Live More, Commute LessLive More, Commute Less

Aug
29

Dine, Drink, Discover Loudoun!

Loudoun County Grapes. Photo by Loi Mai © 2012 Loi Mai.

Just outside Washington, DC lies Loudoun, Virginia where horses wander the countryside, sharing the rural landscape with vineyards, farms and historic estates. With its unpaved roads and charming downtowns filled with historic architecture, it’s a place that reminds visitors of a simpler time and one that has served as an idyllic country escape for Washington notables. Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Potomac River, Loudoun also features a robust outdoor scene where visitors can enjoy the landscape by doing everything from a hike on the Appalachian Trail to a zipline adventure above the treetops. Come discover this beautiful county less than an hour from the nation’s capital.

Drink

With 40 wineries and tasting rooms, Loudoun is a premier East Coast wine region, leading the way in Virginia. Known as “DC’s Wine Country” due to its proximity to Washington D.C., Loudoun’s boutique wineries house tasting rooms in everything from rustic barns and intimate cellars to architecturally stunning facilities. While here, sample wines that include Virginia varietals like Viognier and Norton, taste grapes off the vine, tour barrel caves, indulge in food pairings and enjoy conversation with award-winning winemakers.While Virginians have been producing wine for over 400 years, the craft beer scene is now also making waves. In Loudoun, try one of 23 breweries that are creating more than 200 unique brews at any given time. Home to the LoCo Ale Trail, experience tasting rooms on farms where brewers are growing hops, cherries and other products to go into their beer or play corn hole and chat with a brewmaster at an urban brewery minutes from Dulles International Airport. Here, get a behind –the- scenes look into the industry by booking a guided tour of the Mid-Atlantic’s first commercial-scale hops processing facility at Black Hops Farm or bike to breweries along the W&OD Trail.

Prefer spirits over beer and wine? Loudoun has you covered with a handful of distilleries, cideries and even a meadery!

Dine

Loudoun prides itself on unique dining experiences where you can dine under the stars in a glass atrium on a farm or in a circa 1905 restored mill. Visit a trendy café that was once a shoe shop or enjoy lunch in a turn-of-the century national bank building. Here, the food is as exceptional as the settings. Chefs focus on fresh cuisine where ingredients are sourced from Loudoun’s farms and transformed into culinary masterpieces. Many of Loudoun’s chefs have received regional and national accolades including Chef Tarver King from the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, who won Chef of the Year at the 2017 Rammy Awards, and The Conche’s Chef Santosh Tiptur-a world-renowned pastry chef who has appeared on various culinary competition programs on the Food Network.

Discover

Besides a robust culinary, wine and beer scene, Loudoun offers a wealth of other attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Stay in one of two resorts or a Bed & Breakfast to take advantage of everything Loudoun has to offer.  History lovers can tour the former home of Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis at Morven Park or enjoy a tea at Oatlands Historic House & Gardens- a National Historic Landmark. Those looking for adventure can try everything from white water rafting  and indoor skydiving to zipline courses and numerous hiking trails along the mountains and river. Take time to explore the historic towns of Leesburg and Middleburg, where an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants line the streets, or delve into Loudoun’s rich horse and hunt history at the National Sporting Library & Museum.

For more detailed information on where you can “Dine, Drink, and Discover Loudoun,” visit visitloudoun.org.

You find the offerings in Loudoun are endless. Come create your perfect weekend escape in Virginia’s beautiful countryside and share your experience on social media with #LoveLoudoun.

Aug
29

Silver Line Ridership Is Lower Than Predicted

A recent Washington Post article (July 29th) highlighted the fact that initial ridership projections for the three year old Silver Line are almost twice what today’s ridership numbers are showing.  There are obvious reasons why the numbers are low, the least of which is that overall METRO ridership is down 12%, but also all of the service disruptions and the SafeTrack initiative probably have impacted ridership pretty dramatically.

However, supporters and planners in the region still feel that the Silver Line will be a boon to the corridor, attracting new businesses and promoting the transit oriented development that is seen in places like the Rosslyn – Ballston corridor.  The Dulles Corridor, for all intents and purpose, is simply a growing “child.”

And as pointed out in the Post article, development is occurring – rapidly.  The article notes that since 2014 (when the Silver Line opened), 11 new buildings have been or are under construction and more than 2 million more square feet of development are in the immediate pipeline.  As the national and international economies continue to improve, these numbers will possibly expand even more.

Eventually a tipping point will be achieved, where the balance between residential and commercial space is achieved, making the Silver Line the preferred mode of transportation. The network of bus, bike and pedestrian facilities will connect the nearby communities and employment centers seamlessly into the METRO line. The opening of Phase II, with connections to Dulles International Airport and communities in Loudoun, will also spur more usage.  Supporters in Fairfax and Loudoun still see this corridor as one of the most attractive places for business and residential growth in the entire country, and feel the Silver Line will provide the catalyst for that future.

Aug
29

Dulles Matters: Construction Ramping Up at Reagan National

By Rob Yingling

Big changes are on the way at Reagan National. The airport is working to transform the passenger experience by eliminating outdoor boarding of aircraft and freeing up movement inside the gate areas. The two main components of the project, called Project Journey, have been carefully planned to minimize impacts on passengers during construction.

One visible sign of progress is the ongoing demolition of the Airports Authority’s former headquarters building on the site where a 14-gate commuter aircraft concourse will be built. Construction will take place behind fencing and not affect aircraft or vehicle movement.

The other, more impactful element will involve construction of new security checkpoints next to Terminal B/C and above the Arrivals-level roadway. When work begins, some roadway lanes will close so crews can build foundations for the structures and place support beams. Regular users of Reagan National are encouraged to sign up for project updates at flyreagan.com. The new facilities are expected to open by 2021.

Aug
29

Loudoun Coupons for Hope: Livemore Through Couponing

When you watch shows about extreme couponing, you are left with the impression that it is either too difficult for mere mortals to accomplish, or simply too good to be true. But when you start to understand the basic concepts behind these amazing savings, you can start to see how you can apply these concepts to your shopping needs as well. Here are a few ways that everyone, even you, can start to find the deals that you hear about.

Lesson 1- It’s Not Just About the Coupons

You watch Extreme Couponing, get passionate about coupons, diligently cut out a handful of coupons for things you need, and head to the store, only to save the .50 cents listed on the coupon. What went wrong? You probably forgot the second half of deal making… the sales.

See, coupons are just to steer you towards certain brands; they don’t make a big dent on their own. The important component is to learn to love the local grocery ads as your guidelines to the bigger savings. For example, this summer there was a 2 dollar off coupon for diapers. Before that coupon expired, there was also a sale at CVS for that brand, with a Buy One, Get One Half Off deal.  Plus if you spent 30 dollars, you got ten dollars in Extra Care Bucks (which is ten dollars you can spend at CVS later). With this deal, our non-profit founder was able to buy 4 packages of diapers for a total of $19.47!

Lesson 2- Shop at the Right Place

Going beyond the sales, where you choose to shop can make a huge difference in your bill. There are some stores that double coupons, and some stores have certain weekends where they double coupons, like Harris Teeter.

A coupon used at CVS will save you some money, but did you know that Dollar Stores are also obligated to accept coupons? Yes, that does mean that for certain items, if you are lucky enough to find a dollar off coupon for a Dollar Store item…you will in fact be getting it for free.

Lesson 3- Donít Forget About Technology

In this modern era, you have an abundance of ways that you can use technology to save money. Cartwheel for Target is awesome!  You can save coupons to your app, and then scan it at the checkout for the savings. Ebates and Ibotta will give you cash back for what you spend, and apps like Favado will search for deals for you at your local preferred stores and even tell you what coupons you can use with the deals! Plus, even if you don’t get the newspaper, there are plenty of websites to print out coupons you want at home.

Lesson 4- Join a Couponing Community

Our non-profit Loudoun Coupons for Hope is all about supporting the community through couponing. We hold classes to teach couponing skills, and we even have regularly scheduled couponing trips, where we physically hand you the coupons and tell you what deals are the best ways to use the coupons that shopping trip. We also support our local community by using monetary donations, combined with the saving power of coupons, to purchase items for low income families in the area, and then give them personal care supplies, Easter basket items, or other seasonal needs. You can follow us on Facebook, and see the deals we find on a regular basis, find out when we have events, or learn more at
loudouncouponsforhope.org.

Aug
29

Planners to Revisit a Second Potomac River Bridge – Again!

For over half a century, local and regional elected officials and planners have studied and debated the need to construct a second Potomac River bridge upstream from the I-495 American Legion bridge.  Proponents contend that workers who live in Maryland, or vice versa, sit in grueling traffic jams every day, which are only going to get worse over time.  Opponents, particularly those in Maryland’s Montgomery County, argue that it is simply a “developers’” tool to help foster growth in an area of the county that has been designated as an agricultural preserve.

In early July the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors resurrected the topic while considering options for the county’s long range transportation plan.  Supervisors voted unanimously to add the project to the Countywide Transportation Plan and have instructed staff to study
potential routes for the new river crossing.  Earlier this year the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a regional entity that prioritizes and funds regional transportation projects, included the bridge crossing in its draft TransAction 2040 plan.

Political support for the river crossing is strong in Loudoun County, as is the backing from the business community.  Loudoun Supervisor Ron Meyers indicated it was his number one priority and intended to ask that the project be included as one of the “ten large-scale transportation and land-use initiatives identified by the task force for further study” by that the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB).

At the July 15th meeting over an hour debate ensued concerning inclusion of the bridge project. The debate, as recorded in a TPB meeting summary included:

“Board member Marc Elrich (Montgomery County) proposed removing the crossing from the list altogether, saying that it would yield more congestion and more sprawl in Montgomery County and would not be politically or financially feasible.

Some board members spoke passionately about the need to study the bridge. Others acknowledged the many concerns but reminded their colleagues that the task at hand was not to look at feasibility, but rather to evaluate at a high level the relative effectiveness of the different initiatives to aid further consideration and deliberation.

The board also heard extensive public comment both in favor of and opposition to including the bridge on the study list. Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner was among those who testified against including the bridge, citing increased congestion, environmental damage, and sprawl as his main concerns. Others said the bridge was needed to provide another way for people to move between Virginia and Maryland, both for economic development reasons as well as for security and emergency preparedness.

Ultimately, the board voted to accept the recommendations for further study. Staff has already begun work on the comparative study and will report back to the task force in September.”

It should be noted as well that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said “the state has no plan to build a new Potomac River crossing in the county and said any such crossing would require federal funds even if it were supported by the state and local governments.”  Needless to say, the planning and research continues; stay tuned.