Sunday, July 21, 2019

Beach Days

These two days at the beach in Ocean City, MD were oh so relaxing! You'd be crazy to think that we simply lounged on the beach and waded into the water every so often. No, no, we spent two days mastering body boarding (the boys are pros now), running from waves, collecting seashells, and building sandcastles. We took a bit of a break from the water and hot sun on day #2 and drove through Delaware. These are by far two of my most favorite days of our vacation!

I nailed this Airbnb condo booking! It was a relatively decent size, but only one bedroom. It easily slept all five of us though and the washer and dryer got a workout! The best part about this third floor condo is that it was right next to the beach! We had easy beach access, our own reserved parking spot, and use of beach chairs and umbrellas. It was perfect! I would book this again in a heartbeat (and I might be, sooner rather than later). I noticed 38th Street Beach (the beach closest to our condo) was on the busier side, but it really was fantastic and we had no problems finding a spot on the beach to set up shop.

We kept an umbrella close to the ground so Lil Miss E could build sandcastles under it since she's not the biggest fan of being in the ocean. By day two, that changed ever so slightly.

A new year requires a new butt picture looking at the Atlantic Ocean.

Body boarding took front and center, but a big highlight was seeing dolphins swimming! After our bear scare the previous day (read more about our trip to Shenandoah here), I was on alert as we swam. When I saw a fin pop up out of the water I froze and called the boys over to me....but then I saw multiple fins all together and noticed how they were swimming that I excitedly began shouting "look guys, there's dolphins!" They were around all day long, at some points swimming rather close to us/everyone and other times in the distance. Oddly enough, even though we've been to Florida, my three just saw dolphins for the first time back in March at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago (read about that getaway here). They were pretty excited to see them "twice in one year! Wow!" (quote courtesy of Harrison).

It was such an easy walk back to the condo that we didn't even have to bother packing a cooler and snacks. We went back for lunch, dinner (I loved the open floor plan and the tile floor throughout the main living area because the minis didn't even have to change out of swimming suits), snacks, and bathroom breaks. It was wonderful.

The look of pure joy on Harrison's face. This made the price tag of vacation worth it.

Waiting for a wave to carry him.

The condo had a great outdoor shower for rinsing off all of the salt and sand from the beach. It really helped cut down on the amount of sand brought back into the condo. I was grateful with this with the kids who managed to get salt and sand EVERYWHERE! 

Our condo had extra body boards, so Harrison and Elizabeth got to use them. Elizabeth has asked for her own so she can "play puppy the next time we go to the ocean."

The extent of Elizabeth's body boarding attempts. Actually not too bad for a kid who doesn't really enjoy the ocean water.

After dinner we hopped in the car and drove 30 minutes south to Assateague National Seashore. In doing my research for our trip, this seashore seemed picturesque with wild horses running around. I wasn't convinced we'd actually see the wild horses running around but I wanted a perfect beach sunset, so we went. Not only did we see wild horses as soon as we entered the seashore area, but they swam with us on the beach! 

Tip if you plan on visiting the island: there's a Maryland and Virginia side to the Park. I highly recommend the Maryland side because it is managed by the National Park Service and they try to keep the horses as wild as possible. The Virginia side of the island (it is actually separated by a fence) sells the horses every so often to keep the horse population down. Plus, a National Park Pass will get you into the Maryland side (Assateague National Seashore, not the State Park area, which is also right there. Everything is separated by fences).

Our National Park pass got a work out this vacation! I'm so happy we received a pass for Christmas because it saved us quite a bit of money. 

Not only did we see horses as soon as we got onto the island, but they were also on the beach when we made our way down there! The waves and currents were strong, so we mostly played on the beach near the horses. We did have to stay a safe distance away since the horses are known to kick and charge.

Their footprints look so tiny in the wet sand.

We were busy building sand castles and flying kites when another group of wild horses came running down to the beach. This is when the horses got curious and started stuffing their noses and hooves into our bags looking for food. Elizabeth started crazy screaming at the horses "stop it! That's my stuff!!" and started running at them with her hands in fists. I caught her and kept her back, but seeing the horses going through our stuff caused Harrison and Elizabeth to continually ask the rest of the trip, "we're not going to see horses, right?"

So, my picturesque night turned into two of my children now hating horses. Typical.

A park ranger had to come and get the horses away. The horses didn't care at all about everyone yelling and clapping at them, so the ranger had to go get a spray bottle of water (seriously, a tiny little spray bottle). The horses didn't like being sprayed and started to run down the beach. The ranger had to continue spraying them until they were well enough away from visitor's bags.....but they kept going back to the beach (down from us, so the minis weren't too panicked about it). Wildlife!

Sunsets at the beach are the best.

Only this girl could find an empty water bottle on the beach and make a game out of it.

One last view of the wild horses as we left the island. How the rangers keep the horses from crossing the bridge onto the mainland is beyond me, but they seemed to not bother the bridge.

Late night and early morning for Hubs and I. We woke up the next morning at 5 a.m. to watch the sunrise on the beach. It was a bit cloudy, but otherwise gorgeous morning. Once the minis woke up we were back at the beach for a bit.

Eating breakfast and watching the local news. They're definitely mine.

Lazy early mornings at the condo. 

We headed into Dover, Delaware for a short adventure (about an hour drive from Ocean City, MD). Of course we had to stop at Royal Farms for coffee. On our way into Ocean City we stopped for gas at Royal Farms and I happened to grabbed a hazelnut coffee. It was seriously the best hazelnut coffee I've ever had! I loved it so much I even looked to see if they had K-Cups to bring home (they did not). The minis freaked out that we parked next to a Ferrari and wanted a picture "to always remember this moment."

We get into Delaware and the minis requested Taco Bell so they could get nachos (insert eye roll here). Whatever keeps them happy!

Our entire reason for going to Dover was so Harrison could see Woodburn Mansion (the governor's mansion) because last summer we learned the ghost stories of the mansion. Harrison instantly wanted to visit the house, but since it was 4th of July week everything was closed. We still walked the grounds and we're pretty sure we saw a ghost figure in the window looking at us! Well, as far as Harrison believes that's what we saw.

We kept our swimming gear on so we could hit up a couple of beaches along the Delaware shore after our adventure in Dover. Instead, we wound up walking around downtown Dover for a bit, enjoying the little shops and such, and then driving through the Delaware countryside, stopping at produce stands every so often. I fell in love with Delaware during this short time. I'd head back here for vacation in an instant.

Some of our produce haul included: plums, peaches, cucumbers, zucchinis, lemons, green beans, and sweet corn. Being from Iowa, and seeing sweet corn a lot this time of year, I was taken aback by how many corn fields showered the Delaware and Maryland countrysides. We had to try some. It wasn't half back, but nothing is as great as Iowa sweet corn.

We spent the rest of the day and night at the beach. In the evening, the waves changed making it bad for body boarding, but so many surfers took to the water (most unsuccessfully). We spent much of our night running from the waves and watching fireworks once the sun set. Beach life was the best.

Elizabeth's sandcastle creation. This was one of many.

The minis were really sad to leave the beach and ocean. The only reason they were okay-ish with leaving the next morning was because I promised we'd be back on the ocean in 9 months for spring break. We didn't really do much other than the beach and Ocean City has a lot to offer. The minis opted against going to the OC Boardwalk and didn't wanted to sit still long enough to sit down at a restaurant to eat (they had many great looking choices). There were several mini golf courses that looked fun and amusement parks too. I wouldn't change our time for anything though! I now know to get body boards for everyone and maybe a couple of surf boards too. Sitting on the beach isn't for us but being in the water is. I'm now on the hunt for a perfect vacation spot for future summers: something with mountains to hike in and an easy drive to the ocean to swim in afterwards.