Stony Man Mountain September 2016

img_4497I actually hiked Stony Man a few months back. That time the entire mountain was fogged in so it made for some unimpressive views. It was not a bad hike the first time around and in fact sitting on the edge of a cliff watching the fog roll across the valley and up the mountain was really cool. This weekend the weather was going to be nice on Sunday with highs in the low 70’s. The time had come to get out and hike now that fall officially arrived.

While not a free weekend like the first time the park was packed. I must have run across three dozen people on the trail, all out enjoying nature. It was nice to see everyone outside but it made it really hard to simply enjoy nature. In fact, on the way down the mountain I ran across two deer. There was a couple not far behind me and I thought for certain they would scare the deer off but thankfully they did not. The deer just ignored us and continued to graze up the mountain side.

The summit is fogged in again.
The summit is fogged in again.

As I hiked up the temps really started to drop. While it might have been low 70’s at home it was in the low 50’s on the mountain. Fall is officially here but the leaves have only just begun to change. At the first overlook this time I could clearly see across the valley and really get a sense for the view. Unfortunately as I looked up to the summit it was still covered in fogged. I stayed here for at least twenty minutes just contemplating the meaning of life and soaking in the view.

Later when I did get to the summit it was fogged in, again. There were a few small gaps but I really couldn’t see much. I promise one of these days I will get to the summit and there won’t be any fog, guess I will just have to keep trying. At the top I spend another twenty minutes hanging out on the ledge enjoying nature. One reason I love to hike is for times like this, I spend all this time hiking to a beautiful spot and I just love sitting around taking it all in.

This fall I will certainly have to get out more to the mountains. I would like to view the park over several weeks and watch the leaves change as fall gives way to winter.

Lockin’ Festival 2016

lockn logoI don’t even remember the last festival I went to, it’s been that long since I have attended one. This years lineup at Lockin’ Festival got me excited to attend. When it was announced that Phish would headline two nights, and the venue is less then three hours from my house, I just had to go. After the last week and a half at work I was certainly ready for a few relaxing days in the woods listening to music.

My camp site was basic but provied everything I needed.
My camp site was basic but provided everything I needed.

This festival started on Thursday and would last through Sunday, longest festival I have ever been to. I arrived on Thursday with plenty of time before the first band. I splurged for the Forrest camping and I am glad I did. There are a ton of people right at the entrance to the Forrest but I managed to find a spot way in the back. Secluded and peaceful which is just the way I like it. From my camp spot I could listen to both the main stage and Blueridge Bowl. It’s hot and humid in the day but at night the weather really cools down and I would fall asleep to music from the Blueridge Bowl.

First band on Thursday didn’t start till 7:30 so I had a ton of time to kill. Having worn myself out setting up camp I actually took a long nap. It felt good sleeping in the middle of the day. As hot as it was it was wise to stick to the forest and the shade it offered. I did finally make it to the main stage to see the end of Vulfpeck, all of Umphrey’s and the headliners Ween. First time seeing Ween and not bad, there style of music is all over the place I must say. They didn’t win me over or anything but it was still a good show. I really wanted to hear Roses are Free and I thought for sure it would be played since Phish was at the same festival but alas, it was not meant to be.

img_4382Friday I got up at a reasonable hour and bummed around the camp site for a long while.  Each morning I would make a cup of coffee and smoke a cigar which was really relaxing. Saturday I left camp early to see the second half of Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass which was great.  Sunday I woke up to Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel, a nice spin on the usual Grateful Dead cover. Most morning I would just be sitting at the camp site and listen to the morning show from the Blue Ridge Bowl.  Much of the bands on Friday I had heard of before and what I would describe as up and coming.  Nothing that blew my doors off but some good stuff by these smaller bands.  Friday’s closer, and the reason I am really here, was Phish.  I thought Friday’s show was great.  Lots of energy and a good set list.

Which way am I going?
Which way am I going?

Saturday was another fantastic day of music.  Many of the bands played two days over the four day weekend which was cool.  I started my day with most of Galactic whom I haven’t seen in a long time.  Hard Working Americans includes the bassist from WSP which was nice and then things just sorta died.  Something happened and Brandi Carlile never played and Phil was late which sucked.  After his set I headed back to the camp site to cool off a little and get some foods.  Saturday’s head liner was My Morning Jacket and I was looking forward to seeing them.  For some strange reason I have never seen them live before so tonight was my first show.  I thought the set and performance where spectacular.  With all the confusion in the show order earlier in the night, they didn’t finish up till 1am which cut into my seeing Lettuce.  After My Morning Jacket I headed to the Blue Ridge Bowl to see Lettuce but they had already started.  I don’t know what time they finished but I left at 2:30 and they were still playing.  That night I went to bed listening to the last songs of Lettuce which was a sweet lullaby as I drifted off to sleep.

img_4375Sunday was the last day of the festival but a long one.  I caught The Wailers and skipped Chris Robinson, I just don’t like that guy.  So back to the tent for a quick nap and food before the long haul as Phil Lesh, Gary Clark Jr. and then Phish to close the night and the festival.  Sunday’s Phish show was ok, I thought Friday’s performance had a better set list and more energy. Gary Clark Jr. was a good change of pace with some blues sandwiched between two jam bands.

To be honest it was two nights of Phish that sold me on buying tickets. After the experience I had over the weekend it was a well put together festival. Arriving and getting to my camp site was a breeze. The offer of forest camping was a dream in the hot and humid August weather too. The food here was also spectacular if not a little pricey. The best place was the Ozark Biscuit Company. I must have eaten there four times over the weekend. Most of the food vendors reminded me of food trucks, great food with a limited menus. Another nice feature was the contactless payment system. Your ticket was a RFID that got you into the venue but could also be used to buy anything, no need to carry a wallet this time around.

I don’t even know how long it has been since I have seen a festival but I quickly realized how much I miss them.  I loved that once I arrived, I was all set.  The other thing I really loved was how long the festival was.  Four night, five days with four jam packed days of music that never overlapped. This is how festivals should all be run.


2016 artist lineup

Lockn' Festival  2016 artist lineup

Compton Peak August 2016

This summer has been hot and humid, back to the days I remember as a kid growing up here in Virginia. Weather like this has not motivated me to get out and hike. This particular weekend the weather was going to corporate for once. It ended up being in the low 80’s on top of the mountain with low humidity thrown in for good measure. The weather was perfect for a mid-summer hike.IMG_4363

With the nice weekend I expected the Shenandoah National Park to have more people getting out and enjoying the nice weather. For once I was able to find parking at the first place I wanted to hike. From the parking lot you have to cross over the road to the trail head. The hike is a simple out and back attached to part of the Appalachian Trail. The climb is a bit of a challenge but worth it when you get to the top. It has a pretty decent overlook of the valley below with a few farms thrown in for good measure.

The parking lot was empty but from the number of hikers on the trail I could tell the park was busy. I must have passed half a dozen people going in both directions. With the upcoming 100th anniversary of the NPS awareness is bringing people out to our national parks.  Even at the summit I was never alone, there was always someone with me. I must have spent twenty minutes hanging out with a constant stream of people coming and going. The day was pretty clear and you could see for miles as the mountains faded into mist along the ridge line.

Panoramic from the summit of the mountain.
Panoramic from the summit of the mountain.

It’s a quick little hike but a nice one. With Compton Peak being at the top of the park it also makes it really close to my house. If I don’t have a lot of time for a hike I can do this one real quick. Can’t wait for fall and cooler temperatures to arrive. I look forward to getting outside more as the weather becomes nicer. Nothing against summer but it is by far my least favorite season. I will take upper 60’s to lower 70’s and zero humidity any day.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

Star Wars……who doesn’t love this movie?  I have been a big fan of the franchise since I was a kid.  Of course I have seen all the movies and anticipate their arrival in theaters.  Of course there are the three prequels which are so-so.  I was really excited to hear three new movies would be coming out.  I have already seen A Force Awakens, got the inbetweener of Rouge One this December and then the 8th installment in the franchise late in 2017.

star wars alamo logo

All these later movies can trace their origin back to the original trilogy.  When they where first released I was to young to see them in theaters.  In fact when Star Wars: A New Home was released, I wasn’t even born yet.  Fast forward almost forty years and the Alamo Drafthouse is bringing back the original trilogy.  The Almao is known for funky stuff and this trilogy is right up their alley.  You just have to see a movie here if you get the chance.  Now I would finally be able to see all three movies on the big screen.  Delay after delay for ticket sales and then a date change on top of that but finally the day arrived.

IMG_4349None of my family could understand how I could sit in the theatre for three movies in a row.  If you’re not a fan you wouldn’t understand.  When you find something you are passionate about, only others who are equally as passionate can understand why we do the things we do.  I see the same thing with Phish all the time but I digress, today is all about Star Wars.

It took a lot longer to get to the Warner Theatre then I anticipated.  I arrived almost 30 minutes after the first movie and because this is the Alamo, I decided to head to Shelly’s for a cigar and beer till A New Hope was finished.  I planned to smoke a cigar after the movie but the middle of the afternoon suited me just fine.  As hot as it was outside, it was nice smoking a cigar indoors while drinking a beer and watching the Olympics.  In fact this was the most Olympics I had seen since they started.

IMG_4350Cigar finished and A New Hope over, it was time to settle in for the remaining two movies.  Not much to say other then the movies are great and if you haven’t seen them, go.  Shows ended earlier then I thought too.  Still took forever to get home on Metro because of SafeTrack.  I did love the fact I could get on Wiehle-Reston East and take it all the way into the city.  Once they complete the Silver line it will be even easier getting into the city.

Loved the experience, not sure if it was totally worth the ticket price but it was a great adventure on a blazing hot Saturday nonetheless.

The Adroit Theory of Beer

New_Skull_Logo_ATBCOn Saturday we went to a family gather.  My niece Ellie just turned 9 and happened to be in town from Vancouver.  Bobby took the kids on a cross country adventure for a two week vacation in Virginia.  Saturday was a big family gathering to celebrate her birthday.  Eric who is a pretty avid hop head so naturally we started talking about beer.  One of his favorite local breweries is Adroit Theory.  Nancy went when they first opened and I had never been so it was about time we took a short trip to Purcellville to visit this micro brewery.

Tons of barrels for aging beers.  More then half were aged in some sort of wooden barrel.
Tons of barrels for aging

Like many breweries now a days it is in an industrial park on the outskirts of town.  There is a patio outside and when we arrived, they had the garage door open.  The patio is rather large and has plenty of seating.  Despite all the canopy cover it was still to hot to sit outside.  We found a table next to a fan and settle in for a few samples.  The place certainly has a hard rock and punk theme going on with the decor and music choice.  I think it lends to the selection of beer they create as well.

They don’t do flights but do offer 3 ounce pours of any beer they have on tap.  The day we went that was 24 taps, one cask and maybe half a dozen bottles.  Looking over the menu it is some eclectic stuff I must say.  At least half are barrel aged and only one had an ABV less then 5.  Most of the beers are definitely imperials with the average, throwing out the 4.6%, is at least 10%.

serious working going on here
serious working going on here

Adroit uses some interesting ingredients to come up with their beers.  Looking at the menu it would appear they have created 450 different varieties and are always coming up with new stuff.  I love the creativity they have with their beer.  We stayed for a good long while and I had four beers.  This is certainly a place you can visit and spend hours sampling beers for two reasons.  First they have such a large variety of beer and two is because of the high ABV.  If you are not careful, you’ll start feeling it real quick.

The flavor combos they have are really interesting.  Lots of stouts aged in a variety of liquor barrels.  Tons of saions and farmhouse ales thrown in for good measure.  If you like to be adventurous in your beer, this is certainly a place to but on your list of must see brewers here in Virginia.

A nice bar area at the brewery.
A nice bar area at the brewery.