Monday, July 28, 2008

The Islands, Mon!

When we left Chestertown, we went down the Maryland/Virginia Peninsula to Assateague Island.  There is a herd of wild horses there that legend has it was shipwrecked on the island from a Spanish galleon hundreds of years ago.  Every year, for the past hundred years or so, the fireman of Chincoteague Island round up the horses and swim them across the Assateague channel to Chincoteague for an auction.  This helps keep the herd population manageable for its small grazing area and raises money for the volunteer fire department. 

We hiked up to the lighthouse

but wimped out on climbing 145 feet to the top.  (I figured my chances of having to carry someone at least part of the way was VERY high!)

Even without going to the top, the view was incredible.

After visiting the lighthouse we went to see the ponies!  Pony Penning Day is Wednesday, and thousands of people attend every year! The popularity of the event comes in part from the classic children's book Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. The ponies had already been rounded up for the swim.

This was disappointing because we really wanted to see the ponies in the wild-swimming in the surf and grazing on the salt marshes.  However, since they live on a wildlife preserve, sometimes they are not visible from the road and we didn't have the time to take the tour boat ride around the island.  So it was probably for the best-at least we got to see them.

Genetically the animals are horses.  But due to the harsh conditions they exist in, their growth has been stunted and they are considered (by their height) to be ponies.  The ponies graze on the salt grass marshes and due to the high salt content drink a LOT of water.  This gives them their bloated appearance.

All of the horses (even the males) look pregnant!  The foals are ADORABLE.

Afterwards we went to the beach for a while to do some wading and shelling.  We haven't been to the beach since Carolyn was three months old, so neither she nor Coleman remember it.  They had a BLAST.  The water was FREEZING but it was beautiful on the beach with a great breeze.  The shelling was a little disappointing, but the kids didn't care!

They built sandcastles 

and ran in and out of the waves.

Everyone was disappointed when it was time to go-even me! 

After we left the island we decided to stop for seafood.  I'm allergic to shellfish, so that meant a grouper sandwich for me.  Carolyn just had to have chicken nuggets (she really went out on a limb!) but the boys wanted crabs and got the all-you-can eat platter.  

They ate for a LONG time.  I am amazed at how much seafood they ate!  Between the two of them, they ate over 2 dozen crabs, 3 dozen boiled shrimp and 4 dozen clams.  I think I got my money's worth.  There was nothing for Carolyn and me to do but sit and watch! 

It was a long drive home, but everyone was very good and there was no excitement.  Jim was very happy to see us when we dragged in Monday night!


Kim Thomas said...

Of all my times in Maryland I have never seen these horses....I have however had crabs on every visit. Seeing them makes me jealous!

Wendy said...

Looks like y'all had an awesome vacation! I always loved that book "Misty of Chincoteague."

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