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Saturday, June 12, 2004

Wandering About 

It took us until nearly 10:00 a.m. to get out of the house, but Evelin and I managed to squeeze in a pretty full range of activities today.

We started off heading north to Catoctin Mountain Park. We actually didn't cross into the national park, however, instead staying in Cunningham Falls State Park to hike 1.25 miles and 1,562 feet to the top of Cat Rock.

I like Cat Rock: it's a nice quick hike, easy to get to, with a good view. Back in 1996, before I moved up to Northampton, I made a special point of making a predawn hike to the top to see the sun rise. If I'd been thinking about it, I'd have gone up Chimney Rock instead; I would have seen the sun come up over the mountain instead of over my shoulder.

On the way down the mountain, we stopped at Pryor's Orchard. They had signs up about sweet cherries, but when we got there we found out they do pick-your-own, too. Evelin and I were given a bit steel bucket and then trudged up the hill into the orchard. It didn't take long to fill the bucket about a third of the way up (which we figured would be enough for a pie with a few leftovers for snacking). Back in the barn where the cherries were weighed, I also picked up a bottle of McCutcheon's sparkling scuppernong ("zesty champagne-like flavor without the alcohol").

After the orchard, I held Evelin to her promise of a hike and a zoo, and we went to the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo. We've driven past it many, many times and -- to tell the truth -- it always looks a bit like an old-school roadside attraction. Inside, however, it wasn't too bad. They do sell "zoo food" and allow visitors to feed some of the animals, which meant some of the Barbary sheep, fallow deer, and other animals looked way fat, but the grounds are nice and naturalistic. Some of the enclosures, however, were a bit on the depressing side (especially the grizzly bear enclosure) and I did see some stereotypic behavior (mostly pacing from the grizzly). Despite that, it's a fairly wide-ranging collection, including some animals I don't think I've seen elsewhere, most notably dingoes (Canis lupus dingo*).

After the zoo, we took backroads home, making a short stop at Hoffman's Home Made Ice Cream in Westminster.

Tonight, it'll be cherry pie for dessert and loubieh bi zayt (green beans in olive oil) for dinner.

*Apparently, there's some debate as to whether dingoes should be classified as Canis lupus dingo or as Canis familiaris dingo. (See the dingo page at Lioncrusher's Domain and scroll down to "Taxonomic Note.")

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