I ended up booking us two rooms at the Rodeway Inn in Chincoteague, a dingy beach-town motel Tom and I took the kids to three years ago when Arlo was only a few weeks old. Upon hearing that the rooms were only sixty bucks a night, she rightfully asked if we were going to get bedbugs.
We spent three days assembling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the backs of our mini-vans. Three days searching for wild life and finding it in the form of shiny backed turtles sunning themselves at the water's edge, snowy egrets, great blue herons, mallards, and the famous wild ponies. We sought out playgrounds. Found a neglected charcoal grill to cook sausages and asparagus on. Climbed trees. Threw stones and pine cones. Took our pictures in front of murals.
After very reasonably passing up other trinkets at other stores while searching for dinos, Arlo eventually melted down when we did, in fact, find dinosaurs for sale. However, he wanted to buy them all, and I would only allow him three.
The rest of his meltdowns were of the quieter, more typical variety. He laid down on plenty of trails. Playgrounds. Sidewalks. Meanwhile, his younger sister proved to be the ideal travel companion, never fussing or crying. Eager to see new things. To feel sand and sun, dirt and bark. While she still reserved most of her smiles for a yet to be determined date, she did warm up to being held by Kristlyn and Cassady. A development my left arm very much appreciated.
We treated ourselves to homemade ice cream at the Village Creamery each night. Fell asleep in rooms made filthy by children and the shells of hardboiled eggs and pant cuffs releasing a day's worth of sand and soil.
While I wouldn't have complained if the temperatures had climbed, and I certainly would have enjoyed the wind to have calmed down, I did get the blue skies and sunshine I wanted most of all. But next time I make my way to that bit of earth, I'm going at the height of summer, when all the shops and restaurants are opened, and when those crashing waves will provide my favorite playground of all.
Three cheers for friends who say yes, and will pack their kids up and go with you to sleepy beach towns. Three cheers for kids who find their own amusements, rarely complaining, allowing us to make these trips on shoestring budgets.