September 30th, 2014 by Katherine Jackson
Walking on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk is always fun because there’s always so much to see. That’s doubly true during the annual Neptune Festival Art and Craft Show in September. This year, from 18th Street to 29th Street, in booth after booth, more than 270 exhibitors displayed the products of their imagination in every medium: watercolor, wood, oil, leather, gold, silver, shells and clay. The show is juried, and the selected artists and craftsmen mounted an outstanding and diverse display. There were large scale paintings, many with beachy themes, and small scale fused glass pendants. There were hand-built wooden rocking chairs and woven sweet grass baskets. There was a lion made of driftwood and a neon flamingo. There was art recycled from vintage china, and jewelry made from rocks. There was wearable art, such as dresses, scarves, and hats. There was even art for pets: wooden water bowl stands, and collars and leashes in a rainbow of colors and patterns.
I went to the show on Friday, thinking it would be a less popular choice than the weekend, but the place was alive with art lovers. The weather played a part: it was an ideal fall afternoon, with warm sun and a cool breeze. The artists, some locals and others from around the country, were eager to chat about their materials and methods, and to sell their wares, many of which were affordably priced, especially considering every piece was made by hand. One artist told me that the Neptune Festival is her favorite show because the location is so pleasant and the locals are so friendly. With the beach, the ocean and the bright blue sky as a backdrop, the art show was indeed a perfect place for a stroll.
Art is just one part of the Neptune Festival Boardwalk Weekend, which happens on the last weekend in September every year. There’s also live music on numerous stages, a sandsculpting contest, a parade, an 8K run, and fireworks to celebrate the end of summer and usher in the fall. Festival food vendors sell everything from crab cakes to kettle corn. And open-air cafes along the strand provide a comfortable place to relax and people watch. At the north end of the art show, King Neptune – god of the sea – presides over the Boardwalk in the form of a massive bronze sculpture, and he lends his name to the festival every year. However, perhaps it’s Apollo – god of the arts – who deserves credit for inspiring the creativity that turns the Boardwalk into a spectacular oceanside art gallery. But don’t tell Neptune I said that.
September 26th, 2014 by Teresa Diaz
Kind Neptune by Pasquale
Ah, September! Cooler evenings, light jackets, brisk walks on the beach and my favorite festival, a tribute to our King! King Neptune is”THE MAN” as Virginia Beach residents and visitors alike gather during September to celebrate him with a parade, a court of princesses, a fantastic artshow & free concerts on “his” boardwalk, a wine festival, a sandsculpting competition, the works! If you aren’t here yet, there’s still time. We’ll be bowing to him all weekend and then some. Come raise your glass to him from, wait for it………..his own beachfront park! Like I said, Neptune is “THE MAN!”
September 24th, 2014 by Sherry Friel
Nathaniel is a big believer in presentation.....not only does the recipe need to TASTE good, it should look good too!
I’m not sure when it all started, but it’s safe to say at this point that my 11-year-old son Nathaniel loves food. I know, most people find great pleasure in enjoying a good meal, but believe me, my son’s love of cuisine goes beyond a few favorite dishes. This is something different. This kid was just 5 years old when, to my amazement, he perfectly cracked an egg into a bowl for a recipe-no shell fragments, just a clean break along the center and an intact egg white and yolk in the bowl. How does he do that? To this day, he still cracks eggs for me because I have yet to prepare a dish without having to fish eggshell remnants from the batter.
Indeed, Nathaniel is passionate about food and obsessed with the spices, herbs and preparation of just about any dish you can imagine. His grocery store lists have included cilantro, red curry powder, chili powder, onion, and more. In the kitchen, he flies from counter to counter, chopping this, blending that, and tasting it all. In advance of planning a dish, he’ll declare he wants to create the most “legendary sandwich ever” or a sauce that is “epic.” It is no exaggeration when I tell friends he’d be just as happy with a new KitchenAid stand mixer or Cuisinart panini press as he would with the latest Apple product.
I’ve learned from him too. Did you know that if you press a divot in the center of a thick burger, it cooks more evenly? And never, ever pierce the burger while it is cooking, because you will lose the juice that makes it extra tasty. Another tip from Nathaniel is to only flip the burger once if you can help it. It’s just better that way. And perfect popcorn? Not a problem. To get his secret mixture of butter and seasonings evenly distributed, he uses a large container with a lid so he can shake it all together. I enjoy his popcorn so much I’m afraid to ask just how much butter is involved.
His specialties, to date, are guacamole dip, hot sandwiches, and breakfast food. He’s still working on the perfect soup, and has recently developed an interest in making spicy sauces, calamari, and soda. He has tried recipes for all of the aforementioned except calamari, but I have a feeling we will be visiting one of Virginia Beach’s many seafood markets in search of fresh squid really soon.
I wish I could say I have been a good influence on his eating habits, but I take absolutely no credit. Perhaps he was inspired by movies such as Ratatouille, or watching his uncle Randy prepare one of his many sumptuous meals in our kitchen. Or it could have been that everywhere in Virginia Beach, and I do mean everywhere, the aromas of a variety of foods waft through the air starting at lunchtime and into the evening. Shopping at Hilltop or strolling the sidewalks of Town Center can certainly be a sensory feast. Many a time Nathaniel has exclaimed how his mouth simply drooled as we inhaled the scent of hickory-smoked air infused with notes of Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mediterranean, or Mexican cuisine. Just try shopping for office supplies anywhere in the city without stopping somewhere to eat. It’s practically impossible and we have yet to try it all! So it came as no surprise when Virginia Beach’s foodie focus got a nod from Huffington Post’s Andrea Poe. According to the article, the region boasts an abundance of locally-sourced food and a thriving culinary scene. We know, we know!
We are fortunate to live near Hilltop and La Promenade, home to two highly-rated kitchen supply stores. I have no doubt the time we spent exploring these stores played a role in inspiring my son’s interests. We’ve spent many an afternoon perusing kitchen tools, dreaming of new recipes to try, or talking about cooking classes to take. Additionally, we recently found an extensive selection of cookbooks at the Virginia Beach Public Library and that has inspired even more ideas for fun in the kitchen.
One can only imagine where Nathaniel’s interests will be as he matures and enters adulthood, but it’s a pretty sure bet his passion for good food is here to stay. With the start of school, he hasn’t had much time for cooking. Homework takes priority and it’s driving him crazy. Just the other day as he worked through math problems, I chopped the ingredients for the tacos he wanted to make. Ordinarily, he prefers to prepare the ingredients himself, but he reluctantly allowed me back into the kitchen. I was given very specific instructions too: “Chop the lettuce really fine, okay? Just make it lots of little strips” and “You can keep the onions and tomatoes a little chunky. You don’t have to chop those as small.” I felt as if the roles had reversed! For the first time, he was telling me how to prepare a meal. And that is just fine by me. I gratefully hand over the spatula and cutting board. Bon appetite!
Photo credits: Sherry Friel
September 22nd, 2014 by Mike Halperin
24 white marlin...ONE DAY, ONE ANGLER!
Memorable angling awaits fishermen seeking white marlin, cobia, croaker, tilefish, flounder and spot along with numerous other soon-to-migrate species. Students are back in school now just as many species also “school up” prior to leaving Virginia Beach waters. Simply put, this is prime time to sample our waters. And oh, did anyone mention less angling pressure too? Normally idyllic fall weather and fall lodging rates combine to make September and October must fish months for Virginia Beach.
White marlin fishing continues to be world-class bar none! Boats choosing to troll are averaging four to six hookups per trip while those working live baits are attracting up to 20 billfish a trip! This fishery has traditionally stayed reel-screaming hot through September. Blue marlin, wahoo, dolphin and tuna make up the rest of the offshore mix.
Cobia are now feeding from Cape Charles across the mouth of Chesapeake Bay and east to Cape Henry as well as along the oceanfront. Splendid catches are also coming from the line of CB buoys leading into the Bay. Many fish exceed 50 pounds.
A cobia on the dock
Red drum are schooling off Cape Charles and will be heading south to offer great sport while migrating past the oceanfront and Sandbridge surf. Juvenile red drum, also known as “puppy drum,” are biting inside the inlets with Lynnhaven Inlet providing top action.
Spot remain a popular target species inside Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets. Most spot now run two to a pound, with some fish close to twelve ounces or more. It remains to be seen whether this will be a year where one-pound citation-size spot make an appearance.
Bluefish and Spanish mackerel are still actively feeding. Tide rips at Cape Henry and CBBT channel openings between the rock islands are good bets for both species. Troll small gold and silver Clark spoons (#00) to access this action. With all the bait in the water, there were even two great catches made right outside Rudee Inlet: a 35 lb. king mackerel and a 4 lb. Spanish mackerel! Both fish qualified for free Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citations.
Flounder are another species on the inshore favorites list. Flatfish limits to 23 inches are coming from areas including the Small Boat Channel, the Yancey Wreck, the 3rd and 4th islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, ship channel edges, and the 8 and 12-mile markers of the CBBT. Moreover, the CBBT Highrise Bridge area normally becomes a flounder hot spot in October. Inlet flounder, while trending smaller, are also still biting. Fish with Gulp, live minnows and strip baits for best results.
Croaker by Duane Raver
Croaker are peaking now with plenty of fish exceeding 12 inches. Find a croaker school and action can be non-stop! Sheepshead, triggerfish and spadefish are still here with spadefish biting well around the 4th island of the CBBT. Fish tight to structure and don’t wait – all four species will soon be gone.
Grey trout promise fast action – if you can locate a school. Sonar scanning works well to reveal trout schools. Good starting points are the northern stretch of the CBBT, particularly around the 12-mile post and the Highrise Bridge.
Captain’s Tip: To increase chances for a citation spot (16 ounces), fish a Carolina rig with a small egg sinker coupled with a #4 hook and a generous piece of bloodworm. High-low bottom rigs are traditional, but this rig should attract larger spot for you.
Steer 113 degrees from Cape Henry, travel 30 miles east and you arrive at a fish magnet called the Powell wreck. As part of the “Triangle Wrecks,” which includes the World War II vessels Luckenback and Morgan, these ships are currently frequented by super-size flounder, spadefish, amberjack and jumbo black sea bass. As fall shifts to winter, the same wrecks will soon hold voracious bluefish along with tasty tautog and codfish. The Triangle Wrecks are just one of many offshore fishing locations drawing anglers to Virginia Beach waters. Enjoying this fishing smorgasbord is only a charter or head boat reservation away!
The Triangle Wrecks, a VB fish magnet
In the deep: Tilefish continue to be a top draw for offshore trips to the Continental Shelf. There is a real chance here for a saltwater fishing citation coupled with some great fishing. Other typical catches on these trips are large sea bass, barrelfish, black-bellied rosefish and grouper.
Other late season possible catches are amberjack at the South Tower southeast of Rudee Inlet along with feisty jack crevalle in inshore waters.
One fast fish - wahoo!
Among recent citations: a 181 lb. bigeye tuna (Norfolk Canyon), a 52 lb. wahoo (Norfolk Canyon), a 67 lb. cobia (CB Buoy line), a 35 lb. king mackerel (outside Rudee Inlet),a 30 lb. bull dolphin,a 4 lb. Spanish mackerel (outside Rudee Inlet), and a 4 lb. 4 oz. triggerfish (CBBT).
Offshore: White marlin
Inshore: Cobia, croaker, flounder
Inlets: Spot, croaker
Deep Drop: Blueline tilefish
See you on the water. Tight lines and hard strikes to all!
September 22nd, 2014 by Katherine Jackson
Located in the rural section of Virginia Beach, Munden Point Park is described by some people as a well-kept secret. Near the North Carolina state line, the one hundred-acre park features a picturesque tract on the North Landing River, which is part of the Intracoastal Waterway. In addition to a boat ramp, the park has an eighteen-hole disc golf course, ball fields, playgrounds, picnic shelters, and a tiny amphitheater for weddings and other events.
We recently took our canoe to Munden Point to explore Oakum Creek, a mile and a half waterway adjacent to the park. It was a beautiful morning as we launched the boat into the North Landing River, sunny and bright, with enough wind to whip up small waves. Boat traffic on the river was light – a few trawlers, runabouts and jet skis. After paddling about an eighth of a mile along the riverbank, we entered the mouth of Oakum Creek and began a leisurely, flat-water paddle. The creek winds and turns, its banks lined by cypress trees with their jutting-up-knees, evergreens, cat tails, flowering pickerel weed, and pink and white wildflowers. Dragonflies fluttered around us, fish jumped, songbirds chirped, and a hawk soared over a field adjacent to the creek. At times the surface of the water was a mirror; at other times, the wind gusted across and the sunlight flashed on the ripples.
The only other boater we saw on the creek was a bass fisherman who was drifting along without his engine. Occasionally we heard motorboats on the river in the distance or a hoot from a disk golf tournament that was happening at the park, but for the most part, we were alone with nature: no roads, no houses, no worries. It was a peaceful paddle, a respite from the clock-driven demands of daily life.
Munden Point Park has rental canoes and kayaks for use on Oakum Creek. Call 757-426-5296 to check availability. If you bring your own canoe, there is no fee for launching, and you can explore the river as well. The water level and the distance that can be paddled on the creek vary, depending on how much the wind is pushing water up into the creek. We spent about two hours paddling upstream and back. Although it takes a while to get to the park, it’s a pleasant drive through the countryside, past horse pastures and pumpkin patches and quaint crossroads. On the way home, we stopped at one of the many farm stands to stock up on local produce: tomatoes, corn, squash and potatoes. People associate Virginia Beach with ocean sports, but Munden Point Park offers a chance to float up a creek with a paddle.
September 19th, 2014 by Teresa Diaz
I can’t hold a candle to Virginian-Pilot reporter Mike Hixenbaugh. Mike braved a “ride along” with a member of the Blue Angels this week. Oh yes he did! His recollection of the experience – at one point during the flight they hit 7Gs! – had me gripping the plastic my newspaper was delivered in as I read his article over coffee this morning. Mike, you’re the man!!
That was just the start of an exciting Friday. Friends at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Office invited a few of us to join them on the Oceana flight line early this morning to capture the buzz of “Friends and Family Day” at the 2014 NAS Oceana Air Show. Hundreds of MWR workers and volunteers were busy attending to the final touches before their guests arrived for this “dress rehearsal.” The show opens to the public tomorrow morning (Sat. 9/20) and runs through Sunday afternoon.
This year’s theme is “Honoring the Navy Wounded Warrior” and benefits the Navy Wounded Warrior/Safe Harbor program. This crucial program coordinates the non-medical care of seriously wounded ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsman, and provide resources and support to their families.
Always a crowd favorite, the dynamic U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demo Squadron is back as the show’s headliner to the delight of thousands of “regulars” who have missed them. The show includes an exciting list of aerial acts including wing walkers, skytypers and sky jumpers. For the little ones, there are rides and games. Top that off with plenty of food, drink and souvenir vendors, tactical demonstrations, aircraft displays and you’ve got a world-class air show!
This free*, family-friendly event is open to the public – find the weekend schedule here. I’m going back tomorrow to take it all in with the rest of the “regulars.” Hope to see you on the tarmac!
*bleacher seats are available for purchase but seating is not required.
September 5th, 2014 by Sherry Friel
This week in The Beach Report we’re treated to the fruits of others getting up with the sun – amazing dawn sunrise shots! Thank you, Sherry & Nathaniel, for the pics and the post. Have a great weekend, everyone!
Good morning sunshine!
And when the morning light comes streaming in, I’ll get up and do it again. Amen.
-Jackson Browne, The Pretender
Okay, I should admit this right off the bat: I like to sleep in. Late. The idea of venturing out to watch the sun rise has never been at the top of my list of fun things to do in Virginia Beach, but somehow, by some divine miracle, I found myself awake before dawn a couple weeks ago. After gazing up at the starry sky and noting the time, I realized if I woke up my 11-year-old son Nathaniel (who also enjoys sleeping in), we’d have just enough time to walk the beach and see the day’s first rays of sunlight. Nathaniel was happily snoozing away when I whispered in his ear, “if we go right now, we can see the sun rise.” And guess what? He rose immediately! After hastily dressing and grabbing my camera and some coffee, we headed out, arriving at the oceanfront beneath a dark and hazy sky. We could still see stars.
After slipping off my sandals, and walking the path to the water, I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to juggle both camera and coffee. So I stowed my cup behind a bench and wandered out into the darkness. We were completely alone. Just my son, my camera, and the sky. Within minutes, the sky started lightening up, and a pink/orange haze emerged. Those same colors reflected in the rippling water and waves. And then slowly, ever so slowly, the pink turned more orange and deepened. The clouds took on an other-worldly quality with vibrant colors, layers, depths and surreal dimensions that had me hypnotized. So I started snapping photo after photo after photo. After 1,000 shots (yes, 1,000) I decided it was time to head back home.
As I hesitantly took the path toward home, I looked over my shoulder, hoping for one more glimpse of that luminous sky. But the sun wasn’t finished with its show. It had more beauty to reveal, more magic to share with me, so I heeded its call. I am so happy I did not give up and go home too soon, because what happened next was amazing. The sun, partially obscured by clouds, peeked out and shone like a brilliant orange globe onto the water below.
Some days, when life feels especially chaotic, I pull up my sunset photos and remember how it felt to be powerfully compelled, called, and drawn to the water and sky in a way that suspended every single fear, every single worry, and every single anxious thought. And now I am pleased to have some sun rise portraits to reflect on. I think if I could head to the beach every morning, and meditate on the beauty of this extraordinary gift lapping at my feet over and over and over and refusing to let me go, then perhaps it would be easier to let go of the things that worry me. I continue to believe living the life truly does mean basking in its beauty in a way that inspires inner reflection and a deeper peace. In Virginia Beach, it’s waiting for you every morning. Sometimes you just have to set down the coffee and let the sunlight do it’s magic.