In The Spirit

If you haven't made any plans for the holiday, don't worry. We've got you covered

Focus on Memorial Day

May 30, 1999|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN STAFF

You didn't plan a trip to the beach and you didn't have the energy to throw a big cookout this Memorial Day weekend. You thought it would be a good time to hang around the house and get some chores done. But now, admit it. You and your family wish there was at least one Event to mark the holiday. It's not too late. Here are 10 ideas for last-minute, low-key, family-oriented Memorial Day events. Some are ways to commemorate the day; others are simply a way for you and your family to spend some time together. None will take much more work than a commitment to put the chores aside and enjoy yourselves. Well, except for the last one.

1) How often do you think about visiting our state capital but just don't get around to doing it? Here are some lesser-known Annapolis attractions worth considering:

* Stop in at Chick & Ruth's deli at 165 Main St. for breakfast and join in the Pledge of Allegiance, said every weekday at 8: 30 a.m.

* Pay your respects informally at the serene Annapolis National Cemetery, 800 West St., the only one of Maryland's three national veterans' cemeteries that isn't holding official ceremonies on Memorial Day.

* Visit the war memorial just over the Old Severn River Bridge on Route 450 facing the Naval Academy. The circular wall honors the 6,454 Marylanders who died in World War II.

* Stroll through the Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden (Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Ave.), 6 acres of botanical gardens representing geographical areas of Maryland.

2) If you feel like doing something outdoorsy, but don't want to drive far from Baltimore to get there, take a walk in the Robert E. Lee Park. It's just off Falls Road, directly north of Lake Avenue (the turn for the light rail stop). Lots of interesting trails wind around Lake Roland, some more difficult than others. It's a pretty spot, and if your family includes a dog, you can bring Fido, too.

3) We usually think about Memorial Day in connection with modern-era wars; but Decoration Day, as it was called then, was established in 1868 to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War. So it's not inappropriate to visit Antietam Battlefield, a peaceful and beautiful spot this time of year. You can wander through the national park on your own or visit the monuments and exhibits. And you'll miss the crowds; Antietam's Memorial Day ceremonies were held Saturday this year.

Even getting there should be pleasant. Antietam Battlefield is a mostly scenic 90-minute drive from Baltimore. It's 1 mile north of Sharpsburg on Route 65.

4) Looking for something to do at home tomorrow? Rent a good war movie. That's war movie, not anti-war movie. Here are 10 suggestions:

"Action in the North Atlantic" (1943)

"Battleground" (1949)

"The Big Red One" (1980)

"The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957)

"The Dirty Dozen" (1967)

"The Enemy Below" (1957)

"Hell Is for Heroes" (1962)

"Sands of Iwo Jima," (1949)

"They Were Expendable" (1945)

"A Walk in the Sun" (1945)

5) Take a stroll on the historic Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath. It stretches some 185 miles from Washington to Western Maryland.

If you start at the Great Falls Tavern park museum in Potomac, you'll find easy, scenic hiking for the whole family. If you'd rather sit, there's a 3-mile, mule-drawn barge trip on the canal with guides in period dress.

To get there, take the Capital Beltway to Exit 40, River Road. The park is about 15 miles northwest. Continue on River Road to Falls Road south.

6) Invite your next-door neighbors over for a last-minute, no-cook backyard picnic. Keep it simple. Buy fried chicken (don't tell anyone), already cut-up fresh fruit (add some extra strawberries and grapes) and brownies.

You make one thing, the cucumber sandwiches. And make a lot of them. They go fast. Spread good-quality white sandwich bread with mayonnaise, add overlapping slices of cucumber. Salt lightly. Cut each sandwich in four squares, and don't forget to cut off the crusts.

Serve chilled white wine, beer, lemonade or iced tea.

7) Get out the bikes and take a ride on the Northern Central Railroad Trail, a 19-mile ribbon along the Gunpowder Falls from Cockeysville to the Mason-Dixon Line. The gravel trail is a popular route for hikers and bikers. You can reach the NCR Trail from the many roads that cross it, including Walker, Ashland and Freeland.

8) Spend the day in the pretty Eastern Shore towns of Oxford and St. Michaels, less than two hours away from Baltimore. Wander around Oxford enjoying the lovely Victorian homes and gardens along Morris Street; stop to rest in the small park. Then take the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry across the Tred Avon River to St. Michaels. The antiques and gift shops in both towns will be open on Memorial Day.

To get to either town, take Route 50 east across the Bay Bridge to the Easton bypass. Follow it to Route 33 to St. Michaels or Route 333 to Oxford.

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