My husband and I haven't had the opportunity to take many vacations, partly because we have only been married a year and a half and partly because time and money constraints have factored in. We did, however, wish to get away for a few days this summer, alone, to someplace where we could relax, see the water, and not spend too much money. We weren't interested in fancy food or fancy shopping (well, I admit to always being interested in looking at fancy shopping, even when I can't buy) and as he had never been to Chincoteague and I had only been there once, many years ago with my sisters and our children, and as we were looking for somewhere that neither of has had been with our exes (which is hard because both of us have traveled a lot) we decided on four nights, five days on that very remote and very funky island at the tip of Virginia's Eastern Shore.
It was also a fairly easy drive, about five and a half hours, which was imperative as we weren't anxious to get on an airplane with the ensuing hassles that seem to accompany every single flight these days.
It was a good plan. And mostly, it worked out. Michael and I have found that, for some reason, every time we go somewhere, even if it is for only a day or two, something manages to go a little wrong. The upside is that we end up having some very funny stories to tell and actually often wind up in the middle of unexpected adventures.
On the main island webpage I found what looked like a romantic bed and breakfast in a sea of chain hotels. I confess I didn't look much farther. The presence of the 1848 Island Manor House was large and convincing and promised on site massages (which I thought I might take advantage of and didn't). When I first looked, the price seemed fairly reasonable, especially for one room in particular, named, aptly, for Misty. When I went back to book, the prices had somehow gone up-which might have told me something but didn't-and so I put my bargaining hat on and emailed the owner to see if we could work a deal. He gave me a discount, not huge but okay, if I paid in cash, so I booked.
That was all the research I did, other than get driving directions from Google and asking my sister if she remembered the place where we ate great fired oysters nine years ago. She didn't. I am usually apt to do more research before heading on a trip, but hey, I thought, this is Chincoteague, not Rio or Milan or Madrid, right?
After an uneventful journey which culminated in the spectacular drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge which is almost worth the $12 it costs you to go across the bridge and tunnel combination (a feat of engineering that astonishes if you stop to think about it at all and is highly recommended) we headed down Route 13 all along the Eastern Shore, stopping for lunch before we got into Chincoteague, which was pretty much as I remembered it, only more and less so. More gift shops and fewer places where I remembered eating fried oysters.
I have to say that the inn was a disappointment. Small attic room (and we were the only ones there for two of the nights so they could have moved us), the owner wasn't there to greet us and he was generally absent, and the décor was so frou frou and over the top, not to mention the continual new age music playing on the outside terrace where we had our breakfast. The living rooms were not conducive to relaxation and there was no front porch to sit and just hang. We tried to spend as little time at the inn as possible, which was not the point of the vacation at all. The one bright note was Lem, who actually greeted us and served us breakfast most days and showed us photos of both his brand new grandson and his mother in the hospital after a bad fall. We liked talking to him and he had a wonderful sense of humor. Lem is the kind of old southern gentleman you don't find so much anymore. I appreciated his courtliness and thick accent, his willingness to tell us all about his good news and bad and his cheeriness.
Our basic tactic then, with in-inn relaxation pretty much off the books was to set off on reconnaissance missions around the island to see what we could see. What we found was pretty wonderful.
Causes Lisa Solod Supports
Temple House of Israel, Staunton, Virginia, CASA