My first destination is Assateague Island National Seashore. I arrive after dark at the parking lot of the visitor center. The visitor center is closed now, and that is okay. I just want to find a quiet corner and park for the night. In the morning, I will get information about the park.
Here I am again, deciding to listen to my gut and move from the lonely parking spot to the group of cars that park at the center of the parking lot.
With healthy common sense, I can establish that the park ranger tracks and the empty cars belong to the staff. Staying alone only calls for attention; I simply wish to blend with the landscape.
By seven, I am lying in my bed, totally spent. Only now can I feel the emotional toll of the last few days weighing heavy on me. The drive in the rain and fog added another struggle. I slept for twelve hours. That's a rare occurrence!
Good morning!, I greet the young ranger and let her educate me about Assateague Island. I wash up in the bathroom and cross the bridge in search of a wild pony.
The warm sun is a welcome hug after the cold night. There are only a few short walks in the park on the Bayside and, of course, the beautiful beach.
I start my day exploring the Bayside section. The sun's rays glare in my eyes, almost hiding the wild pony just next to me. I stand still, enjoying his presence and the beauty of his colors. Brown and white, two colors playing a puzzle, creating his unique beauty.
It's an excellent time of the year to explore the park. It's quiet, with very few people around.
As I continued my walk on the boardwalk, more wild ponies appeared in the distance. They are all busy munching on the grass as they stroll around the marsh.
I drive to the end of the park to take a long walk on the beach. It's nice to be back in that landscape. It's a rough sea today, and the waves are crashing with a loud rumbling next to me.
The waves shimmered in the sunlight just before they crashed, creating a beautiful play of light and shadows. The sound is so loud that it sounds like an orchestra of drums playing passionate music.
Winter brings cold temperatures and short daylight. If I want to enjoy cooking dinner in decent temperatures and not in the pitch dark, I need to adjust my schedule accordingly.
By four o'clock, I am at my camping spot. I am staying at the Bayside Park campground. It will be warmer at that end than on the shoreside.
I have my own private campground.; Actually, let me correct myself. I am not alone at all. Between the wild turkey roaming the ground, the wild ponies eating their dinner, and the lone fox that paces back and forth, the party is on!
Just as the dark of night starts to take over the vast skies, I notice a movement to my right. A deer is crossing between the marsh next to my site. A few minutes pass, and my hearing causes my head to turn again. In the little light left, I can see the shadows of a pack of deer crossing for the night. The water reaches up to their knees, creating a swishing sound.
I am content from a delicious dinner, and I am still sitting outside, bundled up and reading a book. My headlight is resting on my forehead. The night is black, and the only sound is the crashing waves not far away. Suddenly, my head naturally goes sideways at the sudden noise. My headlight illuminates the deer's eyes, all glaring at me...
Can you imagine the site? :)
Not traveling with a structured plan and having unlimited time, I decided to continue my drive south and take a library day to work on my writing.
Chincoteague Island Library is a charming little library.; The whole area is quaint. My idea for today is to work until the library closes and then search for a place to park for the night.
Who am I kidding? By two o'clock, I am antsy. I am far from being chill and relaxed on swinging it to do a last-minute search for a safe place to stay and park for the night.
Knowing that Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is nearby, my thought is to find a hidden place to park there. As I enter the park, I see a big sign indicating the park closes at six. Ouch, that obviously means no parking overnight.
I drive through the park, trying to come up with plan B. I go for a peaceful short hike to clear my head a bit. I jump back in my van, still wanting to explore more of this area. I reach the tip of the park in time to enjoy a soothing sunset.
What comes next is me trying to be bold and push the envelope a bit over my comfort zone.
I am obviously breaking the rule. I drive further into the parking lot as far as possible, knowing that no one will see me in the dark unless they patrol the area. I want a quiet corner to call home tonight. I am not even planning to get out of my van.
By seven, I felt I was safe and the Rangers ended their shift by now.
At seven fifteen, a light comes my way. Oh NO! As they notice me, a flush of red, blue, and white light is blinding me. I have been busted! Good try at being bold.
I don't play games with the two police officers. I tell the truth as it is. Luckily for me, they find the humor behind it all. We are having a lovely conversation and they want to know what my boys think about it all. I proudly answer that they think their mother is cool.
I get a verbal warning, and we go our separate ways.
Okay, what now? While driving to the library this morning, I noticed two hotels. I will take my chances and ask if I can park in their parking lot.
No was the answer at the first hotel, but they guided me to a free parking lot just across the street, so I didn't even try the next hotel. They did kindly let me use the bathroom to wash up.
It was a frigid night with little sleep. I couldn't use my heated blanket. My Jackery (1,000W power station) is draining faster than I wish. Somehow, the connection to the car charging got loose. All the productive driving I was doing to charge it was gone. My other power station (ROCKPALS 300) decided not to work either.
By six in the morning, I try my luck again with a gentle boldness and stop at the other hotel to see if I can use their bathroom and get a cup of coffee. Of course, I offered to pay for the coffee, but the kind lady just waved that idea off and showed me the direction of the bathroom.
Hot water! I am only three days on the road, but that simple luxury feels like a sweet gift. Since I don't know if I can find a campground with a running water toning, I take the opportunity to wash my hair and feel refreshed. I always leave any bathroom I use as clean as I would my own at home. Clean and spotless!
Today, I plan to drive to the Virginia visitor center just before entering North Carolina. I am heading to the Outer Banks and need more information than I have. Honestly, I did very little homework; I am exhausted from all the research I did last year. I am trying a new approach by stopping at the visitor centers to get ideas on what to see and do.
Ultimately, I will need to find the middle ground.; I know I will probably miss out on a few places. Since it is cold, I am trying to get to warmer areas as fast as possible with some traveling.
Where am I now writing this post? I am trying to stay dry and warm at Cape Charles Memorial Library. This building was built back in the 1920's as a bank. The old safe spaces are now used to hold books of many stories.
The local campgrounds are closed for the season. I will park at the visitor center tonight. Yes, I double-checked that I am allowed to park for the night. No more breaking rules in the state of Virginia! :)