Travel Journal 8: Chincoteague

When I was 10 I read Misty of Chincoteague, and it began for me a love of reading horse stories.

When I was planning our trip and looking for state parks to stay at, Kiptopeke State Park came up, on the Southern end of the Delmarva peninsula, and a reasonable drive to the island of Chincoteague.

I brought the book along and we’ve been reading it, a few chapters at a time, as a bedtime story along the trip. It helped us settle into traveling and sleeping in strange and different places almost every night to snuggle into the tent and read a bit by flashlight. Clothilde actually cried at the part where Misty and the Phantom get sold to the mainlanders.

I spent a bit of money on a boat tour. We were really lucky and shared the boat with another woman and her daughter who was just a little younger than Rose. We turned out to have a great conversation on the boat. They were at the end of a 6 week long trip all over the country. They had had a wonderful time, and lots of stories, and had also read and loved Misty of Chincoteague.

First we saw dolphins – there were a whole bunch, swimming very close to the boat. It was so hard to get a picture of them!

Next the boat captain brought us over to Assateague – a big island all green with salt grass and winding creeks of silver salt water that twist along the edges. Pine forests were in the distance, and right along the shore was a herd of wild horses.

Once a year all the horses are rounded up and swum across the channel to Chincoteague, as they have been for 95 years. They are penned up and get their hooves trimmed, worming medicine, and the new colts are tattooed with their birth year. The island can only have 150 horses according to state law, so the extra colts are auctioned off to raise money for the fire department. They aren’t really WILD horses, but they looked extremely happy.

The captain told us that stallion of this herd was named Rip Tide. He was a handsome grey color, with a white mane and tail.

There were two colts in the herd that had been sold, but because of the lockdown were still with the herd. They looked smug and happy with all the big horses. We watched them nursing and playing, and the horses grazed and watched us watching them.

It’s a little paradox with watching animals – so often I’ll go up to watch the cows, and they come over and watch me. It’s amusing this mutual observation.

Finally it was time to head back. We talked with the captain while he drove. He was from Chincoteague and had the most interesting accent.

We drove home to our campsite full of the wind and water and wild horses on Chincoteague.

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