The Beauty Around Us

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Chincoteague Vacation – Day 6

On Day 6 of our vacation (Thursday, April 11th), after eating breakfast, we went to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  We drove, rather than ride our bicycles.  It was a chilly and windy morning, with a temperature reading of 49 degrees.

We saw NINE wild horses in the lighthouse parking lot and watched as they walked down Beach Access Road to the Wildlife Loop. 

Wild Ponies in the Lighthouse Parking Lot

Wild Pony in the Lighthouse Parking Lot

Wild Ponies in the Lighthouse Parking Lot

Wild Ponies Walking Down the Beach Access Road Towards the Wildlife Loop

Wild Ponies Walking Along the Beach Access Road to the Wildlife Loop

There are 8 wild ponies in these two pictures; however, we saw a total of 9 ponies.

Wild Ponies Walking Toward the Wildlife Loop

One of 9 Wild Ponies Making its Way to the Wildlife Loop

This was the straggler, the 9th wild pony.

Seeing the horses was really cool.  We have always seen evidence that the horses have been on Beach Access Road, but had not seen them there before.

Before leaving the Wildlife Refuge, we visited the Assateague Lighthouse.

Assateauge Lighthouse

The Assateague Lighthouse stands 142 feet high.

After visiting the lighthouse, we returned to the warmth of our vacation home.  Bob turned on the heat for the first time since our arrival.  For the next few hours I washed, dried and folded two loads of laundry; we ate lunch (ready-made lasagna and cheesecake); and we relaxed, enjoying the peaceful setting of our Airbnb vacation home, Tranquil Shores.  

Around 3:00 pm we left for one more visit to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We drove around the Wildlife Loop three times.

Wildlife Loop Snake

Wildlife Loop Great Blue Heron

Wildlife Loop Cattle Egret

Wildlife Loop Turtle

Turtle Crossing the Road at Wildlife Loop

Wildlife Heron or Egret

We drove also to the beach and back, along Beach Access Road.  We were saying so long, until next time, to a place that we have grown to love.

Leaving the Wildlife Refuge, we picked up a 12-inch sub at Subway to share for dinner and went to Island Creamery for ice cream.  Yes!  We ate dessert first.

Returning to our vacation home around 5:00 pm we discovered piles of dirt had been placed in the deep holes (craters in some instances LOL) on the road to Tranquil Shores.  Thankfully a resident pulled in after us.  We didn’t know if we should drive on the grassy area to the right of the dirt piles (to go around them).  She told us it was okay.  According to the resident, the piles of dirt will be graded the next day.  I passed this information to our host, as I thought he might be interested.  Our host replied: “I’m so glad we finally have it getting done. Last winter was so hard on the road!  Corralling all the neighbors to pitch in was a project in and of itself!”  

TO BE CONTINUED

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 5

On the morning of Day 5 of our vacation (Wednesday, April 10th) we rode our bicycles from Tranquil Shores (our vacation home) to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, VA. It is approximately 2 miles from Tranquil Shores to the entrance booths. 

We followed the bicycle trail to Woodland Trail.  We rode the Woodland Trail, where we saw several wild horses in the marshland. 

Woodland Trail – Wild Ponies

Leaving Woodland Trail we took the Black Duck Trail to the Wildlife Loop.  We rode the Wildlife Loop. We saw egrets, birds and wild ponies. 

Wildlife Loop – Snowy Egret

Wildlife Loop – Red-Winged Blackbird

For the first time since 2011, when we first visited the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we saw wild horses in the marsh, while on the Wildlife Loop. 

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

 

From the Wildlife Loop we returned to Tranquil Shores. 

Crossing bridge from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island (Beach Access Road)

We rode 11.69 bicycle miles in the morning.

We ate lunch at Metompkin Seafood Market in Bloxom VA, which was a 13-mile drive from Chincoteague. 

Metopkin Seafood Market

Metopkin Seafood Market
Food ordered here.

Metopkin Seafood Market
Fresh Seafood

Bob ordered a fish and scallop platter.  I ordered a fish platter.  We both had two generous pieces of fish with French fries, coleslaw and hush puppies.  Bob had scallops in addition to the fish.  There were three cats that were looking for handouts.  

A bold cat at Metopkin Seafood Market

 

On our way to Metompkin Seafood and on our way back to Chincoteague, U.S. Navy airplanes kept circling us.

U.S. Navy airplane

U.S. Navy airplane

I took these photographs from inside our car, through the windshield. We were traveling at about 55 MPH at the time. The airplanes were flying from NASA Wallops Flight Facility. It was awesome having the airplanes fly so close to us!

Before returning to our vacation home, we stopped for homemade ice cream at the Island Creamery.  

Island Creamery

Island Creamery
Ice Cream Selections

Bob ordered two scoops of coffee ice cream in a cup.  I ordered one scoop of Peanut Butter Cup and one scoop of Peanut Butter Chocolate, also in a cup.  Delicious!

We went for a drive around the Wildlife Loop in the evening.  The wild horses that we saw in the morning were still there.  The horses were even a little closer to the road than they were in the morning. 

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Pony

For dinner we ate salad.  Bob had a Cobb salad; I had a chef salad.  Neither of us were very hungry after eating a big lunch and ice cream.

Later in the evening we watched a few episodes of NYPD Blue and then went to bed.

I hope that you are not getting tired of seeing photographs of wild ponies.  I will be sharing more wild pony photographs in my next blog post.  Those ponies were closer to us than all of our other encounters!

TO BE CONTINUED

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 4

Late in the morning we rode our bicycles in the neighborhood to Veteran’s Memorial Park. 

Veteran’s Memorial Park sits along the Assateague Channel

Our round trip ride was 5 miles.

We ate lunch at McDonald’s and then drove onto the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, stopping for photo opportunities along Beach Access Road.  We saw wild ponies in the marsh, closer than we have seen them in past years.  There were wild ponies in the pony corral, too, near the Woodland Trail.

According to a delmava now news story, published on April 1st, “Chincoteague pony stallion Riptide and his band were penned in the south corral on Assateague Island after visitors to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge disregarded warnings not to approach the wild ponies…The ponies will remain in the corral until the spring roundup April 12 and 13”.

We saw great blue herons, egrets and wood ducks.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Pair of Hooded Mergansers (Thanks EileeninMD for ID)

We spent a couple hours at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, before returning to our vacation home.  We relaxed for a couple hours.

We returned to the Wildlife Refuge around 4:30 pm.  We went for a drive around the Wildlife Loop.  We saw birds, a fox, Sika deer, egrets, turtles, snapping turtles and a muskrat.

Red-Wing Blackbird

Mama Fox

Mama Fox – What a face!

Mama Fox

Two Egrets

I love the reflections!

Two Egrets, a Great Egret taking flight

Three Egrets, a Snowy Egret in flight

Snowy Egret

 

Muskrat

Snapping Turtle

Painted Turtle

Two Snapping Turtles Mating

Leaving the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, after an approximately 45-minute visit, we drove to Food Lion and picked up dinners for three nights (through Thursday).  Our purchases included three ready-made salads and three Culinevo ready-made dinner entrees–lasagna, beef stew and beef and noodles.  All dinner entrees are microwaveable. We shared a Chef Salad and the beef stew for dinner.  For dessert we had cheesecake.

We watched a few more episodes of NYPD Blue and went to bed.

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 3: Egrets and More

After our bicycle ride on the Wildlife Loop at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we went for a drive along Beach Access Road, stopping for wildlife photo opportunities.

Snowy Egret

Yellow Feet

Snowy Egret, Taking Flight

Snowy Egret, Taking Flight

Godwit

Snowy Egret

Egret

Snowy Egret (top) and Great Egret (bottom)

Thank you, EileeninMD, for the bird ID.

Around noon we decided to drive to Assateague Island, MD.  Along the way, we stopped at a deli and picked up cold cut sandwiches, cookies and honey roasted nuts.  We ate a picnic lunch at a picnic table, located in a pavilion, along the Assateague Island National Seashore.  After lunch we walked to the seashore. 

Assateague Island National Seashore, MD

We drove along the Stephen Decatur Memorial Road / Bayberry Drive, as well as side roads, and didn’t see any horses.  We didn’t walk any trails.  Last year, when we visited Assateague Island, MD for the first time, we did see horses and we did walk the trails.  Here are links from last year’s visit:

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD
This blog post shows the route that we took last year from Virginia to Maryland. We took the same route this year.

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD: Life of the Dunes Trail

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD: Life of the Forest Trail

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD: Life of the Marsh Trail

We had planned to make a return trip to Assateague Island, MD during vacation, but that return visit never happened.

 

On our way back to Tranquil Shores, our Airbnb rental, we stopped at Food Lion and picked up a couple items for dinner.  Our dinner was leftover chicken and naked chicken wings, leftover coleslaw, potato salad and, for dessert, more cheesecake.

It rained in the evening, accompanied by thunder and lightning.  We saw a high temperature of 81 degrees.  The rest of the week was cooler and dry.  By the way it did not feel like 81 degrees, while we were at Assateague Island, MD.  I wore a hoodie, with the hood up, and was still cold!  The wind was brutal.

We watched three episodes of NYPD Blue and then went to bed.

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 3: Wildlife Loop

On Day 3 (April 8th) of our vacation, we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The wildlife refuge is located on Assateague Island, VA.  We carried our bicycles via bike carrier, even though the wildlife refuge is only a couple miles from Tranquil Shores, our Airbnb rental.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Trail Map

We rode our bicycles on the Wildlife Loop (3.25 miles), which is open to walkers and bikers all day. Vehicles are permitted to drive the loop from 3:00 PM until dusk. We rode several trails branching off the Wildlife Loop and ended up with 6.86 bicycle miles.  We also got in a few walks, mostly to the ocean.

Black Duck Trail branches off the Wildlife Loop.

The Black Duck Trail can be used to connect the Wildlife Loop to the Woodland Trail.  On this day we rode to the Beach Access Road and back (2 miles round trip) on the Black Duck Trail.  The sign indicated that we might see Canada goose, tundra swans, black ducks and other waterfowl; deer; snakes; and songbirds.  We did see a few birds, including a Flicker, but I was not able to grab my camera quick enough to capture any photographs.  The only photograph I took, while on Black Duck Trail, was of the lighthouse.

Assateaugue Lighthouse, as seen along the Black Duck Trail

Swan Cove Trail branches off the Wildlife Loop.

Swan Cove Trail (0.5 mile one way) is a popular route to the beach.

We saw this pool of water, as we were bicycling to the beach on Swan Cove Trail.

Swan Cove Trail leads to the beach.

Continuing on the Wildlife Loop, a short distance from the Swan Cove Trail is a boardwalk trail.

The boardwalk trail leads to an overlook of Snow Goose Pool.

This is a Service Road that branches off from the Wildlife Loop.

The Service Road is a gravel foot path, 7.5 miles one-way, with limited bicycle access.  Bicyclists can access the trail for 1.25 miles (one-way) to the D-Dike beach access area.  Cars are not permitted on the Service Road, with the exception of Oversand-Vehicle (OSV) Permit holders.

Public Nudity must be a problem. Otherwise, I wouldn’t think a sign would be necessary.

Bob, riding to the beach on the service road

Beach access from the service road

This was our fourth year on the Wildlife Loop, but it was the first time that we saw it via bicycle.  With the exception of the boardwalk trail, we had not been on any of the trails that branch off from Wildlife Loop.  We rode around the Wildlife Loop several times during our vacation, both by bicycle and by car.  I will share more photographs from Wildlife Loop in future blog posts.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 2: Annapolis, MD to Chincoteague, VA

On Sunday, April 7th, at 7:10 am we departed the Best Western Annapolis and continued our drive to Chincoteague, VA.

We crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge about 10 minutes later.

Our first stop at 9:00 am was at the Salisbury Zoological Park in Salisbury, MD.  We arrived just as the zoo was opening.  

Salisbury Zoo – East Gate Entrance

We spent a couple hours walking around this wonderful, free zoo.  I created this slideshow to share with you some of the birds and animals that we saw, while at the zoo.

This was Bob’s first time at the Salisbury Zoo; it was my second visit.  My first visit was more than 30 years ago in August 1982.

Our second stop was for lunch at Subway at the intersection of Routes 13 and175.

After lunch, we crossed Route 13 and took Route 175 to Chincoteague Island, VA.

Our third stop was at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, located on Assateague Island, VA. 

Located on the East Coast along the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is the largest, natural barrier island ecosystem in the Middle Atlantic states region that remains predominantly unaffected by human development. The Virginia portion of the island is designated as the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with the exception of 448 acres in the refuge’s Toms Cove area maintained by the National Park Service.  These 448 acres are part of the Assateague Island National Seashore.  The Assateague State Park and the Assateague Island National Seashore are located on Assateague Island, MD.  This year marks our fifth visit to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague Island National Seashore, located on Assateague Island, VA.

Admission to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is $20.00, which is good for multiple days.  We didn’t have to pay the admission fee, as I purchased a National Park Service senior pass in February 2018, when I turned 62 years old.

We rode our bicycles on the Woodland Trail.   The Woodland Trail, which takes you through a pine forest, is 1.6 miles round trip, paved and wheelchair accessible.  The trail is open to both walkers and cyclists.  A couple years ago many of the pine trees were damaged by a southern pine beetle infestation. 

We went for a bicycle ride on the Woodland Trail. This boardwalk leads to an observation platform from which you may see wild ponies.

We looked for wild ponies from this observation platform. We didn’t see any ponies.

Leaving the Woodland Trail, we rode our bicycles on the Beach Access Road to the Assateague Island National Seashore and back to the Woodland Trail parking lot.

 

We saw two horses and riders at the beach.

 

Egrets are popular at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

We watched one egret, as it was hunting, standing immobile or wading through wetlands, to when it suddenly took flight.

Great Egret Hunting

Great Egret, Lift Off

Great Egret in Flight

Great Egret in Flight

We watched another egret standing in a tree.

Great Egret in a Tree

We rode our bicycles a total of 4.16 miles on Woodland Trail and to and from the beach.

We arrived at Tranquil Shores, our Airbnb rental, at approximately 3:00 pm–1 hour before check-in time. Tranquil Shores is located on Chincoteague Island, VA.  I telephoned our host shortly before we checked in to see if an early check in was possible (and it was).  Tranquil Shores was our home away from home for 5 nights.  I will publish a separate blog post pertaining to Tranquil Shores in the near future.

An hour later the car was unpacked.  At 4:40 pm we left to pick up some groceries.  We shopped at Food Lion at the intersection of Routes 13 and 175.  We picked up dinner, breakfast foods, snacks and beer. 

Tonight’s dinner was rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and, for dessert, cheesecake.  We purchased a sampler cheesecake platter, which lasted us through four dinners.

We watched a couple episodes of NYPD Blue and then went to bed. As a side note, we started watching NYPD Blue on Amazon Prime in early February this year.  NYPD Blue is an American police drama set in New York City, exploring the struggles of the fictional 15th Precinct detective squad in Manhattan.  The series was originally broadcast on the ABC network, debuted on September 21, 1993‚ and aired its final episode on March 1, 2005.  Bob says this was one of his favorite TV shows.  We both saw the series, when it aired.   We may or may not have seen each episode, though.  I certainly do not remember each episode’s story line.  There are 12 seasons, 261 episodes.  We watched Season 9 episodes, while on vacation.

Please check back soon for more blog posts about our Chincoteague vacation.

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 1: Warren, PA to Annapolis, MD

We departed home at 7;15 am on Saturday, April 6th, en route Chincoteague, VA.  We made a few stops along the way.

Our first stop was at 9:00 am for breakfast at The Dutch Pantry in Clearfield, PA.  We both had omelettes–a Western Omelet for me and a Veggie Omelet for Bob.  Accompanying Bob’s omelette was a strawberry yogurt, rye toast and coffee.  I ordered home fries, wheat toast and tea to accompany my omelet.  Our meals included a small apple fritter.   Breakfast was filling and delicious.  We were back on the road at 9:40 am.

Our second stop was at a rest area.

Crystal Springs, PA Rest Area on Interstate 70

The Crystal Springs Rest Area is a pretty place to stop, when you need a break from driving.

Our third stop was at 2:00 pm at Fort George Meade, MD.  Bob’s cousin moved recently from the state of Washington to Fort George Meade.  Because our route to Chincoteague would take us very near their new home we decided to pay a visit to Chris and his family, providing Amy was up for a visit.  Amy gave birth to their fourth child 5 days prior, and we weren’t sure if she would be up for a visit.  Amy wanted us to come, so that is what we did.  

Chris met us at the Demps Visitor Control Center and escorted us to his house.  We went through a vehicle inspection center, where our IDs were requested and they took down our license number.  Chris signed us onto the post.   We expected to have our car inspected; no inspection was performed.

We spent several hours with Bob’s cousins.  I got to hold 5-day-old Michael, and we got to spend a lot of time with David and Sarah.  Peter was sick, so we didn’t spend much time with him.  Chris, Bob, David, Sarah and I went to a nearby playground.  The children enjoyed swinging and digging in the sand. 

Back at the house David drew two maze games, one for Bob and the other for me.  As with any maze, we started at one point and had to find the right path to the exit. I was impressed that a 6-year-old boy drew such intricate mazes.  Sarah and I played with stickers.  Bob and I read to Sarah and David too.

Bob reading to his cousins, Sarah and David (photo by Chris)

Dinner was calzones with marina sauce, beans and brownies or honey cake for dessert.  Bob and I chose a slice of honey cake for dessert.  Dinner was delicious.

We enjoyed our visit with Chris, Amy and their children very much.  Thank you, Amy and Chris, for inviting us into your home and for dinner.

Our fiourth and last stop was at Best Western in Annapolis, where we spent the night.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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