I will contend, to the very end of my existence, that the best trips I have ever taken have been unplanned, spontaneous, with little thought given to much more than choosing a destination.
Yesterday was one of those trips.
We decided at about 9 a.m. to head to Assateague Island, south of our beloved Ocean City. If you’ve ever read Misty of Chincoteague, you know about Assateague and the wild horses. On these sandy dunes that line the Atlantic Ocean, wild horses and silka deer own the land. Campers set up primitive sites on the west side of the dunes, and day-trippers like ourselves park-and-hoof it to spend a day on the beach.
When I started teaching 20 years ago, we would take our ninth graders to Assateague or Cape Henelopen for an extended weekend camping trip. Once they became accustomed to what the word “primitive” meant (the first night they stood in front of us, hair dryers in hand, repeating “you have got to be kidding me” like it was some practical joke), they went with the flow of the weekend and had a pretty good time.
Yesterday, there was no time for getting accustomed to anything. We didn’t even let on to the kids where we were going until we pulled into Assateague’s national park. Immediately, they reacted with unbridled excitement. They wasted no time acclimating to the beach and the strong currents (this was their first time along the ocean’s shores). Braeden, however, was not as keen on the whole water idea. He preferred to build sand castles around him, not to mention on top of him.
We also spent a good amount of time watching the horses and the deer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good pictures of the deer this time; that’ll be on my list next time we go down (which we hope will be before summer ends).
As we were leaving, we were privileged to see one of the older horses leave the grassy dunes and take to the road, right toward us. Much like Boxer from Animal Farm, he seemed to have many years of hard work and experience under those hooves, and he knew this was his island. We stopped the car to let him cross the road, but he chose to take the road instead.
A car behind me was not patient and swerved around us, blowing by old Boxer as if he had been greatly inconvenienced. Boxer paid no attention to the rude human, though. He kept his slow pace, knowing his destination.
At last, he turned and made his way into the forest.
I didn’t realize it until after he had disappeared, but everyone in the car, for the one and only time during the entire trip, was silent. Was it reverence? Maybe for some of us. Perhaps the kids were just wondering what he would do. Still, Boxer’s presence made an impact on all of us, and it reminded me of the courage it takes at times to walk your own path, regardless of what everybody else is doing.
Hope your Sunday was a good one!