As you might have guessed by now we really like going to the seashore. The National Seashores are beautiful places and are worth visiting just for the pristine beaches. They also have educational ranger programs, visitor centers, and the kids can do the Junior Ranger programs. The beach is a great place to spend some school time and each National Seashore has something unique to the area. When my parents suggested we visit Assateague Island I wasn’t sure if we would get to or not. Often times the places we visit are a combination of timing and what route we have to take to see the capitals. After staying in Virginia for longer than we had originally planned, we knew we needed to start heading towards Dover, DE. Unfortunately for us the state parks in Delaware seem to be perpetually full on the weekends at this time of year and we were having some trouble finding a spot to stay. That was when Sarah found a free primitive campsite that was about half way between Newport News and Dover that was located in Maryland.
I must admit that we almost missed the turn to the campsite because it is barely labeled. The map program had it as a river, not a road and even after looking online about it we still almost passed it. Luckily we didn’t and he headed down the long gravel road to the campground. Then a gate barring the way came into view and I started to worry we would have to back out (and we had traveled some distance down this road with small bends in it). We pushed on though and at the last moment the field opened up and we could see where other people had driven because their tire tracks were evident in the plants. A small sign proclaimed the area as the designated parking area and another said no dumping. That was all we had to go by and I was a little worried we were in the wrong spot. The next day a police truck came into the area and I hurriedly got dressed thinking the police officer was going to stop and talk to us, but by the time I got outside they were gone. Everyone wanted to go to the beach and I was unsure of if we were in the right place, making me think twice about leaving our house unattended. That was when some workers happened by and the gate we had seen forced them to stop. I ran out and asked one of them if we were allowed to leave our trailer there while we went to town. Unfortunately he said it was for tent camping only and that he didn’t think we could stay. He did end up agreeing to call his boss though because he was unsure. Thank goodness he did because the head biologist (I think of Maryland but am not sure) said we could park there for up to three nights as long as we took all our trash out. We are the kind of people that not only took all our trash, but the trash that someone else had left behind. Everyone who camps has to keep things clean if we want these places to allow us to stay.
Now this spot had some amazing things about it and some not so amazing things, like most places we stay. First off the price was great, since it was free. Also it was away from the road and at night it was so quiet and peaceful with no artificial lights to be seen. At dusk I was on the phone with my dad and the entire forest started to sparkle because thousands of fireflies were out. The bad part was the ticks, which were out in force. We have had to deal with ticks though so we just implemented regular tick checks. The fact that there was no water, power or dump site was no problem because we knew before hand that it was very primitive. It was a hunting area too, but I don’t think it was hunting season while we were there otherwise I might have been concerned because of our kids. In the end I was glad that we found this site and here is a link to the WMA website and another map to help you find it.
Just remember to do your homework and look at Maryland’s website to make sure camping is still allowed there, follow all the posted rules, and pack in pack out to keep the site available for other travelers.
From this campground we were able to take a day trip to Assateague Island where wild horses roam. The kids found some amazing seashells and we made a sand naval battle scene complete with a battleship, since we had recently been on one. Of course we also had a picnic on the beach, picked up the Junior Ranger books, walked up and down the shore, and basked in the sun. It was a great day spent at the seashore and we finished it off by watching the wild horses walk up the beach. When we awoke the next day it was another beautiful one and we headed to the south section of the island that is located in Virginia. The kids turned in their Junior Ranger books and we bought our magnet after seeing a ranger give a talk about sharks and turtles. That left the rest of the day to sit on the beach or do as we pleased. Sarah and the kids found some great seashells and we built a large sand castle as a family before having our picnic lunch. Then the wind picked up and started to blast us with sand, so we headed out. I had seen a NASA visitor center on the way in, so we stopped off real quick before they closed. We were only able to wander around for about half an hour, but it was still informative and everyone liked seeing the rockets that NASA launches from this site. We were not even aware that they had a launch site at Wallops Island, but it is where they launch smaller rockets from. After finding out there was going to be a rocket launched the next morning at 4 am we were tempted to stay and see it, but we had already stayed for three nights and we need to be in Washington D.C. soon. Plus Trip had caught a cold and we wanted him to get enough sleep, so we headed towards Dover instead to see the capital and a new state.
Here are some links to the places we visited and more pictures:
Assateague Island National Seashore
Wallops Flight Facility
Whether you checkout the free campsite or just visit Assateague Island National Seashore remember to make sure the trash ends up in the proper place. Also have plenty of fun because I know we did!