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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

So far this year, the combination of cold, rainy weather and Lorraine’s foot surgery has limited our time on the volksmarch trails. It has, however, given us time to get a head start on spring cleaning. This has been an opportunity to de-clutter and reorganize some of our possessions. We mention this because one area we concentrated on was our vast collection of volksmarch memorabilia. As we opened box after box of assorted prizes, we would ask ourselves, does this particular prize have a special meaning? Sometimes we would find three or four of the same item and concluded that most had to go.

There have been two benefits so far to this process: more space in our attic and three boxes of Volksmarch prizes mailed to the Heidelberg International Wandering Club to be used as prizes for its Kiddie Volksmarch on April 25. There is still plenty of time for you to go through your collection of treasures and donate the extra ones to the HIWC.

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Alabama update: This time last year a few of us met with a small contingent from the Alabama governor’s office so they could learn more about the sport of volksmarching. The representatives were interested in starting a program to get their citizens out walking more and felt that a program similar to volksmarching was the way to do it. Since they were attending a conference in Berlin, they wanted to do a couple of walks in Germany to get a better understanding of the sport.

We met in the beautiful city of Limburg an der Lahn, walked Limburg’s 11-kilometer permanent trail and then drove to the nearby town of Ötzingen to walk its regular volksmarch. We thoroughly enjoyed walking, talking and sharing ideas with these enthusiastic people who were determined to spread the benefits of volksmarching across the state of Alabama.

We mention this because of a recent e-mail from "Pat" Patterson. Not too long ago, he spoke with the American Volkssports Association Southeast Regional Director, who said that our walking friends from Alabama did get a program up and running (no pun intended) and that "it appears to be very successful." Pat added, "I guess our time at Limburg was well spent." We agree, and would like to again thank Pat, his wife, Cheryl, and Nancy Shawley for their contributions to that weekend of walking.

If you would like to visit Limburg an der Lahn, it will host a triathlon of volksmarch events on May 2 and 3. There will be walking, biking and swimming events for IVV credit. The Ramstein Roadrunners are planning a bus trip to Limburg on May 2. For more information, contact Gene at parrotdad@hotmail.com.

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For those of you who signed up for the HIWC’s bus trip to Soultz, France, with a follow-on trip to the pottery town of Soufflenheim, there has been a change. The walk in Soultz was canceled, so the trip will now go to the volksmarch in Ballersdorf, France. The rest of the itinerary will remain the same.

We have been seeing e-mails stating that a passport is required for any travel into France. You might want to check on this.

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This will be a busy weekend of walking in Kirn-Sulzbach, Germany. Two years ago, Tina Kracke sent us an article she wrote for the HIWC newsletter about the 20-kilometer route she walked in Kirn-Sulzbach. Part of her description of the trail included, "we began switchbacks up what initially appeared to be a gentle hill that gradually morphed into what felt like the Himalayas. We would gaze up into what we thought might be the crest of the hill and the horizon, only to turn again onto another mountain goat track with no end in sight." If you like hills and a challenging workout, this sounds like the walk for you. This year, organizers have added a 42k marathon route on Saturday. Kirn-Sulzbach is about 20 miles north of Baumholder.

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It’s not too late to plan your trip to Lisse, Netherlands, for a walk on April 4. Your start card will allow you to enter the world-famous Keukenhof botanical gardens. Here is a chance to beat the impossible summer crowds and avoid the entrance fee. "America" is the theme for the gardens this year. We have reserved our seats on our club’s bus, so look for us in Lisse on April 4.

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Thanks to Tom Francis from the Stuttgart German American Wandering Club. The start hall for the recent walk in the town of Fellbach-Schmiden was on Hofäckerstrasse and he sent some photos of the name on various street signs. A few years ago I (Bob) was quite interested in genealogy and tracing my German roots. These photos brought back memories and stimulated my curiosity.

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Miscellaneous short notes about this week’s events:

• We’ll probably be at the Schinveld, Netherlands, walk on Sunday. It is close to us and allows us to check up on our Scottish Highland "friends."

• This weekend’s volksmarch in Bodelshausen is a Stammtisch walk for the Stuttgart club. Look for the club’s blue flag at the start hall and go up and say "Hi."

• Wednesday’s walk in St. Julian is convenient for those of you in the Kaiserslautern and Baumholder military communities. You can start the five- and 10-kilometer trails until 6 p.m., so you can still make it after work. The prize is a B-medal beer mug for 3 euros.

• The start for the walk in Campies a Pinzano Tagliamento, Italy, is "presso la sede dell’Ass. Amis di Cjampees." If the routes are similar to the ones in the past, expect some fairly stiff grades in the mountains. There is a fest, so food will be available at the end.

• The 21k trail at the Lignano Pineta, Italy, walk goes through a Parco Zoo, which has animals and birds from various countries.

E-mail information to two.walkers@ yahoo.com. Mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09752.

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