Thursday, July 13, 2006

Back from Chincoteague

The trip to Chincoteague was exactly the type of relaxation that everyone in the family was seeking -- so much so that I even spent very little time reading (and thus was unable to get any further with Tillich or Taylor) and much more time lounging.

Chincoteague is one of those great little vacation spots that seem to be becoming more rare -- a town that attracts tourists but isn't "touristy;" a coastal town that doesn't make you feel like you're at the beach; an old town that has worked to preserve its "oldness." And at just 3-1/2 hours from the metropolitan Washington area, it makes for an easy drive and a great spot for a quick getaway.

Sadly, the main attraction of the island -- the famous Chincoteague ponies, rumored to be descended from stallions that were marooned there following the wreck of a Spanish galleon several centuries ago -- were doing their best to stay hidden. A walk through the wildlife refuge only got us to within a half-mile or so, and I was worried that it would be a great disappointment to my little girl, who had spent several days talking about seeing the "horsies." She didn't seem to mind too much, though, and had about as grand a time as any two-year-old could possibly have. She was even appointed an honorary refuge manager by the ladies working the front counter of the visitor center, and she was most definitely proud of her little badge.

Throughout the island there were pockets of beautiful old homes and ancient cemeteries that seemed to just spring up out of nowhere -- and all of which were labeled by signs that announced what local church group or civic organization was in charge of their upkeep. And finding food was certainly no problem; you couldn't throw a stone anywhere without hitting a seafood restaurant. Some of the best ones were on the situated on the water, and it wasn't rare to find a good table out on the deck where you could enjoy a wonderful view, a nice sea breeze, and -- if the time of day was right -- a beautiful sunset. There were also large numbers of oyster and shrimp boats either tied up or plying the channel -- one of which was probably the Forrest Gumpiest-looking boat I have ever seen. The bartender at the restaurant adjacent to where this boat has been grounded said that he thinks it's been there for at least 25 years, and it has become a great attraction for artists, photographers, and the average curious person like myself.

Finally, and just for kicks, I tried to find the local Episcopal church to see what sort of presence they had in the community. I wasn't able to find a building, and it wasn't until we had been there several hours did we find out that any Episcopalians who might be about were invited to a eucharist in the chapel of the local funeral home!

All in all it was a wonderful trip, and one that we hope to make on a much more regular basis. I definitely felt greatly recharged when I came back -- which was good, since it was back to the grindstone of the job and the household chores!

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