Project 52, Week 52, Part Three – Reading, Reading – and Lots of Ponies!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 52!

52 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I took one year of my life and blogged about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 52 — June 14, 2016, to June 14, 2017.

So, yes, I am now 53 years old – and it’s time to finish up Project 52!

So far I’ve covered my trip to California in July for my niece Megan’s wedding, my son Tim moving to Portland, Oregon, in August, and my sister Becky’s visit in September.

That Fall I was a Cybils panelist in the category of Young Adult Speculative Fiction – so I needed to spend LOTS of time reading.

And on October 1st, we learned that Gary Goodson would be our new Assistant Branch Manager – my new supervisor. Gary, like Laura, our branch manager, had worked at our branch before, at a lower level. So it was nice again having someone come in we knew and liked. Something about having worked with them before – both Laura and Gary ask my opinion often, and really want to hear my ideas – and that makes for a great work atmosphere. I’m super happy with my job these days.

And October brought leaves changing color, which this southern California girl always sees as a dazzling miracle.

As usual, on Columbus Day I especially enjoyed the leaves:

And later in October:

These are the trees outside my window.

The heron was a lot more striking when he decided to perch on the top of buildings.

Because I needed to get so much reading done, I decided to take a Reading Retreat. I got a Groupon deal and booked two nights at Waterside Inn on Chincoteague. I took a Monday off, for at least one solid day’s reading. My plan was to read out on the balcony!

I drove to Chincoteague on Saturday, October 22. But I still took my walk by my lake in the morning before I left. It was still beautiful.

It was a glorious day for a drive! I snapped this while waiting at a light in Centreville. (I must have stopped at the post office to send Tim some of his stuff.)

The drive was wonderful. Lots of Fall Color. I sang most of the way there. I arrived at Waterside Inn just in time to go out on my balcony and catch the gorgeous sunset over the water.

The balcony was cozy and perfect for reading. In fact, I was reading in between taking those sunset shots.

But eventually, I had to come in. I was dressed for some cozy reading! You can see some of the nice room behind me.

So I read until bedtime, then in the morning had breakfast and then went out on the balcony and read all morning. It was cold – but I was able to bundle up and still turn pages with gloves on. It was so beautiful, with the wind blowing off the water – it was totally worth it!

I read all morning until I finished the book I had started. It was a good one! (Learning to Swear in America) I needed to have lunch, so I found a place that looked promising in town on Chincoteague and had some crabcakes. And yes, I read while eating!

I wanted to go to Assateague Island, though, so that’s where I went after lunch, and I spent the afternoon.

Driving onto the island, I saw several cars stopped by the side of the road, and when I saw all these egrets, I joined them.

I made it out to the beach on the other side of Assateague Island.

There were even more egrets flocked by the roadside as I left the beach.

So many egrets! It blew my little mind.

This next picture always makes me think of the caption, “Can I play?”

Then I drove on a loop trail around a marsh in the middle of the island.

That’s a heron or egret flying:

I wrapped up my time on Assateague that day with a short hike to the lighthouse.

And I got back to Waterside Inn in time for sunset, which wasn’t as spectacular that night, but was still beautiful.

And I was reading in between taking pictures!

Lots and lots of birds flying around, too.

I began another book that night. In the morning, I read on the balcony until check-out time at 11:00.

It was so lovely to look up and see birds soaring on the wind over the water.

After I checked out, I decided to go spend a few hours on Assateague Island before I headed home.

I saw people stopped by the road and saw these egrets.

And then I saw my first wild ponies!

I caught a heron fishing!

And I love the way this egret glows!

I got back in the car, and went to the Woodland Trail, where I hiked to a place with a “Pony Overlook” where ponies sometimes come. As I was walking this boardwalk to the Pony Overlook, an older couple passed me, going back, and told me there were some ponies in the pasture.

Yes! There were some ponies!

Here’s the Pony Overlook:

I stayed there for more than an hour (my phone wasn’t charged, so I don’t know how long) – just me and the ponies. No human joined me. The ponies slowly made their way closer to me. And I took a million pictures. Here are a small fraction.

You have to imagine a cool, breezy, sunny day – I’m out watching a dozen wild ponies. It was amazing.

And then a foal came out and ran after its mother!

The baby hid behind its mother.

They started slowly moving away on the other side of the field.

I tore myself away and continued my hike, taking a trail that split off the main loop and went to the coast of the island.

When I got back to my car, there were egrets perched in the field in front of my car.

How many egrets can you spot?

I took a look at the beach again before I left.

On the way off Assateague, I saw cars stopped the same place I’d stopped in the morning. Again, I could see ponies and egrets from that spot, but this time the ponies were a little closer to the road.

By this time it was Monday afternoon, so I did hit rush hour traffic coming home.

So, that was my Reading Retreat. As reading time went? Well, I would have gotten more done if I had stayed home, but I did finish three books and read 2000 pages. It might have been smart to stay at least one more night so that driving wouldn’t have been a large proportion of my time.

If I want to do a Reading Retreat, it might be a good idea to go to a less interesting place.

But reading out on that balcony with the breezes blowing and waves lapping was incredibly wonderful.

And as a Retreat? It was one of the most soul-feeding vacations I’ve ever experienced. That hour (or more) out in the field, just me and a dozen wild ponies, was amazing and awe-inspiring.

And now I’ve been to Chincoteague Island and Assateague Island and I’ve seen the Chincoteague ponies!

I’m going to have to think of some variation of this retreat when I’m reading for the Newbery Medal.

And, once again, it’s so late, I need to stop there. I’m almost to the end of Project 52… but not yet.

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