Our passage to Assateague Island the pony refuge was sketchy, with "puddles" of water covering the asphalt like Northern black ice where the danger lay in what you could not see. We entered the refuge part of a three-part caravan of trucks and automobiles--somewhat relieved to not be the only ones attempting to see the horses. The sign at entry noted that the refuge would close at noon; and the manager at Waterside Inn didn't think it was likely that the ponies would be close to the beach in this foul weather but we had to try, just in case.
We drove along the wildlife park's road to the end of the line, to the beach, where the sea was in a fierce tribal dance with the sand, rolling its waves and clapping against the shore. Braving the pelleting rain we ventured to the shore to take photos--some of the most beautiful pictures I've taken of the sea. The stark monochromatic colors of the water against the sand, driftwood pens amid the fauna and foliage of the landscape made us all proclaim the need to return in sunshine, in clear daylight. Unfortunately, as predicted there was not a pony in sight.
Traveling back across the Eastern Shore towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge & Tunnel and mainland Virginia, the weather was gray, overcast. At times rainy and blustery but nothing that would indicate anything more than a stormy disposition. We knew time was of the essence and we proceeded with caution to make it to the B&T before the National Guard had any inkling to close it down. After one detour in Exmore for a fantastic Sunday brunch--where we sat at the counter of a shiny gulfstream Winebago diner--I found myself driving toward "our plunge into the sea". George suggested and was duly encouraging, that I should continue driving to experience first-hand crossing the 20 mile bridge or as he described it, "plunge" into the ocean.
And what an experience it was. We could barely see the middle let alone the end of the bridge in the fog and mist, and what we could see of the winding structure conjured images of metal sea monsters come to life. We stopped midway to admire the view from the scenic outlook point near the gift shop. Claudia and George bravely faced the wind, rain and splashing surf to walk to the end of the pier. I made it about 1/4 of the way before turning back, the gale force of the wind felt as if it would sweep me away.
Back in the dry warmth of the Chariot we forged ahead, plunging into the second tunnel and emerging to more wind and rain for the last stretch of the bridge, where we could just make out Virginia Beach on the horizon. Once we crossed the state line into North Carolina we were clear, stopping once or twice to take photos of appealing architecture (or lack thereof) and the blooming cotton fields.
We arrived in Enfield to a quiet house, Suzy, Wayne & Cozy Bear en route back to the Manor. We parked the car in the gravel driveway and ventured inside. After a quick tour of the downstairs area, we settled in the den/library to wait for their return. It felt brilliant to sit down in a luxurious manner, legs extended, feet up, back nestled against the tufted leather settee. A warm welcome indeed.