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Airfare: Fiji Airways offers $1,082 round trip to New Zealand from LAX

Catch a bargain down under with Fiji Airways’ round-trip fare from LAX to Auckland, New Zealand, for $1,082, a price that includes all taxes and fees.

The deal is good Oct. 18-Dec. 14 and again next year from Feb. 22 to June 12. The fare must be purchased by Aug. 31.

Travelers can stay a maximum of three months before returning.

Info: Fiji Airways, (800) 227-4446

Source: Airfarewatchdog

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U.S. embassies in West Africa to stay open despite Ebola warning

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta on Thursday warned Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone because of the deadly Ebola outbreak ravaging the West African nations. But American embassies in those countries will remain open for now.

"We do not have any plans at this time to reduce embassy staff at any of these areas. We will continue to monitor the situation," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Thursday during a daily press briefing.

The Peace Corps on Wednesday removed more than 300 volunteers from the countries as the outbreak spread.

Harf also said the U.S. was working on providing assistance to help bring infected Americans back home. Two stricken Americans were listed as being in "stable but grave" condition in Liberia as of Thursday. Leone's top doctor who treated Ebola patients died earlier from the disease.

The CDC is sending 50 disease control experts in the next 30 days to work on infection control, reporting and...

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Reno museum tells story of Nevada's journey from territory to state

As the Silver State prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday, the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno is launching its newest exhibit, “The 36thStar: Nevada’s Journey from Territory to State.”

From Aug. 2-Nov. 2, three of the museum's galleries will display historic artifacts and photographs to highlight how in just three years Nevada went from becoming a territory to a state. Congress officially recognized the nation’s newest state on Oct. 31, 1864.

The hand-painted American flag with 36 stars that flew over Ft. Ruby, in the wilderness of eastern Nevada, is among the significant artifacts. Dr. John Long, who was the post's surgeon, took the flag home with him to Ohio after his tour of duty. It’s now property of the Nevada State Library and Archives.

The Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, will join the exhibit from Oct. 30-Nov. 2.  It will be on loan from the National Archives for a rare appearance.

The art museum, 160 W. Liberty St. in downtown Reno, is open 10 a...

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US Airways Express passengers now fly out of Terminal 4 at LAX

US Airways Express passengers flying out of Los Angeles International Airport need to check in at Terminal 4 starting Friday, an airport announcement says.

Flights used to operate out of Terminal 3 where US Airways' other operations remain.

The airline advises passengers to check their tickets or check with US Airways Express to make sure they know which terminal to go to.

There also will be signs in the airport to reroute Express travelers flying to Denver, Oklahoma City, San Jose, Houston, Phoenix and Tucson.

The terminal move puts US Airways Express alongside American Airlines and American Eagle service in Terminal 4. US Airways Express is operated by Mesa Airlines, which has hubs in Phoenix and Charleston, S.C.

American and US Airways merged at the end of December and continue to work on blending operations.  FAQs on the US Airways website say the parent company intends to continue regional flights at both airlines.

"We expect that the regional carriers we own – American Eagle and...

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It's almost Shark Week! 5 cool places to see 'em up close

If you haven't seen it yet, actor Rob Lowe plays a shark-riding, chum-flinging action figure in a hilarious ad for Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week TV blitz that starts Aug. 10. "So sharky," Lowe breathlessly intones as hammerheads and great whites reel overhead.

The ad is cheesy but maybe you want in on some of that jaw-dropping action? Here are five great places where you can have your own crazy shark moments -- and don't leave home without your Go-Pro.

--Watch sharks get fed and then gaze at their guts at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. Species such as leopard and horn sharks eat lunch at 1:45 p.m. Aug. 9. An hour later, you can watch a shark dissection and check out specimens in the museum's collection.

Info: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro; (310) 548-7562.

--Whale sharks, the biggest fish species on the planet, head into the bay of La Paz on Mexico's Baja Peninsula every October through February. You can book a trip to go snorkeling...

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El Portal fire: Yosemite road reopens, three campgrounds still shut

A key roadway near the western entrance to Yosemite National Park that was closed because of the El Portal fire has reopened to traffic.

With the reopening of Big Oak Flat Road between Crane Flat and El Portal Road on Wednesday, all roads inside the park are accessible.

However, park officials warn that road closures "may change at any time" and advise visitors to check on current conditions by calling (209) 372-0200.

Crane Flat, Bridalveil Creek and Yosemite Creek campgrounds remained closed because of the fire, which as of late Wednesday was just 34% contained. The blaze, which is also burning in the Stanislaus National Forest, began Saturday and covers about 3,900 acres, according to a park statement.

Smoke is a problem throughout the park. "Park visitors are urged to use caution while driving in the park due to decreased visibility," the statement says. Officials canceled an apple-picking event in Yosemite Valley that had been set for Wednesday.

Yosemite logged more than 3,000...

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SeaPort Airlines to start Burbank-San Diego flights in October

SeaPort Airlines, a small Oregon-based airline that serves routes in nine states, will begin service between Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR) and San Diego International Airport (SAN) starting in October. The trip takes 65 minutes on Cessna planes that each hold just nine passengers.

"There's a lot of interest between those two cities," airline Executive Vice President Timothy Sieber said Wednesday. He says travelers may use the flights to go to ballgames or an entertainment event.

SeaPort is the only airline linking the two cities with nonstop service. Their Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft fly low — around 9,000 feet, so you can shoot cool videos with your phone — in and out of the commuter terminal at San Diego's airport.

The airline will operate weekday flights from Burbank at 7:30 a.m., 11:35 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Return flights from San Diego will operate weekdays at 6:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. The airline also offers limited service on weekends.

SeaPort already...

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Hawaii's new restaurant placards to alert diners to health violations

Health inspectors in Hawaii are taking new steps to ensure visitors don’t get sick from the food they eat.

The state’s Department of Health has begun posting new color-coded placards to let customers know of potential risks before they ever look at a menu.

The first placards will be found on Oahu, where inspectors monitor 6,000 businesses that serve food. The program will eventually extend to all 10,000 food establishments statewide.

A green card is reserved for eateries at which inspectors uncover no more than one serious violation of health standards. Businesses with two or more violations must post a yellow card. When an inspector finds enough violations to force immediate closure, a red card will be posted. 

It’s not just restaurants that will have to display the placards. The law, enacted earlier this year, also applies to convenience stores, food trucks, markets and even push carts.

“The new food-safety rules let consumers know which food establishments have violations and may...

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Las Vegas: The Strip gets its first bitcoin ATM

The Las Vegas Strip welcomed its first bitcoin ATM on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean visitors will necessarily find it easy to use the virtual currency.

The new ATM launched inside the Viva Vegas souvenir shop near Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue, across the street from CityCenter. 

Chris McAlary of Coin Cloud, the company that operates the Robocoin  machine, said its most practical purpose will be to fund the vacations of visitors from countries such as China, which has strict currency controls.

“It’s very difficult for the average Chinese person to transfer money out of China,” he told me. “You can store your money on the cloud and then withdraw it on demand from our machine.”

Promoters of bitcoin often boast of its ability to replace cash. Users who deposit money into an online account can pay for purchases by scanning their smartphones at participating businesses.

There’s a hitch, though: Few places in Las Vegas accept bitcoin.

“I’m not aware of any on the Strip,” McAlary...

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Utah national parks to serve as the setting for symphony performances

The Utah Symphony next month will bring its music to the state's Mighty 5 national parks: Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Zion.

As a prelude to the symphony's 75th anniversary celebration next year, the full orchestra will perform in the parks the nights of Aug. 12, 14, 15 and 16; the concert on Aug. 14 will take place at Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, near Arches and Canyonlands. 

Programs will begin at 8 p.m. and include music from Dvorak's "From the New World" Symphony No. 9; the orchestral suite from Bizet's "Carmen"; and several pieces by George Gershwin.

Utah native Celena Shafer, a soprano who sings with the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera, also will perform.

Besides the full-orchestra concerts, starting Aug. 11, there will be evening chamber music programs, performed by the Utah Symphony's brass and string ensembles and by Aspen Winds.

Educational activities--such as demonstrations of bird songs and lessons on reproducing them--also will be offered at the various...

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Nevada: Lake Tahoe's World Concert reminds us to give peace a chance

What better time for a prayer for peace. The 2014 Trails and Vistas World Concert next month on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe brings together musical and performance artists in a show dedicated to peace and harmony.

"This is about connecting to people and connecting to the land," says Nancy Tieken Lopez, founder of the nonprofit Trails and Vistas. The organization hosts musical events where guests walk on trails in the woods and are entertained along the way. This year's World Concert on Sept. 6 leaves the trails for the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival outdoor stage at Sand Harbor State Park south of Incline Village.

It kicks off with a duet by violinist Scarlet Rivera and flutist Ann Licater. Rivera will be performing on what's called the "violin of peace" made by global activist Patrick McCollum. The instrument was created from almost 100 different pieces of wood, including some from a tribe in Africa that had resolved a conflict with another tribe, a statement about the concert says...

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Greece: Wellness trip combines yoga, culture and service

Interested in doing for others as well as for yourself? Perillo’s Learning Journeys’ wellness vacations combine travel with yoga, cultural immersion and community service projects.

Its nine-day tour of Greece (Costa Rica, Hawaii and India are other wellness destinations) begins in Athens with yoga classes, a half-day city tour and an excursion to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon. Three days on the island of Santorini are filled with yoga and meditation, a catamaran excursion to the Santorini caldera, created by an ancient volcano, and a Greek dance lesson.

On Crete, participants will paint, work in the gardens or assist as needed at Angel’s House, which aids abused women, orphans and the homeless. Other highlights on Crete include a visit to the Knossos archaeological site, home to legendary King Minos, and a traditional Greek cooking lesson.

Dates: April 18-26, May 9-17, June 27-July 5, Oct. 3-11, 2015

Price: From $2,850 per person, double occupancy; single supplement available...

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