Beach Music: Wild Horses and a Rocket Launch

Salisbury, Maryland, is known to many cyclists as the home of the Sea Gull Century. However, with at least five state park campgrounds within a 30-mile radius, it is also an ideal base for an overnight or other short tour.

One of my most memorable trips was a night spent at Assateague State Park timed to coincide with a launch from the NASA Flight Center at Wallops Island, Virginia. Assateague is the lunch stop on the 100-mile route of the Sea Gull, and there are many route options to get there from Salisbury. I chose to spend a night on the way at the Shad Landing unit of Pocomoke River State Park, and then follow the route markers for the Sea Gull from north of Snow Hill the following day. Shad is in an upland forest on the Pocomoke River, with bald cypress trees, and is a definite contrast to the Atlantic beach at Assateague.

The campground at Assateague is just behind the dune from the beach, so the sound of the surf is a constant companion. The campsites are obviously designed for RVs and consist of an asphalt pad, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Luckily, I was able to find one nestled among some small dunes.

After setting up camp and taking a shower, it was almost time for the launch, so I grabbed my camera and headed to the beach. Being late May with the ocean water temperature still in the 50s, it was a bit chilly as sunset approached. However, I warmed quickly at the sight of a small herd of wild ponies charging up the beach and right into my lens. Still excited by my photographic good fortune, I decided to await the launch from the top of the dune and was soon rewarded with another good shot.

Returning to my campsite, I got a fire going with driftwood from the beach and put together one of my favorite single-pot meals: a packet of Santa Fe rice plus a packet of chicken and some salsa, heated together and rolled in tortillas warmed over the fire. It's fine fare, especially when washed down with a little red wine.

As the fire died, I cleaned up and settled in for a peaceful night lulled by surf and light winds.

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure: The Atlantic Hotel in nearby Berlin, Maryland, would be an alternative to camping on this trip. It also has a fine bar and restaraunt. The hotel and the main street of Berlin served as the setting for much of the movie Runaway Bride.

Favorite local bike shop: Salisbury Cycle and Fitness

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