Summer tips: Shakin' up the dog days

You're at your wits end? Have the heat and rain drained you of your last will to get off the couch? No worries. We've compiled a list of unexpected activities that are sure to send your ennui packing.

 

That's the ticket!

 Movie blockbuster season is winding down, but it's not too late to catch a few of this year's most-talked about hits. Terminator 3, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Finding Nemo are but a few still on local screens. Already caught those? August brings several crowd pleasers: Kevin Costner's western Open Range, and S.W.A.T., a spin-off of the '70s TV show by the same name. And then there's the remake of Freaky Friday, a story of a mom and daughter who wake up in each other's bodies. The fearfully funny slasher show, Freddy vs. Jason, arrives, and there will be laughs and gross outs galore with American Pie 3, a.k.a. American Wedding.

 

Horsin' around

When you put a city slicker atop a stallion, the gut-busting begins. It starts as your sophisticated chum clings, stiff-legged, to the animal, who can undoubtedly sense his fear. Funny? You bet. Wintergreen is the place for trail rides, and whether you're a master in the saddle or simply a fan of Mr. Ed, the folks up on the mountain have a horse for you and your equine-phobic friends. 434-325-8260

 

Tubular!

Heavy rains prevented leisurely inner-tube rides on the James for much of the spring and early summer, but James River Runners owner Christie Schmick says things are flowing more smoothly now. "It's a little bit high," she says, "but we're out there." The plus side of all the rain? No bottom scraping. But Schmick says safety is still an issue. At six feet last week, the river was about two to three feet above ideal conditions, but it had fallen to about four and a half by press time. Websites of Schmick and her nearby competitor, James River Reeling and Rafting, post daily water levels.

 

Radical!

 You don't have to own a skateboard to get into an extreme sport Kegler's on 29 North makes sure of that. Friday and Saturday nights around 9pm, you can head over there and lace up for Extreme Bowling. For $5.50 a game, plus $3.50 for shoes, you can aim for a strike under psychedelic lights. The fun lasts until 2am and will undoubtedly leave you bowled over.

 

Rainy Fridays

 The rain may have put a damper on Fridays After Five so far this year, but there's at least one good thing about it: The "best" is yet to come. On September 19, Foreigner's vocalist Lou Gramm, rescheduled from a June rain cancellation, hits the Downtown amphitheater, and even old-timers will "feel like the first time" all over again. But don't wait until September to get into the Fridays groove. With the City's big plans for the east end of the Mall, we're wondering if there are even bigger surprises in store for this town's formerly free festival.

 

The deals of summer

 We're sure there are plenty of people who can afford the full-price goodies at our finest local clothing boutiques. But the legions who can't swing $150 for a t-shirt should take note: August is sale season. Don't miss your chance to dress for success at almost reasonable prices.

Highlights of August shopping:

Eloise A sale is already under way, so use caution when walking down Water Street. Discounts will hold for a while before dipping even lower mid-August.

O'Suzannah A "juicy summer sale" has been going on for a while, say those in the know at O'Suzannah, and though the pickings are sure to get slimmer, the savings currently 50 percent off– will only get better until they climax mid-August at 75 percent.

Scarpa Perhaps the most dangerous sale of all. Women wait for the big Scarpa sale like kids wait for the ice cream truck. The big day this year? August 23, when prices are slashed by 75 percent. Make sure your tank's filled up and your alarm clock's set and go do some sole searching.

 

Don't forget the kids: After all, school shopping can be brutal on the wallet. If you love the look of European kids' clothes but don't like to pay for them, now's your chance to stock up. Sherry's in The Shoppes at Millmont runs a sale through August at discounts of 50 percent and more, and Whimsie's has 25 percent off now.

But just wait. By the end of the season, discounts can hit 60 percent or higher, and if you buy a size too big, your tyke can be looking like a million bucks next summer.

 

Busk or bust

You can't walk a block on the Downtown Mall without coming across a musician of one type or another. With their cases open in front of them, they sing, play guitar, drum, even saw away on violins. So you don't play an instrument? Who cares you might even make more money than your talented brethren. Borrow an instrument a pot and spoon will do and put up a sign that reads: "Give money, and I'll stop." That should bring the donations rolling in.

 

Toodling around

 He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston, he's the man who never returned.

 The lyrics from the 1949 folk tune "Charlie on the M.T.A." can ring true right here in Charlottesville if you play your cards right. Though you can't ride "'neath" the streets of Charlottesville, you can hop the trolley and ride to your heart's content and you don't even have to drop a dime, like poor Charlie. The trolley runs across the Downtown Mall on its circuit up to UVA every 15 minutes Thursday through Saturday.

 

Finders keepers?

 Remember yellow bikes? The feel-good program of the new millennium may be a little green around the gills, but it's still breathing. Hit the streets and keep your eyes peeled for one of those community treasures. Remember, the search is half the fun: It's a treasure hunt and a bike ride all in one!

 

Expanding horizons

 We all have our favorite haunts for those Downtown, it may be Bizou or Hamiltons', while worker bees on 29 North may choose Chi Chi's or get more exotic with the wild Pupusa Crazy across from Wal-Mart. Summer is the perfect time to break the mold, so to speak. Check the Hook's Food Finder for a place you've never tried, and prepare to tie on the feed bag. A few suggestions: L'etoile– a Tea Room by any other name still serves the same tasty lunches, and now dinner too, with a big wine selection, and trains right across the street. Rhett's River Grill, another reason to head north on 29, offers traditional fare including seafood, steaks, and more in a nautical setting. While you're surveying the goodies on 29 North, don't forget Yamata, a delightful little sushi place tucked between the Brick Oven and the new sporting goods superstore in Rio Hill.

Bon appetit!

 

Skinny dip

 Not for the faint of heart, this one requires careful planning. After all, a birthday-suit swim at, say, Washington Park, wouldn't last too long. But the James River down in Scottsville is long and deep, perfect for slipping unnoticed under the ripples. Closer to town: Let's just say that reservoir looks pretty cool. But don't go completely in the buff: Keep your running shoes on.

 

Google-eyed

 Who knew that the little pig-tailed sweetie who shared your Twinkies in first grade is now a porn star? You can find that out and more with just a few well-chosen key words entered into good old Google. Take a trip down memory lane, and see if you can find that long-lost love from freshman year in college. Or even more thrilling, track that guy who stole your long-lost love and gloat when you find his name on Wisconsin's sex-offender page.

 

Chore support

 Because so far there isn't a 12-step program for procrastinators, you can try to remedy that shortcoming by trading chores with a friend. Folding someone else's laundry or running their tedious errands is always easier than tackling your own odious must-do's, and coming home to a clean kitchen will make you feel like Martha Stewart used to. Make a list of what you'd be willing to do so you don't get stuck scraping muck out of a shower drain. That sort of trade can dampen even the fastest friendship.

 

Wild wheels

 Relive your wild and crazy adolescence– or at least get out of town– behind the wheel of a classic convertible like a 1959 Red MGA or a 1957 Austin Healy. For $95, you can rent one of these or five other classic car models from Sports Car Rentals and be the envy of all (including the almighty Hummer owners) even if just for a day. The rental includes 200 free miles and the owner, John Pollock, will gladly throw in a special map of his favorite local driving routes. Swank factor: 10. For more information check out the website, www.sportscarrentals.com or call 823-4442.

 

Eyes wide open

 Viewing flicks at Richmond's Science Museum IMAX theater feels like being trapped in a fly's eye, but it makes most big-budget Hollywood films look contrived and wimpy. Extreme, an in-your-face look at extreme sports, and Everest, which explores the peril involved in trying to climb the world's tallest mountain, are among a few of the theater's offerings this summer. Admission for the IMAX film is $7; combined with museum admission it's $12.50. Call 800-659-1727 to buy tickets in advance.

Bonus: On the trip home, stop off at Bev's ice cream on Cary Street for divine dairy (and non-dairy) delicacies.