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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Life is a Beach

Someone tells you to "just relax" and you snarl, "then send me to the beach!" And then you get there and you realize the whole place is overrun with children and their unworthy parents. So you spend the vacation feeling like crap. And it's the fault of the person who said, "just relax" in the first place.

And it is all their fault.

This is the reality about the beach--it is the perfect vacation for children and parents alike. Amusement parks are almost entirely geared towards kids. And art museums are almost entirely geared towards adults. But the beach gives you (1) a tiring activity that is free, (2) low-standards of cleanliness (how can one complain about a french fry landing on the floor when the entire restaurant is coated in a fine layer of sand?), and (3) natural baby-proofing. If your child pees on the sand--no problem. Changing diaper in public--completely accepted. Can you see your child for miles--yes, depending on beach umbrellas. Does anyone care if your child is making noise--no.

There are beaches geared towards adults only, but to be frank, we can't afford them. We can't afford the Caribbean vacations and we can't afford to travel too far when we're already on the east coast near perfectly good beaches. thing we notice on this trip is that not all beaches are created equal when it comes to enticing towards parents with children. Therefore, we reveal our pick and reasons for best beach for child-freeness and ask that you add in the comments other beaches to give people ideas.

Chincoteague, Virginia is easily accessible for anyone living in the D.C. area, Delaware, or Virginia. It's about a 3 1/2 hour drive from D.C. And this is why it rocks--no boardwalk. And no boardwalk means no rides, no french fry shacks, no ski-ball or cotton candy. Which means...well...not "no kids" but at least fewer kids. Because they're all up the coast at Ocean City and Rehoboth. We know. We saw them back in June.

Chincoteague is a National Park which means that it's ultraclean and ultra-loved by bird watchers and those who would wear Birkenstocks through the winter. There is a wildlife loop that you can bike or walk (or drive after 3 p.m., but that's cheating) that closely resembles how the Disney Imagineers see the African wetlands. Which is perfect bike riding for people who own single-speed bikes with foot breaks. The beach is actually contained on the nearby island of Assateague (which is not inhabited by people--Assateague is solely protected land and Chincoteague is where you stay) and you can bike or drive to the beach. Best of all--wild horses. Literally. Wild horses just roaming around. Minding their own business.

And this is both the pro and con of Chincoteague--the whole island pretty much stops by 9 p.m. Restaurants close. There is one movie theater on the island. There is a go-cart track and miniature golf that is tucked away on the main road and easily avoidable. The two ice cream shops still contain parents keeping their children up way past a reasonable bedtime. Which means that yes, you do have to see kids if you spend your day on the beach, but at night, there is no place like a boardwalk to bring kids so the kids somewhat disappear. No beer bong shops. No t-shirt shops advertising clothing that celebrates alcoholism. So while not child-free, it is certainly more do-able than some of the other beaches on the east coast if you're looking to avoid babies galore.

And perhaps most of all, the reason I love Chincoteague is the entire place sometimes seems like a metaphor for life. Life. With a capital "L." This past time, we weren't seeing any horses and I felt completely let down. We made up a ton of reasons why they weren't about. Wrong time of day, cars scaring them away, we're in the wrong place. And just when you think the trip will be a bust. Just when you've given up hope. There they are. A big herd of wild horses running across the nature reserve. And it reaffirms this idea of hope--that things can happen. And now, I need to go vomit from that last bit of mush. But...come on...there is a huge wish-upon-a-star-big-sigh-happily-ever-after side of me and there's no point denying it.

P.S. I have all of these great pictures that I want to add and Blogger won't let me. I'll repost if I can ever get Blogger working again.


Heather said...

Oh, I love Chincoteague! I lived just south of there for a few years when I was in high school. I would skip school and go to the beach! I really, really miss their Seafood Festival they have every year, and the Pony Swim and Auction - loved those horses!!

Thanks for the memories!

Piccinigirl said...

We will have to try this place, very nice.
John and I go away to the Caribbean twice a year and although I do relax on those vacations, the first few days are hard for me depending on the number or kiddos around the pool. I have to take deep breaths and remember that good things are coming.