Monday, May 28, 2012

Camping at Assateague

As soon as we were 10 days out from our camping trip in Assateague I started stalking the 10-day weather report. It wasn't good, and it didn't get better. The sun was shining bright while we overstuffed the car, but the sky grew ominous about an hour into our drive. The wind was gusting at 30 miles per hour when we pulled up to our ocean side campsite. Hannah was not a fan of the sand smacking her in the face so she hung out in the car until we set up the tent. I took a short video because a still picture wouldn't show the whippiness of the wind (and also because my camera is already screwed up enough without subjecting it to a sandstorm). The dang "embed" feature is still not working for me so you'll have to click the link if you'd like a visual.

After we got the tent up, we walked down to the water's edge, but Hannah was miserable and insisted on being carried so she could bury her face in Eric's chest. I don't blame her; sandy wind in the face sucks. We went back to the tent then, blew up the air mattress, and flopped down on it while the wind threatened to blow away the tent with us in it . It was pretty rough, so we bailed. We hopped in the car and headed to Ocean City to find a hotel for the evening and wait out the wind. When we returned the next day, our neighbors in the RV said the weather got far worse and that we made the right call.

We laid in our king-size hotel bed the next morning and watched the Weather Channel...a big mistake. Apparently the first tropical storm of the season, Albert, was blowing through the area, and they were forecasting thunderstorms all week long and colder temperatures than I had packed for.

We turned off the TV, threw on sweatshirts, and went out to to walk along the beach. I took a couple videos of Hannah and Eric running around in the surf, this one and this one.

Our hotel was right next door to the Kite Loft which was convenient since we'd forgotten our kite. Eric splurged on a stunt kite, which Hannah helped teach him how to fly.

I was itching to get back to Assateague the whole time. Ocean City has a nostalgic place in my heart since it's where we vacationed every year growing up, but the buildings were driving me nuts...I wanted to be at our little campsite in the sand far away from anything city-like. When we finally made it back to the park, our tent was still standing, but it had water in it. We stretched a tarp over the top and decided to stick it out. It's a cute little setup, dontcha think?

Below is the tippy top of our campsite as seen from the beach side of the sand-buried fence that Hannah and Eric are climbing in the pic above.

Digging out the fence...

The first thing we made in our camp "kitchen" were these amazing beet burgers which I'd actually pre-made on Saturday--we just heated them up on the stove and slathered them in avocado. And Eric added bacon to his...

I was worried that we wouldn't have enough healthy food while camping so I spent all day Saturday cooking. In addition to the beet burgers, I made a souped up French potato salad, a pasta salad with sundried tomato pesto and spinach and olives, this wild rice salad with miso dressing, these Asian wraps with this peanut sauce, this garbanzo "tuna" salad, our favorite banana teff pancakes, some breakfast vegetable miso soup, and these yummy peanut butter cookies. I think that's it...I packed a variety of other store-bought items like sardines, chips and salsa, hummus and crackers, and even hot dogs and marshmallows (the ones from Whole Foods that are less creepy).

The sun was shining after lunch so we suited up and walked to the few feet to the beach to build sand castles. Eric's first step in building a sand castle is to dig a giant hole. I don't really get this, so I asked why, and his answer was so that we'd have a lot of sand to work with...I still don't really get it, but I dropped it and let him do his thing. While he dug his enormous, gigantic hole, Hannah and I built sand castles.

While digging his hole, he came across tons of those little sand crab things that Eric called sand fleas...Is that what they're called? I thought sand fleas were actually fleas. These things were those little round crabbies. Anyway, whatever they are, Hannah collected them in a bucket.

I tried to do a little reading in preparation for the class I start teaching next week, but ever since the end of breastfeeding, reading more than a page at a time is pretty much impossible. Snuggles are always a good reason to take a break though.

We made a fire that evening and roasted some weenies. I bought some Smart Dogs for me and roasted one, but it was so gross that I couldn't even finish it, and that's saying a lot because I finish most things, if not because I know it's good for me (not the case here) then out of a sense of duty as a card-holding member of the clean plate club. But this I could not finish. That's how yuck those things are. On the other hand, the beef hot dogs that I bought for Hannah and Eric were delicious...Hannah thought so too I guess because she ate two that night, one for breakfast, and another for lunch the next day. Fortunately we ran out after that so "no" was easy to enforce when she asked for another for dinner the next night.

We topped off the fire-roasted weenies with some fire-roasted marshmallows, which is totally out of the norm for me given the fact that even the non-creepy Whole Foods version is straight sugar. Hannah was a bit weirded out by them but ate two anyway. Unfortunately, like the Smart Dogs, the non-creepy marshmallows were gross. I guess some things just can't be substituted.

We slept comfortably in the tent that night--Hannah's first night in a tent! The temperatures cooled off considerably, and both Eric and I snuggled up under layers (I curled up in a sleeping bag), but Hannah, in her short-sleeved pajama shirt, thrashed and kicked and screamed "no blankets!" every time we tried to cover her. She slept uncovered the entire night with me and Eric waking up periodically to feel around her body and make sure she wasn't freezing. I have no idea how she was comfortable since I was freezing even in the sleeping bag....She's always run pretty hot, and sleeping in between the two of us probably helped, especially since Eric puts off more heat than a blazing campfire...but still!!

In the morning, Hannah helped Eric make breakfast on the stove. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, and fresh berries.

It was overcast and cool that morning so we decided to check out some of the trails while we waited for it to warm up. After dressing Hannah, she insisted on wearing a dress so I dug one out and she threw it over her outfit...Nice look, eh?

On our way to the Life of the Forest Nature Trail, we stopped for some ponies crossing.

Some images from the trail...

We had to hurry through the last part of the trail and skip the overlook because Hannah had to poop, or so she said. We raced off to find a bathroom, but it ended up being a false alarm. We headed up to the ranger station then to check on the weather report for the day and decided to cancel our last night, Wednesday night, which we'd added on in a moment of extreme excitement a few weeks after we reserved the first few nights. It was a little ambitious on our parts.

The Tuesday weather report wasn't great so we considered leaving even earlier, but we didn't want to, so we went back to the campsite to make the most of our non-raining time and agonize over what we should do.

Eric grabbed his wet suit and body board, and we wrapped Hannah in a life jacket and went to play in the surf.

I walked off to the bathroom and came back to find Hannah curled up in her towel in Eric's arms, her head covered in sand. Apparently he had been pulling her along on his body board with his back to the ocean when a big wave came along and log-rolled her across the beach...

Since the only showers on Assateague have cold water, we were at a loss as to what to do. We tried to rinse her hair in the freezing cold shower, but had to give up because it was pretty miserable, even for a little girl who runs as hot as she does. We decided to let it dry and then try to brush it out later. Some of it came out...

After she had warmed up from her dip in the ocean and subsequent freezing shower, we noticed some ponies down the beach so we walked down to a get a closer look. Yes, the standing horse has an obnoxiously obvious weiner. I realized it as I was taking the pic and was thinking it wasn't actually a great photo op as a result of that, but I wanted the pic anyway.

Having a sandy campsite meant that we didn't actually have to go anywhere to build sandcastles --how awesome is that?? So while I did a little reading, Hannah and Eric made a sandcastle. A sandy campsite also meant that we could walk around barefoot all the time. Love.

Then Eric ran for ice and fish, and Hannah and I made ourselves mermaid tails.

Then I made a big mistake. I turned on my phone and looked up the weather report. This was at 2:00 in the afternoon. According to the Weather Channel, thunderstorms would start at 4:30 and continue until 1:00 a.m.  It was bright and sunny, and the sky was clear, but Eric and I were still worried. The night before it had started raining at 8:00, which was fine because we just all went to bed, but getting stuck in the tent at 4:30 sounded a little more miserable. And if it was going to storm really bad, we were concerned about how Hannah would do in the tent with all the noise. At 3:30 we decided to pack up the campsite, but we did so begrudgingly. Neither of us was ready to for vacation to be over, so after a lot of griping about the weather, we decided to get another hotel and boycott Baltimore for a little longer. In retrospect, we probably should have just gone home because the hotel just felt like limbo--we didn't want to be there anymore than we wanted to be in Baltimore. Actually, in retrospect, we should have just stayed on the beach because it never even stormed!!!! From now on, I put no faith in the weather report.

Shoulda coulda...What we did was head up to The Carousel since it has a reputation for being super kid-friendly. The pool was much nicer than the place we'd stayed on the first night, but the rooms were nowhere near as convenient. It was okay, but I don't think I'd stay there again. The pirate ship playground was pretty cool though; Hannah really liked that.

The sun was shining and the sky was blue when we left Ocean City on Wednesday morning, and I was cursing the Weather Channel and myself and wishing we'd spent more time on Assateague. I'm trying not to regret it though; like Eric said before we left, "it's our maiden voyage." It was a good test run with Hannah, and I can't wait to go again. Can we go now?? I'm ready to go again...


  1. Sand fleas and sand crabs are different things. Assateague has a lot of sand fleas because of the ponies.
    The trip looked nice. I miss going to the ocean every year. It was always a nice trip.

    1. They were crabs then :) We didn't see the fleas, thank goodness. I hate fleas!!!!!! Maybe someday we can re-institute our yearly ocean trip :)

  2. I recognize that french potato salad!!! I can't believe you mad all of that stuff!!! I'm def. trying the beet burgers!

    1. hahahah! Yep, that's the French potato salad you provided me with many moons ago!! It's my go to, and I've made it a thousand times since then. I skip a few steps, like the one with the chicken broth...and I add in all they yummy stuff you do, like green beans and tomatoes...Definitely try the beet burgers! They rock!


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