Second day at Assateague Island. For those considering a visit to the island, I recommend doing only the Assateague Island National Seashore
(the Maryland part), and skipping the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (the Virginia part). The horses do not roam freely on the Virginia part of the island, and the trails are not very pleasant for walking, as there's less of an ocean breeze and more mosquitos and biting flies. Plus, Chincoteague is the worst kind of run-down, tourist trap beach town, full of nothing but sub-par motels, terrible restaurants, and stores selling poorly made plastic junk.
Anyway, the Maryland side was awesome. I guess most guide books assume that people are going to be doing the Virginia side since that's where the pony swim is (and the Virginia side is indeed much more crowded), so we got the impression that we might not see any ponies, since, if you're on the Virginia side, it's very likely that you won't see them. But on the Maryland side, the wild ponies are everywhere
. The first one we saw was actually on the bridge leading to the island. (He was pretending to graze on the grass growing between the road and the bridge railing, but I think he was actually trying to make a break for it.) They aren't afraid of cars or humans at all, and will walk right on the road, which also seems to be their favorite place to poop, along with the bike paths and nature trails. There aren't many trails on the Maryland side, but it's too hot and buggy to do a lot of walking, anyway. We did do the nature trails, and aside from the wild ponies, we saw herons, egrets, osprey, pelicans, and deer. It's funny to watch the pelicans fish. They "dive" into the water, but it looks more like a belly flop.
After the hikes, we went to the beach. We didn't think we'd see any ponies there, since there's no shade and nothing for them to eat, but when we crested the last sand dune before the beach, we saw a brown pony standing amidst all the beachgoers, looking kind of confused, like he had no idea how he got there or where all these people had come from. After a while, he sat down and took a nap, and it was very cute. Then a spotted pony came up over the dune, and raided an unattended beach site where people had left their food out. Spots was trying to get a bag of potato chips open, but Brown woke up and was like, "OMG, it's another male, I have to show my peen and be all masculine now." So Brown went over there and they tussled a bit, and Spots was pwned and went to stand by the surf. With the excitement over, I went back to looking for sea critters (we saw thousands of mole crabs
), and found an empty crab shell. I picked it up, and was looking at it, when I heard my mom yelling at me. I looked up, and Spots thought I had food and was coming straight at me! I dropped the shell, but he still kept coming at me, and I had to run away. It was scary~~~~ T_______T
Today, we rented bikes and went to the Virginia part of the island. The paths were nice for biking, but it would have been miserable to do them on foot. We saw a lot of egrets and a whole bunch of fiddler crabs. In the evening, we went on a sunset pony and dolphin cruise, which takes you closer to the pony areas than you can get by foot. We saw the ponies, and several osprey and great blue herons, but no dolphins. :(
Bleh, I have to get up sooooooo early tomorrow so I can ditch my mom at the airport and get down to jagen13
's before her museum closes. I want to see the mummies! :o