The Beauty Around Us

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

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 4 – Assateague Island MD

Today (November 24th) is day 4 of our Thanksgiving week vacation.

Today we drove to Assateague Island National Seashore (Assateague Island, MD).

… a short geography lesson …

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. 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.

We drove through Pocomoke City on our drive to Assateague Island, MD and went through Girdletree on our way back to Chincoteague, VA.

 

While at Assateague Island National Seashore, we saw several wild ponies.

These two ponies were next to each other.

Three more wild ponies

All five of these wild ponies were located near each other, in a parking lot.

Also, we took a walk along the Life of the Marsh Trail.   An extensive boardwalk takes visitors out and over the salt marsh.

Life of the Marsh Boardwalk

Life of the Marsh Boardwalk

We enjoyed the trail, even though it was a chilly walk.  The temperature was in the upper 30s.

By 10:00 am we were on our way back to Chincoteague, VA.  As we were leaving the island, we saw two more wild ponies grazing alongside the road.

Wild Ponies

This year marks our sixth 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, 2016, 2018 and 2019.  This is our third visit to the Assateague Island National Seashore, located on Assateague Island, MD.  We visited the Maryland portion of Assateague Island previously in 2018 and 2019.

We didn’t stay long at Assateague Island, MD.  We prefer the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge for bird watching and all things nature.  It is nice, though, to visit the northern portion of the Assateague Island National Seashore where we can see the wild ponies up close and personal.

There is more to write about for the 4th day of our vacation, so be on the lookout for Day 4 Part 2.

 

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