Earth trails

Make geological facts pop to life -- and snap a few particularly good pictures -- during a trip to the Sierra led by a naturalist and a photography instructor.

The Anza-Borrego Institute's Desert Hostel 2008 trip explores pinnacles, trails, fumaroles, boiling mud pots and more. Visitors hike into Panum Crater on the Rim Trail, taking in views of the Sierra Nevada and Mono Basin on the way. At the Long Valley Caldera, near Mammoth Lakes, participants will investigate fumaroles (holes in a volcanic region from which gases and vapors escape), which provide clues to unrest beneath the Earth's surface. They'll have the chance to walk atop the basalt postpiles at Devils Postpile National Monument, southeast of Mammoth, and see some of the world's oldest living trees at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, east of Bishop. Retired state park ranger Paul Remeika will provide insight and instruction, and Paul Johnson will give tips on capturing regional scenes on camera.

Info: Anza-Borrego Institute, Borrego Springs; (760) 767-4063, /programsdeserthostel.htm.

Dates: Aug. 10 to 17.

Itinerary: Lone Pine, Alabama Hills, Mammoth Lakes, Mono Basin, Big Pine, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.

Price: $1,345 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $400); $1,275 for institute members with $35 membership fee per couple. The price includes lodging, instruction, all activities and most meals. It does not include transportation.


Smooth sailing

Mellow out to silky tunes and the rocking of waves during a five-day Caribbean cruise aboard Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Century. The full-ship charter by Haven Entertainment features stars of the smooth-music genre, including Norman Brown, Nick Colionne and Boney James. There will be shows, autograph signings, Q&A sessions and late-night jams. The music lovers will make room for sports fans with a Super Bowl party Feb. 1 on the big screen while at sea.

Info: (877) 529-9729,

Date: Jan. 31 to Feb. 5.

Itinerary: Miami, with stops in Key West, Fla., and the Bahamas.

Price: Rates start at $999 per person, double occupancy (a limited number of single staterooms are available starting at $2,449 per stateroom), including onboard accommodations and meals. Does not include round-trip airfare to Miami.


Blue light special

Admire the ghostly blue light and the Nordic residents on a cycling trip to Iceland that includes a stop at Akureyri, billed as "home of some of the world's most beautiful people." Maybe so. But those of us from Southern California may be more wowed by bike routes that take you past the islands of Lake Myvatn; a lava river valley with craters formed by cooling lava bubbles; greenhouses; a geyser; Iceland's impressive waterfall Godafoss (Falls of the Gods); and sod houses. During the summer in Iceland, the sun will be out even when you aren't. The cycling is on paved and gravel roads and is described as challenging.

Info: Freewheeling Adventures, (800) 672-0775,