With a few exceptions, much of the U.S. has been experiencing an unseasonably warm and dry winter. While that may make some people happy, those of us who welcome snow, sweaters, skating and skiing are missing winter’s frosty grip.
If you’re feeling as blah as the brown landscape outside, consider a mid-winter adventure to colder climes. There’s nothing like nature beauteously transformed by an icy white veneer to lift even the most listless spirit. From dog sledding to tracking wolves, sleeping in an ice hotel and watching the Northern Lights, cold-weather travel is all kinds of cool!
While I welcome winter along with all the other skiers and outdoor aficionados here in Colorado, by the end of February I’m ready for a surf and sand break. But cramming onto a crowded beach towel-by-cooler with hundreds of other sunseekers is not my vision of restoring my winter-weary spirit.
When you’re a beach lover and a nature lover, the quest becomes to find those pristine stretches of sand that make you feel you’ve discovered a place where time stops; where the rhythm of sea on shore is the primary sound; where the sun’s slow slide behind the horizon is the only marker of day melding into night. A place like, say, Bai Kem Beach on Phu Quoc, one of 105 islands that comprise this idyllic Vietnamese archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand. Picture a soft, white sugar-sand beach, fringed with slender palms. Phuket, half a century ago. No people. Just total, unspoiled beauty.
Blue-footed Booby in the Galapagos
How would you like to win a 7-night Galapagos Islands cruise for two aboard an Ecoventura yacht, recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly outfitters in the islands? Imagine anchoring in turquoise bays, zipping ashore in small rafts and lazing on sandy beaches, empty but for colonies of curious sea lions and nonchalant iguanas sunning on the lava shoreline. Blue-footed boobies nest along island trails while albatross and frigate birds soar overhead. The wonders beneath the waves are just as amazing, as you snorkel with penguins and sea turtles.
I love harvest time. What more savory feast for the senses is there than a Saturday morning stroll through the local farmers market in September? Here in Boulder, Colo., I love gathering a basketful of Palisade peaches, pungent peppers, fresh-picked organic salad greens, and a big, sweet Rocky Ford cantaloupe (the melon equivalent of a vine-ripe heirloom tomato versus a pale January supermarket variety). And soon, I’ll add a jug of cloudy, fresh-pressed apple cider.
For 20 minutes I’d stood at the rail of the Pelagic, watching the rise and submersion of two black dorsal fins in Haro Strait, off San Juan Island. “Granny,” a 95-year-old orca matriarch, and “Ruffles,” named for the ripply edge on his fin, were cruising the silver waters in search of Chinook salmon.