After spending the Easter holiday with family in Pennsylvania, we towed the Dreamchaser to Delaware Seashore State Park. Since Steve’s brother and wife would be staying with us for four days we’d looked for a park with full services. To be honest we hadn’t really paid that much attention to anything else. We’d visualized a beach campground similar to Huntington Beach in SC or First Landing in VA. So when we drove in to find a big, open parking lot with spaces as tightly packed as possible next to a construction site… well, at $40/night disappointed doesn’t quite cover it. I hated it from day one and only moved up the scale to barely tolerable after a few days. We’ll give it a 1.5 on our scale of 1-5. Good points were a new tiled bath house, full hookups and a sandy beach. If traveling with pets note that dogs are prohibited on the beach from May 1-September 30. Fortunately we were before that so Opal had good long beach walks even though you had to cross two roads and parking lots to get there. Bad points were tight sites such that if this campground were full it would have been very difficult to park our 35′ trailer, no view, no area for dog walking in campground, no access to the bay from campground, no information about where to find park headquarters, trails or boat launch and no safe place for bike riding. We were supposed to stay two weeks but by the end of the first week we were ready to move on. The only time we did have a view was at night when darkness covered the industrial area and the bridge was lit a brilliant blue.
While Fred and Chris were visiting we drove an hour south to Maryland and the Assateague National Seashore. Located ten miles south of Ocean City, Maryland, Assateague was connected to the mainland until a hurricane in 1933 opened the connection between Assateague and Fenwick Island to the bay. It was love at first sight. The white sandy beach stretches for fifteen miles. This paradise was almost lost. In the 1950s developers had built a road called Baltimore Boulevard with 130 side roads ready for homes and stores. The 1962 hurricane caused the road to crumble and development was curtailed. In 1965 the area was turned over to the NPS and it was saved for us to enjoy today.
Assateague was everything we’d hoped the other park would be except the campground doesn’t have services. Once it was just the two of us again we decided to change parks. We’d never dry camped before but there were going to be times it would be required this summer. Might as well start learning. There was no refund for early departure from Delaware Seashore State Park. We just chalked this up to our learning curve. With our senior pass a site at Assateague was $10/night until the new reservation season began on 4/15 then $12.50/night. With a few changes in our routine to conserve water and using our generator we managed very well. There are two campgrounds at Assateague, the 40 site Oceanside where we stayed and the larger Bayside campground. We were fortunate to get our pick of sites and chose one right next to the boardwalk leading to the beach. We were surrounded by red winged blackbirds and others that sang a chorus every morning.
We spent a wonderfully relaxing week doing what everyone does pre-season at the beach; walking, lounging, biking and taking pictures. Watching for wild horses is on everyone’s list. They roam free throughout the park. You know where they’ve been by the piles left all over. The herd is kept at about 150 animals to prevent overgrazing. Mares that are 2, 3, and 4 years old are given an annual injection to prevent pregnancy via a dart gun. At five years old they are allowed to breed once. The horses receive no feed or vet services except in an emergency. Although there are signs all over saying not to feed wildlife we saw a family feeding and petting a horse right in the middle of the road. We let them know that this was bad for the animal as it teaches them to come onto the roadway. Contrary to what most people think the horses did not descend from survivors of wrecked Spanish ships. They were turned loose on the island by early colonials trying to evade taxes. There is an excellent film at the Visitor Center about the horses.
Steve bought an OSV (over sand vehicle) pass that allowed us to drive 12 miles on the beach to the Virginia line. Vehicles must have four wheel drive and you are responsible for carrying safety equipment with you in case you get stuck. Dual wheels are prohibited. Before entering you lower tire pressure to 15 psi and upon exiting there is an air station to inflate them. The NPS limits the number of vehicles on the beach at any one time to 145. During the summer this can mean a wait of 2-3 hours until someone exits. While we were there no more than 15 were in at one time. We’d drive along and see an occasional fisherman. Yes, we are spoiled by being here in the shoulder season. The pass is good for a year in case we get back this way.