I had a particularly stressful week last week and decided I needed to get out of town pronto. We all know that March comes in like a lion and ends like a lamb. I decided to force the lamb part of the equation and get back on my warm weather routine.
Ocean City, Maryland is about a 2 hour drive from Baltimore. I'm not much of a beach person but I wanted a mountain reprieve, besides one of my toenails is getting ready to fall off and I figured I would let the feet relax until that happened. So I headed to the ocean. OC is probably one of the ugliest beach towns there is on the planet earth. It has no trees, no charm and horrible architecture. Up until a few years ago it was ground zero for Maryland's graduating seniors and the local riff raff from Glen Burnie. But then, like the rest of the state, real estate prices started to sky rocket and the Arabs started blowing up airplanes so the rich started to see this place as a safe weekend haven.
Mind you, Ocean City, Maryland is still ugly. The good news is that due to its ugliness the big box retailers and chain stores have avoided the place like the plague resulting in an odd appeal as most of the restaurants, hotels and beach concessions are local homegrown goodness in a strange sort of way. Bobby Flay won't be opening up a restaurant here any time soon but you can get some very good Maryland-style meals here for reasonable prices.
I left for the ocean early Saturday morning and hit the beach for a quick 6 mile walk on the boardwalk. OC has about 3 miles of good people-watching boardwalk which runs parallel to a row of cheesy dollar-stores, teeshirt shops and temporary tattoo parlors. Although the sun was out it was a little on the cool side. After my walk I parked the minivan on a side street near the Convention Center and took a nap. My nap turned into a night's rest.
The next morning I woke at sun-up and went to Layton's Family Restaurant around 20th Street. I've never eaten there due to an addiction to the Dough Roller. However, the place was clean, the service exemplary and the food edible. I'd recommend it but I've only eaten there once.
I wanted to get some mileage out of my recently purchased Golden Eagle pass. The sad news was that I got to Assateague Island National Seashore early enough so that I drove right into the park without anyone noticing, nobody asked to see my parks pass. I decided to take a walk on the South Beach portion of the island, heading south. It was a beautiful day, rather cool. There were a few backpackers and an entire group of boyscouts camping in the group campsite.
Please note, it was very windy and cold yet the backcountry was occupied. Marylanders can handle cold camping weather without a second thought unlike out west.
I also noticed as I walked there was a large group of young people camping directly on the beach. I knew that this was probably a big NPS no-no. I got bored with the beach walk and headed inland where I saw a no-trespassing sign. It seemed like a great day to trespass so off I went. I discovered an abandoned house. Then I decided to have some fun with myself....no no not that kind of fun. I tried to get myself as disoriented as possible and find my way out of the woods with no GPS or compass. I got completely lost in the marshlands and tall grasses, it was early so I wasn't worried. From the position of the sun I made an edumacated guess which was was east and found the ocean without a problem.
Unfortunately, when I walked out of the marshland I found some rather unhappy looking rangers hovering over that sorry group of young people camping on the beach. One of the rangers had the kids' cases of beer and it didn't look like he was going to give them back. I took a few pictures but I couldn't get too close to the situation, these were the type of rangers who had guns. Between the underaged drinking, the camping where you weren't supposed to camp and, most likely, driving around on the beach without the $70.00 ORV pass, these young kids were probably in for big big trouble, I felt pity for them, they were in desperate need of Cham's short course on Effective Rule Breakage.