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Chincoteague long weekend cut short by gale winds

Chincoteague long weekend cut short by gale winds

Old May 13th, 2022, 01:05 PM
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Chincoteague long weekend cut short by gale winds

This will be a shorter trip report than I usually post, as the stay and activities were limited by gale warnings during my entire stay.

Chincoteague is a little under an hour's drive from my home in Maryland. I'm not sure why I decided to go on my own to the annual seafood festival. I think I figured it could be a jumping off point for a few days of exploration. I was watching the weather forecasts all week - a 75% chance of all-day rain. I didn't read the event description carefully enough, and it turns out the location is a campground, and in my conversation with the Chamber of Commerce, they said parking is limited, as are picnic tables, and no overhead shelter, and it is a low-lying area that gets muddy. All this was in service of motivating people to go to the central pick-up points and use the shuttle instead of going directly to the campground event site to park..

It stopped raining about 20 minutes before I arrived at the entrance. I was waiting at a shuttle pick up point at the high school, when I decided to take a chance and just drive to the campground. I was able to easily get both a parking space and a table, and after chatting with a nearby group, was invited to join them. This was a group of people my same age, which was great, and we had a great time, eating, laughing and sharing stories.

I spent the first 90 minutes on lines for food: hush puppies, Manhattan clam chowder, steamed clams and cornbread. They serve you two portions, so that people can split up waiting in line. The guy in front of me let me know that they blow a noon whistle to kick the thing off. Good going he told me, since I had soup, I would jumped and it would've gone everywhere! I said to the man, well this is my lunch and later the oysters will be my dinner, and he replied, my dinner will be Mr. Whippy. It's a local soft ice cream place. That made me laugh. A nd to hear people talk a tradition on this weekend.

I didn't want fried oysters and ice cream in my belly at the same time, so if I got a cup, I'd try it on another day. So I got back to the table, and put my second portion of each in the middle of the table for everyone to enjoy.

Food review: The Manhattan clam chowder was light and tasty, not too strongly seasoned. There were a lot of diced potatoes, perfectly cooked, but I took most of them out. The hush puppies: The guy at the booth suggested to try dipping them in yellow mustard. It was really good! But then, I put mustard on pretzels. It was a good tip because to me, they did not taste like any I'd had before. They were seasoned and did not taste like cornmeal to me.

The little neck clams were very good. I couldn't find the fried clam strips. I wasn't interested in chicken there, and the fried fish looked highly seasoned and fried very crisp. I tasted it later at the table added didn't care for it. I was there for the oysters.

Around 3:00 , I got online for the raw oysters, only a 10 minute wait and the were superb, beautiful and fresh, like diving into the sea. Unfortunately there was no fresh lemon. I tried the single fried oysters at the table, and they were really good. One of the fellas got the table boardwalk fries, which are apparently thin cut with the skin on. I skipped that line, which was over an hour.

Later when the lines were short, I got a clam fritter, very good and tender, the fried oysters, at about 3:00, and that was my dinner, along with a salad of fresh spinach, cuke slices, diced honeydew and canteloupe. A new friend at the table joked, look at you trying to be all healthy and virtuous!

The salad lines had been long and offered a tossed salad, a sort of Caesar salad, cole slaw, and that tricolor corkscrew pasta salad, which I don't care for. Since I have salad at least once a day,, I skipped it,, in favour of seafood. Water and soda were free, and I had a few bottles of water and a Coke zero.

The admission was $55 plus online fees, so just short of $60. My new friends said ,they think it had been $40 pre-pandemic. It was well organized and laid out, there were beer vendors, and other types of arts and crafts, which I didn't explore, and a live band that was very good. I would say it was mostly 70's and 80's rock, but I heard new stuff as well.

We got lucky with the weather as it wasn't too windy, and mostly just a misting rain off and on through the afternoon. I arrived at 10:30 and left at 4:30, after walking over toward the stage & listening to the last three songs by the band. The grounds were OK to walk around, except for a huge puddle in the lane near our table, where we were highly entertained by a little towheaded girl in rain boots who was having a ball splashing around Wish I'd taken a picture.

I had brought a festival chair, and didn't need it. Most groups brought a little canopy shelter, and the grounds were dotted with white canvas, or navy blue nylon.

I had a very convenient parking spot, and was able to pull out and exit the grounds without waiting in a long line of cars. All in all, it was a good experience. I was fortunate to have fun conversations in line, to have met a great group to spend the day with, and that I enjoyed the food. It is clear that there are people that return year after year. For me, I think this is something to experience once. I don't think I'd be interested in waiting in 4-6 long lines for 30-40 minutes each and it is a lot of food.

I got to my hotel, checked in, relaxed for a few hours, drinking water and unpacking. I changed into a swimsuit and hit the pool for 90 minutes. There was a family in the pool so I couldn't do laps, but I did all my arm and leg exercises and deep water exercises. The water felt quite chilly, so I had a hot shower and brewed some hot tea.

The hotel: I stayed at Island Resort Inn. Very large room with a balcony on the water, king size bed, a little frig, but sadly, and surprisingly. no microwave. The bathroom had one of those heating lamps, remember those?! This one didn't glow red, but it was warming, and the hot water supply was excellent. Also the heat worked like gangbusters.

I like a firm bed, but this one was s little too hard for me and the pillows, just two, so no choice of firmness the way a lot of hotels do lately, could have been updated. I found most of the furniture low and hard to get out of, but pulled the desk chair over to the little table and ate there looking out at the water.

I am not sure if I would stay there again because of the hard bed and no microwave. The staff was friendly, attentive and helpful, and my room and the hotel were very clean.

I was in a different building from the inside pool and my room was on an outdoor corridor. Fine for summer, but with the high winds and chilly temperature, the walk to and from was a challenge.

The hotel lists a free "continental breakfast". I was planning to check it out and skip it if it was coffee and a packaged muffin, but it's a full breakfast: scrambled eggs, sausage, a variety of breads, biscuits and gravy, cheese quesadillas one day, grits another, waffles, and also hot or cold cereal, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and tea. On Mother's Day, they gave each of the women a little fresh flower to plant. Mine was a 4-pack of white impatiens. What a thoughtful touch.

Sunday, I spent the morning in my room at the little table, sketching the view until the rain finally let up around 1:20. I had planned to visit the galleries, but after calling around, found most were not open. I wasn't sure if it was due to the weather- bridges were posting high wind warnings or because it was Sunday, despite what their website or Facebook page said about hours, or because Mother's Day was being treated as as holiday. I finally found 2 galleries and a bookstore open, and that made for some lovely conversations, and I learned a lot about the area, and stayed out of the wild wind and intermittent rain.

I ended up with a little jute rug, a recommendation for a book by a local master gardener, and names of two food trucks and a taco stand.​ A late lunch , actually linner, because it was all I had for the rest of the day, was from Pico's Taqueiria. I had 2 Tacos, a chicken with black beans and corn. And a roasted cauliflower one with a cheese topping ($4.50 each for the tacos), that was amazing, and shrimp ceviche($7) , with 10 medium shrimp plus diced shrimp, also came with a huge box of homemade tortilla chips ( which I had most of as a snack the next day). . All delicious, and very reasonable. I got a chopped salad ($6) for the next day, and the whole bill was $23.

By the time I finished my meal, it was about 7:00, and at 8:00 I went to the pool for an hour. After washing up, I packed, in case i decided not to extend my stay, laying out a few layers of clothing in hopes of hiking. Some notes on the final day soon.

view from the indoor pool

what a difference a day makes. Woke up to this view from my hotel room balcony on Monday. Still very windy.

First time at an Island Creamery. I chose Bourbon Caramel Brickle. Very creamy. .Day 2 - I'd never had waffles before. Breakfast day 1 eggs and sausage with gravy.

stark contrast vegetation Assateague National Reserve

high winds, high waves

mother and foal outlined in red. Foal is about 3 weeks old. Assateague National Reserve. Just my phone camera, high winds, and too far away, but I saw 2 foals!

the color of water

Last edited by ninasdream; May 13th, 2022 at 01:07 PM. Reason: typo
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Old May 13th, 2022, 01:35 PM
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What a fun trip report -- looking forward to your closing notes. It was crazy rain and tumultuous weather last weekend. Lots of outdoor events were impacted.

It's been a dozen years or more since I attended the Chincoteague Seafood Festival. The autumn Urbanna Oyster Festival is also fun and a similar experience (though not as close to your MD home).

Never met an oyster I didn't like.
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Old May 13th, 2022, 02:20 PM
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Thank you for posting. Enjoyed reading it a lot.
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Old May 13th, 2022, 03:00 PM
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The food sounded so gooood, ninasdream! Strange it wasn't more attendee-friendly. Congrats on nabbing a close parking space instead of the shuttle.
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Old May 13th, 2022, 05:15 PM
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What wonderful views from your hotel. How fun to meet people at the event. Glad you were able to explore and have a great weekend away,
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Old May 14th, 2022, 05:09 AM
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Thanks all. Can't believe it was a week ago at this time I was driving to the festival. Another overcast day here at home today, but hoping for a hike at the lake later when it clears.

On arrival view

On arrival at campsite 5/7.

Festival grounds.

With 2 new friends.

What I meant when I said it was a large room at hotel.

Little hotel cafe porch.

Hotel cafe. Locals told me used to be open to the public now just serves breakfast to the guests.

Bleak weather view from my hotel balcony day 1.

My Pico's taquieria linner day 2. Chicken taco with corn & black beans, roast cauli taco, shrimp ceviche. ($7, 10 medium shrimp plus several diced!). Most of tortilla chips were lunch day 3 with the chopped salad with jicama. Whole spread $23. Very fresh and delicious.

Roast cauli taco close up. My favorite item.

View from breakfast on sunny Monday.

Last edited by ninasdream; May 14th, 2022 at 06:02 AM.
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Old May 15th, 2022, 07:57 AM
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As I've mentioned on the what's for Dinner thread, my husband and I spent a day on Chincoteague the week before you were there. It was sunny but quite windy and cool. Coincidentally we also had a good lunch of tacos at the Pico Taqueria. We shared three--fish, shrimp and oysters.
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Old May 21st, 2022, 06:19 PM
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Thank you for the trip report and for the lovely photos. your description of the seafood festival is making me hungry, even though I just had a huge dinner tonight.
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