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Posts from the ‘Maryland’ category

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 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

 

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.

 

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