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As January comes to an end, so does our fourth year as writers of this column. A lot has changed since our first article, dated Feb. 2, 2006, and most of the changes have been positive. We have met plenty of new walking friends, have seen beautiful cities and gorgeous countrysides and shared many happy moments on trails across Europe.

We are indebted to many people who make this column possible. In addition to the editors in Kaiserslautern and Washington, D.C., we owe thanks to the many readers who send us fliers and e-mails advertising walks. The assorted books and Web sites we refer to do not provide all the information needed for the weekly walks chart, so without the fliers, we would be hard-pressed to put the chart together.

As we head into our fifth year, we promise to do our best to get you out on a volksmarch trail near you. We feel that once you’ve been exposed to a volksmarch or two, you’ll love the experience, want to do more, and continue to look for volksmarches when you get back to the States.

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With gasoline prices on the rise again, a bus trip with a volksmarch club is a good way to get out and travel. Last week, we mentioned the Heidelberg International Wandering Club’s bus trip to the very popular Rothenburg ob der Tauber walk. Now we understand that there will be a bus trip sponsored by the Ramstein Roadrunners to attend the Rothenburg walk on Saturday, Feb. 27. This is a day trip, and if you sign up and pay before Feb. 16, you will receive a "Speedy Bird" discount.

For more information on joining the Roadrunners for this trip, contact Gene at parrotdad@hotmail.com.

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The snow and ice are melting now, but when we went to the walk in Bilzen, Belgium, there was still plenty of both on the ground.

This walk was through residential areas and the center of town. Since it had been a week since the last snowfall in the area, we were disappointed that the sidewalks were not cleaned better than they were.

There were many areas that were very slippery, and in some places walkers bypassed the icy portions by walking in the streets, which can be dangerous. Having spent a lot of time and energy keeping the sidewalk in front of our house clean, we were annoyed by the lack of effort by others.

The lessons we learned from this walk were: Don’t be surprised when the sidewalks are not cleared, allow extra time for the walk due to the slower pace, and as you are driving to and from the walk, be wary of walkers forced into the streets by the slippery sidewalks.

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A million thanks to this week’s flier contributors: William Castro and Maureen McHugh-Castro, Ramona and Horst Kechelen, "Pat" and Cheryl Patterson, Bob Gambert, Lew Harrison, Wayne Henry, Nancy Shawley and Tim and Luchi Lynch. A sad note about the Lynches: Tim suffered multiple fractures in a skiing accident and is looking at a few months of rehabilitation and will not be volksmarching for a while. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery and hope he returns to the trails soon.

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Miscellaneous short notes about this week’s events:

• The volksmarch in Horrheim, Germany, is a Stammtisch walk for the Stuttgart club. The prize for this walk is a soft, Beanie Baby-like turtle.

• The prize at the Lisberg, Germany, volksmarch is a curved, glass picture frame.

Clark Soeldner’s Italian walking notes:

Referring to the walk in Monteforte d’Alpone, Italy, Clark says, "At one of the restoros, I heard English being spoken. It was three folks from the Heidelberg walking group. They made it OK as a group, and did both the Saturday afternoon guided walk and the Sunday morning event. Hopefully they had a good time in spite of the estimated 18,000 participants."

• The walk in Cordenons is flat and easy. In the past, for the 21-kilometer route, they set up a grill to cook pancetta for small sandwiches. The weather is usually cold, so be prepared.

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

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