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TRAVELING IN STYLE

Side Trips

March 16, 1997|GRACE LICHTENSTEIN

Location, Location, Location

If H.M. Stanley had carried a Global Positioning System receiver like the Magellan GPS 2000, he might have found his way to Dr. Livingstone in Africa a lot sooner. The device reads signals from various orbiting satellites and displays the bearer's latitude and longitude on a small display screen. Designed originally for the military, GPS units can pinpoint a soldier's position to within three feet. However, the Pentagon deliberately scrambles some satellite data so that backpackers, canoeists and Africa explorers get readings accurate "only" to about 100 meters. That still would have helped Stanley navigate to within hailing distance, we presume. $150, at Sport Chalet, Los Angeles.

Bon Ton Rutabaga?

No one ever accused New Orleans' finest restaurants of serving health food, but Chicory Farm Cafe may change that. Opened last year in a turn-of-the-century, neoclassical house in the city's Uptown section, the cozy restaurant features "Creole vegetarian" cuisine. Nary a crawfish nor a slice of boudin is in sight. Instead, the menu features such dishes as Gumbo z'herbes, Arborio Rice Jambalaya Cakes and a non-meat "Grillades and Grits" whose centerpiece is a smoked Portabella mushroom. Executive chef R. Devlin Roussel Jr. also arranges unusual Louisiana cheeses, such as Catahoula and DeSoto, on a daily three- or five-cheese appetizer plate. Dinner entrees are priced at a reasonable $8 to $10. 723 Hillary St., New Orleans, LA 70118; (504) 866-2325.

The Artful Lodger

Like Ernest L. Blumenschein and Georgia O'Keeffe, Russian-born Nicolai Fechin was an artist drawn to the beauty of New Mexico's desert mesas. Fechin moved to Taos in 1927 where he built an adobe home and studio near the central Plaza. During his six years there, Fechin crafted spectacular woodcarvings and doors and painted. He died in 1955, but his property remained in family hands and was converted in 1981 into a museum. Last year, the Fechin Inn, an 85-room, two-story building designed in the same Pueblo style with woodwork evoking the master, opened behind the main house. It is Taos' first really luxurious hotel. The construction of the inn actually saved the museum, said Nicolai's daughter Eya. Payments from the developers are "sufficient for upkeep of the museum, which we could no longer afford," she explained. Meanwhile, she noted, the facilities provide guests with "the whole Taos experience: a hotel and art exhibit" rolled into one. Eya, now 72, was a favorite model for her father as a child and is often on hand to give tourists a personal tour. Rates: $109 to $309 per night for two. 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos, N.M. 87571; (800) 811-2933 or (505) 751-1000.

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