake to the Continental Army. Two Saturdays a month in the summer, volunteers grind flour using the waterwheel and old millstones, and we knew that this was to be one of those Saturdays. Since we were in Wye, we also stopped to see what's left of the Wye Oak, which was about 450 years old when a storm felled it in 2002. Now a sapling from the original tree is growing in the middle of the huge stump.
Wye Mill is a beautiful old building in a beautiful setting, along the water that powers the wheel beneath overhanging willow and white oak trees.
Inside the two great millstones grind against one another...
...while there are hands-on demonstrations of several other old-fashioned ways to grind corn and wheat.
The kids practiced with most of the hand-cranked mills.
This larger fanning mill was not in operation, but look at the craftsmanship -- I love it when tools are decorated just because the builder wanted them to look nice.
Downstairs the mill has a little museum on Eastern shore agriculture and farm commerce.
The working mechanics of the mill powered by the water wheel are also visible.
This is a view of the water wheel from down by the stream, where we ate lunch.
We got to the coast about four in the afternoon, unpacked, helped my parents get their stuff inside -- we're staying as we did last year in a three-bedroom condo in a pool-and-tennis complex, quite a long walk from the beach though they run shuttles (for my father, tennis is as big a priority as proximity to the beach) -- then put on our suits and took the kids to the shore. It was nearly 100 degrees in the afternoon though it had cooled a bit by then, and the water was warm and glorious, with lots of sandcrabs underfoot and dolphins maybe 50 yards from us out past where the waves were breaking. We brought our body boards and stayed in for an hour before we had to clean up for dinner, which ended up being Armand's Pizza as we decided to go to the food store for supplies afterward (and salt water taffy, of course). There's a pond with fish and frogs right near where we're staying and we saw bunnies under the bushes in the evening, so all is well!