DIGGING INTO A TIN... of Christmas cookies is one of the pleasures of December, as is observing the bucolic winter painting that is very frequently found atop the tin. You know these old-timey landscapes, the one's with the snug cottage with the curl of purple wood smoke above it, and, all around, snowy drifts and snowy banks. It seems to suggest that winter is a time for staying indoors, and away from nature, but people who follow the November-to-March schedules at our national parks know otherwise. Winter is flush with frosty outdoor pursuits, the kind of to-dos where you pack an extra parka or set of gloves and go with whatever the chilly day brings. For sure, there's time later for staying snug next to the fireplace, but you've got to trek and ice skate and look at the full moon over a field of snow. Few spots around California get into this glacially good time-having better than Yosemite National Park, which keeps a full program of fun alfresco activities going throughout the colder months. One of the most popular? It's the outdoor rink at Curry Village, which makes its seasonal debut on Friday, Nov. 20.
QUESTION ONE... would be whether you need to be a guest at Curry Village and the answer is absolutely not -- even if you're over at The Ahwahnee or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls or are just in the park for a few hours, you can take a spin in the stunning setting. (Yep, Half Dome will watch your whole ice routine, even if your spouse or kids are too busy skating to look over and see your awesome pirouette.) Half Dome, in fact, has been watching skaters at the rink for the better part of a century: The rink, which is operated by Delaware North, opened in 1928. Session times dot the daytime and eveningtime schedules, so whatever time you're in that neck of the woods -- literally -- you can probably grab some ice action. And some cocoa action, too; find the hot beverage for sale at the Curry Village Gift and Grocery Store. If the holidays have you running, when you wish you were skating, take heart: The rink keeps on truckin' into March.