Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tangier Island

Diana wanted to see Tangier Island, so we drove across the Bay Bridge Tunnel and up the Eastern Shore to Onancock, a tiny little village on the Bay. We took the ferry, which is a converted oyster boat, which makes one round trip a day, to the island. We passed quite a few osprey nests on the channel markers; once we were away from land, there were a few fish, plus passing boats and the occasional small island.
The island is pretty much as described in Wikipedia, There's a house which has been converted to a museum on the history of the island and some of the notable residents (or servicemen who signed up and left the island), The main thing is that in one day, you probably can't see absolutely everything; but you can easily walk around the island and see a representative sample of everything. For instance, you can visit one seafood restaurant rather than all of them--but "seafood" is the only kind of restaurant you'll find, except for Spanky's ice cream parlor. Take bug spray and sunglasses and comfortable walking shoes and spend a day.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Great Dismal Swamp

Joshua, Diana and I went to the Great Dismal Swamp today. The auto tour road is closed on Sundays, so we walked a mile or so to the Underground Railroad Pavilion and back. ("Underground" is not the same as "underworld"). The Pavilion talks about the maroons ("escaped slave") and how they survived in the swamp--mainly by hunting, surreptitious trading with loggers, and stealing from local farms. 

There are bears and bobcats in the swamp, but we only saw dragonflies and butterflies.

We did, however, see a couple of pines which had been stripped of their bark for their whole height. We suspect that this was due to the Great Swamp Bear, a reclusive species of 40ft tall ursines. During the day, they stay submerged in Lake Drummond, with only their adorable black noses protruding above water. They feed on alligators, giant mutant catfish, and canoes ("crunchy on the outside, chewy in the center!"). In the evening, they slip from their aquatic refuge and roam the woods. They strop their claws on the pines, removing the bark and sometimes breaking the tree in half when they get caught up in some particularly contentious philosophical point, or when strands of fiberglass are stuck in their teeth.