Tag Archives: Wilmington

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Rehabilitated Park

It can be difficult to be good to ourselves or the environment in a world filled with deadlines and busy shuffling to work, school and appointments. We are lucky though, when we need a break from the rush, to have parks and wildlife areas where we can escape. Parks where one might find some solace, a quiet respite, or simply hear one’s thoughts while cycling or watching campfire embers die down. Awesomely, there are parks where these realities mingle–parks that were once damaged by human negligence, but, through human work and diligence, are now places people can gather to reflect, unwind and enjoy nature. Here are a few rehabilitated parks where hard work paid off!

Fox Point State Park, Delaware

The first rehabilitated park we would like to share is Fox Point. It is a 55-acre state park more than 50 years in the making. The property that the park now occupies was once part of the Delaware River. Through the end of the 1800s and into the mid-1900s, the Pennsylvania Railroad dumped waste and sewage sludge into the river as it sought to increase industrial land along its right-of-way, essentially burying the river for its own benefit. In 1958, however, S. Marston Fox began lobbying to turn the land over to the people of Delaware, and spent the rest of his life carrying that torch.

And what light that torch has thrown! Access to the Delaware River should be for [Image: destateparks.com]

A well-hoisted torch! Access to the Delaware River is important for all. [Image: destateparks.com]

Through decades of legal battles and environmental remediation, Fox Point State Park is open to day-use activities like picnicking, rollerblading, biking, volleyball, and generally taking in the sights of the Delaware River. The hard work poured into Fox’s vision of a “window on the river” is part of the experience today, one can learn about the park’s history and how the property was rehabilitated while taking in views of Philadelphia and the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and strolling along that same river that inspired northern Delawareans to rally around Fox’s dream for shared access to nature.

Route 66 State Park, Missouri

Route 66 State Park in Missouri, much like its name suggests, showcases some of the history of the highway that captured imaginations as the “Main Street of America” in the middle of the last century. The park is outfitted with an intact 1935 roadhouse (which serves as its visitor’s center) and stuffed with exhibits that commemorate the roadway that John Steinbeck called “The Mother Road.”

But to only point out the park’s proximity to an historic road misses the heart of its complicated history.

Fish and frogs and fun!

A peaceful pond and landscape with no clear indication of there having been a town here. [Image: www.mostateparks.com]

Beyond its roadhouse and visitor’s center, the 419-acre, day-use park is primarily composed of trails that meander through flatland and swamp where there was once the town of Times Beach. Times Beach was a town established (through a newspaper promotion) in 1925.

Whoa! What a deal! [Image: www.allday.com]

Wow! What a deal! Indeed the boisterous language served to draw the attention of those who might wish to escape the summer heat along the scenic Meramec River. [Image: www.allday.com]

At the end of 1982, a devastating flood drove hundreds from their homes just as dioxin contamination (caused by tainted waste oil which had been distributed on the town’s roads to reduce dust) was confirmed. The Environmental Protection Agency recommended that no one return to inhabit the town, and the federal government and the state of Missouri bought out the land. State and federal agencies immediately set about cleaning up the contamination.

While not downplaying the hardship endured by those families, the sweetness at Route 66 State Park is undeniable—after more than a decade of rehabilitation, the park is not only healthy for human visitors, but the native swamps and attending wildlife have blossomed. Birds and frogs and deer provide a superb backdrop to outdoor recreation, where you can take a long bike ride, or learn about the ways people crossed the continent not even a hundred years ago. And all that adventure and education is just a short jot from St. Louis!

Freshkills Park, Staten Island

When its rehabilitation is complete, Freshkills Park on Staten Island will be nearly three times the size of Manhattan’s Central Park and the largest park developed in New York City in a hundred years. An impressive feat of environmental recuperation given that, from 1947 to 2001, Freshkills served New York City and its surrounding metropolitan area as a landfill.

Today, the park is characterized by a sprawl of native grasses and brush, wetlands and gentle blue kills, and sweeping sky views that are unusual in the city. Some of its completed rehabilitated segments, Schmul Park and Owl Hollow Fields, already serve the nearby residents of Staten Island and anyone else who wants to make their way to the island. On special occasions, like the recent Discovery Day, hundreds of acres that are still in development are open to visitors.

All of this within New York City! The view of a "kill," or a small stream or creek, at Freshkills Park. This photograph was taken during Discovery Day, on September 18th, 2016. [Image: Myrrah Dubey]

All of this within New York City, and not a skyscraper in sight! This shows a “kill,” or a small stream or creek, at Freshkills Park. This photograph was taken during Discovery Day, on September 18th, 2016.

Discovery Day speaks to the heart of the space, with free bicycles to borrow, and hour-long Audubon tours to teach guests about the wildlife that has thrived since the landfill was capped and the Park Plan has been implemented. Freshkills Park is a prime example of how a landscape can be brought back from the very brink of pollution, and grow into a green space we all can share and enjoy.

Keep Up the Good Work!

It’s important to reflect on how we interact with the world around us. It’s not always pleasant to think about our actions contributing to pollution, but being honest about it can empower us to make better choices. And, when it comes right down to it, the land that gets reclaimed from the clutches of pollution is just as precious as that which has always been pristine, if only because it speaks to the healing qualities embedded in the determination to make something better for ourselves and future generations.

Even with fall upon us, it’s not too late in the year to volunteer to clean up, or to just take some time for yourself in your favorite park! No better way to find out more about the parks near you than Pocket Ranger® mobile apps, that’ll get you out and on to exploration!

You Want to Visit Alapocas Run State Park. Here’s Why.

When we first heard the name Alapocas Run State Park, we embarrassed ourselves. That’s because we planned to turn this post on the park into some sort of weird ode to alpacas. Like, how cool of a place would that be? You’re in DELAWARE, and walking along nearby are some freaking ALPACAS! You know, those cool llama-like animals! That look more like a cross between stuffed animals and cartoon characters than real organisms! It would makes sense if you were in South America, but you’re in DELAWARE! But all that went out the window when we realized how silly we were. (It happens.) Because, dear friends, the word Alapocas is not the word alpacas. Despite the similar letters, they in fact mean two different things. (Shocker, right?) Alapocas does not refer to a llama-like animal species that can be found in South America. It refers to an area in Delaware. Which explains the park’s name. alpacaSorry guys. No alpacas here. Well, in this photo, yes. But in the park? Nope.
[Image: www.tumblr.com]

But it doesn’t explain everything! Because otherwise, we would have no reason to write this. And we do have a reason! Now that it’s officially summer, we’re even more down with state park visits than usual. So we’ll be virtually touring a ton of cool parks on the blog. And the added bonus? We’ll be featuring parks that are participating in our Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s your Mountain?” GeoChallenge. If you’re not familiar with our GeoChallenges, allow us to explain. Basically, a GeoChallenge is a free scavenger hunt that you play using the free GPS features of your free PocketRanger® app. And you can win prizes. So, if you were following, did you catch the words free and prizes? It’s all true. To sign up and start touring participating parks in style, click here. Basically, we’ve decided that you want to visit Alapocas Run State Park in Wilmington, Delaware. Here’s why:

1. Rock Climbing

But not just any rock climbing awaits you at the park – Alapocas Run offers top-rope climbing! If you aren’t sure how that’s different from regular rock climbing, you’re in luck. For top-rope climbing, the rope is anchored to the top of the climb prior to climbing. Since the rope’s run from the climber through an anchor at the top of the climb, and then back down to attach to the belayer, the belayer’s able to stop a falling climber immediately, making top-rope climbing one of the safest forms of climbing. As an added bonus, visiting the top-rope climbing area will get you some points on your GeoChallenge. rock-wall-largeIt’s the rock wall! Very picturesque, don’t you think?
[Image: www.destateparks.com]

2. The Blue Ball Barn

It may be unfortunately named, but the Blue Ball Barn is one of the coolest attractions at the park. Built in 1914 by Alfred I. DuPont as a dairy farm, it’s named after the Blue Ball Tavern, an inn and meeting house, that was once located nearby. Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Ohio innkeepers in the 18th and early 19th centuries raised a pole with a blue ball attached when passengers needed to be picked up along stagecoach routes (hence, the name.) Nowadays, the two-story stone barn serves as an art gallery/museum, reception hall, and conference center. It houses the Delaware Folk Art Collection, a special exhibit space dedicated to the agricultural and rural history of the area, and a secluded courtyard perfect for outdoor events. The Blue Ball Barn is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building, and is the first public building in Delaware to achieve this certification. Swinging by will also earn you some points on your GeoChallenge. blue ball barnIt’s LITERALLY a connector of the past and present. How cool is that?
[Image: www. www.destateparks.com]

3. The Can-Do Playground

Welcome to the first Boundless Playground™ in Delaware! Boundless playgrounds are playgrounds designed so that every child – whether she has physical, mental, or sensory disabilities or not – can fully play. To make it a truly inclusive and interactive playground, it has features like a specialized rubberized surface and concrete walkways to allow for safe wheelchair access. Thanks to six Wilmington-area Rotary Clubs, children of all abilities, veterans, senior citizens, and even you can use this playground. can-do-playgroundKind of makes you just want to play here all day, right?!  
[Image: www.destateparks.com]

4. Athletic fields

Sometimes when we go to parks, we have urges to start impromptu adult athletic leagues. So, it’s really fortunate that you can do just that at Alapocas Run. There are three fields (that can be split) for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, flag football, ultimate frisbee, kickball, and rugby. We may have spoken too soon as far as the term “impromptu” goes; you can rent fields for two-hour time periods for a small price. For more information, call the Park Office at (302) 577-1164.

5. Hiking and Biking Trails

Three hiking trails await you at the park: Alapocas Woods Trail, PawPaw Trail, and the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail. The first two are short trails, where you can walk under hardwood trees and check out the Pawpaw trees and their early spring flowers, respectively. The third is also a biking trail; it will get you some points on your GeoChallenge and give you the opportunity to see the Piedmont forests and streams.

6. Picnic Area

We really like food. Like, a lot. So we think it’s a total plus that Alapocas Run has a legitimate picnic area! There’s a pavilion and tables and grills located near the Can-Do Playground. If you’re feeling special, you can reserve the pavilion by contacting the park office at the Blue Ball Barn at (303) 577-1164. tai chiYou could be doing tai chi with these folks, in this place, today!                                                 [Image: www.facebook.com]

7. Programs

Along with Wilmington State Parks (a conglomerate of nearby state parks), Alapocas Run has loads of programs. They have Introduction to Rock Climbing. They have concerts and camps and hikes. And they have Tai Chi in the Park (at 11:30 today in Brandywine Park  on this Fourth of July.) Check out a more complete schedule here: http://www.destateparks.com/park/alapocas-run/programs/index.asp.

So, grasshoppers, go on and forge ahead, to Alapocas Run State Park! Or wherever you happen to go today. Oh, and Happy Fourth of July!