Hackensack River Canoe &
Assateague Island National Seashore
by Betty Wiest
September 13-15, 2013
Trip Participants: Lois and Henry, Carolyn, Carol, Kathy, Donna, Janet and Betty
This is a trip that Lee McQuade has organized in years past and one that he organized this year but, unfortunately, was not able to attend. We are very sorry that Lee could not be with us at Assateague.
Tent sites were set aside for our group and pretty much near each other. Assateague tent sites have great, roomy, clean portable toilets, but lack hot showers. And all very close by. The campground does not have electricity....obviously my hair dryer and curling iron should have been left home.
When Janet and I arrived on Friday afternoon, Lois and Henry
and Carolyn had already set up their camp and enjoying the beautiful afternoon.
Janet and I each had our own tent and quickly managed to set them up as Carol
arrived and got hers up as well.
It was time to relax, get out our portable chairs, have a beverage, and enjoy the multitude of snacks everyone brought. Kathy arrived sometime Friday as well.
As it turned out, everyone gravitated to Lois, Henry and
Carolyn’s picnic table for group
socialization. It seems most of us brought hot dogs for a quick dinner on Friday night. Someone brought pasta salad and potato salad to complement the meal. How easy was that! We brought our meals (mostly breakfast goodies) to their table on Saturday and Sunday.
The flat terrain of Assateague makes it great for bike riding. Janet and I went for a short ride to explore the area. (I managed to fit both bikes in my van.)
It was an absolutely beautiful evening. There was a nice breeze and because we were on the ocean side of the campground, we noticed there were no bugs. Really? Yes, there were no bugs! We all put away the bug sprays.
Henry had rounded up some kindling and someone procured good pieces of wood to make a fire. With a fleece to cut the chill, we all sat around the bright campfire. After a while, the crowd slowly dwindled with someone dousing the fire to end the evening.
Saturday morning brought a beautiful sunrise to our serene setting. Coffee, casual conversation on the boardwalk at the crest of the dune was a wonderful way to start the morning. Most everyone hung around the campground, but Janet and I rode our bikes to the Verrazano Bridge....yes, the Verrazano Bridge!...Assateague version. What was so delightful was a separate pedestrian bridge but parallel to the vehicular bridge...great for safety. We saw a few ponies which posed for us.
Time to go kayaking. Kathy wandered by and commented that she had to pick up Donna (who stayed at a hotel) and would meet us at the kayak launch at a place called Old Ferry Landing. Surrounded by salt marshes and lots of islands in the Sinepuxent Bay and northern edge of the Chincoteague Bay, we enjoyed kayaking in very shallow waters. It was intriguing to paddle out past Little Egging Beach Island to Great Egging Beach Island in water you could comfortably walk in...mostly 1 to 3 feet deep. We beached our boats on a pleasant beach area of the larger island and got to observe a number of jellyfish. Our plan was to paddle to a large point on the edge of Bayside Drive (I can’t understand how I could never find it to drive or bike to) where public parking and a sweet beach were located. We stopped for lunch and a delightful respite. Kathy had let me look at her navigation chart and I was able to determine where to enter the marsh to return to our launch. It was a gorgeous day and lots of people were out and about checking out the marsh, the birds, walking the many plank boardwalks and just observing nature.
We got back to our campsites. Carolyn and I went to the beach (Carolyn was the brave swimmer), some went for a walk on the beach and some just “chilled out”. Carolyn’s friend (and local resident, Dell) made a dinner reservation at a marina restaurant called Sunset Grill. It was a special place. We dined outside surrounded by palm trees, yachts and attractive atmosphere. A band played. We sang to Desperado and other cool songs from “our era”. The food was delicious. Coffee followed dinner in an upstairs hideaway.
We made our way back to the campground. It was another night around the campfire.
Sunday morning, I woke up and started to make my way over to the “necessary room” when I saw Henry who remarked, “Are you staying up? Should I make coffee?” Wonderful words to hear as dawn was breaking over the dunes. Quiet time around the camp soon changed as fellow campers made their presence known. Almost immediately Henry pointed to the mess created by a pony that had managed to stick his nose in a garbage bag nearby the campsite. I heard that Carolyn, during the wee hours of the morning, had yelled at the pony to get lost, but it still managed to make a mess. Good guy that he is, in the morning, Henry graciously cleaned it up. Next time...all garbage goes in the dumpster at night!
As the sun rose in the east, we made our way up the long boardwalk, coffee cup in hand, to take in the beautiful sunrise and have quiet conversation.
After a somewhat communal breakfast, we all started to break camp and make our way to other destinations or home. By 9 a.m., Lois and Henry had left, followed by the rest of us.
The weekend was with fabulous friends.....we had wonderful weather, cool kayaking....and did I mention NO BUGS!