Northern exposure

We just done got equinoxed again. Not much you can do about that except wave bye-bye to another summer and maybe start thinking about something exotic to do by the time the solstice shivers into town with its red runny nose and wretchedly cracked lips, something a bit more imaginative than a three-day bender in Vegas.

1. Chena Hot Springs Resort, outside of Fairbanks. And yep, that would be Fairbanks, ALASKA. Not a real popular destination for non-summer months, admittedly, except … except for those who might have a hankerin’ to see the greatest light show on Earth, which would be the Aurora Borealis. Chena (rhymes with henna) makes a big chunk of its income catering to the Northern Lights crowd because it’s a perfectly decent little resort with rooms, cabins, restaurant and bar. But the big selling point is its superb natural hot spring, featuring a huge central pool dotted with folks sitting in perfect hot water getting pleasantly liquored up while gawking at gigantic shimmering sheets of color dancing all over the skies.

This is a trip that does require a bit of adventurous fortitude on two fronts because (1) you’re heading way up north to the cold on a long flight, and (2) you might get there and get totally hosed if the weather is cloudy. But the payoff can be quite large, especially if you’re wanting to spend some quality time with Aurora.

2. Swimming with whale sharks. This is getting to be a pretty big deal, if one gauges a big deal by the number of hits one gets by Googling “whale shark swimming”—1.4 million. In fact, one gets the impression, after reading just a couple of the sites offering W.S.S., that, really, swimming with dolphins is just SO over. In case you haven’t heard, the whale shark is the largest fish on the planet, at least 40 to 50 feet long.

Sort of like a swimming bus. And the nice thing about these behemoths is … they’re plankton eaters. They feed by sifting water through their baleen, making them completely harmless to pesky little gnats like us. Just reading a few of the raving testimonials convinces you very quickly that it must be quite the dramatic experience to see a 50-foot monster swimming toward you in open turquoise waters.

There are loads of websites offering W.S.S. in various locations of exotic appeal, like Baja, Honduras, Australia and the Philippines.

3. ManFlesh, the new male stud resort for feverish women just off the coast of Thailand. Oops. I’m out of room? Sorry. Maybe next week.