Vacation Uncomfortably

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People have been looking at me strange my entire life after I’ve explained my weekend, morning, or vacation.

The most common reaction to how I spend my free time is “Why?’ and I know I am not alone.  We proudly wear those expressions of bewilderment as badges of honor.  Surf and Adventure has always been a motley crew of people who relax uncomfortably.  Whether it’s Rob putting a group of people 10 years younger than him in the pain cave on a gravel ride through False Cape on his only day off  or Matt Price spending his vacation with his family living in a van and chasing surf though New Zealand, there is something that sets us apart.  Fitness goals alone will not push a person to go on an 187 mile bike ride.  We tread through discomfort to find what we are made of; walk up to our limitations and dare them to stop us from going further.

In search of Winter froth, John (surfer/journalist extraordinaire), Brett (now living in Hawaii), and myself found ourselves skating across Route 13 in my Honda Civic.  A previous snow storm had left a thick sheet of ice blanketing the road.  The question here is, “Why?”.  The answer is the 10 foot buoy readings and the 20 mph northwest winds.  While NW winds don’t make good surf buddies in Sandbridge, they create glassy wave faces at a few choice spots on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  Wind chills were well below zero but I like to think that our stoke level brought temps up to a comfortable 40 degrees.

When we stopped at the front gate of the Wallops Island NASA facility to ask if we could be allowed on to paddle to Tom’s Cove, we didn’t get the typical government official response of “no”. The stationed soldier asked “WHY?”.  Needless to say, we didn’t get to Tom’s Cove by way of NASA.  We ended up driving to Assateague Island, walking two miles and changing into our wetsuits on a frozen, unprotected beach.  I believe I only caught two waves but I remember that trip as one of my favorite surfs ever.

Many of us have stories just like this.  However, as we get older we tend to look back on those times as being young and crazy.  I say we were being young and growing.  We were challenging our limitations and living like tomorrow is not a guarantee.

I believe that being uncomfortable is the key to becoming who you want to be.  Taking on new challenges shouldn’t be something that happens once per decade of your life.  Challenge yourself constantly. In both physical and mental senses, if you live your life surrounded by comfort, little growth can occur. 

The next time you explain to your coworkers that you plan to __________________, after the look of bewilderment fades from their face, keep looking to see the jealousy leak through. I’ll be sleeping on the ground in Dolly Sods this weekend.  Even if you can’t get away maybe you can find a way to walk a little further, see what’s around the corner, and maybe keep walking.

If you need a spark, I encourage you to check out our archives of adventures.

Local Knowledge: Sandbridge

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Not everyone gets their vacation jollies from planting their toes underneath an umbrella by the sea.

Even those of us that dream away our afternoons dreaming of sitting seaside in Sandbridge will still want to do something else after a couple of sedentary days in the sand.  Luckily for you, Sandbridge boasts a wide variety of opportunities to enjoy the beach life whether you’re a life-long local or a weekend vacationer.

There are the the obvious and long-time favorite Sandbridge activities of surfing and kayaking but you need to go deeper to get a fuller understanding of what makes Sandbridge a unique location to live and play.

Paddling to Blue Pete’s or The Baja

Sandbridge is a sliver of land between two beautiful bodies of water; the Atlantic Ocean and Back Bay.  While many of the vacation homes boast ocean views, others offer water access to the bay.  Personally, I’ll take the serenity of Back Bay for my relaxing afternoons.  Many of us take out watersports to the level of transportation as we paddle to Blue Pete’s on Muddy Creek or The Baja on the banks of the bay.  Sure; you can drive to these places but that seafood tastes so much better after you’ve earned it.  Couple these great meals with a soothing sunset on the water and you’ve just made a memory.  If you don’t have water access or the necessary equipment, check us out for both.

SUP Rental

Kayak Rental

Canoe Rental

Surf and Adventure Boat Dock

Blue Pete’s Dinner Tour

 

Overnight trip to False Cape

The new age of construction in Sandbridge has brought luxury to the community.  However, big screen tv’s and indoor pools aren’t for everyone.  Within a short hike or bike ride are the campsites of False Cape State Park.  False Cape State Park is the least visited (though most spectacular) park in Virginia due to its secluded location.  Sandwiched between Back Bay National Wildlife refuge and sand-locked Corova, NC, False Cape is a true gem in rough.  Campsites are only accessible by bike or on foot but are well worth the trek.  Still, if camping isn’t your cup of tea, the park makes a nice day trip, as well.  If you’ve left your bike at home or want to try a sand specific bike, we have you covered here.

We also lead bike tours to False Cape for those who enjoy the company of an experienced guide.

Surfing in False Cape

Let’s be completely honest here; lugging your surf gear down to False Cape is work and in the age of surf cams set up at every break, it’s difficult to convince your buddies to take a chance at an unknown break.  All of the things that are telling you to stay home are the same things that make this adventure so incredible; most people stay home.  Out of my many trips down to False Cape, I have only ever encountered one other person in the water that wasn’t a friend and more often than not the surf was better than in town.  A wise friend once told me that you can tell every surfer in the world about your favorite secluded spot but if it doesn’t have a parking lot, it will remain your favorite secluded spot.  This is exactly that.

Of course, we have the boards necessary to make such a trip part of your vacation.

Weather or not to get out

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This week has showcased how nasty weather or the constant threat of nasty weather can have a disastrous effect on people who live outdoors and the forecast doesn’t look much better.  While water temps slowly rise out of the winter freeze, we need all the sun that we can get.  Camping becomes a a game of ‘chicken’ with thunderstorms.  A run on a favorite trail becomes a stain removal video on your DIY Youtube channel.  For many, cabin fever will set in and we will go outdoors anyway.  There are, however, some essential tools to make this weather cooperate with our new dependency on wearable gadgets.

If you’re like me, I don’t suit up, go out, or pack up without my GPS, phone, wallet, or camera.  I’m also not a rich man and can’t afford to constantly replace these things but I refuse to let the weather ruin my weekends.  Luckily, we try to keep to shop stocked with tools for your adventure.  We have basic dry bags, DryCase back packs (my personal favorite), a huge assortment of discounted spring wetsuits, and plenty of warm threads.

Choose S&A Surf Camps

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Surf and Adventure Surf Camp in Virginia Beach

Teaching people how to surf has always been a huge part of who we are at Surf and Adventure.

Even before I was drafted to my first season here, I knew that Surf and Adventure lacked all of the elitism and snobbery that plagued the surf scene in Virginia Beach.  Sandbridge was a ‘safe’ place to come and learn to surf.  It’s what attracted me here and its why I still choose to surf here over the much more popular spots like 1st street and Croatan.  Everyone claims to love surfing but nobody seems to be having much fun there.  Our goal is to keep surfing inclusive of everyone whether you are a weekend warrior or the next east coast export to the WSL.

Safety is always a huge concern when playing in the ocean and it should be. All of our instructors go through intensive training and CPR certification.  More importantly, our instructors love teaching people to surf and many of them had their first experiences with our camps as kids, like our lead instructor Coeltryn Kirkland.

Our camps begin Monday mornings with introductions and some on beach instructions where we go over wave mechanics and some basic safety measures before hitting the water.  We will then move at the pace of the participants from pushing students into their first rides to teaching them to ride the line.  Of course, you should expect an appearance of the SUPSQUATCH at some point during the course.  SUPsquatch is our 6 person, inflatable surfboard.  Whether you’re a twenty year veteran or a newbie, this an experience for everyone.

In the spirit of creating a comfortable learning environment for all, we have created our Chica Camps.  These camps take place on Thursdays and Fridays and are for girls only.  These camps are similar to our other camps but condensed into two days and usually have smaller group sizes.

Sometimes your schedule doesn’t line up to make the camps.  We also offer group surf lessons on a rolling basis.  For more information, click here.

If group lessons aren’t your thing, we also offer private lessons where you get all of the attention. For more information, click here.

Our camps are located at Little Island Park, just north of the pier.  Little Island is an excellent place to hold camps with convenient parking, bath houses, and surfing specific stretches of beach.

We take great pride in our camps and their reputation for building a love of surfing and are always stoked when customers come through the shop and tell us how much they enjoyed surf camp when they were kids.

Running Adventures: Oceanfront Boardwalkin’

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King Neptune stands guard over Virginia Beach's favorite running spot, the boardwalk..

Oceanfront Boardwalkin’

 

 

If you’ve lived in Virginia Beach for more than 5 minutes, you either are a runner or you love someone who is a runner.

When I moved to Virginia Beach in 2003 to attend graduate school at ODU, I found myself living at the Oceanfront, broke, and in desperate need of a way to release all the stress that graduate school has to offer.  Before moving here, I dabbled in running, but it was more of an occasional activity than a way of life for me.  That is until I moved close to the Disneyland of running, i.e., the Virginia Beach Boardwalk.  There is something about the Boardwalk that just makes you want to run.  First, it’s “I’ll run to one end and back”.  Then it’s “Let me run to the other end and back so I can check out what’s going on down there too”.  Before you know it, you’re running the whole Boardwalk, all 5 glorious miles of it.  “Why is the Boardwalk such a cool place to run?” you ask, “It’s so crowded and touristy”.   Yes, you are correct, but that’s one of the reasons it’s so appealing.  Name one place that you can check out the surf, spot dolphin swimming along the shoreline, hear live music, and  people watch (mostly people wearing outfits that should probably be illegal) all in less than a few blocks?  The public restrooms and water fountains every few blocks are just icing on the cake.

The Boardwalk is home to many, many races, all of which benefit one great charity or another.  If you have not run a race on the boardwalk, I would strongly suggest you do.

There’s always a fun afterparty somewhere that you won’t want to miss.

I have personally run more races on the Boardwalk than I can count, and have had some of my best and worst running memories made there.   Friendships are formed through running on this strip of concrete, if you let them.

There is an energy to the Boardwalk that I have yet to find anywhere else in Virginia Beach.   Yes, often it is full of out-of-owners (especially when you hit it in the summertime), but seeing their wide-eyed excitement at being away from their real lives and letting lose for a few days, almost makes you feel as though you are on vacation yourself.  Times like these, you realize how lucky you are to live close to the ocean and enjoy it anytime you want.  I try never to take this fact for granted, and feel ever so grateful to live by the sea.

…when you hit the Boardwalk early in the morning, there is a peacefulness in the air that is contagious…

Other times, when you hit the Boardwalk early in the morning, there is a peacefulness in the air that is contagious.  The quietness of the morning allows you to able to hear the roar of the surf and watch the early-bird surfers out trying to catch the best waves of the day.  It feels like you’ve got the whole place to yourself.  As you run, stop to take a look out to the ocean and watch the sun come up over the Atlantic.  You are guaranteed a beautiful show.

Next time you’re bored and want something to do, I suggest lacing up and heading down there.  When you run, make sure to touch the railing at each end of the Boardwalk.  It’s a legend throughout the running community here that this is good luck, so don’t jinx yourself.  Also, look for me, because I will hopefully be there too.

Words by Karen Lindauer, Photos by Karen Lindauer and Carla Serex


Upcoming Events at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront

March 18-20, 2016 Shamrock Marathon (Marathon, Half-Marathon, 8k, 1 mile)

May 29, 2016 Steel Pier Classic 5k

September 3-4, 2016 Rock’n Roll 1/2 Marathon (1/2 Marathon, 5k, 1 mile)

October 29, 2016 Wicked 10k (10k, 1 mile)

December 17, 2016 Surf-n-Santa (5 mile)