Join a fun and epic ski race
A friendly wager, a bit of daring, and a lot of fun led to Vermont’s Stowe Derby, a Nordic ski race from the summit of Mount Mansfield to Stowe village, 2,700 feet below. The race, which marks its 75 anniversary Feb. 23, grew out of a gentlemen’s bet between Sepp Ruschp, a legendary alpine skier, and Erling Strom, a world-renowned mountaineer and Nordic skier (Ruschp won on his alpine gear). The event now draws everyone from National Ski Team members to weekend warriors, recreationalists, and racers as young as 13 — all on Nordic skis now. Wear costumes, cheer on other competitors, and race along 20 kilometers of fun and challenging terrain — or try a more mellow 6-kilometer course or more hardcore 40-kilometer race (when participants do the long course twice). Bikers rejoice: The 14-kilometer fat bike race returns this year. Registration: $35 (6km), $89 (20km), $95 (fat bike) $135 (40km). 802-696-2251, www.mmsca.org/events/stowe-derby.
Exhibition salutes an American patriot
Learn about Paul Revere as Revolutionary War hero, an artisan, and an entrepreneur at a joint exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum and Concord Museum. “Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere” runs through June 7 and features more than 100 objects, pieces of artwork, and materials from the American Antiquarium Society, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and other collections. The Concord exhibit shows the impact Revere had — prior to his famed midnight ride — through his prints, engravings, and writings. It includes the lantern that hung at Old North Church to signal Revere; John Hancock’s trunk, which Revere protected from the British troops; and tea salvaged from the Boston Tea Party. The Worcester exhibit showcases Revere’s talents as a silversmith and metalworker, featuring a silver sugar urn and tea set, his engraved copper plates, and a gold wedding ring. Also see John Singleton Copley’s famous portrait of Revere holding a silver teapot. Pay admission at one museum and get a two-for-one voucher for the other museum. 508-799-4406, www.worcesterart.org; 978-369-9763, www.concordartmuseum.org.
A new tour to Iraqi Kurdistan
Visit sacred monasteries and holy villages, meet the locals, and kayak and hike through stunning landscapes in Iraqi Kurdistan with renowned adventure guide Richard Bangs. MT Sobek’s new 10-day trip runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 2. Led by Bangs, the adventure takes visitors to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, to explore a 7,000-year-old citadel, markets, and the Kurdish Textile Museum. You’ll also visit the 4th-century St. Matthew’s Monastery, site of a famous battle between King Darius III and Alexander the Great, Shanidar Cave, where Neanderthal remains were discovered in the 1950s, and the city of Sulymaniya, where several museums help tell the story of Kurdish culture and history. Then hike along Rawanduz Gorge and kayak on beautiful Dokan Lake. The trip welcomes up to 14 guests, 16 and older. $6,195 per person, includes accommodations, ground transportation, kayaking gear, and more, but no international flights. 888-831-7526, www.mtsobek.com.
Pre-Olympics cruise explores Japan
Sail from Osaka to Maizuru, Japan, on a PONANT’s new nine-day journey that celebrates the country’s most cherished traditions and modern lifestyle. An Immersion in Japanese Culture runs May 30 to June 7 aboard the five-star small ship Le Soléal, which provides guests with gourmet French-inspired cuisine. The trip includes a private audience with the abbot of Kofukuji Temple in Nagasaki and a tea-making ceremony. Optional activities include a performance of the Kagura dance at Itsukushima Shrine; a private visit to Yuushien Garden in Sakaiminato; a cooking class showing how to cut and plate deadly puffer fish; and a guided walk through the Busan fish market in South Korea. Three experts will join the cruise, including an art history professor, a former executive director of the US Botanic Garden, and an expert in in contemporary Japanese gardens. Rates start at $7,990 per person; no single supplement fee. 888-400-1082, https://us.ponant.com.
A swimrun race lands at Catalina Island
Swim and run around an island that was once a playground for Hollywood actors, the first training area for US Navy SEALs following World War II, and the starting point for a 24-mile island-to-mainland swim back in 1929, during which only one person made it (and won $25,000). This month, the island hosts ÖTILLÖ Swimrun Catalina. The up-and-coming adventure sport “swimrun” started in 2006, when nine teams competed to cross the Swedish archipelago, swimming between and running across 24 islands. More than 700 swimrun events now exist worldwide with the first official U.S. ÖTILLÖ (“island to island” in Swedish) race at Catalina Island. Racers can compete in three different events: Experience (approximately 1 mile of swimming, 3.8-miles running) or Sprint (1.9 miles swimming, 7.3 miles running) on Feb. 29 or the World Series (4.8 miles swimming, 19.2-miles running) on March 1. Racers begin and end in Two Harbors (population 100); in between, they explore an island that’s home to 150 American bison and crystal-clear waters teeming with bright-orange Garibaldi fish. Race solo or tandem in the shorter races, or tandem-only in the World Series event. Race entry: $750 through Feb. 19, then $850 until race eve. www.otilloswimrun.com/races/catalina.
Get a grip on your phone
If you’re like a lot of people, you have your hand on your phone much of the time. And if you’re like me, you may have broken a few screens from dropping your device. The new CLCKR universal phone grip attaches to the back of your phone and then opens so you can slip your fingers in and hold your phone securely while snapping photos, video calling, or chatting with friends. Then fold down the top of the grip until it clicks into place and now it works as a stand, in portrait or landscape mode — perfect for watching movies on a plane or chatting hands-free. The CLCKR weighs less than one ounce and comes in small and large, and seven different colors from neon yellow to black. $14.99. www.clckr.com.
Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at email@example.com.