CHINCOTEAGUE PONY SWIM '17 || travel + baby ponies

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If you can remember the famous title of "Misty of Chincoteague", then your not too far from knowing about the water cowboys and the annual (this year 92nd) pony swim on Chincoteague Island, Virginia.

We the family took a 2-day trip. going to the beautiful ocean at Bethany Beach, Delaware, Berlin, Maryland, and finally ending in Chincoteague Island, Virginia. It was a 3-state trip, and to be honest, all the brutal work was done on the first day.
If you know me, you know I'm a mermaid who's too far from the ocean. Bethany Beach is my favorite spot since I was a tiny thing, and to me, you just can't beat it. White sand, ocean breeze, family atmosphere. The perfect bundle, complete with sandy streets and over-hungry seagulls.
We left Bethany around 5:00 pm, and traveled on route 13. There we had a pit-stop and took in the old town of Berlin. What a place! If you've ever seen the Andy Griffith Show, then you'll get me when I say it's a Maryland Mayberry.

My original plan was to bunk at a BnB in Pocomoke City. I had never been there before. I knew not how scary + rundown it was. How cute the Bed and Breakfast was could nevertheless make up for the neighborhood it sat in.
And the Holiday Inn being booked with only a $200+ suite available there, we had one option.

Drive straight to Chincoteague.



Coming into Chincoteague at night was a funny adventure...you could see the lights on the island, the outline of the bridge and some (run down) advertising signs, but not much else. and we had no map, or directions. Everywhere we looked for maps they either thought we were crazy for asking, had none, or charged over $8.00.
$8.00 for a map.
at 10:00 o' clock at night, in a Ford Escape, we drove around the dark and asleep island half sun-burnt and feeling like it was 3 am.
Every hotel was booked solid. One local there said that the bookings for some places start in May!
Finally, a policeman told us where we could park....where we stayed until we found out that you need  to park near the crossing in the morning to even get there through traffic. It was the earliest pony crossing for awhile, between 6-8.
 At 3 am (when everyone started parking close to the crossing area) we moved to a field where someone was charging $5.00 to park, and slept till 5:30 in the car.


You gotta ask locals. They have answers to your questions---and literally I have never met so many friendly people in one place. Everyone just wanted to help and to talk. The creek smelled pretty nasty, but the view was beautiful in the morning. Even though they did have a jumbotron, after our rough night we had to actually see the ponies.

The red flare/fog signaled to the water cowboys, across on Assateague, that they could start moving the ponies. And around 7:00, they came running.


Where the marsh is marks Assateague. There the rounded up wild ponies headed off the point, swam across the bay, and came up on the shores of Chincoteague. Even though everyone was hungry and it was early, the crowd was probably the nicest large crowd I've been in---and I go to large crowds in D.C every year.

The ponies are then (pretty quickly--you don't want to miss this!) paraded up onto main street, so close their almost stepping on you. Just wild ponies running through the streets of a beach neighborhood.



Don't Miss:


CHINCOTEAGUE PONY CENTER

Misty museum, home of many ponies including a real-life Misty descendant, a cute trinket shop and a great place to feel the Chincoteague culture.


ISLAND CREAMERY

Homemade in-store ice cream and soft serve with homemade waffle cones and flavors featuring local milk and fruit. You can't get ice cream much better than this place...the line goes out of the shop and into the parking area, but you're in the shop before you can even decide what flavor to have. A one scoop waffle cone is about $5.00, though to be honest, mine had about 4 extra scoops, same price. You can't miss this place if you're traveling to Chincoteague!
(I couldn't take a picture of it before I had some---it was that big and that good)


CAPTAIN TIMOTHY HILL HOUSE

the oldest house on the island for you history buffs like myself, circa. 1800. It's open on Fridays to tour!


Tips for Chincoteague and the pony swim: would be to book ahead if your staying for over a night. The mosquitoes weren't bad at all this trip and I never encountered a tic, but the locals are always joking about how terrible they are, so natural bug spray is a must (there was a T-shirt in a swim shop there that said 'Chincoteague national bird' with a pic of a mosquito underneath). If you want to see the swim up close, BRING RUBBER BOOTS. No lie, the people who went into the marsh for the best views got as muddy as the horses --- feet to knees.
Come prepared that wifi is hard to come by and printing a map is probably your best option.

Even though we slept in the car, were sun-burnt, and had a bland sort of breakfast when we were super hungry, it was an epic adventure and I loved it. The ponies were adorable, the island was beautiful, the people were friendly and their ice cream was the cherry on the cake.

Have you heard of the Chincoteague Pony Swim?

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