On a recent visit to Bethel, we went digging in the mine dumps, in search of a sparkly nugget of rare watermelon tourmaline. Alas, we came up gem-less, but we soon discovered that Bethel itself is a treasure. Winter doesn’t officially begin for a couple of months, but when the mercury starts heading south (wintry weather arrives early in Maine’s western mountains; Sunday River opens before Halloween most years), there’s every cold weather activity imaginable. Even without snow on the ground, visitors will find plenty to do here — indoors and out. As for that tourmaline, we haven’t given up — they’re opening a mineral and gem museum next summer on Main Street, featuring mine tours. We’ll be packing a shovel.