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If You Must Peep . . .

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Okay, you may not want to hit the surf, as the beach chairs are already in storage and the leftover sunblock has been relegated to the top of the linen closet. Next up? The changing of the leaves, of course -- Washington's favorite autumn preoccupation.

The foliage experts are predicting the usual conditions this season. Here's how to monitor them:

* Maryland: Keep tabs on the colors through a hotline (800-532-8371) operated by the Maryland Office of Tourism and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, or visit the Natural Resources Web site, http://www.dnr.state.md.us, to monitor conditions. More info: 866-639-3526, http://www.mdisfun.org.

* Pennsylvania: The state's snazzy Web site has live webcams of several scenic spots, fall foliage photo galleries plus leaf-spotting reports. Info: 800-847-4872, http://www.fallinpa.com.

* Virginia: Sign up for weekly leaf reports via e-mail on the Virginia Tourism Corp. autumn Web site, http://www.fallinvirginia.org. More info: 800-424-5683, http://www.virginia.org.

* West Virginia: The tourism office's Web site has a fall-color map and weekly foliage updates. Info: 800-225-5982, http://www.callwva.com.

* Nationwide: The U.S. Forest Service runs a foliage hotline (800-354-4595) and posts reports at http://www.fs.fed.us/news/fallcolors.

-- E.L.P.

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