Life’s a beach

Life’s a beach

I’d like to take you back to one of my earlier posts. The one where I eschew all other possibilities for spending this year of our lives, where I am brazen about Brazil, toffee-nosed about Thailand, off-hand about Australia? Click here if you’ve blanked it out… Recently John and I had a ‘What are we doing?!’ moment, in fact more than one, which reminded us that this year is not going to be all beach bars and cocktails, but about following our dream to see America, come rain or shine.

Having spent a fun weekend with friends at Virginia Beach  (barbecue and oyster fest, s’mores around the campfire, our first go on a bounce pillow), we decided to continue the beach theme by heading up to the Assateague Island National Shoreline, a stretch of protected coastal parkland running between Virginia and Maryland. After spending a night at the Virginia end, we headed north to Maryland, where there is a National Park campground. We had romantic ideas of building a campfire in the dunes, falling asleep to the sound of the ocean, running along the beach in the morning; classic traveller japes. The forecast was for a nice day, with rain coming in the next.

No sooner had we pulled in to our site, nestled in the sand dunes on the edge of the Atlantic, but the rain came lashing down, with an easterly wind howling around the trailer. With no hook-up for electricity and too much rain to start the generator, my plan to have a nice cup of tea and wait it out was a non-starter. Added to this, the radio had come loose of the wall during the trip and had been further ripped out by the slide. Another job for John later – wouldn’t want him getting bored.

On the beach at Assateague, our trailer cowering in the background
On the beach at Assateague, our trailer cowering behind

Intrepid Brits that we are, we headed out in hoodies and wind breakers, in search of the time capsule that our thoughtful friends, Nadia and Kevin, had hidden as a wedding gift to us when they were here two years ago. This would surely lift the gloom. Armed with the GPS coordinates and the position on Google Earth, we strode off confidently towards the bay-side of the thin strip of land, and began following the trail. We soon emerged from the trees on to a very new looking boardwalk, set 6 feet above the marshy ground below. A loop of the walkway brought us to a dead end, so we headed back to the start of the trail and took another direction, this time at ground level. After stepping over makeshift log stepping stones, startling some of the wild horses the island is famous for, being bitten by mosquitos, and nearly going ankle deep in boggy marshland, we appeared at what looked like a former walkway, with the Google map star tantalisingly just out of reach, further on where the marsh cut us off. The time capsule trail, it seemed, ended there, Mother Nature having thrown one too many storms at this little island.

The end of the line?
The end of the line?

Despondent at our failure, we went for a walk along the Atlantic shore. A few thousand miles away, in Penzance, I knew my parents would be in their home near the Prom, and from the beach it was straight ocean between us and them. We wrote in the sands and laughed at the sea birds skipping in and out of the water – I find it hard to be down for long when I’m near the sea.

The walk cheered us up, and John reminded me that once we’d been up to New York on the weekend to see friends, we would be heading south, hopefully to warmer weather. The time it took us to set ourselves up with the trailer and car meant that we’d been further north for longer than we expected, and as such a bit under dressed and under prepared for the end of October in Maryland. As the rain abated, John got the generator going and a call from Steve provided good news on the time capsule. The Google map interpretation of the coordinates looked off, he thought, so he was calling with a clue that the capsule was in fact attached to the boardwalk. A glimmer of hope on the horizon, as the storm swirled around us.

By the morning, we’d not slept much, having spent the night buffeted by the easterly wind and rain coming right off the ocean. We discovered a new leak in the trailer, were both pretty grumpy and tired, not to mention cold, and so decided to cut our losses, pack up and head for our next stop. Only the English would decide to make camp on the east coast of the Atlantic at the end of October. Thailand certainly seemed much more appealing…

Fortunately, this tale does have a happy ending, as with the help of Steve’s description, John uncovers the time capsule strapped to the underside of the boardwalk just before we are due to leave. It’s a connection to the people who helped us bring our American dream to life, reminding us that while we may not be sipping cocktails by the pool, we’re following our hearts and in the footsteps of friends who have gone before us. Jubilant, we head north, to spend a night in Williamsburg: More rain, in a campground sandwiched between a highway and a railway line. The dream continues..;-)

Beautiful sunset at the Virginia end of Assateague, the day before
The calm before the storm – a beautiful sunset at the Virginia end of Assateague where we had camped the night before.
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  • Nadia Walters says:

    So so glad you found the Capsule!!! We had such fun putting it together and ‘planting’ it for you – would have been awful if it had remained unfound! MGK LOVED stashing it under that board walk – you can imagine. Ignore the weather and carry on enjoying – so much to be experienced in those incredible National Parks. Go go go! Love xx

    • Anna Syson says:

      Thanks Nadia, so glad we found it too – we knew we were so close! Brilliant idea of yours, we so enjoyed opening it. The parks are our favourite so far, and we have our pass now too. Love love xx

  • Simon C says:

    Great to hear you are living the dream! The English abroad eh!
    Keep on with the posts which are causing much mirth across the pond!
    Lots of lurve
    PS – pretty sure you last picture to us was a Heron not a Pelican so sharpen up those birding skills!

  • Carly Osborne says:

    Tell my I am not the only one wondering WHAT IS IN THE TIME CAPSULE!?

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