Chincoteague is less than two hours from our home, and yet we had never visited. So we drove down the day after Labor Day, with Hurricane Dorian looming at the end of the week.
We are already planning to return. Chincoteague is a throwback to childhood days at the beach. You have to forgive the tacky wooden billboards, one after the other, anchored in the marsh (oy) as you travel the long causeway onto the island. There are no golf courses, no trendy restaurants, no outlets, no Grotto’s. These are all positives, in our book.
There are spectacular sunsets, endless waterfront views, many casual eateries and food trucks, and friendly people. There is a beautiful beach at Assateague National Seashore, featuring a translucent green Atlantic (not that brown, turbid one), wildlife trails teeming with birds, and the famous wild ponies. The entire town and refuge are bicycle-friendly. I rode from our room at Comfort Suites on Main Street to the refuge, lapped the Wildlife Loop, and then returned along boardwalks, bike lanes and trails nursing a flat tire.
I immediately wanted to find a shack along the channel and pen that undefined, amorphous . . . novel? spiritual memoir? travelogue? In Robert Reed Park, a woman at a picnic table was writing on her laptop. Your novel? I asked hopefully. No, just rules for her rental property, she laughed.
We ate fresh, steamed shrimp at Etta’s Channel Side Restaurant; a thickly sliced gourmet turkey sandwich at the Better food truck; and Chincoteague Classic tacos at Pico Taqueria with Costa Rican black beans and lime cilantro rice.
The crowd had already thinned the week after Labor Day. We plan to return in October or November. If you remember what Rehoboth Beach used to be like after September – shut down and mostly empty – I expect Chincoteague will feel this way as winter approaches. But all we need are birds, bikes, a beer, and the beach. And the ponies.