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.

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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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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Midsummer SUP Tours

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Words & photos by John Streit.

While kayaking is by far the most popular activity on our Back Bay waterway, there’s no better vantage point for witnessing the wonderful nature behind our shop than on your own two feet — on a standup paddleboard. Our SUP tours are also a great value, as we provide a lesson of paddleboarding fundamentals before you hit the water for an eco tour of maritime forest, expansive marsh and the open waters of Back Bay. Under the watchful eye of our experienced instructors, paddling through the slick-calm water of our waterway allows you to quickly learn and effective stroke as you become more and more comfortable with the board underfoot. Before you know it, you’re gliding across the water with the closest feeling to walking on water possible. Wildlife and wildflowers sightings make for lasting memories with friends and family — being on the water tends to do that! For more information and to sign up for your own SUP adventure, click here or call (757) 721-6210. We also offer private, one-on-one instructional tours!

Thanks to the Robinson family of Ohio, Sandbridge guests for the week, for spending their morning with us on the water!

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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 Retreat Recap: June 20

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Photos by Robbie Hickman. Words by John Streit.

Further proof that False Cape is a small-wave oasis can be found no further than the below gallery from the lens of Virginia Beach photographer Robbie Hickman, who joined the crew of our June 20 False Cape Retreat. While the surf back in Sandbridge was hardly rideable on this hot and humid day, the unique geography and bathymetry of False Cape bumped the size of the waves up to a rideable knee-to-thigh-high: perfect for high-volume foam boards, longboards and SUPs.

For those who have taken part in this most unique of our adventure offerings, the surf is really just the icing on a cake comprised of the pristine natural surroundings of Back Bay and False Cape State Park. It’s hard to believe that you’re still technically within the city limits of Virginia Beach; as the undeveloped, remote beaches of False Cape create an East Coast paradise only six miles away from the south end of Sandbridge Beach. There are not very many stretches of coastline along the Atlantic Seaboard that remain untouched, and this adventure offers up that rare glimpse of what the coast may have looked like before European colonization. As soon as you feel like you’ve been whisked away to some far-flung destination, the ranger’s truck arrives with tasty lunches from one of the city’s best eateries — Back Bay Gourmet.

All in all, S&A crewman Kenny Mills and the retreat crew enjoyed another classic beach day for the books! We return to False Cape next week on Saturday July 11: Click here to reserve your spot on Sandbridge’s ultimate adventure!

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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!

Retreat to False Cape

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Photos by Shaun Devine. Words by John Streit.

For so many reasons, False Cape State Park is one of our favorite places on Earth — we’re just blessed to have it be in our backyard!

We return for another co-ed False Cape Retreat this Saturday with conditions very similar to those seen in these photos from a trip we took earlier this summer. With 1- to 2-foot surf and offshore winds predicted for Virginia Beach, it’s almost certain that the swell’s size will be boosted by the exposure and natural sandbars of False Cape. Surfing is only one part of the adventure — the trip to beach offers some of the most breath-taking vistas possible in our region as we cruise through the dunes, marsh and forest of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the state park on the famous Blue Goose Express tram. Enhance your experience with a massage and a yoga session before eating a delicious catered lunch from Back Bay Gourmet!

It’s still not too late to register for the trip (if you are reading this on Thursday, July 10 and before 5 p.m. on Friday, July 11). Sign up online at Ocean Rentals Ltd.’s site: https://oceanrentalsltd.com/tours-adventures/false-cape-adventures/ or give us a call at (757) 721-6210. If you missed the deadline for this weekend’s trip, we’ll be headed back for an all-womens retreat on Saturday, July 26 followed by weekday trip on Thursday, Aug. 7.

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