The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

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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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Traveling through Europe by train; all about desert insects



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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Heading up the 395? Stopping to scope out the sights is time well spent

We’ve all probably done it. We load up the car and head north for Mammoth Lakes as quickly as possible.

I’ve finally learned that the 300-plus-miles drive mostly on U.S. Highway 395 can be as enjoyable, informative and enlightening as the time spent in that great mountain community.

And this time of year, the turning of the foliage enhances the experience.

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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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