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In Minnesota, celebrating the 30th anniversary of 'Purple Rain'

About 20 minutes into the 1984 movie “Purple Rain” we find The Kid, played by Prince, standing in front of Apollonia (played by Apollonia Kotero), a budding singer, near the embankment of a lake. After Apollonia asks Prince for career help, he says that she first has to pass the initiation.

“What initiation?” she asks.

“For starters, you have to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.”

Apollonia looks to her right, considering the challenge. A few seconds later, she’s disrobing. Just as she plunges into the water, Prince says, “Hey, wait a minute! That’s n—“

But it was too late. When she emerges from her “purification,” climbing out of the lake, Prince, a sly grin on his face, says, “That ain’t Lake Minnetonka.”

I arrived in Minneapolis on a seasonably cold Wednesday to take the proverbial plunge into Prince’s world. Specifically, I was putting myself on a self-guided “Purple Rain” tour of the city that Prince helped put on the music map. 

There was no better time to...

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Las Vegas: 'Viva Veracruz!' showcases life, music of the Mexican state

Las Vegas visitors may want to plan a trip to Veracruz, Mexico, after seeing a new music and dance production opening next month. At least, that’s the hope of government officials.

Viva Veracruz! The Show,” which debuts Aug. 11, was commissioned by the state government of Veracruz to promote tourism. It was originally planned as a traveling performance but landed at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino after producer Alex Esqueda persuaded officials they could reach a worldwide audience in Las Vegas.

With a cast of 27 dancers, the production consists of 12 choreographed numbers showcasing the musical style known as "son jarocho." One act features the well-known song “La Bamba,” which originated in Veracruz.

Another pays tribute to artist Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter known for her self-portraits and the subject of the 2002 movie “Frida,” starring Salma Hayek.

The production is easily understood, Esqueda said.

“The show does not have one word of dialogue,” he said. “You don’t have to...

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Montana: Bicycle, run, hike your way through Glacier National Park

A seven-day bicycle camp in and around Glacier National Park will keep you tuned up for your next triathlon and reveal spectacular places in and around the Montana park you might not ordinarily see.

The Cycling House this year added a Glacier Loop Cycling Tour that travels along Going-to-the-Sun Road, the famed roadway that cuts through the wild heart of the park.

Snowcapped peaks, tight curves and steep drop-offs are all part of its charm. Aside from the road, the loop adds areas just outside the park, such as St. Mary, Many Glacier and East Glacier.

Cycling House is run by serious athletes -- professional cyclists and triathletes -- who started out designing workout camps for friends and family members training for competitions. "Serious" is the operative word here.

Daily rides take three to five hours and cover 30 to 50 miles with up to 3,000 feet of gain. (Translation: not for beginners.) That leaves plenty of time to go trail running and hiking on miles and miles of trails in and...

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New Mexico: Albuquerque to gain modern hotel inspired by the ancients

A new boutique hotel coming to Albuquerque that is meant to be a modern take on Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon will break ground this fall and open in spring 2016 in the city's Old Town.

Design elements inspired by New Mexico's distinctive Southwest style and culture will be used inside and out, Heritage Hotels & Resorts says. For example, the new hotel (no official name yet) will have a kiva-style lobby and 118 rooms on five stories built to be "stacked pueblo style."

Like ancient dwellings, the building will be oriented to the sun to keep rooms warm in winter and cool in the hot summers.

Rooms will feature contemporary furniture with colors taken from those used by Navajo wool weavers.

The multimillion-dollar property also will have a rooftop terrace, spa and restaurant featuring modern Native American foods. It will be built behind the current Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, which the company operates, and share that hotel's pool, ballrooms and chapel.

Room will start at $150 a night....

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Duty-free shoppers, make sure you've got rules on liquids in the bag

Question: My husband and I recently returned from an overseas trip. We flew from Naples, Italy, to Vancouver, Canada, before our last leg to LAX. After we cleared security in Naples, we did some shopping in the duty-free store, where we bought two bottles of Italian olive oil. At checkout, the clerk scanned our ticket, then bagged our items to carry on the plane with us. All was fine until we reached Vancouver. The security personnel said that because the oil wasn't bagged in a sealed bag they would have to take it. I had the items in the original bag from the duty-free store and the receipt, but they would not budge. When we were in Naples, all the bags were open tote-style bags. I did not see any kind of bag that would seal. The cost was minimal, but we were disappointed. If we had known this would happen, we would have purchased olive oil while shopping in town and packed it in our suitcases. We thought we were doing it the right way by shopping in the duty-free store. What is this...

Read more wants to be handy for even inexperienced campers

If your camping experiences are limited to your Boy Scout or Girl Scout days, these campgrounds will be a comfortable welcome back.


What it does: Uses actual camping experiences and glorious photos of nature — not to mention handy Google Maps — to make camping more accessible and desirable to those who are not regulars. Have an RV, kids or need a pet-friendly campground? Search destinations using its amenities section.

What's hot: I loved the tips section for each campground. Even the most hesitant camper will feel more confident strolling into his or her campsite with info such as this that I found for Point Reyes: "Our favorite spots to camp are the boating sites on Tomales Bay. Grab a bag of oysters and paddle across the bay to find your own private beach campground. Remember to get a fire permit as well — gathering driftwood is allowed, but toward the end of the summer it will likely be sparse, so bring a bundle!" It's also super-handy to know which campsites...

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Travel Letters: Health concerns over Google Glass

Concern over Google Glass

Regarding "Seeing S.F. Through New Eyes" by Catharine Hamm, July 20: As the director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, I want to make people aware of another potential "con" for Google Glass users: the potential health risks to those who wear this device.

In April, I did some preliminary research that is summarized at Google Glass emits more wireless radiation than most cellphones. Moreover, Glass users may be wearing this device on their heads for more than 12 hours a day, increasing their health risks.

Although the radiation level complies with the 1996 federal standards, many health scientists believe that these standards are obsolete as they fail to protect wireless device users from the nonthermal effects of wireless radiation.

In the long term, these effects include increased brain cancer risk, and in the short term, other health problems including electrosensitivity, sperm damage...

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Travel films & events



Elaine Pike will retrace the steps of her 20-day, 100-mile trek in the Everest region that resulted in her memoir, "Footsteps of Gopal." One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of the book will be donated to support schools in the area.

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Monday at Distant Lands, 20 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (626) 449-3220.




Travel photographer and guide Ralph Velasco will share tips and tricks using images from recent trips to Cambodia.

When, where: 7 p.m. Tuesday at the REI store in Huntington Beach, 7777 Edinger Ave.

Admission, info: Free. (714) 379-1938.




Suzanne Swedo will share when and where to see the best of Yosemite, including wildflowers, waterfalls and wildlife, as well as the grandest vistas and highest peaks.

When, where: 7 p.m. Friday at the Adventure 16 store, 11161 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.

Admission, info: Free. (310) 473-4574.


Please email announcements at...

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Gear: Motion-sensitive alarm aims to keep you and your belongings safe

First Alert, known for smoke and carbon monoxide detector/alarms, is offering a different kind of protection -- for you and your belongings.

The POD Personal Security Alarm is a featherweight 3-inch-long teardrop-shaped device that looks like a remote control but is really a screeching, motion-sensitive alert.

Users hang the POD by its included loop around a door handle, suitcase, purse or whatever, and activate its button with a vibration symbol. Sensors then trigger a siren if the object moves. (The alarm can be set to sound instantly or to go off after a 20-second delay.)

A button with an exclamation mark inside a triangle is an in-hand emergency/panic alarm, ready to blast a 100-decibel siren and activate a flashing light when pressed. It also can become a flashlight.

The alarm on the POD, which runs on an included lithium battery, sounds for three minutes (unless deactivated), then rearms. It costs $39.95.

Info: First Alert Store

Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel

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Readers Recommend: Loire Valley inn

This July my husband and I spent four wonderful nights at the delightful Au Reflets du Cher in France's Loire Valley. Central location (near Tours), on the the river Cher. Beautifully appointed and immaculate with gorgeous grounds. Our hosts Annie and Jean-Claude gave us an warm welcome, made our dinner reservations at the best local restaurants and helped us plan our days. About $115 a night, including breakfast.

Aux Reflets du Cher, 29 Quai du Vieux-Moulin, Veretz;, 011-33-2-47-25-18-78

Sherry Rappoport

San Diego

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Washington, D.C.: Trump begins work on new hotel at Old Post Office

Donald Trump, posing with a golden shovel marked with his brand name, broke ground last week on what will be a new addition to his hotel chain: renovation of the hulking Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C.

The company promises elegance and luxury in the $200-million redo of the 1899 building at Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street Northwest. It will be called Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C.

The Old Post Office Tower, a landmark operated by the National Park Service, includes an observation deck where visitors can take in some of the best views of the Capitol. It will be closed until 2016 when the hotel is expected to open.

Trump and his businesswoman daughter Ivanka last Wednesday posed for photos in announcing the hotel that will bring 270 rooms and suites to the Romanesque Revival building, which takes up a city block. Trump doesn't own the building; the General Services Administration awarded him a 60-year lease.

The new hotel will transform the postmaster...

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Signs of peace? L.A. murals are Miracle Mile's latest landmarks

I don't know whether art can salve recent violent faceoffs around the world coupled with the horrifying sight of crashed airplanes, but it's worth a try. I found two new go-to places for hope not far from each other on L.A.'s Miracle Mile.

The first is a brave new world mural on the side of the Line Hotel in Koreatown created by Shepard Fairey, he of the Obama poster fame. The "Peace Tree Mural" covers a towering recessed wall at the 3515 Wilshire Blvd. hotel partly owned by Korean barbecue chef Roy Choi. (It's best viewed if you are heading west on Wilshire.)

The black, red and off-white image features a tree trunk that gives way to leaves and a huge bloom with the Obey Giant face (you'll recognize it) at the center and the word "Peace" below. It's been up for about three weeks.

"I'm very happy with how the mural turned out and how it works with the building’s architecture," Fairey wrote on the Obey website. "The Line has a bunch of cool art in the interior as well as a great D*Face...

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