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Caryl Park open for hiking

This group of friends posed for a picture.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

How long is six feet? It’s a question that didn’t seem especially hard to answer, until I came upon the signs Dover has put up to encourage social distancing all over Caryl Park. Those signs read: “Know what six feet looks like. Lay measuring tape on the ground. It’s the distance of a surfboard. Long yoga mat, or adult bike.”

Google says surfboards are way taller than six feet, by the way.

A long yoga mat? A surfboard? An adult bike? Have so many five-foot nine-inch men been calling themselves six feet on dating websites over the years, that people can’t imagine what six feet actually looks like? You mean to tell me more people from Dover can tell you how long a surfboard is than a slightly above average sized man? You’re nowhere near the ocean.

Either way, on Saturday I headed to Caryl Park to see if people were allowed to play tennis, to be on the playground, or to just walk around the trails. What I found was that nobody was allowed to play tennis or use the playgrounds, but plenty of people were going on hikes.

Both the playground and tennis courts were closed at Caryl Park, though hiking was allowed and popular.

One of the interesting things about the hike was that Caryl Park has a sign essentially proclaiming you’re hiking at your own risk. On the my trek, I came across a tree that had cracked at the trunk and would have fallen directly onto the walking path, had it not gotten caught on the branches of another tree. I considered shaking it loose, figuring that I’d rather make it fall when nobody is around, than have it fall on somebody, but when I pushed the trunk, it was clear it was far too heavy for me to move. I also didn't want people to see me pushing it and think I was trying to destroy the tree.

This tree could be dangerous, as it’s poised to fall on the walking trail.

Another one of the trees along the way was covered in red and gold ribbon. I couldn’t tell why, and there was nothing around the ground to show it was part of a scavenger hunt, but I did found it notable.

I have no idea why this tree would be covered in red ribbons. Tony Orlando never wrote a song about those.

I ran into a bunch of people and asked to take their photographs along the way. Pictures where people are walking naturally look better than ones where they’re posing, but they get nervous when you start snapping photos of them on the trails with no idea why you’re doing it. The natural answer is to ask if you can photograph them for Hometown Weekly, then ask them to walk normally so I can take a “natural” picture.

In reality, this never works. As soon as they know they’re being photographed, women lengthen their necks to prevent double chins, guys shrug to make their traps look bigger, and everybody sucks in their stomachs to look thinner. Not just young people. Everybody.

So instead, I just took people’s photographs as they posed. Some opted to take their masks off, some kept them on. Those who kept them on usually made some kind of mask joke about “guess we don’t have to say cheese” or “could you tell I was smiling?”

I appreciated the humor, and their letting me take their pictures, but wasn't all that concerned about whether they kept their masks on or not. As long as we stayed a long yoga mat away from each other, everything would be okay.

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