Tag Archives: outdoor

Tour Roanoke Outdoor Adventure!

Tour Roanoke was the first group to host food and beverage tours in the Roanoke Valley. Of course, our city is rich with history to explore, and that includes the surrounding mountains and rivers. One of the more spirited ways to learn about and fall in love with southwest Virginia is by taking to the water and the trails, so Tour Roanoke decided to try something new. This year, they offer Kayak the James and Craft Beer Trips with Twin River Outfitters. Each trip includes a six mile paddle on the river to one of three local breweries. This section of the James River includes Class I & II rapids.

“All of our tours–food, beer, wine–it’s all about showcasing local Roanoke. So it was not a difficult leap from that to local recreation. The James River is an appealing location because it’s 60 miles of uninhibited river there. It is one of the longest navigable rivers on the east coast,” says Larry Landolt, founder of Tour Roanoke.

The series of three Sunday trips began last month, but they will host another on July 23. They plan for this month’s adventure to include Great Valley Farm Brewery. Located in Natural Bridge, the brewery is not only a place to appreciate local craft beer, but also offers a remarkable view.

“It’s a really cool brewery. It’s on a nice hill overlooking the mountains. You can sit on the patio and drink a beer and look down to see Safari Park,” explains Larry.

Those participating in tours this summer will be picked up at Target (located near Valley View Mall) or the downtown Visitors Center, and transported to Buchanan, where their trip will begin at Twin River Outfitters. The oldest and most experienced outfitter operating on the Upper James River, they have safely conducted paddle trips since 1978. Sign up fees include equipment and instruction provided by Twin River Outfitters, and one pint or flight from the brewery on the trip.

Southwest Virginia is quickly becoming an outdoor recreation destination, and it’s not hard to understand why. With breweries popping up all over the area, the two leisure activities easily go hand in hand. For Larry and so many others, it is an unforgettable experience to escape and unwind. So, why not also take the opportunity to enjoy it with old friends and make a few new ones on the journey?

Or, as Larry says, “Let’s go do something really fun, drink beer, and talk about it.”

Can’t make it to one of the dates online? No worries! Tour Roanoke is also open to hosting private tours for up to 14 people. It’s the perfect adventure for wedding parties, birthdays, company functions, and more!

Visit www.roanokefoodtours.com for more information on how to schedule your trip, or one of their many tour options in Roanoke.

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.

A Lesson From Long Lake

A year ago, I was given a gray t-shirt depicting two bears, a mother and baby, across the chest. They were printed in white, and the words “Long Lake” stretched beneath them like a path. It was a gift from my boyfriend, Robby, who visited me where I worked as a camp counselor. He had just returned from a trip to his family’s cabin on Long Lake’s shore. The lake is tucked safely away in Adirondack State Preserve, located in upstate New York.
As I unfolded the t-shirt, stories began to fly.
“You would love it there, Hannah,” he said. “My sisters and I went there all the time as kids. We used to pick blueberries from the bushes outside and my dad would make incredible pancakes.”
Long Lake sounded like something out of a fairy tale. Water so still that you could hear a far-off whisper, tiny islands with names like Pancake and Feather, chipmunks eating popcorn kernels right out of your hand.
“Next summer, we’ll go,” he said.
This past July, his statement came to fruition. We made the twelve-hour haul up to Long Lake with Robby’s three roommates. Toward the end of the drive, the air got cooler, the sky got brighter, and the tiny service bars on our phones began to drop.

IMG_0656“The cabin’s pretty isolated,” said Robby. “There’s no cell service or electricity.” He had said it before, but as buildings turned to houses and houses gave way to trees, the word “isolated” began to crystallize around us. I looked at my increasingly useless phone, realizing with a twinge of shame just how much time I let my world shrink to a five-and-a-half inch screen. Scrolling through Twitter and Youtube had become a go-to activity in between daily events. While I once painted or wrote or did yoga at random times during the day, I now found myself increasingly complacent, drawn into the hypnotic, humorous worlds behind the square-shaped apps. My battery was nearly dead, my laptop was back in Virginia, and I smiled calmly at the thought of being unplugged. Every few minutes, another phone would lose service and its owner would join the growing conversation.
A grocery trip and a boat ride later, we were floating up to the cabin in the suddenly-pouring rain. Two people jumped out of the boat and secured it to the dock with ropes, and the five of us ferried in backpacks, hiking boots, and cases of beer. When we were done, I walked back outside to look at where I would be living for a week. It was exactly as Robby had described. Wide planks of dark brown pinewood formed the walls of the cabin, and a green roof the color of aged copper stood in a high triangle. Simple, unadorned windows lined the sides of every wall, and a small deck wrapped around a corner. The entire thing was hidden shyly behind pine trees and blueberry bushes.
“What do you think?” Robby asked when I went back inside.
I smiled and said, “This place is perfect.”

IMG_0671And so began the delightful withdrawal from civilization. This particular group, excluding myself, was made up of video game enthusiasts. Gaming is used to bond and entertain, but also to fill the time in a way similar to what my iPhone had become. With zero access to anything electronic, the hours were filled with cooking, fishing, boat rides, and swinging in hammocks. It wasn’t until the fourth day there that I realized how much my lack of a cell phone had impacted me. It was the first time since our arrival that the weather had been anything but clear and sunny, and someone dusted off the board game “Risk.” I had never played Risk due to a deep and genuine loathing for strategic board games. I was handed dozens of tiny red pieces and told to learn as we went.
Playing a board game on a rainy day is an instance where I may frequently check out of the game and into my Twitter account, but I was left with no other option but fully engaging. I loved the game and almost won. Each person spent the whole time laughing and strategizing and pleading and making bets, as opposed to wasting significant chunks of attention on cell phone screens.

IMG_0657Conversations throughout that week were more meaningful, not split between a person and a device. With no alternative for distraction, we learned to really listen to each other, and creative outdoor activities replaced what would certainly be a Netflix binge for some. In a way, it was heartbreaking to see how different things could be without the widespread addiction to technology. It does not take a genius to distinguish between cyberspace and real life, but I required a brief withdrawal to observe the sheer power that my phone has over me.
Since that week of quiet water and leaping fish, stunning sunsets and group cooking efforts, I have tried to be less attached to my phone. My goal is to only go to it when I truly need to communicate with another person. When I find my eyes roaming automatically toward it, I try to catch myself. I breathe and picture a birch tree surrounded by blueberry bushes. It’s not always successful. It’s tough when I’m alone or when others around me are absorbed in screens of their own. However, my prayer is that people will collectively rediscover the value of human interaction, the value of silence, even boredom. Flicking off the screens gives me an incentive and venue for reflection, creativity, and friendship building. With this in mind, I pull on my Long Lake t-shirt and leave the phone at home.

 

Written by Hannah Bridges

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!

DIY: Creative Kids’ Activities for Fall

Each year autumn marks a time for change – leaves turn colors, the air becomes crisp and parents everywhere prepare for their children to return to school. The new season brings with it a shift in rhythms and patterns, including a new weekly routine for families as children go back to school.

For young children starting school, it’s important to maintain a learning environment even after the last school bell rings and they return home. Spend this time building family traditions and making learning fun by incorporating some of these fun indoor and outdoor fall activities into your seasonal routine.

EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS

* Set up a scavenger hunt with your kids to teach them about the differences between the tree; this activity allows children to run around the neighborhood learning about the wide variety of living things in their environment.
*Collect fallen leaves to create a beautiful fall collage. This is a fun activity for young children as they can use their imagination and creativity to design a unique image celebrating the fall season.
*Use a metallic marker so kids can write on the leaves, creating patterns or images, then place the leaves on wax paper and apply Mod Podge to keep the design in place as it hangs.
*Visit a local pumpkin patch: One of the most cherished fall traditions for families is spending a day at a pumpkin patch. Full of fun and games, the pumpkin patch is a perfect place for young children. Whether you’re making your way through the corn maze, interacting with the animals in the petting zoo, or enjoying a hay ride around the grounds, your family is sure to have a blast.

HALLOWEEN PREP

*Use the pumpkins brought home from the patch to design a spooky Jack-o’-lantern with your children. Let them design a face on the front of the pumpkin and cut it out for them.
*As Halloween approaches your little one will need a costume. Whether it’s shopping for the perfect costume or making one from scratch, use this time to learn more about your child’s likes and dislikes while encouraging them to express their creativity.

Make this fall season unforgettable and continue to help your children grow by introducing these lifelong family traditions.