From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

The Harbor is In S-L-O-W Mode…..

By Lani Gering ….with the exception of the 20th Anniversary of MAGFest, aka Music and Gaming Festival, taking place at the Gaylord Resort from the 5th through the 8th. This year’s gathering is classified as a SUPER MAGFest! I was introduced to MAGFest several years ago. I was living in the Harbor at the time and on one of my “walkabouts” I saw literally hundreds of people pretty much dressed the same (faded jeans, plaid shirts and a several in what I would call odd costumes) unloading case upon case of water, energy drinks, etc. in front of every hotel in the Harbor. It appears that being a 24 hour-a-day gamer is very dehydrating. Here is the Readers Digest explanation of MAGFest: MAGFest, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization — that’s right! MAGFest is more than just a fun musical festival to party at several times a year! Our status as a non-profit organization is a way for us to further our mission statement, which is: MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE THROUGH VIDEO GAMES. We achieve this through numerous events, such as Super MAGFest, MAGWest, MAGStock, and Bit Gen Gamer Fest. During these events, we also support other not-for-profit organizations, such as Child’s Play. Other primary goals of MAGFest include: -To educate the public about video game music, art, and history. -To promote public appreciation of video game music, art, and history. -To preserve for posterity the culture and history of video games. Being of a certain age I immediately thought that this was a gathering of teenagers and college kids who hung out to play video games. Upon closer inspection, I saw people from every age group gravitating to the Resort to “begin the games”. It really is pretty sophisticated and fodder for some amazing people watching. For…

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

Tackling a Touchy Issue: Too Many Horses

By Julie Reardon “How can you call yourself a horse lover and be in favor of killing horses for food?” This is a typical reaction that I and other horsemen in the Blue Ridge get when asked why we’re not outraged that horses are still being slaughtered for food. The Blue Ridge Mountains did not ring with roars of outrage, nor did hunt country residents lock arms and march en masse across the river when President Obama quietly signed into law the bill that lifted the U.S. Ban on domestic horse slaughter in 2011, but 11 years later, there are still no places in this country that will process horses so those sent to slaughter are trucked to Mexico or Canada. Often a lengthy and cruel trip, to processing plants without the humane safeguards and regulations that this country requires. An emotion-fraught topic for horse lovers, horse slaughter was once an option, albeit not a popular one, for owners of animals that could not otherwise be rehomed.  Like the general public, Virginia’s horsemen and women are squeamish about the thought of eating horses for food, but unlike those that have never lived with and cared for them, most tend to take a more pragmatic view on what’s viewed as a necessary evil.  A dead horse is like the 800-pound gorilla in the room—it’s there, but no one wants to look or even acknowledge how difficult it is to deal with. A dead horse is large, and it’s not easy to move.  Many places forbid burying them, most landfills will not take them, and cremation is expensive and not readily available. Horsemen predicted the disastrous unintended consequences when the ban on slaughter went in force in 2006. By 2007, the last three slaughterhouses that processed horses in the U.S. closed their…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

 Outside the Comfort Zone – Why We Frostbite Race

By Molly Winans To someone who prefers the couch to the cockpit when it’s wintry outside, the only question that makes sense to ask those who frostbite race is: “Why do you do it?” Yet, when you ask active frostbiters that question, their answers tend to make so much sense and exude so much enthusiasm that it makes you want to get up off the couch, gear up, and give it a try. Harbor 20 sailor Bell Carty has been frostbite racing in the Annapolis Yacht Club (AYC) series since the early 90s. She says, “The appeal of frostbiting is to be on the water. It’s a little outside of the comfort zone, but still fun! Bundling up can be fun—it’s cold but not too bad.” Jay McGinnis races his 1979 J/30 Blitz, also in Annapolis, and has done so for the past decade. “First and foremost, I appreciate and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere,” he says. “We are all out there to have fun and to try to improve on some aspect of sailing that we can carry over into the next season. I think all of us understand that ‘it’s just frostbite.’ Not that we aren’t competitive! I mean, we are sailors… of course, we are competitive! “As a skipper, I really like the two-race format. It gives me an opportunity to really focus on positioning the boat during the start sequence. If I make a mistake, I can get right back on the start line for the second race and try it again.” Heidi Frist is a little bit newer to the game, having started her frostbite race career aboard her J/30 Suzie Q three or four years ago. She says, “I enjoy frostbiting because my crew and I can focus on fine tuning our basic skills (i.e. timing…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

10 of the Best Hotels In Puerto Rico

By Caribbean Journal Staff Puerto Rico has never been hotter, buoyed by a pandemic-era boom that filled its hotels to capacity and put a new travel spotlight on the destination. It seems like new flights routes launch just about every week to the island, the airport is dizzyingly busy as travelers finally start to realize just how diverse, vibrant and, well, beach-filled the island actually is. That includes a seemingly endless array of hotels and resorts across the island, from the Caribbean metropolis of San Juan to golf resorts at the edge of rainforests. The CJ team scours Puerto Rico’s hotels each year, and we’ve curated our rankings of the best places to stay on the island, making sure to highlight every kind of hotel. That means boutique hotels, wellness hotels, golf resorts, luxury resorts and even gaming destinations. There really is a different kind of hotel in Puerto Rico for every kind of traveler, and we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is decide what kind of Puerto Rico vacation you want: an urban getaway, a golf retreat, an Ayurvedic cleanse or a good-old-fashioned week on the sand. Here are ten of the best hotels in Puerto Rico for 2023. #1 Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve In the last few years, Dorado has become Puerto Rico’s most sought after destination, turning what had been a popular San Juan getaway into a global hotspot, with booming home prices, new luxury development and a new energy. Its epicenter is this: Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the island’s premier resort, one with almost 70 years of heritage dating back to its founding by Laurance Rockefeller. It’s also, for now, the only Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the brand’s elevated collection, in the Caribbean. Today, Dorado Beach is a serene, exquisite luxury resort, with 114…

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

The World’s Best Safaris

By Scott Dicken – Photos by Scott Dicken The classic African safari naturally conjures images of rugged wilderness and vast open savannah teeming with wildlife. Thankfully, gone are the days of glamourous elites donning safari suits and pith helmets to hunt big game with a blunderbuss (a la Jumanji). Instead, the last few decades have seen the rise of the African Safari for even the most budget-conscious of travelers. Whilst you might not be able, or willing, to afford the five-star, all-inclusive, safari lodge you’ve seen on TV, there are a myriad of budget options in all the major game reserves across sub-Saharan Africa. For those who haven’t been on safari before, there is a natural inclination to immediately think of Kenya and Tanzania- undoubtedly two of the best African safari options available – but other options abound. This month I explore 5 of the best destinations for anyone seeking a true safari adventure. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia: South Luangwa is my number one pick for a few reasons. Unfortunately, if you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay for a fly-in safari then I can personally attest to the fact that it’s a bit of drive to get there with a possible overnight stay in Chipata on the way. But therein lies the reason why Luangwa is number one. The long drive (or higher cost) means that it remains off the list of the more touristy national parks. Fewer visitors mean that Luangwa has a more remote, wilderness feel, and you can easily go for an hour without seeing another game vehicle. Unlike the Masai Mara, where if you find a big cat, you’ll have 25 other game vehicles parked next to you within 5 minutes, I sat parked under a tree watching a leopard for an…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Freeze the Day – ICE! Is Back!

By Lani Gering I am so happy that ICE! is back at the Gaylord after a two year hiatus and runs through New Year’s Eve. One of my favorite things to do is to sip on a holiday beverage or two at the Belvedere Lobby Bar and take in the tree lighting and laser light show before donning the blue parkas and trekking through the fantastic ice maze.  We missed this year’s media preview event so I haven’t taken my ride down the ice slide or ice tubed yet either so….that is on the calendar in the next couple of weeks. I don’t usually like to use press release information but since I couldn’t attend the preview, their PR people provided me with all of the info I needed so I am passing it on: Using more than 2 million pounds – or 1,000 tons – of ice, the amusing holiday classic, ‘A Christmas Story™’ will be brought to life in ice sculpture form by a team of 40 world-class ice artisans from Harbin, China. This is the first time A Christmas Story has been featured at ICE! during the resort’s holiday celebration. This year, guests will experience over 10 scenes from the hilarious family tale in magnificent hand-carved sculptures made of ice. Featured scenes include the old man’s major award, Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare and the ultimate triple dog dare at the school’s flagpole and more! Starting with more than 6,000 massive ice blocks, the carvers work approximately six weeks – more than 12,000 man-hours – to create the nearly 17,000 square foot frozen attraction. The artisans, using skills passed down from generation to generation, follow a 300-page design book to create the ice spectacle. The specially designed ICE! tent will be kept at a frosty 9 degrees Fahrenheit…

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

How Did You Know? Just What I Wanted!

By Julie Reardon This is the time of year where it’s easy to get numbed by the social media photos, memes and praise of the tight knit, perfect family so full of love for each other and clearly enjoying togetherness during the holidays. There they are, smiling at you from their air brushed faces in their elegant duds in front of the perfect Christmas tree, decorated in the latest fashion and surrounded by an embarrassment of gifts that are all, no doubt, selected with love. You’d think no one in the country has ever had a Christmas or any holiday ruined by that epic melt down or that family member who manages to steal the joy from any family occasion with regularity. You’d be wrong—and you’d be missing some of the funniest Christmas stories ever. Most horrible and inappropriate holiday behavior is usually over a breach of a long held and sacred family tradition and/or fueled by alcohol, or even lack of it. Some tales are hushed up and never spoken of again, but the best ones become laughable and brought up regularly for years until achieving legend status. One friend relates the story of how certain members of her family got around her devout grandparents’ objection to alcohol being served during holidays at their farm. A daughter’s new husband announced he thought he’d seen a snake out by where the cars were parked, so he thought he (and his flask) had better go check it out. He was followed by his brother-in-law and thereafter, checking for snakes became code for “let’s go out and share a flask”. My own sisters and I started a mean little tradition of our own while still children. Our mother, bless her heart, had very strict protocols for gift opening. We were never allowed,…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade Celebrates 40 Years!

By Cheryl Lecourt The 40th Anniversary of Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade presented by the Long & Foster Real Estate Eastport Office is an event you won’t want to miss. On Saturday December 10th, Annapolis will be celebrating a momentous anniversary of one of its signature events, the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade. This much imitated statewide award winning event draws people from all over the region to Annapolis city dock, waterfront area restaurants, watering holes, hotels, homes, offices and Eastport’s street end parks. The event kicks off at 6 pm in Annapolis Harbor, and runs until 8pm. Anywhere from 40 to 50 uniquely lighted yachts will suddenly appear out of the dark, and parade up Spa Creek and Ego Alley providing a dazzling visual holiday light experience. Music, singing, and visual surprises are part of the event. The air is electric, and you will want to be part of the excitement. Come early in the afternoon and wander around City Dock and see many of the yachts in the process of decorating for the evening parade. Two fleets participate and switch places mid-event: one circling in front of Eastport Yacht Club, City Dock and the Naval Academy Seawall, the other circles the length of Spa Creek, inside the bridge. Serving as Diamond title sponsor for the Lights Parade for the third year in a row is the Long & Foster Real Estate Eastport Office. A choice viewing spot is on the bridge near their office. Parking and shuttle buses will be provided from the Naval Academy Stadium on Rowe Boulevard and West Street garages. To get up to date information on parking, shuttle buses, viewing spots and more check out the www.eastportyc.or/lights-parade and the city website www.Annapolis.gov

Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

2022 Caribbean Journal Travelers’ Choice Awards

By Caribbean Journal Staff They are the world’s foremost experts on Caribbean travel: Caribbean Journal readers. They travel to the Caribbean multiple times each year, scouring the region for the newest and the greatest, searching out hotels, beaches, restaurants and experiences. And each year, they choose the best of the best: the winners of the Caribbean Journal Travelers’ Choice Awards. “There’s no larger community in the world of frequent travelers to the Caribbean than our readers,” said Alexander Britell, editor and publisher of Caribbean Journal. “Congratulations to all of this year’s winners! You have earned the ultimate seal of approval from those who know Caribbean travel better than anyone, the platinum standard of Caribbean tourism excellence.” This year’s Travelers’ Choice Awards honor champions in 24 different categories of travel, from hotels and resorts to honeymoons and weddings to rum bars, with more than 125,000 votes cast. “Participation for this year’s Awards was higher than ever before,” said Guy Britton, managing editor and EVP of Caribbean Journal. “It’s a good omen for what should be a banner 2023 for the whole Caribbean.” Publishers Note: We are happy to partner with Alexander Britell, Founder and Editor in Chief of the Miami, Florida based Caribbean Journal and his staff contributing to the OTC and our Caribbean Connection Section. Check out the popular online magazine/website at caribjournal.com for valuable information on all fabulous travel options and things of interest in the Caribbean. Not sure how you want to layout the list of Bests Best Luxury Resort in the Caribbean: Baoase Luxury Resort, Curacao Best All-Inclusive Resort in the Caribbean: Lopesan Costa Bavaro, Dominican Republic Best Family Resort in the Caribbean: The Verandah, Antigua Best Adults-Only Resort in the Caribbean: The Fred, St Croix Best Private Island Resort in the Caribbean: Palm Island, St Vincent and the Grenadines Best Boutique…

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

Meet Me At the Market: Visiting Some of the World’s Best Markets

By Scott Dicken Whenever I find myself writing about a new travel destination, I nearly always add a market to the list of places I recommend visiting. I find markets, unless they are specifically designed for tourists, a great way to learn more about a destination and its culture. As a result, I tend to find myself drawn towards them. With that in mind, this month I thought I’d share my favorite world markets. The results include night markets, food markets, the largest market in the world, a traditional souk, and a floating market. All-in-all, a well-rounded selection to cater to all tastes. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey: The Grand Bazaar is exactly as you imagine it to be – the screaming of stall vendors, the smell of incense and spice permeating the air, and a labyrinth of streets. With over 4,000 vendors spread across 60 streets I guess you could say the Grand Bazaar is a shopper’s paradise. The most important thing to remember is to shop around and haggle hard, but also consider arriving early in the morning when the sellers are most worried about meeting their daily quotas. Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok, Thailand: Reportedly the largest market in the World, and served by both the Bangkok BTS and MRT rail services, the market has an almost cult status amongst tourists. With over 15,000 stalls, and 200,000 visitors each week, it may seem a daunting task. However, the chaotic nature of the market melts away as you browse the huge selection of street foods, art, antiques and fashion. Be prepared to get lost, be prepared to not get the greatest of bargains, but also be prepared for a visual and sensory overload that makes it all worthwhile. Jemaa El Fnaa, Marrakech, Morocco: During the day, Jemaa El Fnaa square…

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