Best Trail Town 2013: Roanoke, Virginia

first_imgWinner: Roanoke, VAWith the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail, and over 70 city parks and greenways just minutes from downtown, Roanoke attracts flocks of outdoor enthusiasts. It has always been known for its location in the scenic mountains of Virginia, but it wasn’t until the early ‘90s that the area started gaining attention in the outdoor world through its series of mountain bike races. Thanks to hard-working volunteers who built and maintained trails, Roanoke soon attracted more outdoor adventurers.Joe Hanning is one of them. He moved to Roanoke for its outdoor offerings.Hanning has only lived in the area for three years, but as the marketing and outreach coordinator for Roanoke Parks and Recreation, he’s quite literally made it his job to protect and promote the natural playgrounds that are near town.“Roanoke is the best of both worlds,” Hanning says. “We have all of the amenities of a larger city without the large crowds and stress. On a typical walk through downtown, it’s very common to see several cyclists, Subarus with kayaks atop their racks, and joggers heading toward the greenway.”Roanoke residents Blaine and Robin Lewis are co-founders of Fleet Feet Sports in Roanoke, offering runners everything from tips on injury prevention to training programs. Although Robin is from Roanoke originally, Blaine says the unique trail systems located downtown were what ultimately appealed to the couple the most, particularly in regards to choosing a location for their store.“The city has done a great job to create awareness of the trails, develop new trails, and get people out on the trails,” Blaine says. “Trail running is my passion, so it’s important for me to easily be able get a five to 13-mile trail run in before the store opens.”The ease with which visitors can locate trailheads and navigate in-town trail systems sets Roanoke apart from most other outdoor towns. On any given night, locals and out-of-towners can be found shredding singletrack in Carvins Cove or hiking Mill Mountain.Best Mountain Towns of the Blue Ridge – Part II from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.Runners-upDavis, West VirginiaPresent-day Davis is a far cry from its mid-19th century beginnings. In the 1800s, U.S. Senator Henry Gassaway Davis paid $15 per acre to acquire the land, which, at the time, was a densely forested plateau. An industrialist at heart, Senator Davis heavily logged the area, and by end of the 19th century, Davis was often referred to as “stump town.” Like much of the surrounding area, Davis also became a popular coal-mining region.Although many of these industries have long left the town, remnants of their presence still dot the riverbanks and mountainsides in the form of old coke ovens and abandoned mills. Now, however, the town has become a haven for outdoor lovers. Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley State Parks are two of the area’s most popular destinations, offering everything from skiing to mountain biking and hiking. About 45 minutes southeast of the town is Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, a well-known climbing destination in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.Damascus, VirginiaNamed for its ancient namesake in western Asia, Damascus was also the location of a major lumber boom in the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, the completion of the Appalachian Trail in 1937 gave locals reason to think that there was more to the area than a resource-depleting industry. As support for the A.T. grew and thru-hikers became less of a novelty, Damascus started gaining the reputation of Trail Town, U.S.A. Now, the town hosts an annual celebration, appropriately named Trail Days, which recognizes past, present, and future A.T. thru-hikers.There’s more to Damascus than its proximity to the A.T., although the trail does double as the downtown sidewalk for a stretch. The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34-mile rail-trail that runs from Whitetop, Va., to Abingdon, Va. The most popular section is the 17-mile stretch that takes folks from the Whitetop Station downhill along Whitetop Laurel Creek (a great run for class III creekers if you can catch it while it’s running) and back to Damascus, a trip that can easily be arranged through the town’s multiple bike rental and shuttle services. The Iron Mountain Trail is another popular destination for mountain bikers and trail runners, and each year the town holds several races on the Iron Mountain Trail.The Rest of the PackBlue Ridge, Ga.: Nearby 273-mile Benton MacKaye Trail is not only a great long-distance trail all unto its own, but it is also part of the recently developed Great Eastern Trail.Boone-Blowing Rock, N.C.: Just outside of Boone you’ll find the newly established Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park and a plethora of other trails, including those that wind throughout the popular Grandfather Mountain area.Brevard, N.C.: Mountain biking is BIG here. Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest offer not only great opportunities for hiking, but also some of the best singletrack in the country.Cherokee, N.C.: Nestled beside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this town offers everything from great hiking and paddling near Fontana Lake to epic mountain biking in the Tsali Recreation Area.Ellijay, Ga.: Cohutta Wilderness, Carters Lake, and the Cartecay River are nearby. If you’re an avid mountain biker, test your skills on the 62.5-mile Fort Mountain Challenge.Gatlinburg, Tenn.: Trails abound in Gatlinburg. Check out the short Grotto Falls Trail, a 2.6-mile out-and-back that features some spectacularly scenic waterfalls.Harpers Ferry, W.Va.: Paddle the Potomac, hike the Appalachian Trail, or check out the historical downtown scene.Hot Springs, N.C.: Voted Best Small Mountain Town in 2012 by BRO readers, Hot Springs is a popular stop for A.T. thru-hikers and a great place to unwind after paddling the French Broad.Lewisburg, W.Va.: Greenbrier State Forest and its impressive trail system are a short drive from Lewisburg, voted Coolest Small Town in 2011.London, Ky.: Daniel Boone National Forest hosts the region’s most rugged terrain. Characterized by sandstone cliffs and narrow canyons, this is a great location for hiking and climbing.Luray, Va.: True, you could go underground and visit Luray Caverns, but the breathtaking views from neighboring Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park are equally impressive.Morgantown, W.Va.: This mountain town sees the value in outdoor recreation and has a number of parks, facilities, and a rail-trail system available within a short drive of each other. Pair it with a microbrew for the true Morgantown experience.Robbinsville, N.C.: If you haven’t hiked through the old growth poplars and wildflowers in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, you have yet to experience the incredible spiritual and humbling capacities of Appalachia’s wilderness.Waynesboro, Va.: “Hospitality in the Valley” is this mountain town’s motto. Road cyclists should be sure to put the Waynesboro Ramble on their list. It’s a 27-mile ride that highlights the greatest of the Shenandoah Valley.Waynesville, N.C.: Blue Ridge beauty inspires not just the town but the beer industry as well. Check out Frog Level and BearWaters Brewing Companies located right downtown.Check out the other winners here!last_img read more

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Mountain Mama: Chasing Dreams

first_imgI woke up to the sound of rain pattering on the metal roof alone in the house. As I made coffee, listening to the creek that flows across the street. The thought of paddling crossed my mind, but I reasoned that I could catch up on paperwork and buy tickets for a trip to New Zealand with my son in a few months.A grey blanket settled in across the sky and I told myself that hard work now meant sea kayaking and multi-day mountain bike rides with my son on the South Island in October. I searched for airline tickets, mentally debating how long we should travel, wondering if he’d fall behind if he missed a month of kindergarten.As I was listing out the ways my son would miss out if we traveled for that long, a friend called me asking if I was going to paddle. I started to say no, I had a pile of things to get done. He mentioned Hooker Falls in Dupont State Park, a park and huck waterfall that had intrigued me since I moved to the area. Kayaking local runs was one of the reasons I moved here, I reminded myself, I had this dream of integrating spending time with the daily grind.The sky opened up when we scouted the drop, a horizon line that disappeared.  My stomach roiled. Chasing my dreams sometimes makes me uncomfortable. I’m talking about the discomfort that makes me puke a little in my mouth.My friend told me to paddle left and take a big boof stroke at the lip of the waterfall. “Follow me,” he said. Before I could so much as nod, I watched him paddle away. I followed his line. Everything else ceased existing for me except that moment, fixating on where I wanted to be going over the waterfall. The closer I got to the drop, the bigger it looked. I reached my paddle into the meat of the falling water, and for a split second, I was flying.I drove home from Hooker Falls in an elevated mood, so glad I had taken a break from productivity to paddle. My thoughts turned to an article I’d read about valedictorians. Researchers followed their lives after high school, finding that they all went on to lead solid and comfortable lives, but getting straight A’s doesn’t correlate with innovation or creativity. Mastering the rules of school teaches kids to comply with rules and master the system.We tell our kids to listen, teach them to behave. Somewhere along the way we stop asking them to dream.Even when I talk about my dreams, I can get fixated on some future state, a time when I have unencumbered days to explore with my son. I live the present days in a state of frenzy, trying to get everything done.Maybe there is another way, that the choice isn’t between taking time to kayak or working enough that I can take a long trip to a foreign country. Perhaps my dreams don’t have to be mutually exclusive.We have the capacity to dream in more than one dimension. I can do the daily tasks that amount to productivity, but I don’t have to make a choice between obsessive adherence to my to-do list and feeling alive.I went home, made a  cup of coffee, and booked the plane tickets to New Zealand. And this afternoon when I pick up my son from preschool, instead of only asking him about what he did during the day, I’ll ask him what he dreams about doing.last_img read more

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Cuba’s Overseas Medical Brigade A Repressive Sham, Ex-staffers Say

first_imgBy Alina Deste / AFP June 25, 2019 A great source of pride for communist Cuba is a medical corps that has fanned out across the globe for decades to help people in troubled or poor countries. But don’t tell that to doctor Orazal Sánchez, who spent much of his professional life in this brigade and grew disillusioned with what he saw as a system of oppression that is heavy on ideology and bogus solidarity towards host countries. It was during a posting in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert that he finally quit after becoming fed up with heavy-handed rules like being forced to surrender his passport and being encouraged by supervisors to inform on colleagues. And even after he’d left the medical corps, he still felt oppressed by the Cuban government, which prevented him from returning home and refused to hand over his certifications, meaning he had to start his career all over again. “The sad thing is that we are still slaves. We think we are free, but so long as we have family in Cuba, we continue to work for the system,” said Sánchez, 40, an endocrinologist. Sánchez and two other former doctors in the program, who spoke to AFP using pseudonyms, shared similar concerns about the corps, one of the flagship initiatives of the revolution led by the late Fidel Castro since its creation in 1963. Today it is one of the Cuban government’s most lucrative programs, bringing in $11 billion in revenue between 2011 and 2015. As of the end of 2018, 34,000 professionals worked for the corps in 66 countries. Last month, an advocacy group called Cuban Prisoners Defenders together with a political group, the Cuban Patriotic Union, filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the program. The lawsuit before the ICC includes public testimony from 64 doctors in the program and 46 others who spoke privately. The suit, in which the three doctors who spoke to AFP are plaintiffs, accuses former President Raul Castro and current President Miguel Díaz-Canel, of crimes against humanity for running a program that acts as a form of modern slavery. Families at risk Medical staff who refuse to join an overseas mission suffer terrible consequences in their careers, the doctors said. Meanwhile Havana views corps members who leave the program as traitors, and uses the threat of reprisals against relatives back home as a form of long-distance torture. Delia Estelles, 37, said while serving in Guatemala she suffered sexual harassment, was subjected to forced political indoctrination, and had to contribute money to the Cuban communist party, all while surviving on next to nothing because her salary was so small, as most of what countries pay for the doctors is collected by the Cuban government. Estelles took refuge in a now-defunct U.S. program called Cuban Medical Professional Parole. She was admitted to the United States under the program, but wasn’t able to bring her family, who remain in Cuba where shortages of basic goods are common. “I send them everything, even deodorant and soap,” she said. Yolanda García served in Venezuela, where she said Havana’s influence was so deep that “the Cubans control everything.” García said she was encouraged to manipulate statistics and documents, making up names and identity numbers so the corps met its weekly target for the number of patients treated. But she was appalled after being asked to throw away medicine brought in from Cuba, where it was in short supply, so that inventories would correspond to the bogus treatment numbers. After García deployed to Brazil along with 8,000 other doctors, Cuba canceled the program there following the rise of President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro had demanded new conditions for the Cubans, including that their families be allowed to join them in Brazil and that they receive all the money that his government pays for them. García decided to remain in Brazil rather than return to Cuba, which she’d grown increasingly disillusioned with. “I can’t believe that all this money goes into these missions and the country is like this,” she said. “The last time I went there, I couldn’t even find eggs.”last_img read more

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Your leadership energy matters

first_img 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Laurie Maddalena Laurie Maddalena is a dynamic and engaging keynote speaker and leadership consultant. She writes a monthly online column for next generation leaders for CUES and has published articles in Credit … Web: www.envisionexcellence.net Details A few years ago, I switched to a new chiropractor. When I entered the office for my first appointment, the receptionist barely looked up as she unenthusiastically muttered, “Yes?”. Her unfriendly greeting had an immediate impact on my mood as I felt my energy drop. Needless to say, her lack of welcoming energy and friendliness had an impact on my entire experience at the office.I’m certain you have experienced this before—the customer service representative who has no business being in a customer service role. First impressions matter; and it only takes a few seconds for someone to pick up on the energy (or lack thereof) of the person across from them. We train our member service representatives to been friendly and knowledgeable to provide the best service. Yet it still mystifies me how many organizations don’t hire people in customer service roles who actually like interacting with people. Customer service roles are often the first point of contact a customer has with an organization, and can leave a lasting impression; whether good or bad. There is another important position where our energy matters—leadership.When you are a leader, you are being watched every day, whether you like it or not. Your employees, your colleagues, and your manager are all impacted by your actions, your words, and your energy. Even subconsciously, people are picking up on your energy at work. Do you consistently appear overwhelmed and stressed out? Are you tired or irritated? You are likely transferring that energy to those around you.Every morning, when you walk into the office, what kind of tone are you setting? Are you greeting your employees with a warm “good morning!”? Your enthusiasm and warmth have to be genuine, but many leaders are not purposeful with how they show up at the office each day.When you come to a meeting with your colleagues or a coaching session with one of your employees, are you completely present, listening and connecting to the person in front of you? Or are you distracted or inattentive?We should always be conscious of the energy we are putting out into the world. This doesn’t mean we can’t have a bad day or that we have to be positive and upbeat all the time. Certain situations may not call for an upbeat or friendly demeanor. But it does mean that as leaders, we should be aware that our mindset, energy, and language impacts everyone around us. Our employees look to their leaders for cues on how to behave, and we need to be aware that we are sending as much of a message with our energy as we are with our words and actions. As leaders, we have a responsibility to model the behaviors we want to elicit from others.Your energy can be impactful outside of work too. I have been conscious of my energy when I walk in the door at home after work. Although sometimes I arrive home tired and stressed from a long day or a terrible commute, before I walk in the door, I consciously release that energy and put a smile on my face to greet my children. I’ve noticed that when I enter the house with positive energy, they give me positive energy (and behavior) back. People often mirror our energy and mindset back to us.So next time you are entering the office, a meeting, a coaching session, or walking around the office, pause and think about the energy you want to consciously spread to others. Your level of positivity and engagement can impact the mindset and engagement of those around you.last_img read more

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Binghamton USPS carriers work overtime for holiday mail rush

first_imgBINGHAMTON (WBNG) — United States Postal Carriers in Binghamton are working around the clock to deliver your holiday mail in time for Christmas. “It’s just a great time of year to make people smile when you bring them a package or that Christmas card they couldn’t wait to get,” said Babcock. USPS asks you to help their mail carriers this time of year by clearing snow and ice from walkways and leaving porch lights on when its dark. Binghamton USPS Supervisor of Customer Service Erin Lacotta says if you want your mail to arrive by Christmas, send all domestic first class packages and letters by Dec. 14, USPS retail ground should be shipped by Dec. 20, send first class mail by Dec. 21 and priority mail and priority mail express should be out by Dec. 23. For letter carriers like Oliver Babcock, its the busiest and best time of year. He’s working seven days a week, sometimes 12 hours a day during the holiday mail season. last_img read more

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The number of cruise passengers continues to grow

first_imgCover photo: Pixabay, Source: CBS In the period from January to October 2019, 72 foreign cruise ships entered Croatian seaports, with 672 cruises (+4,3). Out of a total of 672 cruises, most trips were realized in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County (60,1%) and the Split-Dalmatia County (25,9%), which is a total of 86,0%. The largest number of voyages was made by ships flying the flags of Malta (189 voyages) and the Bahamas (121 voyages), while the largest number of passengers arrived by ships flying the flags of Panama (267 thousand passengers) and Malta (253 thousand passengers). The port of Dubrovnik (495 visits) had the most visits of foreign cruise ships, followed by the ports of Split (253 visits) and Zadar (108 visits).center_img The most visited seaports were Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar The remaining 14,0% of trips were made in the following counties: Zadar (6,1%), Istria (3,4%), Primorje-Gorski Kotar (3,1%) and Šibenik-Knin (1,4%). There were 1 passengers (+ 056%) on these ships, who stayed in Croatia for 8,2 days (+ 1%), according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).last_img read more

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The market in minutes

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

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UK’s Queen Elizabeth thanks health workers around the world

first_imgIncluded in the video were three of the queen’s children: Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Princess Anne, and Prince Edward. The queen’s grandson Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton were also pictured.”In testing times, we often observe that the best of the human spirit comes to the fore; the dedication to service of countless nurses, midwives and other health workers, in these most challenging of circumstances, is an example to us all,” she said.”My family and I send our enduring appreciation and good wishes,” the queen said.The 93-year-old monarch is staying at her Windsor Castle home with her husband Prince Philip, 98. On Sunday, in a rare televised address, the queen told the British people that they would overcome the coronavirus outbreak if they stayed resolute in the face of lockdown and self-isolation.She invoked the wartime spirit by saying “we will meet again” – a direct reference to the most famous British song from the war years of the 1940s.Prince Charles, 71, has recovered after suffering mild symptoms of the virus and opened a new field hospital in London via video link from his home in Scotland on Friday.  Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday sent a message of “enduring appreciation and good wishes” to health workers around the world for World Health Day.”I want to thank all those working in the healthcare profession for your selfless commitment and diligence as you undertake vitally important roles to protect and improve the health and well-being of people,” the queen said.The queen’s words were shown on a video released by the royal family’s Twitter account, which featured images of the queen and other members of her family visiting hospitals and meeting healthcare workers.center_img Topics :last_img read more

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Scottish Gov’t injects another $6.45M to decommissioning fund

Highlands and IslandsFollowing the announcement by the Scottish Government, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said it was considering applying to the DCF.“Energy sector supply chain companies across the Highlands and Islands are being encouraged by HIE to consider applying to the DCF,” the development agency said.Last year, the DCF awarded grants totaling £4.8m for projects that strengthen Scotland’s decommissioning capacity.These included more than £800,000 for infrastructure upgrades at Kishorn Dry Dock in Wester Ross, more than £90,000 for work in the Lyness Oil and Gas decommissioning base in Orkney, and almost £60,000 was invested in feasibility studies commissioned by Stornoway Port Authority for the proposed decommissioning facility at Arnish on Lewis.Other projects include £118,000 for upgrading the plant and machinery by EMN Plant, and Lerwick Engineering and Fabrication received more than £80,000 for the purchase of equipment to enhance capabilities within the decom market in Shetland.Gavin MacKay, HIE’s head of energy industries, said: “The decommissioning of North Sea infrastructure is already presenting opportunities for the Highlands and Islands. The obvious example is the Buchan Alpha decommissioning, which is being carried out at Dales Voe in Shetland, following major upgrading of the quayside.”Alongside the Decommissioning Action Plan, launched by HIE and Scottish Enterprise at the end of 2016, the DCF will help Scotland’s oil and gas sector make the most of decommissioning opportunities at home and abroad. An additional £5 million ($6.45M) has been made available by the Scottish Government to the country’s supply chain to help maximize the economic benefit to Scotland from decommissioning of North Sea infrastructure.Decommissioning of the Buchan Alpha taking place at Dales Voe in Shetland; Photo by: John Coutts; Source: HIEThe Minister for Energy, Connectivity, and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, announced on Thursday that the Decommissioning Challenge Fund (DCF) would reopen for the third round of funding. The announcement was made during his visit to the new CEOs of Decom North Sea and Aberdeen Harbour, John Warrender and Michelle Handforth.Following grant awards of £4.8 million in 2017, the third round of DCF funding will continue to support infrastructure upgrades at Scotland’s ports, innovation in retrieval and transport approaches as well as supply chain projects that will strengthen Scotland’s decommissioning capability and capacity.The DCF can also support engineering scoping work, feasibility studies, and business development at key sites to help to attract further private investment.Wheelhouse said: “This round of the DCF includes both capital and resource funding, and it widens the scope of potential projects given that support is also now available for business development.“We fully recognize that decommissioning is an emerging, but growing, activity in the North Sea. More than £17 billion is expected to be spent on decommissioning activity in the North Sea in the period up to 2025, with the peak for decommissioning activity in this area predicted to go beyond this.“Scotland’s supply chain is winning the lion’s share of project value in areas like well-plugging and abandonment, but there is room to further increase market share in areas such as the salvage and disposal of top-side infrastructure.“The budget for the DCF in 2018-19 will reflect the projects coming forward, and our ambition is to match the £5 million successfully awarded last year, however, there is flexibility for this to increase if demand is demonstrated.” read more

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Russia’s Alexandrova wins maiden WTA title in Shenzhen

first_img Promoted ContentWhich Country Is The Most Romantic In The World?Couples Who Celebrated Their Union In A Unique, Unforgettable Way20 Facts That’ll Change Your Perception Of “The Big Bang Theory”Birds Enjoy Living In A Gallery Space Created For Them8 Ways Drones Will Automate Our Future10 Risky Jobs Some Women Do7 Universities In The World With The Highest Market ValueWho Earns More Than Ronaldo?8 Superfoods For Growing Hair Back And Stimulating Its Growth12 Flicks That Almost Ended Their Stars’ CareersInsane 3D Spraying Skills Turn In Incredible Street Art7 Ways To Understand Your Girlfriend Better The fifth seed won 6-2, 6-4 in 73 minutes to begin her season and her Australian Open preparations with a bang. The 25-year-old Alexandrova, ranked a career-high 34th in the world, collapsed to her knees after dismissing Rybakina, the seventh seed from Kazakhstan.Advertisement Read Also: WTA Classic: Serena glad to be back in New Zealand Alexandrova, who triumphed in a WTA 125K event in Limoges, France last month, defeated former world number one Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals in southern China. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Loading… center_img Alexandrova played incredibly well to knock out Muguruza in Shenzhen yesterday. Another straight-set win tonight for her first-ever WTA singles title. One to keep an eye on. https://t.co/tt5UxRe2Ra— Jason (@Hurleytennis) January 11, 2020 Ekaterina Alexandrova won her first WTA singles title after the in-form Russian defeated Elena Rybakina in straight sets in the final of the Shenzhen Open on Saturday.last_img read more

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