Sunday, June 19, 2011

Faraway Adventures: Assateague Island Seashore

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD
Assateague Island is best known as the beach with the wild ponies. It has been debated on how the wild ponies first came to the island. The boring side of the debate is that settlers in the 17th Century began using the island to gaze their livestock to avoid fencing regulations and taxation. The more fun side is that the ponies came from a shipwrecked Spanish barge. However they got to the island, the ponies are truly the rulers of the island. Entering the island, the park rangers hand you no less than 3 pieces of paper that detail proper interaction with ponies, ie don't feed them, touch them, or approach them, if you do, children will get bitten and horses will die. Seriously, one of the pages had a picture of a dead horse and children with bite marks. And if a pony decides to stand in the middle of the road, right in front of your car for ten minutes, well, then you sit in your car for ten minutes, or until you are deemed worthy enough to pass.

Assateague is one of my favorite beaches in the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virgina) area. It is operated by the National Park Service, so there is an entrance fee, which always translates into it being less crowed than the public Ocean City beaches, which are just a little bit up the coast. I also whole heartily support the National Park Service, the preservation of the America's open spaces and have a secret wish to be a park ranger one day, so I gladly hand over the fee.

I have always been at home at the beach. Even though I loved my years in the Midwest there was always an ache in my soul for the sound of the ocean and sandy footprints. And now that I am only a couple hours away from several beaches I find myself escaping there quite regularly during the summer. Sometimes it is by myself when I want to be alone in the universe, but other times, like this weekend, a ramble with two cars full of friends is what I need.

"Happiness [is] only real when shared" --Into the Wild

Road trips with friends are the best, even if they only last one day. They get us out of our distractions, our complicated lives, the restrictions of what we should or shouldn't be or do and the deepest conversations and most ridiculous jokes often come on the journey from point A to point B. 

What we ate: hummus and pita chips and cold watermelon. What we read: grocery store check out magazines and borrowed books.
 The paperback on top of the pile is Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck, which I am currently reading.  The presence of this book led to one of the most heated and lively debates of the day. I happen to love Steinbeck, J on the other hand does not. And I don't just mean that she doesn't care for his books, she HATES everything he ever wrote, probably even his shopping lists, and I have a feeling she kind of disdains him as a person too. At one point, I was pretty sure she was going to grab my book and through it in the ocean. This pro/con Steinbeck debate broaden to all of American literature and brought the group together to make a list of  great/influential American novels. We are normally such a well behaved group, but bring up literature and fisticuffs ensue. I am pretty sure this is what happened at Inklings meetings, if they met on a beach, or course.  Our only rule was that an author could only have 1 book on the list. Our final list (in no particular order):
1. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
2.  Portrait of a Lady by Henry James*
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4. East of Eden by John Steinbeck/Our Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neele Hurston**
5. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
6. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
7. I Robot by Isaac Asimov
8. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
9. Call of the Wild by Jack London
10. The Giver by Lois Lowry

*I would like to point out that a guy nominated this book.
**Even though J did somewhat concede that East of Eden was the best of Steinbeck's writings, she was bound and determined to strike him completely off the list. East of Eden happens to be one of my favorite books, so I was not going to stand for this. We finally both settled with a "/". 

Thoughts on our list?

What we ate: Brie, torn baguette, cherries, grapes

Brie was also a big topic of the day. As most of the group had already packed up and was half way back to the cars, the last couple stragglers were finishing up one last bite of brie and bread. "Brie cannot be  hurried."  On our way home, discussing the agonies that will be walking into our jobs on Monday morning, "But brie doesn't pay for itself."  I count my lucky stars every day that I have collected such cheese conscious friends. I also learned that if needs be, I can physically drag a body across the beach. The cooler weighed that much. We ate well.

Love, love the reflections in the glasses

Most of us had a late night the previous day and add a whole day of sun on top, needless to say, our ride home was pretty ridiculous. I laughed until tears streamed down my face. Locked inside our cars are little jokes and one liners that only make sense in their context: "My GPS is a little drunk, " "Why is Delaware even a state," "I have a confession to make, (baited, serious, silence), I don't like hanging plants," "They were distracted by my swimsuit popping off." And then there were the tornado sirens that went off at Sonic, except that they really weren't tornado sirens. 

Somewhere along Route 50 I also got schooled on modern country music. When I was a teenager and thought I was the hippest one around, I will admit that I pooed pooed country music. To say that I was a music snob is a huge understatement. But as I have grown up a little (?!) I find myself embracing all kinds of music regardless of labels and divisions, if it makes me throw off my shoes and dance or sing my heart out, or stirs something within me, then it is well and good. I learned to respect a lot of music that I probably won't listen to on a daily basis. Everyone has a right to tell their stories however they want. See, me = mature. 

I have always loved old country, the Johnny Cash, the Loretta Lynn, but modern, popular country has always escaped me, I don't know, maybe I still have a little snootiness in me. But over the last couple years I have dove head first into bluegrass and folksy and traditional music, meaning if it has banjo and/or an accordion in it, I probably love it. This makes a perfect transition into so many other music circles.

S, who was driving, loves country music. She talks with all the excitement  about different performers and bands  and going to concerts that same way I do. And when someone is that passionate about music, any type of music, you should listen because they are just not sharing their tastes, they are sharing a little bit of themselves.  As we scanned through the radio stations looking for good country songs, I learned a lot. Ask me about the bands Sugarland or Lady Antebellum, I totally know all about them now!  I will have to say that S always lets me gush and rattle on about whatever album or band that I am listen to at the moment, without even rolling her eyes. Music tastes are a personal thing, and sometimes sharing them with others can be scary. If they hate the music you love, does that mean there is something about you that they don't like? But music also the the power (wow, I feel I am being soo dramatic) to bring people together and learn about and from each. It's pretty amazing like that. Oh, I love music. I do.

So kids, moral of the story: Go the beach, eat some brie, read good books (Steinbeck!!!), and listen to all types of music.

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