shore line {life}

In the distance, the ponies of Assateague Island.

In the distance, the ponies of Assateague Island.

I've often talked of how I love the spit of land we call the Eastern Shore of Virginia, but the truth is, we don't cross that man-made wonder of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel nearly as often as I wish we would. Bottom line: I'm lame.

This trip, we traveled practically to Maryland, all the way to Chincoteague. It's about two and a half hours from our house. Two up and half over to the barrier islands of Chincoteague and Assateague. If those names are ringing any distant bells for you, perhaps this will help unping the memory.

Did you read those books as a child? Most of us did. I did, and I can guarantee that pretty much every child in Virginia does. Assateague Island is home to a herd of wild ponies, which are maintained by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department. The Fire Department is permitted to keep a herd of 150 horses, and each year the size of the herd is controlled with an auction of ponies in late July. The ponies swim from Assateague to Chincoteague during the slack tide (a period of time between high and low tide when the current is low) on the last Wednesday of July. They are auctioned on Thursday (the auction serves the purpose of thinning the herd and raising money for the Volunteer Fire Department), and on Friday the remaining ponies swim back to the island. This year was the 89th year.

We missed it by a day! I didn't mind missing the crowds, to be honest, but it was cool to be so close to history. I was thrilled to get even the barest of glimpses of the ponies even from far away. And of course, what thrilled me even more was... wait for it, LUNCH.

Chincoteague has just been named as Coastal Living's Happiest Seaside Town, and it's easy to see why. We took the hint from the article and stopped at Woody's Beach BBQ. It's a walk up joint with no seats, but games abound in the oyster shell filled lot. Corn hole, horseshoes, you name it. Pay for your sandwiches (I had the Clipper: pulled pork, fried chicken, slaw and BACON JAM) or your fried chicken and wait for them to call your name. The corn nuggets (like corn fritters) are worth the drive. Must love fried.

After lunch we moved on to Island Creamery. We'd been told by all and sundry that this was the best ice cream pretty much ever, so of course we were skeptical. My mom confirmed it. It is.

After that, a walk along the beach and to the light house. A stop by the ponies and a turtle spotting. Not too shabby. And let's face it. I could stare at that marsh for days. I'm a fan of marshes it turns out.

We headed south after that, too late to stop for antiques. We did stop at several produce stands; they line the route you take up the coast. Once for tomatoes and plums (with the bonus of one amazing watermelon), and then again for peaches. My mom is here and she's making a pie.

Finally, to end the day, a stop in Cape Charles, VA. Hello quaint and charming town with a perfect stretch of bayside beach and beautiful historic houses lining every street. Yeah, I could get lost here for days. We walked along the pier. Neel and Cal threw the ball and then we had a seafood-y dinner. Sunset over the bay for the last leg home? Not a bad way to end the day. I already want to go back.