My Sanctuary

Do you know about Chincoteague, Virginia and its famous wild ponies? But it’s not so much them as something about the entire island itself which calls me.

#susanstrasser #susanstrasserblog #chincoteague #amwriting

When I was 15, I went with my friend Janie and her family to Chincoteague, for the first time, and part of me is still 15 years old when we get really close, just past Wallops Island, where that bend in Chincoteague Road is… its as if God/Higher Power/ Great Spirit pulls back a curtain and the opening music kicks in BUM, BUM, BUM, BA- DAH!!! And there’s the lush green marsh. 

And I’m home. 

The scene: golden-tipped green pond grasses and cattails at the base of a blue sky basin. Breathtaking!  

Then, the miniature billboards begin on the left side, quaint but spread out enough to not obstruct the view. Lots of pictures of wild ponies, of course. Pools of natural saltwater present themselves around us, and a tiny part of me marvels that we even have a road with which to drive through or over all this. Seagulls, ibis, and white egrets take turns going over our car, or dipping close to it on their way to hunting fish amidst the tall reeds and grass.

We had a 45 minute drive to the beach that is within Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge from the campground where we stayed somewhere outside Pocomoke City. So we drove in in our bathing suits with shorts on top, towels, umbrella, boom box, magazines, cooler and snacks all loaded up for a beach day. 

As I absorbed and awed at my new love, the marshland coast of Virginia which led onto the actual island of Chincoteague, Janie’s Dad began to gripe about how we were slowing down as we got closer to the drawbridge that went over the southern bit of Chincoteague Bay. It was a bit of a wait. But I was a happy passenger in the back seat. The new little town of Chincoteague was right in front of me!  

The drawbridge lifted, and into and through the cute town of Chincoteague we went! First we were on Main Street, then we made a turn and I began to notice a lot of people on bikes. A lot of kids on bikes, actually. And families biking together. What was this? They were often on the sidewalk, but they also occasionally used the shoulder. Wow! Biking at the beach. Biking to the beach. How cool!

My family and I never, ever did that. 

But it got even better! After we drove through town and even passed a McDonalds’, we went over another big bridge sort of like the drawbridge, and people were fishing and crabbing off it all over the place! I knew crabbing from our trips to Ocean City. A piece of chicken on string. I could see kids holding pieces of string! And fishing rods. WOW! This place was nature-crazy! 

And then of course, Janie’s family told me about seeing the famous Chincoteague wild ponies in years past and how we might see them today. The traffic entering the refuge was a little slow, but the Smiths all agreed that they’d seen it worse. And there we were, the welcome sign at the bottom of the hill at the bottom of the bridge: Welcome to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. 

Onto the beach! 

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