At 11 years old, this budding Virginia Beach chef aims to create ‘legendary’ sandwiches, savory soups, and ‘epic’ sauces

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!

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.

cooking2His 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!cooking1

Photo credits: Sherry Friel


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September Spells Red Hot Fishing

September 22nd, 2014 by Mike Halperin
Fishing Blog # 106
September 15, 2014
September Spells Red Hot Fishing
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.
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 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!
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.
Noteworthy Catches: Among recent citations: a 181 lb. bigeye tuna (Norfolk Canyon), 52 lb. wahoo (Norfolk Canyon), 67 lb. cobia (CB Buoy line), 35 lb. king mackerel (outside Rudee Inlet), 30 lb. bull dolphin, 4 lb. Spanish mackerel (outside Rudee Inlet), and a 4 lb. 4 oz. triggerfish (CBBT)
Best Bets:
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!
Capt. Mike
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Teresa,
Here are the links:
1- Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament
http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/vswft/index.shtm
2- Virginia Beach
http://www.vbfun.com/visitors/default.aspx
3- Virginia Marine Resources Commission
http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/
4 – Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
http://www.cbbt.com/fishing.html
5 – VMRC Fishing Regulations
http://www.mrc.state.va.us/regulations/swrecfishingrules.shtm
6 – Virginia Beach Anglers Club
http://virginiabeachanglersclub.org/
7- Tidewater Anglers Club
http://tidewateranglersclub.org/
8- Chesapeake Light Tower
http://vbsf.net/articles/virginias-chesapeake-light-tower/
9-Cape Henry
Teresa, I couldn’t get this link to work here, but I think it is o.k. in the text?
Categories:
Living the Life
Fishing
Tags:
Blueline tilefish
Grouper
Fishing citation
World class fishing
Striped bass
Tautog
Speckled Trout
Red Drum
Black Drum
Puppy Drum
Flounder
Golden tilefish
Blueline tilefish
Black bellied rosefish
Bluefish
Grey trout
Flounder
Dolphin
Marlin
Mahi mahi
Roundhead
Sea mullet
Tuna
Pictures: Please use Raver drawing of a croaker in conjunction with any pictures you like from the group I sent you for this blog. Thanks. Call me if you have any questions.
Take care,
Mike

24 white marlin...ONE DAY, ONE ANGLER!

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

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 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

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!

One fast fish - wahoo!

Noteworthy Catches

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).

Best Bets

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!
Capt. Mike


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Up the Creek with a Paddle

September 22nd, 2014 by Katherine Jackson

Munden 2Located 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 weMunden 1 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.Munden 3

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.


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The Beach Report – September 19, 2014

September 19th, 2014 by Teresa Diaz

NAS Air ShowI 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.


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The Beach Report – September 5, 2014

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

blue sunsetOkay, 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.orange sunset

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.

sunset


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A Walk at Owls Creek

September 4th, 2014 by Katherine Jackson

PaddleboardSome people say Owl Creek; some call it Owls or Owl’s Creek. By whatever spelling, Owls Creek and its public boat ramp are vital resources for Virginia Beach residents and visitors. In the early days, this part of Virginia Beach was comprised of marshlands with a narrow channel that conveyed rain and tidal waters into the ocean. Attempts were made to drain the marsh for development, but it wasn’t until the 1950s, when the area was mined for sand to replenish the beach, that the linked water bodies of Owls Creek, Lake Rudee, Lake Wesley and Rudee Inlet were dredged. Neighborhoods sprang up along the waterways, but woods and wetlands here continue to provide habitat for birds and animals, including foxes, herons, pelicans and eagles. Depending on the season, speckled trout, flounder, striped bass and a host of other saltwater species cycle through the waters between the creek and the mouth of the inlet.

Since the public boat ramp was renovated in the 1990s, flocks of sportsmen and women have taken advantage of the access it provides to inland waters and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Motorized boats are launched from the ramp and head out for deep sea and inshore fishing. Kayakers and paddleboarders tour the basin or leave through the inlet to catch waves. The Rudee Inlet II, a small dredge that works to keep the inlet open, motors into and out of the creek, as do Navy vessels that are launched nearby. Some of the wooded property that lines the creek is privately owned, and some belongs to the Navy. Fortunately, approximately 100 acres are being preserved for recreation in the City’s new Marshview Park, where construction of trails and other facilities began in June.

Kayak Fishing 2On a recent Friday afternoon, I walked the mile from my house to Owls Creek to see what was going on. The boat ramp was hopping with activity. In one lane, a young man and woman were putting kayaks – tricked out with fishing poles – into the water. In another lane, a water sports outfitter was loading paddleboards into a van at the end of a group excursion. In the parking lot, a jet ski owner was securing his watercraft to its trailer. Out on the water, a fishing boat was returning from the ocean, and a small skiff was floating along the bank, its occupant casting a line. Before long, a kayak powered by pedals and adorned with a pirate flag slipped up to the dock. As the sun set across the water, two beautiful golden retrievers on leashes appeared to be enjoying the fresh air. Owls Creek is adjacent to General Booth Boulevard near the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, approximately half a mile from the resort area. It’s a worthwhile destination, with or without a boat.

Owls Creek 2

Photo credits: Katherine Jackson


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Our summer was fabulous!

September 2nd, 2014 by Sherry Friel

Nat back to schoolIt has certainly been a fast-paced, fun-filled summer! It’s hard to believe Fall is almost upon us. Where did the time go? Those who live the life in Virginia Beach tend to deny summer is over well into November because the Virginia Beach weather is so mild. With school having officially started, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on the season and recap a few of its highlights:

The Adventure Park. I cannot rave enough about this newest attraction in Virginia Beach. It’s an aerial park in the forest custom-built for tree-climbing, adventure-seeking adults and children. This unique park features 170 tree platforms, ziplines, and 13 different color-coded aerial trails for novice as well as advanced climbers. It was such a hit with my 11-year-old son Nathaniel that we’ve already made plans to return.laughter

Sublime Relaxation. When I reflect on the moments that gave me the most pleasure over the summer, my mind always goes back to that 86-degree day I spent in a beach chair, finishing up the mystery novel Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. It was the most relaxed I had been in quite some time and I allowed myself to sink heavy in the chair and alternate between reading, sleeping, and enjoying the sights, sounds, and relaxed rhythm at the shoreline.

Surfing. We’ve maintained a hectic pace this summer, and while it wasn’t easy getting up early for swim team practice or martial arts classes, I have to appreciate the muscles and increased strength my son gained through his commitment to these activities. He is now able to keep paddle out and surf right alongside his Dad, and I even witnessed them catching the same wave together! It warms my heart to see them bond this way. When a father and son share a passion, it’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold.

surf buds

Now that he is officially a pre-teen, (or is he a tween?), it’s obvious Nathaniel will continue seeking greater challenges. Watching him swim with ease, scale tall trees, and surf bigger and bigger waves has been a huge leap of faith for me as a parent. Of course I worry, but I can’t help but feel grateful we live in Virginia Beach, a city that seems to continuously grow and change in ways that excite his spirit and make family life all the more fun. It’s a wonderful place to live the life, a fabulous place to call home.

Photo credits: Sherry Friel

Catch patio


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