Learn to Surf!

One of the best ways to cool off in the hot summer months is to go to the beach.  As I discovered with my first attempts last summer,  it is even better if I can grab a surf board and get in the water to catch some waves.  I had a really successful surf lesson on Long Beach, Long Island this past Saturday and wanted to share the company info with those who might be interested.

Skudin Surf, Inc. has local surfing lessons at Long Beach and the Rockaways. The instructors were really helpful and I improved a lot during my 90 minute session. Here is a link to their website where you can sign yourself up for surf lessons and camps www.skudinsurf.com .  Even if you have never surfed before, they will help you get up on the board in no time!  I look forward to putting the skills I learned to good use on future surfing outings.

Club Getaway

I have heard about Club Getaway for a while now.  But this past Memorial Day Weekend was my first visit to the adventure/activities/party camp for adults.  With all of the activities I have been doing for the past few years, I thought it would be the perfect weekend trip for me.  Here was my experience this past weekend:

Club Getaway definitely has many devout followers.  One of the questions that my friend and I were asked the most during our trip was if this was our first time there (which it was).    People come from all over to enjoy a weekend away from their everyday lives and they often keep coming back frequently.  There are already plans from some people I met there to return for the July 4th weekend.  As for me, I had a great time, but am not sure I will be one of those people.  Time will tell.

Buses from NY and Boston, along with people arranging their own transportation, all came together on Friday evening to start off the weekend.  There were around 300 people there to celebrate the Memorial Day summer kick off.  I signed up with a meetup group, which I will write more about in another entry, but they were a highlight to the Club Getaway experience.

Once checked into our cozy cabins, we arrived to an amazing assortment of appetizers – everything from sushi to a mashed potato bar.  After indulging in far too much food, it was time for even more food at dinner.  Everyone is served a few courses and many bottles of wine during dinner.  Since this was the first night, there was not as much partying.  People needed to rest up for a busy day of fun the next day!

Everyone is provided with a jam packed schedule of varied events for each day of the weekend.  Some events require signing up in advance which should be done ASAP the morning of the event because things fill up quickly.  For my first day, I started with the camp zipline followed by the trapeze and bungee trampoline.  Then after lunch, my friend and I had signed up for a local vineyard tour which was a great way to see the surrounding area.  It was beautiful!  Once back at Club Getaway, happy hour was in full swing with a burger competition and people hanging out at the boathouse.  There were early evening rides around the lake in the pontoon boat which featured delicious rum punch and sometimes even guitar music – I loved the pontoon boat!  This was followed by dinner, comedians and a themed neon glow party which went on into the night.  For me, Sunday consisted of a morning stretch, a walk to the town of Kent, and swimming and relaxing by the waterfront.  After Sunday’s dinner there was a band, another theme party and a campfire complete with s’more making.  By Monday, I could feel that I was running out of time.  There was so much more to do!  I decided on a yoga class followed by a hike around a local waterfall before that final lunch snuck up on me and it was time to pack and return home on the bus.

There is so much I wanted to do, but those were the activities I was able to fit in for the weekend.  In addition to my preferences, there are numerous sports, classes, hikes, biking, and many other options to choose from to fill your day.  Many people opted to just relax and lounge by the water during most of the three days.  The weekend is entirely up to you and you can be as adventurous as you want to be.

Throughout the summer and even during early fall, Club Getaway has different weekend adventures planned.  Check out their schedule and pricing on their website at www.clubgetaway.com.  There are often specials if you sign up early so be sure to plan ahead!

Summer Refreshment at Its Best

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Watermelon Margarita

Fatty’s Cafe in Astoria has created the ultimate summer beverage.  They already serve a wide variety of mixed drinks, have an impressive selection of beer and are known to serve one of the best mojitos around.  This weekend during one of my regular visits, they brought forth the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day.  Mixed with real watermelon puree, I tried the new watermelon margarita and it is mouth-watering delicious!  I am not even the biggest watermelon fan, but once I tasted a sip I was instantly converted.  This beverage was only introduced this weekend and word about it is quickly spreading. 

In addition to the watermelon margarita, Fatty’s Cafe also started to offer a watermelon mimosa option during their weekend brunch hours and there is a watermelon daiquiri that can be made if that is your preference.  All I know is that you want to order this drink while you can because you certainly don’t want to be the only one who missed out!   And once you try one, you will find it hard to resist ordering another.  While cooling off at Fatty’s, be sure to indulge in their fabulous food offerings too as they serve dinner daily and weekend brunch from 11am-4pm.

All Points West Festival – This Weekend!

 

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This weekend, head to Liberty State Park for the All Points West Festival.  This year there is a wide variety of performers during this local three day music event.  If you are coming from Manhattan, I recommend taking the ferry. That way you can fully take in the beautiful scenery on your way to Liberty State Park.  Once at the festival there will be plenty of music, art and food to enjoy throughout the day.  I had a lot of fun last year and am looking forward to this year’s line-up.  Check out their website for all the details at http://www.apwfestival.com/index.php.

Music Festival in Astoria this Saturday

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Looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors while listening to a variety of local performers this weekend?  The second annual Astoria Music Now Music Festival will be held on Saturday, July 25th in beautiful Astoria Park.  This year they have expanded the performance areas to include not only the main & side stages on the Great Lawn but there will also an additional third stage dedicated to world music, DJ’s, dance & theater arts.  Vendors will be selling crafts, clothing, art & food at this event as well.   Activities are scheduled to begin at 12 noon and last until 9pm.  The weather should be great so get out there and enjoy!!!

Surfing Day Trip with ZogSports

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After last weekend’s day of surfing at Rockaway Beach which was organized through one of my meetup groups, I was really looking forward to getting an actual surf lesson and seeing if I could improve during my day trip with Zogsports.  For this outing, we met in the city at 7am to begin our bus ride to Long Branch, NJ.  I was surprised at how quick the bus ride was and we arrived before the beach was officially open.  This worked out well because we had our pick of were to set up our blankets on the beach.  The weather was absolutely perfect and our surf instructors said these were great conditions for learning to surf.

The surfing lessons were organized through Billabong Surf Camps.  They had a tent set up on the beach where all the boards, rash guards, and wet suits were kept throughout the day.  They were also kind enough to provide super strength waterproof sunblock (which was greatly appreciated!), as well as some cold water and snacks for our group.

Since we had so many people who had signed up for surfing lessons, the day was divided as follows: there were three different groups of surfing lessons and then after those were over there would be time for people to get back out on the water with the instructors there to assist as needed.  I was disappointed that I would not be able to go out on the water as much as I wanted to during the day, but that was how this trip was organized.  I was in the first surfing lesson group where we had three instructors for each group of six students.  The lesson consisted of half an hour on land and then an hour on the water.  For this official lesson, everyone was instructed to try to stand instead of use some of the less difficult positioning that I had started learning the other day. 

Once on the water with our instructors, we were dependant upon the ocean to provide us with some great waves.  There were some frustrating lulls (since time was so limited) but there were also some nice opportunities to try our hand at standing up on our boards.  I caught some waves and got really close to standing up although I usually wiped out immediately after getting on my feet.  I only wished that I had more time on the water to keep working at it. 

After the lesson was finished, I stayed in the water for a bit before resting and relaxing with my friends on the beach.  Due to the wave conditions and the lesson schedule running over, I never did get back in the water with a board.  Instead, I joined other people from the group for the planned happy hour. We ended up at a place called Tiki Bar which was located nearby. Surrounded by palm trees with a nice view of the ocean, they served some excellent frozen drinks while a band played some reggae tunes.  It was the perfect way to cool off after lying in hot the sun most of the afternoon.  At 6pm it was time to head back to NYC.  This time there was some traffic but that is to be expected on a Sunday evening in the summer.

All in all, I had a great time on this trip.  I loved hanging out on the beach and not having to worry about getting myself there.  I would prefer to have access to a rental board for the entire day in the future, so I am not sure I would sign up for actual surfing lessons again if that is not something that can be arranged.  With Zogsports, there is the option to sign up without the lesson and just pay for transportation and a day at the beach.  This is something I hope they offer again this season as I would definitely sign up.

Long Branch, NJ was quite beautiful and very clean.   There were some amazing houses that we passed by on the drive in.  The main area where we spent most of the day had a variety of nice shops and places to eat, although some leaned towards a higher price range.  If you are looking for a beautiful, well-kept beach that is not too far from the city, this is a fantastic place to go.

Surfing at Rockaway Beach

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I had never been surfing before, but I am a member of a meetup group that has scheduled outings during the summer for people of all skill levels to hang out and work on their surfing skills.  In this particular group, those who have been surfing awhile generously offer to help the beginners get started with some basic instructions.  As you can guess, it is extremely difficult to surf so just getting the basics down is a challenge.  But I must admit it is a fun challenge, as I discovered this past Saturday! 

Depending on where you live, it is only takes a short drive or a subway ride on the A train to get to the Rockaways where there are at least 2 designated surfing beaches (between 67-69 Streets and between 87-92 Streets).  This past weekend, my group went to the less populated 67th Street area.  When we arrived it felt like it was our own private beach!  There was plenty of space to lie out on the sand and no real crowding when in the water.  The waves were pretty great this particular day too so we were very lucky!  I have not yet been to the 92nd street surfing area other than to rent a board at Boarders Surf Shop, but I would guess it is very similar.  You can check out the surfing conditions before you go at: http://www.surfline.com/surf-report/rockaway-beach-90th-northeast_4270/

As a kid, I would spend most of my beach time in the water and I used to love boogie boarding.  In the more recent years though, I have usually just waded near the shore and tried not to get too covered in salt water.  For this visit to the beach, I had signed up to try surfing so avoiding the water was not an option.  As I was led into the water lugging my rental surf board, it was an abrupt reminder of how powerful the ocean is as the waves crashed against me.  There is nothing more humbling then getting knocked over and tossed about by a strong wave.  After listening to some basic pointers, it was then time to see what I could do on my own.  As the day went on, I kept trying to catch waves and work on developing my surfing skills.  It was the most invigorating feeling when I was able to stay on the board during those times when I didn’t wipe out.    I wasn’t able to officially stand up on the board this time but I did have some successful attempts at the more beginner level surfing positions.  Later in the afternoon, the waves got a little too rough for me so I finally ended my surfing efforts.

As this was my first time to try surfing, I was not sure how it would go.  Now I can say that I am a definite surfing fan and eager to go again.  Luckily, I am already signed up for an official lesson next weekend during a day trip to the Jersey Shore.  This weekend’s informal meetup was an amazing time with a fun group of people.  I look forward to seeing how it goes with ZogSports on their surfing day trip next Sunday.