Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Assateague - Family Favorite National Park

Almost annually, we head to the beach for a week, long-weekend, or even just a couple of days. This year, we were headed to Assateague National Park (which sits next to Chincoteague) for Labor Day weekend. But alas, Mother Nature had other plans. A hurricane was coming and though I was surprisingly calm about this, Ed seemed a wee bit stressed about the idea of 6 foot storm surges sweeping our car into the ocean. He had a point, of course. (Prior to him pointing this out, I was just in denial saying ridiculous things like "what's the worst that could happen? We end up in a nice condo with friends for the weekend rather than at the beach - that doesn't sound so bad." Floating cars though - that sounded bad.)

The rental company we used was exceedingly generous and allowed us to rebook for another weekend. So a couple of weekends ago, we hit the beach!

I am always reminded when I head to Assateague and any of the other wonderful National Parks that we are exceedingly lucky in the US to have these preserved spaces.The primary reason we love Assateague is that it never gets that crowded (limited parking) and there are no vendors hawking crappy food and cheap trinkets at the beach - unlike pretty much every other beach near us. Folks from Cotopaxi pointed out that this is the 100 year anniversary of the National Parks, so I'm super happy we didn't end up bailing on the trip entirely. That would have just felt wrong.

The first day we were in Chincoteague, we pretty much just zonked out in our condo. We arrived pretty late and were ready for rest. We were at a waterfront location this time, so had a great view. Day 2 sent me to get a massage - spending most of the morning in pain - and then we hit a "wine festival" which did have wine and a moonbounce, but wasn't your typical festival. (Ed won a trucker hat which he gifted to me.) We also tried our hand at crabbing but we were not super successful in this venture.

That night, we slurped oysters (everyone except Helen) and Ed and I continued to be amazed that we have a child who gags at the thought of eating a veggie hotdog, but willingly eats raw oysters. It makes no sense.

Connor got our friend to engage in a battle of Risk. I sewed while the three men played. Connor, naturally, was the winner.

On Sunday, we took advantage of a couple of programs at the Nature Center near the beach. I have to give a thumbs up to the NPS ranger. We were the only visitors to take the tour, and despite the pretty strong winds, he showed the kids around the boardwalk without skimping a bit on either tour time or enthusiasm. Helen, especially, was into this.

Finally, we made it to the beach. If there is a place both children are happier, I don't know where it is.

There are National Parks all over the US. Cotopzxi rounded up a list of some great ones in the graphics they shared below. Soon, I think I'll petition for a trip up to the Grand Canyon. I remember being there as a kid. And even though I was obnoxious about the smell and a wee bit disappointed at the geyser, I'm older now and can appreciate it was a great trip. Maybe my kids will be a better traveler than I was.

Note: While learning about Cotopaxi, I learned they sponsored adventure races across the country. And yes, they are coming to DC. Assuming it doesn't conflict with Marine Corps Marathon training, I'm going to see if I can round up a crew for the 24 hour adventure race. Friends, be warned.

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