Five Years After Fukushima, Debate Over Nuclear Safety in Japan

first_imgFive Years After Fukushima, Debate Over Nuclear Safety in Japan FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享By Andrew Coffman Smith for SNL:Five years on from the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is lauding progress in implementing post-Fukushima safety measures. A critical report, meanwhile, is accusing regulators of abdicating their watchdog responsibilities and plant operators of undermining safety.Speaking March 8, three days before the anniversary of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi plant disaster, NRC Chairman Stephen Burns said America’s regulatory process rose to the challenge of ensuring “adequate protection” for U.S. nuclear plants from extreme “beyond-design” events by implementing industry-recommended new measures. “And now, at the anniversary, we find ourselves in a better place,” said Burns. “We are now rolling the Fukushima lessons into our day-to-day operations.”These post-Fukushima measures include building new earthquake and flood-proof bunkers and implementing the FLEX program of strategically placed portable equipment to quickly provide emergency cooling. Burns said these enhancements seek to put to rest those “what-ifs” that go way beyond the design basis and said the industry is on track to implementing them. The “bulk” of the work is to be completed at the end of 2016 and into 2017, he said.But that same FLEX program is at the heart of criticisms leveled at the NRC and the nuclear industry in a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists that accuses regulators of leaving regulatory-making decisions to the industry itself. In addition to questioning how effective FLEX would be in mitigating a total loss of power at a reactor to prevent a meltdown, the environmental advocacy group said the nuclear industry is attempting to ensure that the NRC’s standards for the program are “relatively cheap” to meet. The report charged further that the FLEX program “is being invoked as a broad rationale by the NRC to avoid taking further action to improve safety.”Full Article: 5 years after Fukushima: Fight over nuclear industry safety lives onlast_img read more

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U.S. Tax Reform Plan Includes Provision Harmful to Renewable Energy Sector

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享GreenTech Media:With the Senate tax bill speeding toward a vote, renewable energy trade organizations on Wednesday raised the alarm about an obscure and “extremely problematic” provision they say would pull the investment rug out from underneath renewables projects. “It’s a crazy situation — one that we should not be in at the moment,” said Greg Wetstone, CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy. “We are in an all-hands-on-deck drill across the sector trying to repair a very broken problem.”That problem is the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) provision, which targets “earnings strippings,” where large companies with foreign operations reduce their tax bills through cross-border payments they can then deduct in the U.S. The BEAT provision aims to circumvent that stripping with a minimum tax of 10 percent of taxable income. BEAT would require every company to do two calculations: one quantifying 10 percent of a company’s taxable income, including cross-border payments, and another quantifying the corporation’s tax liability, excluding any tax credits the company received from tax equity investments.The BEAT provision applies to all but R&D credits. If a company has invested in renewables, the second number could be lower than the first. If that’s the case, the company would have to pay the difference in taxes.That expense makes any renewables investments exponentially less appealing to large, risk-averse companies.Tax equity is the renewable energy market’s “core financing tool,” said Keith Martin, a transactional lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright who specializes in tax and project finance. It makes up 50 to 60 percent of the funds for an average wind farm and 40 to 50 percent of funds for the average solar project. And while the tax implications for companies are complex, the potential impact on the renewables market is not. Put simply, the BEAT provision would make projects cost more. “The more expensive something is to build, the less of it you get,” said Martin.More: The Obscure ‘Poison Pill’ Senate Tax Provision Threatening Renewables U.S. Tax Reform Plan Includes Provision Harmful to Renewable Energy Sectorlast_img read more

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Japan to rule out coal-fired plants as international criticism rises

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Asahi Shimbun:The Environment Ministry said that in principle it will not sanction construction of new large coal-fired power plants nor boilers to existing facilities in line with Japan’s international pledges to tackle global warming.Moves are spreading worldwide to shun facilities that burn fossil fuels because they spew so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.The policy initiative, announced March 28 by Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada, follows criticism that Japan is reluctant to break with such power generation, particularly after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has the final say on whether to approve new coal plant projects, but such decisions are supposed to take into account the environment minister’s opinion.As a matter of course, the Environment Ministry conducts an environmental impact assessment for new plants with an output capacity of 150,000 kilowatts or more.It will conduct more rigorous assessments in future and call for the rejection of projects with an emphasis on economic feasibility alone or those lacking measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions when the ministry presents its opinion to the industry ministry.More: Japan to rule out coal-fired plants as international criticism rises Japan to rule out coal-fired plants as international criticism riseslast_img read more

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NYPA, environmental justice groups to consider clean options for replacing New York City gas peakers

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Utilities operating fossil-fueled power plants, and the low-income and disadvantaged communities that face the brunt of their pollution, may have a new model for resolving their differences.On Tuesday, the New York Power Authority signed a landmark agreement with the Peak Coalition, a group of five environmental justice and clean energy groups, to study ways to replace or reduce emissions from NYPA’s six gas-fired peaker plant sites in New York City and Long Island.Tuesday’s memorandum of understanding doesn’t set a hard deadline for closing the plants, which provide about 470 megawatts of capacity to meet downstate New York’s peak-constrained grid needs. But it does offer communities at most risk from their emissions an ongoing role in working with the state’s public power utility to find cost-effective ways to reduce the impact, NYPA CEO Gil Quiniones said in a Wednesday interview.NYPA’s peaker fleet, installed in the early 2000s, doesn’t face the need to close by 2025 under state air-quality regulations, as do older, more polluting peaker plants in downstate New York. But they’ve been the target of legal challenges from groups representing low-income communities at most risk of harm from their emissions. At the same time, New York City faces a shortage of transmission capacity to meet its peak grid demands, and NYPA’s units may become more valuable for meeting those needs as older plants face retirement, Quiniones said. They’re also important for local grid reliability, and several are needed for “black-start” capability to reenergize the grid after power outages, “so we have to be careful” about how to replace them, he said.This is a common problem facing utilities in states such as New York that are pushing to decarbonize their electricity generation fleets, and it doesn’t have an easy answer. California regulators have allowed utilities to replace capacity from the closed San Onofre nuclear power plant with new gas-fired peaker plants, though they also required Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to seek out batteries, energy efficiency and demand response to meet part of the shortfall.NYPA’s agreement with the Peak Coalition calls for a study of alternatives that can both ensure reliability and reduce the amount of emissions its peaker plants emit during the roughly 10 percent of the year they’re called into service, Quiniones said. Beyond NYPA’s in-house experts, “we’ll hire consultants and hire a sub-consultant to advise the environmental justice groups, so they know it’s not biased, that it’s fact-based,” he said. “The first thing we’ll consider seriously is installing existing storage technology on a hybrid basis,” using batteries to augment power plant capacity, Quiniones said.[Jeff St. John]More: NYPA, environmental justice groups to work together on peaker plant replacements NYPA, environmental justice groups to consider clean options for replacing New York City gas peakerslast_img read more

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High Five: March 2012

first_img1. Dropping From the Sky – Richmond, VAA commercial film shoot for the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond narrowly avoided disaster when a parachutist got off course and ended up in a tree. The clever ad for the race depicts a man jogging down Monument gradually joined by more people, dressed more outrageously. It culminates with a parachutist dropping from the sky and joining the throng. While shooting, a last-minute gust of wind sent the stunt man into a tree where he landed eight feet above the ground before dropping to safety. The shot worked despite the mishap, but it’s unlikely he’ll be in next year’s commercial featuring a shark, catapult, flame thrower, and wrecking ball.2. Caving Rescue – Renick, WVThree college aged cavers were found uninjured by Search and Rescue teams in the Bone-Norman Cave system. The trio set out to camp overnight in the caves and traverse the 15-mile system by way of an eight-inch crawl space appropriately named “The Devil’s Pinch.” After camping, they were unable to find the exit or the entrance the next morning. Rescuers eventually found them hunkered down at their campsite. The amateur spelunkers were in the cave system a total of 48 hours, 5 minutes and emerged with 1,000 “Three guys walk into a West Virginia cave” jokes.3. Technology Giveth, and Taketh Away – Mount Airy, MDA hiker in Maryland was saved when he was able to flag down a rescue helicopter using the flashlight app on his iPhone. The catch? It seems a map application got him into the pickle to begin with. Christopher Tkacik was hiking with his dog, Boo, in Gambrill State Park. After crossing the same creek four times, he realized he was lost. He had been led astray by his “smart” phone app. With darkness closing in, he decided to call for help. Tkacik was able to dial police, who sent the chopper and dropped in two escorts for the hike out. The flashlight app enabled the rescuers to find him easily.4. We’re Number 2! – Washington, DCThe Alliance for Biking and Walking released a report that ranks Washington, D.C. as the number two city in the U.S. for biking and walking (Boston topped the list). The report was based on how friendly cities are to pedestrians and cyclists; biking and walking fatalities; and American Community Survey data for its rankings. D.C. earned its lofty ranking because of its innovative bikesharing system, its culture of safety for cycling and pedestrians, and its high percentage of people who walk to work. This is certainly good news for a city with residents who hold the purse strings to nationwide transportation funds and have the power to impact the conversation on safety, health, and energy.5. Long and Winding Roads – Waynesville, NCPotholes and gravel riddle the roadways. Tractor trailers whiz by too close. And once-wide shoulders taper to nothing at all: riding a bicycle down some roads in Western North Carolina can be downright harrowing. But the Land-of-Sky Regional Council aims to change all that. Awarded a $250,000 grant, the organization plans to develop a regional bike plan that connects the seven westernmost counties in western N.C. with bike-friendly roads. The finished plan will include a list of recommendations for road improvements and bike lanes, as well as a map of roads deemed high-priority for their proximity to parks, schools, hospitals, grocery stores and employment centers. The Council welcomes input at public meetings and help with tasks such as bike counts this spring.Beyond the Blue RidgeLet my people go…surfing – Chicago, ILA man in Chicago is in hot water after he was busted surfing in…Lake Michigan? Rex Flodstrom was catching a windswell when he was arrested at Oak Street beach, where surfing is illegal. Surf legend Kelly Slater leapt to his defense, but it was not enough as Flodstrom had his board confiscated and was held, in his wetsuit, for four hours.Heating this place costs a fortune – Mt. Rainier, WAA snowshoeing hiker lost in Mount Rainier National Park for two days was forced to burn socks and cash to stay warm before being rescued. Taking a page out of Sly Stallone’s book, Yong Chum Kim torched $1 and $5 bills to fend off freezing temps. Luckily his billfold was as large as his brain and lasted long enough for searchers to find him.Wait for us! – Palm Springs, CAWhen shutting down an aerial tram because of dangerous weather conditions, it’s probably a good idea to make sure everyone is off the top. Lesson learned at San Jacinto Mountain’s aerial tram. Over a dozen hikers were stranded in 100 mph winds for 16 hours when officials stopped the tram. By the time they realized it, conditions were too dangerous to get them off the mountain. The hikers and one park ranger sheltered in a utility shed until the weather calmed. The stranded were reimbursed, but the real storm will start when they try to divide the movie rights.last_img read more

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Nashville’s Dharma Bum

first_imgTranscendental Troubadour: Rayland Baxter is a master of the mountain metaphor.Rayland Baxter grew up as a self-declared “little country boy,” running around the rolling green hills of Tennessee an hour outside of Nashville. At first, music was just in his periphery. His father, multi-instrumentalist Bucky Baxter, is a well-reputed sideman, who toured for years with Bob Dylan and has recorded with Steve Earle, R.E.M., and Ryan Adams. As a kid, Rayland was too busy playing sports to notice, but then in college he was bitten by the songwriting bug.In late August, what he calls a gradual organic process toward building a catalog of songs yielded a debut album, Feathers and Fishhooks, released on ATO Records.“It’s about the natural progress of how these songs came together,” Baxter says. “The album is my tackle box, and I have songs for different types of feelings—murky water or clear water.”Indeed, Baxter seems to equate all of his emotions with the natural world around him. In the sparsely finger-picked, front porch style ballad “Olivia” he laments a dysfunctional relationship but still finds love in unexpected places, singing, “I can taste it when the wind blows in, and I can see it hiding on the mountainside.”Baxter’s favorite part of being a traveling troubadour is the opportunity to wander the woods by day and play on stage at night. During a recent phone conversation, he relays that he just finished a run of shows in beach towns with ex-pro surfer turned singer-songwriter Donavan Frankenreiter. It’s both soul-quenching satisfaction and occupational research.“That’s my life outside of playing music,” he says. “When I’m not on stage, I’m usually hiking or jumping into rivers. That’s where I get most of my inspiration. The changing of seasons is like a changing of emotions and a bad relationship looks like muddy water. These are basic analogies, but that’s where I see it all.”While his lyrics are laced in Kerouac-inspired wanderlust, Baxter’s sound blends dusty roots rock and hook-driven melodies. You hear the free-range barefoot folk of Jack Johnson’s Brushfire crew as well as the twang of Music City influence. He sites old legends like Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilson, and Townes Van Zandt as his indirect teachers, but he’s also just as likely to be listening to the Shins. It’s why he’s meshed well with a range of different artists from Frankenreiter to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, whom he’ll be supporting during big shows this month at the Tabernacle in Atlanta and the Orange Peel in Asheville.“Good lyrics and good melodies are what I get off on,” Baxter says. “When people hear my songs, I hope they sound familiar and fresh—like something good they haven’t heard in a while.”Yep Roc Turns 15Yep Roc Records, the venerable independent label based in the old mill town of Haw River, N.C., will celebrate 15 years this month with a three-night music showcase at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro. The label has international reach and a well-respected cult status for boldly releasing the work of a variety of artists from different genres. From the rockabilly of the Rev. Horton Heat to the folk rock of Nick Lowe to the experimental pop of the Minus 5, the label has built an impressive catalog of successful eclectic musicians. Over three days, the show in Carrboro will feature performances by label members past and present, including Lowe, Robyn Hitchcock, Fountains of Wayne, Josh Rouse, John Doe, the Sadies, Chuck Prophet, Liam Finn, Los Straitjackets, Dave Alvin, and Chatham County Line.primusmoogfest returns to AshevilleA stacked lineup of electronica and experimental rock acts will invade Asheville once again for the annual Moogfest. Cutting back to two days this year (October 26-27), the event will still feature over 30 bands performing at the indoor festival that utilizes five of the city’s biggest venues, including the U.S. Cellular Center Arena, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, and the Orange Peel. Headliners on the bill include Primus (performing a special show in 3D), Orbital, Mike Snow, Santigold, Explosions in the Sky, and the Magnetic Fields. The event honors late sonic innovator Bob Moog, who developed a range of experimental instruments and called Asheville home for 30 years. moogfest.comlast_img read more

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Weekend Pick: Tuck Fest Outdoor Competitions and Live Music

first_imgThe second annual Tuck Fest will be taking place this weekend April 26-27 at the U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) in Charlotte, N.C.The name “Tuck Fest” comes from the Tuckaseegee Ford and Trail, a historical landmark located at the USNWC. The festival features a variety of outdoor sport competitions that include trail running, kayaking, biking, climbing, stand-up paddleboarding, slacklining and adventure racing.Click here for a full schedule and list of events! There’s a major music line up as well, with G. Love & Special Sauce headlining at 4 p.m. on Sunday.Screen shot 2014-04-24 at 12.54.54 PMlast_img read more

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Virginia is for Adventure Lovers Giveaway!

first_imgThis contest is complete.Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 Midnight EST on June 15th, 2015. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before June 15th, 6:00 PM EST 2015. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.last_img read more

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Beyond the Blue Ridge: Cycling the Off Season on San Juan Island

first_imgThe San Juan Islands are a hidden gem off the coast of Washington State that many consider a bicycling paradise. Within the 172 named islands in the archipelago, the three main islands with the most miles to ride are San Juan Island, Orcas Island and Lopez Island. All are extremely bike-friendly, as evidenced by the marked bike pull-offs that lined the island’s main highway and the low-traffic roads. While the summer season is beautiful and boasts picture-perfect weather, cycling the largest of the islands, San Juan Island, in the off-season is budget-friendly and less crowded. It’s worth the trip as long as you are prepared and don’t mind a little bit of rain!So why visit the Pacific Northwest to cycle during what is historically the wettest time of the year? Out of the average 247 days of sunshine, November is known to receive an average of 4.33 inches of precipitation.The variable weather patterns add a challenge that some cyclists enjoy tackling.In the off-season, you’re much more likely to see locals out and about, and they’re less busy with tourists and more willing to engage with you. In addition to less crowds at restaurants, the roads are practically empty, so this is a prime opportunity to cycle the island. The only downside to traveling to San Juan Island in the off-season is that a few of the businesses close down at the end of October. Be sure to plan ahead and check on hours. Grab your panniers and rain jacket, and map out your trip to cycle around San Juan Island.Cycling San Juan IslandThe main cycling loop is comprised of the North South and West San Juan Scenic Byways. The terrain covers rolling hills as you cycle along coastlines, through Pacific Northwest forests and past farmland. With a list of attractions to hit along the route, you can circumnavigate the 43 mile route in a day.Start with a ride to the Southern coast of San Juan Island. The ride out to American Camp passes by vast farmland. Your first stop will be Jackson Beach, a sandy stretch of beach populated with driftwood. Further down Cattle Point Road, American Camp, a National Historic Park, is the site where the American soldiers stayed during the U.S./British occupation in the mid-1800s. In rainy weather and the Pacific Northwest’s fog, the park’s battlefields add an element of mystery to the historical remnants to the trip. Continue cycling on Cattle Point Road and as the road rises, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of South Beach and the expanding coastline. Cattle Point Lighthouse is at the bottom of a steeply graded road (about 10.5 percent), so you may decide to admire from the top of the hill. Take a break at the picnic tables, meander through the grassy fields, and look across the coastline to where this lighthouse was once a beacon for ships in the 1800s.One of the prime spots on the island for wildlife is at Lime Kiln Point State Park. Bikes aren’t allowed on the hiking trails, so lock them up at the visitor center, or you can easily walk the trails with them. The Marine Life Overlook is a short walk down the gravel path directly behind the park office, and here is where you can scan the water for both orcas and seals. Further along the trail, the lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point State Park juts out from the coastline. It was built in 1919, and still serves as a beacon for vessels in the Haro Strait. The park offers 1.6 miles of trail that loop around the park, meandering on the coastline and dipping into the lush, moss-laden woods.From the Southern Coast, make a detour inland to see one of San Juan Island’s many agritourism farms, Pelindaba Lavender Farm, which is only open from May through October .The peak time to visit for “peak purpleness”, as the company calls it, is July and August. If you can’t make it out to the farm, or it’s closed in off season, you can stop by the shop in Friday Harbor. Both the farm and shop sell a variety of lavender products, essential oils and plants. The farm features more than 25,000 lavender plants, and 50 different varieties. Since 2001, Pelindaba has been open to the public to demonstrate the wide diversity of lavender.The bike from the lavender farm to the next farm, Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, takes you over some of the more challenging hills on the island on Mitchell Bay Road and West Valley Road. You’ll know when you see the farm, because the pastures around the farm are filled with 70 fluffy grazing alpacas. Stop into the gift shop, where you may meet one of the owners, Kris, who breeds the alpacas for shows. The farm sells warm socks and other items that are made from both the Alpacas on the island, and from Peru.It’s a two-mile bike to Roche Harbor, one of the private seaside resort and residential communities on the island. This part of the island is its own community, that in summers often bustles with vacationers. In the off-season, it’s quaint and quiet, but worth a stop to rest the legs and grab lunch.The San Juan Island Distillery is a short jaunt from Roche Harbor. The distillery is only open on weekends, so plan your ride so that you can visit. The distillery makes 12 different gins, liqueurs, an award-winning apple brandy (distilled using French techniques), and cider from their Westcott Bay Cider orchard. If you can’t make it to the distillery, or wine is more your thing, just a little further down the road is San Juan Vineyards.The winery’s two estate grapes, Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine, account for about 20-30 percent of the total annual production, while the rest of their wines are produced on-site from grapes shipped in from the Yakima Valley and Horse Heaven Hills Appellations of Eastern Washington.The tasting room is an old schoolhouse from 1895, and was renovated when the winery was purchased in 1996.  Tastings are a bargain; three wines for $5!Before the final ride back to Friday Harbor-only about three miles- look across the street at the farmland and you’ll see on the horizon… is that a camel?! Yes, a camel had somehow found its way onto San Juan Island. Turns out her name is Mona, and she’s a well-known character for anyone who drives (or bikes) on Roche Harbor Road. Her story is fascinating– she was bought by a pilot who then left the island, and her new owners bought her from an ad in the island paper.Where to Stay- The Tucker HouseSan Juan Island is home to several bed and breakfasts in addition to small, boutique hotels. You won’t find chains here! For a cycling trip, you can count on a hearty breakfast to adequately fuel for rides if you stay at a bed and breakfast. One that is just a few blocks from Friday Harbor is Tucker House, part of the San Juan Island Inn Collection. The bed and breakfast is charming with antique decor, a tiny kitchen for guest’s use, a well-lit sunroom, and even  fresh cookies. In addition to daily breakfast, each afternoon a special treat is waiting for you in your room, like homemade chocolate, thumbprint cookies or white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. Breakfast at The Tucker House always includes a two course meal: seasonal fruit, homemade yogurt and granola for course one, and some sort of filling, fresh hot dish for course two. Ingredients are locally sourced and the meals are substantial and filling enough to last you through the morning.Where to EatCask & Schooner– This is a great, affordable option that is reminiscent of the gastropubs in the East. The pub-style fare, like all the island restaurants, highlights farm-grown food from the island, including Westcott Bay oysters, clams, and mussels. The servings are hearty and the menu features comfort food like bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.Coho Restaurant – This is one of the high-end restaurants on the island, owned by the same group as the bed and breakfast, the Tucker House. The menu is a balance of sustainable, island-grown ingredients that are influenced by Pacific and Mediterranean cuisines. Dine multi-course here, and know that each plating will be artfully presented to you. This is the place to get a bottle of wine, as the list has been recognized with an Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator for five years in a row. Roche Harbor: Lime Kiln Cafe– During the off-season, there are only two open restaurants in Roche Harbor, and Lime Kiln Cafe is the spot for breakfast and lunch. It makes a nice stop for lunch during your ride, as the place is casual and you can eat in your bike clothes. The large windows in the restaurant overlook the harbor, so do some wildlife watching while you eat. The cafe-style menu features sandwiches and a few salads. If you come in the morning, or want a sweet treat, try one of their donuts, made in-house every morning.How to Get There:San Juan Island and its sister islands are accessible a few different ways, including the Washington State Ferry, Victoria Clipper, sea plane or a regional flight.last_img read more

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Ten Spectacular Overnight Trips in Shenandoah National Park

first_imgWith 200,000 acres of protected wilderness, Shenandoah National Park is perfect for any adventure seeker. Shenandoah offers views along the scenic Skyline Drive and plentiful trails for hiking enthusiasts of all ages. Just 75 miles from Washington D.C. and less than 30 minutes from Charlottesville, SNP is ideal as a weekend getaway or as a spot to polish backcountry skills.The park charges $20 per car for unlimited weeklong access or $40 for an annual pass. Tight on money? Visit during National Park Week from April 16-24 to take advantage of waived entrance fees. Here are ten overnight trips we recommend to anyone looking to experience some of Virginia’s best wilderness.White RocksDifficulty: BeginnerDistance: 5.0-8.5 mi. (Round-trip)Nights: 1Relatively flexible, the length of this trip can depend on how far you need to go to find a suitable campsite for the group. Opting to take the Hazel River Trail–a good choice if avoiding flooded streams, can also extend the loop. With a small cave and waterfall, this short trip has a lot to offer and is suitable as an introduction to backpacking. You can find the trailhead at the Meadow Spring Area off of MP 34.Big Meadows & Rose RiverDifficulty: BeginnerDistance: 14 mi.  (Circuit)Nights: 2This trip is a slightly longer circuit for those looking to spend two nights in the wilderness. Several beautiful waterfalls lie along the trail, and the first night will be spent at the well-known Big Meadows campground. While a wonderful place to break camp, Big Meadows is very popular and can fill up quickly during peak hiking seasons. Plan ahead to arrive early if this is your desired destination. You can find the trailhead at Milam Gap off of MP 53.Big Run Loop & Appalachian Trail CircuitDifficulty: Beginner/Strenuous BeginnerDistance: 6.8-13.8 mi. (Circuit)Nights: 1Big Run Loop is also a flexible trip, with the length increasing from a base 6.8 miles depending on how far along Big Run Portal the group desires to go for exploring or finding a campsite. The Big Run wilderness valley has excellent open harvest fishing and is generally worth exploring. There are multiple stream crossings on Big Run Portal, check the weather before heading out as to avoid heavy rains. You can find the trailhead at Big Run Overlook/Doyles River Parking off of MP 81.Whiteoak Canyon & Cedar RunDifficulty: Strenuous BeginnerDistance: 8-14 mi. (Circuit)Nights: 1Whiteoak Canyon is home to many beautiful waterfalls, and is one of the most popular hikes in the park. This circuit is a must-see, but it should ideally be visited during the week. Heavy trail traffic during the weekend makes the hike less enjoyable and backcountry camping somewhat more difficult. You can find the trailhead at Hawksbill Gap off of MP 45.Big Meadows, Hawksbill, and Rose RiverDifficulty: Strenuous Beginner Distance: 21 mi. (Circuit)Nights: 2Access: MP 53A variation of the Big Meadows & Rose River trip listed above, this is a fantastic two-night trip in the backcountry. Included is a visit to Hawksbill Summit, the highest peak in Shenandoah National Park. However, this hike also has the first night at Big Meadows campground—be sure to plan ahead. You can find the trailhead at Milam Gap off of MP 53.15542215599_ac55bd8656_z (1)Overall Run & Beecher RidgeDifficulty: Strenuous Beginner/ExperiencedDistance: 12-14 mi. (Circuit)Nights: 1Overall Run & Beecher Ridge is a fun one-night trip for the intermediate backpacker. A nice summer destination, Overall Run & Beecher Ridge has the highest waterfalls in all of Shenandoah at around 93 feet, along with a few swimming holes. You can find the trailhead at Hogback off of MP 21 or near MP 21.1 parking.Big Run, Doyles River, and FrazierDifficulty: Strenuous Beginner/ExperiencedDistance: 18.1-26.8 mi. (Circuit)Nights: 2This circuit is a fairly flexible trip with an optional extra day of backpacking along Big Run Portal for a total of three nights. Along with the exceptional wilderness and fishing along Big Run, this trip also features three popular waterfalls along Doyles River and Frazier Discovery Trail. You can find the trailhead at Loft Mountain Wayside off of MP 79.9816670373_4e6a39278f_zPocosin, Laurel Prong, and SlaughterDifficulty: ExperiencedDistance: 27.5-29 mi. (Circuit)Nights: 3A slightly lengthy trip for the more experienced, this circuit features fabulous views, 83-foot waterfalls, and mission ruins. It is recommended to wear blaze orange during hunting season, as the trail passes through Rapidan Wildlife Management Area at some points where hunting is allowed. You can find the trailhead at the South River Picnic Area off of MP 63.Central District HighlightsDifficulty: Experienced/AdvancedDistance: 55 mi. (Circuit)Nights: 5Great for those looking for Spring Break plans or an adventurous vacation, this trip features the best bits of Shenandoah. With high peaks, river crossings, and waterfalls, Central District Highlights is perfect for those who want to experience a large portion of the park but don’t have the time to commit to a full thru hike. Old Rag is summited on the second day for some of the best views of the Shenandoah Valley. You can find the trailhead at the Meadow Spring Area off of MP 34.Entire Appalachian Trail through SNPDifficulty: AdvancedDistance: 120.6 mi. (One way)Nights: 7-13A true challenge, a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail through Shenandoah can be done in a few different ways. Depending on physical ability and time constraints, the hike can either be done as a quick 7-night, 15-mile a day trek or as a slightly more relaxed 13-night, 8-mile per day trip. You can find the trailhead at the Rockfish Gap/South Entrance area off of MP 105.As always, remember to brush up on Leave No Trace principles and SNP regulations before heading out. Also, all backcountry camping in Shenandoah requires a permit—make sure to plan ahead or pick one up at a station before entering the park.For more information about the park or trip details, click here. [divider]Related Articles[/divider]last_img read more

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