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Posts tagged ‘Easter 2018 Vacation’

Easter Vacation – Chincoteague Island, VA and Returning Home

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.

_LG25703A statue of Misty of Chincoteague stands at the entrance to the park.

_LG25708The Evening Star was docked at the park.

The seagulls look different than they do at home.

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This is a Bonaparte’s Gull, I believe.

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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.

20180331_193301597_iOSSomeone 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.

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Assateague Island Lighthouse,
as seen from Chincoteague Veteran’s Memorial Park

_LG25715View 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.

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.

 

Easter Vacation – More Assateague Island, VA

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.

_LG25608We watched deer pass through the marshland, as the sun rose.

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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 (!).

_LG25611Egret

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Assateague Island Lighthouse,
as seen from Toms Cove

_LG25617Bufflehead Duck at Toms Cove

_LG25620More egret

_LG25625Belted Kingfisher

We spent about 30 minutes at the wildlife refuge.

Several hours passed by, after we left the wildlife refuge.

 

 

 


Photo obtained here.

 

 

 

We didn’t return to the hotel until 4:20 pm, at which time we discovered that the Easter bunny had been in our room.

20180331_202039671_iOSThe Easter bunny left us a small Easter basket.

Around 5:30 pm we went for one last drive through the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We saw birds, the Assateague Island Lighthouse and, while on the Wildlife Loop, a pair of Sika Deer!

_LG25716Long-Legged Wading Bird

_LG25723Great Blue Heron

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Assateague Island Lighthouse

_LG25729Sika Deer

One could make the assumption that we did very little this day. How wrong that assumption would be, as you will discover in the next several blog posts about our Easter vacation.

Easter Vacation – Assateague Island, VA

Background

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.

_LG25589Male and Female Northern Shoveler Ducks

_LG25574Close-up Picture of Egret

_LG25578Egret in Water

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Egret on Tree Branch

_LG25582Great 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.

IMG_20180330_135122Chincoteague Wild Ponies
(Photo by Bob)

_LG25595An Assateague Wild Pony

The trees along Woodland Trail have been destroyed by a southern pine beetle infestation.

MVIMG_20180330_142904Southern 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.

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