In Flugtag, gravity always wins
San Francisco is legendary on a number of fronts, including its penchant for the zany.
Proving it once again is the Red Bull Flugtag competition, in which 35 teams of costumed "pilots and crew" will launch their self-designed, homemade "human-powered flying machines" from a deck 30 feet above the water and splash into frigid San Francisco Bay.
Picture miniature parade floats with wings (sort of), very much at the mercy of gravity. Their glory is fleeting, but intense. For a visual, visit http://win.gs/KBPKZe.
Team Kitty Zazzlers from Sacramento will be there. It's a group of university students who say they will do a self-choreographed skit before they launch their Cat & Mouse glider into the atmosphere.
The glider will be piloted by Trevor Shanklin, with support from his "flight crew" Sean Oblizalo, Pierre Chin-Dickey, Wes Richards and Greg Radford.
What can the anticipated crowd of thousands expect from the Kitty Zazzlers, who will be in cat costumes?
"Be prepared," cautioned Shanklin.
The fun will get off the ground at 11 a.m. Saturday at McCovey Cove (a.k.a. China Basin), behind the right-field wall of AT&T Park. The cove is named after Willie McCovey, San Francisco Giants first baseman and Hall of Famer.
"Flugtag" is the German term for "Flying Day." The last time this international event was held in San Francisco was 2003.
For more information: (310) 393-4647, www.redbullflugtagusa.com.
FUN WITH FUNGI
If you love mushrooms and enjoy a glass or two of vino or a tankard of ale to go with them, the 14th annual Mendocino County Beer, Wine & Mushroom Fest awaits you, today through next Sunday. It's considered one of the top food festivals in the nation.
Right now is peak mushroom-harvesting season in the Mendocino area, with 500 edible varieties just waiting to be sautéed, grilled or sliced and put into a quiche. Types include chanterelles, porcinis, morels, hedgehogs and the rare candy cap.
Those delectable fungi go into dishes that pair well with the wines of the Anderson and Russian River Valleys, as well as cold craft beers.
The county-wide festival will feature special winemaker and brewmaster dinners; wine, beer, and food tastings; winery and brewery tours; workshops and seminars; hands-on cooking classes and cooking demonstrations; entertainment and art exhibits; and guided forays for mushrooms on foot, by kayak and by train.
For more information: (866) 466.3636, www.visitmendocino.com.
Global Scavenger Hunt
If you're serious about your self-image as a resourceful, savvy world traveler, perhaps the ninth annual Global Scavenger Hunt is for you. Think in terms of "The Amazing Race."
The hunt is described as "the world's only real-life international travel-adventure competition." It circumnavigates the Earth over three weeks, stopping in at least 10 (not-yet-named) countries. It challenges participants to solve problems, and navigate cultural, logistical and language challenges, while "performing exciting and authentic scavenges."
Examples of challenges from past hunts, said organizer- director William Chalmers, include "taking an elephant safari in search of Bengal tigers; learning the Cyrillic alphabet over a pint of beer with a new friend in Bulgaria; finding the Tunisian coliseum where the movie 'Gladiator' was filmed; and bluffing your way into a world-famous film festival."
Applications are now being accepted for 25 two-person teams for 2013; applicants will be carefully screened. The entry fee is $10,500 per person and includes airfare, lodging, 40 percent of meals and special gear. The event is scheduled for April 12 to May 4. One team will be named the World's Greatest Travelers, receive a trophy and an invitation to participate in the 2014 event for free.
Thirteen teams participated in last year's hunt, which was won by New Zealand. Australia was second, the United States third and Canada fourth.
To apply and for more information: www.globalscavengerhunt.com, (310) 281-7809.