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Blooming season loaded with opportunities to take advantage of

April 01, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Spring is here.

So what are you going to do about it?

You could start your spring cleaning.

Or you can do something fun - something that you thought about doing in January - or something you've never considered.

Here are 10 suggestions:

  • Park it

    The Tri-State area has parks aplenty. There is nature, there are swings, there is history.

    Visit City Park in downtown Hagerstown, the woods of Franklin County, Pa.'s Caledonia State Park or Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in nearby West Virginia.

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For information about the area's National Parks, go to www.nps.gov on the Web.

  • Ride a bike or take a hike

    The C&O Canal towpath and Western Maryland Rail Trail are great for bike riding if you don't want to worry about cars.

    The canal runs from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Md., and there are several local points of entry. For details, visit www.nps.gov/choh on the Web.

    The 20-mile paved Western Maryland Rail Trail runs from just west of Fort Frederick State Park near Big Pool to just west of Hancock. For information, go to www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/wmrt.html on the Web.

    If you don't want to go it alone, think about joining one of the Cumberland Valley Cycling Club's evening rides. For information, visit the club's Web site at www.bikecvcc.com.

    The 50th anniversary of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas' hike along the C&O Canal will be celebrated this month when 70 members of the C&O Canal association hike and camp along the 184.5-mile route.

    Anyone can join the group for day hikes, arriving at joining points by 8:30 a.m. Local points include Tonoloway Picnic Area on Friday, April 23; McCoy's Ferry on Saturday, April 24; Williamsport on Sunday, April 25; Dam 4 on Monday, April 26; and Antietam Creek Campground on Tuesday, April 27.

    Go to www.nps.gov/choh/News/douglashike.htm for the full schedule.

  • Picnic

    The same food somehow tastes better alfresco - in the open air.

    Webster's defines picnic as a pleasure outing at which a meal is eaten outdoors.

    Keep it simple or go gourmet. As long as you're mindful of food safety - keep cold food cold and warm food warm - your picnic can be plain or fancy and fun.

    Breathe. Listen to the sounds of nature. Bring a little extra for the ants. Enjoy.

  • Still hungry?

    Find some morels, the mushrooms that look a little like brains on a stalk. They grow wild - moist areas are considered good sites, but "shroomers" tend to keep their best spots secret.

    They can be cooked simply - breaded, fried in butter and enjoyed by themselves - or prepared with wine and herbs. An Internet search brings up hundreds of sites about morels.

    Early spring also is the time for finding and eating dandelions. Young greens can be used in salad or cooked like other greens.

    If you do plan to eat wild, make sure the dandelions are free of pesticides.

  • Cherry blossoms

    The 92nd National Cherry Blossom Festival opened Saturday, March 27, in Washington, D.C., and continues through Sunday, April 11, according to www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.

    The annual event celebrates the arrival of spring and the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to the people of Washington, D.C.

    The trees and their blossoms stand around the Jefferson Memorial. National Park Service horticulturalists predict the peak bloom time will be this weekend - Friday, April 2, through Sunday, April 4.

    The National Cherry Blossom Parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 3, and be followed from noon to 6 p.m. by a Japanese Street Festival at 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

    For information and directions, call 1-202-547-1500 or visit www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org on the Web.

  • New grass, new leaves, new alpacas

    Yes, some "crias" - baby alpacas - are expected this spring at Ann and Bert Kramer's Annapaca Farm just off Mapleville Road - Md. 66 - east of Hagerstown.

    Cousins to camels and llamas, alpacas are four-legged critters bred for their fleece - a cashmere-like fiber. You can sample its softness at the farm shop.

    There are about 40 of the comically cute creatures at the Kramers' farm.

    Visitors are welcome, but call first: 301-824-2840.

    For information, go to www.annapaca.com on the Web.

  • Gone fishin' lately?

    It's time.

    Trout Season opened in Maryland on Saturday, March 27, and runs through Sunday, May 16. Several Washington County fishing holes have been stocked - Big Pool, An-tietam Creek, Beaver Creek, and Greenbrier and Blairs Valley lakes, among them. Visit www.dnr.state.md.us on the Web to learn about fishing rules and opportunities in Maryland.

    You can catch all the information you need for fishing in Pennsylvania at www.fish.state.pa.us, the Web site of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

    Or hook yourself the West Virginia fish story at www.wvdnr.gov, the Web site of West Virginia's Division of Natural Resources.

  • Out to a ball game

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