Thursday, October 11, 2018

A Little Girl's Dream

September 25-October 2, 2018
Assateague Island, Maryland

Like many little girls, I loved all things horses. And reading; I have always loved books. These two passions came together in the works of Marguerite Henry. I'm sure I read at least half of her 57 stories about horses and other animals, but my very favorites were those she wrote about the wild ponies of Assateague Island.

Misty and her foal Stormy gave me many hours of enjoyment. 
The sun is shining for our short travel day on Tuesday. It's a very different drive through several small beach towns, and the very touristy Ocean City, Maryland. We cross a small bridge to the Assateague State Park.

The park in Delaware has dried out quickly.

Tessa and I take a short walk along the marshes before we move south.
Look who welcomes us to the park?

Electric-only sites, steps from the beach.
Tessa makes friends with our neighbors Linda and Lindsey (mother and daughter), and we visit with them for awhile. We enjoy the last of our growlers from the wonderful brewery in Boothbay, Maine, while being entertained by the changing sky.

Everywhere in the park are signs to stay 40 feet from the ponies. Don't hassle them, other common sense notices. While sitting at the picnic table in the dark, Bill finds that the locals can't read. Without hearing it first, he gets a big kiss on the side of his head from a pony! As you can imagine, he's quite "startled" by this close encounter :-)

Tessa was outside with Bill and never reacted. I think she was in on it....
Wednesday morning we check out the peaceful beauty of the island park. We see about a dozen healthy ponies - the same ones we see throughout our stay. I learn later that the herd on the Maryland end of the island is 59! Apparently more of them hang around the campground during the summer, where they break into ice chests and drag away backpacks in search of "easy" food. After Labor Day most spread out across the island for the rest of the year.

A magical place where the world slows down.

Lots of pretty sorrel ponies.

There's so much grass here, I don't know how they don't explode.

This is their home. You wait.

Every time I see one I'm that little girl again. Every pony is the hero from the stories. 

A gentle doe seems to hold her breath as we pass.

Her little one blends in well.
In the afternoon we drive south to visit Chincoteague (the name I always associate with the ponies). Unfortunately Bill starts feeling bad and we return home. We'll come back.

Tessa has an early grooming appointment Thursday morning, and I'm hoping to get some sunrise pics. The clouds are thick so I just head into Berlin to drop her off at 7:30. I run errands and pick her up in a couple hours. As always the groomer says Tessa's the best dog she's ever groomed :-)

The groomer emails me this photo - ahhhh.
Although the sun never comes out, we take our chairs to hang out on the beach. There are a couple of people fishing, but otherwise it's just us. Perfect.

From our site we can hear the surf over the low dunes.

Life is good.

The waves roll continuously.

Into the wind.....

Waves deposit sea foam high on the sand.

The wind rolls it into long bands.

As they dry, the bands break into small pieces.

The pieces race across the damp sand like pucks on ice. We're easily entertained!

Back at home, a bright orange creature flies overhead.
Thar be dragons!
Friday morning we kill an hour in the parking lot before we drive separately for one of our shortest travel days - 11 miles. We can't check in until 1 PM. While we wait, part of the herd comes by to say goodbye.

My favorite is this palomino paint mare.
I want to spend more time on the island, the state park is full for the weekend, and I need to get some laundry done - so we get a FHU site at Island Resort Family Campground. It's a pretty park with a small lake/large pond and nice open skies. Everything works well, but unfortunately we can't get completely level front to back. 

Another pretty front yard.
I'm in the mood for seafood with a water view so we drive back to Ocean City. There is a special 30 mph speed limit posted, strangely modified cars cruise by us, and crowds of people line the main street - what is going on? We learn at the restaurant that it's H2Oi. Of course we have no clue. Further research tells us it's a car show featuring modified VW's and Audis (okay?) that officially moved to Atlantic City this year, but many people come here first. 

Aaaanyway....we enjoy cocktails and appetizers on a sandy "beach" along the bay. Macky's is a cute place that I'm sure gets wild on the weekends. 

A first for us - doggie menu! Of course it's sponsored by Pam!
We opt for a quieter location for a Saturday drive. Let's head to Deal Island - "One of the last Bay type water and land mosaics on the East Coast left unblemished and untouched by the sprawl of modernism."

A sleepy little fishing spot on the Chesapeake Bay.

A little dive with loud locals. Great fried clams. One of those wonderful spots where you sit and soak up the uniqueness.

In the distance we spot this beauty on a tall snag.
The community is struggling.

The past is well maintained.
Sunday morning the park empties and we do our relaxing Sunday football thing. The little lake is lovely, but filled with more geese than I've seen in one place. I can't imagine walking on the beach here.

Looks like this all day until a single trailer comes in - and yes, they park them right next to us. I'll never understand....
I love watching the reflections change throughout the day.
Geese fill much of the other side of the lake.

Kayakers enjoy the changing colors on the water.
Maybe the campground is too quiet......
Our last day we return to Chincoteague Island on the "Virginia side" of Assateague Island. Although the beach is larger and much more crowded than the north side, the wildlife refuge where the 30 ponies of this second herd live feels untouched by humans.

We're fortunate to see almost 30 ponies spread out in the distance. This is the enchanting place of my little girl dreams, where I fell in love with the wild horses. 

Where all the ponies are.

And lots of Egrets.
A new member of the herd.

Could be Misty and Stormy on the left.

We don't need to stop.
I rarely order a Caesar salad because they're not made right. AJs on the Creek surprises me when I take a chance - real anchovies, crumbled croutons, super crisp Romaine. My mouth is watering just remembering it! Can't believe I didn't take a pic.

Leaving the island we stop at the Assateague Island Lighthouse. It's closed today, but I take the short path up the hill to see it. And am rewarded with half a dozen bug bites. It's a pretty little light, maybe not worth the couple days of itching :-(  

A different route home takes us through farmland and past a NASA facility - lots of variety here.

Millions, hundreds, dozens, six bugs wait to ambush me.
At the edge of the forest stands this pretty 142 foot tall striped light.

Built in 1860 on the shoreline, she is now 5 miles from the water. Yes, it's magic. (Okay, it's the silt deposits)

NASA's Wallops flight testing facility.

Several old homes are being reclaimed by Mother Nature.

I'm so glad we came to the island. Seeing the ponies up close (maybe a little too close for Bill), seeing where they call home, seeing the raw beauty of their world - definitely a dream come true.

Next up, a long-overdue meet-up with a dear friend I haven't met yet.


  1. Marguerite Henry and her books about Chincoteague where part of my classroom library. They were a perfect level for my higher readers in third grade. And of course, the area was so well know since we lived so close. I can imagine your joy at finally seeing the place come to life that you read about so long ago. Glad you did have some sun for the visit. Love that pony snuggled quietly with Bill:) Sounds like a wonderful visit to the pony island.

  2. I gave many of those Chincoteague books to our granddaughters when they were young--they loved them. How fun you finally were able to visit. Ms. Tessa looks mighty spiffy!

    1. So glad to hear your sharing Misty with new generations! Tessa smelled really good too :-)

  3. Looks like more amazing travel memories in the making. I certainly understand the term about a dear friend you haven't met. There are so many of them we meet along the road. Be safe.

    1. We have been so blessed with all the friends we've made on the road!

  4. We had planned to visit the ponies a couple years ago, but it didn't work out. My daughter really like the books. Thanks for bringing them to life.

    1. I love hearing that new generations continue to love the books. Some day you'll take her to see them on their island :-)

  5. I love that Bill got surprised by a pony up close and personal! What a beautiful place and new memories made of a childhood dream.

    1. He'll never forget it so it's fun that we have such different memories of this special place!!

  6. I love everything about this post! The adorable ponies (and especially that Bill got a kiss :-)), the beautiful beach and marshes, the very cool restaurant on the beach, "Wicked Cute" Tessa, everything. This is SO on our list...thanks for all of the great ideas.

    1. There are a lot of bike trails on both "ends" of the island, and you guys will love all the birds!

  7. Just love hearing your excitement over a childhood dream come true. These are places I know well and so I really enjoyed your wonderful pictures. For years we spent a long fall weekend in Chincoteague every year. You are there at the perfect time to enjoy it and the ponies. I too met up recently with a dear friend I've never met but it was too short a visit.

    1. :-))) definitely too short! I am so happy that the island is being preserved along with the ponies. It was such a wonderful visit!

  8. How exciting to be welcomed by the ponies, especially Bill's sloppy kiss. I am sad to hear the ponies are wild about people food. Doesn't it just figure that Pam would have a doggie menu. ;) How wonderful to have lived this dream.

    1. It was sad to hear how aggressive they've gotten during the summer. They've learned that humans mean food. It really was so wonderful to be there.

  9. Steve's family is from Virginia Beach area so we have been there several times. What a great place. So glad you got your pony fix! What a great surprise for Bill getting a little smooch from the locals!

    1. How fun to grow up there! The usual frogs and birds are pretty boring after that pony visit :-)))

  10. How unusual to find a lighthouse that nature has made farther from the shore! Very cool.

    1. It would be a fun science test for kids studying the area!