People often use religious terminology when they speak of the spiritual or transcendent. Our yearning to find whole-ness as holiness, and at-one-ment as atonement, fills a need ancient and essential as air. Because English vocabulary offers few ways to describe religious events, except in churchly terms, I often resort to such words as sacred, grace, reverence, worship, holy, sanctity, and benediction, which I cherish as powerful feelings, moods, and ideas. I’m an Earth ecstatic, and my creed is simple: All life is sacred, life loves life, and we are capable of improving our behavior toward one another. As basic as that is, for me it’s also tonic and deeply spiritual, glorifying the smallest life-form and embracing the most distant stars.
~ Diane Ackerman
I went to Virginia yesterday, to visit the southern end of Assateague Island. It was a beautiful day to be out and about, hiking in the backcountry areas. The plan was to go to an area I think of as “the hook” where the land/beach hooks around at the end of the island in Toms Cove, but I didn’t make it any farther than the area where the old Coast Guard station is located. I’ve been past this area several times and looked at the station from a distance. This is the first time I actually hiked out there to see what there is to see. It was fascinating. There are several outbuildings, a lookout tower, and a rundown/falling apart pier and boardwalk that leads to a building that sits out over the water.
The station was first built in 1874, designed to face out towards the ocean. Because of shifting sands (changing topography), the station was moved to Toms Cove and a new Colonial Revival house was built. The old boathouse became a garage. The station was decommissioned in 1967 and the buildings are now part of the National Seashore. They are currently boarded up. I don’t know if there are any plans to open them up to the public or not. I’m going to guess that it’s unlikely, especially the building that sits out over the water. The pier and boardwalk are dilapidated, portions of it collapsing into the water.
My hiking partner and I picked up lunch on our way out there. It was not exactly a picnic day, but not too bad, either. As you can see from the photos, it was sunny. It was also windy and a tad bit chilly (mid-40’s F).
There were an astounding number of people visiting Assateague, especially for a Wednesday in December. I often wonder how many of the people who visit the Virginia side of Assateague Island end up disappointed. Quite a few seem to be there because they read the “Misty” books (children’s novels written by Marguerite Henry, the first of which is “Misty of Chincoteague” and concerns the pony swim and auction). The disappointment derives from how the horses are kept on the Virginia portion of Assateague. They are essentially fenced in to certain areas, most of those areas far from where people can view them. If you want a good look at the ponies of Chincoteague, you need to go in July when they corral the horses for the pony swim and the annual auction.
Whenever I hear someone express their disappointment at not being able to get a good look at the horses, I advise them to visit the Maryland portion of the island where the horses truly are left to run wild and they are more likely to get a closer look at them. (And for heaven’s sake, don’t get too close to them! You might get kicked or bitten.)
We found a piece of tagged wreckage while we were exploring the area. My hiking partner thought it might be a piece of a shipwreck. That idea was exciting. As it turns out, there is a collaborative effort between several services (U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources, and others) to find and tag various intertidal wrecks, isolated timbers, and other artifacts (including bottles and footwear). The website with information about the wreck tagging (found here) compares it to a message in a bottle in that they are looking to see where things travel and to involve visitors to the island in maritime heritage activities. Since I’m always up for this sort of thing, I took a photo and submitted it with my email address so that I can find out more about the timber we found, including where it has traveled.
I am reminded of the tagged birds we’ve managed to report. It’s so interesting to find our where they were tagged and how far they have traveled. I’ll let you know what I find out when I receive my certificate.
We spent a few hours walking/hiking in that area and along the beach on the bay side. We also spent some time with the ocean (because you can’t go to the beach and ignore the ocean!). In case you’re wondering where the wildlife photos are, I’ll bring some to you soon. The snow geese were gathered on the beach on the bay side and I was thrilled to see them.
I’ll be back with more from this hike sometime soon. In the meantime, thank you so much for stopping by and hiking with me for a little while. Goodbye to 2020, while I’m at it. I have a lot to say/write about that, but not today. I’ll do a wrap up and hello to the new year tomorrow or Saturday or sometime. Let’s go out to the Point today and see what there is to see in terms of sunset. It’s been cloudy and raining which means we might not see much. Sunset is scheduled for 4:53 PM. It’s relatively warm today (60’s F). A raincoat or umbrella might come in handy, in case it doesn’t quite clear up.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind. ♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,666) Hiking and walking on Assateague Island. Always a joy. 1,667) Patterns in the sand and mud. 1,668) Finding a piece of tagged wreckage. It’s not pirate treasure but almost as exciting to me (because I’ve become very childlike in my joys lately). 1,669) Sober holidays. I don’t list my sobriety often enough in my reasons to be happy. On the other hand, I never take it for granted, either. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. 1,670) Thursday play dates (via Zoom) with the Little Wookie. Another “always a joy” activity.