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Arizona: London Bridge isn't falling down! Tabloid retracts story

Score one for Lake Havasu City, the Arizona resort that's the desert home to London Bridge, the one on this side of the pond anyway. The Sun, a British tabloid, issued a retraction Monday concerning a story it published titled "London Bridge IS Falling Down." The story said the bridge was crumbling and may be demolished to make way for a marijuana retail center called Hemped.  The paper's retraction said in part: "We have been assured by Lake Havasu City that there are no plans to knock down the bridge or to build a centre for drug tourism. We regret any misunderstanding and are happy to set the record straight." The action came after the city's convention and visitors bureau filed a formal complaint with the paper's ombudsman and launched a media effort of its own to debunk the story, according to a statement Monday from the agency.  "Had The Sun claimed the bridge housed aliens from another planet, we would not have been as aggressive in seeking a retraction," Doug Traub, president...

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8 steps to safer travels

My first question about Wi-Fi used to be whether it was free. That was before my Facebook and Gmail accounts were compromised. Now I surf with protection. “We leave breadcrumbs wherever we go," said Robert Siciliano, the identity theft expert for Hotspot Shield, a free (with ads) or paid Virtual Private Network, or VPN, app for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows devices that cloaks your actual IP address. "In the hands of the wrong person, data could be used to track us,” said  Siciliano, who has worked in personal security for more than 25 years.   Here are Siciliano’s tips for safer travel from the Web to the shared economy with providers such as Zipcar and Airbnb. Internet: Surf using VPN protection and change your passwords at least every six months. Get a software program that stores, saves and creates passwords. Siciliano has more than 650 passwords but remembers only critical ones.  He recommends MacAfee Livesafe for its password manager, virus and spyware protection.  Rental cars:...

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Hawaii to celebrate its Flag Day

Hawaiians and visitors will come together on July 31 to celebrate Hawaiian Flag Day, the islands’ original holiday. Hawaiian Flag Day was first observed July 31, 1843. King Kamehameha III proclaimed the holiday to honor Great Britain’s decision to recognize the islands as the Kingdom of Hawaii, an independent nation. The British flag, the Union Jack, still appears in the upper left corner of Hawaii’s flag.  The holiday will be celebrated with simultaneous commemorations at five places operated by the National Park Service: Haleakala National Park on Maui. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park on the Big Island. Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island. Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, also on the Big Island. This site is home to King Kamehameha’s temple. The activities get underway at 9 a.m. with demonstrations of the puohe(bamboo trumpet) at the four Big Island parks. At 10 a.m., all five...

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Las Vegas: Three white lion cubs take up residence at the Mirage

Three white lion cubs are the newest residents of Siegfried & Roy’s open-air wildlife habitat on the Strip. The brothers, named Freedom, Madiba (in honor of Nelson Mandela’s tribal name) and Timba-Masai, were born April 14 near Johannesburg, South Africa. The trio, which made its public debut Friday, will be raised at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage. The legendary magicians regularly used big cats in their performances and are well-known for their wildlife conservation efforts, which include saving the white lions. The cubs' snow-white fur coats are the result of a decrease in pigmentation, inherited from the recessive genes of their parents. The cubs will grow up together. They’re cute and cuddly now, but within two to four years they will weigh more than 500 pounds each. The Secret Garden is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets cost $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for children ages 4-12. Info: Siegfried & Roy’s...

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Got a baby boomer facing milestone year? Quick, plan a trip to Vegas

Baby boomers like to travel to celebrate special events such as a milestone birthday or anniversary, and more than anywhere else, they want to go to Las Vegas, according to one survey. The recent AARP Travel survey says about three-quarters of Americans 45 and older have taken or in the next two years will take a "celebration vacation," and that what they spend on travel is not inconsequential. The survey released last week said 76 million baby boomers in the U.S. collectively spend more than $120 billion each year on leisure travel. "Our research shows that celebration vacations are replacing parties, special events, jewelry, big-ticket items for the home or new car purchases" among the boomer crowd, Sami Hassanyah, the organization's chief digital officer, said in a statement. Anniversaries topped the list of reasons to take a special vacation, followed by birthdays, retirement and weddings. So where's everyone going? More than 60% said they stay in the U.S. when they take a...

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On the Spot: Stranded in Florence between Lufthansa and Vayama

Question: I recently returned from a trip booked through Kayak/Vayama and had a disturbing experience. Last month, we were to travel home from Florence, Italy, by way of Munich, Germany, where we would embark for Los Angeles. Because of problems at the rental car return, we were too late to board the flight. I was sent to Lufthansa customer service, which could not help me rebook because the flight was booked through a third party. I then called Vayama, which told me that they would put in a request for the rebooking but that because it was Sunday, the New York offices were closed and I would have to wait until they opened on Monday morning. This is a company that deals with international travel and closes on the weekends? My daughter and I were now stranded in Florence until Vayama could call me back Monday after 8 a.m. Eastern time, which would have been 2 p.m. Florence time. This would have eliminated Monday as a travel day. So I ended up buying return tickets ($3,200 for the two of...

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Hawaii: Free breakfast, discounts with Kaanapali Beach Hotel deal

The Kaanapali Beach Hotel on the western shore of Maui is one of those places with lots of free cultural activities. You can take in a sunset hula show and a ukulele lesson at the beachside hotel in Lahaina. Now there's something else too: For those who book by the end of the month, garden view rooms start at $198 a night and come with nice add-ons. The deal: If Maui is in the cards for a getaway this year, you might want to consider what's called the Catch of the Day package. It includes: --daily buffet breakfast for two; --lunch for two at the hotel's Tiki Bar & Grill;--$10 discount on adult tickets for the hotel's Kupanaha Magic Dinner Theater; --20% off a dinner entree at the Tiki Terrace Restaurant; and a $50 dinner credit at Gerard's Restaurant at sister property the Plantation Inn. The deal requires a two-night minimum stay and starts at $198 a night plus tax. Have an extra adult? Add $55 (he or she gets daily breakfast and lunch too); children younger than 17 stay free. When: The...

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What to do when your flight is delayed or canceled

You've probably been there: You are in a rush to get home, and your flight is delayed or canceled. What to do? Buy a new ticket? Before you spend the money, here are some things to know. Before 1978, U.S. airlines that faced a delay or flight cancellation were required to offer transportation on a competitor's next flight if that flight would get the passenger to their destination sooner. Airlines were even required to put economy-class passengers in first class if only first class was available. This rule, called Rule 240, was mandated by the now-defunct Civil Aeronautics Board and was incorporated in all airlines' contracts of carriage. The only exception was for force majeure — an "act of God" — which each airline could define. Most airlines have eliminated Rule 240 from their contracts. But here's what you'll learn from this Guide to Air-Passenger Rights at bit.ly/1sOrf1t by Airfarewatchdog.com (which I founded): At least three carriers still have Rule 240: Alaska, Frontier and...

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Web Buzz: Trip 180 makes volunteering around the world accessible

Here's a website that can help you travel with a passion and a purpose. Name: www.Trip180.com What it does: Makes the path to global volunteering accessible and affordable. What's hot: The website's easy-to-search format puts volunteer opportunities right in front of you. It's also incredibly detailed. I feel as though all the I's have been dotted and the Ts crossed, including pickup at the airport, orientation, Wi-Fi availability, meal plans, 24/7 emergency service and additional costs. That gives me a lot of assurance, particularly if I'm unfamiliar with the destination (as I was when I looked at volunteering at a football school in the slums of Kampala, Uganda). There are a number of causes to choose from, including children and youth, community development, education and literacy, wildlife, hunger, advocacy and human rights. Prices were surprisingly reasonable. What's not: Sometimes, I would click on a featured box only to discover that no current opportunities were available. It'd...

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More bank tips for when traveling abroad, and beware IRS scammers

Bank tips for travel abroad Good information on "The Long and Short of PINs at ATMs Abroad" in the July 13 On the Spot column by Catharine Hamm. I would also add: Make sure you tell your bank and credit card companies that you're traveling abroad, otherwise you may find a fraud alert on your account and frozen funds. Carry more than one card, preferably a bank debit and a charge card. Keep one in a separate place, such as your passport holder, for emergencies. Do your transactions during banking hours, so that if your card gets stuck in the machine, someone can get it out. Get enough cash to last you a few days so you don't rack up unnecessary bank charges. Mark Anderson Adventure Vacations La Jolla   Ruthless scammers The mention in the June 29 On the Spot column ["Be on Guard for Scammers," by Catharine Hamm] about a phone scam in which callers pose as the Internal Revenue Service registered briefly in my mind, never thinking that anyone I knew would not know that the IRS should put...

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Hotel du Vin a convenient, cozy stop in Edinburgh, Scotland

We recently spent four nights at the boutique Hotel du Vin in Edinburgh, Scotland. The building has character, with exposed stone walls, a cozy dining room with the bar area suspended above and an outdoor patio. The staff provided excellent customer service, and the breakfast buffet has a wide selection of delicious pastries, fruit, yogurt and other treats. The location is in Old Town, convenient for tourists and close to the University of Edinburgh. Doubles from $200. Hotel du Vin, 11 Bristo Place; 011-44-844-736-4255, www.hotelduvin.com/locations/edinburgh/ Cheryl Kohr Palos Verdes Estates

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Badwater 135-mile race debuts new route, bypassing Death Valley

Death Valley National Park blocked the famed Badwater 135 Ultramarathon from the park, but that won't stop the event from taking place Monday. Race director Chris Kostman debuts a new and equally punishing course that avoids the park and its namesake low point.  Runners -- 19 women and 79 men from 24 to 69 years old -- will take off on a quest to cover 135 miles in staggering triple-digit heat over the next few days. The race organized by AdventureCORPS starts in Lone Pine, Calif., crosses the Owens Valley and returns to its traditional finish at the base of Mt. Whitney. It begins with a tough, steep climb to the top of Horseshoe Meadow (about 10,000 feet above sea level) in the Inyo National Forest, returns to Lone Pine and continues on to Keeler along Highway 136. Then it's off on a dirt track to the ghost town Cerro Gordo and loops out to Darwin before returning to Lone Pine and the 13-mile uphill finish to the Whitney Portal. In all, runners will have covered more than 17,000...

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