Friday, May 10th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson
Editor’s Note: The month of May signals the start of “FREE & FUN” (two of our favorite words!) just about every weekend in Virginia Beach, and this weekend is a prime example! The soothing sounds of steel drums will fill the air beginning tomorrow evening as the PANorama Carribean Music Festival returns for another two-day run at the 24th Street Seaside Palladium. Grab your beach chairs and plan to relax and get into the island groove! Also returning this weekend is a family favorite: monster trucks on the beach! Kalbones Off Road Monsters On The Beach is loud, fast, and exciting. A course is built right on the beach at 6th Street with bleachers overlooking from the boardwalk. Sand dunes and junk cars combine to make the race course fast and fun for drivers and spectators alike. New for 2013…Freestyle Motocross! Thrill to the high-flying action of freestyle motocross as part of this year’s shows! This is a ticketed event, with prices designed to fit the family budget.
For those who prefer things a bit quieter, Local Walking Tour Guide & author Katherine Jackson shares a blog post about a drive in the country and a walk in the park…………..talk about relaxing!
Take your pick* – we’ve definitely got something for everyone in Virginia Beach. Have a blast and see you on the beach, or in the park! (*pun intended……………read on and you’ll get it!)
A Drive in the Country and a Walk in the Park
Sunny and warm, last Sunday was a perfect day for a drive in the country and a walk at Munden Point Park. Virginia Beach has a number of outstanding parks – 265 according to the city’s website – but Munden Point Park in the southern part of the City tops the list. Twenty-two miles from the oceanfront, the park is well worth the drive, and a pleasant drive it was – past horses grazing in pastures filled with buttercups, past farm fields growing green with new crops, past crossroads called Pungo, Back Bay, and Creeds. Situated on the North Landing River, the 100-acre park doesn’t have walking trails per se, but I spent more than an hour exploring the riverfront, walking along the wooded edges of the fields, and wandering through landscaped areas where giant azalea bushes attracted scores of butterflies. The park, once famous as a waterfowl hunting site, is now a naturalist’s playground where birders sight herons, orioles, nuthatches, warblers, goldfinches and other species. As I walked along the edge of Oakum Creek, a pair of geese with their young ’uns paddled away from the shore. Parts of the park have been planted as ornamental gardens, but parts are left as tangled woods where cypress trees line the waterfront with their knees pushing out of the water. The park offers lots of amenities – picnic shelters with grills, a disk golf course, canoe rentals and a boat ramp – but a highlight is the view of the river. Benches provide quiet places to sit and watch the wind ruffle across the river and weave through the marsh grasses on the far shore.
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson
Virginia Beach has lots of beautiful sights: sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, sunset over the Chesapeake Bay, the view of Broad Bay from atop the 65-foot high sand dune at First Landing State Park. But my vote for most beautiful might go to the sight of more than a hundred and fifty cherry trees in bloom at Red Wing Park. Other people must agree because on the Sunday after the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, a constant stream of photographers strolled through the park to capture the trees as they began to break into bloom: millions of pink and white petals fluttering in the wind. A fifteen-member family from South Carolina lined up and asked me to take their picture in front of the tall cherry trees that frame the
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 by Katherine Jackson
The Light Garden courtesy of Katherine Jackson
I’m delighted to report that one of my favorite pieces of Virginia Beach’s public art collection –Light Garden by Dale Eldred – has returned from storage to welcome visitors to the Princess Anne Commons Gateway Park. The massive sculpture consists of light sensitive panels enclosed in glass frames atop steel columns. I picked a perfect morning to view the sculpture because as the sun passed in and out of the clouds, it changed the panels from red to yellow to orange to green to blue to violet. When the light was at its peak, the intensity of the colors was amazing. The Light Garden, like much of the late Eldred’s work, makes use of a natural phenomenon called diffraction – the shattering of light as it encounters the surfaces of the panels. He described light as “the world’s spirit” because it is ever-present, and he said of his work in general, “I want the sculpture to remind us all that our lives are inextricably linked to light, and that our universe is in constant motion.” The sculpture is perfectly situated in the newly-renovated park, where tall trees provide a backdrop for the shifting colors. It’s been said that the placement of the columns in staggered rows was intended to represent a grove of trees. Whatever the intention, one thing is certain: the Light Garden is brilliant. It’s mesmerizing. It’s well worth the drive. Eldred chaired the sculpture department at the Kansas City Art Institute for 33 years and designed many public artworks on display around the world. We’re fortunate to have this sculpture in Virginia Beach. Funded by a Percent for the Arts program, The Light Garden was commissioned in the 1980s and installed in front of the city’s previous convention center. I used to drive by from time to time, just to take a look. When the new Virginia Beach Convention Center was built, the sculpture needed a new home. Now, its prismatic radiance is a highlight of the park – literally. In addition to displaying the sculpture, Princess Anne Commons offers plenty of places to walk, including a trail lined with camellia bushes in abundant bloom this time of year. Sidewalks lead past the Virginia Beach amphitheater, the Princess Anne Athletic Complex and the Farmers Market, where parking is available. I’ve always been fascinated by prisms and rainbows, so it’s no surprise that I’m one of the Light Garden’s most ardent fans. The sculpture is impressive in its new location, and it’s near my office, so I can drive by from time to time, just to take a look.
Monday, March 25th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson
Sand dollar, shark’s tooth, dolphins, pelicans, and sunny skies: It was another beautiful day in Virginia Beach. Although the morning dawned with a misty rain, by noon the weather front had moved away and carried the clouds with it. We headed for the beach at low tide. A cool breeze was drifting in from the ocean, but the sun was so warm that it almost felt like spring. Wishful thinking, I know, but it won’t be long now. Almost every time I walk on the beach, I drag home some small treasure: a keyhole limpet shell or a piece of sanded beach glass. But this was a banner day on Croatan Beach. I found something I haven’t found in a long time, if ever: a shark’s tooth. According to a guidebook to the coastal environment by Peter Meyer, sharks teeth aren’t from live sharks; instead, they’re “fossil teeth, from sharks living thousands to millions of years ago.” He explains that their skeletons decompose, but the teeth are the hardest substance in their body and “can survive for eons.”
Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson
While it sure doesn’t seem possible given today’s weather, tomorrow is the first day of Spring! Here’s an awesome post from ShoreLines bloggers Katherine Jackson that is sure to brighten your day! Happy Spring!!!!!
Spring comes early in Virginia Beach, especially if you know where to look for the signs. Recently we’ ve had our share of days where it’s been sunny and sixty degrees, perfect conditions for a walk, and a catalyst for spring growth. On treks around the neighborhood in March, I constantly look under bushes and on the ends of branches for the sprouts and buds that mean the season is about to change. Some of the earliest signs of spring are the daffodils that are now open. They grow in clusters all around town and in most of my neighbors’ yards. Every day I see new batches fluttering in the breeze. Just looking at them lifts my spirits. Crocuses are another early sign of spring. The bulbs I planted in my yard were eaten by hungry moles, but in a mulch bed under my neighbor’s tree, I saw clumps of little yellow crocuses poking up from the ground and glowing in the sun.
Monday, January 28th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson
I was mulling over a few ideas for my next walking blog, when: serendipity! Two inches of snow fell on Virginia Beach overnight, turning what would have been a routine Saturday morning walk on Croatan Beach into a walk in a winter wonderland. Since we don’t get much snow in our mild climate, when it does happen, it seems like magic every time. Early in the morning, we walked over the dune to see the beach completely covered in snow down to the high tide line. The sky alternated between patches of blue and heavy grey clouds, causing the ocean to sparkle with light one minute and darken to steely grey the next. The result was a dramatic and dynamic beachscape. A few neighbors and their children and dogs gallivanted through the snow and slid down the dunes, while a flock of gulls acted as if it were just another ho-hum day. Two fat pelicans flew low to check out the scene, and a path of pawprints through the unbroken snow might have been made by the little red fox I see occasionally around the neighborhood.
Friday, January 11th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson
This week in The Beach Report, local walking tour guide Katherine Jackson shares her experience walking in a very unique beach community, Sandbridge.
Solitude at Sandbridge
In an introduction to the book From the Beach to the Bay: An Illustrated History of Sandbridge, Virginia Beach City Councilwoman Barbara Henley wrote, “Sandbridge is a very special place. Some of my fondest memories from childhood were the trips to Sandbridge, which then was simply the expanse of sand, dunes, and ocean where the road abruptly ended by the old fish house. The car would be parked just at the side of the road – not far off enough to get stuck – and the family would walk over the dunes to the ocean. There might be another group or two on the beach, but chances would be good that not another soul would be around.” Nowadays, things have changed, and Sandbridge is a thriving resort community with many year-round residents and viable restaurants and businesses. Grand vacation homes and quaint beach cottages line the fifteen-mile beach that extends from Dam Neck Naval Air Station at the north to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge at the south. In the summer, Sandbridge is a lively family beach, a place to go for water sports and people watching. However, in the winter, the pace slows down, there’s an off-season feel to the place, and it’s still possible to find deserted stretches of beach.
Photo courtesy of Katherine Jackson