The Beauty Around Us

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Posts tagged ‘Horses’

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 6

On Day 6 of our vacation (Thursday, April 11th), after eating breakfast, we went to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  We drove, rather than ride our bicycles.  It was a chilly and windy morning, with a temperature reading of 49 degrees.

We saw NINE wild horses in the lighthouse parking lot and watched as they walked down Beach Access Road to the Wildlife Loop. 

Wild Ponies in the Lighthouse Parking Lot

Wild Pony in the Lighthouse Parking Lot

Wild Ponies in the Lighthouse Parking Lot

Wild Ponies Walking Down the Beach Access Road Towards the Wildlife Loop

Wild Ponies Walking Along the Beach Access Road to the Wildlife Loop

There are 8 wild ponies in these two pictures; however, we saw a total of 9 ponies.

Wild Ponies Walking Toward the Wildlife Loop

One of 9 Wild Ponies Making its Way to the Wildlife Loop

This was the straggler, the 9th wild pony.

Seeing the horses was really cool.  We have always seen evidence that the horses have been on Beach Access Road, but had not seen them there before.

Before leaving the Wildlife Refuge, we visited the Assateague Lighthouse.

Assateauge Lighthouse

The Assateague Lighthouse stands 142 feet high.

After visiting the lighthouse, we returned to the warmth of our vacation home.  Bob turned on the heat for the first time since our arrival.  For the next few hours I washed, dried and folded two loads of laundry; we ate lunch (ready-made lasagna and cheesecake); and we relaxed, enjoying the peaceful setting of our Airbnb vacation home, Tranquil Shores.  

Around 3:00 pm we left for one more visit to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We drove around the Wildlife Loop three times.

Wildlife Loop Snake

Wildlife Loop Great Blue Heron

Wildlife Loop Cattle Egret

Wildlife Loop Turtle

Turtle Crossing the Road at Wildlife Loop

Wildlife Loop Little Blue Heron (adult)

We drove also to the beach and back, along Beach Access Road.  We were saying so long, until next time, to a place that we have grown to love.

Leaving the Wildlife Refuge, we picked up a 12-inch sub at Subway to share for dinner and went to Island Creamery for ice cream.  Yes!  We ate dessert first.

Returning to our vacation home around 5:00 pm we discovered piles of dirt had been placed in the deep holes (craters in some instances LOL) on the road to Tranquil Shores.  Thankfully a resident pulled in after us.  We didn’t know if we should drive on the grassy area to the right of the dirt piles (to go around them).  She told us it was okay.  According to the resident, the piles of dirt will be graded the next day.  I passed this information to our host, as I thought he might be interested.  Our host replied: “I’m so glad we finally have it getting done. Last winter was so hard on the road!  Corralling all the neighbors to pitch in was a project in and of itself!”  

TO BE CONTINUED

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 5

On the morning of Day 5 of our vacation (Wednesday, April 10th) we rode our bicycles from Tranquil Shores (our vacation home) to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island, VA. It is approximately 2 miles from Tranquil Shores to the entrance booths. 

We followed the bicycle trail to Woodland Trail.  We rode the Woodland Trail, where we saw several wild horses in the marshland. 

Woodland Trail – Wild Ponies

Leaving Woodland Trail we took the Black Duck Trail to the Wildlife Loop.  We rode the Wildlife Loop. We saw egrets, birds and wild ponies. 

Wildlife Loop – Snowy Egret

Wildlife Loop – Red-Winged Blackbird

For the first time since 2011, when we first visited the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, we saw wild horses in the marsh, while on the Wildlife Loop. 

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

 

From the Wildlife Loop we returned to Tranquil Shores. 

Crossing bridge from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island (Beach Access Road)

We rode 11.69 bicycle miles in the morning.

We ate lunch at Metompkin Seafood Market in Bloxom VA, which was a 13-mile drive from Chincoteague. 

Metopkin Seafood Market

Metopkin Seafood Market
Food ordered here.

Metopkin Seafood Market
Fresh Seafood

Bob ordered a fish and scallop platter.  I ordered a fish platter.  We both had two generous pieces of fish with French fries, coleslaw and hush puppies.  Bob had scallops in addition to the fish.  There were three cats that were looking for handouts.  

A bold cat at Metopkin Seafood Market

 

On our way to Metompkin Seafood and on our way back to Chincoteague, U.S. Navy airplanes kept circling us.

U.S. Navy airplane

U.S. Navy airplane

I took these photographs from inside our car, through the windshield. We were traveling at about 55 MPH at the time. The airplanes were flying from NASA Wallops Flight Facility. It was awesome having the airplanes fly so close to us!

Before returning to our vacation home, we stopped for homemade ice cream at the Island Creamery.  

Island Creamery

Island Creamery
Ice Cream Selections

Bob ordered two scoops of coffee ice cream in a cup.  I ordered one scoop of Peanut Butter Cup and one scoop of Peanut Butter Chocolate, also in a cup.  Delicious!

We went for a drive around the Wildlife Loop in the evening.  The wild horses that we saw in the morning were still there.  The horses were even a little closer to the road than they were in the morning. 

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Ponies

Wildlife Loop – Wild Pony

For dinner we ate salad.  Bob had a Cobb salad; I had a chef salad.  Neither of us were very hungry after eating a big lunch and ice cream.

Later in the evening we watched a few episodes of NYPD Blue and then went to bed.

I hope that you are not getting tired of seeing photographs of wild ponies.  I will be sharing more wild pony photographs in my next blog post.  Those ponies were closer to us than all of our other encounters!

TO BE CONTINUED

Chincoteague Vacation – Day 4

Late in the morning we rode our bicycles in the neighborhood to Veteran’s Memorial Park. 

Veteran’s Memorial Park sits along the Assateague Channel

Our round trip ride was 5 miles.

We ate lunch at McDonald’s and then drove onto the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, stopping for photo opportunities along Beach Access Road.  We saw wild ponies in the marsh, closer than we have seen them in past years.  There were wild ponies in the pony corral, too, near the Woodland Trail.

According to a delmava now news story, published on April 1st, “Chincoteague pony stallion Riptide and his band were penned in the south corral on Assateague Island after visitors to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge disregarded warnings not to approach the wild ponies…The ponies will remain in the corral until the spring roundup April 12 and 13”.

We saw great blue herons, egrets and wood ducks.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Pair of Hooded Mergansers (Thanks EileeninMD for ID)

We spent a couple hours at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, before returning to our vacation home.  We relaxed for a couple hours.

We returned to the Wildlife Refuge around 4:30 pm.  We went for a drive around the Wildlife Loop.  We saw birds, a fox, Sika deer, egrets, turtles, snapping turtles and a muskrat.

Red-Wing Blackbird

Mama Fox

Mama Fox – What a face!

Mama Fox

Two Egrets

I love the reflections!

Two Egrets, a Great Egret taking flight

Three Egrets, a Snowy Egret in flight

Snowy Egret

 

Muskrat

Snapping Turtle

Painted Turtle

Two Snapping Turtles Mating

Leaving the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, after an approximately 45-minute visit, we drove to Food Lion and picked up dinners for three nights (through Thursday).  Our purchases included three ready-made salads and three Culinevo ready-made dinner entrees–lasagna, beef stew and beef and noodles.  All dinner entrees are microwaveable. We shared a Chef Salad and the beef stew for dinner.  For dessert we had cheesecake.

We watched a few more episodes of NYPD Blue and 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.

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.

_LG25701
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

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.

20180331_133523768_iOS

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.

20180410_131244399_iOS
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.

20180410_131341628_iOS
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 – 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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