I lived in Virginia the first 18 years of my life, and it wasn't until last year, while reading Good Night Virginia to my children, that I found out we have an island with wild ponies on it! What?!
We've been meaning to go to "the beach" all summer. The girls love playing in sand, and at least Hazel, Ed and I love the water. But it's been a busy summer and we never really got around to doing the research that would make it happen.
Then some friends from church sent an email to a bunch of people, telling about their favorite beach destination - Assateague Island - and setting up a group beach trip day. It was perfect - someone else knows where to go and leads the way, we just show up and follow. And even better, what's important to us was what's important to them - clean beach, uncrowded, non-commercial. And hey, ponies don't hurt.
The weather was iffy. But we decided to be optimistic and go anyway. I had invested in a big beach umbrella for our fair-skinned family just for the occasion. And it had been a long time since we took a family road trip. So we showed up at the church at 5:50 am last Saturday to meet with the others going - apparently experience had shown going early is how to beat the Bay Bridge traffic. And we did. We sailed across the bridge and the other 150 miles to the island. Luckily it appeared the misty weather had deterred other would-be beach-goers.
When we arrived, paid our $15 park entrance fee, and parked, the beach looked like this (about 10:30 am.) Not bad for a Saturday in August.
Here is our little camp. Later in the afternoon it became more sunny and more people showed up, but it was never what I would call crowded. Thank goodness.
The weather was perfect - in the 80's and breezey. The waves were nice and big and we had fun watching surfers. Our group had some body boards and took turns riding on them. Then of course there was all the other fun beach stuff: frisbee, kite-flying, kid-burying, hole-digging.I got a lot of my book read (and have the sunburn on the back of my legs to prove it.) Hazel spent almost the entire day running in and out of the waves (and has the sunburn on her legs, where the sunscreen washed off, to prove it.) Ginger didn't care for the water and spent most of the afternoon building an elaborate sandcastle, and an elaborate conversation, with our friend Emily.
And what about the ponies? Yes, we saw them. They weren't on the beach while we were there, but were along the road when we arrived and left. And they seem to prefer leaving their manure in parking lots, so that was a delicate treat to navigate. This one came bounding out of the bushes just as we drove past.
So the day was a huge success. The weather was great, the beach was pristine. The water was cool, wavey and refreshing. A day full of fun in the sun for everyone.
In fact, nothing could sum it up better than this picture I took less than 10 minutes after leaving the island: