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.

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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.

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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Sandbridge Paddle Fest & Expedition: 9/26/15

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We’re beyond stoked to announce our most ambitious project to date: our adoption of the Sandbridge Paddle Fest and the addition of the Surf & Adventure Expedition and festival site at Little Island Park on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015!

The inaugural Sandbridge Paddle Fest was held in 2013 with a very strong community and competitor response. Since then, adventure races have exploded with popularity, and there’s no better natural setup to host such an event than the south end of Sandbridge Beach. Little Island Park offers ample parking and exposition space, broad, sandy beaches, paddling opportunities at and the perfect launch point into gorgeous scenery for cycling through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park.

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The spirit of the Sandbridge Paddle Fest & Expedition arises from our passion for the outdoors and a commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles, as well as supporting the conservation efforts of the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. False Cape State Park is one of the last remaining undeveloped areas along the Atlantic coast. As the former home of Native Americans, the historic Wash Woods community and a Coast Guard lifesaving station, False Cape honors the hardy souls who made a living from the sea.  In order to truly experience the nature and history of this unique and primitive setting, participants in the Surf and Adventure Expedition will stop at designated checkpoints throughout the parks before returning to Little Island Park.

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The funds raised by the Sandbridge Paddle Fest & Expedition will support the Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that exists to support Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation by raising funds, accepting gifts and providing other resources to enhance existing programs, services, facilities and technology.

This event will feature the following activities:

  • Sandbridge Paddle Fest: 2-mile Stand Up Paddleboard course and 2-mile beach run with obstacles\
  • Surf and Adventure Expedition: 2-mile Stand Up Paddleboard course, 2-mile beach run, and Expedition bike ride through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. This event will be limited to 80 participants in order to control the number of people accessing the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park.
  • Kid’s Expedition: Short beach run with obstacles fun for kids under 12 years of age.
  • Expo area

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All events will be centered around Little Island Park, which will also offer food, beverages, community vendors, local businesses, demonstrations to include kayaking, surfing, and stand up paddleboarding, yoga sessions, and more.

We’re proud to be the presenting sponsor of this sure-to-become signature event for the Sandbridge community for years to come! Click this or the other links in this article = to sign up for the Sandbridge Paddle Fest & Expedition at http://surfandadventurerace.com.

False Cape Bike Tours

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Words & photos by John Streit.

Aside from being one of Virginia’s most diverse and beautiful natural areas, False Cape State Park is also the commonwealth’s most remote. Unlike nearby First Landing State Park — which offers awesome recreational opportunities in its own right — there is no parking lot access to False Cape. While that certainly limits the amount of activity the park experiences, it is also the source of the park’s allure — it’s an uncrowded, undeveloped, pristine and remote adventureland!

Thanks to our False Cape Bike Tours, Surf & Adventure/Ocean Rentals has opened the door to experience the rolling dunes, marsh flats, maritime forests, beaches and tributaries of Back Bay and False Cape! Outside of hiking, biking is the only and most efficient way to access False Cape State Park with tightly-packed gravel trails extending from Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s visitor center to the North Carolina/Virginia state line. Our tours offer two ways to experience False Cape: via the interior trails on beach cruisers or on the sand with our fat-tire bikes! These photos show the landscape of the interior trails from an early summer tour. Click the link to learn more about these unique, awe-inspiring tours and to book yours today!

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False Cape Bike & Surf Trip Scenes

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Words, photos and video produced by John Streit. Filmed by Les Frankel & Streit.

False Cape State Park is the kind of place where the usual travel or nature buzz words like “breathtaking” are used to describe it, but inevitably fall short of actually summarizing its majesty. No matter how many times I have made the trek from Sandbridge to Virginia’s southernmost state park, I always return with a renewed sense of awe and appreciation for this incredible stretch of natural beaches, high dunes, maritime forest and marsh flats. All of those ecosystems were on display under sunny skies and warm temperatures for our 2015 False Cape Bike & Surf Trip, which took 15 stoked participants from Little Island Park to False Cape’s Barbour Hill and back with a four-plus-hour surf session in between for good measure.

This trip also serves as a preview for our False Cape Retreats, which return for three special runnings this summer starting on Saturday, June 20 followed by Saturdays July 11 and August 22. We are also offering False Cape Bike Tours which offers participants the option of biking the interior trails or on the sand with our fleet of fat-tire sand bikes!

Until then, enjoy the video and photos capturing the action from another classic Bike & Surf Trip!

 

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Savings Inside, Fun & Adventure Outside!

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We’re offering special deals for our website viewership family!

Summer is right around the corner, and Surf and Adventure Co. is stoked to share our love of the outdoors with our valued customers! In the spirit of the warmer, longer days ahead, we’re offering preseason discounts that can be used throughout the summer on our outdoor activities!

  • 20% off Surf Lessons & Camps, Standup Paddleboarding Lessons & Tours + Bike & Kayak Tours! Must book before May 30, 2015. Can be used from now until Sept. 7, 2015.
  • Use the code “adventure15” (all lowercase) at checkout when purchasing online. Mention this post if booking by phone or in person before May 30, 2015.
  • Print out the retail coupon above or pull up this posting on your mobile device and present it at the register in-store for a Buy-One, Get-One Free deal on Surf and Adventure Co. brand clothing & apparel of equal or lesser value. Coupon good until Sept. 7, 2015.

We hope you take advantage of these killer deals and join us for outdoor adventures in Sandbridge & Back Bay! Thank you!

False Cape Bike & Surf Trip: May 16

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May has arrived, and that means it’s time for adventure through the diverse ecosystems of False Cape State Park in search of natural beauty, fun waves and good times!

Alongside the friendly staff of False Cape State Park, Surf & Adventure Co. is proud to host our fourth annual False Cape Bike & Surf Trip!

Join us as we set out on bikes from Little Island Park through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and into False Cape State Park. With the gracious park staff hauling our gear to the Barbour Hill walkover, all you have to do is pedal through the marsh flats and maritime forest — on a well-packed gravel pathway safe for beach cruisers — and enjoy the scenery and serenity of this natural treasure to Sandbridge’s south.

Please be sure to pack a lunch, water, towel and plenty of sunscreen! We will provide transport of your choice of one surf craft — pick the best option for the day’s conditions — tents, umbrellas and several beach chairs for the group to share.

If you’ve experienced the trip in the past, you know how special and thrilling this unique adventure is. If you haven’t, be sure not to miss out on this opportunity to immerse yourself in our region’s most beautiful natural scenery!

Schedule:

8:30 a.m.: Meet at Little Island Park for check-in and load-up.

9 a.m. SHARP: Departure to False Cape.

3 p.m.: Return trip to Little Island Park.

Total milage for the bike trip is about 12 miles.

Costs:

Package A: $20, includes park entry fees and gear transport.

Package B: $30, includes bike rental, park entry fees and gear transport.

Call Surf & Adventure Co. at (757) 721-6210 to reserve your spot. Additional rentals, such as wetsuits and boards, are not included in the packages.

See you there!

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