Horses, Assateague, and Relaxation

Recently we took a trip to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and had a camping vacation at Assateague Island State Park. Assateague Island is interesting in the respect of its wildlife. As some legends go, a Spanish ship wrecked off the coast of Assateague, a barrier island a few miles from the mainland. The ship's cargo? The ancestors of those horses that live on the island today. While not a widely believed story in comparison to the story that settlers let their horses graze the lands of Assateague and those horses that are now there are decedents, I choose to believe the shipwreck story myself. It certainly has more flair!

We had the chance to live amongst the wildlife of Assateague, and in fact had to dodge droppings at every turn on walks away from the campsite. In a way, it was heartening. Every campground I have ever been in has warned of bears and other wildlife, yet besides birds and maybe a quick glimpse of a deer, there has been no encounters. On the first full day we were there, a windy and chilly day, we decided to relax with books on the beach. After a while being there, I heard Ben saying my name. When I read I completely phase out to the world around me, so it took him a few tries before I finally looked up. What did I see when I looked up? A wild horse making its way down the beach, slowly, and very sure of himself. Of course, when I imagine a wild horse in my imagination, it is typically of a stallion running wild in the wind, so this relaxed and calm horse was a bit of a surprise. We came to realize that the island does that to creatures. It makes them calm and relaxed. Not a care in the world is how I felt for the time we were there and I know Ben certainly was more relaxed. We spent most of the trip swimming, reading, and sleeping. Never once were we on a time schedule.

The day before we left is when we saw the deer. Two deer of very small size came up towards the campsites and stopped at the one next to us. Unfortunately we figured out it was because those campers had never figured out what, "leave no trace" means. Leaving food and garbage in their fire pit, the deer decided to have a snack. We ended up getting most of it on video and we were close enough to reach out and touch them. Before we left the next day, they came back to visit with three others. As I was packing up and getting ready to go, they came by the tent and the larger one peered inside before moving on, the rest following him.

If you ever have the chance to visit this tiny barrier island, which is only a few miles from Ocean City, you should definitely do so. You will find yourself more relaxed than you have been in years. It is an experience like no other and I know I plan on returning while I still have a chance. As I write this I remember that as the climate changes, so will the coast line.

We will be out of contact for a few days as we attend the Mid-Atlantic Primitive Skills Meet. We will be sure to let everyone know how it went!

– Miranda Vivian


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