In Alaska it’s about surviving winter—a long, long winter. Fortunately, people in Anchorage have not only a frontier spirit but a sense of humor. And so there is Fur Rendezvous, affectionately called the "Fur Rondy" by locals, now in its 75th year and serving up 10 days of crazy winter fun from Feb. 26 - Mar. 6.
The festival leads up to the start of the more serious Iditarod dog sled race, which kicks off March 7 (and runs a 1,200-mile course to Nome).
Racing is part of the action during Fur Rondy too, in the form of the World Championship Sled Dog Races, with 30 mushers and their teams competing for an $80,000 purse, on a 25-mile course. But that’s about as competitive as Fur Rondy gets.
Other festival events, as I witnessed for the first few days, range from the sublime to the ridiculous, including whacky snowshoe softball (competitors fall a lot), a Frostbite Footrace (costumes optional) and the World’s Largest Outhouse Race (yup, teams competing pushing outhouses).
Have the short cold days got you down? These sizzling contests may just sweep you away.
Yapta’s “9 Months of Paradise by Marriott Sweepstakes”
Since June, Yapta has been giving away a trip a month. There’s one more month left and February’s prize is a 5-night, 6-day hotel stay at the Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas. To enter, use Yapta.com's flight tracker to monitor the price of a flight; each flight counts as an entry into the drawing (maximum 25 per person). The drawing is Februay 28th, so go ahead and track spring break plans—it might end up being free! Other prizes include Bose headphones and Starbucks cards—both certain to help with the winter crankies.
On a recent journey to Iceland, I discovered 66° North. Named for the island’s Arctic latitude, this rugged outdoor clothing line is a favorite of Icelandic explorers, mountain guides and the Olympic ski team, competing in the 2010 Winter Games at Vancouver next month. While climbing around glaciers, riding horses in the highlands, and fishing on a long-line day boat off the Westfjords, I wore a black weatherproof Esja parka ($456). My first hoodie! So what if I looked like Kenny from "South Park"?
The holidays have become the traditional time for productions of the Nutcracker. The ballet, through Tchaikovsky’s evocative score, depicts a child’s inner life and imagination—a world transformed by dancing snowflakes and exotic lands of sweets and fantasy. What better time to indulge a bit of fantasy? Here are two, not-to-miss stagings, from the classic to modern interpretations.
Growing up in Marietta, Georgia, I had only one option for ice-skating: a spiritless indoor rink, where everyone in the entire state seems to come at the same time. It was practically an ice box packed with jostling skaters, some visibly sick from too much ice cream cake (the only snack offered other than pizza), and the music director assumed we would truly enjoy top 40 jams like MC Hammer's Pray in constant rotation.
Fortunately families now have alternate options.
Recently the St. Regis Atlanta (opened April 2009) started a new tradition—transforming its outdoor Grand Terrace into a festive ice skating rink.
After five years in the making, the Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe finally opened its doors to the public today. (Lucky first guests/skiers at the 170-room property were treated to a fresh snowfall.)
As a kid, I always looked forward to celebrating St. Nicholas’s Day in early December, when one of the older men at my church would dress up as St. Nicholas in traditional bishop’s robes and pass out delicious gingerbread cookies the size of my head.
Czechs also celebrate St. Nicholas’s Day (Mikuláš in Czech), but they do it with a sinister twist.
Full disclosure: I used to be a Radio City Rockette. And even though I retired a decade ago, this time of year always brings back memories of the start up of rehearsals and the build of excitement as kicking season approaches. I still like to check in on the ladies, just seven blocks up from our offices, and each year I am amazed that I was ever a part of that giant, glittery, moving entity that I always think of as a hyper-size, surreal, living version of a Hammacher Schlemmer music box.
Behold, in all its glory: my idea of heaven on a plate. Stone crab season officially opened a couple of weeks ago, and I took that as the perfect excuse to head down to the Florida Keys for a blissful weekend of sun and serious seafood binging. Three jumbo claws from the Islamorada Fish Company market, plus a cold Corona or two, made the perfect warm-weather lunch—just the thing to break up a day of snoozing in a hammock and frolicking in the surf.
Stone crab meat is not only amazingly succulent and sweet, it’s also a sustainable food product. (Only one claw is harvested at a time from each crab, which is returned to the ocean to regenerate its claw.)
Some of the best views of New York City are from the water. The Staten Island Ferry is the time-honored cheap method of getting out on the waves, and it’s worth the ride at least once—but you’re on a big, loud boat that, um, ends up at Staten Island. A more sublime experience is had onboard a sailboat, using nothing but the harbor wind for power. If you don’t happen to have your own schooner, that’s where the Shearwater comes in.