Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You bet your Assateague…

(This post is a little long – just thought I’d let you know.)

A few weeks ago we took an impromptu trip to Assateague, a barrier island on the eastern shore of Maryland, famous for its beautiful beaches and wild (feral) horses. Paul and I had been there 10 years ago, when we were young and childless but really wanted to share the beauty of the place with Nia. I wasn’t surprised when Paul called me and said that he was able to get a camp site for us, so we were going.

We wanted to go with friends but the camp site we got was the last one available that weekend, so we could really take only one other family. We went with our Foreign Service friends Jason and Carrie Show and their two little girls, Maia and Mackenna, who Nia just adores.

When Friday afternoon came, Carrie and I loaded up the girls in the cars and headed out to meet Paul and Jason at the Greenbelt metro station, in order to avoid going through downtown. Traffic on the beltway was horrendous and it took us two hours to get to Greenbelt from Falls Church. Once there, we grabbed a quick dinner and hit the road around 7 p.m. It was already dark by the time we crossed Chesapeake bay, which was just as well because that bridge just scares the puddin’ living daylights out of me.

The plan was to spend the night at a motel on the way and then go to the campground the next morning.  We got to one of the small towns about 30 miles from Assateague around 11 p.m. and decided to stay there. Only too bad for us – there was something going on in the area and the hotels were all full. Finally, we found a Best Western that had a couple of vacant rooms (and didn’t look too shady), so we took them even though they were $99 apiece.

We got in the room around midnight and Nia and I went straight to bed, while Paul went to get beer and hung out with Jason and Carrie for a little bit. As I got into the bed I had the distinct feeling that the sheets were not “fresh” and was really irked by the thought but was way too tired to do anything about it. I had to get up several times during the night to attend to my pregnant bladder and barely managed to contain my disgust at the sheets. In the morning, when I got out of the bed I found some clothing labels that were not ours between the top and the fitted sheet. That’s when I knew I wasn’t crazy. If the sheets had been changed, those labels wouldn’t have been there. I was livid. I know these are tough economic times and all kinds of businesses are trying to cut costs to stay alive but for $99, the least they could do is change the sheets. It’s just a basic sanitation/health issue. To experience that after all the reports about bed bugs in hotel beds and what not was just too much for me. My husband, on the other hand, found the situation highly amusing.

After we checked out, I (in the calmest possible voice) told the receptionist that our sheets were not “fresh.”

She was like, “What do you mean?”

I was trying really hard to stay calm, “I mean, we had to sleep in sheets that someone else had slept in before us!”

“How do you know that?” she asked.

“Well, first they didn’t feel or smell crisp and clean, like they should. And then, I found something between the sheets that wasn’t ours.”

“What did you find?” – she seemed almost conspiratorial.

“Clothing labels,” I glared, “but it really doesn’t matter because they wouldn’t have been there, had the sheets been changed.”

She just looked at me for a few seconds and then finally blurted out, “I’ll tell my manager about that.”

I was literally speechless. That’s the best she could come up with? Not even an apology! I so wanted to punch her in the face but realized it wasn’t going to do any good, so I just walked away hopping mad and defeated but I digress…

The trip got better after that. We got to the island and spent a few wonderful hours at the beach. The weather was beautiful and the girls had a blast.


By noon we were famished, so we went into the nearby town and had Chinese for lunch. Then we went back, got our camp site, put the tent up and spent a few more hours at the beach. The weather was still gorgeous but now there were pretty big waves and Paul and Nia did some body surfing. Back at the camp site, the girls decided to make sand angels and goof off around the tent.

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We got all cleaned up and started the fire, so we can make dinner.

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Then it was time for S’mores!!! Nia and I had never had S’mores, so this was a new and very exciting experience for us. Carrie showed us how to make them and they were delicious! Our fire wood must have been wet, though, because the fire was very, very smoky!

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After the S’mores, we just chilled until it was time for bed but noticed that now there was a pretty strong wind out and the ocean was getting louder. At first the sounds of the wind and the ocean seemed nice and soothing to sleep to but they got louder and louder until we had a full blown wind storm on our hands. The wind was so strong it would partially lift the tent and blow sand under the tent’s fly and into the tent. That part was not fun but the kids slept right through it all. I took a video of it in the morning when you could see what was going on.

It was too windy and sandy to eat breakfast at the campground, so we decided to pack up and grab some food on the way back. The only problem was that we hadn’t seen the wild horses yet. The kids were really bummed out because we had told them that the last time we were at Assateague, the horses came right to our camp site and it was pretty neat to watch them, though these are not horses you can pet or play with because they kick and bite. We did find a big pile of fresh (as in “wasn’t there the night before”) horse poop between our cars but that really wasn’t any consolation.

So, sad that we hadn’t seen the horses, we headed for the park exit only to see not one but three horses, one of which was a foal!

IMG_8505 The kids were besides themselves with excitement and we were glad we were able to make their day.


  1. what an awesome trip! If we are still in DC next summer Assateague will be on my list. Love all the pics!

  2. last time i was there, a bunch of horses stood really really close to us on the beach (like they were trying to scare us away) and then the male one was a biology lesson in 3D I didn't need.

  3. What great photos. I've always wanted to go there.

  4. It looks like a great vacation. But holy heck, I'd be annoyed with the hotel... and probably would have said something quite strong. :)

    Love that you had Chinese food too - my favorite.

  5. I miss you guys. Tell Carrie her baby bump looks cute. Say hi to Adrian if you see him around DC this week.

  6. What a great trip, and I am glad you were able to see the horses on the way out of town!
    I have always wanted to go there.


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