Tag Archives: adventure

Get Outside in Virginia State Parks!

Virginia State Parks provide wonderful opportunities for those who enjoy being outdoors and are looking for ways to use their time outside to give back to the community. Although almost all of the volunteers are users of Virginia State Parks, there are groups that sign up with members who have never visited them before. Both levels of experience are welcome, as all volunteers go through orientation and are supervised.

“There are volunteer opportunities that work for different age groups,” says Andrea Hasenfus, Camp Host Program Manager. “Retirees may be able to do a Wednesday gardening at noon, while someone who works a full-time job may be available to do trail maintenance on the weekends.”

There are also opportunities for young people. The Youth Conservation Corps is a great program for teens 14-17 who want to learn about conservation and working in parks. They spend three weeks living and working in parks around the state, supervised by college-age adults. Although the deadline to participate in this program has passed, visitors to the park may still get to see the group in action this summer. This is a competitive program. In 2017, 800 applications were received to fill 170 spots. If your child is interested in being involved in the future, it may be a good idea to sign up to volunteer and get some experience before the 2018 application process starts on December 1.

Joining a Friends Group is another way to contribute. It takes a lot of work to keep up state parks, and Friends Groups play a huge part in building and maintaining trails, helping staff visitor centers, working on educational outreach programs, and raising funds for park projects and facilities. There are several parks with Friends Groups looking for members. Being part of one of these groups has the potential to create a lasting impact for generations to come, as they also help with advocacy for the invaluable resources offered through the parks.

“Sometimes the most help, if you can’t put your elbow grease in on the trail, is to be an advocate. Whether you are a member of a friends group, or used to doing advocacy in the community, advocates are always great to have on our behalf.” explains Andrea.

For those who want a more immersive and active experience, the AmeriCorps program engages its members in meaningful service in Virginia State Parks by providing extensive training and professional development opportunities. They go through grants, and work on natural resource management in the parks. Some of them last all summer, and those who complete them receive an education award at the end.

There will be a big opportunity for volunteers on June 3 for Clean the Bay Day/National Trails Day. In fact, every park in the Virginia State Parks system will have a need for help that day. Those who wish to volunteer will not have to sign up through the website to be a one-time volunteer for the event. Simply show up at your local park and offer to lend a hand.

Visit www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks for a full list of parks in your area. Click on individual parks to see what they need.

Bella’s Floyd Yoga Jam Adventure

We spent the majority of our Labor Day weekend at Floyd Yoga Jam. In the mornings, a calm fog settled over the mountain as we awoke to the sound of a flute playing in the distance. Slowly, we made our way out of our tents, in search of coffee and the perfect spot to spread out our yoga mats.

FullSizeRender-2A sign on the trail reminded us to “believe in magic.” But, what is magic exactly? In a world where all that stands between you and what you want is a search bar on a tiny screen, it is hard to remember what we identified as magical in younger, simpler times. We were, of course, torn from those tiny screens as we made the trek up the mountain. One by one, our phones began to read, “No Signal.” Our attention turned to the surroundings, the people, and then almost remarkably inward.

Somewhere between our Thursday night arrival and our departure late Sunday, we felt the release of tension in our backs, our shoulders, and our spirits. As beginners, we worried that we would not be welcomed with open arms by those more experienced with yoga its various forms. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The instructors and fellow Jam attendees not only welcomed us, they inspired us to keep learning once our time on the mountain was over.

IMG_8675We can’t wait to go back to Yoga Jam next year! In the meantime, we’ve checked out videos and books from the library and scheduled classes to keep learning. What was once intimidating is now a deeply intriguing subject that we can’t wait to explore further. Thank you to everyone at Floyd Yoga Jam who made these beginners feel at home!

Staycations!: An End-of-Season Home Vacation

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG

Pack your bags, it’s time for the best end-of-season vacation you have ever had and you don’t have to leave home to take it!   Vacations don’t have to end just because a season ends, take a relaxing and enjoyable vacation at-home or in your hometown anytime you want.

A true staycation is more than just a week or weekend at home; it is a planned intentional time of events for relaxation and fun for your entire family.

Here are a few planning tips for a successful Staycation:

1. Brief-your-case for having a vacation at home by including your family with the planning process.  See Step 4.

2.  Decide what kind of vacation you want to take. Gather brochures just like you would when you plan a travel destination.

3.  Create a budget for activities and food.  Plan your menu for the week and make-ahead a few meals related to your themed vacation.  No one really wants to cook while on vacation, unless it is a culinary destination.

4. Inspire the family with the staycation idea and plan a “staycation idea” dinner party/meeting.  Good food always brings people together and a pretty tablescape will reinforce the excitement that a  home vacation could be fun.

5. Clean your house before you begin your staycation. Get caught up on laundry, dishes, and the everyday duties that can be stressful.  Place special scents and music in your home that reflect the type of vacation you are taking.  Select special guest room items in each bedroom to mimic a bed and breakfast vacation.  Set up and stock a beverage center with your family’s favorite snacks or snacks that you would have on a travel destination.  Set up a continental breakfast buffet for each day of your vacation.

6. Unplug for a day!  Develop a plan that the entire family will unplug all technical devices including cell phones, computers, pads, and even watches during this vacation week.  Make it a game and give a prize at the end of the week to the family member who stayed true to the technical shut down.  Select a prize that excites everyone and announce the no –tech challenge at the beginning of the vacation week or during your family planning meeting.

7.  Maybe your staycation is an outdoor adventure, plan for day trips to zip lines, white water rafting or hiking the mountain trails.  Other ideas for a staycation include: Spa day or week, a culinary international tour , Hawaiian or Caribbean cruise with different ports of call or create a DIY room, you get the idea.

Here is one Staycation Dinner Party-meeting inspiration to get you started:

mini suitcaase-www.lizbushong.comYour planning meeting could be a trip to a tropical beach.   Begin with a suitcase as the centerpiece.  A backyard profusion of blooms-hydrangeas, pink geraniums and verbena- overflows the open suitcase centerpiece.  Simply line the vintage suitcase with plastic then add a water- filled rectangular dish to hold the fresh cut flowers and potted plants in place.  Plank the sides of the suitcase with tropical photos or scrapbooks.

Bright and bold colorful placemats serve as a runner for the center of the table. At each place setting create mini suitcase favors that are made from cardstock.  Cover the suitcase with cute stickers and fill boxes with candies or surprises for each family member.  See mini suitcase how to at www.lizbushong.com.

A quick and easy healthy menu includes make-a-head black bean burgers, sweet potato fries and a peachy apricot parfait for dessert.  Your family will be surprised and excited about taking a home vacation.  Remember, planning is key, we don’t want this satiation to be all on mom and dad’s shoulders, this is a family affair.  Make this staycation fun and a time for reconnecting with the family.

Peach Parfait www.lizbushong.comPeach-Apricot Cream Parfait       www.lizbushong.com 

1 -12 oz. ounce can apricot nectar
1-3oz. package lemon flavored gelatin
2 -16 oz cans unsweetened apricot halves and peach halves, drained
1-8oz package sour cream
Whipped cream and mint springs to garnish if desired

In small saucepan, bring to boil 1 cup apricot nectar. Remove from heat.
Add lemon gelatin, stir until dissolved, stir in remaining cold apricot nectar. Set aside.
Place peaches and apricots in electric blender, process until smooth. Divide mixture.
Add sour cream to one part of divided fruit mixture.  Process to blend.
Pipe or pour fruit mixture into decorative parfait or serving dishes. Garnish with whipped cream/mint sprig.

Yield:   8 parfaits

Bean Burger recipe www.lizbushong.comSpicy Black Bean Burgers      www.lizbushong.com

2 cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
¼ cup slivered green onions
¼ cup diced celery
¼ teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon each paprika, red pepper, cumin, oregano, parsley, dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon grated lime peel
2 teaspoons lime olive oil
Olive oil and butter for cooking

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Pat mixture into a 4 x 6 inch rectangle and score into 3- 2-inch sections making 6 burgers.  Shape into 6 patties.
Heat skillet with 1- teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter.  Fry burgers until browned 3 minutes on each side.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight before cooking.

Yield:  6- 2” burgers

For a seasoned potato buns recipe, visit www.lizbushong.com!

Helping you Make a Statement, Make is Sassy and Make it Yours! ® 

See staycation ideas http://www.livingwellspendingless.com

Liz Circle 2013 smallLiz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tri-cities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine.  For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com 

A Guide to Last Minute Traveling

UnknownIf you’re anything like us, you probably like to begin planning for trips and vacations at least a few weeks ahead of time. But sometimes things pop up and you need to make travel arrangements quickly and cheaply. There is no need to panic if you are unable to peruse your favorite travel sites for the best deal. Your smart phone has the potential to help you plan your entire trip in less than fifteen minutes. There are many different travel apps that you can download to make things easier. Here are a couple of our favorite free ones:

mzl.xbhlyiabHotel Tonight: Finding a hotel last minute can be a hassle. You know what you want, and the price you need, but eliminating those that are completely booked can make this task seem impossible. Fortunately, Hotel Tonight helps you find a hotel where you want at a price that works. You can book for up to one week ahead and reserve your room for one week at the most—giving you a little extra time to look for additional options if you will be staying in one location for a while. The app tells you when there are only a few rooms left at a hotel, and won’t show you any that have no vacancies. They also have a nice little classification system. Hotels are ranked as “crash pads, basic, solid, charming, hip, luxe, or high rollers.”

6284824fa2dc70a3c213aa175a4ae0c6Couchsurfing: If you’re a more laid back and adventurous person you might want to try the Couchsurfing app. On Couchsurfing, you can look for people who have opened up their homes to travelers or you can open up your own couch for visitors. Couchsurfing is free; it is about meeting people and exploring the world, not making money. So it’s great if you need to travel but are strapped for cash!

There are many more travel apps out there. The best way to find one to fit your needs is to experiment with a few of them. You may also want to try Travelzoo, LMT Deals, and Tripit. Some of them can help you secure airfare, transportation, AND accommodations. Others have fun day planning and excursion features.

Unexpected detours or obstacles can make traveling a hassle, even if you are an excellent planner. So relax, pull out your smart phone, and let these apps take care of everything for you!

Written by Krista Knauer

Let’s Go for a Ride!

When I was a kid in Southern California, “let’s go for a ride” usually meant a long family drive through the mountains or skirting the desert basins far outside of the city. Sometimes, we would take curving cliffside roads that afforded a view of the Pacific. The vistas were incredible, though generally relegated to the opposite side of a window, and came at the cost of a few gallons of gas and the risk of motion sickness.

Now, “let’s go for a ride” has a different meaning. Once spring finally muscles winter out of the way and everyone is eager to get outside, my daughter and I strap on our helmets and hit the Roanoke River Greenway on our bicycles. Each year, there’s more of the greenway to explore. It is as if small, secret parts of our city are constantly being revealed, opening themselves up for adventure.

jeremyPenelope loves the freedom and speed of the bicycle. She loves moving under her own power, and she loves the real sense of growing stronger she gets each year as she’s able to ride faster, for longer distances, and up steeper hills. I, of course, simply enjoy being along for the ride and sharing these experiences with her.

Some of the best parts of the trip, though, having nothing to do with riding, but come from the spontaneous moments of discovery that being on a bicycle allows:

  • Coming across a bridge and deciding, all of a sudden, that what we really want to do is hop off the bikes and explore the banks along the stream that runs underneath it.
  • Stopping to watch a heron stalk a stretch of low water, dipping its head under the surface as it hunts for fish.
  • Making friends with a tailless stray cat who has taken up ownership of nearby playground.
  • Drowsing in the grass, helmets still on, watching the clouds drift past the tree branches high above.

What you can do on a bicycle that you can’t do in a car is stop, right where you are, and explore. You never have to worry about your kids spotting something fascinating, only to have them struggle to describe it long after you have driven past. You can take a moment to appreciate the small and sudden. Best of all, you can let your child take the lead, and their curiosity take the wheel.

Visit http://www.ridesolutions.org to see how you can get out and ride this summer!

Written by Jeremy Holmes

A Vacation in Virginia

Still trying to think of a last minute way to relax over one of your long weekends this summer? Fortunately, you do not have to venture outside of the state to relax and unwind. The perfect weekend getaway can be had at one of Virginia’s amazing resorts nestled in the heart of our iconic mountain landscape.

The Homestead luxury resort is perfect for couples OR families. Beckoning from Hot Springs, Virginia, the destination offers many opportunities to unwind and bond with those you care about most. For the more active adventurer, choose between horseback riding, falconry, and paint ball. If you would rather spend the time relaxing, enjoy spa services or a day by the pool. Sprinkle in one (or several) farm-to-table approach meals at one of the resort’s restaurants.

There are many formal dining options available for guests. One of our favorites is the Main Dining Room. They offer delicacies like Virginia grass-fed beef, Allegheny mountain trout, and Chesapeake crab.

For the active family, “Downtime” is a great place to enjoy a meal while taking in amenities such as mini bowling, pool tables, shuffleboard, air hockey, arcade games, and more!

Finally, for the nature lovers, two major hot springs flow through the property and are available to enjoy during your stay. One thing is certain, you won’t get bored on a vacation to The Homestead! Visit www.omnihotels.com for more information and to book your room today.

The Primland is another one of our favorite getaways. Their gorgeous rooms and spa services would be enough to inspire us to book a room there for the weekend (or longer!), but there are so many additional reasons you should visit. Primland is committed to being environmentally respectful, and their natural surroundings are a reflection of that commitment. Enjoy scenery that could include whitetail deer, wild turkeys, rainbow trout, songbirds of all varieties, and beautiful wild flowers.

The resort is also famous for its stargazing opportunities. Study planets, nebulae, and celestial objects in their Observatory Dome. Telescope and dome presentations can be scheduled during your stay by resident astronomers as weather conditions allow.

When you aren’t stargazing, take advantage of other amenities including golf, nature walks, mountain biking, fly fishing, horseback riding, or ATV trail riding. Mabry Mill and Fairy Stone Park are also close by and worth a visit.

vacation2Regardless of your itinerary, don’t miss out on the variety of dining options available. Each venue uses seasonal fresh farm products to create their dishes. On June 20, you can register for Primland Cooking School and watch Chef Gunnar Thompson demonstrate how to create healthful dishes showcasing a natural abundance of the freshest local ingredients. Go to www.primland.com to learn more about this destination.

Massanutten is a great place to escape with the family. A short two hour drive to Harrisonburg, Virginia, it is a relaxing place for parents and a vacation the kids will not forget. Featuring a spa that offers manicures, pedicures, massages, skin care, waxing and tinting, the resort offers many opportunities for adults to spoil themselves throughout their stay!

If spas are not your cup of tea, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy from mountain biking and horseback riding to disc golf, zip line experiences, and river adventures. There is even a full service bike shop on site where you can rent, purchase, or repair a bike before your big adventure.

An awesome waterpark awaits children of all ages (mom and dad, this means you too!). There is something for EVERY water lover in this park— tube slides, body slides, water falls, pools of varying depths, and a Pipeline where guests can learn to surf!

We couldn’t mention Massanutten without talking about the food. They partner with local farms like Creekside Angus and Mountain View to supply fresh beef and artisanal cheeses. Their chicken is sourced from Broadway, Virginia, and their seafood is fresh from Virginia’s famed saltwater rivers. With several dining options using local and regional ingredients, it is nearly impossible to go hungry!

Go to www.massresort.com for more information on activities, upcoming events, and making reservations.

Women’s Outdoor Series

Summer is here and we are so excited about getting outdoors and enjoying all the fun our area has to offer!
We hope you will join us for any (or all!) of the following events that encompass our Women’s Outdoor Series during June. Stock up on sunscreen and get ready for some fun!

mtnbikegroupFor the ENTIRE month of June, Solve Fitness is offering Women’s Mountain Bike Instruction classes. At $75 for 2.5-3 hours, these classes include one-on-one personal training teaching participants basics that apply to all skill levels including riding over logs, switchback instruction and more! Additionally, each participant will receive a one-hour studio training session with postural and mat exercises.
Learn to navigate the trails in our area with confidence! Sign up today at www.solvefitness.com or call 540-312-5478.

paddleboardyogaLearn the basics of Standup Paddleboard Yoga at one of Roanoke Mountain Adventures‘ classes on June 5, 12, or 26, from 6:30-8 pm. at Explore Park. Classes run in conjunction with Uttara Yoga Studio and are $25 each. To register, call 540-525-8295.

Join Roanoke Mountain Adventures on June 9 at 4 pm on the Roanoke River for a Women’s Kayak Instructional Class/Trip. Classes are $45– the cost covers all rental equipment including a sit-on-top-kayak. To register, call 540-525-8295.

runnerHave you always wanted to try trail running, but you aren’t sure where to go or what to do? Consider signing up for an Intro to Trail Running course with Muddy Squirrel! For six Thursdays, beginning June 18, learn techniques, tips and tricks to becoming the best trail runner you can be! Get acquainted with great trails around the Roanoke Valley and meet a group of amazing women of all trail running levels with whom you can continue your adventures!
To register for the $49 course (and for more details), visit www.muddysquirrel.com.

paddleboardOn June 24, Roanoke Mountain Adventures will offer a Women’s Paddleboard Instructional Class at Explore Park for $45. The class will begin at 4 pm and will be taught by an ACA Certified SUP Instructor. It includes all rental equipment and transportation to Explore Park. To register, call 540-525-8295.

We can’t wait to see you at each of these events!