July 1, 2019, Onley, VA-
The fitful man stood with his fists clenched and his body rigid, as I glanced over his son’s shoulder, for a split-second, whilst the boy was reading from a placard about flounder. It occurred to me, momentarily, that a flounder was my my first caught fish, all those years ago, in Lynn Harbor. I kept walking and found my own space, without any reaction to the father, who didn’t bother me further.
Such is Cape Charles, a magnet for tourists such as the above-mentioned, and a serene place for year-round residents. I came here, over the long bridge/tunnel from Hampton Roads, on the Virginia mainland. This southern segment of the Delmarva region, more commonly called the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay, is a mix of long peninsula and a myriad of islands. Tangier, on the western (Chesapeake Bay) side, and Chincoteague/Assateague, on the eastern (Atlantic) side are the best known islands.
Cape Charles, at the tip of the peninsula, is the first place visitors see, once off the bridge. It is, thankfully, not as commercialized as I had thought it would be, and great care has been taken to safeguard the “land’s end” area. This, and Hampton Roads, are the only places in Virginia where one can witness both sunrise and sunset, over open water.
The dunes are largely protected from foot traffic. There is but one trail, along the periphery of the dunes and one trail over the mounds.
Bird nesting is encouraged, with the placement of platform buoys around the Bay. Both piping plovers and gulls nest in the area. Plovers, though, are ground nesters, and are endangered, so protective caging is placed around the nests, while the young are maturing. Below, is a gull nest.
Marsh grasses help filter runoff from creeks which empty into the Bay.
This resort hotel is one of three in Cape Charles.
Cape Charles’ downtown did bustle, especially around the ice cream shops, on this sultry Sunday evening.
I found a comfortable, quiet little motel in the commercial center of Onley, in the middle of Virginia’s portion of Delmarva. A bit north of Onley is Accomack, one of the oldest settlements on the Eastern Shore. Here is a view of the historic Court House.
I topped off the eastern Virginia excursion, with a visit to Assateague Island, part of Chincoteague National Seashore. Chincoteague, in the language of the Delawarean (Lenape) First Nations people who lived on the adjacent mainland, means “large stream” or “inlet”. Assateague, in the same language, means “a river beyond” or “a running stream between”. The two words were also used by Europeans to refer to two closely-related groups of Delawarean peoples. The descendants of these nations are today living in the area of Snow Hill, Maryland and in southern Delaware.
Two areas of interest on Assateague are the Lighthouse, which can accommodate groups of ten people at a time, and the Chincoteague Pony viewing stations.
Here are a few scenes of, and from, Assateague Light House. It is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, two members of which greet visitors, at the entrance and on the top viewing area.
Chincoteague ponies (feral horses) are well-known, around the world, in particular for their annual channel swims. This year’s is to take place on July 24.
Although it is now a human-coordinated event, the ponies probably swam without human encouragement, when the need arose for going between grazing areas on different parts of the island. Humans may have contributed to the feral horses’ swimming behaviour, by erecting a fence between the Maryland and Virginia sections of Assateague.
Here are two scenes of the horses at the viewing point, early this afternoon.
What appears to be a lone pony is actually a member of a group whose other members were on the move, when this was taken.
Finally, no visit to a resort in summer is complete without a visit to an ice cream parlour. So, I stopped for a bit at Mister Whippy!
NEXT: The First State’s Capital