November 20th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson
As autumn wanes and winter approaches, locals and visitors alike can be found enjoying the Boardwalk. It’s a different place when the weather changes (everyone wears a bit more clothing, for sure!), but different in a good way. Regardless of the season, there’s always plenty to see along the oceanfront promenade, but I recommend a detour when walking at the south end. I recently visited the Virginia Legends Walk for the first time, even though it was dedicated in 1999.
Located in a grassy park on 13th Street between Atlantic and Pacific Avenue, it’s a series of monuments to noteworthy people who were born in Virginia or who lived in Virginia during the time of their greatest accomplishments. No surprise to find tributes to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Booker T. Washington. On the other hand, it was interesting to read about musicians Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey and Patsy Cline, entertainer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and tennis champion Arthur Ashe. Writers Edgar Allan Poe and William Styron, explorers Lewis and Clark, and Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan, and Captain John Smith are honored. Newscaster Katie Couric even has her place on the Walk. (I’d be dating myself if I mentioned that she was a year ahead of me at UVA.)
All told, the website for the Virginia Legends Walk lists 37 inductees, including one animal. Can you guess which one? Secretariat, the thoroughbred racehorse who was born in Doswell, Virginia and won the 1973 Triple Crown. Each honoree has a plaque with a description of his or her most significant global or national contributions. For example, Alan B. Shepard was the first American astronaut in space and the first person to play golf on the moon. Walter Reed earned a medical degree at age 18 and conducted research on typhoid and yellow fever, saving millions of lives. In addition to being the “Father of New Journalism,” Tom Wolfe coined the phrases “good ol’ boy” and “The Me Decade.” Who knew? If you aren’t familiar with the tale of Grace Sherwood, you can take to take a stroll on the Virginia Legends Walk to find out who she was. Hint: she was also known as the Witch of Pungo.
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November 15th, 2013 by Mike Halperin
This week in The Beach Report, Capt. Mike Halperin shares his fishing expertise from a local’s perspective.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we all have much to be thankful for, including family, friends and world-class fishing. We are very fortunate to enjoy some of the best saltwater fishing available anywhere, and it only seems to get better with each passing cold front!
Speckled trout by Duane Raver
Speckled trout and striped bass top the current “make my day” fish list. Trout fishing has improved steadily from 9- to 11-inch school-size fish to increasing numbers of 14-inch keeper fish. Moreover, Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament citation specks of 5 pounds are always possible as numbers and sizes of these spotted fish improve in our backwaters. One group of Rudee Inlet anglers recently caught 60 specks, including three keeper fish, in under two hours! MirrOlures are attracting the largest trout while Gulp swimming minnows and shrimp have also proved productive. Chartreuse, white and gray have been hot colors.
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November 8th, 2013 by Katherine Jackson
This week, Shorelines features blogger Katherine Jackson and a perfect “Beach Report.” Enjoy!
Get Away to Sandbridge
People sometimes ask: “Why do you take beach vacations when you live at the beach?” But living at the beach isn’t the same as vacationing at the beach. That’s why I didn’t hesitate when a group of friends asked if I wanted to join them for a weekend getaway at a house on the oceanfront at Sandbridge – Virginia Beach’s southernmost neighborhood. The timing was ideal because fall is such a beautiful season at the beach. The summer crowds are gone, the sun is still warm, and the air is crisp. Perched on the deck of a house called San Se Air II, we watched dolphins swim past and an orange moon rise. We walked on the deserted beach, and biked on Sandfiddler Road, which parallels the ocean for five miles. On Sunday, we rode bikes into False Cape State Park, where I discover something new every time I visit. This time, we explored the mile-long Maple Leaf Trail, which begins at Back Bay. Over the dunes and through the woods, to the Atlantic Ocean we went. Leaves on the trees in the maritime forest had turned yellow and orange, and pine needles carpeted the fragrant trail. I didn’t see any maple trees, so back home and curious, I researched the trail on the know-it-all machine. The name commemorates The Maple Leaf Incident in which Confederate prisoners, who were being taken up the James River for imprisonment at Fort Delaware, commandeered the Army’s steamship USS Maple Leaf and headed south instead. Off the coast of what’s now False Cape State Park, they rowed ashore in the steamer’s small boats and escaped into the marshes of Back Bay. It’s easy to imagine disappearing into the maritime forest preserved by the park today. Several websites describe the four-thousand-acre park as “one of the few remaining undeveloped areas along the Atlantic Coast.” The Virginia Outdoors website provides maps of the trails, videos, and additional resources for exploring False Cape. At this time of year, access to the park is limited because the easiest way to get there is on the gravel roads that run through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which is closed until April 1 to protect migrating birds. However, visitors can still access False Cape by walking south on the Refuge’s beach or by paddling a boat into the park via Back Bay. On weekends, visitors can catch a ride on the Terra Gator, a beach transporter that departs from Little Island Park at the south end of Sandbridge. The refuge was still open last Sunday when we visited, but we saw only a handful of people on the trails, and we had the entire beach to ourselves while we walked along the shore. That’s what makes False Cape such a special place. It’s not far from “civilization,” but it feels so remote. On the way home from Sandbridge, we stopped for lunch at Margie and Ray’s, a classic, down-home seafood restaurant. I ordered a supersized basket of hushpuppies, which came out just the way I like ‘em: hot, crusty and sweet. What a perfect way to end a weekend getaway to Virginia Beach.
November 1st, 2013 by Mike Halperin
This Week the Beach Report features Capt. Mike Halperin’s latest post about the fantastic fall fishing in Virginia Beach.
Harold Woodberry with a beautiful 21 in. Lynnhaven puppy drum
Juvenile red drum, many in the 21- to 22-inch mid-range of the keeper slot, are garnering attention from inshore anglers. These beautiful young red drum offer plenty of fight on light tackle and may be lured with a variety of bait including mullet and shrimp. To find action, fish inside our three area inlets as well as along the surf line from Cape Henry in Virginia Beach to the North Carolina line.
With Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge now open following federal closures, red drum fishermen are back on pristine beaches hunting drum up to 50 inches. Large red drum have also been gathering around the four rock islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and in the Dam Neck and Sandbridge surf zones.
Anglers have been enjoying a strong spot run with many fish weighing 3/4’s of a pound and more. The spot, frequently hooked two at a time, have invaded Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets with top action at Rudee. Live bloodworms and crab-scented Fishbites have been best baits. This run is close to finished.
More 14-inch keeper speckled trout, also actively feeding inside the inlets, are growing more numerous with each passing cold front. While moving water provides results, fishing an outgoing tide may be best as bait is swept to waiting fish. Artificials, such as Gulp swimming minnows and MirrOlures , are lures of choice with MirrOlures tending to trigger strikes from larger trout.
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October 31st, 2013 by Sherry Friel
The newest Friel, Apollo
It’s been several days since our new standard poodle puppy, Apollo, joined the Friel family. While I’d like to say all is well, the holes in my pants and my bloodshot, sleep-deprived eyes reveal the true story. Settling in with a 9-week-old puppy is rough! But we’re practicing much patience these next few days, and we know lots of howls, whines, nips, and accidents are part of a puppy’s adjustment phase. So we’ll just roll with it and look forward to many fun days ahead at some of the most pet-friendly destinations in the world in beautiful Virginia Beach.
Where shall we start?
I’m thinking our first outing with Apollo has to be First Landing State Park beach. With it’s winding soft trails, and lush Spanish moss-draped tree canopy, the place is a bit of unspoiled paradise promising hours of exercise and fun for our family. I’ve already learned it’s a good idea to take plenty of water and carve out a generous portion of the day to enjoy, as this park and its trails are meant for meandering and unrushed wandering.
Photo courtesy of City of Virginia Beach
As the adorable pup transitions from chewing everything in sight to more grownup dog activities, our next Virginia Beach destination will be Red Wing Park. This has been a favorite park of mine for years, thanks to the photographic beauty of the Miyazaki Japanese Garden, and an amazing cherry blossom tree promenade that grows each year with new tree plantings. I can envision many, many family portraits and much fun with Apollo at this beautiful park!
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