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Ski Trips, Adventure and More


Go for the Snow in pre-Olympic Utah

Courtesy of Ski Utah.comUtah, the state with 500 inches annually of the ‘Greatest Snow on Earth,’ is ready for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games more than a year in advance of the big event. The fine-tuning is over; the finishing touches are in place. That means that this is the ideal time for winter sports junkies and just regular folks to see what it will be like during the Games. Visitors this winter can view pre-Olympic test events for a fraction of the cost of the final event and even get into the action. How about a ride on a World Cup bobsled down the Olympic Park’s 75-mph race-ready course? Or ski the Olympic downhill run at Snowbasin? What about riding the snowboard half-pipe or skiing the giant slalom course at Park City Mountain Resort? If you can’t make it this winter, organizers of the Utah Games point out that only two percent of the total skiable terrain at Utah’s winter resorts will be affected by Olympic related events in 2002, so you can even enjoy a ski vacation during the Games. To find out the time and dates of Winter 2001 test events, visit the Ski Utah Web site: www.skiutah.com. For complete information on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games (Feb. 8-24), including how to get tickets, access www.saltlake2002.com.

No pain, no gain in Aspen

Copyright: Biege JonesAnyone may compete in the Audi 24 Hours of Aspen, Dec. 17-18, but unless you are one of the most formidable racers in the world, you’d have to be a masochist to enter. This is the World Championship of Endurance Skiing — 24 hours of nonstop racing on legendary Ajax (Aspen Mountain). In actuality, most racers will be ex-World Cup and Olympic competitors from around the world who can handle the technical challenges of the mountain and the grueling struggle to ward off fatigue and stay acutely alert. Two-member teams, skiing at speeds over 80 miles an hour will compete for the title of "World’s Toughest Skiers" and a $50,000 cash purse. For those who just want to suck of the adrenaline generated by a star-studded weekend of special events (many to raise money for charity) Aspen is the place to be on the mid-December weekend. For more information or to book tickets and accommodations online, visit www.aspensnowmass.com, or call Aspen Skiing at 970-925-1220, ext. 3234.

Fly, spin and troll in southern Belize

Copyright: Demian SolanoHurricane Keith passed it by, but southern Belize can offer a grand slam experience that serious fishermen just can’t resist. We’re talking the Grand Slam of fly-fishing, when you land a bonefish, tarpon and permit all in one day. Southern Belize is blessed with extensive saltwater flats, mangrove islands, the largest Barrier Reef in the Western Hemisphere, and an abundance of backcountry rivers, lagoons and freshwater lakes. The Inn at Robert’s Grove’s new Fly-Fishing Center is equipped to help hardcore fishermen achieve fly-fishing’s greatest challenge, while the rest of the family luxuriates in what is the finest seaside resort in Belize. Those who are a little tepid on fishing can dive and snorkel the Barrier Reef, sail, cycle, surf, canoe or kayak, go sightseeing on the Monkey River, visit Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Reserve or Mayan ruins, among other activities. The Inn is offering a variety of fishing packages for experienced, intermediate or novice fishermen. Packages include accommodations, meals and daily guided fishing. To request a brochure or make reservations, call 800-565-9757, e-mail them at info@robertsgrove.com, or access their Web site at www.robertsgrove.com.


Chef hosts foodies in tantalizing Tuscany

Courtesy of Tuscan WayCan anyone think of food so soon after the holidays? Those who answer yes can take advantage of a 20 percent discount on cooking vacations in Tuscany in January and February. Chef Carlo Innocenti invites participants to stay in his five-story medieval home in the village of Arcidosso near Siena and the vineyards that produce the celebrated Brunello wine. Hands-on cooking classes focus on regional specialties of the winter season: hearty soups and pasta dishes, game meats, winter fruits and desserts, all washed down with outstanding wines from the Innocenti cellars. The discount lowers the rate on the seven-day course from US$2,190 to US$1,752 per person double. (A four-day course is also available.) For details, contact Tuscan Way at 800-766-2390 or 305-446-0127, or visit the Web site at www.tuscanway.com. (After all that indulgence, if you want to follow-up with a spa vacation in nearby Terme di Saturnia, Tuscan Way can book that, too).


Unique opportunity to motorcycle in China

With high-voltage celebs like actress and model Lauren Hutton and actor Jeremy Irons tooling around on motorcycles, can the rest of the world be far behind? Edelweiss, the company that has been perfecting the art of motorcycle tours for 21 years (well before the Guggenheim Museum elevated Harleys to museum-quality visual art), is doing all it can to see that travelers get a change to ride the world on a two-wheel steed. Among its worldwide itineraries, it is offering special tours in China in spring and summer 2001. The emphasis is on "special," because the company says it has decided against offering regular tours in China because the standards of food and accommodation were too uneven, and the hassles of traffic and bureaucracy too difficult. The tours to Shandong (May 2001), Manchuria (June 2001), and Inner Mongolia (July 2001) are for the adventurous few who love the extraordinary and are eager to accept higher levels of risk and fewer creature comforts. Preliminary prices: rider US$5,800; passenger US$3,500 plus airfare to Hong Kong. Contact the company soon to be put on the list and to receive detailed information. E-mail Edelweiss Special Tour Department: m.grill@edelweissbike.com, or visit the Web site: www.edelweissbike.com.

Storm chasing beyond the Land of Oz

Copyright: Martin LisiusVeteran storm chasers don’t end up in Oz, but wouldn’t that be fun? Nor do they end up in movies like the highly fictionalized "Twister." People who are fascinated by weather can find out what storm trackers really do on a Tempest Tours, Inc. storm-chasing expedition. This is hands-on adventure with veteran storm chasers as they traverse American’s Great Plains through Tornado Alley in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. Five tours are scheduled beginning in May. If Mother Nature cooperates, guests will see several significant storms while they learn about the meteorology, logistics, technology and safety precautions of storm chasing. The cost of a regular tour is US$2,600 per person and includes 11 nights of lodging and 10 days of storm chasing. A lecture series tour with Dr. Charles Doswell, research meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory and one of the top tornado scientists in the world, is scheduled for late June. Tempest Tours was founded by Martin Lisius, a leader in severe weather education who chairs Texas Severe Storms Association. Complete registration information and details can be acquired on line at www.TempestTours.com. Or call Martin Lisius at 817-276-9500.

Korea beckons like never before

Fifty years after the Korean War, tourism in Korea is booming. Travelers throughout the world are finding it a unique, exciting, and affordable destination. Korea hosted some 4 million visitors last year and even more are expected in 2001 (Visit Korea Year), and in 2002 for the World Cup Soccer Championship. Co-sponsored with Japan and held May 31-June 30, this will be the first time World Cup Games will be held in Asia. Koreans love sports and it is a sports haven for travelers. Those who aren’t so sports-minded can select a themed tour focusing on such topics as culture and natural history. Information is available from Korea National Tourism’s New York Office at 1-800-868-7567, or Web sites: www.2001visitkorea.com and www.2002worldcupkorea.org. And here’s a tip: According to Confucian tradition, age or seniority is all-important in Korea. Juniors are expected to follow the wishes of their elders without question. Therefore, people often ask your age and sometimes marital status. If you are sensitive about such questions, brush them off in a gracious way and no one will be offended.

Dancing in the desert

Courtesy of Travel in StyleIs there a more appropriate place to learn belly dancing than behind the storied walls of Marrakech? Is there a better teacher than the famous dancer, choreographer and singer of Arabic songs than Kamellia? The newest vacation adventure from Travel in Style offers travelers a chance to learn belly dancing and other Oriental dances with Kamellia in Marrakech. This 9-days/8-nights tour includes five morning dance sessions. Afternoons are devoted to sightseeing and absorbing Moroccan culture. Besides the souks, palaces and mosques, tour participants will have entrée to Moroccan home life for an intimate look at customs rarely experienced by outsiders. Departures from New York in 2001 are Feb. 3, Feb. 4, and Nov. 3. Cost is $2,300 per person (double occupancy) including round-trip airfare New York/Marrakech via Casablanca. For reservations or more information, call your travel agent or contact Travel in Style at 1-888-466-8242, e-mail info@travelinstyle.com, or visit their Web site: www.travelinstyle.com.

Rent your own ranch-resort

Courtesy of Laragai Lodge.Masters of the universe, to steal a phrase from Tom Wolfe, this one is for you. If movies like Out of Africa or the Snows of Kilimanjaro left you longing for your own adventure in far away Africa, head for Laragai, Kenya. You can rent a sprawling 35,000-acre ranch and live like a lord of the manor on an estate built by the Cecil family of Hertfordshire, England. The ranch is a 40-minute flight from Nairobi over the Rift Valley, coffee and tea plantations, Mt. Kenya, and finally the Lakipia Plateau and the sprawling Borana Ranch. There are two landing strips on the property and the complex of elegantly designed buildings includes a main house, top house and pool house. All were constructed with indigenous building methods and materials: stone-piled walls, cedar trim and beams that rise 30 feet to a peaked roof covered by papyrus thatched reed. Bedrooms are suite-size, bathrooms luxurious. Tea is served each afternoon on a veranda that looks over acres of plains where elephant and giraffe wander by daily. The raised, partially covered deck of the pool house (with bar) are also perfect for game viewing. The property has its own clay tennis court. Vehicles and drivers are on hand for safari drives and excursions. Most of the staff has been with the family and house since it was built. A week’s stay is barely enough; ten days are suggested. For reservations, contact: Resorts Management, Inc. 800-225-4255.


Book Odyssey blasts off in San Francisco

The largest, most prestigious rare book fair in the United States will be held Feb. 23-25 in San Francisco at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635-8th St. at Brannan. Called "2001…A Book Odyssey," the fair is expected to attract more than 250 rare booksellers. Book lovers and collectors can expect to find the world’s finest stock of rare and antiquarian books, manuscripts and related materials priced from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands. Frank M. Robinson, highly-acclaimed science fiction collector, author and enthusiasts will be among the keynote speakers. Stephen King listed Robinson’s book Waiting as among one of the best books he’d read in the last three years. For information on the fair, call 415-551-5190 or e-mail info@winslowevents.com or check the Web site at www.sanfranciscobookfair.com. See you there!