The Beauty Around Us

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Posts from the ‘Virginia’ category

Thanksgiving Week Vacation Day 8

Today (November 28th) is day 8 and the final day of our Thanksgiving week vacation.

We awakened at 4:30 am.  We departed Tranquil Shores, our airbnb rental located in Chincoteague VA, shortly before 6:30 am.

At 12:30 pm we stopped at the Historic Round Barn in Biglerville PA and made a few purchases (apples, apple butter, and a long-sleeve “Round Barn” shirt).  The barn was well ventilated, with very few people inside.  It was the end of the season, so the shelves were emptying out too.  I would like to revisit the Historic Round Barn another time, in season.

Vacation is over; Almost home

We returned home between 5:00 and 5:30 pm.  Thus ends one of the most enjoyable and relaxing Thanksgiving holidays ever.  We are glad to be home, though, after being on the road since 6:30 am with stops only born of necessity except for one — our quick stop at the Historic Round Barn. 

Now begins our quarantine, ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf for travelers entering Pennsylvania from locations outside the Commonwealth as well as Pennsylvanians who are returning home from locations outside the Commonwealth.  We were very careful, while on vacation.  We are voluntarily placing ourselves in quarantine on the off chance we came in contact with someone with COVID.  

Thanksgiving Week Vacation Day 7

Today (November 27th) is day 7 of our Thanksgiving week vacation.

Sunrise at Tranquil Shores, our airbnb rental

Late this morning we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, VA.  We followed the Beach Access Road to Toms Cove, where we turned around.  

Our first stop, while on the Beach Access Road, was at the Lighthouse Trail.

The Lighthouse Trail takes you through the woods to the historic Assateague Lighthouse.

Assateague Lighthouse

Our second stop was at a marsh area, where we frequently see wild ponies.  We had not seen any ponies here since our arrival on Sunday, November 22.  We saw some wild ponies there today.

The wild ponies finally made an appearance in the marsh seen from the Beach Access Road.

Our third stop was near Toms Cove.

Assateague Lighthouse, as viewed from Toms Cove area

You will recall from yesterday’s blog post that the reason we chose to spend Thanksgiving week in Chincoteague was to participate in the Waterfowl Week Special Drive.  As I wrote in yesterday’s blog post, there is a 7.5 mile service road off the Wildlife Loop that is open to the public only during the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  The service road opens at noon and closes at 4:00 pm.  We drove the service road yesterday and again today.

We were parked alongside Wildlife Loop by 11:40 am, lined up to drive on the Service Road.  

The line waiting for access to the Waterfowl Week Special Drive

The cars began to inch forward at noon.  Yesterday it took us 1 1/2 hours to make the 15-mile round trip.  Today it took about 1 1/4 hours.  Yesterday was overcast; today was sunny.  We saw far less horses and waterfowl today than we did yesterday.  Bob didn’t have a memory card in the GoPro yesterday.  The GoPro was armed today.  This video shows very little wildlife, but it does show the terrain along Special Drive.

 

 

I took a couple photographs of the few wild ponies that we saw during our drive.

Two wild ponies

Three wild ponies

We ate lunch at Tranquil Shores.  We had leftovers–sweet and sour chicken with rice, cottage cheese, potato salad and applesauce.

I wanted to see the lit Christmas tree at the Robert N Reed Waterfront Park in downtown Chincoteague.  We drove there at dusk.

the Christmas Tree and me

Christmas decorations at Robert N Reed Downtown Waterfront Park

Sunset at Robert N Reed Downtown Waterfront Park

Aren’t the Christmas tree and the park, itself, pretty?

By the time we left the park, it was time to eat.  We chose to eat inside the Chincoteague Diner & Restaurant, located on Maddox Boulevard next to the Best Western hotel.   We had a choice to eat outside on their screened porch or inside the restaurant.  It was a bit chilly to eat outside; the restaurant was not full of people; the tables were socially distanced; we smelled Clorox as soon as we opened the door; and the wait staff wore face masks. All of those factors went into our decision to eat inside the restaurant.  This was the only restaurant at which we ate indoors, while on vacation.  Bob ordered a Chef Salad.  I ordered a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with French fries.  The service was good, and our dinners were tasty.  

From the restaurant we drove to Island Creamery, where the best homemade ice cream is served.  We ordered our ice cream inside and carried it out to the car to eat.  Yum!

We returned to Tranquil Shores, after our ice cream stop.  

It is our last night here.  We have had such a relaxing vacation.  I wish we didn’t have to go home, but at the same time I am ready to go home.

Thanksgiving Week Vacation Day 6

Today (November 26th) is day 6 of our Thanksgiving week vacation.  It is Thanksgiving Day too.  I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning we went for a drive at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, VA.  We drove around the Wildlife Loop.  The Wildlife Loop, which is normally open to vehicular traffic from 3:00 pm to dusk, is open to vehicular traffic all day today through Sunday.   The sky was heavily overcast, and it was raining.  We saw very little wildlife on the Wildlife Loop.  

Leaving the Wildlife Loop, we drove on the Beach Access Road to Toms Cove and turned around.

We finally saw a Kingfisher!

We returned to the wildlife refuge early this afternoon.  The reason we chose to spend Thanksgiving week in Chincoteague came to fruition today.  Today begins Waterfowl Weekend.  There is a 7.5 mile service road off the Wildlife Loop that is open to the public only during the Thanksgiving Day weekend.  The service road opens at noon and closes at 4:00 pm.  We drove the service road today, arriving there shortly before noon.  We pulled off the Wildlife Loop behind other cars and waited the few minutes for the service road to open.  It should be noted that no one was permitted out of their vehicles, and we weren’t supposed to stop.  Traffic did stop at prime viewing spots, but a park ranger would show up to tell us to keep moving. It took us a little over 1 1/2 hours to drive the 15 miles round trip.  We saw the northern herd of wild ponies, as well as waterfowl. 

a Wild Pony Grazing

a Pair of Trumpeter Swans

a Great Blue Heron

Wild Ponies

Wild Pony

a Wild Pony

Wild Ponies

I loved seeing the ponies standing in the water.

a Wild Pony

Wild Ponies

a Wild Pony

the same Wild Pony walking toward me

Snow Geese!

We plan to drive the service road again tomorrow. 

For our Thanksgiving Day dinner Bob grilled steak.

Accompanying our steak we had store-bought potato salad, whole green beans (frozen), and applesauce.  It wasn’t a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner, but it was a good dinner.

Thanksgiving Week Vacation Day 5

Today (November 25th) is day 5 of our Thanksgiving week vacation.

We awakened to a gorgeous sunrise.

Sunrise at Tranquil Shores, our airbnb rental

Today’s breakfast was fried potatoes ‘n onions, sausage and scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese. 

Bob prepared this morning’s breakfast.

Breakfast was delicious!

Later in the morning we drove to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, VA.  We followed Beach Access Road to Toms Cove and turned around.  We made a couple photo stops along the way.  

A Cormorant Drying its Wings

Great Blue Heron

Leaving the wildlife refuge, we drove to Food Lion in Oak Hall, VA and picked up groceries for Thanksgiving Day and a few other items (charcoal, grill brush, and birdseed).  A “Shop&Earn Savings” of $7.00 was deducted from our total.   I would say that is a good savings amount, as it was earned only from our previous shopping trip this past Sunday (where we spent $45.28).

Today’s lunch was leftover sloppy Joes and coleslaw.

This evening’s dinner was take out from Asian Express. 

Bob ordered Shrimp and broccoli.

I ordered sweet and sour chicken.

Both dinners were delicious.

Thanksgiving Week Vacation Day 4 – Back in Virginia

We relaxed at Tranquil Shores, our airbnb rental, for a couple hours upon our return from Maryland.

In the afternoon we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, VA.  We followed the Beach Access Road to Toms Cove, where we turned around.  We had a few photo opportunities along the way.

a Great Egret and a Cormorant Sharing a Log

The Egret flew off, and the Cormorant was joined by a friend.

Two Cormorants

From the refuge we drove to the Island Nature Trail on Chincoteague Island.  We had not known about this trail during past visits to Chincoteague.  The Island Nature Trail is located along both sides of Hallie Whealton Smith Drive.  The land where the trail is located represents some of last large tracts of undeveloped land on Chincoteague Island.  The south side of Hallie Whealton Smith Drive has an accessible 0.7 mile long, paved loop path complete with benches and interpretive signs.  The north side of Hallie Whealton Smith Drive is a natural surface trail that loops approximately 0.45 miles through pine forest and glade.  We went for a walk on the 0.7 mile loop trail.

the Island Nature Trail

A Pine Siskin on the Island Nature Trail

There are three ponds that can be seen from the Island Nature Trail.

One of three ponds seen from Island Nature Trail

This bridge crosses over the third pond that we saw from the Island Nature Trail.

This is the pond over which the bridge crosses.

After our walk we returned to the wildlife refuge and drove around the Wildlife Loop, which opened up to vehicular traffic at 3:00 pm.  The highlight of our drive around the Wildlife Loop was the sighting of several tundra swans.  

Tundra Swan

On our way back to Tranquil Shores we stopped at Subway for take-out subs, which we ate at the house.

Thanksgiving Week Vacation Day 3

Today (November 23rd) is day 3 of our Thanksgiving week vacation.

It was raining at 5:30 am this morning.  I saw lightning and heard a roll of thunder (just one).  It was 61 degrees outside.  The temperature would drop throughout the day.

By 7:15 am we both had showered and gotten dressed.  Bob made a cheese omelet for breakfast.  I made instant oatmeal.  We both had hot beverages, coffee for Bob and tea for me, and orange juice.

After breakfast, we went for a short drive.  Our first destination was the nearby Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island.  We followed the Beach Access Road to the Toms Cove Visitor Center, where we turned around.   We saw a few egrets and great blue herons, as well as ducks.  We saw horses too, way way off in the distance.  I didn’t take any pictures, as the dim lighting wasn’t conducive to good quality photography. 

Our second destination was the Veterans Memorial Park back on Chincoteague Island.  The park has a good view of the Assateague Lighthouse.  Again the lighting was poor for photography, although I did get a decent picture of the boardwalk and gazebo.  Bob captured a nice picture of me inside one of the gazebos. 

Veteran’s Memorial Park Boardwalk and Gazebo

Veteran’s Memorial Park. If you look closely, you can see Assateague Lighthouse in the background.

We returned to Tranquil Shores, our rental airbnb, from the park to await the sunny skies expected at 3:00 pm this afternoon.

My most enjoyable activity, during our downtime, was sitting on the screened-in porch preparing draft blog posts.

My work station

I must admit it wasn’t easy to keep my attention on my blog, when I had such a beautiful view of the marsh to look at.

Today’s lunch was leftover Sloppy Joes, coleslaw and cottage cheese.

After lunch we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island.  We followed the Beach Access Road to Assateague Island National Seashore, stopping for photo ops.  

Snowy Egret

Great Egret

Do you see the difference between these two egrets?  The Snowy Egret has yellow feet and a black beak.  The Great Egret has black feet and a yellow beak.

Cormorant – Pose 1

Cormorant – Pose 2

Cormorant – Pose 3

We made it to the Atlantic Ocean.

Leaving the beach we made our way back up Beach Access Road.  We stopped at the parking lot for the Wildlife Loop.  We went for a walk on the Marsh Trail.  The trailhead is close to the parking lot.  The trail is .6 miles one way.  There are no side trails or confusing intersections, so there is no way to get lost.

The Wildlife Loop Marsh Trail is flat and an easy walk.

The highlight of our walk was seeing a wild pony at the trail’s overlook platform.

a Chincoteague Wild Pony

The Wildlife Loop Marsh Trail Overlook Platform is in the background. The wild pony was behind the overlook platform on the right side.

We made a loop out of the trail by walking along Wildlife Loop back to the parking lot.

 

From the refuge we drove to downtown Chincoteague and stopped at the Robert Reed Waterfront Park.  The park is decorated for Christmas, complete with a huge Christmas tree.  

The statue of Misty the horse greeted us, as we approach the Robert Reed Waterfront Park.

“Christmas by the Sea” at Robert Reed Waterfront Park

The lights are on the Christmas tree and, I believe, the lights were turned on November 16th. We will try to return to the park at nighttime to check out the lit Christmas tree.

Bob photographed me sitting on one of the “Love” chairs.

These four Adirondack chairs are 10 feet tall and weigh more than 500 pounds.  The chairs arrived in Chincoteague in the summer of 2014 and promote the state’s “Virginia is for Lovers” tourism slogan.

It was a lot easier getting into that chair than getting out of it!

Late in the afternoon we returned to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and drove around the Wildlife Loop.  The Wildlife Loop is open to vehicular traffic between the hours of 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm.  Earlier I transferred images from my camera to my iPad and had forgotten to return the memory card to my camera.  I am glad that we didn’t see anything remarkable during our drive; otherwise I would have been upset that I didn’t have a memory card!

Tonight’s dinner was take-out fish, onion rings and hush puppies from Captain Zach’s Seafood. 

My dinner from Captain Zach’s Seafood

Dinner was delicious.  Even the pickle tasted really good.

Thanksgiving Week Vacation Day 2

Today, November 22nd, is the second day of our Thanksgiving week vacation.  Breakfast was from 7:00 am-10:00 am today at our hotel — the Best Western North East Inn, located in North East, MD.  We went downstairs for breakfast a little after 7:00 am.  Because of COVID-19 breakfast wasn’t the hotel’s typical full hot breakfast, served buffet style.  Breakfast was still good, though, with selections individually wrapped.  I had a hot egg and bacon sandwich, applesauce, a banana, orange juice, a chocolate chip muffin, and a cup of tea.  Bob picked up similar selections.  We carried our breakfast to our room on a tray and ate there.

We checked out of the hotel around 8:40 am and began the last leg of our drive.  Today’s destination is Chincoteague, VA.  As was the case yesterday, the GPS is programmed to avoid highways.

We made a bathroom stop in Cambridge MD at the Dorchester County Visitor Center.  A monument caught my eye.

This is the “Flying goose” monument fountain.

You can see the “Flying Goose” from several viewpoints or see it up close.

“Flying Goose” monument fountain

Returning to our car from the “Flying Goose” monument, we spotted a lighthouse off in the distance.

View of Choptank River Lighthouse from Dorchester County Visitor Center

We hopped into the car, drove 1 mile to Long Wharf Park and parked the car.

Bob and I with the Choptank River Lighthouse in the background

Choptank River Lighthouse

Choptank River Lighthouse

and one last photograph of the picturesque lighthouse

Choptank River Lighthouse

At 12:15 pm we met Tom and his girlfriend, Ellen, for lunch at Evolution Craft Brewing Company in Salisbury, MD.  We sat outside and ate our lunch.   

Lunch with friends at EVO Brewery in Salisbury, MD

Bob ordered a pulled pork sandwich with French fries; Tom ordered a brisket sandwich with French fries; and Ellen and I ordered  Brioche French Toast with strawberries and whipped cream. 

Brioche French Toast with strawberries and whipped cream

A little background … Tom graduated with Bob’s brother, John, who is 9 years older than Bob.  When we got together for lunch, I believed that I had never met Tom and that Bob and Tom hadn’t seen each other since high school.  During lunch Tom mentioned John’s 50th birthday, and I had a vague recollection of a photograph taken during John’s 50th birthday celebration.  I found that photograph, upon our return home.

Photograph Taken on the Occasion of John’s 50th Birthday (October 2000)

Apparently in October 2000 Tom, his wife Anne (who died in May 2019), and Bob and I celebrated John’s 50th birthday together.  The four of us are in the back row on the left.  

… Fast forward to 2018 …  

Bob and Tom became Facebook friends in August 2018.  Tom and I became friends on Facebook a few months later, in January 2019.  Tom likes photographs that I share on Facebook.  He has left many complimentary comments over the years.  We message each other occasionally too.  It was via Facebook Messenger that we made plans to meet on our way to Chincoteague, VA.  Tom, Bob and I believed an outdoor setting would be the safest way to meet, given COVID-19.   

… Back to the present …

Our respective lunches were delicious, and we enjoyed our time with both Tom and Ellen (whom we met for the first time today).  We hope to meet up again one day. 

 

I think it was 2:30 pm when we left the brewery.   We drove to Food Lion in Oak Hall, VA.  We picked up a few groceries and then drove to Tranquil Shores, our Airbnb rental in Chincoteague, VA.  We arrived at the rental shortly before 4:00 pm and got settled in.  Tranquil Shores is home through Saturday, November 28th.   

Our Airbnb rental was cleaned to COVID-19 standards.  We could smell the disinfectant, when we walked into the house.  The house was spotless.  When we stayed here before, pre-COVID, the refrigerator wasn’t completely emptied out in between guests.  The refrigerator was completely emptied, when we arrived today.  The empty refrigerator, in and of itself, gave me that little extra feeling of safety.

Tonight’s dinner was Sloppy Joes, coleslaw and, for dessert, cheesecake.  We purchased a small platter that contains 8 slices of cheesecake, four different flavors.  We will enjoy cheesecake for a few days this week. 

 

 

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