Don't Fight It, It's Natural 

"Save Mount Diablo" is more than just a slogan


So much nature to explore, so little time. Save Mount Diablo is sponsoring eight -- count 'em -- botanical walks, birding expeditions, and plain old hikes in the great outdoors in and around Mt. Diablo, now through this weekend. Take today's (Wednesday, April 27, 10 a.m.) "Spring Bloom" trek through the Morgan Territory. Or Thursday's "Bird Yourself Silly" walk in search of woodland wings and raptors (9-11:30 a.m.). Also on Thursday: a "Wildflower Watch" at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve (9 a.m.-noon, register at 925-757-2620). On Saturday, choose from five separate outings: from Black Diamond along ridge tops to Mount Diablo at 8:30 a.m.; an all-day trip through the canyons and up to the summit of Mt. Diablo, leaving at 9 a.m.; a leisurely stroll around Black Diamond Mines (9 a.m.-3 p.m.); a Borges Ranch Wildflower Walk (10 a.m.-noon); and "Green Aliens," an intro to non-native plants around Black Diamond (10 a.m.-noon). For info, see – Kelly Vance

SUN 5/1

To S'Mateo!

Rags to Ridges

This space doesn't like to send our readers outside the East Bay unnecessarily -- the activity has to be either unique or spectacular. Sunday's Ridgetop Ramble , sponsored by Greenbelt Alliance, may actually be both. The daylong hike (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) through the San Mateo County underbrush may be classified as "moderate," but the 360-degree views of the ocean and the bay from the Peninsula's Russian and Skyline Ridges are strictly from Postcardville -- grandiose, magnificent, and (the kicker) you can't see them from the freeway. For directions and tons more info, go to -- Kelly Vance


The Trouble with Barry

As you read this, the Oakland A's are concluding a fascinating early-season death-struggle with the high-flying Chicago White Sox, who should soon be hitting the ground with a thud. But the A's have other concerns -- like division rivals the Seattle Mariners, who arrive at McAfee Coliseum Friday for a three-game series, followed by the Texas Rangers for another three-pack. Pitching, pitching, pitching is the key for the scrappy young A's -- unless you want to talk about lack of timely hitting -- and no one is more important to their 2005 hopes than enigmatic lefty Barry "Hollywood" Zito, who often seems to be acting in his own private TV sitcom while on the mound. Can Zito, Harden, Haren, Blanton, and Saarloos put a lid on Ichiro and Blalock? -- Kelly Vance


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