It am still blogging about our the day’s activities on Saturday, March 31st. We visited two Chincoteague, VA parks upon our return to home base from Assateague Island, MD.
The Robert N. Reed Downtown Waterfront Park is located at the intersection of Main and Mumford Streets.
A statue of Misty of Chincoteague stands at the entrance to the park.
The Evening Star was docked at the park.
The seagulls look different than they do at home.
This is a Bonaparte’s Gull, I believe.
There are four Adirondack chairs in the park. The 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. They had been located at Virginia’s Kiptopeke State Park since May 2012.
Someone took our picture on the “LOVE chairs” in exchange for me taking their picture.
Chincoteague Veteran’s Memorial Park, located on Eastside Road, is another lovely waterfront park. There is a great view of Assateague Island Lighthouse from Veterans Memorial Park.
Assateague Island Lighthouse,
as seen from Chincoteague Veteran’s Memorial Park
View from Chincoteague Veteran’s Memorial Park
The bridge to Assateague Island can be seen in this picture.
We checked out of Best Western Chincoteague around 6:30 the morning of Easter Sunday, April 1st, but not before enjoying a scrumptious breakfast at the hotel.
We departed the hotel at 6:40 am. Our drive home was uneventful. We made a couple bathroom stops and one fuel stop. We received a $0.10/gallon discount on the cost of fuel, as we did throughout our vacation. I found information online about the fuel discount. Exxon Mobil is offering $0.10 off per gallon at participating stations on fill ups through July 10th when you pay through the Exxon Mobil Speedpass+ app. The promotion began on March 29th. The fuel discount was a pleasant surprise.
We ate Easter dinner at Chili’s in Altoona, PA using a $25 gift card to offset the cost. Easter dinner was non-traditional. Baked ham was not on the menu. We ordered steak dinners. For dessert we shared a chocolate chip cookie with ice cream.
We returned home around 4:30 pm.
What an enjoyable vacation we had! We look forward to making a return trip to Chincoteague, VA. It is always a quiet, relaxing time away from home, when we vacation there.
On Saturday, March 31st, after another scrumptious breakfast at our hotel, we once again drove to Assateague Island and visited the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We saw deer off in the distance, crossing through the wetlands.
We watched deer pass through the marshland, as the sun rose.
Bob said one of the deer had antlers. I didn’t see that deer.
In addition to the deer, we saw egrets, a view of the Assateague Island Lighthouse from Toms Cove, several water birds at Toms Cove and a belted kingfisher (!).
Assateague Island Lighthouse,
as seen from Toms Cove
Bufflehead Duck at Toms Cove
We spent about 30 minutes at the wildlife refuge.
Several hours passed by, after we left the wildlife refuge.
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. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the southern end of Assateague Island should not be confused with Chincoteague Island, the neighboring island to the west with a residential community on it. One must drive through Chincoteague Island in order to reach Assateague Island.
On Friday, March 30th, we ate breakfast at the hotel. I had scrambled eggs, bacon and a waffle. Boy did that waffle smell good, as it cooked! I added strawberries, along with some whipped cream, to the top of my waffle. As is customary at most, if not all, Best Western hotels, breakfast is complementary. Best Western Chincoteague Island provides an excellent breakfast for its guests.
At 9:00 am we drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The Best Western Chincoteague Island is less than 1 mile from the entrance to the wildlife refuge. Admission to the 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, when I turned 62 years old. We drove to the Toms Cove Visitor Center at the Assateague Island National Seashore, where I got our Passport to Your National Parks stamped and purchased a page of souvenir stamps. Assateague Island National Seashore (Virginia) is the first National Park that we have visited, since purchasing the Passport.
We made two round trips along Beach Access Road. We saw several northern shoveler ducks, several egrets, and one great blue heron. We didn’t see any ponies.
Male and Female Northern Shoveler Ducks
Close-up Picture of Egret
Egret in Water
Egret on Tree Branch
Great Blue Heron
We returned to the hotel around 11:00 am. It was a windy, overcast, rainy, and dreary day. The 55 degree temperature, though, was nice. Weather conditions improved in the afternoon, so we returned to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
In additional to making several round trips along Beach Access Road, we walked the Woodland Trail.
The Woodland Trail is a 2-mile round trip. We saw a few ponies off in the distance, during our walk on the trail.
Chincoteague Wild Ponies
(Photo by Bob)
An Assateague Wild Pony
The trees along Woodland Trail have been destroyed by a southern pine beetle infestation.
Southern pine beetles cause much devastation.
The only thing that fell during our walk was a few rain drops… No branches or trees.
(Photo by Bob)
We drove around the Wildlife Loop two times. The Wildlife Loop is a 3¼ mile loop and is a great place to observe wildlife, especially waterfowl and wading birds. It is open to walkers and bikers throughout the day, but vehicles are only permitted to drive on it from 3:00 pm. till dusk. This trail is paved and wheelchair accessible. We saw very little wildlife during our two drives. On the second trip we did see several deer crossing through a marshy area. I didn’t have my camera with me on that drive. The deer, though, would have been too far away for a good picture.
March 29th was the start of a long weekend getaway. We were on our way out of Warren, PA at 5:30 am, en route Chincoteague Island, VA.
We stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s in Clearfield, PA. We used an order kiosk there for the first time. We had to pay at the counter, as the cashless mechanism was off line. After eating our bagel sandwiches, hash browns and beverage of choice, we were back on the road at 7:45 am.
It was a foggy drive, with dense fog at times.
This was the view on I-99 at Osterburg, PA at 9:06 am.
The fog was even more dense, as we descended the Town Hill mountain range on I-70 in Pennsylvania. The fog was close in, making me feel a little bit claustrophobic! The fog left us, after descending Town Hill. Driving conditions were good rest of the way to Chincoteague Island.
The drive would have been more interesting without the fog. It is a beautiful drive from Pennsylvania to Maryland. Because of the fog we saw very little of the countryside.
We entered Maryland at 9:55 am and crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Annapolis shortly before noon.
Crossing over the Bay Bridge
The Bay Bridge is 4.3 miles long. I suffer from gephyrophobia, the fear of bridges. I am particularly fearful of long and tall bridges. My fear originated many years ago, while crossing a bridge in Maine. I was boxed in, nowhere to go. Looking through my rear view mirror, I saw a truck closing in quickly. It was not slowing down. The truck rear-ended me. Thankfully, myself and a passenger did not sustain any injuries. We were both quite shaken, though, by the experience.
My fear of bridges has lessened over time. I used to grip the steering wheel, if I was driving (or the door handle if I was a passenger), so tightly that my fingers would turn white. Nowadays I sometimes close my eyes, if not driving, or take several deep breaths, if driving, while crossing a bridge. I am not fearful of all bridges. If traffic is light and I can see the end of the bridge, I have no fear.
We ate lunch at IHOP in Chester on Kent Island, MD. Bob ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. I had a BLT sandwich. We were back on the road at 1:00 pm.
We arrived in Virginia, via Route 12, shortly before 3:30 pm. We made it to our hotel, the Best Western Chincoteague Island, by 4:00 pm. We checked in and got settled in our room. We decided to go for a bicycle ride, after relaxing for a short time in our room.
We brought our folding bicycles with us to Virginia. After removing the bicycles from their carrying bags, unfolding them, and adjusting the seats we went for a short bicycle ride. Best Western Chincoteague Island is the closest hotel to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We rode our bicycles almost to the refuge entrance, a distance of about 1/2 mile.
On the way to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, there is a very nice view of the Assateague Channel.
Returning to the hotel, we ditched the bicycles and drove to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
Our hotel provides several outdoor bike racks.
This particular bike rack was located behind the hotel.
We drove along Beach Drive to the Assateague Island National Seashore.
We made it to the beach.
We ate dinner at the Chincoteague Diner and Restaurant, which is located conveniently next door to the Best Western Chincoteague Island hotel We have eaten at this restaurant during past Chincoteague vacations. The food has always been good. Service, though, can be on the slow side. I just think life is slower on an island than it is on the mainland. A slower lifestyle is one of the reasons that we keep coming back to Chincoteague Island.
After dinner we returned to the hotel, where we spent rest of the evening.
Oh, the hotel. I should probably tell you a little something about the hotel and our room. We like the Best Western Chincoteague Island hotel. This was our third or fourth stay at this hotel. Off season a room rate of approximately $90+tax is reasonable, especially when Discover reward point gift cards are used to defray some of the cost. The hotel location is quiet. As is customary at most, if not all, Best Western hotels breakfast is provided on a complementary basis. The hotel provides a good selection of breakfast items, hot and cold. The hotel and the rooms are clean. The hotel staff is very friendly. We selected a two queen bed room with balcony for our 3-night stay. Best Western Chincoteague Island is our go-to hotel, whenever we vacation on Chincoteague Island.
Stay tuned for more blog posts about our Chincoteague Island vacation.
We ate a later than usual breakfast at 8:00 am. No need to hurry today, as the drive to our beach house will take only 4 1/2 hours without stops or any other type of delay. Check in time at the beach house isn’t until 4:00 pm. We have plenty of time for the final leg of our trip to the Outer Banks.
Breakfast was complimentary, in a room off to the side of the lobby. As is customary at Best Western hotels, a large selection of breakfast items were available to include scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage patties, waffles, cereal, yogurt, pastries, breads, coffee, tea, orange juice, and fresh fruit.
Best Western Fredericksburg lobby was decked out for the Autumn season.
Best Western Fredericksburg
Our Best Western Fredericksburg accommodations were on the second floor. Sandy and Jim’s room was one door away from our room. You can see Bob walking toward our room and Sandy standing in the doorway of her room.
We checked out of the hotel, after breakfast. The woman in front of me was asked if her stay was OK. She said that the bed was soft and too high. The hotel clerk apologized. The woman then said that the dogs liked the bed. All three of us laughed.
Leaving the hotel, Jim led the way to the nearby Walmart. The four of us picked up a few supplies that we had forgotten (or purposely left) at home.
Bob at Walmart
Next stop was at the Walmart gas station to fill up.
At 9:35 am we began our drive to Corolla, NC.
We stopped and took a walk on Prince Street in Tappahannock, VA. According to a Wikipedia article, Tappahannock is the oldest town in Essex County, VA. It is located on the Rappahannock River and is the county seat of Essex County. Tappahannock’s name comes from an Algonquian language word lappihanne, meaning “Town on the rise and fall of water” or “where the tide ebbs and flows.” In 1608 John Smith landed in Tapphannock but was driven back by the local Native American tribe.
Essex County Courthouse
with Confederate Memorial
The statue commemorates Tappahannock and Essex County’s native sons who fought and died during the American Civil War.
A building that looked like an old theater caught my eye. I asked a man approaching us if he was from the area. When he responded “yes”, I asked what this building was. The building is the Daw Theater and is in the process of being restored.
Before leaving Tappahannock we made a bathroom stop at Sheetz. The stop provided an opportunity to pick up a mid-morning snack too. Bob purchased water and a Slim Jim. I purchased a Diet Coke. My mid-morning snack was the banana that Jim brought to me from the breakfast room, when he and Sandy checked out of the hotel. I wanted a banana, when we ate breakfast. The bowl was empty, though.
We were back on the road at 11:23 am.
We stopped for lunch at McDonald’s in Chesapeake, VA (off route 64). At the time we were approximately 2 hours (89 miles) from our vacation beach house. We were back on the road by 2:15 pm.
We crossed over the NC border at 2:40 pm and arrived at our vacation beach house, Flight of Fantasy, which is located on Pine Island in Corolla NC, at 4:00 pm.
After greeting Denise and Nic and Brenda and Terry and being given a tour of the beach house, we began to unpack our cars. We used the elevator to take everything up to the third floor. Sandy and Jim have the king master bedroom facing the sound side of the house. Bob and I have the king master bedroom facing the ocean.
We have a deck with a great view of the ocean.
After depositing our stuff in our bedroom, I helped Denise and others organize the kitchen and then unpacked and put away my clothing.
Later in the day I caught Denise, Brenda and Nancy in the pool area on their way to the beach.
Nancy, Brenda and Denise on their way to the beach
They asked me to join. I declined. Sandy and I did go to the beach a little later. We didn’t put on our swimsuits. I did roll up my jeans and put on water shoes. Sandy put on a pair of crocs.
Sandy on our boardwalk to the beach
Denise and Nancy were sitting in chairs on the beach. Brenda had gone for a walk on the beach, returning with a bag of shells.
Brenda and her bag of shells
Denise, Nancy and Brenda didn’t stay long, after Sandy and I arrived at the beach, as they were getting cold. Brenda did, though, take a few pictures of Sandy and me before returning to the beach house.
Hooray! We are on the beach!
Sandy and I
I don’t usually like pictures of myself.
I like the pictures that Brenda took!
Oh, I almost forgot. Denise, Nancy and Brenda put together gift bags for each couple. The gifts bags included Kleenex, a roll of toilet paper, two bags of cracker jacks, two bags of peanuts, two Slim Jims, playing cards, two small flashlights, a 4×6 photo frame (Denise wants me to take a picture of everyone. She wants to have 4×6 prints made and give to each couple before we leave to go home.), a large squirt gun, a bag in which to collect seashells, a flip-flop bottle opener, liquid hand soap, a bottle of Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray and a beach towel.
Sandy, Jim, Bob and I watched a beautiful sunset this evening from the front side Currituck Sound balcony.
Tonight’s dinner was pizza and homemade cake (sweet potato cake). After dinner Denise, Sandy and I chatted with each other for quite a while.
Lots of people are sharing our vacation beach house. Here are the couples who have arrived so far:
Jim and Sandy
Bob and I
Nic and Denise
Terry and Brenda
Donny and Nancy
Shawn and Sam
Still to arrive are:
Eric and Alexis
Jasper (one night)
Michael and Maggie
Jeff and Stephanie (who plan to spend Friday and Saturday nights)
We are keeping an eye on Hurricane Maria. A tropical storm watch was issued at 5:15 pm today for Corolla. Wind is forecast at 30-40 mph with gusts to 55 mph. The window for tropical storm force winds is Tuesday morning until Wednesday evening.
Bob and I and Jim and Sandy came up to bed around 9:30 pm. Michael and Maggie arrived sometime after we had retired to our room.
We spent the week of May 14th on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina. I have been uploading blog posts about our vacation since May 29th. This blog post is about our eighth, and final, day of vacation.
I wish I had slept better the night before. Bob’s snoring awakened me, and the room temperature wasn’t good. I was either too warm or cold. Apparently I slept with an ant too. While half asleep, during the night, I changed my sleeping position. I rested the side of my head on another pillow. I heard a buzzing noise…bee? fly? I turned on the light and lifted my pillow….nothing. I lifted the other pillow…nothing. I pulled back the bed sheet and shook the covers…nothing. I eventually went back to sleep. Later on, I placed my hand underneath the pillow and felt movement. I brushed my hand outward. I got up, looked underneath the pillow and saw a black, plump ant moving quickly to the head of the bed. I flattened that ant, without a moment’s thought.
We departed A Holiday Motel on Sunday, May 21, at 5:15 am, in the rain. We arrived at Cracker Barrel in Asheville, NC at 5:50 am. We had an approximate wait of 10 minutes before the restaurant opened. While we ate, it got lighter outside. The rain, however, continued. We were back on the road around 6:30 am.
Our next stop was 3 hours later at the Rocky Gap Safety Rest Area/Welcome Center, located along Interstate 77 in Virginia. The only thing noteworthy about this rest stop was some old vehicles that we saw in the parking lot.
Interstate 77 in Virginia at the
Rocky Gap Safety Rest Area/Welcome Center
The rain turned into drizzle, as we entered West Virginia and soon stopped completely.
We ate lunch at Shoney’s in Summersville, WV. We were back on the road at noon.
The Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Waynesburg is a very nice welcome center. It is full of brochures and maps about places throughout Pennsylvania, as well as coloring and activity books for children. There is also a coal miners memorial at this welcome center.
Coal Miners Memorabilia at
Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Waynesburg, PA
Monument Dedicated to all Coal Miners at
Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Waynesburg, PA
The coal miners memorial was of interest to me, as both Dad and my brother, Jim, were coal miners.
The rain started up again soon after leaving the Pennsylvania Welcome Center, and followed us home.
We got off Interstate 77 at the Slippery Rock exit, several miles sooner than routed by the GPS. We were getting tired of interstate travel.
We returned home at approximately 5:30 pm. We drove in rain at least 75% of our drive home.
We spent the week of May 14th on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina. Earlier this week I uploaded a blog post about the first day of our vacation. This blog post provides details and photographs of our second day of vacation.
We checked out of the Quality Inn Skyline Drive on Monday, May 15, at 6:20 am, after a complimentary breakfast at the hotel. We drove straightway to Skyline Drive; the north entrance was located within 2 miles of our hotel. For the next 9 1/2 hours we drove the entire length of Skyline Drive (105 miles), from Front Royal to Rockfish Gap. We stopped at LOTS of overlooks and hiked the trail to Dark Hollow Falls. Here are some of the photographs that I took at the overlooks.
Signal Knob Overlook
Mile 5.7 Elevation 2,090 feet
From the Signal Knob Overlook you can see Signal Knob, the northernmost peak of Massanutten Mountain. You can also see the south fork of the Shenandoah River.
There was a sign at Jewell Hollow Overlook that discussed wall construction. The sign read: “In the 1930s, stone walls in Shenandoah National Park were built in two styles of masonry: dry-laid and ashlar. Dry-laid walls, like those here at Jewell Hollow Overlook, could be built by less-experienced stone workers, like the young men of the CCC, since they require only moving and aligning heavy stones–more muscle than skill…”
We saw this pretty Indigo Bunting, while at the Jewell Hollow Overlook.
Stony Man Mountain Overlook
Mile 38.6 Elevation 3,100 feet
Profile of Stony Man
at the Stony Man Mountain Overlook
Skyland Resort is located at mile marker 41.7 and sits at Skyline Drive’s highest elevation, 3,680 feet.
Crescent Rock Overlook
Mile 44.4 Elevation 3,550 feet
Crescent Rock Overlook
Franklin Cliffs Overlook
Mile 49 Elevation 3,140 feet
What can I say about Dark Hollow Falls. I have hiked the trail to the falls three times. The first time was with Mom in June 1994. I was 38 years old at the time; Mom would be 56 years old in a couple months.
Mom and I at Dark Hollow Falls in June 1994.
The second time I hiked the trail to Dark Hollow Falls was with Bob in May 2001. I was 45 years old at the time.
Bob and I at Dark Hollow Falls in May 2001
Sixteen years later I hike down that trail once again to the bottom of Dark Hollow Falls. From the parking lot, which is located at mile marker 50.7 and at an elevation of 3,425 feet, the trail is a round trip of 1.4 miles. The descent is about 440 feet, which means you have to climb back up from the falls 440 feet! A trail description states that the time required to make the round trip on this trail is 1 hour and 25 minutes.
This year the thought of hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail caused me trepidation. I had a scare, while at Bushkill Falls earlier in the month. We were hiking around the Main Falls. We planned to do more hiking than that, intending to see more waterfalls than only Main Falls. I got lightheaded, shaky. My breathing was not good. My heart was beating very fast. My chest started to hurt. I sat down on a wooden rail for quite a while, until everything returned to normal. Then we began the climb back to the car. It took a while because I had to make lots of stops.
I had no trouble hiking down the Dark Hollow Falls trail.
Dark Hollow Falls trail
The hiking pole was a great help on this trail.
There were a few small waterfalls along the trail to Dark Hollow Falls.
Small waterfall along trail to Dark Hollow Falls
Another small waterfall along trail to Dark Hollow Falls
One more small waterfall along trail to Dark Hollow Falls
Dark Hollow Falls Trail
This part of the trail was bad enough going down; I wasn’t looking forward to the upward climb!
Dark Hollow Falls
Dark Hollow Falls
(photo by Bob)
Will I ever see Dark Hollow Falls again? I hope so, but I told Bob that this may be my last visit to the falls.
I took it very slow on the climb back up the trail, resting frequently. Thankfully I never experienced what I did at Bushkill Falls, while hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail. But, man was I exhausted from that hike. Toward the end I began to feel quite weak from low sugar, I think, as we had not had anything to eat since 6:00 am. I mentioned earlier that a trail description stated that the time required to make the round trip on this trail is 1 hour and 25 minutes. It took us about 2 hours to make the round trip…not bad considering all the stops I made.
Less than a mile south of the Dark Hollow Falls parking lot is Big Meadow. We ate a picnic lunch (Bumble Bee meat spread and crackers and pineapple) at Big Meadow. We also bought Blackberry ice cream (for me) and peanut butter pie (for Bob) for dessert. I believe the blackberry ice cream is available only on Skyline Drive. It is the only place I have had that ice cream flavor. When we planned our drive to Maggie Valley, via Skyline Drive, blackberry ice cream and a Shenandoah National Park t-shirt were on my list of must-haves. In addition to the ice cream, I purchased THREE t-shirts.
It was 2:10 pm, when we continued our trip south on Skyline Drive. It wasn’t long afterward that I began to feel motion sickness. Bob parked the car at an overlook. We reclined the front seats for “20 winks”. I think Bob needed a rest, as he fell asleep for a short long time. As for me, I wasn’t feeling any better. I ended up throwing up the ice cream and pineapple that I had for lunch. I felt better, after throwing up.
We exited Skyline Drive at 4:10 pm. We didn’t make any other photo op stops at any outlooks past Big Meadow.
About a mile from our hotel we stopped at a car wash in Waynesboro. The car needed a bath, as it was covered with pollen dust and a bird had crapped on the hood.
We checked into Best Western Waynesboro around 5:00 pm. Our room number was Room 414. It was a very nice room, a two queen bed suite. The sitting area, with its couch, two comfy chairs, one end table and a coffee table, was quite nice. The living and sleeping areas were separated by a half wall.
At 6:00 pm we drove to a nearby Outback Steakhouse for dinner. Bob ordered steak; I ordered chicken fingers, which Bob helped me eat. My stomach seemed to have settled; dinner didn’t upset it further.
After dinner we watched an episode of “Elementary” on Hulu.