With a bit of help from my brother-in-law Aaron while in New Jersey and by using our new fave planning app, AllStays, I found a spot on the Delaware coast that looked like a good next stop as we continue south and try to get to warmer climates to avoid issues with the rig. Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware, is a lovely place, with strolls across sand dunes, through abandoned military installments, and abutting a beach for warmer weather swims.
I picked this spot for a couple of reasons: First, the pictures looked incredible online! Even though we’ve now been on the road for almost a week, having such a brief layover in Connecticut and spending essentially every moment in NJ with friends and family, this felt like it would be our first actual on-our-own/we’re-actually-doing-this kind of stop and I wanted it to be somewhere that would help us feel like we’re easing into our new lifestyle of waking up in a new, beautiful spot every day. Second and third, it has pull-thru spots AND there are lots of truck stops on the way! If you read Ashley’s article about our stop in Mahlon Dickerson in Jersey (read it HERE), you’ll probably already know that we’re a little gun shy about two things now, fueling up and backing in. From our camp in NJ we’d be traveling the Jersey Turnpike for quite a bit and there are plenty of big truck stops we were able to easily pull into. Of course Jackson decided to full on roll in dog poop at one of the stops and I then stepped in it, but that’s a whole different kind of problem. And, with a pull-thru site, we knew once we actually got to camp it would be a relative breeze. And fourth, it’s location – as we attempt to do at least one activity of significance in each of the contiguous 48, we had to hit the First State on our way south and where Cape Henlopen is located on the Delmarva Peninsula we would also be within a day trip of sites in Maryland and Virginia, plus we are within striking distance of awesome independent breweries like Burley Oak Brewing Company (read about our visit HERE) in MD and one of the old guard of the craft revolution and Delaware favorite, Dogfish Head Brewery (read more about Dogfish Head HERE)!
Our site was pretty sandy and a bit pitched, which gave us our first test of leveling out on the rig. It didn’t go great as we managed to get one of our chocks wedged between the fiver’s wheels and had to delicately easy forward to disengage it without damaging the tires. Aside from that, setting up was pretty easy. We decided to take Jackson for a stroll in search of The Point Beach, but sadly the camp’s signs were a bit lacking and we never made it.
We did, however, climb some dunes and take in a magnificent sunset! After returning to camp, I got to use our new Coleman Roadtrip LXE portable stand-up propane grill to cook up some steaks. We got an adapter to convert down from our rig’s 30-lbs tanks to fit the grill’s 1-lbs connection, which meant just popping out one of our tanks and cooking away!
Ash, Jackson and I spent our one full-day in the area to travel down to Assateague Island National Seashore to try and spot some wild horses! On the way down, we made a slight detour to get to Burley Oak in Berlin, Maryland, and then it was onto the national park. After crossing the bridge onto the actual island, we came across three horses grazing along the side of the road. Wow! Wild horses! We slow down to try and view them and grab a couple shots…and Jackson goes BALLISTIC! Uh oh, time to go! We’re sure we’ll see them all over, right?
We pay our entrance fee to enter the actual national seashore area and decide to make for the beach. We envision herds of stallions and mares running along the water’s edge, wind blowing their manes in a magnificent and awe inspiring display. We get to the dunes…and there’s no horses. But there is miles and miles of unobstructed coastline, soft sand, seashells aplenty, and even horseshoe crabs! After walking the beach a bit we decide to try a different spot; on the way out I see a man in a neon vest emblazoned with “Pony Patrol” sitting in a golf cart and I asked him if he knows where we might find the horses. He laughs a bit and says, “Well, they’re wild so we don’t really know,” but he gives a few recommended spots where they like to frequent.
I comment about the 40 foot berth the park requires guests keep between them and the animals and he says, somewhat glumly, it used to be only 10 feet as of last year, but tourists being what they are kind of ruin it for everyone. He muses that I would not believe the number of people who get kicked or bit because they want to take a selfie, or feed the animal potato chips, or just push them away from their beach blankets each year. “Pony Patrol they call us…more like People Patrol, but they just don’t say it.” The island lost two of its native residents last year to car strikes.
Our second stop within the reserve, is a grassy salt marsh. In what to my northern eyes seems so typical Marylander, there are even crab measuring posts along the elevated board walks across the shallow, salt water pools. Our friend pulls up in his golf cart and apologizes for there not being horses here; I explain that between the beauty of the beach and the marshes the horses would be a mere bonus at this point and he agrees heartily. He tells me between working his farm or being here helping out it’s a no-contest, but vows to try and help us find some equine before we leave.
Or next stop brings us to grassy coastline on the bay side of the peninsula. Jackson LOVES this little trail as there are so many smells, many of them probably stinky, for him to sniff and often try and roll in. We see a lot of horse manure and hoof prints in the hard packed sand and we think we’re close, but again no luck.
As we prepare to depart, our friend once more advises he’s been striking out; the huge herd of 79 must be in the woods today, away from prying eyes. The three we saw out front were drinking from fresh water, something initially I thought was without question, until Ashley reminds me these incredible animals have adapted to life on the island to where they can and do drink salt water regularly. Pony patrol looks around and says he thinks there are two horses grazing in the camper only area of the park, but it being slow enough today it shouldn’t be a problem for us to drive through and see if we can view them. We thank him and head out for one last stop and….
There they are! Two beautiful horses! Not quite majestically trotting down a beach, more like grazing around a campsite’s picnic table, but still. These are really incredible creatures and some of the few truly wild of their kind on the east coast.
We leave Assateague and decide to head into Milton, DE on the way back to make a stop at Dogfish Head. We want to extend our stay at Henlopen a night, but because of a disconnect between the Reserve America booking office and the campground office at the park we sadly weren’t able to. Instead, we quickly find a campground, plot out diesel/rest stops, and ensure no problematic clearances, bends, or other potential hazards are on the way with AllStays. We get a good night’s rest and in the morning it will be off to North Carolina via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (yikes) and into the south!