On the last day of May we headed out from our home and to Maryland's Eastern Shore.
When planning this trip, I decided to take the Garden State Parkway to the New Jersey Turnpike.
Traffic was nearly non-existent on the Garden State, and while the NJ Turnpike had abundant traffic, we were moving along at a good pace and it did not detract from our enjoyment of the trip. In Delaware we ran into a snag near Dover, where a Nascar race was scheduled for the same day.
We found a great rest area off the Interstate, with great facilities and clean grounds, including (at least) two large pavillions with large hibachi grills. There was also a memorial walk for those killed in highway fatalities - a somber reminder to remain cool while on the road.
Our destination was Pocomoke State Park, Shad River Landing. Since it was still early in the season, there weren't too many other campers at the park. By Sunday afternoon, there remained occupied only our site and one other in the camp loop we were in. That would stay the same for a couple of days. Let me state right now that this campground was immaculately well kept. The bathrooms were cleaned twice a day, whether they needed it or not, and almost all of the sites were large and level, and well spaced.
That first night I was tasked with cooking dinner, just hot dogs and burgers on the grill. As I was setting up, thunder rumbled in the distance. I managed to finish cooking just as the skies opened up, rain and wind and thunder and lightning all around - a bad storm which sent us into the car and ultimately to the parking lot near the camp store so we wouldn't get crushed by a tree limb.
When the storm finally passed, we headed into the camp store where a nature presentation was about to start. It was an interesting show, although geared towards children (none were in attendance). After about 30 minutes of a great horned owl staring me down, the show was over and we headed back to the site.
At bedtime, the thunder began to rumble again.
Our primary goal for this trip was to visit Assateague, and on Monday we did just that. We saw the horses almost immediately after crossing the bridge, and headed towards the beach. In the parking lot a horse was standing behind a car. We heard someone say "Look at that", to which we said "I hope they aren't going to be leaving soon". Well, that someone we were talking to said "That's my car!". Then I witnessed an act of extreme bravery when another person started pushing the horse from the hind quarters to move it out of the way. I thought for sure I was going to see a human soccerball, but it fortunately didn't happen.
Off to the water!
It was the first time in many years I can remember being on a beach that was almost deserted. The weather was great, but being a Monday early in the season, not too many folks were at the beach. Their loss was our gain. After spending a good portion of the day hanging around in the sun, I was surprised by the sight of another horse wandering along the beach.
Since I'm a New England boy, I don't get a lot of sun for more than half of the year, and I figured it was time to get off the beach and get some food or else be burned to a crisp. We drove up to Ocean City and wandered around for a bit. One could have quite a good time in this location, but one should also be careful of common thieves on the boardwalk.
After that short walk, eerily reminiscent of Hampton Beach in days gone by, we found a place with good crab cakes and, for some reason, two adolescent girls that walked around the restaurant with a basket full of bread and muffins. They approached us three times during the course of our meal. It was a little strange.
Tuesday we remained at the campground, walking some of the paths in the woods. The oddest thing I saw while there was a Cypress swamp, though I guess there is one even farther North in Delaware. It's amazing what you can learn just by going somewhere.
At dinner the thunder started to rumble. It rumbled for a long time, then another crazy storm. Well, back into the car and over to the parking lot. Listening to the NOAA weather radio in the car, but not having a visual radar map, was disconcerting. One storm after another came rolling in, wind, sheeting rain, hail, thunder, lightning. The thought that a tornado would be rolling in any second was foremost in our minds. Yet, somehow, we managed to fall asleep in the car, and only woke up once the storms stopped. For both of us, it was the sudden absence of thunder and wind that caused us awake. The series of storms had lasted from roughly 8pm to 3am.
We headed back to our tent, which had remained dry inside, and fell asleep...on an air mattress that had at some point sprung a leak.