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)

Fall paddle on Back Bay with Norfolk State University

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Autumn afternoons on Back Bay Virginia like the one these Norfolk State University students and faculty experienced tell the story of a coastal estuary in transition. As a result, wildlife sightings have been ample and fall colors are becoming more prominent as the season holds on to its last few warm days before the winds of winter arrive. Migratory birds are buzzing south along the Atlantic Flyway, which aligns perfectly with our waterway. Winding through the northern portion of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the tributary offers a complete cross-section of the watershed’s natural environment from maritime forest to marsh to open water. For more information and to book your group outing on our scenic stretch of sheltered, flat water, call us at (757) 721-6210 or follow this link. Thanks to NSU’s Living-Learning Communities coordinator Patrisha Aregano for bringing the crew down to Sandbridge! Photos by John Streit.

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Flashback Friday: Autumn Paddle on Back Bay

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Photos by Shaun Devine. Words by John Streit.

This set of photos flashes us back to our current season — autumn — a few years back for a photo shoot in Muddy Creek for our Surf & Adventure/Ocean Rentals annual guide book. Fall time on Back Bay is a special time of year when the brisk, cool air ushers in golden tones as the leaves change color and the sun takes a lower angle toward resting in the west. The vibrant, lush greens of summer give way to the straw hues of plant life gone dormant until their annual springtime resurgence. With pleasant air temperatures and the water still warm from ample summer sunshine, there’s arguably no better way to enjoy our region’s secret season than renting a kayak or standup paddleboard and striking out on your own Back Bay adventure. Or, allow us to show you the unique flora and fauna of the watershed on a guided tour for added insight!

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Used Equipment Sale: Fri. Sept. 11 + Sat. Sept. 12

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One of our most anticipated weekends of the year returns for Friday, Sept. 11 and Saturday, Sept. 12: our famous Used Equipment Sale! Kayaks, SUPs, surfboards, bikes and more… Come out at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11 for our presale and get your pick of the inventory with a $10 minimum donation to the Navy Seal Foundation! The remaining gear will be released to the public on Saturday, Sept. 12. starting at 9 a.m.

Pricing Guide:
Standup Paddleboards: $400-$700
Surfboards: $100-$350
Malibu II XL double kayaks: $420
Frenzy single kayaks: $375
Beach Chairs + Bodyboards: $10
Beach Cruisers: $60

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Tight Lines & Good Times: Kayak Fishing Tours

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Photos & words by John Streit.

As our other kayak tour options have been busy this summer, the same can be said for our kayak fishing tours! We’re stoked to offer this unique outdoor experience in some of the best fishing areas our region has to offer: Back Bay for our freshwater tours and Rudee Inlet for our saltwater tours. A recent trip out to one of Back Bay’s true honey holes saw an ideal scene for pursuing largemouth bass, the world’s most popular freshwater gamefish. Thick, healthy beds of aquatic vegetation called Eurasian water milfoil blanketed the reed-lined cove — the perfect cover for these voracious ambush predators. The presence of these grass beds is a great sign that our water quality is top-notch, which translates to ample fish populations as well as an overall good bill of health for the Back Bay watershed. Our trip saw plenty of action with steady hits and a nice, lively catch (and release!). Enjoy these images from our latest fishing trip on Back Bay and click this link to sign up for your fishing tour!

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Pedaling Through Paradise

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Photos & words by John Streit.

When most think of the word “paradise,” images of palm trees and white sand beaches come to mind. While that’s a scene all of us can appreciate, I’m here to challenge the notion that paradise can’t be found right here in and around Sandbridge — especially during the summer season. Our beaches are top-notch in their own right; and the recreational opportunities the Atlantic Ocean, Back Bay and False Cape State Park offer stand up next to anything you can find in the tropics. All it requires to view our rugged outbacks in this way is a minor change of perspective and an appreciation for the natural beauty our coastal environment puts on display. There’s arguably no better way to experience these diverse landscapes than striking out on one of our False Cape Bike Tours! We start on the pavement out of Little Island Park and make our way into Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the tightly-packed gravel trails perfect for a simple beach cruiser. Waterfowl empoundments, high dune ridges, the open waters of Back Bay and the expansive sky mesmerize the rider as the journey reaches the gates of False Cape State Park surprisingly fast, though 5-plus miles have already been covered. It’s easy to lose track of time when the scenery reveals wildlife such as river otters, bald eagles, deer, turtles and a wide variety of shorebirds and migratory waterfowl. The scene then shifts to maritime forest and the pine groves of the higher dune elevations. A hop over the dune reveals the vast Atlantic Ocean to the east and the dunes and forest to the west. We even offer a coastal cruise option with our fat-tire sand bike tours! Put your foot to the pedal and discover our slice of paradise!

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August Paddling Tours

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Sit on top and sit inside kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards (SUP) for rental at our boat dock in Sandbridge.

Photos & words by John Streit.

Summer is in full swing and our Back Bay paddling tours have been cruising off our boat dock nearly every morning so far this month! We’ve been fortunate enough to have our stormy start to summer give way to beautiful, classic midsummer weather — though not as hot and humid as we are used to seeing in August. While the occasional overcast sky has come along with the cooler temperatures, those conditions offer some of the most comfortable paddling and best opportunities for wildlife viewing as the critters — especially the aquatic mammals such as minks, river otters and muskrats — ditch the shade of the marsh for open waters. We’ve also been receiving fly-bys by our nation’s iconic symbol: the American Bald Eagle!

It’s also been great to be a highlight of many family vacations for visitors of both Sandbridge and the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. We’ve even had plenty of locals making the most of their daycations on the water with us! Enjoy these photos of our recent standup paddleboarding and kayak tours.

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Chica Surf Camp: Week 3

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Photos by Erika Mills. Words by John Streit.

“I had too much fun at surf camp,” said nobody ever!

All jokes aside, this STOKED group of Surf & Adventure Chica Surf Campers were throwing down some of the best soft-top rides of the season at Little Island Park last week, and the very talented Erika Mills was there to capture the action! So far, the summer season has provided nearly perfect conditions for learning the ropes of surfing at Little Island Park — uncrowded lineups, slow-rolling 1- to 2-foot waves, mostly clean morning conditions and the guidance of our awesome Chica Surf Camp instructors ensuring these girls become certified surfer girls. We still have plenty of spaces open for the remaining Chica Surf Camps of the summer, which run on Thursdays and Fridays starting at 9 a.m. at Little Island Park. The $100 cost of the camp includes an awesome goodie bag from our camp sponsors, including a Billabong Camps t-shirt complete with our own S&A logo and a pizza party at the shop following Friday’s session! Call us at (757) 721-6210 or follow this link to sign up.

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