leisure 07.26.17

Out of Town: North by Northwest
Every Person in New York

What might you be doing in the Yukon? Imagining Beringia, maybe.

That's where the first people on the continent are said to have lived, hard by the Arctic, along with mammoths, on the steppe tundra. The area of Siberia, Alaska, and the Yukon was glacier-free and humans entered the continent from Siberia. That was 20,000 years or more before Columbus.

It's all chronicled at the Beringia Interpretive Centre, out on Mile 914 of the Alaska Highway, reconstructed with help from ice age fossils. You can learn about woolly mammoths, saigas, and, surprise!, native camels.

Sure you can hit Cancun on your next vacation. But Beringia makes a much better story, huh? Open May through September, or by appointment.

Roughly halfway between Syracuse and Rochester New York, in the Finger Lakes region, is the small town of Phelps. There have been settlers here since 1789 and the town itself was established in 1855. It's been a charmer ever since.

There was a time when Phelps was the sauerkraut capital of the world. What tidings befell Phelps to lose the title isn't entirely clear but they haven't been resting on their laurels. Instead, 50 years ago, they launched their Sauerkraut Festival, and will be celebrating the cult of cabbage again this summer, from August 4th-6th.

Needless to say, there will be plenty of sauerkraut to eat, including a kraut eating contest. But there's also a Sauerkraut Court Prince and Princess, live music, a midway, a parade, and cabbage racing. A sauerkraut cake, too, free to all intrepid souls.

At the very tip of Ontario's Bruce peninsula, some 180 miles north of Toronto, is Tobermory, the self-proclaimed "scuba diving capital of Canada"—boasty stuff for a wee former fishing village with two main streets and a year-round population of 1,000.

And yet, close to 10,000 divers make the trek every year to explore its crystal-clear, icy (and we do mean icy) depths: Due to a maze of islands and dangerous reefs, many vessels passing through in the late 19th and early 20th century didn't make it.

There are over 20 shipwrecks near Tobermory—and those are just the ones that have been discovered. All of which makes this spot, home to Fathom Five, Canada's first National Marine Park, a haunting place indeed.

You'll learn all about the vessels' histories: In 1885, a two-masted schooner named the Sweepstakes sank in water just 20 feet deep and sits, quite visible from the surface. And while the barque Arabia perished even earlier than that off Echo Island, the lack of current and the fresh water's temperatures—they start at 35F in May, when diving season opens—have left the wreck remarkably well-preserved.

And in April 1912, the wireless station that had just replaced Tobermory's old telegraph line picked up the distress calls of a sinking ship: the Titanic.

If cold-water diving leaves you, well, cold, you can explore some of the wrecks from the comfort of a glass-bottom boat.

Sure, Tanglewood sucks all the oxygen out of the room (the wind out of the woodwinds?) with its A-list musicians and choice grounds. Classical music fans know, however, that Marlboro Music, the celebration of classical music and sanctuary for musicians, may not always get the spotlight. But it always delivers great music.

Located in the the town of Marlboro, Vermont, with a population of fewer than 1000 residents, violinists and cellists, pianists and flutists, gather for three weeks of serious rehearsals and lots of musician-only bonding. They're performing now through August 13. Ticket prices top out at $37.50.

The experience of Marlboro can't be underestimated for the musicians: Yo-Yo Ma has said, "Marlboro was the place I decided to become a musician."

And the same is true for audiences. Brigadoon-like, for a few weeks a year, in a lovely Vermont hamlet, the town comes to life, filled with kindred spirits and sublime sounds that will stay with you all year.

Jason Polan started Every Person in New York in March of 2008. He plans on working on the project until it is finished. Look for more at Jason's site and his book Every Person in New York.

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