The weatherman says a great fall weekend is in store. So get out and stay out with one of these activities:
1) Take the kids over to the Cambridge side of the Choptank River Saturday morning and let them fish for free in the inaugural Bill Burton Youth Derby. Maryland's two largest fishing groups--Coastal Conservation Association Maryland and the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association--will be on hand to mentor young anglers at the Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park. Loaner rods, reels and bait are available if you don't want to bring your own gear. The top prize is a full day of fishing on the Chesapeake Bay for six aboard Capt. George Prenant's Stormy Kestral charter boat. Registration begins at 8 a.m., with rods out at 11 a.m. An awards ceremony will be held on the pier at 11:30.
2) Learn how to pinpoint your location using a GPS receiver, mark waypoints, plot courses and create routes during a six-hour course on Saturday offered by REI. The field course at Patapsco Valley State Park costs $60 for REI coop members and $80 for nonmembers. REI will supply GPS units or you can bring your own. Class size is limited. Call 301-982-9681.
3) Also on Saturday, The Bird Club for Kids will have its first get together from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the Hilton area of Patapsco Valley State Park. On the first Saturday of each month, club members and park staff will visit different parts of Patapsco to explore a variety of bird habitats, have close encounters with Scales & Tales birds and participate in other activities. Bring binoculars and a guide book if you have them (the park will have both available to borrow) and dress for the weather. This activity is appropriate for kids 8 years and older. Meet at the Nature Center in the Hilton Area. The cost is $2 per child, and no reservations are needed.
4) On Sunday, join thousands of riders at Baltimore's Canton Waterfront Park to kick off the 17th Annual Tour du Port, a fundraiser for One Less Car, a non-profit organization dedicated to walking, bicycling and mass transit alternatives. There are five routes, raning from 12 miles to 62 miles. The routes take you through historic neighborhoods, waterfront areas and scenic parks. This fully supported ride includes lunch, refreshments at rest stops, map, SAG support and a post-ride celebration at the Tour's end with lunch and live music. Free secured parking lot is located at 1500 S. Clinton St., Baltimore. Registration closes Friday at 10 p.m. Learn more at onelesscar.org.
5) Learn about nocturnal critters from a naturalist during a Sunday evening owl prowl on the grounds of the Patuxent Research Refuge North Tract in Laurel. The hour-long walk and talk at 6:30 p.m. is free and suitable for children over 5. The North Tract is on Route 198 between the Baltimore- Washington Parkway and Route 32. Call 301-497-5887.