Exploring Chincoteague and Assateague

Chincoteague Travel Blog

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NASA historical marker
Thursday was our day to further explore Chincoteague and neighboring Assateague. On the way in to Chincoteague, we'd noted the NASA Visitor Center for it's Wallops Island facility. But, it did not appear to be open. I discovered (via the Web) that now, in the fall season, it's open Thursday to Monday only. So, it would be open today! We planned therefore to see it first, have lunch, and then see more of Assateague Island.

The NASA Wallops Fight Facility is about five miles back from Chicoteague Island, on the mainland. (I'd been there in 2002 with Drew's Boy Scout troop.) It's not often thought of when other NASA sites to visit, like the Kennedy Space Center or the Goodard Manned Spaceflight Center, are mentioned.
Tracking antennas at NASA's Wallops FLight Facility
But, as we learned, it is the busiest of NASA's scientific rocket launch facilites. The visitor center is small and appears to  be undergoing a renovation. We watched the animated film "Field Trip to the Moon", describing how the planned return mission to the moon will operate. (A lot of Saturn and Space Shuttle technology will be employed.) But I found the most intriguing exhibit here to be the "Science on a  Sphere" display. In a darkened room, images of the Earth, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Calisto (one of Jupiter's moons), and the Sun were projected on a sphere with accompanying narration about these celestial objects. I had never before heard that balloons will be used to explore Mars or that Jupiter is considered the "vacuum cleaner" of the solar system. (Through its strong gravitational pull, Jupiter intercepts many large meteors and comets that would produce cataclysmic disasters if they collided with Earth.
NASA's Wallops Flight Facility
)

Outside the Vistor Center are several exhiubits of rockets launched from Wallops. I went around to take photos of these and soon noticed my legs were itching. I had attracted a horde of mosquitos and flies fromthe marshland! They bit hard! As it is part of the Wildlife Refuge, the area is not sprayed with insecticide. Time to apply the insect repellant.

After NASA, we returned to Chincoteague. Nearing the island, there was a commotion ahead on the causeway. A bread delivery truck had run off the two-lane causeway into the marsh. The local fire department was pulling the truck out while succeeding in keeping traffic moving around the scene.  (A similar accident where we live would cause a long traffic tieup.)

At Chincoteague, we enjoyed  lunch at A&J's on the Creek restaurant and did some shopping at The Brant.
Susan in the spacesuit
Then, we made for Assateague Island. Would the poines be out and about this afternoon? First stop was the Visitor Center operated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This visitor center focuses on interpreting the National Wildlife Refuge. Displays and dioramas tell the story of the devlopment of the refuge and of the species, ranging from squirrls and the famous ponies to a wide vareity of birds that live here.

I wanted to hike over to Assateague Lighthouse on the Lighthouse Trail, but the visitor center staff said that it had been closed due to the intesity of the biting insects that afternoon. (The experience at Wallops was not out of the orindary today!) In fact, the lighthouse keeper had come down to the visitor center! No lighthouse tours today.
Me in the spacesuit
The Wildlife Loop was open to motor traffic, so we drove the 3.2 mile path around Snow Goose Pool. Many birds and waterfowl were out and we observed egrets, herons, plovers, geese, and ducks. Whenever I tried to step out for photos, the biting insects descended once again.

Next, we planned a walk along the beach. The beach on Assateague is part of Assateague National Seashore that also includes the Maryland part of the island. A drive along the causeway over Swan Cove Pool brings one to Tom's Cove beach. The visitor center at Tom's Cove is operated by the National Park Service and is oriented toward the National Seashore. Displays here tell the story of the barrier islands like Assateague and their constantly shifting topgraphy.
Science on a Sphere: The Earth
Tides, wave, storms, and hurricanes constanly rearrange the configuration of the beach and the island. A photo shows that today's coastline is far "inland" of where it was twenty years ago. A road that once led to the old Coast Guard station on Tom's Cove Hook and a old fish factory has been washed away. That area is now accessible only by foot or off-road vehicle. A rain squall came up while we were at the visitor center. It was interesting to see the rain move in across the cove, drench  the surrounding area, and then move out again.


 






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NASA historical marker
NASA historical marker
Tracking antennas at NASAs Wallop…
Tracking antennas at NASA's Wallo…
NASAs Wallops Flight Facility
NASA's Wallops Flight Facility
Susan in the spacesuit
Susan in the spacesuit
Me in the spacesuit
Me in the spacesuit
Science on a Sphere: The Earth
Science on a Sphere: The Earth
Science on a Sphere: Jupiter
Science on a Sphere: Jupiter
Science on a Sphere: Calisto
Science on a Sphere: Calisto
Science on a Sphere: The Sun
Science on a Sphere: The Sun
View from Wallops towards Chincote…
View from Wallops towards Chincot…
Chincoteague National Wildlife Ref…
Chincoteague National Wildlife Re…
Map of Chincotague and Assateague …
Map of Chincotague and Assateague…
Eagle diorama at the Wildlife Refu…
Eagle diorama at the Wildlife Ref…
Along Snow Goose pool
Along Snow Goose pool
Wildlife Loop on Assateague
Wildlife Loop on Assateague
Wildlife Loop on Assateague
Wildlife Loop on Assateague
Assateague Island marshland
Assateague Island marshland
Assateague Lighthouse across Swan …
Assateague Lighthouse across Swan…
Assateague Lighthouse interpretive…
Assateague Lighthouse interpretiv…
Causeway from Assaetague to Toms …
Causeway from Assaetague to Tom's…
Assateague National Seashore visit…
Assateague National Seashore visi…
Lifeguard station at Assateague be…
Lifeguard station at Assateague b…
Building a sand castle
Building a sand castle
Surf fishing on Assateague
Surf fishing on Assateague
Assateague beach
Assateague beach
View across Toms Cove on Assateag…
View across Tom's Cove on Assatea…
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Chincoteague
photo by: Andy99