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Gear: Thanks to magnets, this mount for devices works like magic

There are many ways to mount electronic devices in your car, but Scosche's new MagicMount system has some particularly gripping features.

The core magnetic unit, a 2-inch-square, half-inch-thick disk, contains strong magnets. Just hover a magnetic metal object near the disk, and you'll feel it pulling the object toward it, then holding firm.

Each disk is configured to mount onto a specific Scosche base. The flexible rubber MagicMount Mat works with GPS devices, cellphones and tablets.

The MagicMount XL Surface is a flat core magnetic unit with a strong adhesive backing that mounts electronic devices flush on most surfaces.

Each mount comes with two slim magnetic plates (a large 2 1/2 -inch-square plate for tablets, and a small inch-plus-square plate for phones).

Info: MagicMount Mat costs $39.99; MagicMount XL Surface costs $24.99.

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Another early opening for Tioga Road, Yosemite's major east-west route

Tioga Road, the east-west roadway in Yosemite National Park that allows visitors to cross the Sierra, opens for the season Monday. It's among the earliest opening dates for the road that closes in winter because of snow and ice -- two things in short supply this year.

The road, a.k.a. California Highway 120, was scheduled to open at 8 a.m., according to a park announcement.

But that doesn't mean driving the route from Yosemite's west and south entrances to Tuolumne Meadows and the park's backcountry will be a snap. Road work between Crane Flat and White Wolf campgrounds in the western part of the park are expected to delay drivers.

Last year Tioga Road opened May 2, the earliest date since 1980. The average opening date is May 27.

California's low snowpack prompted the opening of Glacier Point Road on March 28, the earliest in 20 years, this year. Half Dome's cables for hikers who want to make the trek to the top of the iconic granite wall were put up last Saturday, three weeks ahead of...

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Deal: $50 daily credit at Marriott's Caribbean and Mexican resorts

Marriott offers travelers $50 in resort credit at a dozen hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico. You must stay three days to receive the credit that can be used for restaurants, spa treatments and other extras.

The deal: The Spring Getaway is good at three resorts in Mexico: CasaMagna Marriott Cancun ResortCasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa. Other locations include Aruba, Grand Cayman, St. Kitts and Nevis, Curacao and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Use the code "4CL" when making a reservation online or by phone. Note the resort credit with this deal is capped at $250 (a five-night stay). To find the list of participating hotels, go to Marriott's Caribbean & Mexico Resorts page and click on "Special Offers."

When: The offer is good through May 14 for travel through June 30.

Tested: I found availability June 12-15 at the Cancun Resort & Spa for a room with balcony starting at $231 a night, excluding tax. I also found a pool-view room for the same nights...

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Snow Summit Mountain Bike Park will open Friday

The Snow Summit Mountain Bike Park will open Friday, giving off-road riders access to 60 miles of trails with more than 150 features such as jumps, bridges, berms, kickers and banked turns.

The park is also home to the Skyline Trail, which has been ranked as one of the nation’s best.

Opening-day festivities will include DJ Slipmatt. Fox Head team rider Kirt Voreis will be making laps through the park with riders. The bike park will be open on a Friday-through-Sunday schedule through June 19.

Snow Summit, which is part of Big Bear Mountain Resorts, is home to Southern California’s only lift-accessed mountain bike park. Legends such as Brian Lopes and current pros such as Aaron Gwin got their start racing at Big Bear.

Mammoth purchased Big Bear Mountain Resorts recently and is expanding the bike park, officials said. Construction of the Going Greentrail should begin before Memorial Day.

The new trail will run from the top of the all-mountain express lift to the base area, providing riders...

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Lessons in money management for a semester-abroad student

Question: Our son has been accepted into a university language program and is planning a semester abroad in Paris, leaving in August and returning probably in late December. His advisor told him not to set up a personal bank account there. For his current studies in the States, we transfer money to his account so he can use his debit card, which is easy. Should he use his debit card to get euros while in Paris? Or is it better for him to use a credit card for everyday purchases? Should he try to get a college credit card? And how many euros should we pre-buy for him to take with him?

Sharon Solomon

Manhattan Beach

Answer: Handling money abroad doesn't require a degree in economics these days, even for a longer-term stay.

The advisor is correct about not setting up a bank account. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FACTA, which became law in 2010, is designed to catch U.S. tax cheats who have hidden their assets in foreign banks. This has complicated establishing a checking account...

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Rethinking a hotel price? DreamCheaper looks for better after booking

No need to second-guess the price you paid for your hotel. There's a new website to take care of that for you.


What it does: Forward your hotel booking confirmation email (for hotels with free cancellation) to If DreamCheaper finds the same room — or better — at a cheaper price, it will book it for you and cancel your previous, more expensive booking.

What's hot: Savings keep getting bigger if you're booking more than one room for more than a day or two. It claims to have found savings for two out of three bookings and cut rates an average of 15% and sometimes by as much as 60%. Visit the "All about the financials" section in Frequently Asked Questions if you have want more information about the payment process.

What's not: It works best when one person does the booking. For example, if someone in your party (like a spouse) doesn't know you have been using DreamCheaper and receives a cancellation email from the first hotel booked, he or she...

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