I can imagine myself in a beautiful beach house that sits on a cliff overlooking the ocean below. My dream home would have floor to ceiling windows, minus curtains because it’d be far from civilization. Everything in my home would be white, or shades of white. The entire home would be pristine. I’ve dreamed of this home since I was a small girl and vacationed with my family for the first time in the Outer Banks and later in Chincoteague, Virginia.
Perhaps it’s because of that incredible vacation, my first real trip out of state and to the ocean that Assateague Island National Seashore holds a special place in my heart. Of all the National Parks that we’ve been to over the years, I’d have to say to date that this one is without a doubt, my favorite.
When my husband and I visited Washington D.C. with our kids several years ago, I’d planned a quick stopover in Assateague for some R & R, somewhere away from the busyness of our nation’s capital. Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland didn’t disappoint. The first day anyway.
I’d planned to camp at a nearly primitive campsite. It cost less than $20 a night, provided a port-a-pot, cold showers and drinking water. Not ideal, but the beach was literally a two minute walk and that part was nearly perfect.
We pitched our tent in the beautiful, balmy, seventy degree weather….
gathered our beach toys….
and left the Wild Ponies behind in our campsite….
as we headed for the beach.
I remember commenting to my husband that we should stay for several days but he cautioned me to take it slow, after all we enjoy camping, but prefer electricity and warm running water.
That night, the wind kicked up and if it hadn’t been for the extra long tent spikes I’d had the forethought to buy, I’m sure our tent would have blown away with us in it. We spent the night rocking back in forth in the minivan and awoke the next morning to a drizzly cold front.
No, I’m not angry, my face is red because I really was freezing! Needless to say we didn’t stick around long. We trotted down the beach for a quick walk in search of seashells and hightailed it back to the campsite, to tear down and hit the road.
We drove about 2-3 hours to the other side of the park in Virginia. I can’t say it was much warmer but they did have a really nice Visitor’s Center with a touch tank and bird viewing station.
My kids even completed the Jr. Ranger program.
We’ve visited Assateague Island National Seashore several times since our camping fiasco. We’ve not ever tried to camp again, but we have enjoyed beachcombing, bird watching and walking along the trails with the wildlife, mainly the famous Assateague ponies.
Just a bit of friendly advice, if you plan to camp at Assateague, you may prefer camping near the bay instead of the ocean side. It’s more protected from the winds that often kick up. Don’t forget your extra long tent stakes and make sure you don’t leave anything uncovered in your campground! We made the mistake of leaving the back of our van open only to find a pony nosing around our things. And he wasn’t in too big of a hurry to leave either!
Have you ever gone on a vacation and decided it was better after it was over?
© 2011, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.