From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

The Season Has Begun – Finally

By Lani Gering It sure seems like it has taken forever for the Harbor to shake off the wintertime dust! Sure there were some fun events for the Cherry Blossoms in March and April but the real fun starts May 1st. This day marks the beginning of the fun summertime season at the Harbor. The Salute the Sunset concerts are back on, Movies on the Potomac are up and running, the free weekly Fitness Classes are taking place, Friday Summer Sounds is on the schedule and Kids Day starts on Thursdays beginning in June. The Salute the Sunset concert series continues entertaining us with patriotic performances on Saturdays and select Wednesday evenings. This year there will be a Drill at Dusk performance by the US Air Force Honor Guard on select evenings as well. The concerts and the drills are performed by various US Military bands and begin at 7 pm. Bring your chairs and grab some eats to go from one of the many eateries on the Plaza. FREE! May Schedule Drill at Dusk – 4th, 7th, 11th, 18th, 25th Army Band – 14th Navy Band – 21st & 28th Movies on the Potomac A full roster of some of our favorite family classics and date night movies hit the big screen on the Plaza throughout the season. Family Nights on Sundays at 6 pm and Date Nights on Thursdays at 7 pm. The theme for this month is Animals. Pack up some portable seating and join in the fun. FREE! Family Night 1st – Sing 2 8th – Babe 15th – 101 Dalmatians circa 1996 22nd – The Secret Life of Pets 29th – Lion King circa 1994 Date Night 5th – Best In Show 12th – Dream Horse 19th – Jaws 26th – Must Love Dogs Get…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Older Women, Younger Whiskey….Faster Horses!

By Julie Reardon Or is that old Tom T. Hall favorite supposed to be younger women and older whiskey along with the faster horses? Regardless of what attracts a young man’s fancy these days, the  drum of hoof beats kicks off the unofficial start of summer in the Blue Ridge as popular tailgating venues have returned to full swing in horse country after a two season pandemic disruption. I’ll leave the whiskey discussion to our editors, since I don’t drink and they’ve spent countless hours exploring the distilleries, wineries and breweries cropping up in our area. I’ll just add that this is the first tailgate season that weed has been legal to consume in the Commonwealth so don’t forget to pack the spliffs and the edibles if drinking isn’t your thing. Although the first Saturday in May, the 7th this year, is Kentucky Derby day for horse racing fans nationally, here in Virginia it’s Gold Cup day. Kentucky’s famous horse race, first run in 1875, may be the country’s best-known equestrian event, George Washington was hunting hounds here in Virginia and colonials were racing horses before Kentucky was even settled. And here in suburban Northern Virginia, the Kentucky Derby is held on Gold Cup day, not the reverse. On May 7th, the Derby will have to share top billing with the Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase race meet, held at Great Meadow, The Plains, VA. The Fast Horses With crowds of over 40,000 in attendance, the Gold Cup is to Washington D.C. what the Derby is to Kentucky: a premiere social and sporting events.  Arrangements and tailgating parties are planned months, even years, in advance; prime tailgating and rail side boxes are often passed down in wills.  Pent up demand may equal short supply. Last month’s Middleburg Spring Races sold out…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Black Diamond Disaster of 1865

By Bob Tagert One of the great treats of living in this area is the huge amount of history that lies at our fingertips. This past month we ventured to Colton Point on the Potomac River near St. Clements Island and visited the St. Clements Island Museum for the wreath laying ceremony dedicated to the men who lost their lives in the Black Diamond Disaster in 1865. Billed as “The forgotten tragedy on the Potomac”, there is an amazing story behind these casualties. Among the other stories of the German submarine that lies in 95 feet of water near Piney Point, Maryland and the ships in Mallows Bay that lie in shallow water near Charles County, Maryland and is regarded as the “largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere” and is described as a “ship graveyard”, the Black Diamond is another disaster after the Civil War. In April 1865, following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the Quartermaster Corps sent the barge Black Diamond to the lower Potomac River to stand on picket duty off of St. Clements Island. Her main job was to keep John Wilkes Booth from crossing the Potomac River into Virginia as he was fleeing from the law. About the same time, the side wheel steamer Massachusetts set sail for Fortress Monroe in the Hamptons Road area of the Commonwealth from Alexandria, Virginia. On board were several Federal soldiers who were returning from sick leave as well as some recently paroled prisoners of war. In a huge mishap around midnight, the Massachusetts rammed the Black Diamond on the port side near the boiler, sinking her in a matter of minutes. Although the Massachusetts remained on the scene to pick up survivors until daybreak, eighty seven lives were lost. Despite the damage to her bow, she continued…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

In The Bahamas, the Birthplace of the Goombay Smash

By Alexander Britell Like all of the greatest recipes, it’s a secret. And while the ubiquitous, yellow Goombay Smash has traveled the world as one of The Bahamas’ signature cocktails, there are none quite like this one. This is Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, the beating heart of the tiny town of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay, the place where the Goombay Smash was born. More than a half century ago, the late Emily Cooper came up with her now-renowned concoction, when a customer suggested she create a signature tropical drink. Quickly, the Goombay Smashed, and the bar remains a mixology Mecca, drawing every manner of cocktail-loving pilgrim to this tiny island in Abaco, with a brand-new look after a post-Dorian rebuild. “It was all word of mouth,” says Phylicia Smith, Cooper’s granddaughter, the family’s third generation to run this legendary watering hole on Green Turtle Cay. “There was no internet back then.” Locals and visiting boaters buy the drink by the gallon, with large containers of pre-made Goombay Smashes awaiting guests at the entrance to the bar. So what’s actually in it? There’s a Goombay Smash in just about every bar in The Bahamas, and if you’ve traveled the archipelago you’ve encountered one, typically some mix of pineapple, coconut and rum. Some variations use Nassau Royale, others apricot brandy, others Malibu. This one is different, though. There’s real balance, with none of the sometimes cloying sweetness or synthetic flavors you find in other Goombay Smashes; plainly, it’s perfect. Phylicia admits there’s some Bahamian-made Ricardo coconut rum; the Pineapple juice is a sure thing, too. But the rest she won’t reveal, keeping the promise Cooper made so many decades ago. “The secret is what makes it all special,” she says. But no matter what’s in it, it’s clear that…

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Fairytales, Castles, and Communism – Lake Bled, Slovenia

By Scott Dicken Once upon a time there was a lush, fertile valley and in the very centre of that valley was a small hill. The hill, which sat in the middle of the green pastures, was the favourite gathering place of fairies who liked nothing more than to spend their time dancing around its base. The fairies lived a happy, peaceful existence until, one fateful day, a group of shepherds arrived. As you can imagine, the shepherds were keen to use the fairies’ lush, green pastures as grazing land for their herds. The fairies took umbrage to this most obvious invasion of their peace and, after a bit of a conflab, opted to flood the entire valley. To this day the only part of the valley that remains visible is ‘Fairy Rock’ – the small hill around which the fairies danced. This, according to our guide, is the legend of how Lake Bled came to be. To the uneducated, myself included, the fairies sound like a bunch of morally repugnant individuals whose parents never taught them that ‘sharing is caring’. Also, flooding an entire valley because a few sheep ate some of their grass seems like a hasty over-reaction.  Nonetheless, the results of their endeavours are now Slovenia’s primary tourist attraction, and a setting that retains the charm and beauty of a fairy tale. Albeit, a fairy tale later supplanted by the less whimsical arrival of communist dictator, Tito, whose one-time residence now provides the lake with 5-star accommodation. The lake is nestled amongst Slovenia’s Julian Alps, and was actually formed as a result of glacial erosion (in a story that isn’t quite as mystical and enchanting) and is the home of the Church of Mary of the Assumption. The church is the highlight of a visit to Lake…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Who Says You Can’t Go Home

By Lani Gering As many of you regular readers of this column know, I had to move out of the condo that I occupied in One National Harbor for over 11 years almost 2 years ago due to the monetary strains caused by the pandemic. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I know it may sound ridiculous to some of you but I truly did love living in the Harbor. I had my routine and liked to go on a walk about to check out new businesses and see what other action was up at my favorite places. I vowed to make it the 4 whole miles back across the bridge from Old Town on a regular basis and I did for the first year, however, it has been less frequent – other than doing the monthly distribution – in these last 9 months. I was struggling with what to write about since about the only notable happening in the Harbor in April is the continuing Cherry Blossom activities that I wrote about in the March column and the springtime and Easter happenings at the Gaylord. So….I decided to take the drive across the Woody Bridge with Bob in tow to spend the afternoon in the Harbor. Wouldn’t you know that the day we picked ended up with the wind blowing a gale and rain pelting down so the walk about didn’t happen. Not to be discouraged, we went ahead and parked the truck in the Fleet Street garage and made the trek through the elements to my all time favorite place in the Harbor – Bond 45. Bond was like my “Cheers” bar when I lived there. I could walk out one of the many ‘secret’ exits from the ONH building and across the street…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

The Rip Off World of Animal Rescue

By Julie Reardon This month, I’m going to stray from my typical column highlighting happenings in the Blue Ridge a take this opportunity to skewer a sacred cow. Groups calling themselves rescues are not all saints and many are not what they seem. Thanks to our insatiable demand for companion animals and the very successful animal rights driven anti-breeder campaign of the past two decades, the rescue industry is booming, especially for trade in cute little fluffy dogs with big eyes and snub noses. Tax free cash donations flow freely to save horses, and now dogs, from the meat trade. All this easy cash has attracted unsavory scammers, liars and rip off artists out for a tax free quick buck. Yes, tax free. All a rescue group has to do to claim non-profit status is send the IRS a postcard annually stating they make less than $50,000 a year. If they make more than that, they must fill out IRS form 990. More on that below. Not all rescues are bad of course, just as not all breeders are evil. And while shelters might be full of dogs, they’re not the ones people want. And it’s much harder to recoup costs or even adopt out the majority of shelter dogs, because most are pit bulls or mixes—large and often not suitable for families with other pets or small children. Hence, an underground trade of dogs imported from Third World puppy mills has quietly gained a foothold to meet the demand. Savvy horse trading scammers zeroed in on ‘saving’ horses bound for slaughter as a fountain of easy money. Never mind that there are no slaughter houses that process horses anywhere in the U.S., and haven’t been any for over 15 years. But the scammers post on Facebook and social media…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Spring Sailboat Show Returns to Historic Downtown Annapolis

By Michaela Watkins The Annapolis Spring Sailboat Show is set to return to historic downtown Annapolis April 29 – May 1. The show will feature new and brokerage boats including catamarans, monohulls, racing boats, family cruisers, daysailers, and inflatables. While climbing aboard an impressive line-up of sailboats is always a major draw, there is so much more to see. Guests are invited to meet with boating clubs and charters companies, shop gear and equipment, and catch up with marine professionals and sailing friends. Novice and seasoned sailors alike are welcome to expand their horizons with a number of educational opportunities: First Sail Workshop allows first-time sailors to learn the basics and experience the joy of sailing in a 45-minute classroom session followed by 90 minutes on the water with American Sailing Association accredited instructors provided by Sailtime. Cruisers University is a classroom-based educational opportunity for bluewater sailors. Its comprehensive curriculum offers a complete range of cruising topics to prepare cruisers to live aboard a boat and begin their boating adventures with confidence. Courses include marine weather forecasting, navigation techniques, diesel maintenance, heavy weather sailing, budgeting, and more. In collaboration with Chesapeake Bay Magazine and Annapolis School of Seamanship, the show also brings a variety of free seminars. Learn from professional captains and experts about a variety of how-to and where-to-go topics including Docking De-Stressed, Get Your Captain’s License, Weekends on the Water – Cruising to towns in the Upper & Middle Bay, Lessons from Sailors Who Log 100 Days on the Water Each Year, and How to Anchor Your Boat. In addition to boarding beautiful sailboats, guests of the Spring Sailboat Show may get behind the wheel on land at the BMW exhibit. Browse the all-new, fully electric iX on display or sign up to test drive the iX, i4,…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Spotlighting Local Cuisine On St. Thomas

By Alexander Britell  Always a terrific food destination, St. Thomas is in the midst of a gastronomic renaissance, with a renewed focus on traditional classics and a new push to highlight local cuisine. Indeed, more and more eateries are putting the food of St. Thomas front and center, from food trucks to fine dining and everything in between. It all adds up to what is a full-fledged local food movement, where the emphasis is not just freshly-caught fish, but about putting the flavors and culture of St. Thomas on the table. Here are our favorite St. Thomas eateries for exciting local food, from island institutions to hip, upstart eateries. Blue 11 No restaurant better exemplifies St. Thomas’ new food movement than this. It’s called Blue Eleven, and it’s the debut restaurant of leading Virgin Island chef David Benjamin, formerly of the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. The Yacht Haven Grande outpost is a fine-dining love letter to island food, with an exclusive tasting menu that lets guests embark on a culinary journey (including a wine-pairing option) through either seven, nine or 11 courses. With a focus on local ingredients, that means dishes like pan-seared wahoo, a brilliant spin on callaloo and jerk chicken with plantain gnocchi, among others. Twist 340 Set in the increasingly hot Yacht Haven Grande marina, Twist, the brainchild of Dimitri and Tamra James, is all about Caribbean cuisine — and puts a new spin on traditional island favorites. That means dishes like honey-drizzled johnny cakes, curry chicken sliders, jerk bowls and trios of the island’s famous pate. Gladys’ Cafe One of St. Thomas’ most prominent places to eat, Gladys’ is a Charlotte Amalie institution, with out-of-this-world Caribbean signatures: think curry goat, stewed oxtails, jerk chicken, pan-fried grouper and, of course, its “Ole Wife” fish. Make sure you get a…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, Take Photos Leave Footprints

10 Reasons to Make Namibia your next Vacation Destination

By Scott Dicken Stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, and plenty of adventure. Namibia has it all. Despite having spent over three months in this otherworldly country, I can say I haven’t seen even half of what Namibia has to offer. It’s also one of the easiest and safest of the African safari destinations to self-drive. As a result, companies catering to visitors who want to ‘go it alone’ are becoming ever more prevalent, catering to everything from budget camping to 5-star luxury. But what makes Namibia the ideal destination? Below are ten great answers to that question. Climbing some of the World’s Biggest Sand Dunes Dune 45 is one of the more popular dunes to climb in Sossusvlei National Park and stands at a daunting 85m high. But at 325m high, Big Daddy is the biggest dune in town and offers spectacular views from the top. …..And then Sandboarding Down Some of Them in Swakopmund Swakopmund is a small town on Namibia’s west coast, and is regarded as the country’s capital city of adventure sports. Given its abundance of sand dunes, one of the most popular local activities is sandboarding. My one piece of advice on sandboarding is to not be fooled by anyone proclaiming that sandboarding is easier (or the landing softer) than snowboarding. Having nearly cracked my head open like a ripe coconut, I can safely say it isn’t! Other sports you might want to give a go are dune quad biking, land yachting, surfing, wind surfing, paragliding and sky diving. Enjoying Wonderful Food at Every Turn Namibia hosts an eclectic mix of cuisine; from the locally inspired biltong and potjiekos, (bush stew) to the colonial influences of German cuisine. In Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city, you could choose to visit the Namibian Institute for Culinary Education (NICE) for dinner,…

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