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Beyond the Blue Ridge: Explore with Adios Adventure Travel

first_imgHave you always wanted to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu but found it difficult to get a permit for the trip? Sample native Incan dishes on a culinary adventure to Machu Picchu, or immerse yourself in the Amazon jungle. Tour the Bolivian Salt Flats, swim with the wildlife off the coast of the Galàpagos Islands, or hike to the tip of South America through Patagonia National Park. With trips in Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia, the experienced guides at Adios have intimate knowledge of the best spots to help give you an unforgettable vacation. These guides have personally been to all of the destinations and have established relationships with the local communities. This small and flexible company is a joint venture between a team in Virginia Beach and Peru. Want to know how the higher elevation might affect you, what equipment to bring, or if your kids can hike the trail? These professionals are prepared to answer all of your questions during the planning process and the trip. Whether you’re looking for an intense, multi-day backpacking trip or an easy day hike, the mountains and waters of South America are the perfect place to start. With dozens of trips to choose from and the ability to customize your experience, Adios Adventure Travel has something for everyone. Why Adios Adventure Travel? Groups of 11 of more can qualify for a discount when they travel for at least five days. With already unbeatable prices, Adios Adventure Travel provides an opportunity to see another part of the world without breaking the bank. Give us a call, text or email. Adios Adventure Travel has answers to all your questions. It costs nothing to ask. Follow us on Facebook @AdiosAdventureTravel, and Instagram and Twitter @adiosbasecamp.center_img They work with every client to create the perfect trip, from outdoor adventures and photography outings to honeymoons and glamping, and ensure that every trip is unique. They take care of all the details except your flight reservations. With a team in the country, Adios is prepared for any situation with local contacts and up to date information. Travel Responsibly Talk with someone from Adios Adventure Travel who has actually visited these sites at (757) 304-8002 or email them at info@adiosadventuretravel.com for more information on how to start planning your next trip. You will see why travelers love these one of a kind trips! The key principle at Adios Adventure Travel is ethical tourism, a way of traveling that takes into account the human impact on the planet. They work with programs that honor regional traditions and cultures while partnering with locally run businesses and boutique hotels. By focusing on authentic travel experiences, you can become an advocate for preservation and conservation around the world.  Adios Adventure supports the local communities in a variety of ways, from offering volunteer experiences organized by local leaders and participating in medical missions to advocating Leave No Trace and Travelers Against Plastic principles. They use local guides, drivers and locally sourced products. The local guides at Adios Adventure Travel have more than a decade of experience arranging unique trips and helping travelers realize the adventure of their lifetime.last_img read more

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first_imgWild Ponies of Chincoteague are put in corrals after visitors ignore ban An elephant at a park in South Africa trampled a suspected rhino poacher and then his body was eaten by a pride of lions, rangers at Kruger National Park said. Park officials noted that all that remained of the man was his skull and a pair of pants. Four of his accomplices were arrested, telling the man’s relatives that they had all been in the park to poach rhinos when an elephant killed him. This type of incident is not unheard of. Last year, lions killed as many as three rhino poachers at a South African game preserve. There are 20,000 wild rhinos living in South Africa, which make up about 80 percent of the world’s population. In the past decade, 7,000 rhinos have been illegally killed by poachers that sell rhino horns to the Asian market, where they go for about $9,000 per pound. The first motor vehicle fatality of the year has occurred on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The motorcyclist was traveling north on the parkway near Humpback Rocks at milepost 7. According to reports, the motorcyclist and two others entered a curb when one of the motorcyclists lost control and laid down his bike. Another motorcyclist, Da’juan Morrison of Rockingham, Va tried to avoid the downed biker and lost control of his bike. He was ejected from his motorcycle, hit a guardrail and was pronounced dead at the scene. In 2018 there were almost 300 motor vehicle accidents on the Blue Ridge Parkway, seven of which resulted in death. Motorcyclist dies on Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginiacenter_img A band of Chincoteague ponies have been corralled on Assateague Island after visitors to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia disregarded warnings and approached the animals. “We have tried numerous times to educate the public about the dangers of getting too close to the ponies,” Denise Bowden, spokesperson for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, who cares for the ponies, told the Salisbury Daily Times. “Still, people continue to do dangerous things when they encounter them.” Visitors are asked to stay at least 50 feet from the ponies and to restrain from feeding or touching the wild animals. South African rhino poacher is trampled by elephants and then eaten by lionslast_img read more

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Lynchburg, Virginia is an Outdoor Wonderland

first_img Scene 3 Lynchburg has been designated a Runner Friendly City by theRoad Runners Club of America! Stop by Riverside Runners for shoes,apparel, fuel and accessories before hitting the road. Just a few miles from downtown stands the Rivermont neighborhood, a turn-of-the-century gem filled with striking, ornate Victorian era homes. It’s there that you will find Riverside Park, a serene oasis with plenty of sites and activities for all. For parents and children, there is a playground and a Sprayground for a free afternoon activity during the summer months. There are a variety of secluded trails and breathtaking views of the James River waiting to be explored. For history lovers, there are historical artifacts and sites to see.  While walking throughout the park’s 49 acres, you can find a preserved early 20th century steam engine, the remains of the packet boat, Marshall, which carried the body of Stonewall Jackson to Lexington, and the Miller-Claytor House, a late 1700’s town house said to have been visited by Thomas Jefferson.    FishingPicnic Multi-use trails Nestled underneath the Blue Ridge Mountains and alongsidethe James River, Lynchburgers love to be outdoors enjoying the naturalsurroundings.  With dozens of parks and40 miles of urban and wooded trails, thousands come out daily to walk, jog, orbike in the fresh air.  And they love togreet visitors along the way and tell them of their favorite places to eat, getsome culture, and shop. Here are just a few of the scenic parks that are sureto please and the outfitters who serve these adventurers. To Do: Percival’s Island Natural Area James River Adventures Ivy Creek Park To Do: Riverfront Park Riverside Park Canoeing/KayakingFishingNature ZonePicnic/Play areaMulti-use trails To Do: Bikes Unlimited Riverside Runners Ivy Creek Park is an ideal location for avid natureadventurers. The park’s biggest attraction is Clemmons Lake, a perfect spot forcanoeing, kayaking or fishing. But if hiking or biking is more your fare, taketo their scenic multi-use trails. If you’re looking to spend some family time,along with the park’s picnic and play areas there is the Nature Zone, anauxiliary site filled with aquatic reptiles and amphibians.   center_img Percival’s Island is a familiar landmark in DowntownLynchburg.  Railroad tracks once crossed to the island for train cars tobe serviced, but now visitors may see herons, migrating waterfowl, and nativeplants and animals as they follow the Riverwalk Trail, which bisects thenatural area.  Anyone wishing to spend aquiet afternoon or quick bike ride while enjoying views of the James River willfind a lovely park with many special places to explore.  TaleTellers Fly Shop Rent a canoe or kayak for an hour or two onthe James River. There’s a sandy beach nearby for great swimming and fishing.Bring a picnic lunch for a relaxing day on the river. This wide open park is positioned perfectly between thehistoric James River and the stunning, 19th century architecture of Downtown’scityscape. It’s a favorite among locals as a great place for a pick-up game orfetch time with their four-legged friend. It’s also a favorite among parents asthe zero-depth fountain allows children to cool off with some water fun! Duringthe weekends, Riverfront Park often serves as a gathering place for numerousfestivals and events where you can hear great music, taste mouth-wateringcuisine, and drink the best local brews Whether looking to buy a bike, or just rent one for a fewhours on the trail, Bikes Unlimited has you covered. Blackwater Bike Shop TaleTellers Fly Shop offers free fly tying classes, flycasting lessons, and information on local rivers and lakes. They offer guidedtrips and gear rentals for those looking to learn.  To Do: Walking, Jogging, HikingGeocaching Sprayground/PlaygroundThree Tennis CourtsPacket boat Marshall Miller Claytor HouseEarly 20th century steam engine festivals/eventsZero-depth fountainPicnic This shop holds a variety of skateboard and biking gear. It alsois home to products made out of recycled skateboard decks. Blackwater Bike Shop carries a wide selection of bikes,gear and accessories including helmets, saddlebags and shoes. Find these Outfitters to help you gear up for your adventure in Lynchburg last_img read more

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Outdoor Updates: State of emergency expanded as Dorian approaches GA

first_imgOn August 30, the National Parks Service announced a new policy allowing e-bikes on its park trails and roads in hopes of increasing access to parks as well as decrease environmental impact. National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith said in an official statement that this new policy is for “people who want to ride a bicycle but might not otherwise do so because of physical fitness, age, disability, or convenience.” Water levels have the potential of reaching 3-5 feet along with a predicted 3-9 inches of rain. Surge-related flooding is possible and can rise “well in advance” of strong winds, possibly causing life-threatening flash floods, depending on how close Dorian spins towards the coast. Tornadoes are also a possible result. Kemp urges people to take the storm seriously in order to prevent injury and death. Gov. Brian Kemp on Wednesday expanded a state of emergency to include nine additional counties: Appling, Bacon, Bullock, Clinch, Echols, Evans, Screven, Tattnall and Ware counties are now included as Hurrican Dorian approaches, bringing the total to 21 counties. The Category 2 hurricane is expected to veer northwest to Georgia coast through tonight, the National Hurricane Center warned in an advisory at 8 a.m. The Department of Labor claims that the coal was mined in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and shouldn’t be moved until miners are paid. There will be a two-day hearing happening today and tomorrow that will likely determine the fate of the blockaded coal. State of Emergency Expanded as Dorian Approaches Georgia Coast National Parks Service to Allow E-Bikes on Its Trails and Roads Unpaid Miners of Harlan County have been Blocking Coal on a Kentucky Railroad Track for 38 Days The policy limits e-bikes to 750 watts of assistance, and states that the motor can only be used to help aid the user in pedaling. With this being a new policy, the NPS urges e-bike riders to check with individual parks before riding to ensure safety and awareness of specific rules to the park. With no warning, the nation’s sixth-largest coal company, Blackjewel LLC, declared bankruptcy on July 1st, leaving 1,700 employees out of work, in debt, and unpaid. last_img read more

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Two Tennessee hikers attempt FKT of Smokies trails to raise money for park

first_imgTwo Tennessee hikers attempt FKT of Smokies trails to raise money for park Damascus, Va. adds self-guided, walking history tour An attorney representing the victims told reporters that they are working “for the whole community who wants and deserves to have clean air and a place that they can raise their kids and have their families and not have to worry on a day-to-day basis that somebody’s getting cancer.” Last year, authorities in Illinois closed another sterilization plant owned by Sterigenics outside Chicago. The company is also facing lawsuits over the ethylene oxide emissions from that plant. The money will fund two seasonal rangers who will implement a robust PSAR program, according to East’s blog. “This program will undoubtedly save lives,” East says. Follow their progress on East’s Facebook page.  Six cancer victims are suing the operators of two Atlanta-area medical sterilization plants over their use of a gas containing toxic levels of ethylene oxide. The victims claim emissions from the Sterigencs plants caused their breast cancer and leukemia, Greenwire reports. Ethylene oxide was classified as a human carcinogen in 2016. The project was funded entirely by donations. “Hundreds of people walk by these [landmarks] every day,” said town historian Richard Smith. “[The signs] give a real view of what it was like here more than 100 years ago.” center_img Damascus, Va., known to Appalachian Trail aficionados as “the friendlies town on the Appalachian Trail,” has added a self-guided walking trail highlighting the rich history of the town. The self-guided tour includes 12 custom-designed signs placed along a 2-mile stretch in town at locations of historical importance.  Sunrise Landscape Great Smoky Mountains National Park Gatlinburg TN – courtesy of Getty Images by WerksMedia Two hikers from Tennessee plan to walk over 900 miles and raise $60,000 for Great Smoky Mountains National Park Preventative Search and Rescue. Nancy East and her hiking partner Chris Ford are attempting a fastest known time (FKT) attempt of hiking all the trails in the national park. Along the way, the duo plan to raise $60,000 for preventative search and rescue programs. Cancer patients sue over emissions from Ga. Plantslast_img read more

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Top Adventure Towns 2020

first_imgPick some apples and watch the sunset from Carter Mountain, ride the rooty network of singletrack at Walnut Creek Park, and explore the beautiful scenery around Ragged Mountain and Ivy Creek natural areas.  From hiking and climbing to whitewater rafting and hang gliding, Chattanooga is surrounded by waterways and forests to explore. Choose from a variety of adventures on the Tennessee River, from standup paddleboarding through downtown to kayaking through the towering cliffs of the gorge. Pack in a full day at Lookout Mountain, including a trip to the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public, views of seven states, and one of the world’s steepest passenger railways. Fifteen minutes from downtown, Raccoon Mountain features 30 miles of intermediate and advanced singletrack filled with technical obstacles.  With that in mind, we asked our readers to select the region’s best adventure hubs in our 10th annual Top Adventure Towns contest, which featured 100 towns across the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast competing for the title of best outdoor burg. Week by week, readers narrowed down the choices to pick their top tiny town (population less than 3,000), small-town (population 3,001-16,000), mid-sized town (population 16,001-75,000), and large town (population 75,001+).  Top Medium Town: Charlottesville, Va. (pop. 48,019) Top Tiny Town: Floyd, Va.(pop. 428) The Chattahoochee River runs right through Helen, Ga., providing endless opportunities for water play in the tiny mountain town. Raft, kayak, or tube sections of this scenic river, or ride Georgia’s first mountain coaster. Venture out farther to Unicoi State Park and the Chattahoochee National Forest for miles of mountain biking singletrack, hiking trails lined with waterfalls, and secluded spots for trout fishing. Anna Ruby Falls, a pair of towering, double waterfalls, are a must-see while you’re in the area.  Tucked away in southwest Virginia, Floyd combines the authentic feel of a quaint country town with a vibrant cultural scene in the Blue Ridge Mountains. “I feel like Floyd is a hidden gem,” said Floyd local Brittany Bonner. “It’s known for bluegrass music, art, and wineries, but there really is so much to do here as far as the outdoors.” To share the area’s adventure opportunities, Bonner and her husband opened Buffalo Mountain Adventures, which offers caving and climbing trips and driving tours of the area. “A lot of people come to Floyd, and they know there are options, but there’s nobody to really guide them,” she said.  The hike to Roaring Run Falls, just outside of Roanoke, Va., features a trout stream, natural waterslide, and rock walls. Photo by Sam Dean Photography–Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge Top Adventures When Matt and Leslie Evans saw property for sale on the French Broad River, they decided it would be the perfect place to open a paddling outfitter in Hendersonville, N.C. At the time, it was a relatively unused section of the river in comparison to stretches near Asheville and Brevard. That began to turn around in 2016 when the Evanses opened Lazy Otter Outfitters and the state started putting in public boat ramps. “We went from having almost no easy river access to having wonderful river access with multiple points,” Matt Evans said. “Even on a busy day, you can feel like you have Henderson County’s stretch of the river all to yourself.” The proposed Ecusta Trail, a 19-mile rail trail, is an exciting recreation opportunity in the works to connect parks, communities, and Pisgah National Forest.  Although 2020 was not the year we thought it would be, it offered many of us the opportunity to slow down and fully explore the mountains, waterways, and parks in our Blue Ridge backyards.   Woodstock, Ga. (pop. 32,234) Readers Pick This Year’s Best Outdoor Hubs Floyd, Va., offers a variety of backroad biking experiences, including Tour de Dirt in the fall. Photo by Tony Greatorex Top Small Town: Bedford, Va. (pop. 6,597) After traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway as a kid, Micah Pick decided he wanted to live in a small town in the Blue Ridge one day. As a college student in Virginia, he would explore the area looking for places to hike. “I drove through Bedford and I said, ‘wow, this place is perfect.’ So I bought a house in town and I’ve been here for eight years,” Pick said. From his front door, he can hike Sharp Top Mountain and be back home in two hours.  Finalists Hendersonville, N.C. (pop. 15,166) Top Adventures Hot Springs, Va. (pop. 750) In the 24 years since starting as the Roanoke Valley Greenways coordinator, Liz Belcher has worked with a variety of government and nonprofit partners to build more than 30 miles of greenway across the valley. “What really makes Roanoke special in terms of being an adventure town is that no matter where you live, you can drive 15 minutes and get to a trail,” she said. “Or ride your bike for 15 minutes and get to a greenway. There are just so many close-to-home opportunities. We are really blessed with public lands.” The paved greenways link downtown and neighborhoods to popular recreation spots like Mill Mountain Park and Carvins Cove.  Hart and her husband own Blue Mountain Adventures, a public/private partnership with Explore Park to offer camping, shuttles, and gear for beginner and experienced adventurers. “[I] love where I live, which I guess is what has inspired me to be so committed to my small business project here,” Hart said. “It’s an opportunity to create, build, and be a part of something that I believe brings good to our community and promotes the outdoors for all.”   Featuring more than 250 waterfalls, Brevard, N.C., and the surrounding county boasts the highest concentration of waterfalls on the East Coast, from ledge-style falls to tumbling cascades. Demacy Monte-Parker, a yoga teacher at Brevard Yoga Center and Namaste in Nature, leads a hike and yoga session to Hooker Falls in Dupont State Forest. “We get the world from a different perspective because most of the time when we’re outside we’re not laying on our back and looking up,” she said. “I love allowing yourself to tune into the sounds around you and grounding down to the earth.”  For hiking, Hess recommends the Cascade Gorge Trail for views of several waterfalls and unusual plant life. Mountain bikers should try Deer Lick Trail for stunning views of the valley and challenging terrain or Fore Mountain for a thrilling 45-minute ride downhill.  With all of the water in the area, there are countless opportunities to cast a line or paddle. If you prefer to stay on land, the granite plutons provide an abundance of slick rock singletrack mountain biking trails and challenging climbing routes. Float or paddle the James and Roanoke rivers, hike the Appalachian Trail to Virginia’s Triple Crown, and mountain bike at Carvins Cove.  The Saunders-Monticello Trail in Charlottesville, Va., is a great way for the whole family to get outside. Photo by Sanjay Suchak Erin James and Seth Herman have noticed the increase, too. Since the couple opened High Tor Gear Exchange, they’ve worked with close to 1,500 consignors to resell outdoor apparel and gear. With two kids under the age of four, they said it’s a great town for outdoor families, noting a favorite activity is to pack a picnic and ride the Rivanna Trail to Darden Towe Park. “We could go somewhere different every weekend for a really long time,” James said. “It feels doable. There are a lot of ways to get outside that are within reach.”  An ever-growing network of trails encircles the city with a mixture of paved greenways and hand-built singletrack. Multiple parks along the Rivanna offer a variety of places to put in and take out a canoe or kayak. “When you paddle out of town on the Rivanna, you can see bald eagle, catch smallmouth bass, and enjoy some rapids,” Silver said. “It’s all right here.” Charlottesville’s location in the foothills of the Blue Ridge offers easy access to some of the region’s classic scenic gems. Just a half hour’s drive west you can reach the southern terminus of Shenandoah National Park and northern entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. But when Gabe and Sonya Silver decided to move back to Charlottesville, they wanted to help others tap into the adventure opportunities right in town. So six years ago, they opened Rivanna River Company, a paddling outfitter on the edge of the Rivanna River, right near downtown. “In terms of paddling, mountain biking, trail running, I don’t know that Charlottesville is on the top of everyone’s radar,” Gabe Silver said. “But all of that stuff is available in abundance around here.” Top Large Town: Roanoke, Va. (pop. 96,000) Having grown up in Roanoke, Holly Hart was shocked when she moved back in 2015 by the amount of recreation infrastructure development that had gone on during the few years she lived out west. “Roanoke is perfectly nestled in the valley of a chain of mountains, like it’s surrounding us with a hug,” she said. “We live in a beautiful valley and are fortunate enough to run into a mountain or a river most any direction you go.”    In a college town known for its wineries, breweries, and history, the outdoor recreation possibilities are attracting a growing number of visitors and locals. “Interest in the river had been on the rise even before we started,” Silver said. “Having an outfitter in town really put the river on the map as something to do. This year with COVID and quarantine, the lid has come off it. We saw pretty much double the use of the river than ever before this year.”  Boone, N.C. (pop. 17,100) With an increasing interest in the river from both locals and visitors, Sowers started On the Water in Floyd in 2008. Now, from fly fishing on nearby streams to cycling the rolling backroads, he’s seeing more visitors come to Floyd for the outdoor opportunities. “During the summer of the first year, we helped 100 people,” he said. “That was a big year. Now, we run 115 people a day [on a busy weekend].”Top Adventures Melissa Weddell moved to Boone for a job with Appalachian State University’s Recreation Management program. The past president of the Boone Area Cyclists said the eight miles of trail, four skills areas, and pump track at Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park has become a go-to hangout spot for the community. “In the past 10 years, it’s changed our total dynamic,” Weddell said. “We’ve all worked together in the community to create different types of outdoor experiences based on comfort level.”  A chef and avid mountain biker, Justin Balmes has always been drawn to towns with a bustling food and outdoor scene. Woodstock provided the perfect blend of the two. “The green space of Woodstock is just gorgeous with phenomenal trails,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about them.” Blankets Creek and Rope Mill feature miles of fast, flowy singletrack for mountain bikers of all abilities. Balmes’ favorite trails in town are Van Michael, Turbine, and Raceway. You can also walk miles of paved greenway along Noonday Creek or paddle to the parks and creeks off Allatoona Lake. Chattanooga, Tenn. (pop. 180,000) Finalists Fly through the trees at Buffalo Mountain Ziplines, one of the tallest and longest tree canopy tours in the area, and drive 40 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, including a stop at Mabry Mill. For hikers visiting the area, Bonner recommends Buffalo Mountain Natural Area and Rock Castle Gorge for panoramic views of southwest Virginia.FinalistsHelen, Ga. (pop. 524) This year’s winners boast miles of nearby trails, summits, and serene waters, and hold communities passionately prioritizing access to the outdoors.  When he moved to Hot Springs for his job at the Omni Homestead Resort, John Hess quickly fell in love with the natural beauty of the area. “There are many, many mapped trails around that are not highly traveled,” he said. “I love that remote feeling when you go out and you don’t hear any traffic. It seems that everywhere you turn, there’s a gorgeous view right around the corner.”  Pick’s three children are also hooked on the outdoor opportunities Bedford presents. “Every day of the summer and every Saturday during the school year they say to me, ‘Dad, what’s going to be our adventure today?’ This year, my seven year old hiked up Sharp Top for the first time. It was like a rite of passage, and she was so proud of herself,” Pick said. Although paved trails take a lot of time and money to implement, local residents have come to expect the greenways as everyday amenities. “It has just become part of their life,” Belcher said. “It’s like if you never lived without public libraries, you can’t imagine not having your library to go get books. People can no longer imagine not having the greenways. It has allowed the region to build a system that connects not just what the local government owns but the National Forest and Appalachian Trail.”  Other favorites include the rocky climbs, ladders, and challenging hiking terrain at Grandfather Mountain, plus some classic East Coast climbing at nearby Ship Rock. In the winter, locals head to nearby resorts like Appalachian Ski Mountain and Beech Mountain Resort to hit the High Country slopes. Special thanks to River Expeditions for sponsoring the 2020 Top Adventure Towns contest. Please check local guidelines and regulations before making plans to get outside. Check locations to make sure access is open to the public. Remember to practice social distancing guidelines, wear a mask, and respect others’ health when outside.  Asheville, N.C. (pop. 92,000) In the mountains of western North Carolina, Asheville sits surrounded by outdoor recreation opportunities. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to a variety of overlooks and hikes, including Craggy Pinnacle and Mount Mitchell State Park. Take a trip on the French Broad River Paddle Trail past the Biltmore Estate, through town, and out to national forest land with several camping spots along the way. Run or bike the trails at Bent Creek Experimental Forest along flowing streams, laurel-rhododendron thickets, and hardwood forests.   Bike the hand-built trails at Falling Creek Bike Park, including the dirt jumps, hike the Peaks of Otter off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and get on the water at Smith Mountain Lake. If you have a full day, Pick recommends the Terrapin Mountain hike for a challenging loop within Jefferson National Forest. When he’s with his kids, the Claytor Nature Center is a great stop to walk the trail system by streams, woodlands, wetlands, and wildlife at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Brevard, N.C. (pop. 7,600) Daniel Sowers had a similar idea, but he focused on the Little River, his longtime favorite for floating and fishing. Sowers had a few extra boats, so at first he would invite friends to spend the day out on the water with him. After helping people find put-in spots and set up shuttles, he began to see a potential business opportunity opening up. “Back then, it wasn’t a river scene but it was starting to get bigger,” Sowers said.  Finalists Beyond the trails and prime location in the mountains, Bedford has become a top destination in Virginia for disc golf. In 2008, a local group approached the parks and recreation department about building a course at Falling Creek Park, which offered long, open fairways, whereas most courses in Virginia are largely wooded. “A lot of people [started] traveling to Bedford just to play this course because it was so different,” said Kenny Palmer, operations coordinator for the parks and recreation department. “It’s a cheap activity, so it’s something most people can get outside and do.” Since the opening of the first course, opportunities to play have multiplied. With the help of pro disc golfer Paul McBeth, who resides in Bedford, there are now four courses in the area with plans to build an additional championship level course in the coming months.  Top Adventures Cover Photo: Hike Sharp Top for stunning views of Bedford, Va. Photo by Lee Sandsteadlast_img read more

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Juanes Concert with U.S. Military Forces in Conflictive Colombian Port

first_imgBy Dialogo June 09, 2009 Mientras, el embajador estadounidense William Brownfield propuso crear una entidad para coordinar la ayuda a esas personas y sus familias. Tumaco, June 8, 2009 (AFP) – Colombian singer Juanes gave a concert on Sunday with a US military band in the sendoff of a navy hospital ship of that country in the conflictive port of Tumaco on the Pacific coast. Juanes and “Banda del Comfort ” (Comfort’s Band) performed at a school in the second port in the Colombian Pacific, where until June 14, will be held humanitarian mission, in which 650 health professionals, mostly from the U.S. armed forces, will examine and treat about 10,000 patients. The artist, a standard-bearer of cause against antipersonnel mines in his country, described the concert as a “rare experiment” because on that Sunday, he met new musicians , and he was pleased with the performance of his hits “La Camisa Negra” and ” Me Enamora.” “That sounded good, guys!” said the rocker, who sang four other songs in his repertoire for dozens of patients and other inhabitants of Tumaco (1,200 km southwest of Bogotá), who were visiting for the first time. “It was an honor to perform with Juanes; he is a very famous artist and a remarkable person who does great work for the poor,” Sergeant Guy Cantonwine, who played, bass told AFP. The show marked the beginning of the mission of Comfort, a huge hospital ship that was previously in Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, the Dominican Republic, and Panama. After visiting Colombia, it continued to Nicaragua and El Salvador. On the boat, one of two in the United States Navy, sail about 920 people , including 200 crew members, 70 civilian sailors and medical equipment. Several patients are scheduled to undergo complex operations aboard the boat, three miles off the coast. Civilian personnel from Spain, Holland, Chile, Brazil, Canada and France is also part of the mission. Juanes, a special guest of the United States Embassy in Bogotá, thanked for including Tumaco in the Continuous Promise mission, because it is an area where violence converge in Colombia, he said to AFP. “It’s wonderful to see people in need getting help,” said the singer, expressing his concern about the increasing violence in Tumaco and about the way mines are affecting more and more people in the department of Nariño, where the port is. The composer met with six mines’ victims. According to the Colombian government, mines have killed or wounded around 7,500 people since 1990, reason for which Juanes pledged to work for them through his foundation “Mi Sangre”(“My Blood”). Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador William Brownfield has proposed to establish an organization to coordinate assistance to these individuals and their families. Brownfield announced that his country would focus its efforts toward cooperation with Colombia in Tumaco in the coming years, because he believed the region “concentrates many threats” such as armed conflict, drug trafficking – it is one of the major drug-delivery centers – forced displacement, and poverty. “It’s a reality on which we must concentrate our efforts in many ways,” said the ambassador, whose country gave Bogotá about 5,500 million dollars in military aid since 2000 under Plan Colombia.last_img read more

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first_img The terrorist group is striking small blows and falling back, because the presence of the authorities is not allowing it to carry out large actions, the head of state revealed. In his speech during the Conference for Prosperity, President Santos additionally highlighted the cooperation of Venezuela and Ecuador in the fight against crime along the borders. “The FARC are desperate, trying to strike blows on all sides, because in El Cauca, for example, they’re trying to strike blows on every side, because in El Cauca, for example, we’ve gone up on the mountain and stayed there. So they’re desperate, trying to get the government forces to come down, to get the Army to descend,” the president explained. He said that an example of these blows that the guerrilla group is seeking to strike took place this week in Arauca with the attack on a post held by government forces. There, once the attack was over, they tried to take refuge in Venezuela, where they were arrested by the authorities of that neighboring country. “In Arauca, they attacked a Marine post. Unfortunately, they murdered three of our Marines on [17 March] and rapidly fell back, went to Venezuela; this was on the border. “Two of the ELN bandits who had committed the attack were arrested; they’re wounded. Once they’re able to be moved, they’re going to turn them over to us,” President Santos said. Cooperation on the Borders In view of this action by the Venezuelan authorities, the president highlighted the two countries’ cooperation in the fight against crime along their border. “I want to thank the Venezuelan government for that attitude, that collaboration. They’re going to turn over four other criminals to us on [21 March]; the police are going to go for them, and we’re collaborating there with the Venezuelan government,” the head of state indicated. He also highlighted Ecuador’s cooperation in combatting crime in the border area. “Ecuador’s collaboration has been an increasingly effective collaboration, as both our police generals and the generals of our Army can confirm,” President Santos indicated, reiterating that this collaboration facilitates the fight against crime in both countries. By Dialogo March 22, 2011last_img read more

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EU Steps Up Measures Against Money Laundering

first_imgBy Dialogo February 07, 2013 The European Commission said February 5, it needs to step up the fight against money laundering as criminals and terrorists constantly find new ways around existing regulations. Accordingly, it plans to make it more difficult to get illicit funds through the financial system and to tighten up information disclosure on money transfers so as to make them more transparent and traceable. “Flows of dirty money can damage the stability and reputation of the financial sector, while terrorism shakes the very foundations of our society,” EU Internal Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier said in a statement. “Our aim is to propose clear rules that reinforce the vigilance by banks, lawyers, accountants and all other professional concerned,” Barnier said. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said “dirty money has no place in our economy, whether it comes from drug deals, the illegal guns trade or trafficking in human beings. “Our banks should never function as laundromats for mafia money, or enable the funding of terrorism.” Notably, the new measures will cover the gambling sector, rather than just casinos as previously, while the minimum cash payment threshold covered will be reduced to $7,500 from $15,000. The Commission’s proposals require approval by the EU’s 27 member states and the European Parliament. Separately, EU Justice Commissioner proposed new legal measures against the counterfeiting of the euro, including strengthening cross-border investigations and introducing minimum penalties for the most serious offences.last_img read more

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Faithful to Duty

first_img Since 2011, Salvadoran troops also have been in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by NATO and established by the U.N. Security Council. “The objective is to help the Afghan Government extend and exercise its authority and influence in the territory, as well as to create the conditions necessary for the country’s postwar reconstruction and stabilization,” Major General César Adonay Acosta Bonilla, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces of El Salvador told Diálogo in September 2012. In the Middle East Salvadoran troops have been part of UNIFIL since June 2008. They are assigned to the infantry unit of the Spanish contingent. “We are working within this division of UNIFIL so that one day the responsibility may be transferred to the Lebanese Armed Forces, but until that happens, the United Nations must maintain control in order to supervise the cease in hostilities,” Col. Hernández explained. Daysi Carolina Danker/Diálogo staff When Lebanese Soldiers see the Salvadoran flag on the Soldiers’ uniforms, they recognize them as friends and place their right hand over their heart. The gesture symbolizes the good relationship Salvadorans have developed in distant lands as defenders of world peace. “These things immediately identify the Salvadorans, who are well-loved by the Lebanese personnel,” said Colonel Carlos Alfredo Hernández of the Salvadoran Army. He commanded El Salvador’s 6th contingent of 52 Soldiers deployed in Lebanon from September 2011 to July 2012. His mission was to serve as a Blue Helmet of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and supervise the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. Coming from a nation that lived through a 12-year civil war, many Salvadoran Soldiers feel it is their duty to help other nations achieve peace. In addition to UNIFIL, El Salvador participates in the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), the U.N. Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the U.N. Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and the U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). From 2003 to 2008, El Salvador was the only Latin American country to maintain troops in Iraq. Some 4,000 Salvadoran Soldiers from the Cuscatlán Battalion participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom by providing help with peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and security. According to Maj. Gen. Acosta, the first contingents contributed to the organization and training of the Iraqi Police and Army. Approximately 7 million Iraqis benefited from more than 350 projects, including electric lighting; sanitation; water distribution; construction of health clinics, schools and bridges; and improvement in communications. Maj. Gen. Acosta said projects valued at more than $24 million were implemented, with funds provided by the U.S. and other countries of the coalition. More than 190 civic actions were carried out by Salvadorans in Iraq to foster ties with communities. He believes Salvadoran Soldiers embark on such missions knowing they are important for their country. The Soldiers also are aware of the challenges they will face, such as differences in culture, language, religion and customs, as well as separation from their families, adverse weather conditions and the time difference. “Nevertheless, our Soldiers are admirable and easily adapt to these conditions. They are very friendly and do not have trouble adapting,” he said. The mission in Iraq left five Salvadoran Soldiers dead and 55 wounded. “We have paid our dues for peace in Iraq,” Maj. Gen. Acosta said. “As Salvadoran Soldiers, we devotedly execute the mission given to us.” In September 2012, the eighth rotation of Salvadoran troops that would travel to Lebanon was undergoing training in tasks such as organization, humanitarian aid, humanitarian law and human rights before leaving for Zaragoza, Spain. They train there for three months, forming special teams for humanitarian demining, the medical corps, and the infantry, which is responsible for patrolling the border alongside Lebanese Armed Forces. The mission lasts 10 months. Likewise, personnel from the third rotation to be deployed in Afghanistan were preparing to make up two teams that would advise and train the Afghan Police and Afghan Air Force. El Salvador is expanding its peacekeeping missions abroad. In February 2013, the country sent its first military contingent to join the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), according to the Salvadoran Ministry of Defense. The 34 Soldiers have been carrying out patrols and security activities for six months. While this is the first Salvadoran Military contingent in Haiti, the country has sent 14 members of the National Civil Police on peacekeeping missions in Haiti in the past. Mission Accomplished By Dialogo April 01, 2013last_img read more

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