Dogs, frogs and crayons

Unique day-trip destinations are available across the region

Unique day-trip destinations are available across the region

February 24, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

With winter almost over, thousands of families are preparing for spring getaways this year.

But with thick airport crowds and high cost of airfare, now might be a good time for a day trip.

Most Tri-State schools are closed for spring break March 20 through 24 - peak spring travel season, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of

In January, the survey queried 3,079 adults on their travel plans. Just under a third said they plan to travel this spring.

But according to the survey, because this year school-age children and college students will be on break at the same time - the week before Easter - a higher concentration of travel is expected over a shorter period of time. This could translate into higher airfares to the 10 most popular spring destinations, including the top three: Orlando, Las Vegas and Cancun.


Here are a few alternatives within day-trip distance:


Where: Husky Power Dogsledding, 2008 Bumble Bee Rd., Accident, Md.

Distance from Hagerstown: 108 miles

Travel time: 1 hour 53 minutes

Dryland mushing is the term for snow-less dogsledding, said Linda Herdering, who co-owns Husky Power Dogsledding near Deep Creek Lake and Wisp Resort in Garrett County.

On tours, a pack of 10 to 12 dogs pulls the wheeled sled through forests and acoss countryside at about 10 miles per hour. The wheels have hydraulic brakes, which Herdering says come in handy.

"The most important thing is stopping," Herdering said. "The dogs would run all the way to Hagerstown, if you let them."

Families can take short (10-minute) or long (30- to 45-minute) tours or learn to lead the pack. Herdering doesn't recommend long tours for children younger than 6.

Rides are preceded by a kennel tour, educational video and a primer on dogsledding. Herdering said visitors should dress for the weather - last March it snowed.

"Generally, when it's 60 degrees (in Hagerstown), it's 40 here," she said.

Short tours cost $250 total for groups of 10 or fewer. Long rides cost $95 per person, with a two-person minimum. Reservations must be made in advance.

For more information, call 301-746-7200, e-mail, or visit

Nearby attractions: Wisp Resort, Deep Creek Lake State Park

Fun with frogs

Where: National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall, 17th and M streets NW, Washington, D.C.

Distance from Hagerstown: 67 miles

Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes

The traveling exhibit has 150 live frogs and toads, a total of 25 species from around the world, said Chad Peeling, operations manager of Reptiland, the Allenwood, Pa., organization that put the exhibit together.

The aim was to put frogs in environments similar to their natural habitats.

"No frogs in cages," Peeling said.

But it is, for the most part, a hands-off exhibit. Visitors cannot pick up frogs.

"A lot of handling will do them in," Peeling said.

The exhibit does have some interactive elements. Children can create their own frog chorus, using recordings of North American frog calls. The carpenter frog, for example, sounds like a hammer, Peeling said.

Visitors also will learn through videos that frogs and toads do more than leap, croak and eat bugs. The Surinam toad, for example, sucks fish into its mouth like a vacuum. The African bullfrog eats mice, Peeling said.

There's even footage of frogs running.

"They don't run very fast," Peeling said.

"Frogs! A Chorus of Colors" will be on display through May 11. There is also a photo exhibit, "Face to Face with Frogs," featuring photographs by Mark W. Moffett, which also closes May 11.

Reptiland has a similar exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, but Peeling said the National Geographic exhibit is bigger and is more interactive.

Admission to the National Geographic Museum is free.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The nearest Metro stops are Farragut North and Farragut West.

For information, call 202-857-7588 or go to

Nearby attractions: The White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall

Travel back in time

Where: Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center, south east of Richmond, Va.

Distance from Hagerstown: about 200 miles

Travel time: 3 to 4 hours

Local students should be well aware of the area's ties to Civil War history; Appomattox Court House, Va. - where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses Grant - is not far away.

But they might take interest in other eras - the 17th century, when America's first permanent English settlement was founded, and the Revolutionary War at the end of the 18th century.

The Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are separate museums about 30 minutes apart. Visitors can get discounted tickets that will provide access to both museums.

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