So the wild ponies of Assateague Island are actually owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department. Each year the herds are rounded up by the “Saltwater Cowboys”, swam across the channel, and a portion of the herd is auctioned off. The money from the auction is used for veterinary care for the ponies, local charities, and to fund the fire department for the year. This also helps control the size of the herds.
When we ventured out to Assateague on Monday the herds had been rounded up and corralled. They will spend the day resting, and checked out by the vets tomorrow. They are wild so you keep your distance. Beautiful animals.
My wife grew up on the Eastern Shore, so she has seen the pony swim many times. We brought our kids to see it years ago, and now this week we begin sharing it with our granddaughter.
Next was a quick walk up the trail to the Assateague Light. I believe it is open to climb on the weekends, but not this day. Looks in great shape.
Went to the visitor center and a quick stroll on the beach. It was a little grey and the water was choppy because some weather was coming in, but that didn’t stop her from getting wet. We will be back later in the week.
Came back to Chincoteague for a break and stopped at a local favorite, Mr. Whippy. It is a soft serve ice cream shop that has been here for years. A kid’s favorite.
Back to Assateague for a trip around the Wildlfe Loop Trail. You can hike or bike it anytime, but can only drive it after 3 pm. It is a beautiful little drive, but not too many pictures because I was driving.
Overnight rain storms just ushered in rain for most of day 2. So we headed up the road just a little to Wallop’s Island where NASA has a facility that they use to launch rockets, probes, and the like. The next launch is not for a couple of weeks, so no luck with that.
We did spend a couple of hours going through the visitor Center and the surrounding grounds. Very nice and interactive for the kids. It does have a gift shop.
The rain was not letting up so we headed north to Ocean City. Our first stop was for lunch at another popular spot, Dough Roller. Pizza and pasta for lunch. Have to get carved up for the arcade.
We hit a few shops for sweatshirts and t-shirts, but eventually made it to the arcade. We had a lot of fun collecting lots of tickets to trade in for lots of cheap toys… I did say lots of fun though. It kept us out of the rain.
After the arcade, we hit two more iconic places. I took my granddaughter to Dumser’s for ice cream. Chocolate again… I do wish she would try another flavor.
My wife however went to Thrasher’s for a cup of fries. Make sure you put vinegar on them, if you have never tried fries that way. Trust me.
Today is the big day, the pony swim. The herd swims across the channel at low tide from Assateague to Chincoteague where they will be auctioned tomorrow.
Parking is tough so plan ahead. There are several places to view the swim but Pony Swim Lane is the best. There are shuttles that will drop you at Memorial Park. Look online for information about times, transportation, and parking.
The swim was forecasted to take place between 8:30 and 10:30 am, and true to form it occurred shortly after 9:30 am. We were up and out by 7:00 am and we still had plenty of people that arrived well before we did. Do not wear good clothes/shoes to this event. I would even encourage you to invest in a pair of muck boots. You will not come out clean at Pony Swim Lane.
The swim itself only lasts for about 4 1/2 minutes so have your camera ready. Once the ponies are across they are rested for about 45 minutes. Plenty of time to get some more pictures.
Make your way out to the main road and wait for the Saltwater Cowboys to herd the ponies through town to the Fairgrounds where they are penned until the auction.
Spent the afternoon at the water park next to the campground. Fun place to spend time in the sun. We rented a cabana for the day, and I was able to relax and read for a while. They have wait staff to take your order from the grill and deliver it to your cabana. Very good service.
Closed out the day at the Fireman’s Carnival. Lots of rides and games. Wear bug spray, the mosquitos are real.
Day at the beach on Assateague. Perfect weather and water.
Seafood tonight. We started a Clam Casino, and then I went with Fish Tacos. Both were good. Waitress was very friendly. Now for dessert!
Last stop for the night was Island Creamery. While Mr Whippys is iconic, my preference is the hand dipped flavors in a waffle cone. I love ice cream.