Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ocean City Maryland, Chincoteague and Assateague

October 22, 2012

Having left Delaware, we headed south on Rt. 13 to find the Atlantic Ocean and some beachy places.

Our first stop was Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, where we took a short walk on the boardwalk, visited a few shops, ate a wonderful ice cream cone, and then got back on the road.  We had a reservation at a hotel on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland.

We're beach people.  We're sort of convinced that a beach is a beach, and as long as we have a sturdy chair and a good book, it's pretty hard to not like where we are.  We'd enjoyed our short stop at Rehoboth, and our overnight visit to Ocean City wasn't disappointing, either. The ocean was right where it was supposed to be, and a beach was in front of it. The sun didn't let us down.

Ocean City, however, seems to have the ocean bordered by high rise buildings.  No small houses painted bright yellow and purple, just very tall buildings and lots of traffic.  I can imagine this place during the summer, and the words "ant hill" come to mind.  I suppose other beach people might like it.

Our hotel reservation was at the Comfort Inn on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland. We had a wonderful room with a kitchenette that included a microwave, stove-top, a refrigerator and a cupboard complete with dishes and silverware. This was nice for us, as we had soup from the soup swap with us. We were delighted with the hotel.  Dinner followed a long walk up the boardwalk.

Off-season means that many places are closed or closing.  We noticed that Rehoboth Beach had sales in most of their stores, readying to close at the end of October.  Most of the shops on the boardwalk in Ocean City were already closed, but we did manage to read a few lewd tee-shirts and hide from paintings on velvet.  I was looking for a good book store, but did not find one.

In the morning we continued our slow trek south on Rt. 13, with the intent of taking our time and seeing the east coast of Maryland and Virginia. The main target was Chincoteague Island and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia.  The best way I can show you where this is seems to be by the photo I shot of "Thelma" (our GPS unit) once we had arrived there.  Remember, the little car on the map is "us."

When we first crossed onto the island, we toured the little town of Chincoteague. It has small motels and B and B's and looks inviting. Galleries and shops made us wish we could stay.  We drove out to see the Pony Center, but found it closed, so we continued driving until we saw the Assateague Lighthouse peeking over some treetops. In order to get into this National Wildlife Refuge, we showed our "old folk pass," and saved eight dollars.  We climbed a hill on a path through some very thick forestation to find the lighthouse.

A Nature Center had wonderful displays showing all of the birds and animals that are living in this area. Bald eagles nest in the park, but visitors cannot go to the areas where they nest so that they are not frightened away. We saw many herons, white and blue, and some Canadian geese which made us feel right at home.  There is a three-mile "loop" which people can walk during the day or drive around after 3 PM. 

To kill a quarter of an hour before 3 PM, we drove to the southernmost point of Assateague Island to Tom's Cove, which seems to be a fine camping place.  All we noticed was the beautiful beach, and we managed to enjoy it until it was time to drive "the loop."

Chincoteague and Assateague are famous for its wild horses that roam the island. We heard that the horses could be descended from horses set free by English settlers or from shipwrecks of Spanish sailors who were bringing horses to the New World.  Either may be true, or there may even be another explanation, but nevertheless, the ponies are there. Marguerite Henry's famous book, Misty of Chincoteague made the horses famous. (Unfortunately, the shop at the nature center was out of copies of this book, which would have made a wonderful souvenir.)

The island has marsh areas where we heard that the horses could be seen, but were not, at least by us.  The marshes, however, were beautiful in themselves, ponies or not. The drive on the 3 mile loop was beautiful.  A few photos here will save several thousand words.

You don't see any ponies or horses in these scenes, and neither did we. Some locals told us to come back at dusk, but that was not in the plan.  We looked at the ponies at a website, and you can, too.  I confess that during the entire time we were on Assateague and Chincoteague we did not know if we were in Maryland or in Virginia. Thelma didn't seem to know where we were, either............but it was all beautiful.

To learn more about Chincoteague and Assateague, you can go to these websites: