Assateague Island National Seashore
by Lee McQuade
September 17-18-20, 2010
Our ninth annual HRCKC Assateague Island, Maryland trip was an awesome experience with mother nature fully cooperating and Hurricane Igor staying well out of our area.
Assateague Island consists of three major public areas; Assateague Island National Seashore managed by the National Park Service, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Assateague State Park, managed by Maryland’s Department of National Resources. The island has an interesting folklore and is probably best known for the Assateague “ponies” which freely roam on roads, campsites and wherever they wish to congregate. Pony patrols keep them out of harms way. Only slightly smaller than other horses, these shaggy, sturdy animals are well adapted to their harsh seashore environment.
The group included, Herta, Monica, Roberta, Bev and her family Jenn, Andy, Michele and Alice, Susan, Donna, Kathy and yours truly, Lee.
Most of us arrived on Friday afternoon, however Kathy and Donna had arrived on Thursday and stayed overnight in Ocean City. During the day they were able to help the local economy by shopping, sightseeing and doing some paddling in the bay. Alice and Susan stayed over on the mainland and joined us on Saturday.
The winds over on the ocean side were very calm and allowed us to erect our tents without any major problems. The club had four campsites in the Oceanside Drive-In Area. Some members in the group had brought their bikes so they went for rides on the island.
Friday afternoon was spent getting reacquainted with the area and cooking on site. Monica had brought extra wood from home and so a fire was in order in the fire ring. The evening was spectacular with the full moon providing ample light. The stars were at their fullest. The only lights visible were those from Ocean City and at the campsites.
Saturday morning started with an early walk and then a trip to Sinepuxent Bay to see if we would be OK for boating. The bay was calm with no hint of whitecaps which can make boating a rough experience. Andy and Michelle were renting a tandem kayak from a local rental firm so we all decided to meet out in the bay. Canoes are also available and are OK to paddle as long as you are aware of weather conditions. We saw several people clamming off the shore.
Along the shore we saw several egrets and herons. Later on in the season, snow geese, black ducks, mallards and pintails will winter on the island. The group paddled for several hours. We could not have asked for a more enjoyable day to be on the water. A lunch stop provided us with new energy.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent in eating, flying kites, biking, and generally taking it easy. Some of the group visited the “Life of the Forest" and "Life of the Marsh" trails. We also visited the new Visitor Center which provides information, descriptive leaflets and interpretive activities. It is well worth the visit.
On Saturday evening some of us ventured into Ocean City to have dinner at Hoopers Crab House while others remained at camp enjoying the fine weather and eating at their sites. Ocean City has bike week (motorcycles) at this time of the year so the roads were alive with bikers. They are a colorful group of people. We even met a group of bikers from northern New Jersey.
After dinner we returned to our campsites. Herta and Monica had a fire started so we enjoyed a little time together before retiring. One last walk on the beach and speaking with some boy scouts ended the evening.
We had another fabulous day on Sunday. I had left in the early hours to catch the Lewes, Delaware ferry to Cape May for a morning of kayaking in Cape May Harbor. Other members of the group spent time soaking up the last rays of sun before hitting the road. Kathy and Donna visited Berlin for lunch before heading home. Andy and Michelle who live in Rhode Island had additional driving time after arriving in NJ.
What a fantastic weekend. Let’s do it again in 2011.
Photos to follow at a later date.