Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Horsing around Assateague Island National Seashore, Berlin, Maryland

Wild horses roam freely on Assateague Island National Seashore
Since we moved south fifteen years ago, we've made many road trips back to Boston. Each trip was always fun and memorable, but last summer's was truly unforgettable. Our trip coincided with the Brimfield Antique Festival, one of the largest and perhaps the best fleamarkets in the northeast, a must-visit if you're a flea fan. We met up with several college friends at the Sand Sculpture Festival in Revere Beach and the Folk Festival in Lowell. We took day trips to the north shore (Gloucester and Rockport), ate at our favorite seafood place on Cape Cod, and explored many neighborhood parks.

On our return trip, traffic slowed to a crawl in New York City; it took us an hour to drive 4 miles to get to the George Washington Bridge! We were to meet family for a reunion at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and traffic there was snarled up as well. August is prime time for the beach and there is only one way in. We were stuck.
entrance to Rehoboth Beach (we made it, at long last!)
Sand castle competition at Rehoboth Beach
Known as our "nation's summer capital," Rehoboth Beach offers clean beaches and a mile-long boardwalk lined with old fashioned entertainment (Whac-a-mole, anyone?), shops (ice cream with 150 flavors) and restaurants. The place always transports me back to the good ole days, when times were slower and much simpler. You can hang out on the boardwalk or beach past midnight since the beach doesn't close until one in the morning. Just remember to bring plenty of quarters for parking!
Whac-A-Mole at Funland
mile-long boardwalk at dusk one May
Still, getting stuck in traffic trying to get from one place to another is not my idea of summer fun. Did I mention that Delaware is a tax free state, and shopping at the outlet malls is the other big attraction? So as the week wore on, we were starting to feel worn out. And stressed out.

Luckily, there is the amazing Assateague Island National Seashore nearby.
Assateague Island Visitor Center. 
At the visitor center
It's our refuge from the hustle and bustle. Clamming, crabbing, paddle boarding, kayaking and wildlife viewing are some popular activities here. Or you can swim, surf and even camp overnight on the beach. Whether exploring by car or by foot, you're bound to encounter the wild horses that call Assateague home. We were awed by their majestic beauty.

South Ocean Beach
Wild horses taking a nap
Taking a break
If you're looking for a place to have a family vacation or reunion, choose this area. We had 16 members ranging in age from 6 to 73, and everyone loved it - beaching, shopping, crabbing, fishing and eating crabs and myriad seafood.

If you go, know that Assateague State Park and Assateague Island National Seashore are two different parks. The former is $6 a person (for out of state residents) while the latter is $20/vehicle for a 7 day pass . Check their respective websites for up-to-date information.

Did you have a fun and memorable summer?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Port of Call: Rockport, Massachusetts

Did you know that the comedy/romance movie The Proposal by Sandra Bullock was filmed in Rockport, Massachusetts?

I had seen the movie years ago, and loved the scenery.  So when two of my movie buff aunts told me they were going on an Alaskan cruise next month, I got them to watch The Proposal. I thought I recognized the iconic fishing shack at Bradley Wharf, where Sandra Bullock climbed down the ladder to the boat after she and her fiance arrived at Sitka, Alaska, about 30 minutes into the movie.

Motif Number 1
The scene looked awfully familiar. Around this time last year I had visited Rockport (by car), and had taken a ton of pictures of the picturesque town, harbor and the fish shack. Also known as Motif Number 1, the red fishing shack is the most painted building in America. You may have unknowingly seen it in magazines, calendars, on a stamp, artwork and other commercial products.

Rockport Harbor on a beautiful summer day

Don't remember where we ate, but this place came highly recommended
Taking a break after strolling around BearSkin Neck
New England seaside towns are very charming, and Rockport is no exception. The main drag Bearskin Neck is lined with interesting shops, art galleries and restaurants.

If you love art, you need to make the 15 minutes (5 miles) drive over to Rocky Neck Art Colony in Gloucester to check out the myriad galleries housed in cute cottages. Gloucester proper is also famed for its sweeping harbor views, fishing, and yep, location of yet another movie The Perfect Storm.

View at Rocky Neck
Y'all have a great summer!

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