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Just before New Years we closed out the year with a weekend trip to Assateague Island, Chincoteague Island, and the Outer Banks.  This post is a little rushed since we are also leaving for PATAGONIA this morning!!!

Assateague Island, MD

This part of the island is maintained by the National Park service. Wild ponies live on this island and can be seen grazing on the tall grasses growing in the shallow brackish water. We’d love to come back in the summer and do some camping.



Assateague Island, VA

The lower VA part of Assateague is also a park, but the the horses are owned and the herd is maintained by the Chincoteague Fire Department.  The fire department herds the ponies from Assateague Island across the inlet to Chincoteague every year in the summer to auction off the new ponies in order to control the population and raise money.


We took a boat tour around the island to try to spot the ponies along the shore, but the cold weather and wind kept them along the tree line.


We enjoyed our informative tour from Barnacle Bill, a local native tour guide, who told us how the area has expanded geographically and in popularity.

This light house was once on the shoreline to the right, but the island has grown over the years and now it looks more landlocked.

Assateague is also a refuge for many migratory birds.  There was always a helpful birder around to identify the various species. There were hundreds of snow geese, but apparently not as many as in other years.










Outer Banks (OBX), NC

The Outer Banks also has about 100 ponies on its island, but their population is struggling with a limited gene pool.  They are also thought to be abandoned Spanish horses from early ship wrecks as explorers came to America and misjudged the shallow shores.

We took a Hummer tour to explore the sand dunes looking for the wild horses, but only saw a few.



They didn’t look quite as wild when they were running around the few mansions on the island.  One harem of horses belongs to a feral mule who is pretty aggressive and successful in stealing females from other harems.  It is quite a funny story and a shock to see a mule amongst a group of wild horses.



We also attempted sand boarding at Jockey’s Ridge, which wasn’t as successful as we had hoped.  We’re not sure if it was our technique, equipment, or damp sand conditions, but we can’t recommend it.



On our way home we visited the Wright Brothers Museum at the site of the first powered flights. It was interesting to see, but we felt it could have been even more informative and the $8/person price was very high compared to other National Park operated services.


Nathan tried re-enacting the historic event

Now we’re off to the airport and we’ll share many photos and stories from our next adventure.  Check out some of the other photos from the trip.