Saturday, April 15, 2017

Assateague Island National Seashore

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We left the Outer Banks to make our way to Assateague Island National Seashore (AINS), famous for its beaches and wild ponies. It's a barrier island much like the OBX and I thought that we'd be able to drive the length of it but that turned out not to be the case. So it's a good thing that I really studied and double-checked our route, because, if we had followed our GPS, we'd have never gotten to our campground. Ever.

Turns out there is a part of the island you can reach via Chincoteague Island to the south but, to get to the campgrounds in a big rig, you have to go north, to Berlin.

There are two campgrounds that are part of the AINS, one is oceanside and one is bayside. On the oceanside, you are among the dunes and shore vegetation. Also, horse poop. Here you are separated from the ocean by a protective sand dune which varies in height and protection. So you are subjected to the wind and waves and blowing sand if you happen to be there on a stormy-ish day.

You can see just how close these tents are to the beach at the Oceanside Campground. No protective dune.

On the bayside, you are a bit more protected from the wild ocean and it’s less sand than grasses and vegetation. But, like the oceanside campgrounds, there is lots of pony poop. So if beaches are your jam then you would love oceanside, but if you prefer more inland conditions, bayside is for you.

We stayed in Loop A in the Bayside Campground. We chose this because it was the only thing available by the time we finally went online to make reservations. Leading up to Easter weekend AND spring break, we were only able to reserve three nights. When we arrived we did a minimal set up and stayed busy the whole time.

Scoopy’s spot in A loop, on the bayside.

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The view out our front window at Assateague.

Frankly, there is not a lot to do in the park, other than utilize the beach, walk a few trails and go to the Visitors Center, which we really enjoyed. You can't drive very far, so once you're in the park, that's about it.

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A diehard couple braves the strong winds to get their beach time!

Yes, there are wild horses and they were fun to see. But honestly, you go there wanting to see six or eight of them galloping in slo-mo through the waves, long manes flying in the wind, Chariots of Fire playing in the background. But what you get is the horse from your hometown parade, walking in the road, making a big mess and generally just looking around chewing and chomping. It's neat the first, and maybe the second time you see them, after that it's like, whatever.

I probably sound terribly jaded, but hey, it wasn't long ago that I was awoken by a herd of bison right outside my bedroom window and got startled by a bull moose running by as I'm sitting on my sofa. So, yeah, I wasn't all that impressed by the ponies. Steven, on the other hand, was a little more enamored with them and enjoyed the hunt, photographically speaking.

Lovely morning on the beach during one of Steven’s early morning jaunts.

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The calm before the storm…early morning and a few days before Easter weekend.

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Lot’s of warnings to stay off the dunes…

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This pony was kicking up some sand for his Kodak Moment!

One of our first pony sightings! We were so excited.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy my time here, I really did. We made our way to Ocean City and strolled the amazing boardwalk. The first thing we did was find Thrasher’s French Fries. That was lunch. Then we walked. I'd say probably half or more of the shops were not open but we also didn't have to deal with crowds so we were fine with that. Before we left, we got dessert at Kohr Bros. frozen custard.

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This is perhaps the largest and longest boardwalk we’ve ever been on. Can’t imagine what it’s like in August!

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Lots to see along the beach and boardwalk in Ocean City!

We had high expectations about the fries from Thrasher’s and they didn’t disappoint!

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An old time photo of Old Time Photos!

Oh yeah, and we had to have dessert after all of those fries!

I absolutely loved the little town of Berlin. It was so tidy and had flowers everywhere and a cute main street with fun little shops and restaurants. Steven liked it, too, although he got a whiff of a "Stepford" vibe.

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Main Street in Berlin. We were both taken with this little quaint town albeit a little Stepfordy.

I love that on the East Coast the churches serve crab cakes for dinner.

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Fun old radios in one of the window displays on Main Street.

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We had a great burger lunch at Blacksmith Restaurant and Bar and were tempted by the local candy store.

Spring is here and the blooms all along Main Street, Berlin were gorgeous.

There is also a state park literally right next to the AINS but it wasn't yet open for the season. The ranger we spoke with said the weather isn't usually so warm and sunny this time of year. Too bad the state park didn't open because they have a ton of campsites they could have filled over the next few days.

NEXT UP:  Making our way to Bill and Kelly!


  1. Your scenery pica are so beautiful! Love the one with the horse!

    1. Thank you! It's a beautiful place to photograph, hard not to get a few that are good. :)

  2. Thanks for the perspective on AINS, we'll try again to stop there on a future trip. But you are right I was expecting a 'Chariots of Fire' experience :)

    1. You want Chariots of Fire, you're gonna have to take your own boom box. But wouldn't that be so perfect? :)

  3. Steven probably likes the ponies more because of his Irish blood.

    If you liked Berlin (which was obviously settled by Germans) you will love WI and MN when you finally get there. Two whole large states filled with cute and tidy small towns! This is our hometown where we still have a house where we will land some day:,_Minnesota#/media/File%3ADowntownNorthfield1.JPG

    1. I'm definitely going to get some advice from you when we do go to WI and MN. Would you believe those two and ND will be our last three states to fill in and we don't even have a plan yet to go there. :) One of these days . . . you know we'll get it done!

  4. Having grown up reading Misty of Chincoteague and Stormy, Misty's Foal over and over, this is a place that needs nothing more than ponies in the sand for me to want to go - and your photos confirm it even more!! Admittedly your description would be much more awesomer :-) Wonderful oldtime photo and huge boardwalk. That burger looks dangerous :-)))) Thanks for the info on the two parks, your site looks huge!

    1. You are the second person to mention those books to me. I think you'd love it there. I am jaded and old. Don't listen to me. :)

    2. Jaded... well, bison and moose will do that to a person. Scoopy must enjoy going to new states!

  5. Fantastic write up. Ah, home! I know that whole area well! All the small towns in the area! Just liked seeing your beautiful photographs too.i wish I could write and do a blog like you do. It is so much fun to read others blogs and see things through their prospective and their eyes with the photos. It would also keep a bit of a record of where you have been and what you did. I think I would be too wordy. And it takes too much time to do one!

    1. You have so much to share because you've done so much and a blog would be a good way to do that. But yeah, it can sometimes be a burden and a chore. I totally get that! Good to have you along, and thanks for all the tips!

  6. Being there before the crowds descend seems like a great plan to me! Although it would be nice to be there when the state park campground is open. We are most enthralled with truly "wild" wildlife, too—but your photos of the ponies are wonderful.

  7. Very nice photos. It seems it has been warmer than usual in much of the South this year.