It’s a little embarrassing that I am just now getting around to posting these photos, but what can I say? no time like the present, right?
Back in June of 2019, the husband took me on a very special trip; one that I had been asking to go on since I learned about this place in 2016. We went to Assateague Island National Seashore, or as I like to call it, Wild Pony Island.
Assateague Island is a strip of land just off the east coast that stretches from Maryland down to Virginia. We visited the park on two consecutive days, first heading in from the Maryland side, then the Virginian side. What makes this place so intriguing is that it is the home to real wild ponies! Local folklore describes the Assateague horses as survivors of a shipwreck off the Virginia coast. While this dramatic tale of struggle and survival is popular, it’s never been confirmed. The most plausible explanation for the ponies is that they are the descendants of horses that were brought to barrier islands like Assateague in the late 17th century by mainland owners to avoid fencing laws and taxation of livestock. (source)
We saw several horses while we were there (though none down on the beach since it was actually pretty cold and stormy.) They all had beautiful coats and were really cute, with rather round tummies, which I learned is mainly caused by their high sodium diets. Grazing on grasses grown in a salt marsh will do that to you.
In addition to wild horses, Assateague is also home to all kinds of other flora and fauna. Despite the mosquitos – which were relentless – we enjoyed seeing many of the birds and other wildlife as we walked around the trails within the park. There were red-winged blackbirds, egrets, piping plovers, frogs, and feisty sand crabs!
Besides all the natural beauty, the Virginian side of Assateague Island is also the setting for Misty of Chincoteague the 1947 children’s novel written by Marguerite Henry. Set in the island town of Chincoteague, Virginia, the book tells the story of the Beebe family and their efforts to raise a filly born to a wild horse. As such, the town of Chincoteague is busting with Misty references. It’s sort of adorable.
I absolutely loved it there and am so happy that we got to visit both the Maryland and Virginia sides of the National Seashore. The journey to get there was quite a memorable adventure as well, and I plan to share more pictures and places from the trip in the weeks to come, as I live vicariously through my past vacation photos!