Journey to Chincoteague: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Adventure

In last week’s post, I shared my fear of crossing over the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel (CBB-T) on my trip to Chincoteague Island, Virginia. I ended with this summary of that experience:

Looking back on that trip, I’m grateful that I had the experience of navigating the CBB-T by myself. I would have avoided it if there had been any other driver in the car. We know that the best way to deal with fear is to face it, but most of the time, I would opt out. I could have chosen a different destination or could have driven the extra miles to go up and around the CBB-T to get to Chincoteague Island. That island proved to be the right place for rest, renewal, and adventure on that Solo Journey.

What I didn’t talk about was the context of how I was feeling before I took off, before I encountered the tunnels. Like every one of my Solo Journeys, there is resistance to leaving my safe, familiar surroundings. Sometimes, there are extra obstacles that make me question whether I should go. That July when I went to Chincoteague, I was tired and worn down beyond the usual build up from my work as a school nurse that peaked by mid- June; that year, I was having bad tooth pain and discomfort from an attack of red ants the day before I left. My dentist had prescribed an antibiotic and pain med to help me until I could have a root canal, but the festering ant bites were harder to address. I was running a low-grade fever and the medicine for itching didn’t completely relieve the problem. It would have been easy to talk myself out of going on my trip if I hadn’t believed I would be better by getting to a different place.

My reserves were low by the time I approached the Bridge-Tunnel.

Perhaps that’s why I was so joyful when I reached the other side; I’d made it across in spite of my low energy, in spite of the stress level that had worn me down. This week, I want to return to that trip and tell you the next part of the story, to be specific about how “that island proved to be the right place for rest, renewal, and adventure.”

After I arrived in Chincoteague, I drove around the small town and looked for places that were mentioned in the book, Misty of Chincoteague. I saw the fire station that sponsored the July 4th pony roundup and at one end of the island, I saw the land where the Beebe family would have lived that had been replaced by condos. After eating an early dinner at The Crab Shack, and getting advice from my waitress on where to find ice cream later, I headed out to what I was most anxious to see: The Assateague National Seashore. It has 41,346 acres of land and water within the seashore boundaries and includes a 37-mile-long barrier island. I’d never seen such an expanse of ocean front without also having to take in the site of cottages and hotels, beachside bars, and arcades.

Looking to the east for as far as you could see was clear, unscathed beach. I waded up to my knees in the surf, putting my arms under the cool salty water, soothing my ant bites in that salty, healing balm. What a relief from the July heat and the warmth of those menacing insect wounds. Families were putting up their sand toys and beach balls, ready to head in from their day in the sun. With few cars left in the dirt parking lot, I unloaded the bike I’d hauled from home.

Looking to the west toward the sound side, the sun was setting over Tom’s Cove. How I delighted in riding my bike over the strip of sand with crushed shells, watching the gulls diving in the water underneath the palette of pinks and purples swirled in the evening sky by the Master’s brush. All the images of the Bridge-Tunnel, all the anxiety-produced tension in my muscles–forgotten as I immersed myself in that island beyond my fear.

Later, I would underline in my Bible a verse from Psalm 103: 11 (NIV) and write “Tom’s Cove, Assateague National Seashore” to note the feeling of that open space while riding my bike on the beach:

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his love for those who fear him.”

In this case, “fear” is not like I experienced with the Bridge-Tunnel; fear is the respect, revering God that’s not anxiety-based.

Once the light was squeezed out of the sky and it was too dark to ride my bike, I headed down to Main Street to Muller’s Ice Cream Parlor. The old, gothic-style two-story house reminded me of my house as a girl. I ate my cone of coconut chocolate almond on the porch, watching folks come and go through the screened door. Hearing that door screech open and shut reminded me of childhood, making me wish I could travel back in time for just one day of life back then on our farm.

I returned to my motel room– tired and satisfied from my eventful, then restful, day of travel. That night, I slept soundly and didn’t wake up with a tooth ache or itching bites. But the next morning, after going for breakfast at a nearby restaurant, I returned to my room–not ready to further explore the island until I got more sleep. I seemed to be running a low-grade fever from the bites and my body was telling me to rest; I listened. That day I napped, read, and wrote. As much as I wanted to see more of the beauty I’d witnessed the night before, I needed to take care of my body first.

By the second day, I was feeling much better, the rest restoring my energy and fueling me for a day of adventure. I rode my bike through the forest and miles of bike trails. I marveled at the open space–just like I’d felt when I visited Yellowstone National Park; what a treasure our country’s national parks that are free for us to enjoy.

I hadn’t talked to many people on the journey–since I’d spent all that time resting in my room. When I was riding on the open trail, I stopped to observe a Big Blue heron and then later walked on the trail by the marsh. Several women were standing at one of the overlooks.

“We spotted the ponies,” one woman said to me, then pointed to the animals in the distance, huddled together under the shade of a tree. (couldn’t get close enough for them to show up in this photo)

I rode my bike for hours, thinking about what it would be like to live on it as a kid–with endless trails and places to hide from or to meet your friends. I could imagine the Beebe children, Paul and Maureen–real people and not just fictional characters, riding a pony on the same paths I was taking. What a great place to let your pony, or your imagination, wander.

I found my way to the island lighthouse and walked around the grounds. I like lighthouses, but have friends who Love them so I made sure to capture this one.

By the end of my three days at Chincoteague Island, I felt rested and renewed. I’d explored that new territory, that section of my map that before that had been unknown to me. It had been an adventure that started with what felt like peril –crossing that Bridge-Tunnel, that was followed by a new world opening up. I would leave there and travel north to Baltimore for the remainder of that journey–staying at a hostel in the heart of the city.

Within the month after my return from Chincoteague, I discovered the boon of that portion of the journey. A boon is defined as a “timely benefit or blessing.” (Ref: Merriam-Webster dictionary). I first heard of that word describing what pilgrims bring back from their journeys in my soulful travel guidebook, The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau.

In next week’s post, you’ll learn what the boon was and how it impacted the days that followed my journey to Chincoteague Island.

Until then, I wish you all the best for finding the rest, renewal, and adventure that you need in the week ahead.

Blessings,

Connie

2 thoughts on “Journey to Chincoteague: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Adventure

  1. This is a great protraction of your last week’s offering. With this week you have planned a trilogy that holds the reader in suspense. I enjoyed your account of the trip with all the scars to go along with the “Mind Photos”. You have planned your chronical with deep thought and cunning. I love that. I am learning a lot from your writing and have become engrossed with the story. Love and Blessings to you. John,

    Like

    • Hey John,
      Thanks so much for reading and for your specific response–which helps me. I did want there to be the continuation of story–which would hopefully hold the reader’s attention and have a degree of suspense; guess I accomplished that with one faithful reader! LOL!
      Thanks for being a loyal reader of my posts.
      Best to you,
      Connie

      Liked by 1 person

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