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Our favorite spring break road trips of 2015

You likely need a change of scenery after this long winter. The good news is that traveling someplace exciting doesn’t always require getting on a plane.

While gas prices are still low, it’s a great time to explore all that’s within a few hours’ drive of your front door. Driving can turn otherwise grueling travel into a fun-filled adventure, with exciting diversions and impromptu detours along the way.

And surprise: Baltimore is not too far from all-inclusive resorts, intriguing cities and more. We’ve uncovered some destinations certain to please. All you’ll need to do is pack a suitcase and get going.

Massanutten Resort, McGaheysville, Va.

Distance From Baltimore: 160 miles

Why: This all-season adventure resort offers a full schedule of organized daily activities as well as an indoor water park, three zip lines, horseback riding, two 18-hole golf courses, on-site canoeing, kayaking and rafting, on-site skiing, ice skating and tubing, a spa and evening activities and shows.

Even Better...

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Afros, dreads, natural styles more popular, still controversial

Last June, Natalie Samuel went through with the "big chop."

The 33-year-old Columbia resident cut off all of her chemically straightened hair in an attempt to return her mane to its tightly curled, natural state.

Samuel said she doesn't regret the decision to leave behind salon appointments for relaxer treatments every three months and biweekly visits for upkeep.

"Now I just wash and go," said Samuel, a manager for an accounting firm. "It doesn't really require a stylist."

Samuel represents what has become a larger cultural movement to embrace chemical-free, natural and curly hair — especially among black women. And never before, it seems, has the styling of black women's hair been such a topic of national conversation.

When Zendaya Coleman, a Disney Channel star, went to the Oscars in dreadlocks, E! "Fashion Police" host Giuliana Rancic described the hairstyle as making the teen look as if "she smells like patchouli oil" or "weed." Coleman later called the comments "offensive," online...

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Adam Levine lies down on floor to comfort Howard County boy with Down syndrome

Ten-year-old Christopher Warner is a huge fan of Maroon 5.

He strolls through the halls of West Friendship Elementary singing the band's tunes. He makes posters proclaiming himself lead singer Adam Levine's "#1 fan."

Warner got to meet Levine on Monday night, when he, his mother and teachers were given backstage passes by D.C. radio station Hot 99.5 to see the band members after a performance at Washington's Verizon Center.

The fourth grader, who has Down syndrome, became star-struck and laid down on the floor, Today.com reports.

Levine suggested that everyone else do the same, and he and the other band members stretched out on the carpet with Christopher.

Hot 99.5's The Kane Show posted a full set of photos of Christopher meeting the Maroon 5 members here.

Neither Christopher's mom nor teachers immediately responded to a request for comment Wednesday.

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Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes emerges from personal 'fog'

On Tuesday, of Montreal, the eclectic rock act led by singer/songwriter Kevin Barnes, released its 13th album, “Aureate Gloom.”

Narratives surrounding of Montreal records typically focus on Barnes' ever-shifting influences — from lo-fi vaudeville to psychedelic pop to Afrobeat, and plenty in between — and the 40-year-old frontman's ability to meld it all together.

But as Barnes explained last week on the phone from his home in Athens, Ga., “Aureate Gloom” is an album unlike previous efforts because it was written after the December 2013 dissolution of his 11-year marriage. Songwriting had always been Barnes' most effective form of expression, but now he was using it to come to terms with the failure of a significant relationship.

“It's a way for me to bring things to the surface so I can analyze it with a fresh perspective,” Barnes said of songwriting. “So in that way, this record is very much like an open journal.”

Explicitly confronting his issues on this album had a cathartic effect...

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Baltimore living column: First 'adult' vacation can breed anxiety

"Vacation" is one of the most happiness-inducing words in the English language. It's also one whose definition changes with age.

When you're younger it often means a trip with your family, most likely tucked somewhere into the months-long break that's automatically worked into your schedule each year. (I'm not bitter or anything.) Your parents do the planning, and you're just along for the ride.

When you first enter the working world, vacation means the few precious days that let you cling to the illusion that adult responsibilities still don't exist. You ration out your 10 or so allotted vacation days with stingy finesse — a true 20-something art form.

The great news: If you're lucky, your employer actually pays you while you're not there working! Isn't that crazy? The bad news: Your parents aren't paying for those beach trips anymore and — spoiler — they are expensive. Plus, all of the annoying logistics now lie in your hands.

These facts recently became abundantly evident when I...

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'Guardians of the Galaxy' tops MTV Movie Awards nominations

And you thought Hollywood's award season was over.

A teenage tearjerker, a foul-mouthed coed comedy and a raucous space adventure featuring a talking tree lead the nominees for the 2015 MTV Movie Awards.

MTV announced Wednesday that "The Fault in Our Stars," ''Neighbors" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" all have seven shots at winning a golden popcorn trophy at the annual awards ceremony airing live on April 12.

"22 Jump Street" and "Whiplash" followed with five nods each in a slate that includes movies as diverse as "American Sniper," ''Gone Girl" and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1."

Comedian Amy Schumer will host the irreverent show, which hands out prizes that include best villain, best WTF moment, best kiss and best shirtless performance. Fans vote online.

Associated Press

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