Assateague Island National Seashore

Assateague Island
One of my favorite places to visit is Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. Since I go there a lot, I plan on writing a bunch of articles about Assateague here in the blog, so today’s post is more or less a primer on Assateague Island.

Assateague Island is a narrow strip of sand that runs about 37 miles from the Ocean City, MD inlet to Chincoteague Island in Virginia. Assateague Island is a barrier island. That is, it’s a thin sandy island that protects the mainland from the forces of the Atlantic Ocean. There are many other barrier islands on the east coast, including the barrier islands (or Outer Banks) of North Carolina of which Cape Hatteras is a part of. Barrier islands are prone to breaks in them from strong storms which wash over the low islands. Most of these channels self heal over time by refilling with sand washed back into the gaps.

Map of Northern Assateague IslandAssateague Island was once part of a large island and was connected to Fenwick Island at the north end. A strong Nor’Easter storm in the 1930’s cut open and channel from Sinepuxent Bay to the Atlantic Ocean at what is now the southern tip of Fenwick Island in Ocean City, MD. This channel gave access to the Atlantic Ocean to the small sleepy fishing town of Ocean City. Because of the economic value this cut offered to Ocean City fisherman, the channel has been maintained and dredged continually since it formed and has major long term environmental impacts on the natural flow of sand onto Assateague. The northern end of the island now has very little vegetation, and is at risk of washing away. While the southern tip of Ocean City is one of the widest parts of the town. Much of the sand that should be passing southward to Assateague Island washes into the channel, and deposits in shoals in Sinepuxent Bay. As you can see from the picture in the map above, the northern end of the island has shifted west as the natural currents have moved the sand on the ocean side southward, and the sand from the channel has deposited in the bay behind the island. Take a look at this satellite imagery of northern end of Assateague Island to see this shift and the sandy shoals in Sinepuxent Bay behind Assateague.

Once planned for development, the original access to Assateague Island was by ferry from South Point. Because of the access issue the development was slow, and by early 1960’s there were only a few homes on the island. The developer knew that a bridge was needed, so donated 600 acres of land to the State of Maryland for use as a park. The plan worked, and the state built a bridge to the island to build the park. Development of the island picked up pace after the bridge was opened but things went afoul in 1965 when a 3 day Nor’Easter washed back and forth across the island destroying all but a handful of homes.

Map of part of Assateague Island

While talk of protecting Assateague Island as a park had gone on for 3 decades, the Nor’ Easter of 1965 was pivotal in bringing the topic of preservation of the island real consideration, and in 1967 the island became Assateague Island National Seashore. But that wasn’t the end of plans for development. The legislation enacted to create the park allow for some development on the island. It wasn’t until 1976 that through the work of Judith C Johnson and hundreds of others, that the federal authorization legislation was changed to remove the allowance for development.

Assateague Island is now protected as a park or wildlife refuge and is managed by three different agencies. The National Park Service operates Assateague Island National Seashore in the Maryland portion of the island. The US Fish and Wildlife Service manages Chinoteague National Wildlife Refuge in the Virginia portion of Assateague. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources operates Assateague Island State Park on about 600 acres in the Maryland section of the island.

Assateague Island is famous for the herd of wild horses made famous through the book ‘Misty of Chincoteague’. Visitors to Assateague Island are fascinated by these free roaming horses and it’s one of the major reasons the people go to Assateague. The horses have a hard life on the island. Vegetation is poor quality, in the winter there are harsh chilling winds, and in the summer there are biting flies and mosquitoes to contend with. The Maryland herd is managed by the National Park Service and the Virginia herd is managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department. The Chincoteague herd population is maintained by auctioning off some of the ponies at the end of each July. The horses are rounded up and swim to the Chincoteague Island to be sold. To help pay for the costs associated with managing these wild ponies in the Maryland Section, you can donate to provide foster care for them at Assateague Coastal Trust Foster Program. The foster program lets you choose a horse, and they’ll mail you a picture of the horse, along with a certificate in a nice booklet. They make great gifts for children’s or family member’s birthdays and you’ll be helping out a good cause.

Smoker’s BBQ Pit Restaurant

Sign at Smoker’s BBQ PitThis is a restaurant that started from a purchase of a commercial smoker as a hobby. The ‘retired’ owners of Smoker’s BBQ Pit purchased a smoker for making ribs at home and found that everyone said the ribs were so good they should sell them. So they bought a spot of ground, put up a small trailer with two windows (one for orders, and one for pickup), and thought they’d sell ribs on the weekends to the vacationer’s in Ocean City, MD. That was about 10 years ago, and the weekend hobby turned into a fulltime operation for the couple.

The original Smoker’s BBQ Pit trailer is long gone. It was a small trailer with a smoker in back. They served up some delicious BBQ Pork Baby Back ribs, pulled pork, and homemade side dishes. The new Smoker’s BBQ Pit restaurant is larger, but it’s still based on a trailer, and still has a smoker in back. The new double-wide trailer still has the two window set up for ordering and pickup but it’s expanded and has a dining room for folks to eat at.

The food that these folks make is simply fabulous. Everything they serve is homemade, like you can remember your grandma making, and is absolutely delicious. We always eat here at least two times when we vacation in the Ocean City Area. Their ribs are simply out of this world. They have awesome pulled pork sandwiches. Their smoked tuna is incredible. The coleslaw, potato salad, applesauce, garlic green beans are always fresh and homemade. The green beans are always cooked right and still have some crunch to them. Prices are fair and the serving time is around 10 minutes.

Smoker’s BBQ Pit is a seasonal restaurant that open from May until mid-September, when the owners fly south for the winter :). You’ll find them generally open from 6am until 11pm in the main part of the year, with shorter hours in May, and September. When you go, you’ll hear all of the customer’s raving about how good the food is and how they found the place.

They also serve breakfast! Delicious homemade breakfast, cooked to order.

You’ll find this restaurant located in West Ocean City on the way to Assateague Island. On the right and almost directly across the street from Ocean Petroleum. From Ocean City, Take US Route 50 West (Ocean Gateway) about 1 mile, Left on Stephan Decatur Highway, and about 1 mile on right.

Smoker’s BBQ Pit (Google Map of Smoker’s BBQ Pit Restaurant Location)
9711 Stephen Decatur Hwy (MD Route 611)
West Ocean City, MD 21842

A Great Chicken Soup Recipe

Old bay Chicken Soup Serving
Old Bay Chicken SoupI stumbled upon this Old Bay Chicken Soup Recipe last week, and made it last weekend. For the most part, this is standard chicken soup 101. But the Old Bay Seasoning adds a special taste to the soup, and this recipe is a winner.

Anyone out there that is a short order cook or a owner of a mom and pop restaurant that’s looking for a secret recipe for chicken soup should try this chicken soup recipe.

I made my chicken soup recipe using wide egg noodles. For some reason (and maybe because of canned Progresso soups), I feel that egg noodles are the noodles of choice with chicken soup. I also like chicken soup with matzo balls, and this recipe would be served just as well with matzo balls. Oh, and I always use fresh sourdough bread as a side with my chicken soups. Toasted lightly, and then lightly buttered, the sourdough has a natural affinity for soups (or at least I think so).

Kowalonek’s Kielbasy

Kowalonek’s Kielbasy Shop
332 S. Main St
Shenandoah, PA 17976 (Google Map)

Open Tuesday through Saturday

Phone: 570-462-1263

Serving of Sauerkraut and Kielbasy

Our family has been eating the Kowaloneck’s fresh and smoked Kielbasy (or “Kilbo” as we call it) for three generations. Kowalonek’s Kielbasy Shop is located in the small town of Shenandoah, PA. Shenandoah is a small coal mining town located in east central Pennsylvania about an hour from Harrisburg on the I-81 freeway.
Fresh KielbasyKowalonek’s (pronouced KOV-EL-EN-ICK) Kielbasy Shop has been a family run grocery and sausage shop since 1911. They have almost 100 years of experience in making authentic Kielbasy including fresh Kilbo and smoked Kilbo. Their signature product is fresh Kielbasy Sausage. They don’t accept mail, phone or internet orders. You have to go and visit them to purchase the foods they produce.

And that’s exactly what happens. The Kowalonek’s Kielbasy Shop is widely known in the region, and people travel for hundreds of miles to visit their shop and buy the quality sausage they make. The Kielbasy starts with fine grades of ground pork which is mixed with their special recipe of spices and herbs, and then stuffed into natural sausage casings. Their smoked Kielbasy is naturally smoked using a mixture of hardwoods.

Smoked KielbasyBesides making the Smoked Kielbasy and Fresh Kielbasy, Mark and Paul Kowalonek also make a variety of products from the Kielbasy Sausage meat. This products include Kielbasy Loaf, a sliced luncheon meat made from baked Kielbasy meat; Kielbasy Jerky, a “beef jerky” like snack; Kielbasy Griller’s, a Kielbasy substitute for hot dogs; and Kielbasy Burgers, a hamburger sized patty of Kielbasy meat that can be grilled or fried.

Kielbasy Jerky
The Kilbo Jerky is a great tasting product. It’s not dry like beef jerky, and a stick of the Kielbasy Jerky is a great way to hold off the hunger pains while driving home and making your Kilbo dinner. Since the Kielbasy jerky has been cooked, it’s a little drier then fresh Kielbasy, and has a texture like that of beef jerky just a little moister. The Kowal’s have done a great job in making this jerky with it’s resulting beef jerky like shape and texture. Pick up a few of these for your way home.


Kilbo Loaf
Kowalonek’s Kielbasy Loaf is a great tasting lunch meat made my baking the Kielbasy Sausage meat, and then slicing thin on a commercial meat slicer into thin slices of lunch meat. If you want, you can buy the whole Kielbasy loafs and take them home to slice yourself.

You can use your imagination with the Kielbasy this company makes. An excellent way to cook the fresh kielbasy is to place the sausage frozen on a grill and cook until done. The result is similar to smoked kielbasy. Fresh and smoked kielbasy adds great flavor to bean soup. Use Kilbo loaf on breakfast sandwiches like your would ham, so you end up with a Kielbasy and egg sandwich.

Where to stay and dine
If you’re traveling by Frackville on the I-81 freeway, a great place to eat and stay is Granny’s. They serve homemade foods that you won’t find anywhere else like pork chops. Nice friendly service too. Granny’s is located right off of the Frackville exit and is on the way to Shenandoah. Bring your cooler, ice down the Kielbasy, and spend the night at Granny’s.

Pho Song Long Restaurant Review

Update: As of 2012, this restaurant is no longer in business.

Rank: 5 Stars (of 5)

Pho Song Long Restaurant Google Map
11542 Middlebrook Rd.
Germantown, MD 20876

Open 7 days a week
9:30AM – 8:00PM

Pho Song Long RestaurantThis is a Vietnamese Restaurant that was started in 2003 as a strictly Pho (pronounced fuh) Soup place. The owners are originally from Vietnam, so they have native knowledge of the foods of the region. Pho Song Long now has quite an extensive Vietnamese and Southeastern Asian menu. The soups are delicious, and come in small and large bowls. For most people the small bowl is plenty — it’s fairly large and is more than a quart. The service at this restaurant is fast. I eat at Pho Song Long for lunch once or twice a week, and the food is usually served within 10 minutes of seating. They can get busy on holidays for lunch, so on those occasions there may be a wait for seating but most of the time there are a few seats available. Pho Song Long has attracted a diverse based of customers of both Asian and non-Asian descent. It’s always a good sign when you see lots of Asian customers at an Asian restaurant.

I’ve had several of the Beef Noodle soups including the meatball, round steak, and well done brisket (and the many varieties of mixes of these) and all were well made and tasty. All of the soups from Pho Song Long come with the standard accompaniments of lemon wedges, bean sprouts, green onion, cilantro, and Thai basil. Pho soup is usually served along with chop sticks and spoons. Forks are available on request.

Of the other entries on their menu, I’ve had the Singapore Noodles, which is a mixture of shrimp, pork, and vegetables with noodles and it’s highly recommended. They also have a noodle bowl with cut up spring rolls, pork, and vermicilli with a sauce that is delicious. This is one of the places that has so many good foods to order that it’s hard to choose a new one when you’ve already had 10 great tasting meals that you’d want to have again. I wouldn’t be afraid to try anything else on the extensive menu that the have. The portions are large, and some entrees like the Singapore Noodles could serve two when ordered along with an appetizer.

For appetizers, Pho Song Long offers Spring Rolls and Garden Rolls that are simply out of this world. Make sure to order a set of cooked spring rolls, the quality is absolutely fantastic.

Most of the entrees are priced in the $5.00 to $7.00 range, with some of the more expensive entrees approaching $10.00.

Pho Song Long also offers several vegetarian menu items for those groups that may have vegetarian friends seeking a place for everyone to meet for a meal.

The atmosphere at Pho Song Long is clean and typical of the several Vietnamese pho soup restaurants in the area. Furnishings are simple quality tables, with comfortable chairs.

Directions: From Bethesda, Rockville: Take the I-270 freeway north to the first Middlebrook Road Exit. Turn right into first shopping center on right.

From Frederick, Germantown: Take I-270 freeway south to Route 118. Make left at light onto Germantown Rd. Make right onto Frederick Rd. Turn right into shopping center after crossing Middlebrook Rd.

The beef soups Pho Song Long offer are:

Pho Tai

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak.

Pho Tai, Chin

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak and well-done brisket.

Pho Bo Vien

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with meat balls only.

Pho Tai, Nam

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak adn well-done flank.

Pho Tai, Gau

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak and fat brisket.

Pho Tai, Sach

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak and bible tripe.

Pho Tai, Gan

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak and and soft tendon.

Pho Tai, Nam, Sach

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak, well-done flank and bible tripe.

Pho Tai, Nam, Gan

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak, well-done flank and soft tendon.

Pho Nam, Ve Don

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with well-done flank and skirt flank.

Pho Chin, Nam, Ve Don

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with well-done brisket, well-done flank and bible tripe.

Pho Tai, Nam, Gau, Gan, Sach

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak, well-done flank, fat brisket, soft tendon and bible tripe.

Pho Tai, Chin, Nam, Gau, Gan, Sach

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak, well-done brisket, fat brisket, soft tendon and bible tripe.

Pho Chin, Nam, Gau, Gan, Sach

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with well-done brisket, well-done flank, well-done flank, fat brisket, soft tendon and bible tripe.

Pho Tai, Nam, Gan, Sach

Vietnamese Beef Noodle soup with eye round steak, well-done flank, soft tendon and bible tripe.

They also offer a couple of Chicken Noodle soups:

Pho Ga

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle soup with tasty natural chicken broth and shredded chicken meat.

Mien Ga Song Long

Vietnamese Chicken Vermicelli Noddle soup with tasty natural chicken broth and shredded chicken meat

My first post

Welcome to my new blog. I decided to join all of the bloggers out there, and create a little blog of my own that focuses on good things I’ve found including places, food, stores, etc. I wanted to name the site “things I like dot com” or a variety around that, but those names were all taken, so thus we have It’s fitting for the most part, a suitable name for good web sites I like, and for stores, restaurants, etc. There might be a little bit of stretching when it comes to foods and recipes I like, but who cares about the name, then? Anyway, I’m going to try to post about a variety of nice places to go, shop, browse the web, or eat. This is a preamble of sorts, and up next will come my first thing I like … which will probably be the first thing that I have a picture of!