Charlottesville, Virginia
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Grabbing the Bull by the Horns: The James River

April 26, 2013

I’m a nature lover. Back home in Charlottesville I would often journey to the mountains to backpack, hike, and enjoy the beauty and serenity of nature. Although Richmond is a little over an hour (by car) away, its landscape is incredibly different. Mountain vistas that I grew up with are replaced by hilly farmland and city sprawl. The soil is even different; Richmond’s dirt is far tanner and sandier than in Charlottesville. Initially, I missed the mountains—they were my escape and now they are nowhere in sight. However, I’m happy to say that I’ve found a suitable replacement. Although Richmond is flatter than Charlottesville, it has something that Charlottesville does not: the James River.

 A little known (or at least little acknowledged) secret at the University of Richmond is that the James River is within walking distance. When you stand on campus, surrounded by trees and hills, this is hard to believe. But, if you walk out to Huguenot Road and follow it to Huguenot Bridge, you’ll be looking at the James. Knowing this, I try to go the river as much as possible. Indeed, one of my best memories this year is travelling to the river with my fraternity brothers and the women’s swim team for a casual dip. We spent the whole day swimming, jumping across rocks, and tanning in the sun. It was wonderful.

 Additionally, if you’re up for a little drive towards the City of Richmond, there’s an amazingly beautiful spot to enjoy nature and the river. The area I’m referring to is called Bell Isle, and it’s an island situated right across from Downtown Richmond. The former site of a Civil War prison camp, and various other uses, this island is rich in history and panoramic views of the city and James River. Furthermore, the island is full hiking trails and even rocks to free climb and rappel from. Bell Isle’s proximity to restaurants in downtown Richmond also make it a prime date spot—after you spend a day exploring the island, you can go out to dinner.

 Taking a break from school and finding peace in nature is a necessity for me. Thanks to the James River and Belle Isle, I have guaranteed spot where I know I can go to gather my thoughts and relax. If you love nature too, I highly recommend that you check these areas out.

Until Next Time,


I'm a Virginia boy. Born and raised in the Commonwealth, I've enjoyed a life of mountains, Thomas Jefferson, and yes, cows. Before coming to Richmond, I lived about an hour and a half away in the city of Charlottesville, the home of UVA, the "Rock" Johnson, and Monticello (check the back of your nickels for reference). Charlottesvile is a city of clashing cultures, and I'm the same way. For instance, drive 20 minutes in any direction from Charlottesville and you'll hear banjos playing, and see some nice bathtub-landscaping. However, go to downtown Cville and you can eat at many international restaurants , drink tea at a tea bazaar, or listen to a hipster band play at the Pavillion. There's lots to do in Cville, and the "experience everything" mentality has definitely rubbed off on me. Whether it's backpacking in the mountains, or learning how to Salsa dance, I'm doing it. I like to be the first to delve into an adventure and if one doesn't exist, I'll create one. Life is too short not to have a good time, and I intend to take advantage of every moment.