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Is Chincoteague one of the happiest seaside towns in Virginia?

Chincoteague

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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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:

driftwood

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:

Pelican

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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Chincoteague Blueberry Festival ‘12 celebrates National Blueberry Month

Chincoteague Blueberry Festival '12

I meant to blog this days ago.  One of my offline friends (I must be on the computer too much that I’m distinguishing between offline and online friends, lol) so let me rephrase that.  One of my traveling buddies called me up and wanted me to go to the Blueberry Festival that was being held last Saturday.  Of all the years I have been here, I’ve never been.  I love blueberries, especially fresh blueberries and also especially blueberry pancakes, and even though I had a million trillion things to do, I took her up on the offer.

Her name is Barbara and she’s the sweetest person you’d ever want to meet.  If you want to go somewhere, she’s right there in a heartbeat.  I used to work with her and she’s now retired and I quit to work on my PR stuff so we’re perfect candidates to just take off and go wherever we want.

It was…okay. It was nice being with Barbara and doing something that wasn’t PR related or didn’t have to do with cleaning the ex’s house (long story).  Okay I guess I have to explain that one.  My kids’ daddy went to the hospital for a sick stomach and ended up having some of his colon taken out and while there he developed pneumonia (let’s give a rah rah for Riverside) and on top of that he got a stroke on his left side (another rah rah for Riverside who I guess believes in overmedicating people.  Just sayin’).

So anyway, he ended up at the stroke rehabilitative center in Salisbury and is coming home on Wednesday which just so happens is Pony Penning Day here and there will be mobs of people everywhere.  So for the last few weeks, my son and I have been making his home let’s just say more habitable and I have discovered aches and pains I didn’t know existed.

But it’s been a great bonding time with my son who I discovered is more independent and smarter than I gave him credit for.

But back to the Blueberry Festival, if I had to rank this festival 1 – 10, I would give it probably a 7.  Now that’s just me but how many more booths am I going to see with sea glass jewelry?  Good God it was sea glass jewelry this and sea glass jewelry that.  Then there was blueberry preserves.  I didn’t want blueberry preserves, I wanted jam, and the lady behind the booth was telling me something like it’s just as good and I had to tell her no it wasn’t, it has seeds in it which I don’t like.

But I did buy a pint of blueberries outside which I probably could have bought at Walmart.

I don’t know, you had to pay $5 to get in and then once in, it was like how many times am I going to have to walk past sea glass jewelry?

Chincoteague Blueberry Festival '12 - 2

Afterwards, I told Barbara we’re going to play tourist.  I LOVE playing tourist.  All you have to do is walk down the main street and pop in the stores and ogle over all the Chincoteague t-shirts and other island trinkets and act as if you’re having fun doing it.

After we tired of that, we went to eat lunch at Bill’s.  Omg.  Okay so I hadn’t had their steamed shrimp for awhile and good Lord those babies were huge.  And delicious. I had a salad with it which was pretty darn good and omg the coffee.  I hadn’t had coffee for awhile and sitting there with Barbara drinking coffee was just like old times.

Overall, I’d give the festival maybe a 5 instead of a 7 and give Bill’s coffee a perfect 10.

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Hurricane Earl on its way

Of all the natural disasters there are in the world, nothing scares the pee terrifies me more than hurricanes, especially living on Chincoteague Island.  We’ve weathered more tropical depressions than I care to remember (love the one last year where my house turned into a houseboat) and I’ve only been here a few years.  Do I remember it being so bad in earlier years?

We’ve been tracking Hurricane Earl (now I hear there are 3 more out there waiting to descend on the east coast) since yesterday.

Hurricane EarlLooks like this storm is going to do some powerful damage before it’s all said and done, but we’ve decided to batten down the hatches and weather it out unless we’re evacuated.

I’ve got to run into town to find some hurricane candles in case the electricity goes out and some doggie food (thank god for hand can openers), stop off at the bank and fill my gas tank up.

Tomorrow it’s supposed to hit the Outer Banks and we’ll know more what we’re dealing with.  In the morning, my daughter and I are heading out to the store before everyone else does to stock up on some food.  The only fear I have is that the electricity goes out so we’ll have to stock up on stuff that can be eaten without cooking, too.

According to what I can figure out, rain should start Thursday night and Friday morning, it’ll be upon us.  The eye is supposed to stay out in the Atlantic thanks to that wonderful trough that’s going to keep it out there (so we’re hoping).

If we don’t get evacuated, I’ll be taking pictures and video as it passes over.

Wish us good luck and safety!
Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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Chincoteague: One of ‘America’s Best Little Beach Towns’

I’m happy to announce Chincoteague made the list for America’s Best Little Beach Towns in Yahoo Travel today and AOL Travel gave it the #1 spot!  Oh Lord I can hear the pitter patter of tourists’ feet now.  Seriously, it’s the tourists that keep this place alive so I shouldn’t complain, should I?

Island Chick - SunsetSunset over the Chincoteague channel

As a year round resident, I’ve seen the seasons come and go.  Spring it starts getting alive, summer it’s crazy, fall is bird watcher season and winter is downright almost dead thanks to those frigid winds coming off the channel and the Atlantic.  Brr..makes me shiver just to think about it.

But Chincoteague has been my fulltime home for the last three years.  Has my opinion changed of it?  Not all all despite the tourists and the winters, it’s still paradise.  My only irks are the scooters and sightseeing tourists who don’t think about the residents having to get to work for example and they’ll be plodding around at 10 m.p.h. and you can’t pass them or they’ll give you a ticket faster than you can say “God give me Labor Day.”

All joking aside, as one of my neighbors put it after I asked him how was he managing with the noise from next door, “It comes with the territory.”

Yep, we choose to live in a resort town and we’ve got to suck it up.

One good thing?  You can run around with no make-up, bed hair and pajamas and everyone just thinks you’re a tourist and don’t pay you any mind.  Ahhh…the advantages of living in one of America’s best little beach towns.
Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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Chincoteague’s Best Kept Secret – The Doggie Park

If one were to travel to Chincoteague with their doggie friend in tow, as a lot of people do, it’s really no problem finding a place for them to do their multi-daily constitutional.  Most bring bags (the city folks) and then there are some who let Fido go do their thing by the millions of pine trees scattered all over the island.

And let’s just say they want to give Fido a little walk?  Anyone traveling down Main Street can catch a glimpse of dog walkers even in winter.  They. Are. Everywhere.  Small doggies.  Big Doggies.  Cute doggies.  Ugly doggies.  Doggies you want to jump out of your car and sqeeze and doggies you think only a mother could love.

But…there are many places closed to dogs.  The beach and the one park are always closed to dogs.

So what if you thought this wasn’t really fair as Fido really enjoys those nature spots as much as you do?

There’s a little known place here on the island that I refer to as ‘The Doggie Park.’

Although I’ve only lived here three years, I’ve lived not far from here almost all my life and I never even knew this place existed.  There’s a good reason for this.  The locals don’t want you to know about it.  Every summer, the locals are bombarded by tourists invading all the hot spots leaving the locals counting down to the day when it’s too cold for them to come and that’s a shame because then it’s too cold for them to do anything either.

This doggie park was revealed to me by a friend of my daughter’s.  One day we checked it out.  O.M.G.  It’s maybe a half mile walk around a loop through pines and other Chincoteague native trees and bushes.  There are benches along the way.  There are covered trash cans along the way (for the city slickers to get rid of their doggie doo bags I’m presuming), there’s a bridge and there’s a pond you pass as you make your way to the same spot you began.

And on top of that…it’s the most quiet and serene place I know of.

Here’s a picture of what it’s like inside:

Doggie Park

This is a picture of my daughter on one of the trees that must have gotten knocked down during a bad storm.

Doggie Park 3

Notice how the path is paved which is nice for joggers, too.  But also notice – where are the people?  This is summer!  Where are the tourists???  Not here.

Doggie Park 4

In the famous words of Vanessa Williams, I’ve “saved the best for last.”

So I guess you are going to ask where this place is.  Where on the whole island of Chincoteague can you go for some peaceful jogging or quiet dog walking that has like zero population on a good day?

Sorry, guys…if I told you, then I’d break the secret bond that we locals share.  We finally have a place all to our very own.

Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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Biking on Chincoteague: The Loop

When we first moved to Chincoteague Island almost three years ago today, I remember it being the most windiest place I’d ever seen.  March is horrible on the island as far as wind goes but we do have our moments (today is supposed to be almost 60 and nary a drop of wind at this point anyway so I guess we’re having our moment) when the day is just right for bicycling.

That’s. All. The. Tourists. Do. Here.

Of course, I was all caught up in the moment and declared I was going to buy two bicycles and do what I couldn’t do the last place we lived.  Oh. The. Joy.

There are scads of places to ride your bike and “the loop” was one of the biggest challenges for me (besides the 10 mile ride my son and I did that summer going from here to the beach).

But let me tell you about this loop.  When you go through the wildlife refuge on the way to the beach, it’ll be on one of those side turnoffs after you go through the toll that allows you on the refuge ($5 for cars; free for bikes).

Chincoteague Loop

So here we are and here are my shiny new Walmart special custom bikes.  Mine is the purple; my son’s is the red.  Because we didn’t want to ride the bikes all the way from home to the refuge, we stashed them in the back of the truck to save us some energy for the long ride around the loop.

Chincoteague - The Loop 2

And this is the scenery – or some of it.  As soon as you enter the loop, nothing but wildlife, wildlife, wildlife.  Certain times of the year, the loop is closed so that migrating birds can have sanctuary or breed or whatever it is they do there *must make note to find out what exactly they do do there*.  But whatever it is, it makes for the most peaceful ride.  No sounds but nature sounds.

Chincoteague - The Loop 3

And this is what it likes going around the first half of the loop.  Wide open spaces…a car every now and then…and plenty of bikers.  Makes me miss that warm weather.  BTW, Chincoteague is known for its huge mosquito population.  A word of advice would be to do this sometime early afternoon and before 4 p.m. if you’re planning on doing it in the summer or those pesky varmints will carry you out alive.

Chincoteague - The Loop 4

On the first go around on the loop, there’s a road off to your side that allows bikes (some are marked off for people who drive you nuts by not letting you take the most scenic routes authorized vehicles).  This is a picture of my son down one of them.

Chincoteague - The Loop 5

And here’s the best part.  Be prepared to go to the beach!  Only for bikers is a turnoff, halfway around the loop, where you can park your bike and go lay out on a beach that has about 1/8 of the traffic the main beach has.  I never even knew this was there and I wouldn’t have even found it if not on bike.

Makes me wish for those warm weather days!

Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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Chincoteague Island to be Featured on TODAY SHOW March 8 2010

Pony Penning '09Pony Penning ‘09

Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission announces the Today Show is scheduled to present a travel segment on family friendly vacations which will spotlight Chincoteague & Assateague Islands on Monday, March 8.  Be sure to check your local TV Guide listings for time.

Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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Historic Lighthouses: Assateague Lighthouse

One of the things I find so incredibly wonderful about living on Chincoteague Island is the fact it’s right next door to Assateague.  The story goes there were people living on Assateague many years ago but due to everyone moving to Chincoteague, living conditions got pretty bad over there.  They never had electricity but Chincoteague did and that was one of the reasons for moving.  Today, Assateague is home to the wildlife refuge, the once beautiful Assateague Beach (we had a couple of bad storms this past winter and it took away much of the beach but they’re trying to restore it before the 2010 summer season) and this wonderful old lighthouse that was built back in 1867.  The story goes there was a lightkeeper that had to lug heavy containers of kerosene (remember no lights) every single day up to the top of the lighthouse to keep the light burning.  Today it is preserved and maintained by the Coast Guard.  The picture below was taken in the summer of 2009.

Assateague Lighthouse

Photo courtesy of Dorothy Thompson

The lighthouse is only available for tours from March to November.  Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children under 12.  Proceeds go for restoration.

Assateague Lighthouse 2

Photo courtesy of Dorothy Thompson

This is a picture of my daughter standing in front of it last spring.  And here’s one as she sits down for a bite to eat.

Assateague Lighthouse 3

Photo courtesy of Dorothy Thompson

One word of advice – make sure you go early early spring or wear plenty of mosquito spray if you are brave enough to make the hike to the lighthouse in the middle of the summer.  We hit it around the end of April or beginning of May which was perfect.  We brought repellent but didn’t need it.

If you’re a lighthouse lover like I am, you’ll love to stop off at the Assateague Lighthouse for it’s qaintness and historical charm.

Until next time, wavinghand

Island Chick

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