Tag Archives: Virginia

Spring Break: Is Florida Really the Best Place?

Every year, spring break rolls around, and every year, the most popular thing to do is go to Florida for the week. And what’s not to love about sun, sand, and surf? But is it really all that it is cracked up to be?

One of the problems with going to Florida for spring break is that everyone goes there. It becomes an extremely crowded place where you have to fight for every step you take. It seems a little ridiculous to have to deal with massive overcrowding when you’re trying to relax. Then there is the drive to Florida. Obviously, it differs depending on where you are, but here in Virginia, it is roughly a 10 to 12-hour drive just to get to Florida, and the time increases the further south you go into the state. Now some people like road trips, and some people don’t, but I cannot imagine anyone enjoying being in a crowded car on crowded highways for 10 to 12 hours.

beach week
“One of the problems with going to Florida for spring break is that everyone goes there. It becomes an extremely crowded place where you have to fight for every step you take.” Photo from: https://www.washingtonian.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/bethany-beach-delaware_featured-994×559.jpg

I am not trying to say that Florida and going to the beach cannot be fun. Being able to relax on sunny shores and swimming and playing in the ocean is a great way to spend your time. There are also great places to eat down in Florida and, of course, plenty of fresh seafood. There’s a reason why Florida is such a popular place to go, and this is a well-earned title. However, I do not think it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Probably sooner rather than later, people tend to run out of things to do. There’s only so much beach sitting and ocean swimming you can do. And I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason everyone goes to Florida is because that’s just the thing to do. Everyone else is going to the beach, so why shouldn’t you? But, then again, not everyone enjoys the same things and if people have fun going to Florida and the beach, then why not? It’s spring break; do whatever you’ll enjoy doing.

5 Ways Miami, Florida is Very Different From Virginia

When I went to Miami I was expecting some things to be a little different from Virginia and my everyday life but I didn’t expect there to be so many large and significant differences between the two states, or even between one city and a whole state. Here are five major differences between Miami, Florida and Virginia as a whole.

  1. The sand is whiter and the ocean is clearer

The sand is so white which is very different from any of the beaches in Virginia. I’m from Virginia Beach and the sand there is still soft and pretty but it’s not nearly as white and thin as the sand that covers the Miami beaches. Also the water in Miami is a lot clearer than that of the beaches in Virginia. In Virginia the water is almost a murky color but in Miami the water is blue and very clear.

  1. The prices are jacked up

The prices for drinks at clubs and bars is almost ridiculous. At one club we went to, a single drink was 36 dollars, meaning that a double would’ve been somewhere around 60 dollars. That seems like I’m lying but I’m not the prices were really that high. Food and clothing were also this way, fortunately in Virginia the prices are not as bad as Miami.

3. The clubs are open 24 hours

“The sand is so white.”

People who live in Virginia are normally used to bars being closed around 2 am but in Miami that’s when everyone is just arriving at the bars. It’s crazy to think people in Miami leave their homes to go out at 2 am when people in Virginia are just getting home around this time. It was hard to adjust to the time change of getting home at 5 am and not waking up until 12 or 1 every day. That’s something I definitely couldn’t do as a lifestyle, every day occurrence.

  1. Drinks, Dinner, and a show all in one place

In Miami, they have hundreds of bars and clubs where you can get drinks, dinner, and a show and by show I mean dancing, sometimes naked, women. They are on every corner down in South Beach, Miami. It was crazy to see at first because I couldn’t believe this was allowed and a common occurrence down here. That’s something you wouldn’t see down on a boardwalk in Virginia Beach. It was definitely an experience I have never had before seeing all of the chaos down in South Beach.

  1. The open attitude everybody has

Everyone in Miami has a very open and out there mind set. Guys don’t mind walking up to you even if they’re a complete stranger and trying to ask for your phone number or to hang out. Not just guys are this way in Miami, all the girls are very open as well they don’t care if they don’t know you they’ll ask to hangout or what your plans are for the night or for a guy’s phone number without thinking twice about it.

Miami was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so glad I got the chance to go and have that as a memory for the rest of my life. I don’t think I would be able to ever live down there with all of the chaos and crazy lifestyles but it’s definitely a beautiful place to visit every now and then.

Thoughts About Florida

This past spring break I took a trip to Miami, Florida. I was expecting the water to be clearer and the sand to be whiter, which it was. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was everything else to be different than Virginia as well. Miami is a predominantly Spanish speaking community so whether you’re ordering food, walking along the beach and listening to the locals, or ordering an uber driver, everyone is speaking in Spanish. This isn’t a bad thing however if you don’t know how to speak or at least understand Spanish you could have a difficult time navigating around and getting what you need. Fortunately a couple of my friends who traveled with me spoke Spanish so we didn’t have a problem with that at all.

Another thing I noticed is a difference in the night life. Even when I’ve visited Northern Virginia I’ve never seen people party like I did in Miami. The nightclubs and bars are open until 5 in the morning and some of them never even close. It’s a crazy and hectic environment when you’re out at night but it’s definitely worth it. Everywhere we went I had so much fun and thought it was a totally different experience than just going out anywhere in Virginia.

Of course Miami is a place where tourists often visit so their prices are obviously higher due to this. However, I wasn’t expecting such a raise in prices on everything I was buying. Food, drinks, clothes, everything was so expensive I could hardly believe it. I remember the cheapest drink I saw was 18 dollars for a single, where as I’m used to 2 dollar doubles at Sharkey’s on Thursdays during happy hour. It was definitely a culture shock visiting Miami for those of us who live in Virginia but I think it was overall an amazing experience that I’ll never forget

Graphic by Katie Gibson
The  day and night life in Florida are very different than in Virginia. Graphic by Katie Gibson

Virginia is underrated

Many television shows and movies take place in great big cities with lots of people and towering buildings. The most common cities movies will take place in are Los Angeles and New York City, of course. These cities are beautiful in their own way, but California and New York are grossly overrated when you compare them to the state we live in.

Virginia has a wide range of diverse ecosystems. From the sandy beaches of Chincoteague to the rolling mountains of Southwest Virginia, there’s a lot to appreciate in this great state that we often take for granted. Growing up in an Air Force family, I got to move around and experience many wonderful places. As much as I hate to admit it, Virginia is probably the second most beautiful place I’ve lived in, if not the most beautiful.

“These cities are beautiful in their own way, but California and New York are grossly overrated when you compare them to the state we live in.”

I was born in Florida and spent a total of 7 years of my life there. Florida will always be my home, but when I compare Florida to Virginia, I can appreciate the fact that this state is so colorful in comparison to Florida. Here, there are beautiful beaches, seemingly endless marshes, thick forests and towering hills. In Florida, there are swamps, lots of beaches and more swamps. Some areas of Florida have thick, beautiful woods but there are limited species of trees. Also, the geography is quite plain with very few hills and no mountains at all.

Even though I live very close to West Virginia, which is a beautiful state, overall it’s not as exciting to me. The mountains of West Virginia are beautiful and go on for days. That’s just the problem, though. The mountains go on throughout the whole state with no breaks as you drive through it. Although the mountains are majestic and make you feel very small, they begin to feel quite claustrophobic. The beauty of Virginia is that as you drive through it, you see varying ecosystems.

In September, my boyfriend and I traveled from Radford to Chincoteague. I had wanted to visit Chincoteague since I moved to Virginia and I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to finally visit this magical area. Driving through the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is a lot to see when compared to driving through West Virginia. Along with mountains, you can see  vineyards taking over the sides of hills, hundreds of small creeks along with larger flowing watersheds. In Richmond, you see skyscrapers carefully placed overlooking the James River. In Virginia Beach, the eye can see the ocean seemingly going on forever. My favorite part, however, is Chincoteague itself. On one side, there is a calm, slow-moving bay edged with marshes, and on the other, the roaring ocean slams against the sand and the wind takes your breath away with its salty-sweetness.

Although I miss the white-as-snow beaches of Florida, and the emerald-colored bathwater Gulf of Mexico, it still doesn’t compare to the diverse beauty that can be found in our grossly underrated state. Even though we all will dream of the great cities of Los Angeles and New York City, and long to live that Hollywood fairy-tale lifestyle, we’re still lucky. We’re lucky to live in a state that, even though it was settled long ago, still remains naturally beautiful.

Local music festival announces jam-packed lineup

Country and bluegrass music fans rejoiced Tuesday, April 22 when the 2014 lineup for the  in Bristol, Va. / Tenn. was announced. Brent Treash, the chair of the Music Committee for the festival, announced the lineup via a press conference, which was filmed and posted to YouTube shortly after the event. Continue reading Local music festival announces jam-packed lineup

Mardi Gras is coming to Virginia

Blue Mountain School is bringing Mardi Gras to Floyd, Va.

On March 1 from 6:30 p.m. to midnight, BMS will host their fifth annual Tom Ryan Memorial Mardi Gras Costume Ball. This year’s celebration will be housed in the Floyd EcoVillage Celebration Hall. The event is for those 18 years and older.

The fundraiser is a memorial for Tom Ryan, a well known and respected business man from Floyd, Va. The event is being hosted with interest in raising money to send high schoolers to New Orleans for a school trip. There will be live music from musicians such as Kerry Hurley, Hoppie Vaughan, Tome Snediker, Jamiel Allen and George Penn. The music alone is sure to impress.

mardi gras
Mardi Gras attire. Photo from Google.

When it comes to the food, guests will be able to taste BMS’ culinary arts creations. The students will be lead by Jason Loftus who worked as the lead saucier at the House of Blues. Guests can expect to be won over by the food. If they’re not, they can turn to the drinks sponsored by Buffallo Mountain Kombucha, Parkway Brewing Company and Villa Appalaccia.

What would a school fundraiser be without a silent auction? The auction will include an original Mardi Gras poster by Emily Williamson, a print of the portrait of Tom Ryan by Greg Ward and numerous other contributions.

The costume part of this costume ball has not been forgotten. Prizes will be awarded for the best drag costumes, best rainbow outfit and more. A grand prize of Chef’s Choice for two at Mickey G’s will be awarded to the single best costume.

If you’re worried about finding a babysitter for your kids, you’re in luck! BMS will also be throwing a Kiddy Gras! Teacher Corey Avellar will keep your children entertained and occupied with be a number of activities and treats. The kids will also be allowed to wear costumes; can you say pajama party?

Tickets for both events can be bought online. Tickets for Mardi Gras are $12 online and $15 at the door. Tickets for Kiddy Gras are $12, and must be purchased online ahead of the event.

RU Home for the Summer: Stafford, Va.

There are five high schools in my county, and every spring the juniors at each one develop a very particular kind of restlessness. As their glorious last year — and the reality of college and the future — approaches, they all make the same passionate declaration.

Welcome to Stafford. Photo by Rachel Klein.
Welcome to Stafford. Photo by Rachel Klein.

“I can’t wait to get out of Stafford,” they say. Continue reading RU Home for the Summer: Stafford, Va.

RU Home for the Summer: Roanoke, Va.

I love Roanoke, but I can’t say it’s particularly interesting.

Roanoke is strange in that combines a dense population one normally associates with cities and a conspicuous lack of smog.

Roanoke isn’t the most beautiful place to live, but it’s not the ugliest. It’s not the least polluted, and it’s not the most polluted by any stretch of the imagination. Honestly, the appropriate word seems to be “boring.” You’re more likely to find a church than you are to find a decent bar or club to spend your weekends at, and while no one could call Roanoke a “sleepy” city, its energy cannot and will not rival metropolises like Chicago or Richmond. It’s a little middling — not an escape from anything, not a shot of adrenaline, just … normal. Boring. Continue reading RU Home for the Summer: Roanoke, Va.

Kill your kids or die trying

Smoking tobacco has always been something I’ve felt very strongly about. It’s one of those topics that gets me really fired up and makes me want to have a debate. Why tobacco is even legal in the first place is beyond me, so when I heard that Virginia was trying to pass a law that would make it illegal for anyone to smoke in the car when someone under the age of 15 is with them I was ecstatic. “About damn time” was the first thing I thought, followed quickly by, “Why the hell didn’t they think of that sooner?” Continue reading Kill your kids or die trying

S.O.S from voter ID?

In an election year, every issue seems to become both more delicate and more pressing. By putting forth two different candidates from two different parties, we as a country are ultimately putting forth all our views, positions and principles, and then deciding who is most in line with them. It’s a fascinating process, and an opportunity to examine ourselves as people, party members and political entities. But the deeply personal nature of the issues themselves can make the practice complicated and even destructive. Continue reading S.O.S from voter ID?

Biomass fueling Virginia

Photo from Creative Commons.

A few Dominion Virginia Power plants are being reformatted to run on renewable biomass. This conversion will allow the plants to create cleaner, more efficient energy for Virginians.

The three Dominion plants set to be reworked are the Southampton, Altavista and Hopewell plants. Two of these plants, Southampton and Hopewell, have opted to use Enviva wood waste as a means to produce the 50 kw of power expected to be made as a result of the conversion. This is a drop of 13 kw in their current output power.

Though biomass produces less power, it also produces fewer byproducts. With coal-fired plants, companies had to worry about scrubbing toxic components out of smoke stacks. Some of these toxic components, such as sulfur dioxide and mercury, along with other particulates released by coal-fired plants, lower air quality and are a health concern for residents near the plants.

A Dominion power plant in Virginia. Photo from Creative Commons.

Enviva wood chips, expected to be used in the Southampton and Hopewell plants, are a renewable fuel source. Enviva’s biomass wood chips make use of bark and tree limbs from responsibly harvested trees. This is not always the case. Some of this renewable fuel source is created through the byproduct of paper and wood mills. The wood chips from the mills are compacted into pellets, which then burn at very high temperatures, making them ideal to turn power turbines and produce energy for Virginia.

This move to use biomass as a fuel source is part of Dominion’s strategy to comply with the voluntary regulations encouraged by the state of Virginia. The voluntary regulations are aimed at getting 15% of Virginia’s overall power from renewable resources by 2025. This would decrease the amount of pollution and encourage sustainable power for the future.

Biomass being used to power plants has been slow to catch on; while there are several plants across the nation that use this form of power production, the vast majority remain coal powered plants. Biomass-powered plants are a novelty, even among those who source their own power. While this form of renewable energy has taken off slower than wind power or solar power, it is a cheaper alternative to those existing methods. The conversion of a coal-fired plant to a biomass-powered plants is relatively cheap and simple.

Wood biomass. Photo from Creative Commons.

It will be interesting to see if biomass becomes the energy of the future. Every day there seems to be more effort put into renewable fuel sources. As cheaper and more practical sources become more common, they will be the building blocks for all-inclusive renewable energy to be more than just a dream.