December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

I’ll pass on doing the wedding cop out a second time 😛  I thought about this for a while today, and what it really came down to was a very long series of moments, an evening and a good part of the next day.

We were on our honeymoon, which we rented an RV and drove to Virginia Beach and several places in between.  We came up from Virginia into Maryland, and our destination was Assateague Island.  The island is known for the wild ponies roaming around, but it was also where the first Playa Del Fuego (the Burning Man regional) was held!

As we were approaching Maryland, it was later than we planned and there was a little stress as we struggled in the dark to find out where we had to be and what time we had to arrive by to check in.  Luckily we were safely in our spot for the night before the office closed, and managed to buy firewood from the campground office we accidentally thought was ours.

Armed with s’mores supplies, our first task was to start a campfire.  Easier said than done.  After burning every spare piece of cardboard or paper we could spare as kindling, the damp wood still wasn’t cooperating with us!  I don’t know how long we were there, poking as the smoke went in our eyes, prodding and wishing for the warmth of a large blazing fire.  Eventually there was enough embers and small flames to roast a few gooey marshmallows, but it wasn’t the heat source we had hoped for.  (The wonderful campfire smell stayed with us for a few days, in fact my hoodie may still smell slightly of Assateague…)

All through this process we heard the ponies in the distance, whinnying, probably up to some pony late night action if you know what I mean! *wink wink nudge nudge*

You are warned when you enter the park that the ponies will roam EVERYWHERE, right through campsites, and you shouldn’t leave food outside unattended.  This left me sitting by the weak fire, anxiously turning around at every noise, expecting and hoping to see a pony wandering up to us.  Most of the time the noise was the wind blowing the plastic bag with food in it.  This was the start of the Great Pony Hunt of 2010.

When we had a few official s’mores and gave up on the fire, we started packing up to go inside the RV.  As I shined my flashlight to look for all the items to take, I couldn’t find the bag of marshmallows.  I simultaneously had two thoughts.

1)  My husband took the marshmallows already.

2) A pony snuck up and stole the bag of marshamallows.

Now I assure you, I am of sound mind (mostly), and EVEN as the second thought occurred to me, knowing how unlikely that was… that thought THRILLED me!

It’s true, there’s something about ponies that turns most of us into 5 year old girls.

So then my imagination ran wild with images of the pony stealing a bag of marshmallows, and I vowed to find one with marshmallow breath the next day.  Well what really happened was my husband DID take them inside already, but the mental image still gives me giggles!

The next morning we packed up the RV, and hit the three short trails on the island in search of ponies.  You know, the ponies that are EVERYWHERE.

We looked and looked and looked.  No ponies on the first trail. Just a lot of mosquitoes biting us, we forgot to put on bug spray as the campsite was blessedly free of them.  I started whining like my inner 5 year old would.

No ponies on the second trail.  We asked people we passed if they saw any – they said the ponies were all over the parking lot just a few minutes ago!  Other than running into some deer (oh what false hope!!!), we return to an empty parking lot, except for some piles of manure.

Finally we are on the third trail, walking on boardwalk through the marshes.  And THERE ARE PONIES! Two of them were feeding along the marshes edge.  I took a zillion and two photos.  It was us, and them.  I imagined they were a pony couple, in love with each other as we are.  It was magical, I finally found my ponies, and could leave Assateague Island a happy 5 year old.

As we were ready to leave, we went to the RV dumping station to empty our wastewater tanks.  And what do we find when we get to the dumping station?

I left my new husband to deal with emptying the tanks on his own as I ran ahead to talk to the ponies and take photos.  They didn’t go anywhere, and when he was done he came over as well, but again. Patience of a 5 year old, people!  Here he is with some ponies looking to him for food (in the photo above, some people were feeding them – a huge no-no, for the ponies safety as well as the humans.)

And this is the image that brings me the most joy, and will be framed on my wall… my wonderful, mysterious, mischievous, marshmallow-breath ponies!

My husband also bought me the only stuffed animal pony they had in the gift shop, he’s brown with a white nose.  Guess what I named him?  Yup. Marshmallow.