July 17, 2014

Delmarva; Day 2: "Dolphins"

Monday, July 7, 2014: For the second morning of this trip, I had booked ahead of time a private boat cruise that would take us around the islands. The boat was schedule to depart the docks at 10:00 AM, so, with a little bit of time to spare after our continental breakfast, my family and I hopped into the car and took a drive down to Assateague Beach to explore. I was very excited to see this beach and my anticipation was well rewarded. The Atlantic Ocean currents and crashing waves were very powerful. The sky was slightly overcast and a few sun rays breaking through the cloud cover over the water added to the ominousness of the setting. It was an awesome moment. I was a little bit concerned about the chances of rain on the cruise, but the clouds would soon give way to blue skies. Just across from the clam shell-covered parking lot of Assateague Beach is the Tom's Cove Visitor Center. This building houses an aquarium and a touch tank. Here, we got up close and personal with a few horseshoe crabs, clams, and knobbed whelks. When turned over, horseshoe crabs appear frightening, though they are actually quite harmless.





At 9:45, we headed to the pier where we met up with our excellent ecotour guide, Captain Charlie, a longtime resident of Chincoteague. He made the cruise fun and informative for both parents and kids, including the suggestion of a few great restaurants on the island. My favorite part of the cruise came when we landed on a huge sand bar and got out of the boat and walk around. We picked up a lot of shells and spotted several hermit crabs among the rippled patterns in the sand. Back on the boat, we encountered pelicans, dolphins, bald eagles, and some of the famous Chincoteague ponies. Captain Charlie told us that finding ponies on the beach is a rare sight and that fewer than 20% of his groups ever get to see dolphins. We were lucky to see everything. Of course, dolphins breach the water so quickly that it was impossible for me to get a good snapshot. The captain ended the tour by giving each of the kids a souvenir whelk shell. It was a very special cruise.






After we were back on land and in our car, we headed over to Wallops Island to pay a visit to the NASA Flight Center. As we got near to our destination, we noticed some very unusual aircraft circling overhead. Each plane would drop down between the giant radar dishes as if coming in for a landing and then quickly ascend back to the skies, perhaps to give visitors a good view of the machines in action. The NASA Visitor Center has many fun activities for the kids, such as launching bottles on a string using air pressure and measuring one's place in the room using radar. Another cool feature is called "Science On the Sphere." Here, we watched films about the environment on a glowing globe in the center of the room. Very interesting.





Next, we took the car across the border into Maryland to visit the Delmarva Discovery Center. This was all about the Delmarva Peninsula. The Native Americans. The wildlife. The shipping industry. Right beside the center runs the black water of the Pocomoke River, which we had learned gets its color from the Cypress Swamp where it originates.






After returning to the island, we had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant called Saigon Village which had been recommended to us by Captain Charlie. Incredible food! I went away saying that it would be well worth returning to Chincoteague Island someday for this restaurant alone. It is some of the best Asian cuisine that I've ever had.



"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth
and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept
the word planted in you, which can save you."

~James 1:21

~@~