So after my fantastic Cincinnati trip, I came home, was back here for roughly a week, then immediately flew back East with Eric for our anniversary trip in Chincoteague, Virginia! Sadly not a lot of people know about Chincoteague, but it's been a bucket list trip for me since I was a little girl. When I was young my grandmother gave me the "Misty" series of books by Marguerite Henry, which were all about the wild ponies of Chincoteague (really they live on the neighboring island, Assateague). I was and am a very typical horse-crazy girl, so the concept of a tiny island with hundreds of wild ponies roaming around blew my young mind when I read those books. I fell in love with Misty and the story of Chincoteague, and always imagined it as this amazing, quaint, horsey paradise. It was one of those things that I thought about wistfully throughout the years, and mentioned a couple of times when Eric and I would get into travel bucket list discussions over a beer drinking session. Not only was there the whole wild pony thing, but it was a little connection to my very beloved grandmother since she gave me the books that inspired my dreams of it.
Last year Eric surprised me by telling me he booked a trip for us to Chincoteague in advance of our wedding anniversary, and naturally I had a full blown heart attack about it. It's been on the books for awhile, so we've been doing quite a bit of research and planning on Chincoteague and what we wanted to do on our trip. (Most of the research and planning boiled down to, "how many times a day do you think we can stuff food down our maws" and agonizing over which nature cruise to take.)
I am so happy to say that the reality of Chincoteague even exceeded my childhood dreams of it. It's a truly beautiful, unspoiled little place with friendly people, amazing food and gorgeous scenery. And ponies! So many ponies! We did so many things and ate so many places that I will try to condense as best I can. For starters, our hotel was a Hampton Inn and it was one of the best hotels I've ever stayed in. This was the view from our balcony:
Waking up to that every day did NOT suck, let me tell you. We loved having our coffee out there in the mornings, and we also iced down a couple cans of beer on hot days and just sat out there watching the world go by and listening to the sea birds. One of the best nights entailed us treating ourselves to a little split of Veuve Clicquot champagne and sitting out there to watch a very intense heat lightning storm.
The greatest thing we did the whole trip was take a nature cruise on a small 6 person pontoon boat (Shout out to Daisey's Island Cruises and our guide Reggie!) I know the word "epic" gets overused these days, but it was a really epic little cruise filled with so much wildlife. It was supposed to be 2 hours and lasted for 3, it was on a gorgeous day, and our guide was super awesome. Right off the bat, we saw 4 different herds of wild ponies. I cannot attest to this, but Eric said the look on my face when I saw the ponies for the first time was pretty priceless. I was honestly trying to not cry like an ass in front of strangers!
|Please note the tiny, one day old baby on the left!|
In addition to the ponies, we saw tons of beautiful birds, including a pair of bald eagles and osprey. I LOVE seeing eagles in the wild. They are always so elegant and beautiful. The top moment of the cruise after the ponies though was when we encountered 3 dolphins on our way back to the dock. Reggie stopped the boat and for 30 minutes we watched these 3 dolphins play around the boat. I swear that dolphins just love attention, because the more that we ooh'd, ahh'd and squealed, the more they would show off! Reggie said he'd NEVER had this good of a wildlife day on one tour!
There are also tamed ponies on the island that you can go visit and pet, which cue me fainting with happiness, if you couldn't tell from the picture below!
The little bay mare in this lower picture was the sweetest little thing, and I would have brought her back with me if I could have. I visited her on our last morning there, and she laid her head against me, and when I scratched her ears she let out the biggest sigh. Such a sweetheart.
The island also had ducks roaming around all over the place, as if it wasn't charming enough. I had a little crew of duck friends I liked visiting in the mornings.
And the food you guys...the food. I ate the most ungodly amount of soft shell crab when I was back there, which is something I really miss from back home and can't get in Oregon. If you don't know what it is, it's basically a crab that has molted and hasn't grown a hard shell back, so when they're cooked you can eat the whole thing, legs and all. That freaks a lot of people out, and they do admittedly look like facehuggers, but they are very delicious facehuggers. We went to a really nice seafood place and I had the most delicious soft shell...basically it was stuffed with MORE crab, covered in Hollandaise sauce and broiled. Yeah. We also ate quite a few of the famous Chincoteague salt oysters, which were some of the best oysters I've ever had in my life.
There was also a really great taco stand called Pico Taqueria with some truly amazing stuff. I had the top right and bottom left tacos, the fried oyster and grilled shrimp respectively.
There were two ice cream places on the island, and we had to sample both for science of course. Apparently what I'm about to say is controversial, but we infinitely preferred Mr. Whippy (a soft serve place) over The Island Creamery that everyone seems to faint over. People seemed aghast that we felt that way, but the texture of the IC's ice cream was super weird, like gummy. The flavors were decent, but I couldn't get past the ice cream borderline having a pulled taffy texture. What can I say, Portland's Salt and Straw has spoiled me for life. Mr. Whippy was just good old fashioned soft serve ice cream. I had a s'mores sundae that had hot fudge, marshmallow cream and graham crackers. It was delightful.
The best treat find though was Sandy Pony Doughnuts...just y'all. It was a little food truck that made hot cake doughnuts to order, and I'm not really a huge doughnut person, but I was made a convert with these. They would be so hot when you'd get them that you couldn't pick them up, and if you got chocolate toppings, they were gooey and melted by the time they'd cooled for a bit. My favorite one was that top middle one, the Misty Mint. So good.
I promise that I did more than eat sugary treats and pet ponies, I did spend time with my sweet husband, who to my delight fell just as in love with Chincoteague as I did. We were really able to let go of the last couple of stressful months and just enjoy having zero agenda. We struck a really good balance of relaxing, especially on our balcony, with sightseeing. We spent a lot of time just walking around, including a wonderful day of heading over to Assateague to check out the beach and the wildlife refuge.
|Beach strolling on Assateague Island|
We also had a good time just strolling around Chincoteague and checking out the various little shops, monuments and the Chincoteague museum.
|Misty of Chincoteague|
On our last night we were supposed to go on a sunset cruise in the same small pontoon boat with Daisey's as our first day there. Unfortunately the weather made the water conditions a bit dicey, so they had to shift us to a bigger boat. We were really glad that we had that first awesome, more intimate cruise experience, because sadly the big boat wasn't as fun of a time. Besides the fact that it was freezing cold and we couldn't see as much, a million people brought their kids, all of which were screaming, miserable and cold. I sometimes wonder about parents and their train of thought. I personally feel it's foolish to bring a year old baby on a nature cruise that 1) it won't remember 2) is miserable as shit during because it's 30 degrees, we're on the open ocean and you didn't elect to put shoes or a hat on your SMALL BABY. But maybe I'm an asshole who doesn't know anything. The other kids were all like 2-4 years old, which again really isn't that old enough to appreciate the stuff we were seeing. They mostly seemed cold, miserable and over it about 15 minutes into the two hour cruise.
We did see some neat stuff, including a huge stallion fight. If you've never seen a horse fight, they can actually get pretty intense, which this definitely was. One was hardcore chasing the other one, and there was lots of kicking and pounding on one another! We didn't see dolphins again, likely because it was late and even they are too smart to be out in that kind of cold!
The sunset of course was beautiful.
There were so many more little things, but this post is already monumental. Suffice to say, this trip was a dream come true and was even better than I'd pictured in my mind. I'm forever thankful for having a husband as thoughtful as Eric for booking this trip, and I was so happy to share the experience with him. I think we both agree that we need to get back there ASAP!
Our actual anniversary is May 26th, and since we just got back from our trip days before that, we kept that day low key-ish and went out to our favorite restaurant, Kachka. It's a Russian place and some of the best food you'll have in Portland.
And it seems fitting to end our anniversary story with something that relates both to fitness and my grandmother. I've had a bit of a sad NSV because I've lost so much weight at this point that my wedding band no longer fits, and I've actually been wearing it on my middle finger (ha) for the last few months. Since it's titanium, resizing it really isn't an option, so Eric and have have been talking about what to do. I wanted to have some type of band, but also am trying to be more frugal these days, and jewelry really isn't something in our budget. My aunt came to me before our Chincoteague trip and told me she wanted me to have some of the family rings, including my grandmother's. Amazingly, despite my grandmother being a tiny little thing, her ring fit my hand perfectly. I talked it over with Eric, and we decided that me wearing her ring as my new band made sense.
I've never had diamonds before (my engagement ring is a peridot, my grandmother's birthstone), so wearing it makes me so nervous, but I love it! It's very beautiful but even more important, it's meaningful. I loved my grandmother more than I can say. She was truly one of my best friends and I miss her so much every day. I often think how much my she really and truly would have loved Eric, and he would have really loved her. Seriously, he would have made her laugh so hard, and vice versa. It feels very fitting to have her ring.
Anyway, believe it or not, that saga is the Cliff's notes of May. We're back to fitness now! :) I do have quite a bit to write on June and what I've been up to.