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Briefs: Green Briar visitors can explore author's home

| Sunday, Oct. 7, 2007

The spirit of Peter Cottontail resides in Sandwich, Mass. The Cape Cod cottage is filled with enchanting aromas of fresh jams and jellies cooking in the same old-fashioned kitchen that children's book author Thornton W. Burgess enjoyed as a young man. The Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen nestles amid the magical landscape Burgess explored as a child. The "smiling pool" he wrote about -- which is actually a pond shaped like a smile -- and what he called the "dear old briar patch" inspired his beloved stories about Unc' Billy Possum, Little Joe Otter, Longlegs the Heron and, of course, Peter Cottontail.

Green Briar visitors can easily experience their habitat by walking a few steps behind the kitchen to the pond and through the adjacent briar patch, which is protected on 57 acres of town conservation land. A new 1,600-square-foot education center opened this past summer across from the Green Briar's wildflower garden. A Christmas crafts fair is scheduled for Nov. 17 at the Green Briar, and a "Country Christmas" will take place there Dec. 8-9.

Details: 508-888-6870 or go online .

Movie sparks interest in wild Alaska

Alaska is only one of many places featured in the film "Into the Wild," which tells the story of Christopher McCandless, a young adventurer who wandered across the continent and died in the Alaskan wilderness in 1992 at the age of 24. In a press release entitled " 'Into the Wild' (and back again safely)," the Alaska Travel Industry Association is promoting trip ideas that offer a taste of adventure "with the assurance of survival." The options include staying at one of Denali Park's lodges - Camp Denali, Northface Lodge, Denali Backcountry Lodge or the Kantishna Roadhouse; a floatplane trip to a bear-viewing site in Katmai National Park; glacier-trekking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and visiting Gates of the Arctic National Park, which is accessible only by air and averages fewer than 5,000 visitors a year. Another option for an unusual Alaska adventure is a new tour from the Travcoa company, which is offering an eight-day trip, Feb. 27-March 5, built around the famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The trip - $5,995 a person - takes an inside look at the life of a musher and includes stops at a wilderness lodge and a race checkpoint.

Details: go online .

Americans not so ugly

The ugly American• "Mais non," said 1,500 European hotel managers when asked to rank tourists' traits by nationality. American visitors, they said, are the most generous, most interested in local cuisine and most willing to adopt the local language. On the downside, they said, Americans are the worst-dressed. The managers, polled online by the German branch of , ranked Americans No. 2 as "overall best travelers," next to the Japanese. The worst travelers, they said, are the French.

Armchair traveler

The Mountaineers Books has launched Braided River, a new conservation imprint that incorporates advocacy for vanishing wild places. In addition to printed material, each title uses author lectures, traveling exhibitions and multimedia presentations to reach a larger audience. It also collaborates with leading environmental organizations to educate the public and support critical conservation efforts. Titles include "Columbia Highlands: Exploring Washington's Last Frontier," Craig Romano's word and image exploration of the River Range and Selkirk Mountains in eastern Washington State. It's co-published with Conservation Northwest.

The Mountainteers Books; $19.95; 128 pages; softcover

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