New Year’s Resolutions….

I think it goes without saying what New Year’s Resolution #1 was this year (as usual). If you need a hint, linger in the checkout line of your local grocery store for about five or six seconds. The magazine racks and book displays have rectified their philandering ways from over the holidays (evidenced by cutesy cookies sprinkled with colored sugar, six-layer coconut cakes, and beautifully decadent chocolate cream pies.) Now reformed and back on moral high ground, these same magazines are now promoting (with grins bent into grim, determined cheerfulness) how to make all the joyous calories you inhaled over the past month “just go away”.

OK. So, like the rest of us, you’ve avowed to lose weight/get in shape. In which case, you need to make it interesting–make it count for something more worthwhile and life-affirming than merely how bikini-ready your buns are by Beach Week. When you’re ninety, looking back at your life from a creaky pinnacle that stretches for miles in hindsight, you’ll realize there are better memories to be made than huffing and puffing along with a workout video. Here are a few ideas, all located an easy drive from the Holladay House.

#1: Hike Old Rag
This is a multi-terrain trail that will challenge your stamina, your mountain-goat moves, and your view of the world at once. Not for novices nor for the faint of heart (as the saying goes) though I once hiked it while possessed of both unfortunate accoutrements. Prep your hike with tips and helpful info here.

#2: Play Paintball
I think anyone who’s ever watched a war movie (or the Hunger Games) has wondered how they’d hold up in combat. (For the record, I’ve always suspected I’d be the recruit credited at the end as “Body #1”.) Try out your mettle at WarPlay Paintball. This fantastic course is set back into a wooded environment replete with bunkers, sandbags, and “bombed out” buildings. Walk-on prices start at $60 for 500 paintballs, including gear and field fees.

#3: Go Skydiving
Skydive Orange is the largest tandem-jump skydive center in the region, featuring USPA-certified instructors, jumps from 13,500 feet, videos & photos to prove to the family that you did it, and the reputation as one of the oldest “club-operated drop zones in the country.” Tandem jumps start at $255, and licensed skydivers can jump for as little as $20.

#4: Ride
There’s nothing like horseback riding for relaxing, bringing out your inner cowboy, and getting that bowlegged walk down pat. Guided trail rides are available 7 days a week out at Oakland Heights Farm, for $45 per person.

#5: Kayak
Enjoy a three-hour, 4.5 mile kayak tour of the Rapidan River, courtesy of the the aptly-named Rapidan River Kayak Company. Negotiate not-too-crazy rapids and peaceful flats while taking in the wildlife and birds lurking in the treeline. $65 per person for groups of 2-4, or $75 for loner cruises.

#6: Bike Skyline Drive
Or at least part of it. The views into the valley are gorgeous throughout, rarely obscured by trees. Just make sure your gear is in good working order (particularly your brakes!) as the entire route is challenging: uphill, winding climbs and long downhill descents. Find out more here.

#7: Dig at Montpelier
Take a week-long archaeology class at Montpelier. Participate in one of four intense (but beginner-friendly) expeditions: “Locate” (metal detect around the grounds), “Excavate” (dig, sift, and scavenge in the dust, side by side with the pros), “Analyze” (learn about and repair ceramics found onsite), or “Recreate” (help build the period-accurate log cabins and timber frame structures that populate the grounds).

Now those are some stories to someday share with the grandkids.

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