Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vacation: Day 7 Chincoteague

This was our "adventure" day. In the Hayes family "adventure" is the polite term we use for things that go horribly wrong while on vacation. We just chalk it all up to an "adventure". It wouldn't be summer vacation without an adventure....but hopefully only one. Chincoteague Island was our adventure this year.

Not being the type of vacationers to just sit around or stay in one place for too long we decided to explore the southern portion of the island on Thursday. You see, half of Assateague Island is in Maryland and the other half is in Virginia. The Virginia end is called Chincoteague Island. The problem is there is no road from one end of the island to the other. We had to cross the bridge back to the mainland and drive on little two lane roads for an hour until we could cross another bridge and get back on to the island at the town of Chincoteague.
There were a few things we wanted to check out while we were down at Chincoteague. Dad was interested in getting an ORV (off road vehicle) permit. This would allow us to drive along the beaches and find our own secluded swimming hole and picnic spot. I wanted to see the lighthouse on the southern tip of the island and we all wanted to try out the surf at a new beach.

Chincoteague is a tiny little tourist town right on the bay. It is so stuffed with restaurants and shops and tourists that we could barely drive around. It took us so much longer to get down there than we expected that we hadn't packed a lunch. We decided to stop at McDonald's before heading out to explore. This is when we should have known that things were not going to go our way.

As we all piled out of the truck a worker from McDonalds came out to meet us in the parking lot to tell us that we were not allowed inside....and not because we had been camping for 7 days and weren't looking too hot. No, we couldn't eat our chicken McNuggets because there was no power in McDonalds. As a matter of fact there was no power on a large portion of the island. OK. No problem. We snacked on our endless supply of granola bars and went to go do a few things before lunch and give them some time to get the power back on.

Our first stop was the visitor's center to get our ORV permit and a map of the area. Guess what? No power there either! Dad went inside (where it was stifling with no air conditioning) only to discover that no ORV permits were being issued because some kind of shore bird was nesting on the island during that time. Scratch that idea. We did get a map though.

Next stop....the lighthouse. The lighthouse was just a short .2 mile walk through the woods off of the main road. Problem? Mosquitoes. Oh yes. The mosquitoes are just as thick on Chincoteague as they are on Assateague. I was sick of sitting in the truck doing nothing all morning so I decided to "deet up" and make a run for it. Brian, Dad, Ryker and Cainan were brave enough to go with me. Mom and Kinley opted to stay in the truck. So we danced our way out to the lighthouse. I say 'danced' because if you have ever seen a group of people try to walk while killing 5 mosquitoes a second at the same time it is more like dancing than walking. The nice thing is every person you pass on the trail is doing the mosquito dance too, so nobody is self-conscious. It's a fight for survival.

So....we get to the lighthouse only to discover that there is no power there either and what's more we are not allowed to go up in the lighthouse to see the view if there isn't any power. Why? I don't know. All I know is that the elderly lighthouse managers were standing up on the railing at the very top of the lighthouse shouting down to all of the tourists that they would open up again as soon as power was restored. They also made sure to let us know that they were not coming down....because there aren't any mosquitoes 4 stories up.

We did manage to learn an interesting fact about the lighthouse from a sign at it's base. As a Coast Guard Lifesaving Station the sailors that were stationed at the lighthouse rescued many civilians whose vessels that were lost in storms or stranded on the rocks. They made one very important rescue. President Franklin Pierce and his staff had to be rescued off of his yacht during a storm. All lives were saved and the Chincoteague Island Lighthouse had it's 15 minutes of fame.

After losing another pint of blood we decided to head out to the beach...after all, we had all been wearing our swimsuits all day anyway. Bad decision number 352. Our beach back near our campground is huge and roomy and great. This one was packed with people. We couldn't even find a place to park. We decided not to fight the crowds and instead head back (1 hour north) to our own little beach, where we should have stayed in the first place. Of course we still hadn't had lunch yet so we needed to find a place to eat.

The portion of the island that had power had no fast food so we had to eat in a real seafood restaurant. We weren't disappointed to have to eat crab legs and crab cakes again but......Kinley had an "accident" in her shorts earlier and had no pants to wear. She was wearing a swimsuit. Period. Not really appropriate for a sit down seafood restaurant. So I had to stop in a shop and get her some shorts. Apparently they aren't big on shorts in Chincoteague. I had to settle for a t-shirt that was WAY to big for her. So she went to the restaurant dressed in a nightgown and a swimsuit basically.

After lunch we headed our own beach. But before we were even halfway back the beautiful sunny skies that had shone on us all day as we DID NOTHING on Chincoteague began to cloud up and pour down rain. It rained the entire rest of the day. So while we could have been swimming at our beach all morning in the sunshine we were instead having "adventures" down south. We had to spend the afternoon and evening sitting in the camper, with the windows closed and no air conditioning playing Phase 10, Puerto Rico and Dora Matching Game.

The kids were totally bummed! (And I wasn't to happy myself.) They were devastated to be so close to the ocean and not be able to play at the beach. In order to keep the peace we promised them that we would head to the beach as soon as the rain stopped. It finally stopped just a little bit before dark and as promised we hit the beach. The waves were scary big after the storm but Ryker headed right back out to them. We jumped and played and had a great time on the COMPLETELY DESERTED beach until it was so dark we couldn't see anymore.

And so ended the only yucky day of our vacation. The kids begged us not to make them sleep in the Mosquito Murder Tent again, so they spent the night in Grandad and Granny's camper and Brian and I braved the bugs by ourselves. It wasn't horrible as "adventures" go. We've had worse (flat tires, lost propane tanks, hours lost in the middle of nowhere), but it still wasn't fun. Thank goodness it was our only adventure.

Come back tomorrow to see how we redeemed ourselves on Friday and read about our next destination.

To read about Day One travelling and Day Two in Gettysburg go here.
To read about Day Three in Baltimore go here and here.
To read about Day Four in Washington D.C. go here.
To read about Day Five in Washington D.C. go here and here.
To read about Day Six on Assateague Island go here.


Deena said...

Sounds about right. I've been on these sorts of adventures before, of course, and can sympathize.

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