Tag Archives: Outdoors

JMU and Female Longboarders: Give ‘Em a Break

( Photo retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/101106985@N03/ )

Guys who longboard? They’re cool. Girls who longboard? They’re unskilled wannabees.

I’m not quite sure when gender became an indicator of ability to ride a piece of wood with four wheels, but as a girl who genuinely enjoys a good longboard ride at home, it irks me how I don’t feel comfortable bringing my longboard to JMU.

I’m a Delaware native which usually implies one of three things: I’m a northerner from around or near urban Wilmington, a redneck who lives amongst hundreds of acres of corn and soybeans, or I’m a beach bum. And although I do live in the middle of a cornfield, I am definitely a beach bum through and through. The beaches I grew up around, Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, are family-oriented and include hundreds of massive beach houses and miles of flat, skinny side roads. So, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise to you that my summers were spent outside. And most of the time, my transportation during the day did not involve a car. I traveled with my feet, a bike, or—you guessed it—my longboard.

Okay, let me clarify before I continue: I would never claim to be an awesome or skilled longboarder. In fact, by most standards, I suck. The roads I typically ride on are flat and straight. The few times I went to our local skate park to ride, I sat on my butt as I rolled down the hill. But that doesn’t eliminate one factor—I have fun. I thoroughly and genuinely enjoy longboarding.

When I came to JMU, I was keenly aware of how many hills existed here. I moved from one of the flattest states on the east coast to one of the mountainous, but I was optimistic. I knew how to ride a longboard (in its simplest form), and I needed to get from East Campus to the Quad in less than 15 minutes. So why not longboard from class to class? It made sense, right? Even if I did fall on my face, I could slowly learn how to master the hills.

My optimism and confidence was quickly shaken, but not from some horrible face-plant at the bottom of the Village Hill. In fact, the first time I tried to ride around campus, I didn’t fall at all because I knew my limits and would pick up and walk my longboard if I felt I wasn’t ready. My confidence was shaken by the judging looks I received throughout campus. The guys I saw riding to class were completely ignored, as if a guy on a longboard was more natural than a sorority girl holding a Starbucks cup. But I—a girl—was met with a spectrum of reactions. Some looked at me with a judgmental glare; some just stared because they were shocked that a girl was even within touching distance of a longboard; others would stop me and ask questions about my board or experience—questions I couldn’t answer because, as I mentioned above, I was under no impression that I was going to have a professional longboarding career. Longboarding was just a hobby to me, not a passion. So my lack of knowledge, honestly, just made me look like an idiot.

I kept trying, but eventually gave up. And by the time my freshman year ended, my longboard was just a dust collector under my bed. I brought it back to school for my sophomore and junior year, but never touched it. And when it came time to pack up my things for senior year, I just left my longboard at home.

Even today, I read tweets people post about girl longboarders on campus: “Do they even know what they are doing?” or “Ugh, if you are girl, just stay off the board.”

Now, this isn’t to say that everyone one looks down on a girl who longboards, or that there aren’t highly skilled girl longboarders at JMU. I am just saying that, from experience, longboarding became a lot less fun for me.

Looking back, I wish I could have just grown a back-bone and ignored everyone around me. However, being the people-pleaser and introvert that I am, longboarding just became less and less fun. And now, I only ride at home, on flat land, near the beach.

So can we all just agree to give us girls a break? We are allowed to enjoy longboarding, and yes, some girls do kick butt at it.

Tasty Autumn Treats Make Early Appearance in the Arboretum

By Taylor Hudson

On any given day, JMU’s Edith J. Carrier arboretum boasts picturesque landscape, a calming atmosphere, and a plethora of prosperous and beautifully tended plants. Although, on Friday, August 30th, the arboretum offered more than just a beautiful stroll; it gave JMU students, faculty, and local residents a chance to indulge in locally created refreshments.

“Wine and Cheese in the Trees” is an event hosted by the arboretum staff twice a year—once in the spring, and then again in the fall. The treats offered are typically centered around seasonal foods.

As the title suggests, the event offered many types of wine and cheese. But, at this autumn inspired event, apples were the true stars of the show. Tables of locally brewed hard-ciders along with homemade apple cider doughnuts gave this event a unique twist.

Misty Newman, Assistant Director in the Office of Community Service Learning, claims that she was excited to learn about the introduction of ciders at this typically wine-centered event. “It’s a great way to celebrate the end of the first week of classes,” Newman says. “You hear a lot about a lot of wine and beer pairings, but you don’t often hear of cider pairings. It’s nice to enjoy something different.”

Approximately seventy-five people attended the event, which included JMU students, faculty, and local residents—all obviously over the age of twenty-one. Each guest was given two tickets upon entry, and then, could exchange a ticket for beverage. The beverage menu included wines from Stone Mountain Vineyards and Barboursville Vineyards—both Virginia-native wineries. The hard cider was from a relatively new cidery in Timbersville, Virginia called Old Hill Cider, owned by Showalter Farms.

The owners of the cidery, Shannon and Sarah Showalter, attended the event as well. They stood up in front of the crowd and discussed the history of their farm, the process of creating a hard cider, and the different types of cider created. This family-owned cider business is still in its beginning stages, but, according to the Showalters, its progress has leaped beyond their expectations—the revenue has already tripled from what was expected in their business plan.

Laura Williams, a Ph.D. student in the JMU Assessment and Measurement program, tried both ciders—Cidermaker’s Barrel and Yesteryear. “The Cidermaker’s Barrel Cider has more depth of flavor, almost a multi-flavor. It’s much richer,” she explained.

In addition to a beverage menu, there was an abundance of sweet treats. To compliment the hard ciders, homemade apple doughnuts were offered. Elizabeth Forsland, former JMU E-Hall pastry chef and current manager of Festival, put on a cooking demonstration. She walked guests through the process of making three different glazes—chocolate, white chocolate, and white chocolate maple. Each time she completed a glaze, guests could indulge in a taste-test of the warm, freshly made doughnuts.

All in all, the event was relaxed, enjoyable, and merely gave guests an opportunity to enjoy good company and great food, under the trees, on a warm August evening. What more could you ask for in a visit to the arboretum?

For more information on upcoming events in the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, visit their website at http://www.jmu.edu/arboretum.

Hiking In Harrisonburg

By Taylor Hudson

Ignore the fact that there was snowstorm on Sunday night—I promise; warm weather is on its way! We have one month left before finals week. And, if you are an outdoors junkie like I am, that means only four more weeks available for sunbathing on the Quad, and most importantly, hiking.

As a Delaware native, mountains are nonexistent; therefore hiking was never a regular pastime of mine. But, when I came to JMU, I was bitten by the hiking-bug and fell in love with spending hours on a trial. So, I like to take advantage of all the hiking options the Shenandoah Valley has to offer as often as I can.

White Oak Canyon is a personal favorite of mine. Even though it is located in the Shenandoah National Park about forty minutes down 81, it is well worth the drive. This hike is about eight miles and takes about four to five hours to complete. Plus, it has a waterfall. Fair warning: the waterfall might not always be in its full glory. Try this trail after a good rainstorm, and the waterfall is guaranteed to be stunning, but if you catch it during a dry spell, I’ll admit that it can look a little weak.

Another favorite is Reddish Knob. This trail is an even further drive from campus, taking about an hour. This trail has a gorgeous view at the peak, so I suggest going during sunset or during the fall to take in the sight of the leaves changing colors from different heights.

If you are one of those people that loves the outdoors but don’t have time to devote an entire Saturday to a hike, don’t fret. Go to Blue Hole. Sure, it isn’t a hike, nor does it offer much in the realm of awesome views. But, this swimming hole is a popular spot for JMU students. It’s about 40 minutes away from campus and offers just enough outdoor experience to quench your craving. As it gets warmer, however, Blue Hole gets pretty popular, so it may be crowded, especially on the weekends.

Whether you are a seasoned professional or a newbie to hiking, the Harrisonburg area has plenty of awesome trails. For a small fee, UREC even offers excursions through out the semester.

Click here to visit their website to learn more information about how to sign up!