Ruling the Road

Veteran U.S. road trippers know that among the many things you can't transport across state lines are the rules of the road, which differ from state to state. Is it okay to drive barefoot in Boston, with headsets in Hawaii, or with studded tires in South Dakota? Are radar detectors permitted? Is reflective tinted glass legal?

Since 1933, the American Automobile Association has been compiling all this information in its annual "Digest of Motor Laws," so you don't have to fret about offending the State Police on your next driving trip. And around here, drivers negotiating three different jurisdictions might find the book equally useful at home.

But proceed with caution. The Digest is so rich in trivia, it should be taken only in small doses to avoid, er, indigestion. For a copy, send $7 to "Digest of Motor Laws," c/o Public Affairs, AAA Potomac, 12600 Fair Lakes Circle, Fairfax, Va. 22033. If you can wait till April, the '91 edition will be available for $8.95. Both prices include postage.

ON TOURS

Dances With Reindeer: We know you've had enough of Christmas to last till, well, next year, but consider Rudolph. He has to make a living year-round. Show your support by signing on for the Smithsonian National Associate Program's Lapland Reindeer Safari, a 10-day jaunt to Finnish Lapland and Norway starting Feb. 24. Participants study Lapp culture, observe reindeer in their natural habitat (frigid, with only five or six hours of daylight) and learn to drive a sled pulled by reindeer. The cost is $3,825 from New York, including air fare, plus a Smithsonian National Associate membership fee of $20. For reservations and information: 202-357-4700.

Island Wildlife: If steamier fare appeals more this time of year, you can still sign on with the World Wildlife Fund to cruise the islands of the Indian Ocean -- Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles -- from March 25 to April 12. Take in rain forests, coral reefs and nature reserves, and hear about the WWF's efforts in Madagascar to protect the island's fragile environment. Costs range from $5,750 to $6,990 (plus a $15 WWF membership fee), based on double occupancy, excluding air fare. For information: 202-778-9683.

The Art of Sport

Where could you ever hope to get sports fans and art fans under one roof? Why, at the National Art Museum of Sport's new digs in Indianapolis. The museum was established in 1959 and has had several homes since then, including Madison Square Garden and, most recently, the University of New Haven. But who's keeping score? Now it's settled down in Indianapolis, where it'll show the art of sport, having opened Jan. 13 with "Sport in Art from American Museums." Works were selected by directors of more than 50 institutions, from paintings by Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer to Andy Warhol and Red Grooms' take on Fran Tarkenton. The museum is on the mezzanine level at Bank One Center/Tower, 1 Monument Circle, Indianapolis; it is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free. For information: 317-687-1715.

TRAVEL TRIVIA What is the only place in the country where there is no "right turn on red"?

TRIVIA ANSWER: ALTHOUGH THE REST OF THE STATE, AND THE COUNTRY, TURNS RIGHT ON RED, NEW YORK CITY STILL FORBIDS THE PRACTICE.

On Wisconsin, On Skis

Legend has it that in 1204, Norwegian soldiers spirited the future king of Norway, then just a baby, away from his enemies on cross-country skis. While the "Birkebeiner" ski marathon held annually in Norway (March 17 this year) commemorates their escape, you don't have to go that far to get in the race. Instead, you can join 6,000 other skiers in Wisconsin's 19th "American Birkebeiner," a 55-kilometer race from Hayward to Cable on Feb. 23.

Every year teams and individual skiers come from Norway, Sweden and Finland -- where they really know cross-country skiing -- and from all over the United States to compete in the event, a difficult and challenging course that insidiously works its way up in elevation. Last year's winning time was 2 1/2 hours. All first-time finishers get a medal, and there also is a shorter version of the Birkebeiner of 29 kilometers. For information and to register, call 800-872-2753; the cost is $55 if you register by Feb. 1, $65 for later registration.

UP IN THE AIR

Travelers to Japan now have more options on flights to Tokyo from Dulles, with United Airlines' new six-day-a-week service via Chicago. And beginning March 30, Japan Air Lines will offer three nonstop flights a week from Dulles to Tokyo. All Nippon has had daily nonstops on that route since 1988.

FAIR WARNINGS * Purina Cat Classic, Columbia, Mo., Feb. 1-2.

* International Song Festival, Vina del Mar, Chile, Feb. 5-10.

* Quebec Winter Carnival, Quebec City, Feb. 7-17.

* Chocolate Festival, Norman, Okla., Feb. 9.

* Race to the Sky Sled Dog Race, Helena to Holland Lake, Mont., Feb. 9-15.

* Gilles of Binche (Lenten) Carnival, Binche, Belgium, Feb. 10-12.

* Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Feb. 12.

* National Farm Machinery Show, Louisville, Feb. 13-16.

* Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, Charleston, S.C., Feb. 15-17.

* Jalapeno Festival, Laredo, Texas, Feb. 22-23.

* New Jersey Flower and Garden Show, Somerset, Feb. 23-March 3.

* Chinese New Year's Celebrations, San Francisco, Feb. 23-March 2.