STATE 12: DELAWARE
We arrived into Delaware the day before the project and then left the day after the project. It’s been our shortest stay in any state, but that’s meant to be a diss on Delaware. I’m sure there’s things to do and see, we just didn’t have the time…
What we did have time for was Noel. When Tyler turned his back after cleaning out drawer, Noel was quick to fill it. So naturally after that cute cat moment, I wanted to take it a step further and play dress up.
Noel’s not the easiest-going cat. We don’t even clip her nails ourselves because she doesn’t like her paws touched. Surprisingly, she didn’t seem to mind wearing one of my sweaters — at least for these few fleeting moments.
Delaware was the only state we’ve been unable to find a Veteran participant for a state project. We tried reaching out to local Veterans organizations, local media stations, and just about everything else you could imagine.
But as we’ve continued to find out time after time, everything happens for a reason. Our designer husband and wife duo, Ray Nichols and Jill Cypher who own and operate Lead Graffiti letterpress studio together both had fathers who served in WWII, both of which never shared their stories or experiences from their service.
Jill’s father, Hugh Cypher, took part in one of the most gruesome and longest military conflicts in modern history: the Battle of the Bulge, whereas Ray’s father, Raymond Nichols, is believed to have drawn the artist conception of the atomic bomb while stationed in New Mexico. For reasons unknown to them, neither of their fathers shared any of their experiences despite the impacts both of them may have had in such historical world events.
Together, we began experimenting with their vast collection of letter blocks on their antique letterpress machines. Ray and Jill were initially inspired by the concept of redacted text, but even more so, they shared the desire to encourage the exact opposite of that: openly shared information.
We began creating a design that could motivate Veterans to share their untold experiences with their loved ones.
After our project days, we found an ALDI grocery store and stocked up on sparkling water, which is sort of a big deal. If you’ve ever shopped at an ALDI’s before, you’ll know the struggle of climbing up, over, and around the pallet of sparkling water flavors to find only a few scattered “unflavored” ones amongst the pile (which if you haven’t guessed, is sort of our favorite).
It was after this haul that we reconsidered our drinking habits, the space required to indulge in it on demand, and the time and budget required to keep us stocked. Doing the math we estimated that if we bought a Soda Stream, then it’d pay for itself within just a couple more hauls of a similar size.
Plus, it would reduce our use of cans and cardboard that surprisingly isn’t always easy to find recycling for in many RV parks and campgrounds.
It was mid-November and surprisingly, a beautiful time to visit Assateague Island National Seashore. I had come across the island a while back, completely in awe of the fact that it had wild horses. Beach + wild horses = yes, please.
There were literally two other RVs there so we had our pick of beachside spots to occupy for the short weekend. It didn’t take me long to grab a folding chair and put on my layers to catch up on some reading.
Seizing the opportunity to bring his own hammock to the beach, Tyler was right behind me hauling the metal frame across the sand and up the small hill overlooking the ocean in front of us. Naturally, this seemed like a seating upgrade, so I took occupancy of it for a bit while he wandered around with his camera.
This is probably my favorite camping site we’ve stayed at. Maybe, I don’t know. Since it was November, it was practically empty and we were able to snag a site along the sand, looking out to the ocean. Falling asleep and waking up to ocean waves, as well as Noel crawling all over you, Assateague was my jam.
Noel bb loved the campsite too and even got to explore outside. It was her first time feeling non-litter box sand beneath her feet, let alone seeing, smelling, and feeling the ocean and its breeze!
After being a little freaked out by the crashing waves, she eventually settled down and went exploring along the currently desolate seashore.
Recognizing the Airstream, she headed back to her home and happily hopped back in. I’m a proud cat mama. To our surprise, the beach wasn’t a giant litter box to her. All she left were her ridiculously adorable paw prints.
The second morning there, we were juuuuuust about to set out to go find the wild horses when… surprise, they were all around us! Legend has it, a boat carrying the horses was shipwrecked along the Atlantic, close enough for the horses to swim and survive on the island. It truly was a magical experience and I wasn’t even a horse-obsessed girl growing up.
Later we drove further down the island and found the pack again. HAY, horse.
As the weather was trying to decide whether it was going to be blue skies or moody grey, we took it all in and walked along the empty beach for hours.
I recently had gotten my robe from The Robe Lives, fellow nomads and nutbags. I went to high school and played softball with Adrienne who co-founded the organization and brand. When you buy a robe (or whatever else, they are currently expanding their products), $40 goes directly to thecup.org, an organization that empowers adolescent girls, providing them basic needs, keeping them healthy, and keeping them in school.
Although technically never very close, Adrienne’s fun, kind, and warm energy left an impression on me. She and her husband have been traveling the world for years and were definitely an inspiration while we were planning this tour. You can check out their adventures here!
When we got back to our campsite for the sunset, the horses were back. It was magical. That’s the only way I can put it. The photos speak for themselves.
It was tough leaving the beautiful seashore of Assateague Island, but I tried to remind myself of the countless other places left to go, find, and enjoy. The last morning was spent snuggling and listening to the waves.
On our way out of the park and onto the next state, the horses lined the drive to send us off. At least that’s what we’re telling ourselves.
On our drive from Assateague Island to our next state project in North Carolina, we had to venture across an extremely long bridge and tunnel passage across the Chesapeake Channel that left very little room for error beneath the water. Thankfully Tyler was able to keep it straight and narrow through to daylight on the other side.
*View the Delaware state project we facilitated with letterpress type designers Ray Nichols and Jill Cypher of Lead Graffiti studio. Their collaborative design is entitled “Untold Stories,” illustrative expression of the missed opportunities of their fathers to share their experiences serving in WWII before they passed.
Even though most Veterans don’t directly engage in combat, each Veteran has a unique experience and perspective from serving that their sons and daughters, like Ray and Jill, would love to hear to help better understand and appreciate their service.