Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chincoteague Island: Land of Misty and Relaxation

When trying to decide where we wanted to go for vacation this year, we considered going west to the Rockies or east to the beach.  After several discussions, we decided that we wanted to go east to visit my brother in North Carolina and that we wanted to visit Norfolk, VA.  I had been to Norfolk before on a recruitment trip and wanted to go back so that my husband could take a tour of the Naval base there.  I originally thought that we would spend several days in the area, but after reading about the attractions there, I started to focus more on the beach.

Let me start by saying that this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me and my background.   Having grown up in Florida, I always feel that I am home when I arrive at the water.  As much as I admire Minnesota lakes, they just don't do it for me although Lake Superior comes close.  There is just something about the ocean and coastal waterways that makes me feel like I have come home.

As I researched the coast of Virginia, I first looked at Virginia Beach.  It is close to Norfolk-almost a suburb-and is very popular.  However, I have driven through there and found it very busy and touristy.  So, I continued to search for other options.  That is when I discovered Chincoteague, Virginia on the map.  As I read about this area, I also remembered more about it.  I had always heard about and been intrigued by the tales of wild ponies that were herded to swim from their island home to the mainland.  I had also heard about the book Misty of Chincoteague because of my Children's Literature class in college.  Imagine my surprise to learn that this was the place for both of those things!  The more I read, the more convinced I was that we should spend some time on Chincoteague; so our focus changed to a quick trip to Norfolk followed by a few days in Chincoteague.

I am so glad that we made these changes to our vacation.  Chincoteague, and its neighboring Assateague, is a lovely place to relax.  There's a slowing down of time here.  Nothing is hurried or rushed, and there is something for everyone here.  Biking is a popular activity.  The land is flat, and there are bike paths throughout the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  There are boat cruises or fishing if you want water activities.  The beach is lovely as well.  There are scooters, trikes, and coupes to rent and explore the island and refuge.  There is a popular ice cream shop which offers locally made ice cream; at night people line up out the door.  There are miniature golf and go-carts as well as a theater for entertainment.  The people are helpful and friendly.  This is a wonderful place to relax, unwind, and have fun!

However, I would be remiss if I didn't write about what really drew me to this place-the wild horses. Their story is told in the book Misty of Chincoteague.  An avid reader, I bought the book on my Kindle and read it when I first arrived,  It is a good children's book which was published in 1947, written by Marguerite Henry, and won the Newberry Award.  Even now, Assateague Island is the place where wild horses roam and are herded by saltwater cowboys each year at the end of July.  They are gathered together from all areas of Assateague Island and made to swim across a channel to Chincoteague where the foals are auctioned to benefit the local fire department.   I think it would be fun to see the actual event although I'm afraid that the crowds of people would detract from the relaxed atmosphere found in this area.

This has been a wonderful place to spend some time.  I will be sad to leave, but I am so glad that we decided to head for the beach.  We have had a great time!

Have you found your joy today?