(Chincoteague Island, Virginia, July 16, 2012). The beach in July. It conjures images of sun, sand, waves, grilled burgers, ice cream, and family fun. Today had all of that for participants in Road Scholar’s “Share a Marine Science Adventure with your Grandchild” program. And so very much more.
We began with a visit to Tom’s Cove Visitor Center at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, where program leaders Parker McMullen-Bushman and Grant Melville introduced us to the Delmarva Fox Squirrel, Horseshoe Crabs, and a dozen other land and sea creatures who will be sharing their island home with us for the week.
Then, it was off to the beach, where we enjoyed a swim while Parker and Grant, along with their team, grilled a classic lunch before our exclusive tour of the island to see the wild ponies who have lived here for hundreds of years. Did they survive a shipwrecked Spanish Galleon? Were they gifts from Blackbeard the Pirate to a woman he loved? Are they simply a tax dodge – herded away from the mainland by farmers to save taxes on livestock? No one knows, so pick your own story…or, better yet, make up a new one. No matter. The horses themselves are spectacular, and we had several up-close and personal encounters with them.
After saying farewell to the ponies, we learned that our marine scientists are also fine hosts. They brought us all to the Island Creamery for a great treat on a hot summer afternoon. Whether we had good old chocolate or vanilla, or margarita sorbet, you couldn’t beat the selection, or the company.
After dinner, we gathered for a good old-fashioned campfire, with laughs and group sing-alongs, again led by Parker, Grant, and their team of educators and interns. S’mores were not only a great way to end a perfect summer day, they were also our second dessert. But isn’t that what summer days are all about?