|Evening surf at Assateague Island.|
The ponies were exhausted and their coats were heavy with water, but they were free, free, free! They raised their heads and snuffed the wind. The smell was unlike that of the lowland moors in Spain, but it was good! They sucked in the sharp sweet pungence of pine woods, and somewhere mixed in with the piney smell came the enticing scent of salt grass.
--Margurite Henry, Misty of Chincoteague
|I love the sand dunes perhaps most of all.|
Tomorrow is the start of the Assateague Island Pony Roundup--a day that lives vibrantly in the imagination of millions of girls who devoured Marguerite Henry's marvelous stories about a wild and lovable pony, Misty, and her colt, Stormy. Every year the fishermen and villagers on Chincoteague Island on the Virginia Coast cross the inlet to Assateague--a long thin island that is home to herds of wild ponies. They round up the ponies, and hold a big auction and have a huge festival and, well, it's just awesome.
|Long, clean, windy beaches with the softest sand and an invigorating surf.|
Or...so I've heard. Though I've promised myself that I will attend this before I leave Virginia, I haven't made it out there yet. And frankly, it is mostly just a show, now, I think. For I've met these "wild" ponies, and there's nothing very wild about them. They are quite dear--small, scruffy, windblown. But they are also quite tame, because most of them live on the North (Maryland) part of Assateague, which is home to several fantastic camp sites.
|High on my wishlist: a VW Camper. The paint job doesn't hurt either.|
Several years running I traveled to Assateague for my birthday (and hope to do so again this year). We've stayed at both the State Park and the National Park, on the Bay side as well as the Coastal camp-grounds, and I must say: there are few places more fun and relaxing for a weekend camping trip. You can lay out, or go seashell hunting, or make sandcastles. You can body-surf or swim, and you can hike the old boardwalk, or other areas of this wild, strange habitat. You can also go clamming, or crabbing, and kayak through the marshes on the bay side of the Island. When you're tired of sand in your food, you can drive up to Berlin, MD, and get a milkshake and go antiquing.
|Sunset over the marsh.|
But most of all, you can see the sun set at your backs and rise over the Ocean (as a child of the Pacific this is a thrilling thrilling experience). And be refreshed by the strong warm winds. And meet a few of those Wild Ponies. They're not really wild anymore, but they sure are beautiful to behold.
|Sunrise in the Surf.|