Assateague Island National Seashore is located close to Chincoteague Island, Virginia and Ocean City, Maryland. Assateague contains over 37 miles of pristine beach. More than 300 wild ponies wander the beaches, inland pine forest, and salt marshes. Assateague became a National Park in 1965 and together with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuge and State Park, the land and water boundaries of Assateague Island total over 48,000 acres in Maryland & Virginia.
Assateague Island is a vital resting and feeding area for a large variety of birds. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is located on Assateague Island and is one of the most popular birding destinations in the United States. Assateague bird watchers enjoy the island's wealth of over 300 species of migratory and resident birds. Assateague is an essential part of the Atlantic flyway; prime habitat for thousands of waterfowl and other birds with migration instincts that carry them north and south annually.
Visitors can enjoy the world famous "wild horses" at Assateague. Some people believe that the wild ponies of Assateague arrived on Assateague Island when a Spanish galleon cargo ship (with a cargo of horses) sank off the coast and the horses swam to shore. Others believe the wild horses arrived there via early colonial settlers. Recently in 1997, a Spanish shipwreck was discovered off Assateague Island, which lends credit to the first theory. In any event, the ponies have become well adapted to the seashore ecosystem. Wild horses feed on saltmarsh cordgrass, dune grasses, bayberry twigs, rosehips & persimmons. (from the Internet)
So off we drove and found few road signs and so we got "lost" except you can't get lost when the point of the journey is to see "off the beaten path" things- so we made our way to the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge and saw a lot of green...
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1933 as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is home to an incredible amount of plant and animal diversity in its three major habitats – forest, marsh and shallow water. The refuge contains one-third of Maryland's tidal wetlands, which makes it an ecologically important area within the state. These wetlands also provide storm protection to lower Dorchester County, including the town of Cambridge. Blackwater NWR is recognized as a "Wetland of International Importance" by the Ramsar Convention and was named a priority wetland in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. In addition, Blackwater NWR has been designated as an Internationally Important Bird Area.
Blackwater NWR is home to the largest natural population of formerly endangered Delmarva peninsula fox squirrels and is also home to the largest breeding population of American bald eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida.
The refuge has been referred to as the "Everglades of the North," and has been called one of the "Last Great Places" by the Nature Conservancy.
and we did drive around the entirety of the of the Assateague National Park but only found this one lone pony... boo hoo... so it was on to Ocean City (or as I call it "the Dells on the shore" -
There was an interesting museum about life saving (of shipwrecks) from the Atlantic Shore-
It also had displays on historic Ocean City- a tourist Mecca for more than a century!
a collection of sand from beaches worldwide!!! LOL
from a surfing exhibit-
along the boardwalk-
souvenirs old (below) and new (above)
we walked to dinner nearby and had a very good meal -
in the morning the sun peaked through the clouds -
and some cross hatching of town gave us this nice shot -
and we headed out of town and up the coast into Delaware to get the ferry to take a ride across the water to Cape May NJ-
Cape May is a lovely town with many many Victorian style B&B homes
It also has the usual recreational activities of any resort town but it is definitely more tasteful than either the Dells or Ocean City--
we had dinner (having arrived too late for the last trolley tour - we did some cross hatching of downtown before heading to an early meal - my delicious crab cakes and TB's tofu stir fry
excellent rolls! so puffy and served fresh out of the oven -
Hyland Motor Inn- our rooms for the night in Cape May Courthouse -
then in the AM we grabbed breakfast and headed back to the ferry to get to the Military Air Transport Museum on Saturday before it closed for the weekend
so off to Delaware and some time in museums there- so stay tuned for the next posts.... there is always more...
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