Tuesday, May 24, 2011

horsing around in assateague

11. Take Sadira to Assateague to see the wild ponies.  - DONE!

So a little background.  We live in Baltimore City (duh) and it's roughly a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive to get to the beach.  It's one of the million things I love about living where we live.  We are geographically close to just about everything (except the desert).  While we live in the city, we only need to drive an hour and a half to the west to get to the mountains; two and half hours to the east and you're at the beach. 

That being said, the majority of Marylanders at some point in their lifetime will vacation at Ocean City, Maryland.  It gets pretty crowded in the summer, you have to mark your territory on the beach at 6am to get a decent spot, its ridiculously overpriced, the boardwalk has the same 5 stores over and over again, and the water occasionally looks like sludge.  Don't you dare go in the month of June, unless you prefer to be surrounded by 10,000+ drunk recently graduated high schoolers celebrating senior week.  Not to mention, despite the fact that it's a BARRIER ISLAND and biologically designed to MOVE, the geniuses who planned Ocean City decided to build high rises right on the beach.  So every couple of years giant boats are sent out into the water with these huge vacuum-looking things to suck up the sand and essentially PUMP the sand BACK ONTO the beach.

Which results in lots of interesting critters (like jellyfish) just hanging out on the sand, displaced.

Ready to book your next vacay, huh?

As much as I sound like a hater, there are some very charming things about Ocean City.  Things that are a staple in every Baltimore-area child's life, and a tradition that is just too "summery" not to participate in each year.  Things like Thrashers french fries, Dumsers ice cream, Dough Roller pizza and Candy Kitchen fudge.  Begging your parents to let you go on the Haunted House ride on the boardwalk, or for more points to ride rides at the Jolly Roger.  Putt putt at one of the 7,000 mini golf courses.  Every kid has to experience this crap at least once in their life, it's tradition.

The amazing thing, is that just 9 miles south of Ocean City is Assateague Island.  Yes, ASS-ateague, isn't that funny?  Let's all turn into 5th grade boys and laugh at that---ASS-ateague.  Even funnier is the bay between the island and mainland---ASSAWOMAN Bay.  My hand to God, that's the name.  If you don't believe me, check it out here, it's God's honest truth.  Let me tell you what joy that name brings to all of those drunk Senior weekers. 

Anyway, the amazing thing about Assateauge is that its virtually the POLAR OPPOSITE of Ocean City.  Pretty, pristine beaches, the way nature intended.  Fresh air, no loud noises.  It probably helps that its a national wildlife site, and there are no high rise hotels to be found.  Either way, it's a gem.

I had never been to Assateague before, something which is apparently astounding, having grown up in Baltimore.  We pretty much always vacationed in OC until we discovered the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and then every vacation was spent there.  I may have been to Assateague as a child, but if I did, I can't remember.

So that's how it ended up on the list. 

The cool "thing" about Assateague is there are wild ponies that roam the island.  I really, really wanted to see these ponies.  Just so happens, Sadie and I have a cousin (on Sadie's dad's side, so technically not MY cousin, but we just pretend we are real-life related...) who lives on the Eastern Shore, and his fiancee, and they were willing to spend the day showing us around Assateague.

Instead of referring to them as wish-cousins, I'll just tell you their names...Brandon and Ashleigh.

When I first published the list on my blog, Brandon had said to me, "we can go to Assateague together." And I said great, cause I had never been there.  "Wait...you've never been there? Like, really, NEVER?"

No.  I've never been there.

About a week prior to meeting up I had said to Ashleigh, "are you sure I'm going to get to see ponies?" I really wanted to see ponies, and was worried that since they were calling for rain that day, we wouldn't be able to just hang out on the island and wait for them.

"You'll see ponies," she said. "And I still can't believe you've never been to Assateague."

Cool.  And nope. Never been there.

I talked to my friend Dawn the week before and told her where we were going (Dawn is from the Midwest) and she was all, "Whhhaaaaa?? You've never been to Assateague?"

I was starting to feel very uncool.

Then Dawn proceeded to tell me about when she went to Assateague and saw the ponies and it was wintertime and they were really hairy, and wooly and mangey-looking and how great it was.

I love Dawn. She has this amazing ability to describe something so disgusting and make it sound AWESOME!

So now I was super intrigued.

We got to Brandon and Ashleigh's house in the early afternoon and then all piled in my car to drive the half hour or so to Assateague Island.  When we got there we stopped at the Visitor's Center to get our learnin' on:

Then we started to drive around the island and immediately saw these guys:

And then this guy:

Followed by these dudes:

These guys were having a convention:

This guy was ready for his close up:

This guy was obeying the posted speed limit:

 All the while Brandon was saying, "I seriously can't believe you've never been here before."

Assateague does have much more than just the ponies.  We also managed to sneak a peek at this guy:

And this guy:

We hung out on the beautiful-non-Ocean-Citylike beach for a little bit and enjoyed the lack of drunk high schoolers and absence of throngs of people with their towel and blankets inches from one another:

And then we decided to do the next logical thing....

Go to Ocean City and get some Dough Roller pizza, Candy Kitchen fudge, and take a spin on the Jolly Roger merry-go-round.

It is tradition, after all. :)
Thanks for a great day, Brandon and Ashleigh!!! We love you both.


Anonymous said...

You did go but were probably too young to remember. It ws summer and there were lots of mosquitos. The mosquitos love you so we could not hang around for long.
Nice post however.


Stefanie said...

That looks pretty awesome...although I had to snicker when you included pictures of a red-wing blackbird and a deer... only because those are so commonplace here, and compared to those beautiful ponies...well you catch my drift. LOL.

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