It’s that time again, that sweet spot at the tail end of summer when things are still slow and hot, but fall is a brilliant prospect ahead. Take this long weekend to savor the moment. We’ve rounded up three suggestions in hopes of encouraging you to play, sing, laugh, and enjoy a good ol’ fashioned ball game with your pooch.
Labor Day plans and more coming your way...read on!
Start your Labor Day celebration early on Friday by making a special trip to Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream for the Breakfast Cabaret, a longstanding tradition by the Professor and the Dancing Madwoman with deep neighborhood roots. A true community space with a funky bohemian vibe, Crossroads is the perfect spot to kick off your holiday weekend with strangers who will quickly become friends. Expect a lively musical performance, jokes, and a wild sing-along led by musicians Barry Bless and Twila Sikorski. Complete with a top hat and waxed mustache, Barry serves as the ringleader with his accordion in hand and surprises up his sleeve. And if you’re up for more zany action at Crossroads this holiday, consider heading back on Saturday for a Variety Show with DJs, bands, live readings, and local vendors.
Perk: After you’ve fueled up on songs, coffee, and one of their famous breakfast sandwiches, walk across the street to explore Forest Hill Park, a historic 105-acre urban park. Make sure to stop at the “Stone House” where we’ve left the first three Here readers a few surprise RIC t-shirts hidden by the door!
What’s a holiday weekend without plenty of good belly laughs. Laughter Yoga, yes—it’s really a thing, is said to boost your immune system, improve sleep, lower stress, and reduce pain. Some even claim that a minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes on the ol’ rowing machine! This irresistibly weird and wonderful thing even has a club, called RVA Laugh Club of course, that meets on a regular basis at Integral Yoga Center of Richmond. We have Richmonder Slash Coleman (writer, producer, storyteller) to thank for the range of physiological and psychological benefits laughter yoga is bringing to RVA. Slash, who is a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, will guide you through a sixty-minute class with prolonged voluntary laughter (1-10 minutes at a time) using Yogic Breathing Laughter Exercises, eye contact, and a host of childlike playfulness. The next Laughter Yoga session takes place this Friday at 6 pm!
Perk: If you want to get paid to laugh and further connect with your community, consider Laughter Yoga Leader Training with Slash to become a Certified Laughter Leader and authorized to start your own Laughter Yoga Club. Because we want to see more laughs in RVA, we’ll cover half of the cost for the three-day intensive training for the first Here reader to email us to let us know they’re ready to bring more chuckles to the neighborhood.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels return home for the final games of the 2019 season this Labor Day weekend, with four games at The Diamond from Friday through Monday to close out the franchise's 10th season celebration. The fun begins on Friday night with happy hour specials, mini wrestling, and a chance for kids (14 and younger) to run the bases after the game. On Saturday night, the game will be followed by an In-Your-Face Fireworks show up close and inside the fences. Come Sunday you can find a Dueling Fireworks show, one of the largest of the season, following the game. Things wrap up on Labor Day afternoon with Fan Appreciation Day & Labor Day Celebration. Gates open at noon on Labor Day and you can even bring your pooch (dogs are admitted free, just make sure to request a dog-friendly seating section).
Perk: Calling all students and teachers. Present your teacher or student ID at the ticket booth for a sweet Back-to-School Deal—$6 general admission tickets for all remaining games!
vol. 92 / keeping it cozy ⛺We're keeping it cozy this week with guest editor Brian Bell who wants you to be kind, smile at strangers, and pick up litter.
VOL. 92 / KEEPING IT COZY
This week we’re keeping things cozy with our guest editor—Brian Bell. If you haven’t had the pleasure, Brian is the founder of Keep Virginia Cozy, a Richmond based nonprofit that has removed over 20,000 pounds of litter and recycling from our park systems, neighborhoods, and trails. He’s an avid hiker, backpacker, rock climber, and litter picker upper. He's also known to rappel off waterfalls to pull out invasive species of plants, scrub vandalism from our trailhead signs, and teach "Leave No Trace" classes at local breweries. When Brian is not spearheading cleanup efforts around Richmond, you can find him (if you have a good map and compass) somewhere in the mountains if you’re lucky. Take it away, Brian …
If I can inspire just one person to take the first step down a wilderness trail, or to see for the first time the beauty in the bark of a tree, or dew on a blade of grass—then my life makes sense.
How truly blessed I feel to live in this wonderful place. How truly blessed we all are. Here are three tips to get out there. Be kind. Smile at strangers. Pick up litter. And keep Virginia cozy.
Shenandoah National Park is a beautiful, historic national treasure that’s just a short drive from Richmond. It includes the 105-mile long Skyline Drive, a National Scenic Byway, and the Park itself covers the crest of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains for over seventy-five miles. The Appalachian Trail roughly parallels the Skyline Drive and 101 miles of the trail runs right through the Park! We’re talking miles and miles of hiking trails, numerous waterfalls, and some of the best mountain summits around. Park Ranger Programs are offered seasonally and available in the Shenandoah Explorer newspaper that you’ll receive when you enter the park. Camping is also available in the Park in addition to rooms at Skyland, Big Meadows Lodge and Lewis Mountain Cabins. If you get hungry, there are full-service restaurants at Skyland and Big Meadows, plus there are plenty of "waysides" with lighter food. You can even join a guided horseback ride that departs daily (weather permitting) from the Skyland stables or check out the Night Sky Program held at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center Terrace for all the stars without the red carpet. Go now.
When you're looking to get outside, trade the work clothes for some trail shoes, log some miles, and put some nature back into your life...there's literally no better place to go than Walkabout Outfitter in Carytown. They have everything you need for your next adventure or to simply hang a hammock in a secret spot in the woods for the weekend! A knowledgeable staff, tips and tricks for your gear, insights on truly "local spots," and anything and everything else you need to get you back to the wild! Walkabout also hosts a series of monthly hikes throughout Virginia with prizes and a chance to win free gear while you hike. Make them your last stop before skipping town and you’re sure to have the most enjoyable time in the outdoors that you possibly can!
Perk: Post a photo of you enjoying the great outdoors (or even better, cleaning it up) and tag @here.weekly for a chance to win a $25.00 gift card to Walkabout Outfitters.
Come join our Trashy Family! There’s no better way to meet like-minded people than by cleaning up the areas where we all live, work, and play! Every Tuesday, weather permitting, Keep Virginia Cozy hosts Trashy Tuesday as we work together to clean up a different part of our city. Keep Virginia Cozy’s mission is to protect wilderness and to inspire all Virginians to care for our wild places. We contribute to better protection, stewardship and restoration of our public lands, preserving our rich natural legacy for current and future generations. If you’d like to join us in Richmond, our next event will take place at Texas Beach. Be sure to check our Facebook page to find out about future meetups. Things always kick off at 6 pm and everyone is invited to come meet new friends, bring old friends, and help clean this place we call home. All gear is provided. And we always make sure to follow up each cleanup with cold beer at a local brewery.
Perk: The first five Here. readers to join Trashy Tuesday on August 6 will be treated to a post beer on us at Väsen Brewing. Just shoot us an email letting us know you're attending by Monday, August 5 and we'll have a frosty one waiting for you.
There's no better time to get outside, and off the map, than right now in the River City! With that spirit in mind, meet our guest editor, Andy Thompson. He’s the founder of the outdoors news site Richmondoutside.com, a former Richmond Times-Dispatch outdoors writer, co-founder of Terrain360, co-founder of RVA Osprey Cam, co-owner of Riverside Outfitters, and co-owner of Sharp’s Island. Take it away, Andy...
“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” -- Herman Melville, Moby Dick
That’s how Melville described Queequeg’s island home, and it’s been a guiding axiom for me since I first read it in high school. Cruise ships, packaged travel and tour guides with their placards raised high will take you places, but true places are harder to find. To do so requires adventuring with an entirely different mindset. So, let’s take Melville with us to the James River in search of true places. Here are three, of many, options...some of which are still out there waiting to be discovered.
William Foushee was one of the most impactful and famous Richmonders of his own time that few know anything about today. RVA’s first mayor (in 1782), Foushee was a physician, politician, businessman and man about town, hobnobbing with the Founding Fathers. In 1819, he financed the building of a two-story gristmill on the north bank of the James River, just downstream of what is now the Nickel Bridge. The ruins of that once-massive stone structure still stands today! That's right, 200-years of storms and floods and general neglect have not quite consumed it. This abandoned and almost entirely unknown slice of Richmond offers a tangible link to Richmond history. Go in search of Foushee Mill, and you’ll be rewarded with a lovely hike along the James and a history lesson, courtesy of the sign erected two years ago by the James River Hikers Meetup group.
Vitals: To reach Foushee Mill, park at the Texas Beach lot and cross the train tracks on the concrete walk. Head down to the riverside trail at Texas Beach and walk up river. Once you pass the canal outflow below Maymont, before you reach the Nickel Bridge, begin looking for the stone remains (if you reach the Nickel Bridge, you’ve gone too far).
Catfish Alley only exists in space and time for a couple months every year. Last year it didn’t exist at all! But that was soggy 2018! We’re beyond all that (I think). This year is shaping up to offer peak Catfish Alley. And the time is now. Go buy a cheap snorkel or grab some goggles and practice holding your breath. As the summer heat drains the James of water, pools form in the rocky part of the river downtown. Fish find themselves trapped in those pools, waiting for the next heavy rain. Sometimes those fish are huge flathead and blue catfish. Catfish Alley is the largest of those pools. Once you find it, stand on the rocks above it and take a deep breath. Yes, you are going to put on that snorkel, get in the water, and swim with the fishes! And yes, it will freak you out at first. But the catfishes won’t hurt you. They’ll hardly care you’re there. Touch them, if you dare. No one who’s experienced Catfish Alley sees the James River quite the same again.
Park at the Pipeline Walkway lotand follow the trail down to the Pipeline Trail, which is part of the James River Park System. Hop off the Pipeline to a sandy beach next to where the Pipeline rapids have eddied out and the water is calmer. Swim across (a PFD is helpful here, depending on your swimming level) to the closest island and walk inland and upstream. Depending on the river level, Catfish Alleyis about 25’ by 10’, but you’ll see many pools. Hop rocks. Explore. Check them all out!
There’s an island—Cooper’s Island—that sits near the south bank of the James between the Atlantic Coastline Railroad Bridge and the Nickel Bridge, and on it are the dilapidated remains of an ancient treehouse. You have to bushwhack to the middle of the island to find it, and even then, it doesn’t always make itself obvious. But once you know it’s there, you can’t stop staring. And wondering: How long has it been there? What did it once look like? Who brought out all the materials to this island? And, maybe most intriguingly, how in the name of Pete Nelson did they get all those materials that high in that glorious tree?! So many good questions? Zero answers. Just the wonder.
Bonus adventure: The island’s most prominent feature isn’t the treehouse or even the bald eagle nest that also resides in a pine tree there. It’s the flatrock beach that beckons on the north side of its upstream tip. Bring a picnic and enjoy the lazy rapids at the water’s edge. Feeling super adventurous? Summon your inner child and gaze upstream from the flatrock beach. See the Atlantic Coastline Railroad Bridge? Good. Look down at the old bridge pilings immediately below it; there are 10 of them. Start at the south bank and count pilings toward the north bank. Stop at 7. Get yourself to that piling. You’ll know why when you get there. It won’t be easy, but in the summer it’s really not that hard. Wade, swim, take your time. Just get there. Trust me.
Park at the trailheadnear the traffic circle where Riverside Drive meets New Kent Road in Westover Hills. Start down the steep trail and stay left of the concrete ruins you’ll see in 50 feet. Make a beeline to the river. Cross the train tracks. The island you see once you reach the river is Cooper’s. Walk downstream 50 more feet and find the pipelinethat goes over to another island and then Cooper’s. Water will be pouring over it, but at current river levels, you’ll make it with ease.