Volume 16, Issue 27 - July 3 - July 9, 2008

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Way Downstream

Ultra-distance Race Across America cyclist Ken Shuart of Galesville — with Ride4Melanoma teammates Jody Bennett, Stuart Levy and Steve Laurenson and a 10-person support crew — pedaled 3,000-plus grueling miles to arrive in Annapolis June 19. The rookie team placed fifth in its division, coming in just an hour behind the fourth-place team, with a time of seven days, 16 hours and 30 minutes and an average speed of 16.62 miles per hour. Along the backroads-only route, Shuart says they made a wrong turn in Athens, Ohio, but didn’t stray too far off track. Though the team alternated pedaling and resting, the race still demanded around-the-clock endurance and strength from each cyclist. “You sort of forget what day it is and what time it is,” said Shuart, who will do it again next year — if someone else organizes the logistics. “You just focus on your 45-minute intervals.”

Independence Day came early for Maryland Natural Resources Police, who liberated $10,000 worth of illegal fireworks from a barge floating off the shores of the Patuxent, near Prince Frederick. A marine unit spotted the contraband-laden barge on evening rounds June 28. No arrests yet made in the ongoing investigation. Those busted with illegal blasts in Maryland face fines up to $250 plus the cost of confiscation …

A route commemorating American defeats and triumphs in the War of 1812 won national recognition with the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. The trail begins in Calvert County, where in June 1814, warships and fighting barges of the Chesapeake Flotilla fought ships of the British navy on St. Leonard’s Creek, at the present site of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum.

The trail marks the British landing site at Benedict on the Patuxent River; the battle of Bladensburg; the British occupation of Washington, D.C.; and the burning of the White House; and the ultimate American victories at the battle of North Point and the defense of Fort McHenry in Baltimore …

Crab soup lovers disappointed at this year’s loss of the Maryland Seafood Festival can look forward to first annual Ultimate Crab Soup Cook-Off. Admiral Heights Improvement Association cooked up an idea for the crab soup cook-off: a September 6 festival featuring Maryland and Washington, D.C., restaurants brewing their best vegetable crab soup, cream of crab soup or alternative crab soup. The cook-off will also feature a kids’ area and green business and product displays. For $10, you can enter the tasting tent and sample the crustacean concoctions. See www.admiralheights.org for updates …

A Greenpeace survey of 20 leading supermarket chains shows that we’re unwitting coconspirators in pushing global fisheries to collapse — a disaster scientists foresee by mid-century. Researchers ranked stories on seafood purchasing, policies and labeling, as well as on how many Red List products — 22 of the world’s most destructively fished and farmed species — they had for sale. Grocery chains that ranked lowest for fish sustainability include Trader Joe’s and Publix. The highest-ranking grocers — which earned only four out of 10 possible points — include Whole Foods and Harris Teeter. If current trends continue, scientists predict that global fisheries could collapse within 40 years. Read the report at: www.greenpeace.org/seafood

Our Creature Feature comes from Pennsylvania, where postal workers in the town of Mohnton, two hours north of Annapolis, wondered what the heck was going on when they heard scratching inside a package labeled toys, gifts and jellies arriving from Taiwan.

Rather than ripping it open, they wisely phoned Customs and Border Protection. Inside — and trying to get outside — were 26 huge Asian beetles, including the Hercules, rhinoceros and Goliath species, which can grow to more than six inches long.

On July 1, Customs officials from Baltimore journeyed north to present the postal workers with an award for their vigilance and, it was rumored, a giant can of bug spray.

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