Catching up, June 6 - 9, 2018
The hills of Pennsylvania did a job on our gas mileage. We had been averaging about 23 or 24 miles per gallon towing the trailer, but the hills cut us way back to 19 or 20 MPG. Now this is not bad mileage for towing but just not as good as we had been doing. All in all our mileage is better than we thought we would get. From Ohiopyle, PA it was about a 7 hour drive to Assateague Island National Seashore.
The route took us through the mountains, and a couple of big cities including Balitmore and eventually out onto the flatlands of the national seashore. We had a good day of travel stopping when we wanted and checking out the scenery. We arrived just around 5 pm and the rangers could not have been more helpful.
We had made reservations online for two nights at a site on the bayside of the park. Assateague Island is known for it's beaches and the wild horses that live on this barrier strip of land. Warnings are posted everywhere about the horses and the fact that they are indeed wild horses and tend to bite and kick and stomp if approached. Keep back 40 feet, the length of a school bus, the signs said. The brochure even had some graphic photos of bites... Assateague Island itself is a natural wonder of seashore and marshlands and dunes and grasslands providing a very diverse habitats for it's wildlife.
We watched a blue crab eat a razor clam, wild horses, many different birds and shorebirds and hawks as well as some of the cutest little deer ever(sika deer). We set up camp, grabbed our bikes and went to explore. The island is completely flat so cycling is not a problem with zero hills to climb. We rode down to the bay side beach area where the sun was low in the sky. Several people were out on the water in kayaks, the wind was just a gentle breeze and all seemed right with the world.
Back at the camper we made our supper and enjoyed an evening around the fire. We turned in around 10:00 and had a great nights sleep. I want to comment here about how many people drive by, walk by and ride by and commend on our little trailer. Everyone seems to be intrigued by it. For it's size it is very accommodating, a friendly little camper. We both had a good nights sleep.
We were visited nearby by a group of horses as I was making omelets for breakfast. Wild horses and coffee is always a good starter. After breakfast we started exploring in earnest. We cycled all over the park and covered every road and hiked the dune trail. We saw horses and deer and lots of birds that we didn't recognize. The red winged blackbirds that live down here are huge, the largest red wings I have ever seen.
Back at camp we made wraps for lunch and some sweet tea really hit the spot. I drove down to the small camp store and got ice for the cooler and found another sticker for the box on top of the car. We are getting quite a collection on the box. We bought a sticker in Indiana at a rest stop, stuck it on the box and it had gone missing by the next rest stop...Indiana uses cheap glue! That afternoon we took our chairs and a cooler full of drinks and snacks and headed down to the bayside beach for a relaxing afternoon in the shade of a tree. I sketched a while and Carol read. We both got our feet wet, this isn't really a swimming beach. We both wished we had our kayaks with us as the kayaking her would be spectacular. Later in the afternoon we hiked the marsh trail, which is on a raised boardwalk above the marshland. We saw lots of wading birds and blue crabs. I was quite surprised just how fast the crabs can travel.
When we were having the trailer built we debated back ad forth about having the bike rack put on the tongue or a storage box. I am so glad we had the bike rack put on as we have plenty of storage in the car and the roof box. It is also one of the most secure bike racks I have ever seen, and I don't have to lift the bikes to the roof. So happy that we made this choice as the bikes really give us a lot of freedom once we have set up camp.
While out on our early morning bike ride we stopped by the ranger station, visitor center and inquired if they had any cancellations for the next evening. They did, and we chose a site on the Oceanside of the island. The following morning we enjoyed a good breakfast, took a short bike ride down to the bayside beach area again. When we returned we hooked up Stella the camper, checked out and back in at the visitor center and set up camp in the dunes on the oceanside.
We spent the afternoon on the beach. The beach here is beautiful white sand and stretches for miles in each direction. We watched all sorts of shore birds hunting in the surf and crabs running here and there as we sat in the sun. We stuck our feet in the sea a few times but it was much too cold for anything deeper than knees. We decided to go out to supper that evening and headed out to Ocean City, a few miles north of Assateague Island.
e A ranger at the visitor center told us of a great spot for crabs, because crabs is what you must eat in Maryland. So around 5 in the afternoon we found ourselves sitting on the balcony of Crab Alley overlooking the harbor and all of the charter boats coming and going. We settled on the 'CrabFest' with a coupe of Sam Adams to wash it down. We received 6 crabs, 5 clusters of snow crab legs, a dozen or so large shrimp, hush puppies (these are hard to come by in New England) and corn on the cob. This was served along with a roll of paper towels, small mallets, and bucket for the shells. We both have decided that as tasty as the crabs were, they just don't seem worth the effort. There is not very much meat in a blue crab. However the snow crab legs were a bit more rewarding. All in all it was a great meal with a fantastic view, good service and good conversation.
When we got back to camp we were both a bit wrung out from the day and decided to just rest for a while on our comfy queen sized bed. I was reading and Carol was napping when I hear a strange sound that seemed to be coming from just outside the camper. I looked out and we were completely surrounded by a family of wild horses eating the grass. Carol and I took lots of cellphone pix as my camera was in the car. The horses stayed around for about a half an hour which was pretty cool to be this close to them and watch them eat. We were definitely not a school bust length away.
Later we hooked up our little camper to the car and made all preparation for an early departure. The forecast was for heavy rain starting after midnight and continuing through the morning. We decided an early start for the long ride home would be best. And it did rain. Around two in the morning I was awakened by the sound of rain on the roof and flashes of lightening that lit up the sky. It was drowning out the sound of the surf on the beach. At 5:30 we were up, did our morning chores and were driving to the gate at exactly 6 AM. Our first stop was just down the road at a Royal Farms for gas and coffee. These are very nice gas/convenience stores. We headed for route 1, the coastal route that would take us to Dover. Driving through Ocean City we were struck with the number of the same stores every few blocks selling beach stuff and sunscreen. This seem to be a very big honky tonk tourist area, with a far different feeling that that of Assateague Island. I had reset my trip meter when I filled the tank and for the first 90 or so miles I averages 31 MPG on this long flat road with a low speed limit. I was pretty amazed. We found breakfast in Rehoboth Beach, moved on through Dover and made our way to the New Jersey Turnpike. The plan was to avoid NYC because of traffic, but our GPS kept telling us that the direct route through the city was an hour shorter. We cast our plans of the Tappan Zee bridge aside and headed straight toward the George Washington Bridge and the city.
We didn't have any problems. There was traffic course and even a couple of delays but all in all it was fine. Once on Route 95 on the other side of the city we made our way to exit 16 and Stew Leonards in Norwalk, CT - this is always a must stop on our way home from wherever we may have been. Stew's is 'The World's Largest Dairy Store' according to Ripleys Believe It Or Not... and it is so much more. We knew our fridge at home would be empty so we did a decent grocery shopping and picked up lunch to have on the road. From Norwalk it was an easy two and a half hours home. the final challenge was to make the sharp backing up job into the driveway.. it took a couple of attempts but worked out just fine..am building confidence. Since then I have done this several times, all without incident..even went our for pizza one night with the camper attached and didn't think twice about it. So this concludes our trip to pick up our Vistabule. Three thousand four hundred miles, averaging 24 MPG and completely without any trouble. Just the way it should be.