Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Mini Bucket List for the Summer

On June 21, Jesse Scaccia, a columnist for The Virginian-Pilot, wrote an article called, “50 ways to fall in love with Norfolk this summer.” It’s actually a two-part article, but the second half hasn’t been published yet. To me, this sounded like a challenge to complete a mini, local bucket list. Challenge accepted, Hampton Roads! 

I’m going to include the text of the article here, because you’re only allowed a few free articles per month from Pilot online. And if you’ve already used them up, at least you can still see it here.
It’s happy season in Hampton Roads – summer.

Here are 50 ways – in two installments – to ensure you find joy in our sweet city on the water.
Save this article. Tape it to the fridge. See how many you can get through and notice how light you feel come fall.

1. Watch the diverse downtown set go by from a window seat at Field Guide while enjoying one of their “adult slushies.”
2. Plan a beach day in Ocean View, where the crowds are thinner than at the Oceanfront. It’s great for kids who are too small for the bigger waves of the Atlantic. We’ve done this on a regular basis, because like Jesse said, the crowds are thinner this time of year. However, when tourist season ends, I prefer the Oceanfront.
3. Catch one of Norfolk’s epic sunsets from the Hague footbridge and instantly fall in love.
4. Dance the night away at Latin social nights at the Mambo Room – because summer is the time for movement and feeling sexy. Salsa until 1 a.m. Fridays.
5. Play with one of the adoptable pups at the Norfolk SPCA. They sure would love a walk – it gets lonely inside.
6. Kick back and enjoy live music from some of the best bands in Tidewater at the Hermitage Museum’s Sunsets on the River. What a view, I’m telling ya.
7. Wear your angel wings, kilt, glitter, face paint and anything else that will make you feel like you’re in a Shakespearean wonderland for one of the most magical weekends of the year – the Mid-Summer Fantasy Festival in Town Point Park, July 29 – 31.
8. Travel back to the ‘80s. Generic Theater is putting on “Heathers: The Musical” this summer.
9. Harness the wind! Get your U.S. Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification through Sail Nauticus. I’m playing a little loose with this one. I don’t care about getting keelboat certification, but we did purchase some kayaks and got them registered for Norfolk and Suffolk already. In fact, we had them out on the water this last weekend.
10. Party on the streets of Norfolk at First Fridays downtown.
11. Get your licks in with an ice cream cone at Doumar’s. Well, duh! J
12. Think healthy and refreshing eating with one of the acai bowls at Zeke’s. Just $5 for a small.
13. Take the ferry to Portsmouth and grab lawn seats for a show at the Pavilion. Hold hands and feel the night rise with Ray LaMontagne on July 19. I’ve seen about three concerts at the Pavilion and think it’s just a fantastic place for concerts. The parking is easy in/easy out, and there’s a number of small, local restaurants within walking distance so you can eat there before the shows without spending a buttload of money on not-so-great concert food.
14. Buy a new (old) bike at Hunds Recyclefactory on North Colley and ride it as much as possible. We already have awesome beach cruisers from East Coast Cycle.
15. Walk among Norfolk’s historical dead at a twilight tour of Elmwood Cemetery. No RSVP necessary, every first and final Friday of the month, organized by the Norfolk Society for Cemetery Conservation. Did this on Friday, Aug. 26. I thought it was so interesting, that I also went on the historic Cedar Grove Cemetery tour on Sept. 17.
16. Celebrate Hogwarts-style. At the end of July, there’s a birthday party for Harry Potter at O’Connor Brewery. (I know there’s some craft beer and Harry lover out there who just squealed with delight.)
17. Tour the Naval Base, the world’s largest. We salute you, America! Done, and has been for some time now.
18. Catch The Wave, Norfolk’s come-as-you-are summertime dance party. If you love to dance and you’ve never spent a night at The Wave, I have just one word for you: Girl.
19. Get around town in style: the downtown water taxi takes off from Mile Marker Zero on the Elizabeth River.
20. Find the bird sanctuary in West Ghent. You’ve got to promise to keep this one a secret, as it is so often wonderfully devoid of people ... I’d say more but I’ve already said too much. It's almost hard to find, even if you have the address, because the gate is kind of hidden. It's also completely fenced in. On the way in, we actually saw a common ribbonsnake, so that was kind of neat. This would be an easy place to visit in just an hour, because it's not very big. We went there on July 9 and Jesse was right: only one other person was there and he left shortly after we got there.
21. Sample fried green tomatoes on the rooftop of Supper on one of those hot Southern nights. Alright. so this one is a little bit of a stretch: the best friend green tomatoes I've ever had was at Fire and Vine in Virginia Beach. They came with goat cheese and a balsamic vinegar glaze.....ohhh, they were mouth watering. :)
22. Add some laughs by taking the improv 101 class at the Push Comedy Theater.
23. Feast at Great American Picnic & Fireworks on July 4th.
24. Ride The Tide to see The Tides and to give Rip Tide a high five. Hook your bike up to the city’s newest piece of public art, “The Pitch,” by local artists Christopher Revels, Jen Stringer and Laura Freed. This seems like a couple different activities. We’ve ridden the Tide, have gone to see the Tides play usually every other summer, and I’m pretty sure I’ve high fived Rip Tide, but not all in the same evening.
25. Get sweaty at a punk show at Charlie’s in Riverview, or dance yourself clean at one of the best live music venues in all of these United States, The NorVa. I’ve been here to see Barenaked Ladies and loved it. :)

Check back next week for Part 2. What did Jesse miss? Email him.

25 must-try experiences in Virginia Beach for your summer bucket list

I am really enjoying the geographical bucket lists that Pilot Online reporters are doing this summer! Here is the first part of Robin Sidersky's Virginia Beach list.

What have I already accomplished here, in my time in Hampton Roads?

25 must-try experiences in Virginia Beach for your summer bucket list 

Summer is one of the best times of the year to live in Virginia Beach. There are so many things going on that you won’t have time to be bored. Here are 25 ideas to get you started. Next week, we'll have 25 more ideas. (But feel free to send us yours via the comment section below!)

1. Check out the circus at the Oceanfront. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday there are three free shows at 17th Street. The shows are at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.
2. Walk the trails at First Landing State Park. There are nine of them, and they cover at least 19 miles, collectively. I haven't walked all the trails out there, but I have some walking out there. It's very pretty out there.
3. Swing through the trees at The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium. Try out the park’s newest Black Diamond course, Black Hawk.
4. Pick up locally-grown produce at the Shore Drive Farm Market. It’s every Saturday from 9 a.m until noon at 2947 Shore Drive. I did check this out on July 30, 2016. Like the Art Market listed below, this too was a mismatch of farmers and other small businesses, set up in a strip mall parking lot. But it was less crowded and I did buy one thing: cheese grits, from a seafood seller.
5. Ynot Wednesdays are back in Town Center every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bands play live all four hours, there’s a little farmers market, plus food and drink vendors.
6. Watch a movie on the beach. The big screen will go up for a few Thursdays in August at 26th Street, and it’s free.
7. Grab breakfast at the original Citrus on Shore Drive. The restaurant has an old-school beach vibe that can’t be replicated.
8. Check out the growing craft beer scene. You have so many options now, just within the Beach: Young Veterans Brewing, Home Republic, Reaver Beach, Commonwealth, Back Bay, Pleasure House, Wasserhund and Gordon Biersch.
9. Why just get ice cream when you can get a scoop between two cookies or Rice Krispy Treats? Creamwiched, on Atlantic Avenue, has sweet treats off the beaten path.
10. Spend the day at Sandbridge’s beaches. They’re away from the tourist crowds and just as beautiful.
11. Take a boat trip from the aquarium. Dolphin sightseeing trips are offered multiple times per day in the summer. Keep an eye out for special trips. Done! :) I used to be a whale and dolphin watching trip volunteer with the Aquarium, way back in 2000-2001. I've seen humpback whales, and they are truly breathtaking! The dolphins were harder to see, and I never got around to seeing them until I was on a family trip out of Rudee Inlet in 2012. Such cute babies! They were swimming along side the fishing boat!
12. Check out the new fitness park at 36th Street. Swing across rows of rings or traverse the parallel bars.
13. Make the trip to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The more than 9,100 acres of land have more than 300 species of birds, plus reptiles, amphibians and other animals. Two boardwalk trails lead to the beach. You can also go fishing, cycling, hunting or even volunteer.
14. Sip on orange crushes at Waterman’s. If orange isn’t your jam, try some of the other flavors the popular restaurant offers, like grapefruit.
15. Want to get out on the water but don’t have a boat? Not a problem. Take a half-day trip on Rudee Tours, leaving from Rudee’s Inlet. We've actually got our own boats now...well, okay...technically, we have kayaks, but I've kayaked on the Chesapeake Bay now. And I did take a fishing trip out of Rudee Inlet, and got really pretty seasick that day. As my nephew pointed out, I made my own chum that day. :)
16. If you can climb out of bed early, take a free fitness class at Mount Trashmore. All you need is a good attitude.
17. Take a “shipwrecks and ghost lore” tour at the Old Coast Guard Station. The tours are given at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday nights.
18. Open your mind at the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.). The center offers free workshops, lectures, and gives guided tours daily. When I was working with the hospice, I had a class of their Reiki students want to take hospice training, so I went out there to them every week. It's pretty interesting over there.
19. Wander around the Old Beach Art Market at 620 19th Street. It’s open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday, June through September and from 9 a.m. to noon every third Saturday October through May. I TRIED to do this on July 30, 2016, but when I got down there and circled the block, twice, I realized this was actually the Old Beach Farmers Market. I was a little pissed off about this because I was thinking, since it was named as such in the Pilot, it was going to be an ART market, not an overcrowding of tents and small businesses that I can easily find online. The foot traffic moved like being in a Wal-Mart during Christmas shopping and I kept getting stuck behind couples who just stopped, not even at a tent, and just messing with the flow of foot traffic. I wasn't impressed.
20. Landstown Commons Shopping Center will have a free children’s festival on July 16. You’ll find bounce houses, costumed characters, face painting, and other kids’ activities. It’s from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
21. Check out free music at two Hardee’s locations. Country bands perform at the restaurants at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays at the one at 6075 Indian River Road and 7 pm. Thursdays 701 Independence Blvd. 6075 Indian River Road and 701 Independence Blvd.
22. Artist talks at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art are held throughout the summer, usually in the evenings. Hear Q&As with visiting artists.
23. Run in a 5k every week on the Boardwalk. The races start at 31st and are every Wednesday through August.
24. Step into your boots and head over to the Virginia Beach Farmers Market every Friday night for a hoedown. They last from 7 to 10 p.m. at 3640 Dam Neck Road.
25. Can you solve puzzles and piece together clues to solve a mystery? Try your hand at Escape Room Virginia Beach. It's at 408 Investors Place #107.

Time For The Second Half of the VB Bucket List

25 more things to add to your Virginia Beach bucket list this summer

We promised 25 more bucket-list items to check out this summer in Virginia Beach, so here they are. We encourage you to try as many as possible before fall gets here. In case you missed it, here's the first list of must-try experiences.

1. Summon your artistic side at The Mermaid Factory. Surely you’ve noticed the colorful mermaids all over Norfolk or the dolphins throughout Virginia Beach. Now you can make your own. There are locations at the Oceanfront and Ghent. Call 757-963-7700 for the Oceanfront one. You know, if you're a creative person, you can make your own mermaid and you only need to go to your favorite arts and crafts store to get your supplies. I did my own mosaic mermaid several years ago, and my husband even made a Steelers mermaid.
2. Go see cute animals at Hunt Club Farm. They’ve got a petting farm, a new bird aviary and seasonal festivals. Call 757-427-9520.
3. Check out the dinosaurs in Jerrassic Park (not a typo) at the Military Aviation Museum. It’s at 1341 Princess Anne Road. I did this on Sept. 18 and enjoyed checking out how the dinosaurs are put together.
4. Watch jets take off - up close. We know a spot. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a gravel pull-off off Oceana Boulevard. I've actually been to this spot and NEVER saw anything overhead. :( However, I know of a spot in Norfolk where I have seen all kinds of aircraft overhead, including the Blue Angels. I've even had helicopter pilots turn their spotlights on me, at twilight when I wave to them. :) I've got my own airshow!
5. Scope out the Cape Henry Lighthouse. It’s on the Fort Story military base, near the North End, but it’s open to the public. It’s the oldest federally funded one in the country. This is a must see if you've got friends or family visiting.
6. Sneak off to False Cape State Park. It’s one of the few remaining undeveloped areas along the Atlantic Coast. It offers activities like kayaking, hiking, and bike trails, plus six miles of beach. You can’t get to it by car though – you have to go by foot, bicycle, beach transport, tram or boat. To make reservations on the beach transporter, call 800-933-7275.
7. Visit an international news network. The Christian Broadcasting Network is right here in town and offers free tours Monday through Friday. You can even see a taping of “The 700 Club.” Call 757-226-2745. Uuuhhhh, how about no, just right off the bat. This isn't for me.
8. Take surfing lessons. You can have a one-on-one lesson or do it in a group. Either way, you’ll learn a new skill. VB Surf Sessions offers workshops and camps, along with other water skills. Call 757-633-5330.
9. Go fishing at the 400-foot Sandbridge Pier at Little Island Park. You can rent a pole, and a license isn’t required.
10. Get a shot at the spotlight. The Sandler Center offers free tours at 2 p.m. every Tuesday, which includes behind-the-scenes views and even a view from the stage.
11. If you’re into cigars, check out the private second-floor club, above Twist, in Town Center.
12. Go skydiving – indoors. iFly at the Oceanfront lets you feel the sensation of jumping out of a plane, without actually going up in one. You simply float on a column of air. It’s at 2412 Pacific Ave.
13. Pick peaches and visit Martin’s Vineyard on Knotts Island, just a short drive from Pungo. The winery is on an island, so you are guaranteed great views of the water. It’s at 213 Martin Farm Lane, Knotts Island, N.C. I just went to the Peach Festival for the first time this year, and it's held just down the road from Martin's Vineyard.
14. There’s more to Pungo than the yearly Strawberry Festival. Head over to The Tar Roof, which hosts painting nights, pop-up dinners and displays art and photography. It's at 1791 Princess Anne Road; call 757-655-5005
15. Watch movies on the big screen at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. They’re shown every Saturday, and it’s cheaper if you’re a member. Call 757-385-3474.
16. Take a cooking class at New Earth Farm. Chefs will teach you how to use seasonal produce grown right at the farm. Call 757-536-6102.
17. Did you know there’s a restaurant at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach? It’s called CrAive and it’s open for lunch when classes are in session: Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. For reservations, call 757-493-6839.
18. If you’ve never been inside The Royal Chocolate in Town Center, be sure to pop in between 2 and 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. All of the shop’s hot and frozen drinks (frozen hot chocolate, for example) are buy one get one free. It’s at 164 Central Park Ave.
19. Every Thursday night (through Sept. 8) at Neptune’s Park (at 31st Street and Atlantic Avenue) the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Symphonicity will play free shows. Symphony by the Sea is from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
20. Watch a movie at Mount Trashmore: On July 22, catch “Minions,” on Aug. 12, catch “Home” and on Aug. 26, catch “The Peanuts Movie.” Activities begin at 7 p.m. and the movies start at sunset. The park is at 310 Edwin Drive.
21. Belt out a tune at Wanna B’s Karaoke Club and Restaurant. During the week, you have to be 21 to get in, but on Sundays, it’s for those 18 and older. It’s at 2880 Virginia Beach Blvd.
22. Create your own wine flight at Sonoma Wine Bar in Town Center. The wine bar offers more than 70 by-the-glass choices. It’s at 189 Central Park Ave.
23. Let your dog run free! The city has three dog parks where registered pups can run around off-leash. Red Wing Park is at 1398 General Booth Blvd., Bayville Farms Park is at 4132 First Court Road, and Woodstock Park is at 5709 Providence Road. Let's not forget about the dog parks in Chesapeake (off Greenbrier Road at the city park) or in Norfolk near Granby and Tidewater, next door to the fire station. :)
24. Get the best flounder sandwich in Hampton Roads (according to our taste-testers) at Chick’s Oyster Bar. It’s at 2143 Vista Circle.
25. Catch blue crabs at the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier. It’s apparently a banner year for catching the critters, and you can take them home with you. It’s $10 for adults and $5 for kids younger than $12, but less if you just want to watch. It could be the last season. The wooden pier is at 15th Street at the Oceanfront.

Another Entry Off the Bucket List

  • I'd like to take a tour of a Navy sub, but my husband and I don't know anyone that works on board a sub.
  • I'd like to take a tour of a Navy ship that most people will never get to go on. I got to go walk around under a ship while it was in dry dock, and then I walked up the scaffolding around the mast, almost to the very top!
  • I'd love to go for a ride in a fighter jet of some kind.
  • I want to go jet skiing in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • I want to go snorkeling in the Caribbean.
  • I want to go scuba diving in a shark tank with an under water camera.
  • I want to go to the top of the Washington Monument. 
  • I want to go to NYC, and see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers, and go to a show of some sort. We went there in 2000 and saw The Late Show with David Letterman.
  • I want to go to the Saint Louis Arch. We did this in 1999.
  • I want to go to Niagara Falls. We did this in 2000.
  • I want to go to Universal Studios Florida. We did this in 2001 and I'd love to do it again!
  • I want to go to the Poconos and stay in one of their themed suites. We did this in 2006 and stayed at Caesar's in the champagne glass suite.
  • I want to stay in a themed suit at the HoJo in Florence, KY.
  • I want to visit Santa Claus, IN, "American's Christmas Hometown."
  • I want to go to Metropolis, IL.
  • I want to get a memorial tattoo in honor of my mom and my mother-in-law. I ended up doing this on Mother's Day at the 2017 Tidewater Comicon.
  • I want to take a road trip up to DC to see the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum and go to Horace and Dickie's Seafood Restaurant This one was both completed (wax museum) and not completed (Horace and Dickie's) in April 2015.
  • I want to write a bad sci-fi horror script and present it to The Asylum to see if they'd be willing to make it into an actual movie for the SyFy Channel. I finished this on April 12, 2015.
  • I want to finally order the "Hell's Admin Assistant" patch for my motorcycle jacket that I've been thinking about for years.--I figure it's a funny alternative to a Hell's Angel patch, which I'm clearly not a member of Hell's Angels. I ordered one from Star City Stitchery
  • I'd like to cuddle a baby gorilla. I really don't know where this one comes from, but aren't baby gorillas the cutest babies EVER??!
  • I want to take a painting class, a la Bob Ross. I did this in a restaurant in Virginia Beach with a bunch of motorcycle riders from an American Legion post, in 2014.
  • I want to go hang gliding in Kill Devil Hills, NC. I did this over Memorial Day weekend with my husband.
  • I want to see the archaeological dig at the Jamestown Settlement.  I did this in April 2015.
  • I want to go charter boat fishing in the Atlantic Ocean: I tried doing this in 2012, but the water was really rough that day. I didn't catch anything but I sure made a lot of chum! In July 2015, we went charter boat fishing in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • I want to go to the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • I want to see KISS in concert, in the make-up.  I saw them for the first time in Portsmouth in summer 2013, and then again in Virginia Beach in 2014.
  • I will get a job at some kind of animal shelter, and I'm going to be damn good at whatever I end up doing there. 
  • I will get at least one old, beat up piece of wood furniture, save it from going to the landfill, and refinish it. I've actually done several pieces now.
  • I'd like to go on an LCAC ride with my husband before he transfers to his new command.I had to cross this one off finally, because Shane left this command already. This bummed me out. I never got a ride on an LCAC out on the bay. He took some of his friends and family members for rides., Even though I offered to take any number of half days off from work, I never got to ride. 
  • I will go to see the Booth Trail in 2013. 
  • I will go to Natural Bridge, VA (We did this in 2013) and the Shenandoah Valley and stay in a cabin in the woods.  We did this for the end of the year in 2014.
  • I will go to Hiddenite Gems, an emerald mine open to the public, in NC. 
  • I will go to the Richmond Zoo and the Virginia Zoo (they have done a lot of remodeling and I haven't been there for a several years). 
  • I can't drive a clutch and have no desire to learn, but I'd like to go for a ride in a 1957 Chevy BelAire and a mid-80's Lamborghini Countach.
  • I'd like to sit in any of the Batmobiles (did the original series Batmobile at ROFCON 2015), ECTO-1 from Ghostbusters, a DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future (had my picture taken with this at Virginia Comicon in November 2015) KITT from Knight Rider, and the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • I will go to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. 
  • I want to go to Rhode Island, Boston and Seattle, just for the sake of going.
  • I want to go to Tokyo some day.--I've been to Hanoi and Hue, Vietnam in November 2015, but it wasn't close enough.
  • I want to see the pyramids and sphinx in Egypt. 
  • I'd love to see the Mona Lisa (she's in the Louvre in Paris) and The Scream (there are a couple, two of them are in Munich). 
  • I want to go to London, and maybe look for the TARDIS and the Doctor. 
  • I want to go to San Diego to see my best friend, go to Comic Con, wear a costume, take lots of photos, find an awesome looking Spider-Man so I can give him a hug for just being Spidey, and then walk a beach on the Pacific Ocean, looking for shells. 
  • I'd like to go to a taping of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" if we ever go to California.  I had to cross this one off: On April 28, 2014, Ferguson announced that he will leave the show on December 19, 2014.
  • I want to have at least one great, wildly creative crochet pattern published in a real book somewhere. 
  • I'd like to have our yard be featured for our Halloween decorations with a local tv station, so people might understand you don't have to spend big bucks on decorations and still put together a great display (I say this because we don't go as crazy for Christmas decorations). 
  • I'd like to win a challenge on Craftster. 
  • I'd like to compete on Craft Wars on TLC. I had to cross this one off too, because it's no longer on the air. I can't find any updated information on it. 
  • I will finish the Jedi costume finally and I will join the Rebel Legion I was accepted in December 2014!
  • I want to ride a mechanical bull. --I did this in April 2015.
  • I will finish the doll house I started several years ago. 
  • Ever since I saw "The Jerk" with Steve Martin, I've wanted to try snails. I tried them, sauteed in butter and garlic powder, in May 2017. There's really not much to them. I don't think they even had a taste to them. Maybe they're like tofu.
  • I want to go to Ohio and see Ralphie's house from The Christmas Story. We did this in December 2015.
  • I want to see Weird Al Yankovic in concert (summer 2015), and maybe even the Bangles if I ever get to California. 
  • I want to see Boy George and Culture Club in concert.
  • I want to see the Barenaked Ladies again, the next time they come to Hampton Roads.
  • I want to take my friends to the Virginia Safari drive through park in Stanton, VA. Did this in July 2014.