I am at my best when I am in motion. Whether it’s climbing a mountain or walking through town, I feel alive when my feet are moving and my heart rate is raised a level. On my first visit to Virginia’s Blue Ridge I discovered it’s a dream spot outdoor enthusiast to spend a week during the warmer months of the year.
My Blue Ridge Mountain Getaway began in the city in Roanoke where I exhausted my muscles with an indoor climbing session and worked up an appetite before Roanoke Food Tours took me around for afternoon of tasting local. The itinerary was a mixed bag of food experiences from longtime traditions like the instagrammable Texas Tavern and Lebanese food (there’s even a Lebanese Festival here each year) to bakery visits and mouthwatering chocolate tasting.
And in very American tradition I went to a Salem Red Socks game where we cheered, sipped on beer, and sank my teeth into a hotdog as we watched the players score runs as the sun set over the field. Walking through O Winston Link’s photography exhibit made me appreciate the rich history here and the sweeping green views from the lookout point just below the 100 foot freestanding Roanoke ‘Star’ provided scale for how much land there is to explore here in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
I’m all about trying new things so I signed up for a mountain bike tour through Carvin’s Cove Natural Reserve – the second largest municipal park in the nation – for about four hours. We covered a little over 12 miles beginning at Four Gorge Trail. When we stopped for a few picture breaks which allowed me to stretch out and enjoy the silence. There are more than 60 miles of trails in these parts for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders to enjoy.
As we biked with our guide Kristina from Roanoke Mountain Adventures, the landscape changed dramatically from steep downhills with rolling roots to maneuver across, rock beds, uphill climbs that gave your legs a run for heir money, and a few nice flats through thick trees – with a blue sky peeking through as I started above. What still felt largely undiscovered, I could have stayed there and stared up at the dotted trees where the blue sky peeked through for hours. There was hardly anyone on this trail that day. Kristina said on a busy day you might see 7 or 8 people back in these parts making it all the more memorable experience. It’s the kind of peace and quite back in the woods that you’d wish for on any workday of the week.
Nothing goes more hand in hand than a beer after a long day of outdoor adventures. So of course I loved exploring Virginia’s ‘Brew’ Ridge as well. Lot’s of craft brews (I’m into the dark stuff like the Brown Ale at Flying Mouse Brewery. And Sunken City Brewing Company was the perfect pitstop for some live music and tasting before turning in for the evening.
Another completely new adventure for me was trying out Wake Surfing for the first time with Smith Mountain Wake Co. on Smith Mountain Lake. When I lived in California I learned to wakeboard so I was excited to try wake surfing for the very first. What I thought would be one of the most challenging things I would attempt, I turned out to be a natural at. I popped up the first time let go of the rope and surfed my very first wake. I didn’t stay up long, but progressively got better over the hour. It took a lot of concentration, again keeping my mind from drifting to a long to do list at home.
Conquering Mountains on two wheels and riding waves like a pro on day one made me feel alive, energized, and most of all present, which was something I hadn’t felt in a really long time. Trying something new that required my full concentration allowed me the headspace I needed to refresh my mind.
Throughout my time I realized that the things that get me out of my comfort zone, the things that make me fully present, and the things that allow me the space to grow. An attempt at learning something new engrains long-lasting memories, new life lessons, and maybe even a few smile lines. The little adventure moments I find to weave into the fabric of life in-between the chaos of daily pitching, production, and edits brings me to a new state of presence that I can’t achieve or find anywhere else. These moments sweep my mind fully away and take it to a place where it can rest and play and recover…where I learn the tiniest of lessons that make the biggest of difference in my personal growth as a human. I finally realized all of this in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
If you’re looking for the same – a place to quiet your mind, try something you haven’t done before, you can find all of that too…on a Blue Ridge Mountain getaway.