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Why you should apply for or renew your U.S. passport before January

Americans should apply for or renew their passports before January because processing times are shortest between September and December.

That’s the word from the U.S. State Department, which each year declares September to be Passport Month. Demand for passports typically heats up in the new year and continues into summer.

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Chef makes you breakfast then takes you surfing at this Carlsbad resort

Go surfing with the chef at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. The resort offers a three-day outing that takes guests from the kitchen to the beach as Pierre Albaladejo, the hotel’s executive chef, shares his two biggest passions: cooking and surfing.

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Make like a polar explorer on a 15-day cruise to far-away Arctic islands

If you like getting off the grid and exploring far-away places, a cruise to Franz Josef Land may ring a bell. This archipelago of 191 islands is in the northeastern Barents Sea, the northernmost territory of Russia, and is one of the most remote locales on Earth. It was once a major stop for explorers trying to reach the North Pole.

The 15-day MIR Corp.

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What's up for next weekend? Hula, bananas, beer and hay rides

From bananas to beer, hula to reggae, and hay rides to Halloween, a quirky weekend is coming to SoCal.

Santa Monica

What could be more L.A. than relaxing on an old-timey lawn chair on Santa Monica Pier cooled by ocean breezes while you watch Front Porch Cinema’s showing of “La La Land”? Film got your toes tapping? Dance or sing along.

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Three Tokyo day trips step into Japanese history

Tokyo is perhaps the world's most relentlessly modern megalopolis, with bullet trains and robot cafes, cutting-edge architecture, fashions that won’t show up stateside for two years, and fun-seekers cruising around in Mario Kart-style racers.

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Traveling through Europe by train; all about desert insects

EUROPE

Presentation

Explore the ins and outs of traveling through Europe by train with Susan Hickman of Distant Lands.

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

Admission, info: Free.

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