The Eastern Shore of Virginia. Separated from the main part of Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay, the only way to drive there is through Maryland from the north or by crossing the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay using the 17-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from the south.
Since we were coming from Williamsburg, we opted for the route from the south, across the largest bridge-tunnel complex in the world. It was designated as “One of Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World” in 1965 and is truly a marvel to traverse. The bridge-tunnel consists of two one-mile tunnels, two bridges, two miles of causeway, and four man-made islands. It was a delight for the kids to go through the mile-long tunnels under the ocean.
When we got across the bridge-tunnel, we found a completely different part of Virginia. It was remote, isolated, full of small towns, farms, fishing villages, and fresh seafood (Did you know there are seven flavors of Virginia oysters?). The shoreline is marsh, grasses, and forest that are mostly untouched and in their natural state.
We stayed at the Virginia Landing RV Campground, very isolated from even the rest of the area. We drove back into the forest several miles along a small peninsula before it opened up into a big grassy field along the shore. We enjoyed the quiet peaceful atmosphere of the place and spent most of our time there just staying put and enjoying the solitude (and playing tag at the playground).
Wild ponies of Assateague
Our one excursion during our time at the Eastern Shore of Virginia was to visit Assateague, a barrier island off the coast.
Wild ponies have lived on the island since the 1600s, when a Spanish galleon carrying a cargo of horses sank offshore. Some of the horses survived and swam ashore to Assateague, where they adapted to the marshes, forests, and sand dunes of the island.
Starting in the 1920s, residents of Chincoteague (pronounced SHINK-uh-teeg by locals) began an annual tradition of rounding up the wild horses and swimming them across the channel to Chincoteague Island to auction off foals. After a few days of auctioning, the remaining horses swim back to Assateague. This tradition has helped keep the population of the ponies under control so they can continue to thrive on the island.
The kids read the famous book Misty of Chincoteague by Margaurite Henry before we visited and learned all about this annual tradition.
Visiting Assateague and Chincoteague
We spent the morning of our visit on Assateague Island. The kids were super stars and completed two Junior Ranger badges, one from the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and one from the Assateague National Seashore.
Then we drove around to see the wild horses and stopped at the beach for lunch.
During the afternoon we drove around the town of Chincoteague. We found some tasty homemade ice cream, bought fresh steamed crabs and clams from Gary Howard Seafood, and bought a couple of hermit crabs for Nathan. He’s been begging for a pet to take care of for a couple of years now and we figured hermit crabs would be a good start in our small living space.
Junior Ranger Badges
- Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
- Assateague National Seashore
Chincoteague pronunciation – We didn’t know quite how to say this word until we visited and found out how the locals say it. They pronounce it SHINK-uh-teeg.
Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel
- The tunnel clearance is 13’6″ and RVs are allowed to go through, but you have to stop at a propane check station before entering to verify your tanks are shut off.
- You can find out what the toll will be here. It was $22 for us towing a 5th wheel.