April 29 was our last full day at the Assateague National Seashore, on the Maryland side. The local wildlife came out to wish us safe travels. We saw a pair of wild turkeys, several horses, and pod after pod of bottlenose dolphins swimming southbound three hundred yards offshore. The male blackbirds and gulls are staking out prime nesting sites, which means spring has come to the Atlantic Seaboard. The dogwoods coming into bloom when we got here a week ago are now past prime, and the hardwoods are bursting with new leaves and will soon provide the shade needed for summer.
Gulls and dolphins lead interesting lives. Gulls usually mate for life, but sometimes go through painful divorces. Perhaps they have mid-life crises – the larger species live nearly 50 years. Dolphins have the largest brain to body mass ratio of any of Earth’s life forms, and they exhibit both altruistic and thuggish behaviors. Dolphins work as a group to fish and to drive off sharks. They have saved humans from shark attacks on several occasions. Then again, they kill other species of dolphin for fun or vengeance, not that often, just when the mood strikes them.
We enjoyed a good southern barbecue lunch at Smoker’s BBQ in Berlin. Our fare was Burnt Brisket Ends, which were not burnt at all but were a perfect medium rare, juicy, smoky, and tender as a cream puff. A pulled pork sandwich would have almost been enough for us both, but we wolfed it down as well. I’m skipping dinner tonight, but the Kat had one of Wal-Mart’s 50 cent (Roll-Back Price!) pecan pies, and it sufficed. I may wake up and make a pastrami and salami sammidge at two a.m. But for now I feel full.
If you come to Assateague from or leave going south be sure to stop at Metompkin Seafood in Mappsville, VA. They offer a lot of killer fried Atlantic fish dirt-cheap, and if you like oysters fried or on the half-shell, they serve the best. This is hearsay testimony; Metompkin is open Wednesday thru Saturday. We passed their big yellow and red house on a Tuesday. I like to check our varying locales against Mike and Jane Stern’s Road Food website. When we’re in a city with a 5-star rated joint, we try hard to sample it. We ain’t been disappointed yet, and according the the Sterns, Metompkin is worth a trip from anywhere.
Assateague National Seashore is a must-see when you do your Up East Tour. Their sites are well spaced and crazy large. Berlin and Ocean City are just a few miles away with all the modern shopping conveniences. And the National Park Service campground is just $12.50 a night with your America the Beautiful card, or $25 if you’re under 62, you lucky dog.