Knott's Berry Farm breathes new life into old mine train ride

Knott's Berry Farm breathes new life into old mine train ride

A long-overdue renovation of the Calico Mine Ride will introduce state-of-the-art technology to the first major Knott's Berry Farm attraction while preserving the groundbreaking work of a legendary theme park innovator.

Photos: Calico Mine Ride at Knott's Berry Farm

After transporting more than a million riders a year over the past half century, the 1960 Calico Mine Ride at the Buena Park theme park is undergoing a complete overhaul that will see the addition of nearly 50 animatronic figures as well as technical and structural upgrades to the seven-story manmade mountain.

Legendary ride designer Wendell "Bud" Hurlbut - who conceived, built and operated the Calico Mine Ride along with the 1969 Timber Mountain Log Ride at Knott's - was one of the first creators of theme parks in the United States.

Timber Mountain Log Ride renovation: Preview | Review | Photos

The Knott's mine ride - along with the similarly themed Mine Train through Nature's Wonderland that debuted the same year at Disneyland...

Zach and Kim Weston, representing the fourth and third generations of photography's famed Weston clan, check their cameras on an early morning boat trip off the Monterey County coast. Photo taken in 2013.

Daily Detour: Odd spots, strange trips, great moments in travel

Welcome, Detourists! This slide show, shot and written by L.A. Times staffer Christopher Reynolds, goes all over and grows every weekday.
The Grande Caribe docked at Pickwick, Tenn.

Deal: Chicago-New Orleans river cruise on sale for $4,999 for two

River cruises aren't just for European ports. Blount Small-Ship Adventures is offering 2-for-1 prices on a 16-day cruise along the Mississippi River between Chicago and New Orleans.

This  slow-paced ride provides a glimpse of life on the river and in Southern towns. Prices start at $4,999 for two.

The deal: Blount has customized small ships that allow passengers to walk from ship to shore and sail in waters as shallow as 7 feet. The cruise on the Grande Caribe navigates along 11 waterways, including the Mississippi, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway as well as the Tennessee, Cumberland, Ohio, Illinois and Des Plaines rivers.

It stops in places such as Kuttawa, Ky., and Pickwick, Tenn. (Shiloh National Military Parkis about 15 miles from there) where you may add on tours or do your own thing. The $4,999 cabin for two excludes port charges ($255), taxes, and airfare to and from the start point. Cruise price includes three daily meals, snacks, free beer and wine with lunch and dinner....

The Airstream mobile home that has been adapted as an AKA Beverly Hills suite.

Santa Barbara: An AKA Beverly Hills suite in an Airstream trailer? Yes

Finally, someone has designed a luxury hotel suite with wheels. Long-stay AKA Beverly Hills hotel has created a suite inside an Airstream trailer with leather interiors, full kitchen and bathroom, a bed with comfy linens, and even its trademark Bulgari bath amenities.

Price-tag for a five-day trip to Santa Barbara: $6,000.

Starting May 1, AKA guests can reserve the modified Airstream 2 Go and drive up the coast to spend two nights at Sunstone Vineyards in the wine-growing Santa Ynez Valley and two nights at Ocean Mesa Campground north of Santa Barbara. You can add on spa treatments, hikes, stargazing, wine-tastings, whatever your outdoors fancy, in advance.

Added bonus: California designer Trina Turk has added some colorful accessories to the suite -- and to the road-trip package. Guests receive a one-on-one styling session at the namesake boutique in Los Angeles and a pack list that begins with "Anything in orange or bright coral."

You drive the Airstream from the wheel of a Yukon...

The mist -- the scent of which is captured in a new air freshener -- on the falls near the wooden walkway traversing Sentinel Meadow in Yosemite Valley.

New Yosemite air freshener smells like wild strawberries, but why?

If you want to know what a national park smells like, head to Yosemite National Park and inhale. Maybe you'll catch the sweet scent of lupine or the butterscotch aroma of a ponderosa pine. What you are unlikely to smell is wild strawberries -- unless you buy a national park air freshener.

Just in time for National Park Week, which starts Saturday, Air Wick has launched new "limited edition scents" named for the Channel Islands, Yosemite and Biscayne national parks and Gulf Islands National Seashore. Yosemite is described as smelling like "wild strawberries fused with soothing mists of mountain rain."

I've been to Yosemite many times and not once have I been bowled over by a strawberry scent with a twist of mist, unless I was near one of the dining halls. Wild strawberries aren't common at the park; the plants are found in forested areas at higher elevations.

So much for making sense of the scents. Air Wick does support and partner with the National Park Foundationin creating the line...

New Zealand: Prince William and Kate go for white-water thrill ride

New Zealand: Prince William and Kate go for white-water thrill ride

What did they do with baby George? The official trip that brought Prince William and wife Catherine to New Zealand this month took a turn for the adventurous Sunday when the couple hopped on a jet-boat journey down the Shotover River.

The jet boat ride in Queenstown on the South Island is known for dodging jagged rocks and zipping through narrow canyons during a white-water rush that lasts less than half an hour. The boat travels more than 50 mph on the fast-flowing river.

The New Zealand Herald reports that the boat carrying the royal couple shot up the river, made a 180-degree turn for the cameras, and then disappeared into the canyon. Photos of the trip (see above) show the couple in a relaxed outdoors setting.

The two, and George, move on to Australia where the three-week tour ends April 25.
Follow us on Twitter @latimestravel, like us on Facebook @Los Angeles Times Travel.

Tens of thousands turned out April 20 at last year's 420 Rally at Civic Center Park in Denver. Last year the event was marred by gunfire that injured three people.

Denver: Pot-loving 420 Rally this weekend, but beware at airports

If you're celebrating Easter this weekend in Denver, you might also ingest a bit of the city's pot-celebrating 420 Rally that has been expanded to a two-day event this year.

The 420 Rally, once an underground event but now very much above ground, embraces Colorado's Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use when it was signed itno law last year.

The 420 Rally has been around since the 1970s and describes itself as "a cannabis culture music featival." It walks a fine line because, despite the law that allows people 21 and older to use pot, public use is still illegal.

The event will feature Wyclef Jean, the Expendables, Rose Quartz and a bunch of other DJs and bands on Friday and Saturday as well as food vendors and other entertainment.

"Our goal is to create a positive environment for users to share stories, learn about the industry and create informed opinions on the remaining issues facing the industry,” rally organizer Miguel Lopez says in a statement.


TSA says it knows how fragile matzo can be and will provide hand checks for Passover travelers.

Passover: TSA plans safe travels for matzo and religious items

Passover begins at sundown Monday (today) and the Transportation Security Administration is assuring fliers that its officers will be sensitive to carry-on items associated with the Jewish holiday.

"Some travelers will be carrying boxes of matzo, which are consumed as part of the Passover ritual," the agency said in an April 2 statement.

"Matzo can be machine or handmade and are typically very thin and fragile, and break easily. Passengers traveling with religious items, including handmade matzo, may request a hand inspection by the TSO [transportation security officer] of the items at the security checkpoint."

The statement went on to say security officers would be aware of observant Jews who may particpate in prayer rituals and wear head coverings and prayer shawls.

Israel has been preparing for Passover too, though not in the same way. The Western or Wailing Wall in Jerusalem received a spring cleaning, which involves removing the notes to God to make room for new messages of...

In D.C., a new show of old national park posters

In D.C., a new show of old national park posters

A new art show in Washington, D.C., spotlights national park posters from the Depression years, including the frothy falls of Yellowstone, the jagged mountains of Glacier and the native ruins of Bandelier National Monument.

Titled “Posterity,” the show at the U.S. Department of the Interior Museum is built around six original posters that date to the Depression years. But it also includes later reproductions and contemporary posters in similar style, covering more than three dozen parks and wildlife refuges.

The original silkscreen posters (also known as serigraphs) were produced from 1938 to 1941, when the park service employed artists through the Works Progress Administration.  (The show’s subtitle is “WPA’s Art Legacy & America’s Public Lands.”) The artists worked on the UC Berkeley campus and began with Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

As for the artists' names, “that’s actually one of the ongoing mysteries,” said...

An artist's rendering of a king room at the SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, where a special deal has weekday rates as low as $109 a night.

Deal: SLS Las Vegas Hotel to open in August, offers rates from $109

If you love being the first to sleep in a new hotel, this deal checks you into a hot new hotel as Las Vegas temperatures start to cool.

SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino is scheduled to open on Aug. 25 and has an opening offer for a discounted stay in a superior king room when you book a minimum two-night stay by April 30. The deal offers a Sunday-Thursday rate of $109 and a weekend rate of $139 for stays Sept. 1-Dec. 27. The rate doesn’t include taxes or the $25 daily resort fee. Blackout dates are Nov. 3-6.

SLS Las Vegas will have three towers and more than 1,600 rooms. As the SBE group’s first Las Vegas hotel and casino, the SLS is expected to add some spice to the Strip with a live-music venue called the Sayers Club and restaurants including the Bazaar by Jose Andres, Katsuya, Cleo, Umami Burger and the SLS Buffet.

Tested: When I tried booking a two-night stay, weekends and weeknights for all four months seemed widely available.  A two-night weekday stay from Sept. 9-12...

Six Carlsbad hotels, including the Omni La Costa Resort, offer a spa-pamper package for women on weekends in May.

Carlsbad: 6 places for women's spa weekends, starting at $299

Relax, breathe deep and head to Carlsbad, Calif., for pampering time devoted to women. The California coastal town launches its second Women's Wellness Weekends at six hotels this May.

Check out the hotels and extras they're offering for a wind-down weekend. Note that rooms are subject to availability (some blackout dates apply, some offers are good beyond May), and prices exclude tax.

--Beach Terrace Inn, 2775 Ocean St.; (760) 729-5951; starts at $299 a night and includes an ocean-view room, breakfast, welcome food basket, yoga on the beach on Sunday morning and late 1 p.m. checkout.

--Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa, 1 Ponto Road; (760) 602-0800; starts at $299 a night and includes a facial or massage, 10% discount on other spa treatments and free shuttle service in the area.

--West Inn & Suites, 4970 Avenida Encinas; (760) 448-4500; starts at $279 a night in May and includes breakfast, a facial or massage, and $50 dining card.

--Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa, 5480 Grand...

A traveler passes a stacked cart of luggage while entering LAX's Terminal 4.

That favorite belt? Leave home without it when going on a trip

Question: On March 7, I flew to Sacramento from L.A. for an overnight trip. I packed light — just a dress, belt, shoes, sweats, nightshirt, a bag of toiletries and my iPad. When I arrived at my hotel and opened my bag, there was a notice that the Transportation Security Administration had gone through my luggage. When I was getting dressed, I noticed my belt was missing. I had carefully packed it in the see-through zipper compartment of my suitcase, as I didn't want it to fall out. It was my favorite belt, old, vintage, worn and funky. I guess someone at TSA liked it because they just took it. You can imagine how infuriated and violated I felt. If someone took my iPad it would have been more understandable, but an old favorite belt?

Sharon Richstone


Answer:"Checking your luggage is asking for trouble," the 1988 movie "The Accidental Tourist" tells us and goes on to say, "And most importantly, never take along anything on your journey so valuable or dear that its loss...

Your Host


Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger Mary Forgione likes to hit the dirt when she's on vacation. An avid hiker and runner, Mary likes speed-touring cities on foot and sightseeing by running marathons.