Friday, April 2, 2010

Inspirations: Assateague Island National Seashore

A confirmed city dweller, I look for inspiration and refreshment in places that are remote and austere. A few days out of town provide the refreshment I need to keep going and to start new projects. One such place for me is Assateague Island.

Situated within minutes of the lights, noise, and crowds of Ocean City, it might as well be another world. Because we go in the spring or late fall, swimming and sunbathing are not as much of an option. I spend my beach time walking just where the water breaks, examining bits of shell and pebbles, looking at tiny—and not so tiny—sea creatures and plants, and generally becoming five years old again. Another favorite activity for me involves doing absolutely nothing—very early in the morning. Settling quietly behind the dunes with a cup of coffee, just at dawn, yields a treasury of birds that I never get to see or hear in town. Being serenaded by a red-winged blackbird is an honor for a city dweller.

Breaks like this are good for everyone. They're particularly important for me because I seem to experience the craft version of writer's block. Suddenly everything I do looks dreadful, I become convinced that no one will ever be interested in my work, and I just generally lose my way. A few days spent in stillness seem to put me back together again, energized and ready to work.

We have picked up a few hints during our years of going to Assateague, and I’ll be glad to pass along a few of the better ones:

· If you’re after solitude, April and October are your best months, and it’s better to go on weekdays.

· The state park forbids pets, so if you like to ramble with your dog, head for the national park. Dogs need extra water (take a collapsible bowl) because of the sun and salt. They need to be kept
leashed, even in camp. And they need some extra attention paid to their foot pads and paws.

· Choose the “walk in” campground on the ocean side. You’ll have to schlep your gear a few yards, but the sites are choice—large and isolated. The further south you go, the nicer the sites become. Choose a drive-in area and you’ll be near people in RV’s.

· Take your bike, if you enjoy cycling. Take your canoe or kayak if you’re a paddler. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy both. Biking or strolling with babies or small children is easy and fun. The land is flat and easy to walk, the speed limits for vehicles are low (and enforced!) and there's a space at the side of the road for cyclists. Bikes and canoes can be reserved and rented.

. There are no lifeguards on the beach at the south end of the camping area. Plan accordingly and keep close tabs on your youngsters.

· Resign yourself to a vacation of cold outdoor showers. The lack of plumbing is part of what keeps the area wild. The rest facilities are really not too bad—clean and well kept.

· They really mean what they say about the horses. Leave them alone. Admire them from a distance, and don’t forget to lock up your food in your car at night. They do roam freely.

A few years back, I became convinced that I had seen a horse with the markings of a Medicine Hat paint, that legendary and magical horse of the Indians. I still look for him each time we visit. This picture is of two of his colleagues, a stallion and a mare who strolled onto the beach to enjoy the sunset with us. We were seated, and we stayed seated—otherwise I wouldn’t recommend approaching them this closely.

Post written by AtelierAdornments

No comments: