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.

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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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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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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Explore with our Ocean Kayak Tours!

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Photos & words by John Streit.

The rolling swell, flowing tides and sea breezes beckon the adventurous to strike out on the ocean with paddle in hand! Our Ocean Kayak Tours are your gateway to exploring the expansive Atlantic Ocean where it meets the sandbars off the coast of Sandbridge. This marine environment is home to ample wildlife both below and above the surface with pods of dolphins patrolling, schools of fish congregating and birds swooping in for their share of the sea’s bounty! On this July afternoon, our Ocean Kayak Tours witnessed all of the above in perfect conditions for a morning on the water. Click here to book your adventure online or give us a call at (757) 721-6210.

 

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Group Lunch Box Kayak Tour with FRG

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Photos & words by John Streit.

There’s just something special about leaving the city hustle behind for a couple hours by paddling off the boat dock at our 577 Sandbridge Road location. The ever-present sounds of the town are replaced by the serene songs of redwing blackbirds and wind blowing through the reeds as you paddle further into Sandbridge Marsh. It’s hard to believe you’re still well within Virginia Beach’s city limit as you see osprey soaring overhead and minks inquisitively swimming around your kayak. Yet, it’s all right here, just minutes from the parking lot of Surf & Adventure Co!

These were the scenes that unfolded on a group Lunch Box Kayak Tour with the Family Readiness Group on a recent, sun-drenched, summer afternoon. There’s arguably no better setting for a team building or family bonding event than becoming immersed in the nature that we’re so blessed to have back up to our property. Paddling our double kayaks requires a bit of teamwork, so the activity lends itself well to building a sense of mutual reliance with the your paddling partner. The breath-taking transition of maritime forest to marsh to the open waters of Back Bay offers the paddler a true cross-section of our region’s back water ecology.

A Lunch Box Kayak Tour is just one of the many way you can take advantage of this awesome natural treasure. We offer many other kayak tour options, as well as rentals off of our boat dock starting at $25 for departures between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., with a final return time of 5 p.m. for the day.

Enjoy these glimpses of the FRG Lunch Box Kayak Tour. For more information on group tour discounts and to book your next group outing, call us at (757) 721-6210 or shoot us an email at surfandadventure@gmail.com.

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Smiles for Miles on Back Bay!

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Photos & words by John Streit.

While we approach every family’s Surf & Adventure experience with the utmost passion and enthusiasm, it’s always a treat when influential members of our community choose to hit the water with us. That was the case last week, when Dr. Bill and Kathy Magee — founders of the global, Virginia Beach-based medical nonprofit Operation Smile — brought their big, happy family down to Sandbridge for our famous Back Bay Eco Tour! Comprised of the elder Magees, several of their children and many more grandkids — 21 in all — the crew was stoked to take on our three-mile track down our waterway and into the open waters of North Bay. Youthful energy and adventurous spirits ran high as we made the paddle through the maritime forest into the open marsh and open water. Some of the resident critters decided to put on a show for the Magees, as we spotted turtles, snakes, muskrats, red wing blackbirds, purple martins, vultures, osprey and even a pair of bald eagles soaring over the marsh in the bluebird skies.

The Magees founded Operation Smile in 1982 after visiting the Philippines and witnessing the remarkably high concentration of cleft lips and palettes in the local population — most of which in poverty-stricken, rural areas. Since then, Operation Smile has steadily grown into one of the world’s most celebrated and recognized nonprofit organizations for their tireless work in improving the lives of their patients — free of charge — around the globe. The Magees have been the recipients of numerous awards and honors including the first $1 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 1996, the Servants of Peace Award in 1997, the Golden Plate Award and Kellogg’s Hannah Neil World of Children Award in 1999, and in 2001 the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service and the Antonio Feltrinelli Prize for Exceptional Endeavors of Outstanding Moral and Humanitarian Value by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. In 2007, USAID presented the Magees with the President’s Call to Service Award from President George W. Bush. In addition, Kathy Magee was highlighted in November 2009 in US News & World Report’s issue “America’s Best Leaders.”

We would like to offer huge thanks to the Magees for their incredible contribution to humanity — not to mention bringing the family down for a good time on the water!

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Beat the Heat: Blue Pete’s Dinner Tour

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Photos & words by John Streit.

We invite you to join us on the waters of Back Bay for a late afternoon paddle from Surf & Adventure’s boat dock into Pungo’s Muddy Creek to one of the area’s best restaurants: Blue Pete’s! As we’ve been dealing with a scorching heat wave, staying as cool as possible has become an important part of daily life — and kayaking is no exeception.

In my opinion, the best paddling tours S&A hosts are its Blue Pete’s Dinner Tours. The hottest part of the day has already past by the time we hit the water; and it’s likely a cooler sea breeze will be blowing across Back Bay to provide a gentle push into Muddy Creek from Back Bay. Wildlife become more active as the cooler temperatures and afternoon shadows set in for the evening. The course also puts a wider cross-section of the watershed on display; with the S&A waterway showing the transition from maritime forest to expansive marsh to the open waters of North Bay, as Muddy Creek boasts cypress groves and remnants of our regions duck hunting heritage along its banks.

The tour is unique, as it requires the participants to park a Blue Pete’s 30 minutes before scheduled departure. The S&A staff then shuttles the group back to our location for a one-way paddle to the restaurant. It is recommended to bring a change of clothes to change into after the paddle at the restaurant. From there, the guides take care of transporting the craft back to the shop while you enjoy Blue Pete’s fresh fare in one of the prettiest natural settings in the area.

Give us a call at (757) 721-6210 or click here to book your Blue Pete’s Dinner Tour online! We can do the trip on SUPs as well!

Enjoy these photos of the Kerr and Savick groups’ (from Michigan and Ohio, respectively) recent tour!

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Paddling with the Society of American Travel Writers

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Words & photos by John Streit.

There’s good reason for the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau’s continual showcasing of our signature Back Bay Eco Kayak Tours: It’s one of the most beautiful and affordable gateways into becoming submersed in our region’s natural majesty!

This time around, two crews of travel writers and public relations professionals from the Society of American Travel Writers, who recently convened in Virginia Beach. By the grace of Mother Nature, the writers were treated to a pair of ideal midday tours through our Back Bay canal/tributary system that backs up to our property’s boat dock and runs though Sandbridge Marsh to the open waters of the northern portion of Back Bay. The wildlife came out to greet our guests, as we had fly-overs from our nesting bald eagles, osprey and even a rare encounter with a mink as we paddled through the waterway.

Enjoy these glimpses into the magical word of Surf & Adventure/Ocean Rentals’ Back Bay. To book your own adventure, call us at (757) 721-6210 or click here!

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