What do ice-cream and Chincoteague ponies have in common?

I just knew that warm weather and working inside wasn’t going to happen.  I managed to put in a couple of hours but I needed to slip out downtown and gather some vittles as Granny from Beverly Hillbillies used to say.  Actually, sponges and dog bones mainly.  Family Dollar has these terrific soft dog bones.  Until I learn how to bake them myself, I’m going to have to shell out the two bucks per bag but the doggies love them.  It didn’t hit me until I got half way down Main when I got bit by the ice cream bug.  Pretty day, what the heck, let’s do it.

I stopped at the post office first, then headed to McDonald’s.  We have great ice cream places on the island but in my opinion, for a buck you can’t beat McDonald’s if you want vanilla which is the only kind I eat.  And the girl at the window knows it’s me every time.

“Would you like a cup of coffee for a dollar?”

“No, I’d like a vanilla ice cream cone.”

“Is that you, Miss Dotti?”

Yep, I guess I’m a regular.

After getting my cone, I took the right to go to the beach to eat it being as Family Dollar wasn’t but a few yards down the road the other way.  I debated whether to take the lighthouse trail coming back but decided to nix the idea as it looked pretty packed.  Not that that would stop me but I figured I’d catch it next time.

There is a section of this road going through the refuge to get to the beach where tourists always stop to take pictures of the ponies grazing in the marsh.  There were ponies out today and there were tourists with long lens catching that perfect pic.  But it wasn’t until I got past that when I noticed someone was walking on the side of the road.  I do wear glasses and it didn’t occur to me that it wasn’t a person – but a pony.  Right in front of me.

I’ve got one hand on a dripping cone and with the other hand I unclicked my seat belt for some odd reason (thinking back to that now, I have no idea why I did that) and fumbled for my cell phone to take a picture.  That bugger was right there but ahead of me a little.

ponies 2

And then before you knew it, walking alongside of me.

ponies 3

A little beat up but looked so beautiful.  And not scared at all.  I could have reached out and touched him if I could have maneuvered myself into the passenger seat and I know that was out of the question. Maneuvering isn’t quite as easy as it used to be.

I saw another car approaching and I knew they wanted to do the same thing so I kept on down the road toward the beach.  I wanted to check to see what kind of progress they were making to the parking lot.  People were out, even on the beach.  I’ve seen people on the beach in the dead of winter so this isn’t really unusual.  Progress looks kinda slow in the parking area but there’s much work for them to do so I imagine it’s going to take a little while longer.  They use these poles with rope if I can remember right to divide the different sections.  They weren’t up yet.  But they’re working on adding more sand/dirt/whatever it is to the parking lot itself.

The cone was devoured so I headed back toward the island.  I watched out for the little pony I saw when I was heading in and finally saw him still plodding down the road with not a worry in the world and that’s when I thought I’d take one more shot.

ponies 4

Happy trails little pony.  Maybe we’ll see you next time.

Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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Saturday Morning Bike Ride

If anyone knew me well, they would know that I was born with a bike saddle glued to my butt.  I loved to ride bike as a child and nothing has changed.  While I have gotten older, my passion for the open wind in my hair never faded.  When I moved to Chincoteague Island, one of the first things I invested in was a bike.  I’ve gone through many since that move.  I started out with a 3 speed and while it was okay to ride, it was a struggle at times.  Of course this was before I had my gall bladder out so that was one of the reasons I couldn’t take to the open road.  Once the gall bladder was out, riding bikes became a reality again.

Last Mother’s Day, my daughter surprised me with a new bike.  I had ridden hers for awhile because I liked the feel of a “no speed” bike.  They are calling it something else – beach bike or something – now but I could go faster and easier on a bike with no gears attached.  I am not sure how far I got during that summer but thank God my son bought me an odometer (has yet to hook it up as it’s digital and I have no idea what I’m doing so I’ll let him do it for me).

Alas, winter came and I couldn’t ride for months.  Oh, I tried believe me.  There are several factors that go into winter bike riding on the island.  First, the temp and second the wind.  If the temp is in the upper 40s and there’s no wind and you dress properly, you’re fine, but if there’s a little bit of wind forget it.  I have a gauge I use to figure out if I can attempt a bike ride – my neighbor’s wind sock.  If it’s laying flat, I’m good to go.

Every morning, the first thing I would do is check the temp and the second thing I would do is check that wind sock.  And today was perfect.  Low 50s but the wind sock wasn’t moving.  Yaaaay!

Even though I was a tad bit overdressed – winter coat plus zip up jacket underneath – I hit the open road.

April 11 c

It was wonderful.  I decided to take a small trip – around the “block” – being careful not to overdo it.  It was so nice to see the world as I remembered it.  Not much changes on the island.  A few shops will open up now and then – we’re even getting a few food trucks in town and a Chinese restaurant by what I hear.  But the back roads are pretty much unchangeable.  Even though it was Saturday, not many cars on the road.  Or people walking.  Not yet – believe me they will be out soon.

April 11 a

We had a thunder boomer last night so the roads were still wet but passable.  Sometimes the island floods out if there’s heavy rain, but this time it wasn’t so bad.  Having the sun out would have made it even better but that was okay.  My first bike ride of the season – nothing could damper my spirits.  I even stopped to admire some daffodils.  Spring!

April 11 b

I was about halfway through the bike ride and I rode by this house I ride by a million times and something caught my eye.

April 11 d

The owners of the house had strung a lighted sign across their canal which read “Happy Easter Jesus.”  I don’t know if you can see it but I imagine you could have seen it very well at night.  Usually a bunch of geese and I’m talking huge squawking territorial geese live across the street right at the point but I didn’t see them today.  Don’t worry – they’re there – and you have to ride really fast to get past them before they come after you.  I took the last road leading home and a new sign had been placed in the grassy marsh.  Seems someone is looking to sell that piece of property but I can tell you from experience it wouldn’t be a good idea as that place gets flooded all the time.  What buyers need to do is come over here after a big storm and they can see it for themselves.  I’m not sure how big the lot is but it’s selling for $275,000.  Prime waterfront they are calling it.  Beautiful sunsets await you.  What they don’t tell you is beautiful water up to your knees await you as well.  Stilts would be recommended not only for the house but you as well.


The bike ride was over.  I didn’t want to go back inside.  I wanted to jump back on that bike and take off to other places but responsibilities needed to be taken care of.  Can’t wait for my next one.

Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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Andra Walkins walks Natchez Trace Walk to promote new book ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis’

I have the most interesting guest today.  I love trail blazing. To launch To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, Andra Watkins was the first person of either sex to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did since the rise of steam power in the 1820′s. March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014. Fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. One rest day per week. She spent each night in the modern-day equivalent of stands, places much like Grinder’s Stand, where Meriwether Lewis died from two gunshot wounds on October 11, 1809. And while she was doing all this, she took readers into the world of the book. You’ll see the places that inspired scenes and hear the backstories of different characters, with running commentary by her father, who tagged along with her.

The Natchez Trace is a 10,000-year-old road that runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Thousands of years ago, animals used its natural ridge line as a migratory route from points in the Ohio River Valley to the salt licks in Mississippi. It was logical for the first Native Americans to settle along the Trace to follow part of their migrating food supply. When the Kaintucks settled west of the Appalachians, they had to sell their goods at ports in New Orleans or Natchez, but before steam power, they had to walk home. The Trace became one of the busiest roads in North America.

Natchez Trace Walk

This is a day by day account of her journey.

Andra answers a reader’s question.

Andra answers Question 3:

To see all her videos, click here.

About the Author

Andra WatkinsAndra Wakins is a native of Tennessee but calls Charleston, South Carolina, her home for the last 23 years.  She is the author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809.

You can visit her website at www.andrawatkins.com or follow her on Google+,Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Goodreads.

About the Book:

Is remembrance immortality? Nobody wants to be forgotten, least of all the famous.

Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his To Live Forevereagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen.

Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another.  An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.

Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.

It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.

Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.

To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?

After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.

Purchase your copy:


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Jersey Shore Amusement Park Owners Hope Summer Brings a Revival
Jersey Shore amusement park owners hope summer brings a revival (via NJ.com)

Over the past few days, the sun has been making an increasing number of cameo appearances after a long siege of storms. Of course, this could just be an interlude, a brief tease of spring before the winter barrage continues. For Hank Gehlhaus, the break…

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Is Chincoteague one of the happiest seaside towns in Virginia?


Chincoteague has been nominated as one of the happiest seaside towns in Virginia!  There’s a contest going on which seaside town in the state of the Virginia is the happiest.  The winner will be announced in the March issue of Coastal Living magazine which hit newsstands Friday.  Get out there and vote!

To vote for Chincoteague Island, click here.

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Winter is quiet here

I debated whether to keep this blog open, but I couldn’t let it go.  There are so many wonderful things about this island that I still want to share, so we’re back in business.  This blog is more or less a journal of mine living in the island with a few treats about other traveling destinations that I take or hear about and it’s so much fun to talk about travel.

Today it’s cold, but not as cold as the rest of the country so I should feel blessed, right?  We haven’t had any snow to speak of yet.  A flurry or two and I really had to look hard to see it.  Not that I’m knocking it.  Walking the dogs has become a chore with the wind blowing off the water.  I made the feral cats hanging around a couple of shelters – one made with a trash can turned on its side and the other one with an old styrofoam cooler.  Black and white mama cat loves the cooler.  I think it’s a tad warmer than the trash can even though I have lined the inside with a warm blanket and covered the outside with a tarp wrapped securely to keep out rain.  Why do I do what I do for these guys is beyond me. I guess I feel sorry for them especially when it’s bitterly cold out there.

Traffic on the island is slower than usual but you’ll get an occasional tourist or two wandering about.  Nothing much keeps them from walking the streets downtown even in rain.  I like to see them; it makes the island look less deserted.

The locals are free now to run out to the store without getting behind scooters and bicycles.  It won’t be long before tourist season begins all over again.

I’m mainly cooped up in the house until this weather gets better.  I have my work online to do so that keeps me busy while I wait for the island to thaw.  This weekend, my girlie friends and I are going to Bill’s for lunch, let them shop in town and do the bonding thing.  I can’t wait.  I haven’t seen any of them since before Christmas and I really miss them.

Time to get back to work but I wanted to send an update through.  If you are a Chincoteague blogger and you want to connect, leave me a comment and I’ll visit your blog!

Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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Just got out of the hospital

I’ve not been posting lately due to work commitments but after my gall bladder operation on Thursday, I’ve turned over a whole new leaf.  I will start traveling again and can’t wait.  I had been having stomach problems for a few years now and they kept telling me go get x-rays done to see what was going on but where they gave me pills to take I figured I’d see if the pills work first.  As it turned out I didn’t have an ulcer like they said I did and all those months of taking ulcer medicine actually wasn’t good for the gall bladder.  They told my daughter who told me later that the gall bladder was shot.  There was a gallstone wedged up in there somewhere and he was surprised I wasn’t in as much pain as I was in.  I’m kinda still groggy from the meds but will try to report back tomorrow and tell you all about it.

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I Love Saturdays: I can be me for a day

Ever since I retired from my offline job, I’ve rekindled my love for Saturdays.  The weekends are also when I don’t sponsor tour stops for my online job, so it’s like I can get up and do anything I want.  Remember how that was as a kid?  You wake up and you lie there a second and then your head shoots off the pillow and you scream, “It’s Saturday!”  My head won’t shoot anywhere like it used to but I had the very same feeling when I woke up this morning.  I can do anything I want today.  There is nowhere I’m supposed to be, no one I’m supposed to do something for and I can be…well…me for a day. ;o)

Since I have the time, I’m going to reflect back on 2012 and why I have this blog and what’s happened since I started it.

1. I actually started this blog back in February 2010.  I wanted a place I could keep up with the many travels I was partaking in at the time.  Since then, the travels have been few and not even blogged about.  For this I could kick myself because I had really high hopes for this blog.  So one of my new years resolutions is to blog here at least once a week to let everyone know what’s going on in my life not that it’s all that interesting to everyone but a few might enjoy reading about my adventures living on an island and getting off of it once in awhile to do some trail blazing or whatever.  Unless I have something really interesting going on, my blogs will take place on Saturdays.  You can sign up in the left hand corner to get updates if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything.

2. Since we’re mainly focusing on 2012, my trips have been few as I mentioned but we did get to the Outer Banks of North Carolina which is an escape and a half.  I know I know, why would anyone living on the water want to go to a vacation spot on the water?  I love the water.  Well, at least until Hurricane Sandy hit here last Fall.  Now I’m not so sure I like it as much as I once did.  I’m always ready for a change but I daresay I will make that change.  But I will say this.  Hurricanes are great for bringing in driftwood.  I have never seen so much driftwood in the time I have  lived on this island.  And that’s what I want to talk about in #3.

3. Driftwood.  I am a driftwood nut.  A fanatic.  I can’t take a walk without having my eyes peeled on the ground in the search for that piece of driftwood I may have missed the last time I walked that very spot. I wish I had taken pictures of what the road looked like after Hurricane Sandy blew through.  There was no road.  Just boards washed up, sea grass, maybe a boot or two, buckets and my precious driftwood.  It was on a trip to the Outer Banks last summer when I found my first driftwood piece that I feel deeply in love with.  It had rained and there was nothing else to do but visit shops we’d not been in before.  Granted we had been in almost all of them but the ones that we thought weren’t very interesting but this time we decided to check them out for lack of something to do on a rainy day on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It was in a shop called Nags Head Hammocks but was actually in Kill Devil Hills.  It was there I found this:


I saw it in the shop and walked out without it because of the $80 price tag and ended up going back and getting it the next day.  I thought it would look perfect on my coffee table and there she sits!  This is a driftwood bowl, btw and inside are glass balls, very nautical looking!

So that began my love for driftwood only I really didn’t realize how much it would take over my life until Hurricane Sandy hit and I was deluged with all these pieces of driftwood on the road and beside the woods, only what should I do with it all?

I did some research and there are really cool things you can do with driftwood.  Take this for example:

driftwood dog

This was made by The Driftwood Guy and the only place I could find to give him credit for this picture was this link.  Isn’t this remarkable?

While these projects require a lot of time and patience and lots of driftwood, I’m starting small with driftwood candles which I made for people for Christmas.  Here’s one:

driftwood candle 1

That was my first.  My second I made for my daughter turned out really good as well:

Driftwood candle holder

The lighting isn’t all great in the living room right now but that gives you an idea.

So these are my latest projects with more on the way.

4. Pelicans.  Okay, I’m also into pelicans.  I am on a search for pelicans.  I bought one last summer at Ocean City (Maryland) in one of the little shops on the Boardwalk and placed it on a piece of wood that Hurricane Sandy washed up:


So this is the first of many pelicans I intend to fill up this house with.  If you are selling handcrafted wooden pelicans, send me an email because I’ll buy it!

5. So back to 2012, here are the highlights.  The baby’s daddy ended up in the hospital dying from a hole in his stomach that was leaking waste from his bowels.  He recovered but ended up with a stroke.  He’s doing great now though, gotta hand it to him.  He went back to work and is almost back to normal.  My kids have been through the wringer as I have but my daughter was with him almost 24/7.  Because of this she had to test out of the first semester of RN school to make sure the hospital didn’t kill him (another story for another day) but she’s returning to school on Monday.  She’s a trooper.

6. My son and I have taken up a new pastime since all this happened – walking the beach.  Because so much was going on, and then Hurricane Sandy hit, then cold weather, but we managed to get a few trips there before the really cold weather hit.  The last trip we took was to look at the new inlet that Hurricane Sandy made and it was like being on Mars believe me.  The sand was just like pictures of Mars if you ever see one up close.  The inlet was kinda cool though.  After I got over the shock of what nature can do, I thought it would make a great place for vacationers to see and it made the beach even wider on the north end because the hurricane cleared out most of the shrubs that were there.  A bad thing but a good thing for people who love to walk the beach – more of it.  The southern end got ripped up bad but they’re working on restoring it before summer starts.  My pictures didn’t turn out so I can’t send one to you but I will the next time we make the walk.  However, I do have an aerial picture of what it looked like at the time below.  At the bottom of the picture you see a the new inlet.  Some of the sand has returned and you can actually walk across it at the part nearer to the ocean:

Hurricane Sandy 5

Well work is calling me but I wanted to give a wrap up of what’s going on in my life and keep this blog going.  Winter can be a cold thing but it doesn’t mean you have to stop living!

Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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Hurricane Sandy is here

Frankenstorm is here. I’ve got a few pictures to show you. The worse still hasn’t come yet – that’s in the window of noon and 8 or 9 p.m. tonight I think but so far it’s been a test between losing your sanity and keeping it all together. The water has come over the road, flooded the front yard and up on the carport. Not sure if it has gone into my little storage room down there but there are sandbags in front of it. We carried out most of the stuff from there last night – mainly cardboard boxes full of stuff one would normally pack in an attic. That’s my attic. Anyway here’s a picture of that:

That’s all water you see. There’s no road. Just water.

This was taken about an hour ago. We’re at high tide right now. I’m hearing strange noises up here in my “office.” The wind I know but not sure what is making it sound like that. Like a freight train. So this is my back yard to the left. Believe me there is a dirt road there somewhere.

And this is looking out my front door but to the back. I would guesstimate it to be about 8 inches of water maybe? Or a foot, not sure.

I filled up buckets of water just in case the power goes out. I need to charge up my cell. We have I believe one more high tide cycle to go through before we can breathe again.

We’re safe. We’re warm. And doing lots of praying. This ol’ island is tough.

Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion for authors. Visit www.PumpUpYourBook to find out how you can take your book to the virtual level!

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Hurricane Sandy coming

I’m sitting here on the eve of Hurricane Sandy making her grand debut on my weary island. I’m tired. We knew it was coming and all today we tried to put it out of our minds. I worked on tours like a banshee knowing I might be without power. I have authors who trust me to put a tour together for them and I don’t want to betray their trust.

It’s kind of eerie you know? Spiders are running rampant under the carport, dashing into the house once we open the door. They did this last time with Hurricane Irene. Hurricane Irene was a horse of another color altogether. After issuing a mandatory evacuation, my daughter and I grabbed the dogs and tried to outrun it, was foiled in that approach, and headed back home with our tails tucked between our legs. We had gotten all the way to Annapolis and turned around and went home. We were tired then too. If you’re biblical, much like Mary and Joseph when they looked for a place to stay. At least they found a stable, we found nothing. Seems everyone on the east coast had the same idea we had and no rooms anywhere were available.

Once we got back home, we vowed that if another hurricane ever came this way, we were staying put. Sounded all good and dandy until the eve of Sandy’s fury. I’m so tired I can’t even remember how bad they say it’s going to be but it’s going to be bad. The only hope we have is that it veers off toward the north as planned, even further north and east even would be better.

The causeway is closed and they tried to reach me on my cell but I missed the call but I’m sure it was a mandatory evacuation. Maybe I’m glad I missed the call because then it would all become too real.

I think my biggest fear is for the condo to get wiped out to sea which isn’t very far from me living on Chincoteague Island. Have you ever heard of Chincoteague? It’s a teeny tiny island off the coast of Virginia that is connected to the rest of the world by a causeway that closes when there’s inclement weather. But yeah that would be the pits.

I’m not sure how to even feel right now. I’m past the scared stage.

To everyone living on the east coast and in the path of this monster storm, please stay safe and my prayers are with you.

Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion for authors. Visit www.PumpUpYourBook to find out how you can take your book to the virtual level!

Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | YouTube | Google+ | Goodreads

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