In praise of olives

TRAVEL SMARTS

Sonoma Valley celebrates the fruit's increasing importance

November 18, 2001|By Tricia Bishop

California's countryside is known for its vineyards, but another fruit -- the olive -- is moving in on the grape's territory, and Sonoma Valley is giving it its due this year with an Olive Festival.

Starting next month and running through February, the first annual festival highlights olive season in Sonoma, from harvest to press, beginning with a blessing of the olives Dec. 8 at the historic Mission San Francisco de Solano.

The kickoff weekend continues with olive press demonstrations, a tasting bar for olives and olive oils, a culinary trip through local restaurants and wineries, and a Martini Madness contest, where bartenders will vie for the title of most olive-worthy martini maker.

In January, the accent is on the "Art of the Olive." Local artists will feature sculpture, painting and photography based on regional and seasonal olive-related themes. And in February, it's the "Taste of the Olive," where olive oils and olive-oil-infused dishes are the main attraction.

Local authors will also deliver odes to the olive and be available to sign their works.

For information, call the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau at 707-996-1090 or visit online at www. sonomavalley.com.

PHOTO OPS FLASHING ACROSS AMERICA

TakeGreatPictures.com, an online photography advice site, has added an events section that lists coming photo opportunities around the country.

Examples from this month's roster include:

* Nov. 19 -- Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon, Calif., with floats depicting Mother Goose rhymes and fairy tales. For more information about the event, call 619-444-8712.

* Nov. 23-24 -- Mystic Seaport Field Days in Mystic, Conn., with Thanksgiving weekend activities including wagon rides, food, entertainment and outdoor games --and, of course, the awesome boats. Call 860-572-5315 or 888-9SEAPORT.

* Nov. 23-29 -- Olde Tyme Farm Days in Live Oak, Fla., with old-time Americana festivities and items including wagon trail riding and antique farm equipment. Call 386-364-1683.

* Nov. 24-26 -- Mountain Man Rendezvous in Felton, Calif. A living history demonstration of fur trappers and traders of the American West during the 1830s and 1840s. Native American dances, axe throwing and authentic tepees are set in a mountain meadow. Call 831-335-4484.

For the complete list of photo opportunities, go to www.takegreatpictures.com and click on "events / destinations." -- T.B.

Flying free as a bird

Wish you could soar like a bird, wings and all? Check out Quest Air Soaring Center in Groveland, Fla., about 70 miles northeast of Tampa. The center offers tandem hang-gliding flights with top-ranked pilots (including Paris Williams, the No. 1 ranked U.S. pilot and winner of the U.S. Hang Gliding Nationals). Guests are strapped sandwich-style above the pilot and flown on fabric wings to heights ranging from 2,500 feet to one mile. Flights last from 35 minutes to an hour, depending on weather and altitude. Prices begin at $125.

For more information: www.questairforce .com or call 800-426-4454. -- T.B.

It's all downhill with ski site

Winter is coming, and that means ski season -- think speed, adrenaline and a cozy lodge fire. To find the slopes of your dreams, try RezRez.com, a ski-vacation planner booking trips at resorts, hotels and condos throughout Colorado and Canada, including Mont Tremblant in Quebec, voted the No. 1 resort in the East in last month's Ski magazine. Other areas on the site, which also handles transportation plans and purchase of lift tickets, include Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado. -- T.B.

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