Camping in the Shenandoah

Shenandoah Camping

Camping is simple, fun and cheap so when weather permits, I like to work it in to my travel plans. One night in the Shenandoah worked out just great!

Courtney needed a ride back to UVA so I was volunteered. Actually, when I learned that I was drafted I was happy since I’d get to spend some time with her. Little did I know that I’d have so much fun!

Not only did I take Courtney but I took her friend Peter as well. We had lots to talk about: Apple announcements, Facebook, digital photography, the iPhone and its poor substitute,the LG Instinct, the SlingMedia box, Netflix, Roku, yadda yadda. Before we knew it we had arrived. Easy drive. Pleasant.

My next stop was Big Meadows Camp Site along Skyline Drive. My goal was to make camp before sun down. I failed but that’s fine since I’m now an old hand at setting up my site with only the aid of a flashlight. Too often I’ve camped in the winter when evening comes early and long before I’m ready to stop driving. Yes, practice in this case makes perfect.

The night was beautiful with cool crisp air and a full moon. After an OK night’s sleep (who really sleeps “well” on the dirt ground?) I packed and continued driving down Skyline Drive. My goals were to find food, get a little time on the Internet, and arrive at Luray by late morning to see the caves. This too went well and by 10:00 I was buying my entrance ticket.

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Beautiful Beach Bike Ride

Travis On The Boardwalk

Perfect weather and a 23 mile bike path along the Los Angeles coast line ... perfect. This is a world class outing but let’s keep it a secret. Who needs the extra bike traffic?

On my way home from Catalina Island, I stopped for a day in Santa Monica with one goal in mind: to bicycle up and down the beaches of Los Angeles.

For years I’ve known of the paved bicycle path along the coast of Los Angeles. When we lived in LA, I remember seeing it when we visited various coastal communities. I didn’t know much about the path but, seeing it typically on a weekend, I certainly didn’t like how crowded it was.

Little did I know how light the traffic would be along the path on a Monday! I started out at the Santa Monica Pier because I was staying two blocks away and because I knew I could rent a bike there. For only $15 I was provided a tall, well-fitting bicycle for the day and I started by heading south.

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JazzTrax: Smooth Jazz in Paradise

Rancho Escondido

The Casino is JazzTrax’s main stage but opening night is a special event held at Rancho Escondido. Here, Mindi Abair played as the sun set and till the stars came out. Wonderful!

It’s so cool that my uncle is a concert promoter with his own syndicated smooth jazz program because I’m a fan of the genre and he gets me access.

This year for the second time I attended the JazzTrax Festival on Catalina Island off the coast of California. Starting Thursday at a remote ranch was an evening concert. This was followed by three days of concerts in Avalon’s Casino Ballroom. The agenda is packed with ten concerts with dozens of famous jazz musicians: Acoustic Alchemy, Mindi Abair, Warren Hill, Rick Braun, Richard Elliott and many more. Music I love performed by top talent. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Check out the JazzTrax web site for Art’s most recent radio show.

After the break are pictures from my time at the concerts.

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Avalon by Day and Night

Avalon Casino

This exotic fixture on the peninsula of the Avalon harbor is the world famous Casino. Its ballroom is the primary venue for all the JazzTrax concerts and from its terrace you can see forever!

On Catalina Island there’s only one town of consequence: Avalon. Though only 22 miles from Long Beach and one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, this town of 3,300 is quaint, peaceful and amazingly beautiful. It’s harbor is a picturesque crescent filled with sailboats bobbing in beautiful blue waters. The town is totally walkable. Everything is of manageable scale and you feel relaxed while you’re there, especially if you’re there for a jazz festival!

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