My facebook friends heard the abridged version of this year's campout. "Cristi wonders if the whole point of camping is to come home with the best stories. Yesterday included a gorgeous day at the beach, gator wrestlin', severe thunderstorms, several inches of rain in the tents, and finally a midnight ride by the DC monuments." And, now, as Paul Harvey would say, "Here's the rest of the story"...
We arrived at Assateague Island in time for dinner Wednesday night. It was miserably hot in DC when we left, but thankfully 90-something degrees doesn't feel nearly as bad when there's a nice breeze blowing off the ocean. Our campsite was barely 50 yards from the beach. After pitching tents and lighting our campfire, Tim and the kids went exploring.
The next morning it was all we could do to keep the kids near the tents long enough to cook breakfast; they couldn't wait to get in the water. Perhaps the most fun activity of the day was "gator wrestling." Lauren was a bit skittish about the water the first time she dipped her toes in, but by the end of the day she was laughing every time a wave came up high enough to nearly knock her over.
Just seconds after we took this picture of the kids on the beach, a wave came up a bitter higher than I thought and splashed all the kids. That's the picture I would've loved to have captured.
Assateague Island is known for the wild ponies that roam freely. The last time we camped here, we were amazed that the horses didn't really seem afraid of people at all. They are even more fearless now. Several times they came right up to our campsite looking for food. On Thursday night, Tim was grilling ribs and a group of five horses decided to hang out nearby. I was standing at our picnic table and one of them walked within a few feet of me. The biggest horse started inching closer to the grill, but when Tim kept staring at him, he eventually gave up and wandered away. (It's a good thing -- Tim would've fought to keep his dinner, especially ribs.)
As sunset neared, we noticed the horses gathering on the ridge between the beach and the campsites. I think we counted 20 in all.
This was the calm before the storm. Shortly after Tim took the photos, we heard a loudspeaker coming from a police car that was announcing a weather warning. We took the wind and thunderstorm warning fairly seriously and staked down both tents a bit more securely. When the lightning got bad, we figured that the van would be a safer shelter than the tent. What a storm! When it cleared a bit, I did a quick check of the tents. The bigger tent took on several inches of rain, and much of the gear in the kids' tent got wet too. As we saw the rest of the storm moving our direction, we decided to start loading up wet gear. It would only take about 3 hours to get home, and that seemed like a better option than toughing it out in wet sleeping bags. We got one tent down before the next round of thunder and lightning. Finally, about 10 pm, we managed to squeeze the rest of the gear and a very wet, sandy tent into the van.
Somewhere around 12:30 in the morning, Tim and I discussed the best way to get from one side of DC to the other. Shortly afterwards, we drive past all of the big monuments. Oops. The next morning, Addison pipes up at breakfast and asks, "Can anyone tell me why we were driving past all the monuments in the middle of the night?"
Like I said, if camping is about having the best stories, I think this trip was a winner!