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Category Archives: Day Trips

Tidbit Tuesday

Here we are heading full speed into the holiday season and there is quite a bit happening.

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Like this weekend, the holiday Colonial Celebration over at Belmont. I hear there aren’t many tickets left. Absolutely beautifully decorated, and with good food and libations, it is the only fund raiser that the Howard County Conservancy holds at Belmont to raise funds to support the educational programs held there.

Meanwhile, tonight at Mt. Pleasant, another of the meteor shower events. The Leonids. I will be there setting up and we are crossing our fingers that it isn’t too cloudy. The event is from 10pm-1am.

Here on the home front, I am trying to get ready for Thanksgiving, as one by one, appliances in my kitchen keep having problems. First, the dishwasher only intermittently drains. Even taking it apart and cleaning it out hasn’t solved the problem. Guess it’s time to find a new one.

Add to that, my microwave knob no longer functions. The microwave works, but you can only use the express button and push it enough times to get the number of minutes you need. Since I only use it for potatoes, pop corn and reheating coffee, it’s not a big issue for Thanksgiving, but it is just another place where we see quality is lacking.

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Last week our CSA had pop corn in it. I like to pop it in a paper bag for three minutes in the microwave. No need for butter or oil or clean up.

As for the “last straw”, so to speak, our oven door shattered. This is the second one. The top oven did it a few years back. The lower one, late last month when I put it into cleaning mode.

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Thankfully, it was fully contained in between the outer shields. I suppose I could still use it for a while as it shattered at the beginning of a two hour cleaning cycle, and I didn’t know it until it finished and unlocked. I had heard a “pop” and couldn’t figure out where it originated, until I opened the door.

So much for having a fancier oven. It seems bad glass is bad glass so matter who the manufacturer is. I guess this means I get to hand clean the ovens from now on. Or, I keep having to replace the glass. Annoying. Particularly as we get into my busy baking season.

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Cookie baking time is fast approaching.

Tomorrow, if I get a chance to sit down, I will be writing about Thanksgiving plans, including getting the turkey and the wine.

Get outside tonight, and look for meteors.

Standing Room Only

I love it when the free programs out at the Conservancy far exceed our expectations. Like today.

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Fifty two people. Ten of them little ones. For Frank Marsden’s talk and walk about finding wildlife in winter.

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Frank told us everything we always wanted to know about scat, but were afraid to ask. Like determining the diet from the color, texture and “ingredients” found. Like how grey fox and red fox are different. How we never see grey fox as they sleep in trees.

We went out for a ninety minute hike, looking for signs of wildlife. We did find deer tracks.

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We also found out that our former ground hog habitat, a large number of interconnected holes up in the meadow, have been abandoned by the ground hogs, and are now inhabited by fox. How do we know that? The smell of fox urine, a sure sign that fox have moved in and are marking their territory.

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We had a lovely day out there, even if it was a bit windy.

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The meadows are lovely this time of year, and by taking a leisurely hike, you can find many signs of the wildlife living here. Take a hike some day. There are four miles of marked trails, and with no leaves on the trees, you can see far across the ridges to neighboring towns.

Planning Ahead?

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Just a couple of really interesting programs are coming up next weekend over at the Howard County Conservancy Mt. Pleasant site. Followed by one of the very popular meteor shower watches on the following Tuesday. Here are the details for those planning their weekends in advance.

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Spotting Wildlife in Winter – Saturday morning the 14th at 10am. For the hikers, photographers, and nature lovers who want to learn how to see more during the winter, Frank Marsden is leading a hike through the fields, woods and along the stream out at Mt. Pleasant. Frank has been taking amazing pictures out at Eden Mill Nature Center in Harford County. He is coming into our woods to show us what to look for, and how to increase our chances of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat.

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Then, on Sunday, another very special program. Do you know where Patterson Park is? Have you ever heard of Miracle Pond? Middleton Evans had made over 600 trips to this pond in a wildly overgrown section of the park. His visits, and his amazing photographs, span 15 years. He is giving a presentation in the Gudelsky Center at 4pm on the 15th of November. It should be something special.

Planning to check out the Leonids? Want to do it with some of our talented astronomical experts, like Star Doc (Dr. Joel Goodman) and Dr. Alex Storrs from Towson University? They will be bringing high powered scopes, but on a dark night like the 17th, you should be able to sit back in a lawn chair, bundled up against the cool weather, sipping some hot chocolate while looking for meteors shooting across the skies. This is always a popular event, with many attendees. Sometimes we’ve had over a 100 people out there. They will be there from 10pm until the wee hours of the morning.

This trio of programs should give us a few good reasons to “Get Out There”. Details on the Conservancy web site, under upcoming events.

The Antietam Highlands Wine Trail

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Something to do on these lovely autumn days.

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Fall foliage season is fast approaching. I picked up this brochure at Big Cork a few weeks ago. The offerings interested me.

Like the Meadery and Ciderworks.

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Filed away to try out on a weekend soon. But today, the first sunny day in a long time, we ventured out to taste at Knob Hall.

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Just west of Hagerstown. They were harvesting red grapes and sorting, when we got there.

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And, you know what? They make some lovely wines. Not very expensive. But, really well done. The tasting room is in a 200+ year old bank barn. They make one awesome cheese and charcuterie plate. We enjoyed their Chambourcin Reserve for a late lunch.

For those who love good wine, this is a very nice place to check out.

We will be heading back out there to try out the other offerings just west of Frederick. Who can resist the pull of the Appalachian mountains in the fall?

Fall Fest is On!

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Tired of being indoors from the rain? Want to get out and have a fun Sunday at the Howard County Conservancy? The festival tomorrow the 4th of October is still going to take place. Minus a few things, like the hay rides. Slippery, wet trails where they usually ride will make it impossible to hold the rides without creating ruts, which encourage erosion.

Besides that change, the rest will still take place. Pumpkin painting. Crafts and storytelling.

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You can visit the animals, including the alpacas from Pearl Moon.

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The square dancers will be inside the Gudelsky Center. The historic farmhouse will be open for tours.

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The blacksmiths will be operating. So will the chair caners, the woodturners, the basketweavers, and more.

The cost. Just $10 a car. Bring neighbors, relatives and friends. The more the merrier. Time is 11am-3pm. Food trucks will be there with waffles, BBQ, and other goodies.

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See you there?


Some of my favorite fall activities on the local farm scene.

The farms in this area have created many opportunities for people to enjoy the properties, pick some fruit, go on hayrides or get lost in a corn maze.

You can’t go wrong picking these events. There’s something to do most weekends.

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Right now.

Clark’s is always open. They even have dinosaurs, I hear, to go along with the Enchanted Forest attractions in the pine tree trails. So many things to do there, and really close to town.

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Larriland is open for pick your own, has a straw maze for the little ones, and has hayrides to the pumpkin patch.

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Gaver Farm just west of Mt. Airy is already open with their corn maze.

Starting next week.

Mullinix Maze opens next Friday the 25th with their huge corn maze, out by Western Regional Park.

Farm Heritage Days at the Farm Museum across from the Fairgrounds is next weekend.

Sharp’s Farm opens next weekend, too.

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In October.

TLV Tree Farm in Glenelg has something different every weekend out at the farm.

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Baugher’s in Westminster has their fall festival events every weekend in October, as well.

Good to see so many choices to get out, pick apples or pumpkins, go on hayrides, check out a petting zoo, or two, or three.

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Support our local farms, who offer much more than the farmer’s markets. These agritourism events help their bottom line, and keep them healthy to be there every year, giving us fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Best Of

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Those lists. The best this. The best that. I take them all with a grain of salt. So when I saw a Facebook feed from Black Ankle about the “101 Best Wineries in the USA” I thought, OK, another popularity contest.

Seems this list is a bit more than that. They use chefs, wine writers, sommeliers, wine experts and more to pick wineries of good value, consistency and great taste.

We have enjoyed wines from at least half the wineries on this list. They really did a good job of picking places that make wines of distinction, and their write ups are spot on. Yes, Black Ankle makes one awesome Syrah.

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It made us open one for our final night of the Buy Local Challenge. Served with a lamb loaf and local veggies.

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Sunday night dinner.

The wine is simply elegant. If you haven’t had the chance to head out to Mt. Airy and visit Black Ankle, you should. Besides the syrah, they make some interesting whites, like Albarino and Gruner Veltliner.

A perfect place for a Friday night picnic while listening to the music. Take a basket with you, or buy from the winery. Buy a bottle to compliment your meal. Enjoy!


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