A few days back, I wrote about ‘back home’ in Virginia. I grew up on the Delmarva Peninsula in what the locals call the Eastern Shore of Viriginia, or ESVA for short. I spent most of my childhood in a small town called Onancock in the county of Accomack.
I was born and raised there until I was 18 and moved to Massachusetts. That’s another blog for another day.
The Eastern Shore is a very small quaint area, heavily reliant on the surrounding Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay. Lots of friends, and even some family worked on the water to make a living. The area is also very reliant on farming. Quite a bit of the land there is farmland. After being in such a populated area, it is strange to go back and see the miles and miles of wide open fields and wooded areas.
My title refers to a small island on the Eastern Shore called Assateague Island. Assateague is where we always went as kids. It was ‘the beach”. as a child, I can remember 25 or 30 foot tall sand dunes with stairs over them to take you out to the warm sand of the beach. Today, after many hurricanes and Nor’easters, you can sit in the parking lot and see right out to the ocean. It is very sad to see this when I go back to visit. I guess I am lucky to see anything at all, as they have to truck sand in every year to restore the parking lot and part of the beach, just to keep their main tourist attraction going.
On the island, there is a National Wildlife Refuge, and a lighthouse. The refuge is home to many wild animals, and I try to get there and photograph them every time I am in the area. The biggest draw are the wild ponies. You may have heard of Misty – written by Marguerite Henry. No relation to me, as far as I know. Every year, they swim these wild ponies across the channel and auction them off at the “Pony Swim“.
The lighthouse has always been near to my heart. You can see it coming from Chincoteague across to Assateague Island, and I have been to see it many times. Growing up, you could walk the sandy trail to the lighthouse and take pictures. However, you were not allowed to go inside the lighthouse. Back in 2006, my girlfriend Rose and I were heading to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, and made a pit stop on the “Shore” to visit. Rose had never been, so I took her to Assateague to check it out. We walked down the little sand covered path and were very surprised to see the lighthouse door open. Cool, I thought. Must be a gift shop. Not only was it a gift shop, it was a tour that allowed you to climb the lighthouse.
Awesome! Let’s do it! We climbed to the top and got another pleasant surprise. You could go up into the actual light area of the lighthouse. The view was amazing. You could see all of Assateague and most of Chincoteague.
We have been back a few times since then, but you aren’t allowed to go into the light area anymore. Someone purchased the lighthouse and fixed the catwalk area on the outside. Now you can go outside the lighthouse up top and walk around, just below the light. Again, a stunning 360 degree view around the lighthouse.
So, if you’ve never been, it’s definitely a great place to visit. If you’ve been, or live there, let me know.