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Summer of Travel - Wrapping Up

I ended my big summer of travel the same way it started - visiting my friends in Baltimore and DC. Funny enough, I also got to see both of them in Colorado. My Baltimore friends were in Crested Butte for a wedding the same weekend I arrived in Colorado from Utah, so we met for lunch in Gunnison on my way to Salida and their way back to Longmont to see her family. My DC friend flew into Colorado for the wedding I posted about previously, but much like me, she had no desire to hang out in Boulder at all. Instead, she hopped on a bus and chilled with me in Salida for three days before the wedding. So, despite my wandering ways, I've been able to see these lovely ladies several times this year!  

Assateague Island

This trip was planned a whole year ago, as trips to popular destinations need to be. When the camping reservations for these places open, they sell out almost instantly. You've got to be ready to commit.

If you're unfamiliar with Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, you're either not American or you had a sad childhood. The Misty of Chincoteague book series is legendary among boys, girls, people my age, people 20 years younger. Somehow, everyone knows Misty. The ponies still come up in our national conversation from time to time, like in this NPR piece from August. And since I love wild horses (these are technically feral ponies) so much, I had to revisit this place. I was there more than 30 years ago, according to my dad, but I don't remember and we certainly didn't camp.

This time, five of us camped in the state park. Now, if you are used to dispersed camping in the west, this isn't at all what you are thinking of. The sites are close together and there are no trees for peeing in the woods. It's very family friendly-camping for non-campers. However, I'll admit that I used the shower in the bathhouse the morning we left, and it was kind of nice to not head down to DC a complete dirty, dusty wreck. 

The state park is right next to the Assateague National Seashore, so we drove over there on Saturday and did all three of the short trails. We saw some gorgeous birds, a pony and her momma, and got to walk along the old Baltimore Boulevard. This was a road built along the seashore in the 1950s for massive development. Luckily for all of us, a huge storm wiped out the development work that had been done, and the state and federal governments swooped in, grabbed the land, and turned it into parks.

It was too cold to swim, but other activities for the weekend included:
  • Getting a huge box of steamed crabs (generously seasoned with Old Bay) from Fatboys. I don't know that I've ever eaten steamed crabs. Crab legs, yes, many times, but whole crabs? I think that was a first. They are delicious but it's a lot of work for a little meat. My friends fiancĂ©, who is Baltimore born and raised, says that's because eating is the activity for the whole afternoon. Each crab takes a long time because the point is to sit and talk and drink beer for hours. Ok, I get that. When you burn as many calories getting into your food as eating it, it can becomes an afternoon-long activity.
  • Fleeing our campsite because of the ponies. When you go somewhere to see wildlife, you always worry that you won't. We didn't have to worry. We saw the ponies everywhere. The second night, they invaded our camping loop and they don't care if you are sitting around the fire drunk. They're gonna go where they want to go and you'd better get out of the way so you don't get kicked or bitten. Some people didn't follow the signs that are literally everywhere and had food lying around, which the horses got into. The camp host comes around with a spray bottle of water to shoo the ponies off when they get a little too curious, like when one grabbed the Taboo game box from the back of our car.  
  • Watching a UFO streak across the sky. The first night was cloudless and we saw tons of stars and a planet. The next night was cloudy but we still saw something very unusual. It seemed like it could have been a plane with the lights reflecting oddly off the clouds. One of my camping companions insisted it was a Blue Origin launch. But I prefer to think it was a UFO.

Washington, DC

My Baltimore friends handed me and my junk off to my DC friend outside of Annapolis, where we all met up at a waterfront restaurant for lunch. Then, off I went to the capital. I've been to DC so many times that there aren't any tourist things I want to do. I went to the gym, worked out of the Splunk office again, and mostly just ate and drank. Here are some of the delicious places that I tried with Kat, her sister Laura, and my Baltimore friends who came into town on my last night:

We did go a Nationals game and saw them lose to the Braves 0-8, but hey, for $5 tickets - and $16 beers - even a losing game is not a bad way to spend a few hours on a warm fall evening. 

I also got to hang out with my friend's sister, who lives just a few blocks away. I hadn't seen her since the pre-Covid era when she briefly lived in Denver, so it was nice to catch up. It's funny when you don't know someone that well but then have some time to chat and realize how much you have certain key aspects of your personality in common when you feel like you're probably so different in other way. I enjoyed getting to know her a little better. And we all watched a big DC brush fire together where the fireboat in the Anacostia River just seemed to spray water back into the river rather than onto the fire. 

The highlight, though, was my friend's Samoyed - Mozzarella - who is just the cutest ball of fluff. Because I stayed in the apartment alone when I was there in the spring (since Kat had to go up to Rhode Island) I never really got to play with Mozz. And meeting Kat's new DC friends and sweet new love interest was pretty great too! All in all, time well spent and I'm glad all these people are still in my life, as scattered around the country as we are.