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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Perfect Winter Get-Away - picture laden

Saturday morning we got up, packed up, bundled up and drove to Chincoteague Island to visit COUSINS! Beloved cousins we haven't seen in so many years it was becoming too many years. Chincoteague is at the north end of the Virginia part of the Eastern Shore and it's about the same miles of driving if we take the Bay Bridge at Annapolis or the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. Being good Virginians, we took the southern route across the CBBT. It's more expensive but there's less congested traffic.

Here we are, saying goodbye to VaBeach.

There were 11 ships anchored off shore - they look empty to me.

Only one intrepid pleasure boater was out on the cold waters of the bay on Saturday - if you look at the horizon you can see one of the bridge spans connecting the tunnels.

Here is the last span of the bridge - taking you on to Fisherman's Island and then onto the Eastern Shore.

Misty of Chincoteague [Book]The drive goes up and up and up nawth through the cutest little teensy weensy towns, often no more than 25 or 30 houses: Kiptopeake, Cedar Grove, Fairview, Matchipongo, Birdnest. Then there's the much bigger Exmore, as big as my little town of Tappahannock. You drive through Painter, Malfa, Onley, and if you take the 13 business route, you can go through Accomac where the public library is, through Nelsonia, Mappeville, Temperanceville to Oak Hall where Hwy 175 turns east and takes you through Wallops Station and onto Chincoteague - home of Misty, of Chincoteague.

Hello Chincoteague!!

I love these eastern barrier islands that run up and down the east coast. The accents, the crowded architecture, the quaint sea themes. Last summer we savored the delights of Tangier. I grew up spending my summer vacation on Ocracoke Island, NC. They all share the same atmosphere. There's nothing of the expensive new slickness about these places. They're all just too close to the water and too close to their fishing origins.

Plenty of businesses were open, including the bookstore - where BD sold some of his John Smith in the Chesapeake books but also some of his poetry.

Wanna guess why this is called Church Street? Yup. I'd just passed 2 other churches before I thought to snap this photo.
Here is where we were headed - the vacation home of realio trulio favorite cousins. They've been coming here for years in the summer time but now they're discovering the joys of the marshy wilds in winter.

These are the views from their front porch. Islands, Bridges, Lighthouses. Oh. Yes. and now and then, the wild ponies. 

We were too busy talking - catching up after several years of only making phone contact - to do anything else on Saturday. It was just talk talk talk ... and sip wine and eat fried oysters ... and talk talk talk. But on Sunday morning we headed off to explore Assateague - where the ponies come from. It's also where the ocean brings up marvelous shells all winter long for those intrepid enough to seek them out. And oh... it's where there are birds and trees and booming crashing surf and all that is what I love about the Atlantic coast.

This really is a bird lover's paradise. The small birds like kingfishers and shoveler ducks were too fast for me to catch - or too far away. But these larger ones made perfect models for wildlife calendars.

Here is a huge flock of snow geese, coming in for a landing - doesn't this picture make you wish you could fly?

Herons live in my marshes too, but that's no reason not to admire these guys.

This fellow really displayed his colors for me and never did fly away. Obviously he's an extrovert and likes having his picture taken.

Can't exactly call this bunch wild life - but we made a little flock. And of course, here's proof of the ocean! And yes. I did take my shoes off and splash out into the surf - where my feet burned like fire for the space of two waves, before I dashed back, shrieking, to dust them off and don my shoes again.

Cousin C and I agree - we have the absolutely world's best husbands!

Of course - it's PONIES that this place is really famous for. At least, I could never think of Chincoteague or Assateague without thinking of the wild ponies. A portion of them are herded up around 4th of July and auctioned off to raise money for the fire department. It's been going on now, for 85 years. They're so wide because they eat such a salty diet. I wonder if those North Ronaldsay sheep are bloated in the same way.

When we were near the end of our walk, we came upon these three. They seem to have gotten out of their regular territory and were heading back to the herd - which we could see way off in the distance. This funny guy stood for the longest time, just pondering - while the people in the car seemed delighted to observe. Unlike the jerk who drove along a few minutes later and crowded the others out of the road.

But the day wore on - it was one o'clock before we got back to clams and shrimp for lunch. Yum. and then it was time to retrace our steps, back down the Eastern Shore, across to VaBeach. Here is the view, crossing the bay into the setting sun.

And then we were back home, to our dogs and our marshes and our wild birds. But we're still sighing and thinking about the next trip out to that lovely island and those lovely cousins. A perfect winter get-a-way.

P.S. I believe you can click on these pictures to make them bigger.


  1. Thank you for sharing that! Lovely photos.

    Someday, I hope to make time to go see Chincoteague.

  2. Beautiful animals. I had no idea you could be that close to them. I worked with a girl from Chincoteague once. She never talked about the ponies unless we asked.

    Looks like you had a beautiful time with your family!

    I noticed a red and white hat in one of the pictures. Did you knit that?

  3. Lovely ponies! The birdlife would be marvelous to see, as well. Lucky you!

  4. Good eye, Kim - I did knit that hat - years ago - I actually have a basket full of hats in the front hall for anyone who needs a hat. CousinW liked this one and I was thrilled to pass it along. He wore it the rest of the weekend, whenever he went outdoors. What a compliment to me.