Travel Magic — Magic happens when you travel.
“I’ll go if you get me across the bridge.” That’s what T said when asked if she’d do a Road Scholar bike trip with me on Chincoteague Island.
I don’t much care for bridges either, but if that’s what stood — or possibly swayed — between me and a bike ride that promised a seafood feast the first night, well, let’s just say I’d go a long way for fresh crab.
Even across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
It wasn’t until after we’d registered that T mentioned the Mosquitos. Initially, I capitalized the word by accident, but honestly, the Mosquitos on Chincoteague deserve the attention of a proper noun. In fact, the word should be boldface.
Mosquitos love me, even when I wear insect repellent. I think they consider it a condiment.
I came home with more than twenty-five bites.
I don’t think T got any.
Anyway, I got us across the bridge, though we spent the whole seventeen miles telling each other how not bad it was.
“This isn’t so bad,” I said, eyes glued to the car in front of me.
“No,” T responded. “It’s okay.”
“Yeah. We’re fine.”
“Fine,” I echoed. “We’re fine.”
The conversation continued in this vein until we reached the other side.
“That wasn’t so bad,” T said as we exited.
“Nope,” I agreed. “It was okay.”
I also got us back to the mainland at the end of the trip, but that time our discussion was a muttered litany.
“We’re okay-we’re okay-we’re okay-we’re okay.”
I think the return side of the bridge is higher.
Unsurprisingly, neither of us took pictures of its span so we may never know.
But the seafood feast was worth it — a long table covered with newspaper, steamed crab and shrimp, potatoes, and corn on the cob, with pots of melted butter on the side. The only utensils? Our fingers, a mallet and a pick.
It was magical. In fact, I may never be able to eat crab again (unless I go back to Chincoteague). It was that fresh.
Usually travel magic happens once or twice during a journey, if you’re lucky. You look down from a plane just in time to spot Crater National Park. Perhaps wander into a restaurant because it looks interesting, and there’s a steel drum band playing. Show up at the Globe Theater hoping for a tour, only to discover they aren’t running because of the performance. Which starts in five minutes with “groundling” (standing) tickets available for only five pounds. So you end up seeing a Shakespeare play from where other peasants actually viewed his productions during his lifetime.
But the whole Chicoteague trip was magical.
Beautiful scenery. Great weather on the days we rode. Friendly people.
I think it’s best to let the pictures tell the story.
Answering the burning question: “What do librarians do on holiday?”
Chincoteague Library was all a small, island library should be,
including the statue of Misty (as in Misty of Chincoteague).
The beach at Assateague Island was nearly deserted the day we arrived, so it was just us and the waves.
We drove down early and stayed the nights before and after the tour at the delightful and charming Sea Shell Motel (family run for over forty years!).
This gave us extra time to explore the island (and its library). The last night, our neighbors were a couple of hard-working, southern boys who addressed us as “Ma’am,” and asked if we knew where there was a laundry. I took a photo of their workboots outside the door because I liked the the juxtaposition of them and the beer can. I also liked the bricks chosen for the patio outside our room. Look closely, and you’ll see the leaf imprints.
The tacos at Pico Taqueria were as delicious as they look.
This pot was outside a shop. Its sign read “Please do not disturb. Nesting duck.”
It seemed there were roses everywhere.
Also sea and marsh birds of endless variety.
The picture on the right was taken through the windshield because I didn’t want to get out of the car. For one thing, I’d scare the bird, and for another, I’d immediately become mosquito bait.
The first stop on our bike ride was the oldest house on the island. It still has the mortar it was built with, though the house was moved from its original location. Someone in the family was probably a sailor because there were carvings of ships in several places.
Here’s the back door view from the home’s new spot.
The second day, we met Randy, a waterman whose spent his life making a living from the sea. Here he demonstrates how to shuck an oyster. Several of our group indulged.
I wasn’t one of them.
When I posted this on Facebook, my phone tried to correct the caption.
It took “Shuck ’em, suck ’em, eat ’em raw,” and changed every”’em” to “me” to create an X-rated version of my statement. Fortunately, I caught the error before posting. I saw this along the road one day.
Other, less lucky riders including T, saw a truck full of dead chickens.
(There are many factory chicken farms in the area, and after hearing the pathetic sounds emanating from the buildings, I’ll never buy another Tyson or Perdue chicken.)
But Chincoteague is a magical place, despite its mosquitos. I’m so glad we went.
“Suffering makes you deep. Travel makes you broad. In case I get my pick, I’d rather travel.”
— Judith Viorst