August 10, 2014

Delmarva; Day 6: "Blue Rocks"

Friday, July 11, 2014: The story of the Hagley Museum located in Wilmington, Delaware, begins in 1802, when French immigrant, Eleuthere Irenee du Pont, sets up a series of black powder mills along the banks of the Brandywine Creek. With such an auspicious location for harnessing the water flow's natural energy, setting up shipping routes for sulfur and saltpeter, and tapping into the seemingly endless supply of local timber and building materials, DuPont would become the largest powder manufacturer in the world. Operations at the mills would continue until its closing in 1921; then, the grounds would reopen in 1957 as a museum and library to showcase early American industry.

The Hagley stretches across 235 acres of the Brandywine Valley. It is misleading to view it from outside visitor center. Stepping in, I had no idea that it was such a huge complex with so many buildings. I really enjoyed seeing the machine shop in motion and strolling through the ruined structures of the powder yard. At one of the mills, we were even treated to a powder blast demonstration. Very loud and exciting!

At the one-room school house, I tried my hand at writing with a quill and an ink well in the penmanship of the time. It was kinda cool and I started to get the hang of it. I think that my signature came out pretty good.

As the grounds are so vast, we also got to take a refreshing open-air shuttle ride (my kids' favorite part of the experience) to Eleutherian Hills, a Georgian-style mansion that was the DuPont family's first residence in America. Here, we got a private tour of the residence, office, and gardens. It is all very beautiful.

With so much to see and do at the Hagley, our visit occupied pretty much all of the morning and a big chunk of the afternoon. From there, we checked into our final hotel room of the trip to rest for a while. We had one last item to cross off of our to-do list -- a evening visit to Frawley Stadium to see the Wilmington Blue Rocks play a game against the Salem Red Sox. The Blue Rocks are a Single-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

Lately, I've been finding that I enjoy minor league baseball games much more than the majors. It's affordable family fun with none of the pretense. I'm a lifelong Yankees fan, but I have to admit that the cost of one of their games is just too much to bear. The least expensive ticket that I've seen at Yankee Stadium is $27.00; other seats go for up to $1,000.00. Now, multiply that by an entire family and factor in the exorbitant prices for the parking garage, hot dogs, french fries, sodas, and souvenirs. Just for a little perspective, the price of one Yankees game tallies up to more than I spent in three days on Chincoteague Island. That's way too steep. Perhaps, just perhaps, Major League clubs should stop paying hundreds of millions of dollars to ego-maniacal athletes for playing a kids' game and stop expecting the fans to absorb the difference, especially in light of the rampant steroid controversies that surround the sport. It's definitely disenchanting, to say the least. It offends me to know that my love of the sport could in any way contribute to the bloated salaries of cheaters and frauds. After all, by artificially enhancing themselves, aren't these players basically admitting that their natural skills aren't worthy of such massive contracts and attention? That's exactly how I see it. Baseball is still a great game with an amazing history, but, unfortunately, the MLB has glued a multi-billion-dollar price sticker to its forehead that desperately needs to be scraped off. While I enjoy baseball, it is NOT a necessity and I can certainly find better uses for such money. A ticket for a Wilmington Blue Rocks game is $6 and the baseball is every bit as entertaining. In fact, my family enjoyed watching the Blue Rocks more than the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals two nights before (both 1st place teams, mind you). Just saying...

Anyway, after the game was over, there was a beautiful fireworks display just beyond the center field wall. We were happy to sit back on the bleachers and watch the evening sky erupt with colorful flowers of light. This was it, the last moments of our Delmarva-inspired road trip. As the last rocket echoed red into the night and the crowd cheered with all of its collective might, I was happy to know that our trip was ending with a bang...

"Toward the scorners
he is scornful,
but to the humble
he gives favor."

~Proverbs 3:34