From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

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

The Temples of Taipei

By Scott Dicken With over 12,000 temples registered across the country, it’s fair to say that religion plays a vital role in everyday life in Taiwan. In terms of pure numbers, Taiwan has one of the highest temple per capita ratios in the world. To put that statement into perspective, there are more registered temples than there are convenience stores in Taiwan (a statistic that I’m sure has the senior management team at 7-11 quaking in their boots). That doesn’t only mean that the Taiwanese population practices a large number of common faiths in peaceful harmony (although that statement is certainly true). It also means that they take those faiths and mix them up with a hodge-podge of religious and spiritual beliefs that often overlap with native ‘folk religions’. This diversification means that a trip to Taiwan could have you visiting temples honoring Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and Hinduism, in addition to the worship of divine figures as diverse as Mazu, the Earth God, and the Electric-Technco Neon Gods (yes, that’s really a thing and has nothing to do with rave music). All in all, ‘religiously diverse’ is probably a good way to describe Taiwan and this is appropriately reflected in the temples of Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei. So, saddle up and take a quick tour of some of Taipei’s temples with me. Mengjia Longshan Temple Longshan Temple, built in 1738, is probably the most famous of Taipei’s multi-denominational temples. In my opinion this isn’t necessarily because of the temple’s size or because of any particularly exciting architectural characteristics. Instead, the real draw for me is the atmosphere. I’ve visited Longshan on two separate occasions and both times it was my favorite place in the city (in fact on my last visit I spent an hour standing in…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Fall Is In Full Swing at National Harbor!

By Lani Gering I love the month of October! I love fall and I love it that the holidays are just around the corner! I am so looking forward to getting out my sweaters and jeans and wearing the cool socks I have collected over the years with my boots. Don’t get me wrong, I do like keeping my tan as long as possible but I am over the 88 degree days! It has been a little over two years since I moved back to Old Town and I still miss living in the Harbor, especially this time of the year! While the summer activities and concert series have come to an end there are still plenty of things to keep you busy here. The tourist traffic slows down, the weather tends to be cooler and the Gaylord is gearing up for the holidays. If you are football fan, bring your chair or a blanket and sit in front of the big screen on the Plaza and take in the action on the weekends. The NCAA games air at 12 noon on Saturdays and NFL games at 1 pm on Sundays. The “Commanders” – I still can’t get used to calling the Redskins that – will definitely air and you can check the Harbor Facebook page for other games scheduled. There is always something happening at the Capital Wheel and at the Flight Deck right beside it. October is a fantastic month to enjoy a spin around the Wheel and a beer or glass of wine on the Deck. This is probably one of my very favorite places here in the Harbor. It sits right on the water and is a fabulous place to people watch. It is a great location to frequent both during the day and at night….

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

Fall Fun For All

By Julie Reardon October’s bright blue skies, moderate temperatures and brilliant colors make it the ideal month to plan a day trip to the Blue Ridge for leaf peeping and more. Many annual festivals and events that have not been held for the past two years because of the pandemic restrictions are now back and open for you to enjoy. Orlean Day is Saturday, October 8th this year at the Orlean Market and Pub, 6855 Leeds Manor Rd., Marshall (it is actually 10 miles south of the actual town of Marshall). This historic country store/restaurant/gas station is the heart of the pretty little village in the foothills overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and is host to Orlean Day, a free, family friendly event with activities for children and adults alike. There will be face painting and a bouncy castle for the little ones and a fitness obstacle course for both children and adults. Live music will play all day and good food will be available onsite. For those who enjoy steeplechasing, there are three good ones to attend this fall locally. The Virginia Fall Races will be held this year on Saturday, October 8 at Glenwood Park in Middleburg. Gates open early for the fox hunter championship finals and post time for the first race is at 1 pm. More information is at vafallraces.com On October 22, The International Gold Cup races will be held at Great Meadow in The Plains; advance ticket sales and information can be found at VaGoldCup.com . The racing season closes on November 5th with the Montpelier Races held at the lovely and historic Montpelier estate near Gordonsville. MontpelierRaces.org has details.  Advance purchase of tickets is strongly recommended, visit the websites for more information. Another popular event is the Fauquier Farm Tour, scheduled this year…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

It’s Show Time on the Bay

By Lani Gering I remember the days when we wouldn’t miss a sailboat boat show that went down within our commuting area unless the weather was close to hurricane status. Those were the days when my pal was on the hunt for a “bigger” boat and I was really fond of having every latest *saily gadget for the galley and just the right splash jacket for the hanging locker. Not to mention seeing the latest and greatest in bottom paint, boat soap and other fancy cleaning gadgets and potions. Moving on to present day (15+ years)….I am still using many of the *saily gadgets and I definitely need a new splash jacket and the “bigger” sailboat could really use some of the latest and greatest in paint, soap and potions. This all being said, I believe we will head to Annapolis for the Sailboat Show this year. In full disclosure, we spend quite a bit of time in this Sailing Capital and it is one of my favorite places in the United States! I enlisted the help of our pals at Annapolis Boat Shows to get the scoop on the 2022 events. See below: The boating world will once again rejoice as fall approaches and visitors from the U.S. and abroad return to Annapolis for two iconic boat shows, the United States Powerboat Show (Oct. 6-9) and United States Sailboat Show (Oct. 13-17). This year, in addition to celebrating the return of international travel, the Annapolis Boat Shows will celebrate the 50th United States Powerboat Show. Each year, the team from the Annapolis Boat Shows transforms Annapolis Harbor into a floating showcase of new models of boats and innovative products. This year, the boat shows will again have an impressive lineup of new and premiering boats. Shoreside exhibit areas and tents…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Hamilton at Home

By Alexander Britell Under a sunbeam on the water’s edge in Charlestown, Nevis, historian Harvey Hendrickson reads his ode to a still-shrouded sculpture on the lawn. A few minutes later, the bronze is revealed, and Alexander Hamilton is finally back in the place of his birth nearly 257 years after his family moved to St. Croix. It was in Nevis that Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, must have dreamt and aspired and “as a consequence, achieved great things,” Nevis Premier Mark Brantley said. Hamilton, whose towering life returned to the public consciousness with the launch of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-sweeping musical in 2015, was born on the Eastern Caribbean island in 1757, spending his early years in Nevis and then periods of his youth in St. Croix and Statia. Hamilton’s extraordinary career included being the first secretary of the treasury, founder of the Federalist Party, founder of the US Coast Guard and arguably the father of the United States’ financial system, among other achievements. Today, Hamilton’s birthplace is a centerpiece of downtown historic Charlestown, Nevis‘ capital, home to a museum and, on the second floor, the site of the Nevis Island Assembly. And Hamilton remains a major draw for the island, which has seen a wave of new tourism interest driven by the reinvigorated public curiosity about Hamilton; the island’s top resort, the Four Seasons Nevis, has an Alexander Suite, for example; there’s even an Alexander Hamilton Rum on sale in the museum shop. Because it all truly did begin in tiny Nevis, and Hamilton’s Caribbean contribution was the subject of a thoughtful ceremony at the Alexander Hamilton Museum in Charlestown this past weekend, one that included a moving appearance by Hamilton re-enactor Scott MacScott. “We, as I like to say, must agree that the United States owes…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Harbor Social – The Place To Be!

By Lani Gering Let me tell you my people, it has been a long time since I have been impressed with a new concept in the hospitality realm – most specially in the sports bar arena – and I have experienced quite a few during my 28 years with the Old Town Crier. Remember when the multiple TV’s with every sport in the realm on screen came on the scene? That was pretty cool since you could watch rugby when your pals were glued to football or golf but Harbor Social (HS) has taken the sports bar experience to a whole other level. Located on the ground floor in the Gaylord – former home of National Pastime – Harbor Social has incorporated the wall of televisions for NP (don’t mess with something that isn’t broken) into an amazing interactive experience. Interactive is the key word here. The concept of HS is to get patrons to put down their communicating devices long enough to interact with each other via eye contact and actual spoken words. The drink coasters even get into the act with fun questions that can engage the group. While we were there I got into a conversation with a couple of people of different generations regarding “Favorite Saturday Morning Cartoon?”. Mine was the Jetsons, one guy loved Thunder Cats (????) and the really old guy’s was Mighty Mouse. We had a fun conversation about things in our generations while sipping on an adult beverage and discussing the merits of duck pin bowling. This sports bar brings people together through nine interactive games including duckpin bowling, bocce ball, darts, shuffleboard, pool, air hockey (this is my game and I can’t wait to go back), corn hole and numerous games like a table top version of the popular “islandy” hook…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Skinny on Shallow Water: Protected but Vulnerable

By Dave Secor Kayaking is such a simple and therapeutic pleasure. Shallow waters abound in the Chesapeake Bay, and car roof racks attest to its popularity. In tidal creeks, rivers and protected bays, passive glides bring nature’s envelopment. Arms work against wind and tide. Immersion and exertion shed worries in the kayak’s wake. These skinny waters are also therapeutic for the Bay itself. They are its highest-functioning habitats: nurseries for fish, beds for reefs and underwater grasses, and incubators for the forage species that sustain oysters, crabs, fish and wildlife. Little wonder then that these shallow waters receive the government’s highest safeguards. The Chesapeake Bay Program applies its most stringent water quality standards to two classes of habitats: skinny tidal waters, including shoreline waters less than 2 meters deep, and migratory spawning reaches and nurseries, which are mostly shallow, upper estuarine waters where striped bass, perch, shad and other fish reproduce. Twenty years ago, I worked with a team to develop these protections, and they have stood up well. Still, left in the wake of that effort are larger perils to skinny waters: climate change, invasive species and development in coastal rural counties. Along the shores of the Potomac River, we summertime paddlers share skinny waters with countless 2-inch juvenile striped bass. Their numbers vary wildly year-to-year, depending on springtime egg and larval survival. Upriver to Nice Bridge, large females cast billions of eggs to the whims of spring weather. Early mortality is brutal, and bass have adapted by spawning repeatedly over long lifespans. A 30-year-old striped bass has more than 20 times at bat to replace herself. Enter climate change. Spring is now a less predictable transition between seasons, narrowing the window of favorable conditions. Combined with recent overfishing and disease, most females get only one or two times at bat. Protecting the nursery function of skinny…

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

Northern Italy – Asti & Alba

By Scott Dicken Rolling landscapes framed by the Alps, viniculture to rival anywhere on earth and gastronomical delights of such quality that it prompted the birth of the Slow Food Movement; Northern Italy may not draw the same number of visitors that descend upon Tuscany but spending a few days in the fertile hills between Turin and Milan doesn’t disappoint. Best get there soon though as the secret is now well and truly out! The Piedmont Region The Piedmont Region of Northern Italy is the country’s second largest of twenty regions but could easily be described as the forgotten child – particularly when compared to Italy’s other notable tourist regions of Tuscany, Venice, Rome, Sicily, Lombardy and Puglia. Its comparatively lowly tourist status belies the wealth of riches the region has to offer: from Lake Maggiore in the north and Olympic grade ski resorts in the Alpine west to the culture of its largest city, Turin. All of this lies nestled at the very foot of the Alps which frames views of rolling hills and vineyards saturated with colours that change throughout the seasons and are coated with snow and fog in the winter. Even more importantly, Piedmont is world renowned for its acclaimed grapes and wines and is a major producer of luxury cheese and chocolate (Nutella and Ferrero Roche both coming from the region). Food aficionados are drawn from all across the globe to feast on Alba’s white truffles at the annual October Truffle Festival (Tartufi Bianchi) and to sample the “king of Italian red wine”, Barolo. Wash all of that down with sparkling white wines from the neighboring village of Asti (a mere 30km from Alba) and you’ll soon find yourself in a glorious food and wine haze from which you’ll never wish to emerge. On a…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Joy of the Ti’ Punch, the Ultimate Caribbean Rum Cocktail 

By Alexander Britell It’s the purest expression of sugarcane in spirit form: rhum blanc, or white rhum agricole. Unaged white rum made from pure pressed sugar cane juice is as close as you can come to the cane: a raw, visceral, complex spirit that has a real terroir. And it just so happens that this is the primary ingredient in the Caribbean’s ultimate rum cocktail: the ti’ punch. Ti’ punch, short for petit punch, is the essential drink of the French West Indies, a local, easy-to-prepare drink that’s part of the ritual of daily life in Martinique and Guadeloupe. It’s ubiquitous, often accompanied by those endlessly delicious codfish fritters called Accras. And it’s a key to immersing yourself in the culture of the French Caribbean. You cannot begin to understand this enchanting part of the Caribbean without a ti’ punch, a drink whose preparation requires a ceremony on par with tea in Japan. And it’s deliciously simple to make. Because while there are myriad dressed-up versions of making the ti’ punch, there’s one truly authentic way to make it — the way people actually drink it at a bar or restaurant in the FWI. Show up at a beach bar or a cafe (or just about any restaurant at all) in Martinique and Guadeloupe, order a ti’ punch (it’s often cheaper than a bottle of water), and you’ll soon be welcomed with a tray. There you’ll find three things: a bottle of white rhum, some quarter slices of lime, and a ramequin of brown sugar. Because white rhum is so affordable, the restaurant will leave it to you how much white rhum you decide to put in the glass, joined with just the quarter lime and, ideally, a teaspoon of sugar. How much rum you add is up to you, but I like to pour enough that the…

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

SPROUT:  To Grow, Spring Up, Come Forth

By Meg Mullery On a beautiful autumn evening last September, Sprout Therapeutic Riding & Education Center in Aldie, Virginia, hosted a gala celebrating Sprout’s Tenth Anniversary. While these kinds of formal events are not unusual in the D.C. area, this one was far from your typical black-tie soiree. Guests entered the event, which took place in Sprout’s riding facility, through a line of stalls that housed a welcoming committee of very excited ponies and horses with heads sticking out hoping for pats or treats. This led to the large indoor riding ring magically transformed into an elegant venue with chandeliers, loads of twinkle lights, large potted palms, dining tables, a dance floor and live music. After cocktails and dinner, the time came to introduce the guest of honor. A Sprout staffer wearing a stunning gown led a large horse named Duke into the event to a standing ovation. Duke was recognized for his many years of patient lesson service and continuing to prove there is a transformative connection between human and horse. Duke is just one of the 18 uniquely trained horses that give hope and confidence to students at Sprout. And then it was time to dance. And dance they did. Party-goers of all abilities crowded onto the floor. If one were to create a tableau that captured the spirit and vision of Sprout, the gala would serve as the model. Sprout encourages and embraces friendship, fun, and community. Each week, Sprout serves nearly 185 individuals ranging in age from a one-year-old diagnosed with spinal muscle atrophy, to a thirty-year-old survivor of a traumatic brain injury, to an eighty-year-old with advancing physical and mental deterioration. Since Sprout began operations in 2011 its programs have expanded to include adaptive riding/driving; equine supported therapies; community lessons; equine assisted learning; competition; and…

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