The Beauty Around Us

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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


Snowy 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.



Weekend in Annapolis – Day 3 (Last Day)

We spent the morning and part of the afternoon of Sunday, October 11th, in downtown Annapolis and at the United States Naval Academy. We took the 8:50AM shuttle bus from our hotel to downtown Annapolis. We walked once again to the Maryland State House, where I took another photograph from a different vantage point than that taken on Friday afternoon.

Maryland State House

After photographing the Maryland State House, we entered the U.S. Naval Academy via Gate 1 (Prince George & King George Street entrances). Only a photo ID was required for admission to the naval academy. Our first destination was the bay front. We enjoyed the view of the sailboats on Chesapeake Bay and those at the sailboat show. We were happy that we could see the boats and the bay without having to pay $17 each!


After taking in the view of the sailboats we visited Bancroft Hall and walked about the grounds of the naval academy.

Bancroft Hall

Memorial Hall

We saw everything we wanted to see, except the chapel interior and John Paul Jones’ crypt.  Neither the chapel nor the crypt would open until 1:30PM. We were at the crypt, finished with our self-guided tour of the naval academy, at 11:30AM. We opted not to stick around for 2 more hours, thus deciding not to see the chapel and John Paul Jones’ crypt.

U.S. Naval Academy Chapel

We ate lunch at Buddy’s Crabs and Ribs. We had eaten at this restaurant 11 years ago, when we first visited Annapolis. That visit to Annapolis was one of our first dates. The food at Buddy’s was as good now as it was then.

Would you like to see a photograph of Bob and me in Annapolis taken in May 1998? Yes? I thought you would. The picture displayed below was taken at the Annapolis Harbor. It gives you an idea what the harbor looks like when the sailboat show isn’t in town!

Weekend in Annapolis - Day 3 (Last Day)

After lunch we caught the 1:30 PM shuttle bus back to our hotel. We spent rest of the day napping and relaxing in our hotel room. We even ordered dinner delivered to our room — pizza and a side salad.

Weekend in Annapolis – Day 2

My cousin, Vernon, and Wendy were married on Saturday, October 10. The wedding took place on the grounds of Herrington on the Bay, which is a marina resort located in Rose Haven, MD, along the Chesapeake Bay. Rose Haven was approximately a 30-minute drive from our hotel in Annapolis. The wedding didn’t take place until 4:00 PM; however, Bob and I made a point to arrive early so that we could take in the sights of the resort, as well as spend a little bit of time before the wedding ceremony with Vernon and his brother, Randy.

We found Vernon on the grounds of the resort around 2:30 PM. We were able to chat (and take pictures) for about 30 minutes before the professional photographer arrived with Wendy.

Vernon and Randy at Herring Bay Bridal Garden

The formal wedding photographs were taken before the wedding ceremony and took no more than 15-20 minutes.

Wendy and Vernon

Vernon and Wendy with their Families at Herring Bay Bridal Garden – East Beach

Soon after the formal wedding photographs were taken the bridal party went inside the Historic Yacht Club. I stayed at the bridal garden, watching the final preparations. Flowers were brought in and hung on shepherd hooks at each row of seats; a basket full of wedding programs was placed on a table; and the Chuppah was decorated.

The Chuppah (hoop-pa) represents the home that Vernon and Wendy will establish together. The Chuppah is open on all sides so that family and friends will always feel welcome in their home.

The Chuppah

The guests started to arrive at 3:45 PM. The wedding ceremony began promptly at 4:00 PM.  This was the first Jewish wedding that Bob and I attended.

Escorted by her parents, Wendy entered the Herring Bay Bridal Garden; soft music was playing in the background.

Wendy, escorted by her parents

Vernon, who was at the Chuppah with the rabbi, the best man, the groomsmen, the maid of honor and bridesmaid met Wendy at the first row of guests.

Vernon at the Chuppah

Vernon escorted Wendy to the Chuppah, signaling the start of the ceremony.

Vernon escorts Wendy to the Chuppah

The wedding ceremony began as a few moments were taken to remember all of those loved ones who are no longer with us to share in this special day. After this moment of remembrance, the Rabbi said blessings over the wine. Vernon and Wendy drank the wine from the same cup.

symbolizing that married life halves bitterness and doubles sweetness

Then came the exchange of vows and rings, followed by the signing of the Ketubah.

The Ketubah is the legal marriage contract. It is one of the oldest elements of the Jewish wedding ceremony and has played a significant role in the Jewish wedding for over 2,000 years. It describes the couples responsibilities and commitment to each other. The Ketubah is traditionally signed during a private ceremony just prior to the wedding services. However, Vernon and Wendy have chosen to sign it as part of their service so that their guests can hear the words and witness the signing of this very special document.

The Ketubah was signed by Wendy, Vernon, two witnesses and the Rabbi.

Wendy, signing the Ketubah

After the Ketubah had been signed, the Rabbi recited the Seven Blessings.

There are seven traditional blessings in a Jewish wedding ceremony. They are a biblical tradition that began in the days of Abraham and Sarah. They wish the bride and groom happiness, love, companionship, and peace.

After the Rabbi had recited the Seven Blessings, Wendy and Vernon were pronounced husband and wife. Vernon was told that he could kiss the bride.

The Kiss

At the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, Vernon stomped on a glass, shattering it.

Vernon stomps glass

There are many interpretations of this {breaking the glass} tradition, but two are most significant. The first is to remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The second is a reminder that relationships are fragile and must be treated with great care, love, and mutual respect, lest they break apart.

Once the glass was broken, guests shouted, “Mazel Tov!” (“Congratulations!”).” After breaking the glass, Vernon and Wendy and their wedding party walked away from the Chuppah. The time had come for dancing, celebration and dinner.
The wedding reception was held in the Historic Yacht Club. We congregated first in the Island Room, where we congratulated the newly married couple and enjoyed a tasty selection of Hors d’oeuvres, drinks and conversation. The selection of Hors d’oeuvres included seasonal fruits, melons and berries; a variety of cheeses served with gourmet crackers and flat breads; crab dip served hot with French baquettes, filet mignon canapes and coconut fried shrimp. The Island Room is softly lit and has quiet nooks surrounding an open central square. The open central square has an overlook from above, which makes a great place to watch the bride and groom’s first dance. We did this, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Soon it was announced that dinner was ready. We moved from the Island Room, upstairs to the elegantly decorated Chesapeake Room. We picked up our name tag from a table at the top of the stairs. Each couple had an assigned table, which was identified on the name tag. We sat at table 3 with three other couples. Dinner was served buffet style and included Caesar Salad, rolls and butter, Prime Rib of Beef, chicken breast topped with crabmeat, red potatoes, and green beans with almonds. Dinner was delicious.

Vernon and Wendy at our table

The Harbour Deck on the second floor offered an expansive view of the bay and harbor. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset while eating dinner.


After dinner we watched Vernon and Wendy’s first dance from the overlook of the Island Room.

First Dance

We made our way down to the Island Room in time to see Wendy dance with her father.

Father and Daughter Dance

Everyone was then invited onto the dance floor. Those who danced looked like they were having a good time. I enjoyed watching, and photographing, those who were dancing.

Vernon and Wendy cut the cake around 7:30 PM. They did not smash the cake into each others’ faces. Instead, they carefully fed each other a piece of cake.

Cutting the Cake

After the cake cutting ceremony we witnessed a dance in which the bride and groom were lifted up on chairs by the guests and whirled around.

A short time later we witnessed another traditional Jewish dance in which the bride’s parents sit on chairs and the guests dance around them. This dance was performed because Wendy was her parents last child to wed.

Vernon and Wendy’s wedding contained many beautiful customs and traditions. Bob and I were very glad to be a part of Wendy and Vernon’s special day. Congratulations Vernon and Wendy!

*** Please note that those portions of this blog in gray typeface were obtained from Vernon and Wendy’s wedding program. ***

Weekend in Annapolis – Day 1

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, we spent the weekend of October 9th in Annapolis, MD. We stayed three nights at the Best Western Annapolis. When I made our hotel reservation I was not aware that the United States Sailboat Show was being held October 8-12, followed by the United States Powerboat Show on October 15-18. According to information on the Internet, the United States Sailboat Show is in its 40th year and the United States Powerboat Show is in its 38th year. Both shows are the oldest and largest, new in-water boat shows in the world. The Powerboat Show and the Sailboat Show attract more than 50,000 boating enthusiasts from around the world to the Annapolis waterfront. I guess we were lucky to get a room for the weekend. After we checked in, I overheard a man and woman inquiring as to the availability of a room. There were no rooms available at Best Western. In fact there were very few rooms available anywhere in or near Annapolis, unless you wanted to pay $400+ per night. Wow, we didn’t even spend $400 for three nights!

We checked into the Best Western Annapolis around 2:30PM. At 3:50 PM we caught a shuttle bus to downtown Annapolis. As a convenience for its guests, many of whom were in town for the sailboat show, our hotel provided complimentary shuttle bus service to downtown Annapolis all weekend long. It was nice not to have to fight traffic to get downtown. Also, riding the shuttle bus eliminated having to find parking in downtown Annapolis, which was running at a premium ($20 and up for all-day parking).

We soon learned that the entire waterfront was not visible, as it was blocked off for the sailboat show.

Annapolis Waterfront

Admission to the sailboat show was $17.00 each, a fee that we did not wish to pay. After all we were neither looking to buy or sell a sailboat nor was there a sailboat in our dreams!

Instead of walking along the waterfront, we visited the Maryland State House until it closed at 5:00PM. The Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use and is the only state house to have ever served as the nation’s capitol.

Maryland State House
(as seen from Thurgood Marshall memorial)

the Maryland Federalist
You can read all about the Maryland Federalist by clicking here.

The Continental Congress met in the Old Senate Chamber from November 26, 1783, to August 13, 1784. George Washington came before Congress during that time to resign his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. In addition the Treaty of Paris was ratified, which marked the official end of the Revolutionary War.

Old Senate Chamber
(front view)

Old Senate Chamber
(back view)

the new House Chamber

the new Senate Chamber

We caught the 5:30PM shuttle back to our hotel.

There were several restaurants located across the street or within a mile of our hotel. We chose to eat dinner at Boston Market. I ordered a chicken pot pie with fresh fruit and corn bread. Bob ordered 1/2 chicken with two sides and corn bread. Both of our meals were good.

We returned to our hotel after dinner. We spent rest of the evening in our room relaxing.

From Autumn to Summer

Bob and I are on vacation this weekend. We’re attending the wedding of one of my cousins. He is being married south of Annapolis, MD, along the Chesapeake Bay. We left our home in NW Pennsylvania at 7:00 this morning. It was rainy; there was a chill in the air. The further East we drove the better the weather. We just checked the weather conditions at home — cloudy and 54 degrees. Here in Annapolis, it is in the 80s and sunny at 6:00 in the evening!

I will post details of our weekend, along with photographs, once we get home.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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