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Jul 22, 2009

Kayaking and Hang Gliding on the Eastern Shore

There's a new sport on the Eastern Shore of Virginia: Hang gliding! It takes place at Campbell Field, which is on the road to where we launch SouthEast Expeditions' kayak winery tours.

I'm pretty sure Stephanie and Emily from Richmond are the first ones to do both adventures in one weekend. We really should make it a package!

After I took them to historic Chatham Vineyards by kayak, they stopped at nearby Holly Grove Vineyards and met Jonathan's amazing "fainting goats."

The next morning, at the Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center, a plane towed them in tandem with an instructor to 2,500 feet and then let them go! They spent the next 25 minutes floating silently over the Eastern Shore's farm fields, vineyards and waters.

Their ES adventure weekend also involved biking, visiting Assateague lighthouse and staying at the iconic Rittenhouse Motor Lodge.

Thanks for truly experiencing the Shore, ladies! You are awesome and we'd be honored to have you back. There's still kite-boarding, kayaking to barrier islands and an overnight stay in a watermen's cabin to try! Just give SouthEast a call: 757-331-2680.

Read more and see photos from the kayak winery tour. For more Eastern Shore adventures, visit ESVA Tourism: "You'll love our nature."

Jul 15, 2009

Diamondback Terrapins on the Eastern Shore of Virginia


On our 'day off', we launched from Gargatha Landing on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, to paddle to a seaside barrier island for a Sunday of beachcombing and swimming in the Atlantic.

Along the way, we began to see little black and white noses poke out of the water, then pull down on our approach. Bill said they were diamondback terrapins, once endangered due to their tastiness, now a “species of concern” in Virginia.

Looking ahead along the marshy shore we saw more and more of them, little black dots that disappeared. There were dozens, perhaps hundreds.

Then I looked ahead at the shoreline and saw it shimmering in the sun, then moving! Enmasse the turtles were slipping into the water as we approached. The ground was literally covered with them, all sizes ranging from about the size of a teacup to a dinner plate. There must have been thousands all told.

We landed on the backside of Metompkin Island at what used to be channel marker 71. Tropical storm Ernesto 3 years ago washed over the island and actually filled in the channel, creating a deadend. The markers are sticking up out of sand, kind of a crazy sight.

When you land here this time of year there are signs stating the island is closed due to nesting of least terns, oyster catchers and piping plovers. The signs do allow for a pathway across the island where the wash-out occurred, so us hunmans can get to the beach and take a dip in the Atlantic and beachcomb. Just please don’t venture into the island’s interior: stay on the beach.

Eastern Shore Kayaking

This past weekend we had all kinds and ages of paddlers on SouthEast Expedition tours. On Friday I took a group of Delaware teachers with a day off from teaching summer school on the kayak winery tour. They were delightful!

Then Saturday morning Bill and I may have had SouthEast's most senior customers ever on the Onancock Creek Tour! Connie & Bud Bernton (shown above), ages 82 & 83, came down from Bethesda, MD to celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary in Onancock. They'd never been kayaking before, and they loved it!

On the same tour we had a young family, the youngest 9-year-old Rebecca. The Pullens had come over in their powerboat from the “Western Shore” (what we call the Northern Neck), across the Chesapeake Bay, to stay the night in Onancock.

That afternoon Bill took a Bachelorette party of six on the Chatham Winery Tour. “How did it go?” I asked. “They wore bikinis,” he answered. Tough job, Bill!

That night Chatham was having it’s annual Bluegrass Concert and Low Country Boil on the lawn. There we ran into Connie & Bud, my parents, and other paddling friends for an absolutely splendid Eastern Shore evening.

Sunday we had no paying tours, so Bill & I treated ourselves to a paddle out to one of the barrier islands, from Gargatha Creek to Metompkin Island.

More on that in the next post!

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