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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!