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6 ways to enjoy the great outdoors

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Ready to head outdoors and take in the fresh air and awe-inspiring views? Here are six ways to get out into nature this summer and have fun doing it.

1. Hiking. Head into the woods for a day of walking through the wilderness. Hiking trails are easily found all across the country, so pick one that matches your skill level and enjoy the excursion.

2. Horseback riding. Riding is a great way to connect with an animal while tramping through the woods with friends.

3. Camping. What better way to get back to nature than with a few days of camping? Escape the hustle and bustle of modern life so you can enjoy sleeping under the stars.

4. Kayaking. This type of paddling is ideal for most outdoor explorers, whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or a relaxing afternoon on the water.

5. Cycling. If you’re looking for a way to combine sightseeing with exercise, use bike paths and trails to explore a region’s must-see treasures.

6. Bird watching. Find a quiet spot on a bird reserve and keep your eyes peeled. This is the perfect way to spot birds and other animals in their natural habitat. If you’re patient, you’ll be rewarded by seeing a variety of wildlife.

Large parks are among the best places to participate in these activities. Consider spending time exploring national and state parks in your area this summer. All of this is our own backyard.

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4 things to look at when assessing travel reviews

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If you’re planning a vacation, you may be wondering if you can trust reviews on websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. The answer is yes, as long as you know what to look for. Here are four things to take into consideration when assessing reviews.

1. The date. Refer to the most recent reviews available. Criticism about a hotel or restaurant from seven years ago is probably out of date.

2. The amount. The greater the number of reviews about a place, the better your chances are of finding useful information about it.

3. The content. If you take the time to read people’s reviews, you may find out all kinds of useful information. For example, a highly-rated hotel may be praised for its all-night dance club, which isn’t ideal if you’re traveling with children but may be perfect for honeymooners.

4. The photos. People leaving travel reviews often include photos. These will give you a more honest look at what you can expect than the professional photos included on a property’s website.

Remember that travelers often take to travel review sites to vent their frustrations with an experience that may not be universal. However, some resorts and hotels pay people to leave excellent reviews that aren’t deserved. The best policy when assessing reviews is to ignore the highest and lowest ratings and focus instead on the majority of reviews that are somewhere in the middle.

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Plan early for inexpensive January get-aways

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The end of the year can leave many of us feeling drained, emotionally and financially. A vacation to recover from the holidays — is it even possible?

Absolutely. Start planning now, and you may find that a January holiday is surprisingly affordable.

And to springboard your brainstorming, here are a smattering of ideas from Travel and Leisure on cheapest places to travel in January (note that some are cold-weather locales, naturally. Keep an open mind!):

* Chicago, Illinois. Great food, music, museums, and sports. And in January, hotels are 50 percent more affordable than high season, while an average round-trip ticket is $179.10.

* Boston, Mass. Catch the Boston Symphony Orchestra in its world-famous concert hall, check out any number of fantastic museums, grab a great meal, and maybe see the Celtics play. Boston in January offers a 53 percent savings on hotel rates and flights are an average of $200.66.

* Toronto, Canada. Eat your way through this diverse city, which lays claim to a Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, and a Greek Town. Toronto also boasts the world’s longest underground shopping complex, at 19 miles. Hotels are 33 percent more affordable and plane tickets average $280.65 from the U.S.

* San Diego, Calif. Here’s a balmy option with beautiful scenery, architecture, beaches, and tons of great food. The San Diego Brew Festival takes place in January, showing off some of the area’s 130-plus craft breweries and delicious food truck fare. You’ll save 37 percent on hotels, while round-trip tickets average $274.95.

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How to overcome a fear of flying

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Is your fear of flying stopping you from taking your dream vacation? This phobia is a common one, but it can be overcome. Here are some tips to help you manage it.

• Pinpoint the source. For some people, being afraid to fly stems from a fear of heights. For others, it’s the lack of control. Knowing where your fear comes from will help you take the necessary steps to surmount it.

• Learn everything you can. Knowing how a plane stays in the air, where turbulence comes from and what built-in safety features are featured on airplanes can be comforting and help dispel some of your worst what-if scenarios.

• Talk to the cabin crew. Pilots and flight attendants help keep you safe while you’re in the air. Meeting with them and chatting for a few minutes can help assure you that you’re in good hands.

• Optimize your experience. Book a direct flight to minimize the number of take-offs and landings necessary to make the trip. Additionally, choose a seat near the wing where you’ll feel the least amount of turbulence.

• Distract yourself. Deep breathing exercises can help you remain calm during tense moments on a flight. Or, settle in with a good movie or book to help keep your mind occupied.

If you’re struggling to get over your fear of flying, don’t hesitate to reach out. A psychologist can help you identify the root of your anxiety and provide you with the tools to overcome it.

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Do you want to travel to someplace warm?

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During the winter months, we complain about the cold, but what can we do about it? Ginny Leser at Main Street Travel has some suggestions:

For more information about Main Street Travel, visit mainstreet-travel.com.

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7 travel apps that will make your next vacation easier

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Are you taking a vacation this winter? If so, download these convenient apps designed for travelers.

1. Hopper. This app uses real time information and historical data to help you find the best price on your flight and hotel. When the cost bottoms out, you’ll get a notification telling you to book.

2. FLIO. Track flights in real time, access detailed airport maps and get vouchers for deals on food.

3. Google Translate. Translate over 100 languages by typing the text into your phone or by pointing your phone’s camera at a snippet of text.

4. XE Travel. Determine the true cost of your purchases with this reliable currency converter. It will also help you to track expenses and stick to your budget.

5. Google Maps. Find your way around any city with directions for traveling by car, bicycle, public transit or on foot. You can also download maps for use offline.

6. Flush. A useful app that allows you to find the nearest public washroom.

7. TunnelBear. Keep your online activity private with this virtual private network.

These apps are so useful, you’ll wonder how you ever traveled without them before. Bon voyage!

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Why you should use a travel agent to book your next trip

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Despite how easy it is to book flights, hotels and car rentals online, travel agents continue to offer a valuable service to travelers. Here’s why you should rely on an agent to book your next vacation.

• You’ll save time. Finding the best flights, accommodations and tours can be time consuming. A travel agent will do all the footwork while you go on keeping up with your busy life.

• You’ll get the best price. Hotels, airlines and travel tours often offer travel professionals special rates and other perks that aren’t available to the public.

• You’ll access insider knowledge. Travel agents tend to be familiar with the ins and outs of many destinations. They can tell you the best places to stay, visit and eat.

• You’ll have support in an emergency. If a natural disaster strikes or an airline suddenly goes bankrupt during your trip, your agent will be there to help you get home safely.

The best part of working with a travel agent is the relationship you build. Eventually, they’ll know your tastes and preferences so well, they’ll be able to suggest and book trips you’ll love with little or no input from you.

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King Cartoons

Front Royal
42°
Mostly Cloudy
07:2717:19 EST
Feels like: 37°F
Wind: 8mph SW
Humidity: 89%
Pressure: 29.76"Hg
UV index: 0
SatSunMon
min 35°F
37/22°F
34/18°F

Upcoming Events

Jan
20
Mon
9:00 am Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Jan 20 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast @ Esbie Baptist Church
Monday, January 20, 2020, starting at 9:00am, Esbie Baptist Church will be having their annual MLK Prayer Breakfast. The speaker of the hour will be Rev. Dr. Donald Reid, Pastor of Mt. Parah Baptist Church[...]
Jan
21
Tue
2:30 pm Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith t... @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
Jan 21 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Inspiring speaker Rodney Smith to visit R-MA @ Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy
On Tuesday, January 21st, at 2:30 pm, in Boggs Chapel at Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA), the public is invited to be inspired by Rodney Smith, a man who has chosen to make a difference in the[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 21 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, January 7 – Based on books about Balto, we will learn more about service dogs this week. For ages[...]
Jan
22
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 22 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
23
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 23 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
24
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Jan 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Services Meeting at Able Forces @ Able Forces
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
Jan
25
Sat
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.
2:00 pm Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Are you aged 7 or older? Do you enjoy art? If so, please join us for our children’s art class. Using the classic scissor cutting art of Scherenschnitte, we will make silhouettes in a nature[...]
Jan
28
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 28 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, January 7 – Based on books about Balto, we will learn more about service dogs this week. For ages[...]
Jan
29
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 29 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]