Sunday, October 25, 2020

Fall Road Trip Sketchbook - Part 1

Fred and I loaded up our camper trailer in early October and hit the road, headed for points east. 

All sketches done in a 5" x 8" Pentalic Aqua Journal

We ran away to Cape Henlopen State Park near Lewes, Delaware, and spent four days with no work, no TV, and best of all, no politics! 

Cape Henlopen has beaches on both the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic, so we got to enjoy the crashing waves on the ocean side and beautiful sunsets on the bay side.

The park was originally a military installation used to defend and protect the Delaware Bay during WW II and the Cold War, and there are historical markers and displays throughout the park that tell the story of Fort Miles. The base closed in the 1940s and was then used for decades as a recreation facility for military families.

Observation towers from WW II and the Cold War still stand at Cape Henlopen

I remember going to Fort Miles when I was home from college one summer in the '70s. My dad was in the Air Force, stationed at Fort Meade, MD, and it was just a short jaunt from there to Fort Miles. Our family spent a week there, body-surfing for hours each day, slathering ourselves with baby oil to get tan, and just being together on long summer days when the sun doesn't set until after 9. Those were happy times.  

Lighthouse in Delaware Bay (click to enlarge)

Fred and I made our own happy memories, too, on this trip to Fort Miles. We really enjoyed being able to get away from home, have a change of scenery, but still feel like we weren't putting ourselves at risk during the pandemic.

Fred enjoys cooking breakfast outdoors (mmm, bacon!) when we're camping

We took advantage of the bike trail that winds through the park for miles along the bay and out to the ocean, passing through sand dunes and pine woods along the way. 

We took time to sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in, read a book, and sit around the campfire.

We walked around the nearby town of Lewes, which is really cute, with nice shops, cafes (with outdoor seating), and immaculately maintained Victorian homes.

We had plans to do a lot of kayaking while we were there, 

It was so peaceful and pretty, while it lasted!

but our one trip out on the water ended abruptly when I was walloped by an attack of vertigo when I was paddling in the middle of a canal. Scariest thing ever!

I recovered enough that afternoon to go to the beach and try my hand at sketching seagulls from life. 

Just before sunset, I headed off into the dunes with my sketch kit. Sitting all alone with my sketchbook on my lap, drawing, painting, and really seeing my surroundings, I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to be there, to travel, to see new places despite current circumstances. 

I used to roam the streets of Paris and Barcelona, and hike the hills of Tuscany. I sketched the Greek Isles, Provence, Croatia, and Ireland, but right now, a state park in Delaware gives me almost as much pleasure as those amazing places did.

The weather was perfect every day, and it was so nice to feel carefree, with all the time in the world to draw and paint...or do absolutely nothing!

Fred said to tell you that he was meditating, not napping. 

I taught myself a new lettering style called Mathilde that I can use for journaling. It has a jaunty, casual look that I like.

It's challenging doing long text passages like the ones in this journal when you're retraining your brain to write a certain way. I can feel the mental strain of forcing myself out of long-held routines, but I think it's worth the effort, to have another lettering style option at my fingertips.

I used QOR watercolors for all of the sketches in this travel journal. I enjoy the richness of the QOR paints - when they hit a wet page, the color explodes on the paper and flows like crazy. There's a learning curve with them, because they move and combine differently than traditional paints, but I'm having fun using them to paint sketches that burst with color.   

We had such a good time at Cape Henlopen that we've already booked a campsite for next fall. There was so much more to do in the area that we just didn't have time for this year.  

Let's just hope that next year I'll be able to kayak without things getting crazy!

But wait, there's more!

Part 2 of my Fall Road Trip Sketchbook will be coming up tomorrow. 
Here's a sketchbook flip preview:


  1. I absolutely love this entry. I just read about your vacation and studied the photos but the paintings are what I love most. They are wonderful! I always enjoy your art so much. I am so grateful you take the time to share with us. Thank you. What a gift for me this cold Sunday afternoon. I may have to take a trip to Lewes also.

    1. Well, at least you got to take a virtual trip!
      Glad you enjoyed the sketches - I love sharing them.


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