Archives for July 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012 – Travel Day back to Syracuse

Got up bright and early (and having packed all our now clean clothing!), we said our good-byes and headed out to Washington, DC. No problems with traffic, dropped Hubby off at the terminal, then turned in our rental car (though it took me awhile to find the off-site parking, my GPS has been notoriously unreliable lately, ever since it downloaded an “upgrade” recently), but the shuttle got me back in plenty of time. Arrived to discover that our flight was delayed anything, first for half an hour, then for another hour, until the departure time was equal to the original arrival time. We settled down in a nice restaurant for the duration, had a quiet meal before heading to the gate at what was now supposed to be nearly 90 minutes before our flight departure time. Alas, they pulled a fast one, and swapped out planes, so now we heard our names being called over the PA system, apparently they were trying to get everyone on board this new plane ASAP. We heard the first announcement that our flight was actually BOARDING about the time we arrived at security! I managed to get through okay, but Hubby’s suitcase had a bunch of business cards that I had ordered scattered throughout his carryon, and they must have looked like little plastic bricks of C4 or something, because they insisted it all be taken out and re-scanned. I ran down to the gate (which thankfully was close by the security area rather than at the far end of the terminal, which is how it usually goes) to let them know we were on the way, then ran back to help Hubby re-pack everything. We arrived hurriedly, than ended up sitting on the shuttle bus for another half hour while other passengers got rounded up. Finally we set off to board the plane (from the tarmac, not at a gate, that’s how small the jet was) and got settled in, about 45 minutes after the original departure, but 45 minutes before the re-scheduled departure. That caused problems, though, because apparently the airport manager wouldn’t let them re-set the time yet again, even though we were ready to go. The pilot came on and made an announcement about it, and he sounded ticked because they were trying to make a turnaround that would get them back to Florida, but the delay was going to cause them to have to spend the night in DC, and if we wanted to complain we should write to Danielle the manager at our convenience!! I’ve never heard that one before! Anyway, something happened, and 15 minutes later we were off the ground winging our way back to Syracuse, arriving about an hour late, but still before it got dark, thankfully. We even had time to run by Country Max to pick up the four bags of Legends Senior Feed we had special ordered, if we had been much later they would have closed and we would have had to make yet another trip out of our way. So in the end, everything worked out, as it so often seems to do! Got back to happy dogs and happy horses and our happy, soft and comfy bed!

Sunday, July 29, 2012 – Rest Day with Friends and Olympics

Another day like yesterday, without the side trip, though Toni offered to take us to a few local venues, which we politely declined. Frankly, we just need the rest! They were happy to oblige. We had one short “business” meeting, which was partially the reason for the visit, which might lead to a future collaboration, but most of the day was sharing wine and food and relaxing and Olympics. Very happy to have put some deposits in our sleep bank, we’ve been running on empty lately! Thank goodness most of the beds we’ve had have been comfortable, but we’re still looking forward to getting back to our airbed!

Saturday, July 28, 2012 – Day with Friends and Olympics

Spent the day in lively conversation with our friends, mostly watching the Olympics in between chats, with one side trip to some other friends of theirs who have a horse farm about 20 minutes away. Got to meet their very large horses (especially after being around the ponies all week!), with draft feet and thoroughbred lines, an amazing combination of breeds. Spent a pleasant hour in conversation with them before heading back to Don and Toni’s for another relaxing evening. Again, just what we needed!

Friday, July 27, 2012 – Ponies Swim Back, Departure and Travel to Richmond

 Jane and Bob were up and out early this morning, as they’re heading for their place on the southwest coast of Florida and therefore have a very long drive today. We got up in time to hug them good-bye before we quickly packed and headed out to Memorial Park for the pony swim back. We managed to find a parking space just before the parking area there was filled up, so again, we had a pretty good view. Not as close as we would have liked, but about the best we could get without being at the campground or on one of the boats on the southern end of the flotilla. I was able to get some good pix, though, which was a bonus. Oddly, the ponies didn’t run back up the marsh and soon as they crossed, I figured they’d be happy to get home after all that nonsensical activity they had endured, but I guess maybe the moms were missing their babies, wondering what happened to them and tempted to go back to Chincoteague to look for them. Must be tough for them to do through that year after year. Can’t help but feel sorry for them, even though, rationally, we know it’s best. This from someone who has a mother and colt who have never been separated in 16 years! Oh well, the trip is now complete, and we’ve had a fantastic time!! Check that one off the bucket list! Once the ponies were back, we hopped in the car and headed out of town, picking up breakfast along the way, heading out to Richmond where, four hours later, we landed at the house of our friends Don and Toni. We quickly settled in, and they were gracious enough to let me do some laundry (who knows when I’ll have time in the near future?), and we shared a fabulous evening of food and conversation and cocktails and watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics together. Just the kind of laid back evening we needed after all the excitement! Stayed up WAY too late, though still not to the end of the London broadcast, finally fell into bed around 11:00, joining Hubby who had gone at least a half hour earlier. What a day!

Thursday, July 26, 2012 – Pony Auction Day

 Another early morning, though we had a full breakfast today. Pony Auction started at 9:00, and we figured seats would be hard to come by (the bleachers had all been “reserved” by the time we left the carnival grounds yesterday, and many rows of lawn chairs had already been put in place. Lesson learned, bring a lawn chair and get it set up the day before it you want good seats at the auction!), so we headed out early enough to arrive by about 8:15 or so, with Bob driving us all in their car for a change. Surprisingly, we found a good place to stand, in the shade (as the heat and humidity had made a comeback), and soon the auction was underway! It was sad to see the babies go, and the prices were much lower than we though they would be, averaging around $400-700 for most of them except the “buybacks,” ponies selected to be returned to the herd because of their superior or desired characteristics. The cost of their lifelong freedom was high, with most of them going for between $5000 and $7000, a lot to pay for a horse that you weren’t going to take home, but I got a sense it was a matter of pride among some of the islanders to continue the tradition of good breeding within the herd. In any event, we stayed and watched for several hours, until our legs just couldn’t take standing anymore. A number of people asked if we were going to bid, and I said, no, I like my horses bigger. The ponies were all very nice, but my horse is nearly 15 hands, most of the ponies were only 12-13, too small for me or Hubby! We finally said good-bye to the ponies and headed out. We decided to drive over to Assateague to see the famous lighthouse, which were giving rare tours on this day. Hubby and Bob weren’t interested in climbing, but Jane and I were game, so we paid our $5 and headed up the 175 stairs to the top, where we enjoyed incredible views of the surrounding area. A short drive down to the beach where the Pony Walk was held, but now was filled with families sunning themselves and enjoying the beach as many do in the summer. After getting a bit blown away with the wind, and a short respite at the Tom’s Cove Nature Center, we once again we headed to the Creamery for lunch, then back to the house for a bit. After a brief rest, Hubby and I rode the bikes into town to turn them back in, figured it would be easier to do that today, won’t have time tomorrow. Then we walked around town and bought some souvenir shirts, something we rarely do, but we are so enthralled with the place we just couldn’t resist! Found a nice collared golf shirt, the last one in town apparently (Jane tried to find another one later in the day, no luck!), and several other great looking T-shirts. Hubby got one with a herd of ponies galloping along the beach, I got a pink tank top with some line art horses on them, including one on the back, and another one with an iconic picture of just a pony’s face swimming, with eyes looking straight out at you, only the head above water. Classic! Bob came to pick us up, and not long thereafter, we walked down from the house to another nice restaurant with a fantastic view (or I should say, Jane and I walked, Hubby and Bob drove, though it was less than a quarter mile) called ??? Another lovely meal, a great view of the sound between Chincoteague and Assateague, and a fantastic way to (almost) finish off our incredible adventure with the ponies!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 – Pony Swim Day!

Well, today’s the day I’ve been waiting for for 45 years! Got up bright and early to a perfect morning! A cold front had moved through and the heat and humidity of previous days was gone, leaving it absolutely picture perfect for the big day! We quickly had an abbreviated breakfast of fruit (Hubby’s been making brilliant bowls of mixed fruit ever since his doctor convinced him he shouldn’t eat grapefruit with his statins), with toast and coffee. Sufficiently fortified, we walked over to the marina across the road from the house, and were assisted in getting the canoe we had rented. A bit small for four of us, but we managed to balance well enough. With Bob in the front and me in the back, we paddled our way to the gathering flotilla, attaching ourselves to a pylon and another group of boats similarly attached. We had a nice chat with the folks next to us as we waited for the pony swim to begin. It wasn’t too long a wait, the time had been set for between 9-10 am, and by 9:30 the orange smoke signal from the fire company boat was set off. Before long the Saltwater Cowboys became visible, slowly crossing the marsh to the crossover point. First, the ponies waded to a nearby island, then they were pushed to swim the next stretch toward the southern half of Memorial Park. They were magnificent! We were further away than we had hoped, but we still had a pretty good view. If I were to do it again, I’d certainly want to be on the southern flotilla rather than the northern one, the Coast Guard kept us much farther away then was necessary, though I guess I understand they’re concerns for safety (but I do so get annoyed at the government trying to protect me from myself and my decisions!) There was one foal who tried to turn back (funny, it kind of looked like the one who did the same thing on the Pony Walk on Monday!) but the firemen swept her out of the water and carried her over on the boat. Everyone else made it over safe and sound! It didn’t take long for the all clear to be given, and we paddled over to the Memorial Park and dropped off Bob and Jane so they could walk down to the fairgrounds while we returned the canoe. Once done, we hopped on our bikes once again and headed for the Memorial Park, where the horses were just getting sufficiently rested to head out for the parade to the fairgrounds. We waited while they passed, then slipped in behind them and followed them the entire way to the fairgrounds, having just one collision with a girl who got a little too close, but she backed off after that. At one point, one of the ponies slipped out of the parade and headed across someone’s yard, the Saltwater Cowboys in pursuit. One of the locals on the back of a pickup commented, “Yard adventure!” which made us smile. A minute later, the pony was still not rounded up, and actually started heading AROUND the house, when the same fellow said, “Back yard adventure!” which made us laugh out loud! I also noticed some blood along the way, embedded in hoofprints, so one of the ponies evidently got a little hurt along the way. Before long we were at the fairgrounds where the crowd was REALLY packed in. We followed them all the way to the pens, then I called Jane to see where they were, and evidently they were right at the turn into the fairgrounds. They had seen us pass by and shouted to us, but we never heard them in the throng. We met up, watched the ponies for awhile, wandered around the carnival to see what was there before we were finally ready to leave. We headed over to the Island Creamery again, where I just HAD to have the flavor Pony Swim Tracks, a fabulous combination of vanilla ice cream, fudge chunks, creamy fudge and creamy peanut butter in an almost caramel like consistency. I had the very last of the barrel, and apparently someone had left the freezer open and the replacement batch had melted, so I got the last of the last for the day. All that wonderful stuff had sunk to the bottom, so there was really very little vanilla ice cream, it was all just peanut butter and fudge and chocolate! Fantastic! I just hope all the bike riding will prevent me from gaining TOO much weight while we’re here! Meanwhile, Jane and Bob had caught one of the shuttle buses from the fairgrounds, and the driver was so nice that he actually dropped them off right in front of the house! They picked up their car and met us at the Creamery, where they, too, enjoyed what we now consider to be some of the best ice cream we’ve EVER eaten (and we are getting to be quite the connoisseurs!) At last we headed back to the house, exhilarated from the day, thrilled that we got to see the pony swim from a front row seat, and looking forward to the pony auction tomorrow! Another evening of lively conversation, and bedtime before we knew it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 – Misty Movie

The local one-screen movie theatre here on the island, the Roxy, has an apparently annual ritual of showing the movie Misty of Chincoteague at the early matinee, offering it free for the tourists this one time every year. I didn’t even know they had made a movie, though I was an avid fan of the books when I was a kid (which is why I wanted so much to achieve this 45-year old dream!), so we had planned on attending. Jane and Bob decided to join us, and met us at the movie theatre (we rode our bikes, they drove their car), which, not surprisingly was quite full. Apparently, even though the movie is available on DVD, this theatre owned one of just a few original copies of the film version, which, alas, was showing it’s age, but was very enjoyable nonetheless. Lots of “aaaaws” and a few tears later, we took pix of Misty’s hoofprint (which was embedded in concrete outside the theatre door), then headed over to Mullers for ice cream. A cute place in an old Victorian house, which had decent ice cream, but no where near as good as the Island Creamery! Afterward we stopped at the town’s only grocery store to pick up some things. We had all agreed to eat meals at the house, except for Thursday (our last night) when we would go out once more to close out the week. Bob and Jane even wanted to try our ice cream and soup diet! Why not? It works for us, and has worked for everyone else brave enough to try it! So we had our evening meal of soup that I doctored with onions and curry, which everyone seemed to enjoy, and spent the evening once again in lively conversation.

Monday, July 23, 2012 – Pony Beach Walk Day and Friend’s Arrival

Set the alarm for 5:00 a.m., jumped out of bed, dressed, than jumped onto my rental bike and rode to the Pony Walk over on Assateague Island. This is the day when the Saltwater Cowboys bring the ponies they’ve been gathering for the last week down from the northern end of the island to the pens on the southern end of the island in preparation for the pony swim. Figured the ride would take about 20 minutes or so, ended up taking closer to 35. I thought from the research I had done that the Walk would begin at 6:00, but it turned out that they meant from the north end of the island, so they didn’t arrive at the spot where the crowd had gathered until after 7:15. There were several hundred people gathered along the beach’s edge, but from the conversations I was having with some of the regulars, the numbers were down quite a bit this year. Still, I saw a lovely sunrise over the Atlantic, had a number of interesting conversations, and then, when the ponies finally emerged from the mist on this beautiful morning, they were gorgeous! So many babies, though the Saltwater Cowboys kept between them and the crowd so they were kind of hard to see. I and many other bikers fell in behind the herd as they traversed off the beach and down the road to the pony pens. One older foal kept trying to break away, I guess he lost track of his mother and wasn’t interested in doing anything but finding her and going back home. It was kind of sad to realize that for many of those babies, this would be their last walk of freedom, and their last walk, except the swim, with their mothers. But it’s also obvious that the resources of the island would be quickly overrun if the ponies weren’t auctioned off annually, and the consequences of that would be even more unthinkable. After spending some time watching the ponies in their pens, I headed back home at a somewhat slower pace than I took earlier. Arrived back around 8:30 and discovered Hubby was still sound asleep! He soon got out of bed, we had breakfast and relaxed for the rest of the morning. Later we took a bike ride over to Mr. Whippy’s on Maddox for our ice cream lunch, then relaxed as much as we could through the afternoon, though I was still compelled to do some computer work, settling some logistics for our upcoming busy month. Later in the evening we were joined by our friends Jane and Bob, whom we had invited to join us for the week, and we went out to dinner at a fabulous restaurant on Main Street called Don’s Seafood, or should I say a little family restaurant with fabulous food, thoroughly enjoying the company. Once we got back to the house we had a nightcap and continued talking until bedtime at about 10:00. Having gotten up at 5:00, I was ready!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012 – Mostly Rest, and ride to Island Creamery

Slept as late as we could with the daylight shining in, had our usual breakfast and then just relaxed, reading most of the day. Took one ride out on our bikes to the Island Creamery, one of the three ice cream shops we’ve found on the island. Absolutely fantastic! Some of the best ice cream we’ve ever had! Hubby had something called Marsh Mud, which is as dark a chocolate as he’s ever found. Mine was delicious too, though I can’t remember what kind it was now. They make their own waffle cones right in front of your, a whole row of them where you can watch while you wait. Weather is turning hotter, and the ride home was a bit sweaty, the first of many hot days to come, according to the forecast. A well deserved rest day overall, followed by a quiet evening.

Saturday, July 21, 2012 – Exploring the Island

Turned out the bed was quite comfortable and we enjoyed a good night sleep, but the windows only had the barest of blinds, no drapes, so the light ended up waking us pretty early. Headed out to the grocery store for supplies, then found a place to rent bikes at a very reasonable rate, right on Main Street. Other rental places over on Maddox, which is essentially the tourist strip of the island, wanted twice and even three times as much, so we were happy to get them at the better price. Hubby rode the bike back to the house while I drove the car with another bike in the truck, could only fit one at a time. Had our lunch of ice cream at Mr. Whippy’s and explored the island a bit to get our bearings. A very cute little town, everyone was very nice, the roads were busy with tourists, so many bikes it looked like China! Some scooters and trikes as well, of course. Wore ourselves out before heading home to a nice soup dinner (determined to stay on our diet!), then enjoyed a quiet evening, though watching commercials on TV is hard when you’re not used to it, and we aren’t! A lovely day!