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 food and wine fans craving more active participation than just raising a glass or a fork will find opportunities in St. Helena that can make a stop here more engaging, more enlightening and, potentially, more tasty.
While tourism here, as with the rest of the Napa Valley, stems from the mighty grape, wineries and business owners have responded to growing interest in having a hand, quite literally, in the experiences.
Forgo pricey boutique hotels and resorts and opt for a locally owned B&B, which offers upscale amenities at lower price points.
After a welcome splash of vino, culinary “treks” allow visitors to explore the property to gather herbs and see Jidori chickens, cork trees and the 15,000-square-foot wine caves, and, later, pick up cooking tips for the dish of their choice, from pasta to flat bread.
Even the tastings at B Cellars also add a winemaker extra, with sips right from the tank — a rare treat for most visitors — and the barrel, accompanied by artisan bites.
Start off with the interactive Taste Like a Chef experience, which demonstrates how chefs use flavor to create their dishes — potential inspiration for your next dinner party menu (as is the cornucopia of kitchen gadgets and cookbooks at the CIA’s Marketplace).
By day, fuel up for your active pursuits with a gigantic fried chicken sandwich or muffaletta at perennial favorite Oakville Grocery.
Like many Wine Country towns, St.
San Juan Capistrano has its swallows, the Central Coast has its elephant seals, and Marysville has tundra swans — an unusual abundance of the graceful white waterfowl drawn to the northern Sacramento Valley’s rice fields and wetlands every fall.
The heart of the festival is a lineup of at least 17 field trips led by wildlife naturalists, but visitors can also take advantage of free workshops, wildlife exhibits, kids’ activities and a wildlife art exhibition.
The Vintner Circle Dinners are among several special events in the festival’s fourth year, which kicks off with a showing of “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict “Sherlock” Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.
In addition to selling sculpture, pottery, beadwork, basketry, jewelry, textiles and other works of art, the fair will offer dance and music performances, storytellers, art demonstrations, exhibitions and kids’ activities.
Founded in 1935, the Tacoma Art Museum will nearly double its size — and boast one of the top collections of Western American art — when a new gallery devoted to the almost 300 works in the Haub Family Collection opens Nov. 15. www.tacomaartmuseum.org.
Willemstad’s colorful streets host the inaugural KLM Curacao Marathon Nov.
Look to the side of the road in countless countries, and you’ll see disposable plastic dead soldiers everywhere, adding to the litter problem.
Next time, bring along the Hydrapak Stash, a soft TPU-walled bottle with a molded top and bottom that snaps together in a 2-inch-high package for easy storage and transport.
The BPA- and PVC-free bottle packs into a size that barely takes room in your carry-on, and the molded bottom allows it to be set on a table without collapsing.
Three large cruise ships were already docked in the harbor, bringing some of the astounding 1.2 million annual visitors to the tiny port town.
Nowadays, Skagway hosts a reverse Gold Rush, in which people come to leave their money behind in gift shops, restaurants and tour offices, rather than trying to pull it out of the earth.
Peering out the windows to the streets at the crowds of freshly arrived ship passengers, I could easily imagine the room’s original occupants shouting service offerings to the throngs below.
For the hardy, it’s still possible to buy (or rent) a pack and gear in Skagway, hire a guide and hike for five days on the original trail over the steep Chilkoot Pass into the “howling wilderness” of the Yukon territory, possibly seeing bears, wolves and bald eagles along the way.
 named for its harsh weather, inhospitable marshes and soul-crushing bleakness, the valley lived up to its name during my journey, whipping me with wet sleet and draping me in a soggy blanket of fog amid impenetrable darkness as I slogged forward, hoping I wouldn’t stumble over a cliff.
The day after my run, I was able to retrace my route from the comfort of one of the vintage railcars, enjoying sweeping views of waterfalls, forests, raging rapids and distant glaciers, as well as that accursed road.
Preserved about 30 feet beneath the dry frozen soil were thousands of mammoth tusks, fossilized skulls of saber-toothed tigers and bones of arctic camels, as well as arrowheads and other tools of ancient native cultures.
Especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called — called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.
 Spring streets, (907) 983-6000, www.westmarkhotels.com/Skagway.php.
Comfortable, updated rooms in a friendly hotel with bar, restaurant and the only wireless Internet in town.
 Steele streets, (867) 667-7554, www.klondikerib.com.
Offers guided five-day hikes along the Chilkoot Trail, the original gold stampeders’ trail over the mountains, with the option of taking the railroad back on the return journey.
Grab nine friends, an RV, maybe some costumes and run 115 miles from Skagway to Whitehorse.
Since 1983, annually in September.