River and Earth Adventures stands out from other wilderness outfitters by being completely operated by their own guides. Their fleet of seasoned cave, mountain, and water-navigating guides work in tandem with professional ecologists and geologists, focusing Blue Ridge Mountains excursions on environmental education as well as adventure. During all day trips, guides divulge area history and expound on forest and river ecosystems as well as geology in caves whose interiors rest at 60 degrees year-round to keep them free of snowman hermits.
Each trip also immerses adventurers in athletic activity, whether on hikes to summits and secluded waterfalls, spelunking through electricity-free cave tunnels, or rafting and kayaking down the Watauga River rapids. For those in search of extended excursions, guides lead children's adventure day camps and combination trips that further an environmental focus and bottle-cap collections through river cleanup projects.
When patrons exit RiverGirl Fishing Co.'s historic train depot for their aquatic kayak and tubing lessons, they're placed in the charge of the outfit's founder, Kelly McCoy. During tours of the New River, which runs north through Todd, she educates guests about the area's natural landscape.
During the winter she heads to Florida, where she leads groups out onto the calm, peaceful waters of the Choctawatchee River from access points such as the Port Washington boat ramp near Eden Garden State Park, the scenic 30-acre gulf coast, or the black creek, and then guides the flotilla into the region's untamed natural beauty. As a fisheries biologist, Kelly's passion helps visitors and locals enjoy the surrounding landscape with conservation-conscious activities.
Since 2001, Extreme Snowboard and Ski has populated the slopes of Sugar Mountain Resort with snow sportsters outfitted with rental and retail equipment, as well as apparel from brands such as Neff, Loki, and Grenade. The ski shop’s prime location at the entrance to mountain makes it a convenient stop for downhillers in need of rental skis or snowboards, a new pair of Spy or Smith goggles, or equipment tuning performed by the onsite repair technicians. The tech team treats skis and boards with the help of a Wintersteiger Micro 91, restoring their functionality and refining their bottoms until they can slide over snow with powder-cutting grace.
Whizzing around the city using zip lines as your main mode of transport would be great, if the costs associated with Batman-esque rocket-launched grapple hooks weren't so astronomical. Today's deal lays the lines and preps the sites for your convenience: for $40, you get one guided tour from Scream Time Zipline, an $89 value. Your area of exploration is two hours northwest of Charlotte in Zionville (where a shuttle bus will take you into the wild), but the drive is worth it. Zip lines are meant for treetop canopies and natural splendor, not concrete jungles and cityscape.
Grammy-nominated country-bluegrass performer Dierks Bentley takes the stage at this year's Appalachian Summer Festival, an annual outdoor concert and arts celebration held in Appalachian State University's football stadium. Bentley croons his way through songs from his latest album, Up on the Ridge, and plucks audience heartstrings while revisiting career-defining tracks such as “What Was I Thinkin’,” and “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do." Bring a blanket and watch firework displays with awed eyes, or thumb-wrestle aggressive praying mantises encroaching on your sandwich plate.
Crave treats diners to the fine art of food shrinkage with their internationally influenced menu of tapas. Tapas are smaller plates intended for snacking, sharing, combining, and carting home in microscopic doggy bags to create unique full-course meals. Crab-cake sliders layered with roma tomato and remoulade ($4.15) slip past dental defenses to tickle exposed taste buds, and fried goat cheese ($3.95) fills tonsil caverns with the echoing flavors of its pecan crust and granny-smith apple garnish. Chefs reflect their global modus operandi with battered plates of vegetable tempura ($5.95), bowls of spicy tomato-tortilla soup ($3.95), and miniature cowboy hats filled with 4-ounce portions of filet mignon ($9.95). Those saddled with heftier hunger pangs can satiate themselves with a large plate, such as duck confit with mushroom risotto, french beans, and mushrooms ($16), before stifling cacophonous sweet chompers with a delectable dessert of poached anjou pear with Grand Marnier sauce ($4.55).