Last Friday I drove down to Silver Spring, Md. to spend Shabbat with my dear friends. I had not seen them in a number of years. They are thoughtful people, I mean they have lots of thoughts and it is a pleasure to talk with them in addition to the fact that they are very kind. One is an academic, and the other is embarking on a new career direction having begun grad school this summer. She is a warm, funny, honest person and with whom I have always enjoyed spending time. She cooked up a storm. There was home made delicious chicken soup, home made challah, 2 kinds of delicious chicken, roasted broccoli and home made cake. I so enjoyed getting to see their children. It is amazing how children grow up so much when you do not see them.
She and I talked until bedtime Friday night and then through Shabbat morning (instead of shul). Then after lunch and my nap, we talked more through the end of Shabbat.
Sunday around noon I left and drove to the Island of Chiconteague in Virginia.
I was accompanied on the 3 + hour ride by a crime novel on cd. I never actually read these. When read to me on cd they make great traveling companions and do not interrupt or require rest stops, ever.
The scenery was beautiful. Who knew there was so much water and lush greenery in Maryland and Virginia?
Not I, that 's for sure...
I arrived in the later afternoon at Miss Molly's Bed and Breakfast . There I unloaded my fresh produce into the communal fridge on the screened in veranda and made my way up the Victorian stair case to the Captain Jack Quarters (really a small room with a queen sized bed and feather pillow top and quite adequate for my needs). Unfortunately the room did not come with it's own Captain Jack. Such is the life of the single mom vacationer. My bathroom was in the hall (but all my own, again, no Jack). I unloaded, showered and contemplated my options. I decided it was best to get my lay of the land so I took a drive through Chiconteague making sure to remember where the main thoroughfares were and then over the Island of Assateague (where the ponies live). I followed the inn keepers instructions, my favorite left turn was onto Chicken City Road. That's some name, huh?
I saw no chickens but they did have some ponies in pens and they were lovely there (and tame, enough). So as I drove to the National Park on Assateague I saw the wild ponies grazing in the marsh and it was a sight, beautiful animals. I have to repeat, along side the road there were wild ponies grazing. I drove on to the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the Island. I sat on the beach for quite a while and caught a magnificent pink/orange sunset on the opposite side of the Atlantic's crashing waves. This is a mental picture. Splendid and fantastic are about the only words I can use to describe it. I returned to Chiconteague noting every single solitary tourist trap in which I might want to sell my soul before I left the Island. For dinner, I opted for tuna (cans I had brought with me) and my mixed greens salad for dinner with strawberries for dessert on the veranda, partaking of the B & B water cooler for an aperitif. I went up to my room and connected online to the world with my new lap top. After reading more of my book, South of Broad by Pat Conroy. I slept well on the feather down and awoke to my favorite morning smell, brewed coffee.
For my first day's mission I booked myself on a pontoon boat tour of the Island waterways to see the local water fowl and of course, the ponies (I was not alone, as the captain has a "six pack license and he tour with 6 passengers). Coated with mosquito repellent and sun screen, I spent two hours on the "Spider Explorer" and enjoyed the beautiful weather and saw many long necked snowy egrets, a majestic blue heron, and the iconic ponies. Captain Spider (as he known) gave a knowledgeable tour of geography, history, and industry (clamming, crabbing and oyster rearing, don'tcha know). Captain Spider even had lots of cold bottled water for us. Yearly, on the last Wednesday in July the town population doubles to watch the ponies swim across from Assateague to Chiconteague. Their arrival and subsequent sale benefit to the Chiconteague Fire Company which this year raised less than in the past since it has been difficult financially.
An exciting related tangent: Miss Molly's Inn does not raise their rates for the Pony Swim event booking but they and another local B & B have several celebratory additions at that time. Captain Spider books 2 years in advance to watch the ponies swim (leaving at 5 AM to get a good spot). This is a once in a life time event and I hope I can do it in the future...
After that fun filled adventure I went to the Post Office and mailed off post cards to my children--hoping they arrive before camp ends next week. Then I returned to my first love (the ocean). Equipped with the B & B beach towel, their beach chair /knap sack combo, cool water, the omnipresent Diet Coke and my novel I made a perfect afternoon of it. The sun was hot; the water was cold; the air was ocean breezy; I was in my own personal heaven. Did I say splendid and revelatory, yet? I stayed as long as I possibly could before dark. When I prepared to depart I walked along the Tom's Cove boardwalk through the marsh opposite the ocean beach. There I learned Assateague came from an Indian word and that the indigenous people of the area had a ritual of burying they dead's bones in ossuaries. I also learned a bit about how marsh grass roots go deep and hold in place to feed many organisms dependent upon it for life.
Reluctantly, I returned to the B & B, showered and removed the sand.
Then I made my way through the maze of retail duck decoys, bookstores, t-shirts, pony printed towels, lighthouse snow globe, nicknacks, and chachkas. I bought some useful souvenirs for my children such as a copy of Misty of Chiconteague 1947 Marguerite Henry novel which was written while she was staying at Miss Molly's. I also stocked up on 2 non PVC water bottles, 2 hot mugs emblazoned with Chiconteague and pony silhouette, and a spork for each of us (a rather adorable spoon knife, fork utensil so we do not have to take disposable ones to school anymore). After I enjoyed my dinner of a wrap with lettuce, tomato, avocado, humus, and sprouts and contemplated if I could encourage children (principally those who live with me) as an adequate meal for a school lunch maybe I will need to include hearts of palm, returned to the Captain Jack Quarters, my laptop and novel. I finished that book and am on to another...
On my final day I made it to the beach before the 11 AM B & B check out. I left vowing to return and headed home via a shorter route then I had when coming through Silver Spring, well it would have been shorter except I detoured to a favorite discount store in Delaware, since there was no tax and I am my mother's daughter.
Such is the tale of the 2010 Chiconteague vacation of this IMA -- sans les quatre enfants 24/7