first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Greek renewable power producer Terna Energy SA plans to allocate more than EUR 550 million (USD 597.1m) for clean energy projects, including 400 MW of new wind farms.The company will embark on the new plan with the construction of over 180 MW of wind parks, gradually expanding the capacity to a target of 400 MW.The overall investment in the proposed wind projects stands at EUR 550 million, Terna Energy said earlier this week. It noted the initiative adds to the previously announced EUR-1-billion programme for deploying more wind power capacity at home and developing environmental and energy storage projects.The Greek firm will shortly start building new wind farms in Euboea, the second-largest Greek island. Those projects are part of a 270 MW portfolio of fully or partially licensed projects that it secured through the acquisition of Greek-based RF Omalies SA.Terna Energy previously set a goal of having 2,000 MW of operating renewable energy assets in Greece and abroad in 2025. It now expects to fulfil this objective “much earlier” than planned. The company already has 1,390 MW of installed capacity in Europe, mostly in Greece, and the US.[Veselina Petrova]More: Terna Energy to add 400 MW of fresh wind capacity Terna Energy plans additional 400MW of wind capacity in Greecelast_img read more

first_imgMerredin solar farm, largest in Western Australia, begins sending power to the grid FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:The 100MW Merredin solar farm – by far the biggest in the state of Western Australia to date – has started sending power to the grid in the first phase of its commissioning process.The solar farm – near the wheat-belt town of the same name – is owned by Risen Energy and began sending output to the local grid a few days ago. Under a four stage commissioning process it will initially be able to export up to 20 per cent of its capacity, then up to 50 per cent in its second stage, and 80 per cent in the third stage before reaching full output in stage four.The Merredin solar farm began construction in the middle of last year and is one of three big wind and solar projects that will join the WA grid in 2020.The biggest wind farm in the state, the 212MW Yandin facility north of Perth, began exporting to the grid earlier this month and followed a similarly staged commissioning process. The 180MW Warradarge wind farm, also north of Perth, is also due to start generating to the grid soon.Remarkably, for a state with such excellent solar resources, and more than 1,300MW of rooftop solar, Merredin will be one of just a handful of large scale solar farms on the state’s main grid. It will join the country first grid-scale solar farm, Greenough River (now being upgraded from 10MW to 40MW), and the smaller Emu Downs and Badgingarra solar farms that are co-located with wind installations. There is also a 9.6MW solar farm at Northam.Large scale solar farms also being installed in the Pilbara, where big iron ore mines are turning to solar and storage to reduce the high cost of gas generation and to improve reliability. At least two solar plants – one of 60MW, and two more totaling 150MW, are planned by Fortescue Metals and Alinta Energy.[Giles Parkinson]More: West Australia’s first 100MW solar farm starts sending power to the gridlast_img read more

first_imgFinish flex: Kevin Baldwin from Reston, Va., celebrates at last year’s Luray Triathlon.Multisport in the MountainsWhether you’re into off-road adventure races or pavement-pounding triathlons, the Blue Ridge has multisport races with plenty of incline to steepen your challenge.Luray Triathlon: Luray, Va. • August 18Seize the opportunity to toe the line with six-time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott, who is set to take on this scenic course in the Shenandoah Valley. The two-day event features an international distance triathlon (1500m swim/41K bike/10K run) on Saturday, followed by a shorter sprint on Sunday. Both courses feature an open-water loop swim in Lake Arrowhead, followed by some rigorous pavement pedaling and pounding through winding country roads framed by a breathtaking Blue Ridge backdrop. luraytriathlon.comTri Creek Falls Triathlon: Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tenn. • August 19 A backwoods triathlon meets a low-key bluegrass festival at this Olympic distance race within the wooded confines of Fall Creek Falls State Park. Centrally located in the green hills between Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville, the race starts with a 1,500-meter open water swim in a peaceful lake, followed by a 40K bike ride on rolling roads, before finishing with a shaded 10K trail run. After conquering the course, every racer gets to enjoy some mighty fine picking and singing. endurancesportsmanagement.comNorth Carolina Adventure Race 26.2-Hour Epic: Morganton, N.C. • August 25This gut-check of an endurance event covers some of North Carolina’s most killer terrain. Last year only 40 percent of the racers who started actually finished, but those who did said the course offers an unparalleled wilderness adventure. Starting in Morganton, the race covers a burly stretch of the Pisgah National Forest, as racers bike, run, and rappel through the Brown Mountains, Table Rock, and the rugged canyon country of Linville Gorge. Add some paddling on Lake James and plenty of backcountry orienteering and you have all bases covered for an epic mountain challenge. Carter Caves 8-Hour Adventure Race: Carter Caves State Resort Park, Ky. • September 15 Part of a series that takes adventure racers to courses at different Kentucky state parks, the Carter Caves 8-Hour is your chance to see how low you can go. A long day of racing covers the best of Carter Caves State Resort Park, including trekking and mountain biking on 26 miles of trails, paddling the 45-acre Smokey Lake, and going subterranean as you explore an area that holds the highest concentration of caves in Kentucky. Soloists and teams of up to four can take on the intermediate-level race. flyingsquirreladventures.comCheckpoint Tracker Adventure Racing Championship: Oak Hill, W.Va. • September 27The largest adventure racing series in North America culminates with a backcountry bang. Solo racers and teams of up to four will cover 100 miles over approximately 30 straight hours, traversing the rugged terrain of West Virginia’s New River Gorge. Venerable sport pioneers Odyssey Adventure Racing are designing the championship course that is scheduled to include mountain biking, trekking, riverboarding, and guided whitewater rafting through class III-IV rapids.   Fountainhead Off-Road Duathlon: Fairfax Station, Va. • September 30 Go solo or grab a partner and break this one up into a relay, as you tackle some tough off-road terrain on the perimeter of Metro D.C. Start with a 2.5-mile run on the trails of Fountainhead Regional Park, then transition to a twisty 11-mile singletrack ride that’s rolling but reasonable. When you top it off with another 3.5-mile run you won’t feel anywhere near the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, as you stroll along the banks of the Occoquan Reservoir. ex2adventures.comDig the Du Off Road Duathlon: Hendersonville, N.C. • October 14 Bring your running shoes and your big wheeler and take the opportunity to race on trails normally closed to the public. The Dig the Du Off Road Duathlon takes place at the private Sky Valley Farm on a course that’s accessible to multi-sport newbies yet tough enough to make seasoned vets sweat. The race starts with a 2.5-mile run on twisty singletrack, leading into a 12-mile bike ride on unmaintained forest service roads with both steady uphill and downhill grades. Finish with another 2.5-mile trail jaunt, and you’ll be home free to grab a huge breath of fall air. idaph.net3 Races in 3 DaysThink you can handle three races in three straight days? Find out at the Lake Lure Olympiad Sports Festival, which takes place throughout North Carolina’s steep Hickory Nut Gorge August 24-26. The three-race challenge starts on Friday with the 10K Dam Run, a hearty 6.2-mile slog that climbs up the winding mountain roads near Lake Lure. The next day’s Lake Lure Triathlon features a 750-meter swim in its namesake, followed by a 20K quad-busting bike ride, and a 5K run with some steady ascents. Finish on Sunday with the Race to the Rock, which features an optional 25-mile bike ride or 5K run. Both tackle the grueling seven-percent grade of iconic Chimney Rock. hickorynutolympiad.comYou may be able to use this gear at your next triathlon, adventure race, or campout!last_img read more

first_imgEveryone has those favorite gear items, especially when it comes to clothing. Your favorite pair of cycling socks, your favorite pair of running shorts, your favorite camping flannel. There is a reason for this, they are either the most comfortable, perform the best, or hold a special place due to the memories you have made in them.I added a favorite gear item to my list this fall and winter, the Ibex Woolies 150 Crew. I found myself wearing the baselayer beneath bike jerseys, on runs, under my flannel to work, and more. It is just so comfortable that you can’t help but keep it at the top of the drawer.The 150g/m2 weight wool is incredibly soft and cozy, so much so that multiple times I found my girlfriend curled up on the couch in it. It keeps you quite warm while also doing a great job at regulating temperature. I found myself pairing the Woolie 150 with a cycling jersey, or in the case of running another baselayer or wind vest. It is a baselayer (which it excels at) not a mid layer, so keep that in mind when dressing for your outing.The fit is well thought out. Tight enough to keep out of the way and not bunch up if worn under another layer. The collar is nice and snug, but never tries to strangle you. I am 6’1” and 160 pounds and found a medium to be the perfect fit.As far as pricing you’re looking at $80. Wool is not cheap, we can all agree on that. The fact is though I have worn the Woolies 150 Crew well over 20 times and it shows no sign of wear and tear. The quality is top notch and does a much better job than some of the other synthetic baselayers I own.Bottom Line: If you’re looking to add another favorite gear item to your stockpile, be sure to give the Ibex Woolies 150 Crew a hard look.Check out the Ibex Woolies video below:last_img read more

first_imgI have done myself a disservice.  A number of years ago, I got my hands on a copy of Yellow Tag Mondays, the debut release from The Farewell Drifters.  The bluegrassy feel and tight harmonies on “Love We Left Behind,” the record’s opening track, hooked me from the get go, and I spent a lot of time with the disc over the following weeks.Now, flash forward a few years and cue the disservice.As often happens, The Farewell Drifters spun off my radar.  Somehow, I managed to miss their second record, 2011’s Echo Boom, entirely.  So, when I got word of the pending release of Tomorrow Forever, the band’s first album with Compass Records, my memory was jogged.  I tracked the new record down and was stunned by The Farewell Drifters’ sonic evolution.  The acoustic underpinning that originally drew me to the band years ago was still at the music’s core, but added to that was an indie folk rock vibe more reminiscent of The Lumineers or Fleet Foxes.This new sound works.So, do yourself a favor.  Learn from my mistake and let the disservice end with me; don’t let this band slip your attention and grab a copy of Tomorrow Forever.I recently caught up with Joshua Britt as the band was headed up to Maine.  Josh, who plays mandolin for the band, must be a stand up guy.  I tossed him a question that would have really allowed him to take a good natured jab at his brother, Clayton, who also plays in the band; he demurred and, instead, chatted up travels through Japan, skiing, and the joys of home.  It’s all good stuff, and  – having one myself – I appreciate a good brother.BRO – You guys have been at this for nearly a decade.  What do you know now about making records that you didn’t know back when you laid down Yellow Tag Mondays?JB – On that record, we were just poor kids paying a Nashville studio rate, so we had to work fast and memorize everything so we could nail it in the studio.  That record comes across as less risky for that reason.  I have learned that the studio is the best place in the world to experiment and create arrangements.  With this record, we lived in the studio for a month, just experimenting with sounds for these tunes.  We approach the studio now as a creative environment where the sounds and arrangements are more open to discovery and risk taking.  We also found a producer we all respect and who helped us navigate which fights are worth fighting.BRO – Got a favorite wintertime activity?JB – We have taken up skiing whenever we get a chance.  I enjoy the feeling of being right on the edge of losing control, both musically and physically.  Our bass player was training to be a pro snowboarder at one point in his life.  So far, we have done Mt. Hood in Oregon and Massanutten in Virginia.BRO – Favorite band of the moment?JB – I am in love with this band called Isaiah from Tel Aviv.  I spend a lot of time combing through Youtube for good music and that’s where I found these guys.  There is not much info about them online, but I think this is the writer/bouzouki player’s first project in English.  It blew my socks off when I heard that because the writing is beautiful.  I talk to him sometimes on Facebook about bouzouki and octave mandolin tunings.  Check him out at – You guys are on the road a lot.  Got a city you can’t wait to visit again?JB – Yawata, Japan, has been the closest we have come to paradise, in my opinion.  It’s a mountain town in Northern Japan that took a four hour bullet train ride from Japan to reach.  We played a show there and then stayed for a week.  All the locals share a garden in the middle of the town and it has beautiful hot spring baths.  At one point, I was walking down the road without a coat and an eighty year old man tried to give me his.  We climbed the 2,466 stone steps of Mt. Haguro to the huge temple on top.  I want to go back.BRO – What’s the best thing about getting home and off the road?JB – Being home is a great feeling.  After all these years, the road still feels more like an adventure than a home.  Whether we are getting back to families and friends or just plain old normalcy, it feels good.  When I think of home, I think of the people that love me and the ability to just be a loner who writes songs.  There is nothing in the world as good as pulling into home after a month on the road and finding the people you love waiting for you.The Farewell Drifters have shows coming up in Nashville (tonight), Decatur, GA (February 13th), Athens, GA (February 14th), and Birmingham, AL (February 15th) this week.  For information on tickets to those shows or when the band will be with you, along with how to get your own copy of Tomorrow Forever, surf over to read more

first_imgI always knew people were inherently good. I’ve never had reason for a negative outlook on society, no bad experiences couch surfing, no issues spending time with strangers. Whenever I find myself in a pickle, it seems there’s always someone there to lend a hand, a ride, or even just a laugh. In general, I’ve found that people are, quite simply, awesome.But there’s a difference between people-that-are-inherently-good and good people. If you’re from the South, you know what I mean. You know good people the moment you meet them, the second you shake their hand or look them in the eye. Without so much as an introduction, you know you can trust good people and let down your guard just enough to make room for a new experience. Good people are passionate and wise beyond their years. They’re humble, patient, generous, and most importantly, understanding.They get me. They get this crazy world we live in, how much it has changed and how much it will continue to change. They get that life is one long journey, that each encounter and each new place is just another pit stop.I’ve met many a good people in my life, but I knew that this yearlong endeavor would open my tent-flap door to a whole new set of faces and stories. In the seven days I’ve been living on the road, I’ve experienced nothing but total support and encouragement. The excitement others express about my project helps me plow through any doubts that sometimes surface in the dead of night. New friends, old friends, Facebook friends, strangers at the gas station. Everyone’s given me a little piece of magic, a little glimmer of hope that no matter the obstacles I may face, this next year of my life will bring more good than bad.The event that inspired this post happened over the weekend at the Cheat River Festival in Albright, W.Va. The moment I rolled onto festival grounds with the Jeep and Go in tow, a crowd of curious kayakers had formed around me.“Bet you can’t set that up in less than 10 minutes,” one of the guys said.“Time me,” I countered, hustling to the Go to start popping up the rig. 9 minutes later, I’d earned both the respect and the beer of the man who had challenged me. In no time, word had spread that I was not, in fact, just at the festival to represent Blue Ridge Outdoors or even SylvanSport for that matter; I was there to hang out and have a good time, one of the first stops on my yearlong adventure.The next morning, I got my first dose of what I’ll have to start referring to as “mobile magic.” Tired, hungry, and a little unprepared for making breakfast, I was slow-moving that Sunday morning. Just as I was beginning to summon the motivation to pack up and head out, one of the food vendors stopped by to offer myself and a couple of the B.R.O. team some extra fried eggs they’d made for breakfast.Digging into those scrumptious fried eggs. Photo: Ross RuffingDigging into those scrumptious fried eggs. Photo: Ross Ruffing“We heard about what you are doing and we think it’s awesome,” the woman told me. I thanked her, graciously accepting the four fried eggs before we practically swallowed them whole.An hour later, another person stopped by, this time from Water Street Cafe, an awesome restaurant located at the takeout of the Upper Yough in Friendsville, Md. He said his name was Chris and that he had two bags filled with delicious no-bake cookies and oatmeal melt-in-your-mouth bars that he wanted to get rid of.Chris with Water Street Cafe.Chris with Water Street Cafe.“I heard about what you’re doing, and I figured they’d probably go to better use with you than coming back with me,” he said. I was speechless. Each bag weighed at least 5lbs (the no-bake cookie bag probably more). He stayed and chatted awhile, and I promised to come and visit whenever I ran the Upper Yough (hope you’re open Friday, Chris!).Although I gave away some of Chris’ baked goods (seriously, if I get offered food like this every day I won’t be able to fit in the Go), the impact of those two simple acts of kindness resonated within me in a strangely subtle and comfortable way, like this was the way of the open road and that one day, I will be able to return those acts of kindness two-fold. At least, that is my hope.last_img read more

first_imgWe want to hang out! That’s part of the reason why we hit the road in the first place. Check back on our blog and social media handles regularly for updates on when and where we’ll be near you, but in the meantime, browse through our May schedule for event presences and meet-ups this month.May 7th-8th: Cheat River Fest:Come celebrate the Cheat River and help us welcome spring. Attendees will be giving back to the Cheat River Watershed in an event packed with good tunes, good people, and good vibes. Don’t miss out.May 8th: Cheat River Clean- Up and Float:As an extension of the festival, join Blackwater Outdoor Adventures and Live Outside and Play on Sunday May 8th at 10 am at Rowlesburg City Park for a group cleanup and float on the Cheat River.May 12th: Trail Magic with IceMule Coolers:Interested in becoming a trail angel? Join the Live Outside and Play crew along with IceMule Coolers for a chance to become one. On Thursday, May 12th at 4pm we will be providing Appalachian Trail Thru Hikers with trail magic in Shady Valley, Tenn. Remember! These hikers will be hungry. Come prepared.May 13th—15th: Appalachian Trail Days:This three-day festival in Damascus, Va., celebrates thru hikers past and present, along with the many characters who make the Appalachian Trail such an incredible resource. It’ll surely be an awesome time. May 16th: Colorado Bound!!!!:The Live Outside and Play crew will be heading west on a mission to continually spread our motto “Go Outside and Play”. We will be joining our sister publication Elevation Outdoors on their event circuit as well as hosting 10 different meet-ups throughout the state of Colorado. Stay tuned!!!May 20th—22nd: Grand Junction Off-Road:For three days Grand Junction will be filled with as many bikes as people. This event celebrates the bicycle and captures the excitement that comes with riding one. Come ride the world-class Lunch Loops trail system, Butterknife Trail, and more. People of all experience levels are invited to come and ride!!!May 27th-30th: CKS Paddlefest:Known as the oldest and boldest whitewater paddling festival in the county, this event is sure to please. The event is held at the base of the Sawatch Mountains and right next to the Arkansas River in Buena Vista, Co. Clinics, competitions, races, and concerts make this event one awesome way to enjoy the Arkansas River and the town of Buena Vista.last_img read more

first_imgWARNING: If you’re already having trouble focusing at the office, our latest installment of ‘Fridays on the Fly’ might not help. What it will do is mentally prepare you to  grab the fly fishing gear and head for the nearest body of water where fish will respond to the movement of a dry fly drifting across the surface or a streamer streaking across the bottom.Get ready for the weekend with these fly fishing video clips, showcasing the skills of all-star anglers on waterways from Virginia to Montana and beyond.“Twin brothers, Brian and Colby Trow, are natives of Virginia who took their love of fly fishing together and put it all on the line to ‘live the dream’ in the center of this unheralded fishing destination. More than 10 years and one nasty economic recession later, Brian and Colby understand the risks and costs of running a small business.”Blood Knot [Trailer] from TwoFisted Heart Productions on Vimeo.“Our tribute to the mesmerizing, elegant, elusive and sometimes down right frustrating brown trout. There´s no more worthy opponent than a gnarly mean old trout that´s seen all the dry flies you could possibly chuck at it! We bow before the spotted golden yellow altar and give our praise with this film.”“Summertime hopper action with Lone Peak Outfitters. Lone Peak Outfitters offers guided fly-fishing adventures to the legendary waters of southwestern Montana. Come join us for a trip of a lifetime! Check us out on Facebook for more videos and pictures or at our website”Hopper Madness Fly Fishing from Lone Peak Outfitters on Vimeo. HATCH – Fly Fishing DVD Trailer from Gin Clear Media on Vimeo.“Mark Raisler talks about the experience of spending a day on a quiet Montana freestone river, instead of larger and more famous rivers that produce more and bigger trout.”Always Worth the Trip from scumliner media on Vimeo. “A film documenting the world’s most extraordinary insect hatches and the fantastic fly fishing that accompanies them. The first fly fishing film to be shot on a RED One Camera. A Gin-Clear Media production.”last_img read more

first_imgYou could go anywhere for a weekend getaway, but few destinations east of the Mississippi River beat the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. With more breweries, wineries and small towns than stars in the sky, how do you decide where to go? Answer, by seeking out a unique, a one-of-a-kind experience. Pack a bag, load up the cooler and get in the car. Here are 10 unique weekend getaways tailor-made for adventure.LeConte Lodge, Great Smoky Mountains National ParkPro Tip: LeConte Lodge doesn’t take walk-ins. This collection of primitive cabins sits on the summit of Mount LeConte in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and depending on which route you take to get there you’re looking at somewhere between a 5- and 14-mile hike in, so do yourself a favor, reserve your cabin well ahead of time. But the payoff from a steep day on the trail is excellent: the sun setting over the Smoky Mountains, a sky absolutely awash in stars, and all the cool, fresh mountain air you can breathe.Screen shot 2016-07-18 at 11.18.31 AMThere are several trails to take, the most popular being Alum Cave Trail, Trillium Gap Trails, or the longer Boulevard (which connects the AT to LeConte) and Brushy Mountain Trails.You need a reservation, and LeConte books a year in advance, but don’t worry, you may be able to take advantage of a cancellation if you call 865/429-5704.Edisto River Treehouses, South CarolinaRecapture a moment of childhood bliss by spending the weekend in one of these three treehouses on South Carolina’s Edisto River. Located on the coastal plain just outside of Charleston, they may be just a little out of the Blue Ridge, but you won’t complain once on your 13-mile paddle along the cypress-lined river to one of these private getaways.600_lg_TH_lrThe treehouses—which come in small, medium and large, sleeping up to 4, 6 and 8 respectively—are situated in a secluded spot in the middle of a 160-acre private reserve and they come with a grill, cooking gear, a screened-in sleeping area and a canoe.Primitive Cabins on the Appalachian Trail, Virginia and PennsylvaniaThere are 40 cabins in the mountains along the Appalachian Trail between Charlottesville, Va., and Pine Grove, Pa. Thanks to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, they’re kept in good repair and are available to the hiking public. Well, some of them are. The club keeps 25 reserved for PATC members, but 15 are ready for anyone to use. Of those 15 cabins, all but two are primitive, and if you’ve got a bunch of hiker friends who are ready to hit the trail in Shenandoah National Park or in a corridor of southern Pennsylvania, they sleep between 4 and 12, but you’ll need to make a reservation quick because they rent up fast.The Hostel in the Forest, GeorgiaOn Georgia’s lush coastal plain, a 133-acre forest of pine, cedar, palm and magnolia holds a secret: a hotel complete with nine treehouses and one geodesic dome. And you can stay there if you’re a member (membership is $10 and you can sign up when you check in).The Hostel opened in 1975 and retains some of that post-‘60s hippy vibe—it’s peaceful beyond simple tranquility and many visitors come to use the place as a sort of spiritual retreat. Spiritual or not you can connect with nature here on your own time and in your own way, and as long as you’re cool with everyone, everyone’s cool with you.Dorothy’s House, The Land of OzIf you thought Dorothy Gale lived in Kansas and the Land of Oz was all in her imagination, think again, they’re both in Beech Mountain, North Carolina. The Land of Oz, a Wizard of Oz-themed amusement park, now defunct, is only open a couple of days a year, but you can walk that Yellow Brick Road any time if you rent Dorothy’s House. June through October, you can stay here, explore the part time park (which, frankly, can get a little creepy), go for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, hike to some waterfalls and watch out for flying monkeys.Houseboating on Smith Mountain Lake, VirginiaLet’s stop thinking of Houseboating as a Tahoe-Havasu-Meade thing and bring it to the East Coast in force. Head to Smith Mountain Lake, rent a houseboat (or two, but you’ll need a lot of friends to do it right) and party on the lake. Swimming, flip cup contests, kayaking, marathon card games, fishing and backflips off the top deck are just some of the ways to put your stamp on this manmade lake.smith-mountain-lake-sunriseCamping in Worley’s Cave, TennesseeYou don’t have to be a master caver to spend the night in a cave, you can do it in Bluff City, Tenn. Worley’s Cave, in cave-rich Tennessee, is open for tours every day, but on weekends you can spend the night underground, no tent required, just a ground cloth and your sleeping bag (it stays a chilly 55˚ in there). Sleep, explore some of the 4,000 feet of caverns and tunnels, then head topside to shower and camp in a meadow near the cave’s entrance.Search for the Brown Mountain Lights, North CarolinaWant a weird weekend? Pack your tent and head to Morganton, North Carolina, then make your way to Brown Mountain where you’ll camp in hopes of spotting, up close and personal, the legendary Brown Mountain Lights. These lights are a strange phenomenon that could be UFOs or ghosts or ball lightning or who knows what, but plenty of locals (and the author of this piece) have seen them on, over and all around Brown Mountain. Camp on the slopes and spend your days hiking to the top where some mysterious boreholes only add to the Brown Mountain question. If you get wigged out, or even if you don’t, head into town and hit Fonta Flora Brewing for some liquid courage.Witch Hunt in Seneca Creek State Park, MarylandAs long as we’re talking paranormal, spend a night or two in Seneca Creek State Park and see if you don’t get goose bumps a time or two. Thanks to the cult film The Blair Witch Project, which filmed here, these woods will forever be tied to strange noises, witchy sculptures and someone in your party forgetting how to read a map. But don’t sweat the spooky stuff, it was all for show (we hope) and these woods are loaded with hiking and mountain biking trails including the 16.5-mile Seneca Creek Greenway.Wake Up in Germany, err, Helen, GeorgiaIn the Georgia Blue Ridge there’s a unique little town called Helen that in 1969, for some reason or another (left-handed cigarettes?) the town transformed itself into a picturesque German village. A whole façade of gingerbread trim and steep roofs and cobblestone streets all reminiscent of Bavaria was built, giving the town a new identity. Helen maintains its German look and goes so far as to serve German food—Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen, Hofer’s (for breakfast), and a Fried Cheese Café (also serving schnitzel)—and beer. Oh, and at Smithgall Woods State Park you’ll find excellent trout fishing, some pretty hikes, and plenty of roads for cyclists to ride. It’s an oddly charming way to spend a weekend in the mountains.Screen shot 2016-07-18 at 2.51.16 PMlast_img read more