Sunday, January 9, 2005

We Return to Oak Orchard

Saturday, Colleen was off at a church youth group sleep-over, so Karen, Christina and I decided to try a new restaurant. We chose Serendipity, a new restaurant on Indian River at Oak Orchard. On this aerial photo/map, the restaurant is located along the shoreline, somewhere between the labels for Riverdale Park and Oak Orchard.

(Map created using the Delaware DataMIL).

We had heard good things about this restaurant, and we always try to check out the new eateries during the off-season, so we headed out Route 24 from Lewes towards Millsboro and down to Oak Orchard. The place was very nice. The decor was classy, the room was comfortable, and the food was very good and very plentiful.

This is a restaurant I would like to return to; especially during daylight hours when I think the view across the River will be rather nice. The place does breakfast and lunch, and may be far enough from the main drag of the beach resorts to make it a possibility at least in the early part of the summer season.

It was interesting to head back to Oak Orchard. I had been through there a few times doing "field" tours when I was at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Oak Orchard is home, further inland, to the annual Nanticoke Indian Powwow and remains a region of Sussex County that is home to members of that tribe. The Nanticoke Museum is just up the road. We've made it to a few of the annual Powwows and I have gotten to know some of the leadership of the tribe through work.

I also understand that the area was home to a thriving orchard industry in the early part of the twentieth century, before chickens and tourists became the dominant economic sectors in eastern Sussex County.

What I found fascinating driving through the area this week-end, though, is the extent to which this place has remained a small waterfront village, even in the face of exploding development all around it. A major, gated community, the Peninsula, is going in just to the east, on the other side of Emily Gut. And, if I remember correctly, there was a site plan under review in 2004 for a development (The Moore Farm Project, 196 residential units on 56.71 acres ) on that rectangular farm field covered by the label for "Captain's Grant Mobile Home Park" above.

And yet, the waterfront remains pretty much as it was. I wonder how long it will last?

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