The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Posts from the ‘Maryland’ category

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

As we were exiting the Life of the Forest trail parking lot, the first thing we see is a wild horse.  We drove across Bayberry Drive and parked.

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After admiring and photographing the wild horse, we followed Bayberry Drive, north.  The third, and last, trail that we hiked while visiting Assateague Island, MD was the Life of the Marsh trail  The trail head is located on the first road on your right that you come to after entering Assateague Island National Seashore. As we were heading north, we turned left just before we would have left the National Seashore.

What do we see, as we enter the parking lot for the Life of the Marsh trail?  Wild Horses!

MVIMG_20180331_120314Great Photo Op!
(Photo by Bob)

_LG25676Assateague Island Wild Horses

Actually we saw one wild horse, as we entered the parking lot.  As we began our hike on the marsh trail, a second horse came around the bend of the trail into the parking lot.  If we had been a few seconds sooner reaching the trail, we would have come close to being face-to-face with a wild horse!

The Life of the Marsh trail was totally destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and has since been rebuilt, with a beautifully-maintained boardwalk.

20180331_160518612_iOSLife of the Marsh trail boardwalk

The 1/2-mile loop trail offers wonderful elevated views of a salt marsh and Sinepuxtent Bay.

We had hoped to see a lot of wildlife along this trail.

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We saw an egret.

_LG25688We saw two more wild horses.

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The wild horses are beautiful!

There is one section of the trail that leads down to the shore.

20180331_162439245_iOSYou can exit the boardwalk and get to the water.

20180331_162541887_iOSI joined Bob at the shore for a selfie photo op.

When we returned to the parking lot, the two wild horses that we saw earlier were still hanging around.

20180331_163620999_iOSWild Horses in the Life of the Marsh trail parking lot

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Such a pretty horse!

MVIMG_20180331_123904I think that these people were a bit nervous about getting into their car.
(Photo by Bob)

It is sensible to be cautious.  These are wild horses. There are several signs that tell visitors to keep a bus distance from the horses. The horses are known to kick and bite and charge.

20180331_164124273_iOSThe horses look like they will be sticking around for a while.

We very much like both portions of the Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland and Virginia.   We will be sure to include a visit to the Maryland portion of the National Seashore in future Chincoteague Island / Assateague Island vacations.

Just before leaving Assateague Island, we saw what I thought was a fawn grazing in a swampy area.  Bob parked the car, and I walked to the swamp area.  A jeep was parked in front of the swamp, with people taking pictures of the “fawn”.  A man walked up to me, from the vicinity of our parked car.  From him I learned that the “fawn” was full grown and not a white-tailed deer.

_LG25697This is not a fawn. It is a full-grown Sika Deer.

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Sika Deer

After spending a little more than 3 hours exploring Assateague Island, MD we crossed over the Verrazzano Bridge onto the mainland.

We ate lunch at Hardee’s in Pocomoke, MD.   I saw photographs of Pocomoke.  It looks like a lovely place to visit.  Bob, we should add a couple more days to our vacation next time we go to Chincoteague Island, VA.

After lunch, we drove back to Chincoteague, VA.  We visited a couple parks in Chincoteague, before returning to our hotel.  I will share photographs from those park visits in my next blog post.

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

The Life of the Forest trail is about a mile north of the dune trail back up Bayberry Drive.  There was a sign on Bayberry Drive directing us to the Life of the Forest trail head.

Most of the Life of the Forest Trail, once a loop, was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, so the National Park Service built a new out-and-back trail.  The length of the trail is 0.4 mile round trip.

The trail does go through a forest, but the forest doesn’t seem to be the main emphasis of the trail.

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Near the start of the Life of the Forest trail

Most of the trail is a boardwalk. Once out of the forest, the boardwalk overlooks a salt marsh and Sinepuxtent Bay.

20180331_152137487_iOSLife of the Forest trail Boardwalk

There are a number of viewing platforms built into the new boardwalk.

20180331_152229137_iOSSalt Marsh

_LG25663This Great Blue Heron seemed to have the run of the place.

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The boardwalk overlooks Sinepuxtent Bay.

20180331_153652310_iOSBob and I on the Life of the Forest boardwalk trail

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

In yesterday’s blog post I wrote that we hiked three nature trails, while visiting the Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland District).  The three hiking trails are: Life of the Dunes trail, Life of the Forest trail and Life of the Marsh trail.  In today’s blog post I will share photographs taken, while hiking the Life of the Dunes trail.

The Life of the Dunes trail is located at the end of Bayberry Drive, about three miles south of the Verrazano Bridge.

_LG25646Sign at Trail Head

The loop trail is of a 3/4 mile duration  The loop portion starts a short distance from the trail head.  We hiked clockwise around the trail.

The Life of the Dunes trail is made of sand and sand can change.  There are no confusing intersections or unmarked side trails; however, there are points where the path may be questionable.

_LG25647 Do you see the wooden fencing in the photograph displayed above?  The path was questionable at one point.  We just followed the wooden fencing along portions of the trail or followed directional markers. Also, there are numbered markers (see the #1 marker?) along the trail that correspond to a trail guide, which we did not have. I learned subsequent to our visit that a trail guide is available for purchase at the visitors center or can be downloaded here.  Pertaining to the first marker the trail guide reads: “In the desertlike conditions of the dunelands most animal activity other than birds is nocturnal. Search for tracks in early morning before the breezes have had time to obscure them. Look for a doodlebug’s (antlion larva) winding trail through the surface sand, a red fox’s dainty doglike pawprints in a fairly straight line or a boat-tailed grackle’s many wandering tracks.”

_LG25648This sign says to stay on the trail.

_LG25650Nature’s Artwork

There is a historic aspect of the Life of the Dunes Trail. In the 1950s developers built a 15-mile road here that extended to the Maryland/Virginia State line.  The road, named Baltimore Boulevard, was, at the time, the only paved road on Assateague Island.  Developers had also cleared land for more than 130 side streets along Baltimore Boulevard.  Baltimore Boulevard was destroyed by a storm in 1962.

_LG25652Pieces of Baltimore Boulevard

_LG25653You can walk on the asphalt or to the side of it.

Many people questioned the wisdom of 9,000 building lots on Assateague Island, after the March 1962 storm.  This great northeaster was the single most important event which led to creation of the national seashore in 1965.

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The Thicket

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Southern Red Oak

MVIMG_20180331_104124Linda sitting in the southern red oak tree
(photo by Bob)

Pertaining to the 12th marker, the trail guide reads “Exposure to salt-laden ocean winds has caused this southern red oak to adapt. Notice its short thick trunk and low spreading branches.  As seasons pass, fallen leaves accumulate and gradually decay adding organic matter and moisture to the sandy soil. The old oak has created a more hospitable environment for plants and provides acorns for white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, grackle, towhee, and brown thrasher.

Before leaving the southernmost portion of Bayberry Drive, we walked over to the South Ocean Beach.

_LG25660South Ocean Beach

At the South Ocean Beach there is parking, swimming (no lifeguards), fishing, restrooms/outdoor shower and limited wheelchair access.

In my next blog post, I will take you along as we hike the Life of the Forest trail.

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, MD

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 The Assateague State Park and the Assateague Island National Seashore are located on Assateague Island, MD.

This year marks our fourth visit to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague Island National Seashore, located on Assateague Island, VA.  We visited the Virginia portion of Assateague Island previously in 2011, 2015 and 2016.  We had never visited Assateague Island, MD.  That fact changed this year.

In my previous blog post it appeared that Saturday, March 31st, was a very lazy day.  It wasn’t.  Leaving Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we decided to visit Assateague Island, MD.  There are two entrances to Assateague Island. The island’s south entrance is at the end of Route 175, two miles east of Chincoteague, VA.  The north entrance is at the end of Route 611, eight miles south of Ocean City, MD. There is no vehicle access between the two entrances on Assateague Island. Vehicles must return to the mainland to access either the north or south entrance.

It was a pleasant drive from the southern portion of Assateague Island to its northern end.

Our first stop in Maryland was at the Assateague Island Visitor Center.  The visitor center is located on the right-hand side of Route 611, before the bridge that takes you onto Assateague Island.  Inside the visitor center you will find information on Assateague Island, aquariums, a touch tank, a variety of exhibits and a small gift shop.  We didn’t spend a lot of time in the visitor center.  We looked at the fish in the aquariums.

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This is a Sheepshead Fish.

Admission to Assateague Island National Seashore is $20.00, which is good for multiple days AND good as well at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.  We didn’t have to pay the admission fee, as I purchased a National Park Service senior pass in February, when I turned 62 years old. On Friday at the Toms Cove Visitor Center in Virginia I added the first stamp to our Passport to Your National Parks.  I also purchased a page of souvenir stamps (1989 Stamp Series) at that location.   While at the Assateague Island Visitor Center in Maryland, Bob stamped our Passport to Your National Parks (our second passport stamp….YAY!), and we picked up a map of the Assateague Island National Seashore.

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Passport to Your National Parks

I wanted a passport that would last.  The Collector’s edition fit the requirement.  This passport edition, though, is very big.  It isn’t something that I would want to carry with us on the motorcycle.  I did see at the visitor center’s gift shop that a sheet of three blank passport stamps are available for purchase, wherein one can obtain the stamp and add it to the passport at a later time.

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Two parks checked off; lots more to see!

20180410_131405638_iOSOur second passport stamp and the 1989 Mid-Atlantic Regional Stamp affixed to page

In addition to the 1989 Mid-Atlantic Regional Stamp (Assateague Island National Seashore), the 1989 Stamp Series includes nine other stamps:  1989 North Atlantic Regional Stamp (Federal Hall National Memorial), the 1989 National Capital Regional Stamp (Thomas Jefferson Memorial), the 1989 Southeast Regional Stamp (Great Smoky Mountains National Park), the 1989 National Stamp (Yellowstone National Park), the 1989 Midwest Regional Stamp (Apostle Islands National Lakeshore), the 1989 Southwest Regional Stamp (Hot Springs National Park), the 1989 Rocky Mountain Regional Stamp (Arches National Park), the 1989 Western Regional Stamp (Great Basin National Park), and the 1989 Pacific Northwest & Alaska Stamp (Crater Lake National Park).  I wonder how many of these places we will see?  Well, we have the rest of our lives to visit these places.  We shall see ….

From the Visitor Center we drove over the Verrazano Bridge, turned right onto Stephen Decatur Memorial Road to Bayberry Drive. We saw our first wild horses of Assateague Island, while on Stephen Decatur Memorial Road.

_LG25635Wild Horses of Assateague Island

The wild horses of Assateague Island are descendents of domesticated animals brought to the island over 300 years ago.

_LG25633Assateague Island Wild Horse

I enjoyed the beauty of these horses from a safe distance, using a telescopic camera lens to get close.  Park rules state to enjoy the beauty of the horses from a distance.  Keeping at least a bus length from the horses is recommended.  The horses are wild.  They are known to charge, kick and bite.

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Assateague Island Wild Horse

_LG25642Assateague Island Wild Horse

_LG25639Assateague Island Wild Horse

Although it is possible to see the wild horses up close at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we saw more horses close up in Maryland than we have in Virginia.  (I will be sharing more wild horse pictures in future blog posts.)

_LG25645Entering the Assateague Island National Seashore

We spent approximately 3 1/2 hours exploring the Assateague Island National Seashore. We hiked three trails; we saw several more wild horses, close up and personal; and we saw the ocean.

Stay tuned,  I will be posting more Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland District) blog posts in the near future.

 

On This Day in 2007 – Montpelier Mansion

The date was May 27, 2007.  While visiting relatives in Virginia Bob and I made a day trip to Laurel MD, where I had lived from May 1991 through April 1997.  I still had friends in the neighborhood, where I used to live.  We made the day trip that day to visit my friends.  We had about an hour to spare before we were expected by my friends, so Bob and I visited nearby Montpelier Mansion.

Montpelier200705_001Montpelier Mansion

Montpelier Mansion is one of the finest examples of 18th century Georgian architecture in the state of Maryland.  The original owners of Montpelier Mansion were Major Thomas and Anne Snowden, who welcomed into their home many distinguished guests including George Washington and Abigail Adams.

We walked through a lovely garden.

Montpelier200705_005Garden and Brick Portico

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I took a couple close-up photographs of the flowers in the garden.

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Montpelier200705_012We saw an artist painting the garden at Montpelier Mansion.

So, there you have it — a look back on one of my memories from May 27, 2007.

Frederick County, MD Covered Bridges and a Waterfall

This is the second of three blog posts about our Winter Weekend Getaway in Shippensburg, PA.

Saturday, January 2, activities included a driving tour of three covered bridges in Frederick County, MD; hiking to Cunningham Falls near Thurmont, MD once in the morning and another time in the afternoon; and lunch at Mountain Gate Family Restaurant in Thurmont, MD. The three covered bridges that we saw were: Utica Mills Covered Bridge, Loy’s Station Park and Roddy Road Covered Bridge.

We began the tour of the covered bridges north of Frederick at the junction of US15 (Catoctin Mountain Highway) and Old Frederick Road. We turned right onto Old Frederick Road, which we followed for 1.5 miles.  We made a left onto Utica Road and arrived at Utica Mills Covered Bridge.

_LG14341 11x15Utica Mills Covered Bridge

We returned to Old Frederick Road and make a left turn. We drove 3.9 miles to a stop sign, located in Creagerstown.  At the stop sign we turned left onto MD550. We drove 0.4 miles and made a right onto Old Frederick Road. We traveled an additional 2 miles and made a left into the parking lot of Loys Station Park.

_LG14344 4x6Loys Station Covered Bridge

Loys Station Park would be a great place for a picnic.  The park includes picnic tables, grills, playground, covered shelters and portable bathroom facilities.

From the parking lot of Loys Station Park, we turned left and drove through the bridge. We drove 0.3 miles to a stop sign, where we made a left turn onto Rocky Ridge Road (MD77). We drove 2.7 miles on Rocky Ridge Road and turned right onto Apples Church Road in Thurmont. We followed Apples Church Road for 1.6 miles to the Roddy Road Covered Bridge.

_LG14354 4x6Roddy Road Covered Bridge

I would like to thank Eileen, author of the Viewing Nature with Eileen blog, who gave me the heads up regarding these three covered bridges.  Thank you, Eileen!  We enjoyed visiting each of these covered bridges!

From the Roddy Road Covered Bridge we drove to Cunningham Falls State Park (William Houck Area entrance), where we followed the Lower Falls Trail to Cunningham Falls.

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Lower Falls Trail to Cunningham Falls

The Lower Falls Trail is the shortest and easiest access to Cunningham Falls.  The trail over rolling terrain is 0.5 miles long and terminates at a platform observation deck that provides a view of Cunningham Falls.

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Cunningham Falls

Located nearby, but not accessible, was another platform observation deck. We wondered how to access the other observation deck, as it appeared to provide a better vantage point from which to see Cunningham Falls.

Cunningham Falls is not the only attraction at Cunningham Falls State Park.  Hunting Creek Lake is located in the park’s William Houck Area as well.

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Hunting Creek Lake

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After taking a couple pictures of the lake, we left Cunningham Falls State Park to go to lunch. We ate lunch at the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant, which was suggested to me by Eileen, the same person who gave me the heads up regarding the covered bridges.  Bob and I each ordered the buffet lunch. There were several foods to select from. We enjoyed our respective meals.

While at lunch I discovered that there was a nature trail from the Catoctin Mountain Park Visitor Center to Cunningham Falls, to the other observation platform that we had seen in the morning. The trail was 2.8 miles round trip. We decided to hike this trail. Oh my! What a hike! The hike was mostly uphill. We climbed over tree roots and rocks.

_LG14367 4x6Catoctin Mountain Nature Trail to Cunningham Falls
I drew an arrow on both photographs to show part of the trail.

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I was very happy, when we reached the boardwalk to the falls.

_LG14371 4x6Bob is on the boardwalk leading to Cunningham Falls.

_LG14378 4x6Cunningham Falls

The view of the falls was nice, but I didn’t feel the view was any better than what we had seen in the morning. You can see the other viewing platform in the photograph displayed above.

Bob left me at the falls, and he took the nature trail back to the Catoctin Mountain Visitor Center. Bob said that I would have had trouble making the return trip on the trail, as it was downhill most of the way and a steep descent in places. Bob drove our car to the handicap parking lot next to the boardwalk and picked me up.

We returned to the hotel around 4:45 pm, where we remained for rest of the day.

Sunset at Rose Haven, MD

I joined the meme, Skywatch Friday, today. It is my first entry into this meme.

In October my husband and I attended my cousin’s wedding at Herrington on the Bay in Rose Haven, Maryland. The wedding was beautiful and was nicely capped with a stunning sunset over the bay.

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Go and check out more Skywatch Friday images at the Skywatch Friday Site!
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