Day: June 1, 2022

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Let’s Show the Fleet Street Pubs Some Love!

By Lani Gering Every month I am in search of subject matter for this space and some months it’s easier than others. I wanted to do more than just talk about the events and what goes on down on the waterfront and about the time I was about to head back in that direction I saw a Facebook post from one of our many favorite bartenders in the Harbor – Leah Sbitan. She indicated she was back behind the bar roving between Public House and Irish Whisper and picking up shifts at Brother Jimmy’s. A lot has happened since the last time I saw her – she got married, she had two cute kids and she’s embarked on a real estate career. Seeing that she had come back to her “roots” made me think about the last time I wrote anything about our friends on Fleet Street! When I lived in the Harbor I made my rounds to check on my “people” at least once a week and I always ended up at Public House as my last stop. They were the first business to advertise with the OTC when the Harbor was brand new so I have a soft spot in my heart for Jon Ball and his people – many of whom are still close friends. Much has changed since in the last 12 or so years. Public House, Cadillac Ranch, and Bobby McKey’s Dueling Piano Bar have held their ground, Harrington’s Irish Pub closed and the space was split into Brother Jimmy’s BBQ and Irish Whisper (all owned by the same parent company as Public House). Granite City Food & Brewery has come and gone and it is rumored that a Denver-based chain, Tom’s Watch Bar, will be opening in that huge space this winter. The Brass…

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On the Road, Pets, Places, & Things

On the Road

OTC Contributing writer Lori Welch Brown and her husband George joined a group of friends and former Woodbridge Senior High School alums on a long overdue trip to Italy. They traveled, ate and drank their way through Rome, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Volterra, San Gimignano, and Positano. Pictured here in Ravello (from L/R):  Rock and Beth Herndon; Monica Mills; Lori and George Brown; Vicky and Mark Urrutic, Mike Bopp, Kim Luker Chinn, and Dave Mills. If you would like to have your photo featured in this space, grab a copy of the Old Town Crier and take it with you on your adventure and snap a photo or three of you having some fun with it in hand and email it to Be sure to include information for the caption and your mailing address so we can send you a hard copy. Your photo will appear on our website/blog as well as Facebook and Instagram pages.

Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

For the Love of Dads

By Lori Welch Brown Bacon, pancakes, the smell of freshly-mowed grass, Old Spice cologne.  Just a few of the things that remind me of Dad.  He’s been gone a year and a half now.  Some days it feels like forever since I’ve talked to him, and other days it feels like just yesterday when I was writing his obituary. Mom died in 2006, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.  With Dad, it’s somehow different.  I feel like when he died, he took a part of me with him.  Maybe it’s because I’m his daughter.  Maybe it’s because he was in my life for 14 years longer.  Maybe I’ve had longer to process Mom’s grief while Dad’s is still raw. Whatever the case, dads are different and special.  I know mine sure was.  From the moment I opened my eyes, he’s been there for me.  In the early years, he provided a roof over my head, put food on the table, and made sure I was safe and secure. As I began to grow, he became a coach and teacher watching anxiously as my little legs pedaled away from him or dived into the ocean.  He was always there with good advice, “Slow down for the turns” or to swoop me up after the wave dragged me under. He and Mom set the rules, but he was the enforcer.  Boy, was he strict.  My husband jokes that I’m very black and white in how I think sometimes, and I credit Dad for that.  There wasn’t any gray area when it came to dealing with Dad’s laws.  Curfew was specific and understood.  “Ten o’clock is ten o’clock.  If I wanted you home by 10:07, that’s what I would have said.” There were no veiled threats except…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

The Annual “Oh no, not another tie!” Column

By Steve Chaconas Dude, don’t get Dad another tie! He might wear it…only when you’re in town or when you mention it. He really dreads having to tie one on for you! It’s Father’s Day, put a bit of thought into gifts for the guy who was always thinking of you! Let Dad know he’s legendary. Long pants or shorts? Back Country’s Stoic Zip-Off pants perform during cool hikes up mountains and warmer jogs down. Comfort and performance are achieved with a breathable, quick dry poly spandex blend with 4 way freedom of movement stretch. Moisture just drips away with the DWR treatment. Zipped off, 5-inch shorts have a leg up on comfort.  Closing the leg bottom is a cinch. For a perfect fit, use the integrated belt. No matter the activity, Sitka’s long sleeve Hanger Henley will become Dad’s all around favorite. Comfort meets design, with technologies like Insect Shield and Polygiene® Odor Control, prevent the outdoors from bugging Dad and keeping him smelling like a rose, no matter his activity. A quick-drying lightweight Polyester/Spandex blend provides comfort and stretch. Stylish 3 button design is built tough for comfort and performance. Take his favorite swim and hiking shorts, add polyester mesh draining pockets, and Dad will appreciate Filson’s Gline Canyon multi-use shorts. Nothing short about Gline Canyon’s 8 inch inseam. A no-rust plastic snap waist closure stays snug. Thigh cargo pocket, with a hidden key clip, zips for security. Practical clothing since the Gold Rush, Filson’s new Gline Canyon shorts are quick-drying, have an elastic waistband, and can be worn with a belt. Keeping Dad cool and clean, Gill’s XPEL Tec Hoody blocks harmful sun rays with 50+ UV and a hood for maximum protection. Thumb loops keep the shirt over the wrist. The comfortable lightweight…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Introduce Your Pop to Some Product

By Kim Putens Father’s Day is around the corner.  Instead of the same tired “ole tie”, why not treat him to some products he’ll use every day.  While many of us associate “products” with beauty and women, it’s a fact that many men use “products” too.  Let’s face it, they need to wash their hair, shave, and take care of their skin, just like women.  So, what do you get a man?  Here are some tips on products men like to use and what to look for. To start, let’s consider the face.  Most men need to shave every day, unless they are choosing to grow out their beard.  When choosing shaving products, there are a few things to consider.  Most shaving products come in 3 different forms – shave oil, shaving cream or shaving gel.  Shave oils are great for smoothing out a rough beard to give a very close shave.  Shaving creams are great for all skin types, except those with the oiliest of skin who aren’t keen about putting a cream on their face.  The upside to a shave cream is that it’s easy to see where you are shaving.  The downside is it can clog the razor.  Shave gels offer the closest shave, don’t dry out the skin, and are great for sensitive skin types. Mint or menthol added to shaving products helps to ensure a close shave and help prevent ingrown hairs. Like women, men need to care for their skin if they want to prolong or limit the signs of aging.  Many wonder why men’s products are created separately from women’s products.  First, and most obvious, is that men like products without fragrance and that don’t appear to be fluffy.  A main reason for male specific products is that most men have oily skin. …

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Beauty & Health, Fitness

Build Strength and Stability While Increasing Flexibility

By Nicole Flanagan Incorporating yoga positions into your workout can greatly improve your core strength, stability and flexibility. For those of you who have never taken a yoga class, I recommend giving it a try. A yoga class will challenge you in a way that is incomparable to a strength-training workout. Yoga increases flexibility through various positions that act on the joints. It gently stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments that we usually don’t focus on in a workout. For someone with limited flexibility, yoga will help to improve the range of motion that the joints can handle. Performing yoga moves will also increase blood circulation and help the body move vital fluids throughout.  By gently stretching muscles and joints as well as massaging the body’s organs, yoga ensures that blood is reaching all parts of your body.  This increase in circulation improves your body’s ability to flush out toxins. With so many benefits of yoga there is no reason not to give some of them a try.  Here are some moves to do on your own, or add to your existing workout that will help improve strength, stability and flexibility. Downward Dog: Start on all fours with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips Walk hands a few inches forward and spread fingers wide, pressing palms into mat. Curl toes under and slowly press hips toward ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V, pressing shoulders away from ears. Feet should be hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold for three full breaths Make this move more challenging- once you are in the V position bring one leg straight up toward the ceiling keeping your hips level. Hold each leg for three breaths. The Crow Starting from the downward dog position walk feet forward until knees touch your…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Keeping It Cool

By Ryan Unverzagt This month officially marks the start of the summer season. I hope all of you have cool vacations planned that include lots of physical activities. As the temperatures rise through the summer, it becomes extremely important to monitor when, where and how much exercise you should be doing along with hydrating properly. Did you know that water accounts for more than 60% of the human body’s volume? Water is so vital to life that we can survive only about three days without it depending upon climate conditions. The hotter and more humid the environment, the faster we become dehydrated. It takes as little as a two percent change in body weight to negatively affect exercise performance. For a 150 lb person, that equates to only 3lbs! There are many factors that affect your hydration status such as: Ambient Air Temperature (Outside) Humidity Individual Sweat Rates Body Temperature (Internal) Exercise Intensity & Duration Fitness Level Individual Body Fat Percentage Existing Health Conditions such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, kidney failure, etc. Dehydration can have several negative effects during exercise such as decreased muscle strength & endurance, coordination, mental acuity, and impaired thermoregulation. One of the most important functions of water within the body is to help regulate body heat. When the body is properly hydrated, exercise will feel easier and you will typically have a lower heart rate at the same intensity than you would if you were in a dehydrated state. This is due to optimal blood volume and cardiac output to deliver nutrients and oxygen to your working muscles. There is no single “Gold Standard” for measuring hydration levels because too many factors play into how your body stores water. However, here are some general exercise and hydration guidelines to follow this summer: Try to workout during…

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Let's Get Crafty, Wining & Dining

St. Barths: Rhum, Ti’ Punch, and Cuban Cigars

By Timothy Long The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. – St. Augustine I feel like I’m in France. That’s the best way to describe St. Barthelemy, or as it is referred, St. Barths. The island is part of the French West Indies and is located near St. Martin. Our villa sits on the side of a mountain. Almost every villa here sits on the side of a mountain. The view is stunning. Island mountains rising out of the perfect blue Caribbean Sea. The local language is French as many of the islanders are from France. Most of them speak some English as well. But alas, my Kitchen Spanish was of no help to me here. And I used all my French on our first day: bonjour, merci, and toilet. I’m not sure that toilet even counts. Oh, and buku. I learned that one from Vietnam movies. I grew up outside of Pittsburgh and I’ve hiked the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I’m used to winding mountainous roads but I’ve never experienced mountain roads like these. The road leading up to our villa can be best described as a spiral staircase that turns in several different directions. It’s that tight, that steep, and that winding. And to make things even more exciting, it’s a two-way street which is barely wide enough for one car. The cars here are mostly small, which is helpful. I asked our driver what happens if a car is coming the other way. He said that they figure it out. Unlike in the States, everyone here drives very cautiously and courteously. The terrain demands it. I find the roads a bit unnerving and my New Orleans-raised wife finds them terrifying. As our ferry arrives in the town of Gustavia,…

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Exploring VA Wines, Wining & Dining

Why Agritourism?

By Doug Fabbioli As I was wrestling with finding a theme for my writings this month, I realized I had an appointment scheduled this morning that could help. I met with Wine America today in order to talk with US Representative Jennifer Wexton about her bipartisan bill on Agritourism. Wine America is a nationwide trade association and I got to meet a number of winery reps and regional reps from winegrowing regions across the country—Indiana, Ohio, New York, and Texas to name a few. We all have embraced the idea of having a business that is based on farming and encourages folks to visit the farm—see what we do, sample the wares, and bring some home. There are a few key points about this relatively new concept that make Agritourism a “win” for the county, state, or in this case the country. Tourism doesn’t need to bring people from far away. Many times it’s only a short trip from the city to visit the farm where the crops grow, the houses are spaced further apart and the air feels more natural. During their visit, people may buy a meal down the road, visit a local park, shop at a local store, and hopefully bring home some goods from their destination. If an overnight stay occurs, the economic impact on the region goes up dramatically. Agritourism is about more than just economics though; it is also about land use and open space. Businesses that utilize the land in a sustainable way give the land a better chance at staying open rather than being developed into another shopping center or subdivision. Keeping the urban sprawl in check helps to keep the land working for the community and attractive to visitors who are looking to get away from the city for a while….

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Virginia’s Forgotten Winery: Belmont Vineyards

By Matthew Fitzsimmons Virginia prides itself as the birthplace of American wine. The first chapter of Virginia’s viticultural history started in 1619 when settlers at Jamestown were instructed to plant grape vines. This story is usually followed by how Thomas Jefferson repeatedly tried but failed to make wine using vinifera (grapes from the Mediterranean region) at his estate in Monticello. But the narrative usually jumps from Jefferson to the 1970s when Barboursville Vineyards and others started making local wine for the first time since prohibition. Not nearly as well known is the century between these benchmarks, including how in 1880 Virginia was the 5th largest wine producer in the United States. Norton, an American variety discovered in the early-1800s, was the state’s main grape. It was so popular a Norton from the Monticello Wine Company won gold at the Vienna World’s Fair in 1873 and silver in Paris in 1878. At the start of the 20th century Charlottesville was calling itself the “Capital of the Wine Belt in Virginia,” although vineyards dotted the entire state. One of these vineyards was Belmont, located not far from the northern entrance to what is now Shenandoah National Park. Once reaching over 100 acres of vines, at its peak Belmont may have been the largest vineyard in the state. Belmont was founded by Marcus Blakemore Buck (1816-1881), a member of a prominent Front Royal family. In 1847, Marcus purchased nearly 2,000 acres in the mountains just outside the city. Half he subsequently sold, but the remaining land he turned into his farm. According to research by archeologist Dr. Carole Nash of James Madison University, by 1863 the business included 80 acres of vines and 10 acres of sugar cane, farmed by slaves. The end of slavery and destruction of the local rail network led…

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