If you love cycling when you travel, here are a few ways to incorporate biking into your next vacation.
Wine country bike tours
On a bike tour through wine country, you’ll enjoy sampling the local vino while exploring picturesque vineyards and countryside vistas.
Tours can be arranged in just about any wine region: California, Okanogan Country, Argentina, Chile and Western Europe, to name a few.
Some bike tours are also ideal for sightseeing. For instance, tours in Italy, France and Spain often include visits to historic churches, castles and villages.
If roughing it is more your style, look for a campground that caters to cyclists. You’ll want a place that’s surrounded by bike trails and that offers the following services and amenities:
* Secure lock-up areas for bikes
* Cycling information, including route maps
* Bicycle repair toolsets
* Staff who are knowledgeable about local cycling routes and can supply weather information
* Healthy food and beverage options
Some campgrounds provide bike rental facilities on-site. Alternatively, there may be a bike rental shop in the vicinity.
If you’re looking for a creative way to explore a new city with a large group, consider touring around on a party bike. Also known as a fietscafé, bierfiets, pedal crawler, pedal pub, beer bike or bierbike, a party bike is a vehicle resembling a trolley car that is powered by up to sixteen pedaling passengers. It’s a sort of pub-on-wheels and is always hired with a trained driver.
These are just a few of the ways that cycling and traveling happily combine, and there are bike tours suited to fans of gastronomy, shopping, visiting museums and more. Whatever your interests or budget, there’s a biking adventure that’s just right for your next vacation.
The village that time forgot
In 1732, John Branson obtained a 1,000-acre grant from George Bowman along Cedar Creek. He sold a parcel of land sometime later to John Kountz. In August of 1745, Lewis Stephens, a local land speculator, and developer, purchased a 195-acre property from Kountz on Cedar Creek. The tract lay on both sides of Middle Road (State Route 628), about seven miles to the southwest of what is now Stephens City and 5 miles northwest of Middletown.
Around 1755, Stephens built a house and a water-powered grist mill on the property at the confluence of Cedar Creek and Fawcett Run. His mill successfully ground wheat, rye, oats, and barley into flour and meal.
Sometime in 1752, before the French and Indian War (1754–1763), Stephens constructed a unique hexagonal-shaped stone powder magazine adjacent to his house and mill. Local lore maintains that the building, which still stands today, was “Stephens Fort.” This structure is mentioned in accounts of frontier happenings, many of which included Stephens’s offering protection and shelter for neighbors during several Native American raids. The building has limestone walls that are eight feet high, one foot thick and measure fourteen feet across the center. From the ground level, the cellar floor lays nineteen feet below and has a circular limestone foundation. Troops from Washington’s Regiment were garrisoned in a stockade here in the fall of 1757. The building was later used as an office or counting-house, a lodging room, a storeroom, and an ice house.
After the war, Stephens contracted for one furnace and forge, named New Work Furnace and Forge, to manufacture pig and bar iron on his tract at Cedar Creek. These crude production units produced basic commodities like frying pans, nails, hinges, musket barrels and agricultural implements during the early 1760s.
Stephens continued to live on this tract and work on the iron furnace, however, he gradually found his debts too excessive and had to form partnerships to share his costs. In 1767, Stephens sold his 195-acre tract and ironworks share to ironmaster Isaac Zane. Zane subsequently bought out his associates in 1768 and began to make significant improvements to his Marlboro Furnace and Iron Works. He retained the old forge and furnace established by Stephens but immediately began building a modern and sophisticated complex. This forge and furnace would become Zane’s most significant achievement.
The Shenandoah Valley had an abundance of the three ingredients needed to make iron: rich beds of brown hematite ore, abundant tracts of woodland and huge deposits of limestone. Limestone, iron ore and charcoal were layered into the furnace. There was a wood fire at the bottom to get things going, then a layer of charcoal, a layer of iron ore and a thin layer of crushed limestone. The limestone acted as a flux. A colonial furnace produced heat of iron once a week.
Zane built a two-story stone mansion, bathhouse, stone ice and spring houses, orchards, barns, and stables. Nearby were the forge, furnace, a two-hundred-gallon whiskey still, stone mill, sawmill, blacksmith and stone smith’s shops, company store and counting-house. In addition to the mining and industrial activities, Marlboro was also a prosperous network of farms producing wheat, barley, oats, clover, and timothy.
By all accounts, Zane’s furnace and the forge were the largest operations of its kind in the Valley. As he expanded his holdings, a small village named Marlboro (due to extensive deposits of marl that are found there) developed within close proximity of the ironworks. Marlboro became a bustling community with a steady stream of settlers (furnace men, colliers, blacksmiths, wood wrights, timbermen, and other skilled workers) searching for a better life. Near the location of the Cedar Creek Church was the Marlboro waterfall, a 25-foot cascade which tumbled down from Marlboro Spring into Cedar Creek and provided an enormous and continuous water flow. In colonial times, this water was piped east from the top of the fall by gravity to the village below. This natural water source contributed to the growth, health, and well-being of the Marlboro area. Marlboro had private homes, two churches, a mill, a country store, a post office, and two blacksmith shops. Marlboro was a mini-village and as a colonial ironworks was the most developed industrial system of its time. Zane’s colonial iron plantation supplied the village with stored goods, iron wares and agricultural products.
By 1772, the ironworks produced hundreds of portable ten-plate heating stoves and plate castings for the large open fireplaces common in colonial times. The forge and blacksmith shop also produced cooking pots, salt pans, tea kettles, skillets, mortars and pestles, ovens, stove plates, and flat irons. The 10-foot-square furnace roared, the two-hammer forge pounded, the water wheels groaned and the cacophony carried across the entire industrial complex. The operation ran 24 hours a day with laborers working 12-hour shifts. An acre of hardwood was needed to feed the furnace for each 24-hour period. At night the brilliance of the furnace illuminated the sky for many miles. The products of this industry were hauled by wagon to Alexandria on the Potomac and Falmouth on the Rappahannock and sold through merchants in Philadelphia.
The Marlboro Iron Works transitioned from casting iron ingots for export to casting full-size cannon to support the fight for American independence on land and sea. During the Revolutionary War, Zane’s Marlboro Iron Works became a munitions factory and evolved into one of the largest suppliers of ordnance to the Continental Army and Navy producing four and six-pound cannon, boxes of shot, swivel balls and chain shot. Shipments also included everything from cooking utensils, camp kettles, and stoves to a caboose (a free-standing deck house where seamen cooked meals in a galley). The Marlboro Furnace was the life-blood of the village as the ironworks peaked at 200 employees.
The iron furnaces and other production facilities that had geared up to manufacture munitions in 1776 reverted back to civilian production after 1782. The production of iron commodities at Marlboro Furnace became greatly diminished due to the declining health and death of Isaac Zane in 1795. The downsizing had an immediate effect on the blacksmiths, wood wrights, wagon wrights and other skill-mixes employed there. History reflects that some of the families from the Marlboro community later became directly associated with the wagon-building industry in Stephensburg (now Stephens City).
In 1810, Marlboro Iron Works was still being operated by Zane’s executors. However, in 1812, the furnace was transferred to a group of well-known investors and iron makers. These owners managed more modern ironworks like Columbia Furnace near Edinburg and these facilities eventually led to Zane’s Furnace becoming obsolete and abandoned in 1828.
Mill operations situated on the partial foundation of earlier mills continued to ground feed at this location until the 1950s in spite of at least two fires that seriously damaged the facility, one in the late 1800s and the other in 1930. The fire on May 15, 1930, did heavy damage to the mill and burned the covered bridge that connected Frederick and Shenandoah Counties. Mill owner L.L. Link rebuilt the mill and offered the remaining stone from the ancient furnace to the State Department of Highways for rebuilding the bridge in 1932. The current concrete bridge on Middle Road is located slightly east of the former covered bridge. All that remains of the legendary smelting furnace stack are small piles of rubble that lay alongside this rugged and historic stream.
During the height of the American Revolution, the Marlboro Furnace and surrounding village became one of the most important industrial centers in the Valley, benefiting both Frederick and Shenandoah counties. But by the mid-twentieth century, the village had faded into a quiet stop on Middle Road and the centuries-old buildings only footnotes in our valley history. The once prominent village of forge, furnace, mills, and farm became lost to time, a remnant of our colonial past.
Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia
Cannabis in America: what travelers should know
As the steady march toward decriminalization and legalization continues, marijuana is becoming increasingly available in the country. What’s more, cannabis tourism outside the U.S. is continuing to grow in popularity. Nonetheless, you should be careful when traveling with marijuana. Here’s what you should know.
If you’re coming back from a cannabis-friendly destination while under the influence, it may result in a few extra questions at the border. However, it won’t lead to serious trouble unless you’re carrying the drug itself. Note that it doesn’t matter which state you arrive in, as security checkpoints are under federal jurisdiction.
This also applies to state lines. You can’t carry cannabis between states, even if both states have legalized it.
Regardless of a traveler’s point of origin, their destination and the quantity of cannabis they’re carrying, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) has to report infractions to local law enforcement. Because of this, repercussions can vary widely.
In states where marijuana is legalized, officers may allow travelers to go through security with a small amount of pot. Alternatively, they may ask them to leave it in their car or in an amnesty box located at the security checkpoint.
However, in states like Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas, and a few others, attempting to carry marijuana through security could mean serious trouble.
The bottom line is that traveling with cannabis is likely more trouble than it’s worth.
CBD and paraphernalia
As long as it’s extracted from hemp, CBD is legal, which has been the case since December 2018. However, TSA officials aren’t trained to differentiate between hemp- and cannabis-derived CBD, so carry it at your own risk. As for paraphernalia, you’re likely to run into trouble, or at least to have to sit through a few questions, if it’s found in your possession.
Americans reluctant to invest
More than half of Americans (55%) say they don’t invest in the stock market, according to a survey by MetLife.
The company surveyed 8,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18. Those ages 18 to 34 are more likely to opt out of investing.
More women (59%) than men (44%) don’t invest.
But, according to CNBC, Americans who have a retirement plan don’t seem to realize they are actually investing, not just saving. A third of people surveyed by MetLife said they had a retirement plan.
Fear is one factor for people avoiding investing. Everyone knows the markets go up and down. The fear is you put your hard-earned savings into the market and lose it all. But, the fact is, the stock market has returned 10 percent annually over the last 100 years. Compare that to a savings account that returns much less than 1 percent.
To start investing, set goals. If you need the money in five years or less, use high-interest savings accounts or CDs.
For long-term goals, buy ETFs or Index funds.
April celebrity birthdays!
Do you share an April birthday with a celebrity?
1 – Ali MacGraw, “Love Story” actress, Pound Ridge, N.Y., 1939.
2 – Christopher Meloni, TV, movies, Washington, D.C., 1961.
3 – Eddie Murphy, “Beverly Hills Cop,” Brooklyn, N.Y., 1961.
4 – David Blaine, magician, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1973.
5 – Max Gail, “Barney Miller” actor, Grosse Point, Mich., 1943.
6 – Merle Haggard, singer, songwriter, Bakersfield, Calif., 1937.
7 – Russell Crowe, “Gladiator” actor, New Zealand, 1964.
8 – Patricia Arquette, “Medium” actress, Chicago, Ill., 1968.
9 – Cynthia Nixon, “Sex and the City,” actress, New York, 1966.
10 – Steven Seagal, “On Deadly Ground,” Lansing, Mich., 1951.
11 – Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize, Newton, Mass., 1948.
14 – Loretta Lynn, singer, Butcher’s Hollow, Ky., 1935.
16 – Pope Benedict XVI, church leader, Germany, 1927.
17 – Jennifer Garner, “Alias” actress, Houston, Texas, 1972.
18 – Conan O’Brien, TV host, Brookline, Mass., 1963.
19 – Kate Hudson, “Almost Famous” actress, Los Angeles, 1979.
20 – Jessica Lange, two Academy Awards, Cloquet, Minn., 1949.
22 – Jack Nicholson, Academy Awards, Neptune, N.J., 1936.
23 – Lee Majors, “Fall Guy” actor, Wyandotte, Mich., 1940.
25 – Renee Zellweger, “Cold Mountain”, Katy, Texas, 1969.
26 – Joan Chen, “Twin Peaks” actress, China, 1961.
27 – Jack Klugman, “Quincy, ME” actor, Philadelphia, 1922.
28 – John Daly, golfer, Carmichael, Calif., 1966.
30 – Kirsten Dunst, “Spider-Man,” Point Pleasant, N.J, 1982.
How hybrid clubs can improve your game
Over the last 10 years, hybrids have increasingly become a staple club among regular golfers. If you’re iffy about adding one to your own bag, here’s what you should know.
What are hybrids, exactly?
Hybrid clubs are those with a design borrowing from both woods and irons. They’re forgiving and far-hitting like woods but retain the familiar swing mechanics of irons.
The weight of hybrid clubs is concentrated low in the head of the golf club and toward the back. Compared with long irons, the clubs they typically replace in your bag, hybrids have more loft and longer shafts. These characteristics allow you to hit the golf ball higher and further when compared with a long iron and more consistently than a wood.
How to hit a hybrid
Hybrids should be played like an iron and not a wood. This means you shouldn’t try to sweep the ball but instead hit at a downward attack angle. Hybrids won’t usually take divots, but you should strike the ground after the ball as though to take a divot.
As for ball position, you should line up as you would with a 3-iron: with the ball toward the front foot, but not as far forward as with a wood.
Other uses for hybrids
Hybrids are also great for punch shots and hitting from difficult lies, which is why they’re also known as rescue clubs. Moreover, they can be used for pitch shots around the green. This requires that you choke down on the grip and use a putter-stroke.
If you’re looking to take a few strokes off your scorecard, using a hybrid club may be the answer.
One emotion is a social media pandemic
In more or less that order, researchers have found that social media emotions move from one to another until huge circles of people have it.
That’s fine if it is about a feel-good cat clip, but it is a feature of viral content that nothing moves faster than anger.
Wharton School professor Jonah Berger says anger sells because it is a high arousal emotion that fires people up and drives them to pass the emotion on. Wharton’s recent study analyzed 7,000 articles published during a 3-month period. He found that people’s reaction to the articles — not necessarily the tone of the articles — was what made an article go viral.
So, for example, a controversial figure posts on your favorite social media platform. The people who dislike him or her are provoked to anger. The people who like him or her are mobilized and subsequently resentful of the people provoked to anger.
Anger travels through the groups person-to-person like the flu.
People who constantly engage in social media debate get tangled in a web of anger that raises blood pressure, heart beat, anxiety, and stress.
Chronic anger, says anger management coach John Schinnerer, can lead to a host of bad physical symptoms. It has been linked to insomnia, brain fog, fatigue, and anxiety. When anger becomes a lingering mood, it can cause increased heart attack risk, higher blood pressure, migraines, depression, and stroke.
When social media gets toxic, people have to break the cycle of anger.
– Become more aware of anger in the present moment, according to US News. Try to pause and look at anger with curiosity. Maybe ask yourself if you will let this person control your emotions.
– Breathe deeply, get some exercise.
– Try progressive muscle relaxation by tightening and releasing major muscle groups in succession.
– Avoid mobs of angry posters.
– Log out.