Thursday, June 25th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson
The first day of summer was a perfect beach day: sunny and breezy. We loaded up the beach cart with umbrellas, chairs and a cooler and headed for the ocean. As I watched the blue-green waves roll in, I thought about a conversation I had recently with an out-of-town friend. She asked why I live in Virginia Beach, and in thinking about the answer, I was reminded of all the reasons I choose to live here. Naturally, the beach itself is at the top of the list. So is the Boardwalk, where biking and listening to bands are two of my favorite activities. We’ve got First Landing and False Cape, two of the best parks in the state, both of which are excellent places to walk, bike and paddle. Farm produce stands in “The County” (the rural part of the city) and the burgeoning craft beer industry are amenities. Plus, we have lots of fun events – like the Neptune Festival and the East Coast Surfing Championship. Another thing that came to mind was biking to breakfast. (more…)
Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson
In addition to the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach has miles and miles of rivers, bays, creeks and coves, many of which are accessible by paddleboard, canoe and kayak. On a recent paddling adventure, we explored the shallow waterways in the Rudee Inlet basin. Influenced by ocean tides, some of the creeks in this intertidal zone are mud flats at low tide, but as the tide comes in, the water level rises and they become navigable in a shallow boat. It’s a sheltered environment that’s perfect for paddling. Although wind can be a factor, the water in this basin is most often flat.
Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson
Walking on the beach has so many benefits – it enlivens the senses, engages the body and eases the mind. As if that’s not enough, there’s a bonus: treasures to be found on the shore. Especially at low tide, and in particular after a coastal storm, a diverse selection of shells and sea life can be found on Virginia Beach. Two low tides occur daily, and tide charts are located in the newspaper and on the internet. I’ve walked thousands of miles on the beach over the years and I’ve collected lots of different kinds of shells. Here are three of my favorite beach treasures.
Sand Dollar – Sand dollars are not actually shells; they’re urchins, and they can be found in Virginia Beach by beachcombers with a sharp eye. Most often, I have found sand dollars when the tide is at its lowest ebb and the beach is flat at the water line. As a wash of water comes in and then recedes, sand dollars sometimes emerge. They’re difficult to spot because they’re usually just below the surface of the sand and their color (when not yet bleached by the sun) blends with the wet sand. The flower-like pattern on the top of the sand dollar is sometimes all that’s visible. When they’re still alive, sand dollars are covered with velvety greenish or purplish spines with which they navigate through the fine sand on the ocean bottom. I never keep sand dollars if they’re still alive, but bleached white sand dollars that are stranded on dry sand are assuredly no longer living. To survive, sand dollars suck in small animals and particles, and eat them with dental apparatus inside. The remains of this apparatus rattle when a sand dollar is shaken. When a sand dollar breaks, pieces of this apparatus, which look like little white doves, fall out. Sand dollars are fragile and need to be transported carefully. (more…)
Friday, May 22nd, 2015 by Katherine Jackson
Photo credit: Katherine Jackson
Like the fictional forest inhabited by Winnie-the-Pooh, Marshview Park is a serene, hundred-acre woods located just a stone’s throw from the oceanfront. Nestled between several neighborhoods, the park lies on the banks of Owls Creek, which connects with Lake Rudee. Until recently, the park was undeveloped, but a small parking lot and an asphalt trail have now been built. The trail is ADA accessible and affords a short, pleasant venture into the woods. A friend who lives near the park told me years ago that it was a great place to bike, but only once had I walked a short way into the woods. When I learned that the new trail was finished, I was eager to investigate, and I was impressed by what I found.
Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson
Virginia Beach’s three beaches – the Chesapeake Bay Beach, the Resort Beach and Sandbridge Beach – all have their unique qualities and character. However, one thing they have in common is access to outstanding bike trails. I don’t use the superlative “outstanding” lightly. I’ve done my fair share of recreational biking around the country and these three trails compare with the best.
Monday, April 13th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson
Six iconic “beach cottages” will highlight the Virginia Beach Home and Garden Tour on Wednesday, April 22. I previewed the houses on foot, and although a shuttle will be available on the day of the event, I highly recommend the walk. Not only are the houses on the tour of interest, the lawns and public spaces along the way are ablaze with spring color. I parked at 52nd Street and headed north on Atlantic Avenue to get a peek at the homes, which are located between there and 87th Street. Four of the homes are within a block of Atlantic, some oceanside (local lingo for the blocks east of Atlantic) and some landside (west of Atlantic). Two additional homes are just a few blocks down 52nd and 53rd Street. All told, it’s about a five-mile roundtrip walk filled with daffodils, tulips, Red Buds, camellias, dogwoods, pansies, and many other bloomers, in every color imaginable.
Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson
When exploring a new city, I like to learn about its history – the people and events that shaped its present form. For example, when I visited Zermatt, Switzerland, I roamed through antique shops for clues about the past. In Virginia Beach, the city’s rich maritime history is brought to life in museums, historic houses and memorials. Here are seven not-to-be-missed places that tell the story of Virginia Beach.