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Some Las Vegas wedding chapels are turning away same-sex couples

Although same-sex marriage became legal on Oct. 9 in Nevada, some Las Vegas wedding chapels are refusing to perform the marriages.

Those places are, the American Civil Liberties Union says, breaking the law.

An ACLU official on Thursday criticized what he said are “a small number” of for-profit wedding chapel owners who are refusing to perform such ceremonies because of their religious beliefs. 

“That’s not religious freedom,” James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project, said in a conference call with reporters. “That’s discrimination.”

On Oct. 9, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down the Nevada’s ban on gay matrimony. Since then, a handful of chapel operators have publicly opposed such unions.

“I’m not going to perform it,” said Dolly de Leon, owner of Vegas Wed Chapel. “I believe that I cannot be forced to perform a wedding.  I cannot ... because of my faith, because of my belief.”

De Leon, a licensed minister since 1979, said she realizes her...

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Father and son turn dream into homemade dark ride

Countless kids and plenty of adults have dreamed of building their own theme-park ride.

Even with an endless supply of creativity, hard work, ingenuity and determination, the dream remains a long-shot undertaking that few ever attempt and fewer still ever achieve.

Scott and Ashton D’Avanzo dreamed that dream after one fateful trip to Disneyland and turned it into reality, building a full-fledged theme-park ride in the two-car garage of their family home.

The result is Mystic Motel, a truly amazing homemade dark ride and haunted maze that the father of six and his fifth-grade son built in their Southern California home.

"I really wanted a roller coaster, but you can do more with a dark ride," Ashton said.

Tucked inside the garage and the enclosed courtyard of their million-dollar home, Mystic Motel is the last thing you'd expect to find in Ladera Ranch, a master planned bedroom community in an unincorporated part of suburban Orange County near Mission Viejo.

D’Avanzo, a 39-year-old...

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Deal: Want to take a cruise but don't have time? Try a quickie trip

Cruise Line International Assn. sent out some information last week about the value of mini-cruises. What caught my eye was how short and how cheap some of the getaways could be. You can take a West Coast overnight cruise for about $100 per person, less than what you might pay for a nice hotel room.

The deal: Beach lovers who want to go east can find three-day sailings from Florida to the Caribbean at low prices. Short cruise routes in the West include:

--The Norwegian Pearl sails from Seattle to Vancouver, British Columbia, for an overnighter that costs $109 per person. You board at 4 p.m. and arrive in Vancouver at 8 a.m. (Currently available for Sept. 27-28 next year.) Princess Cruises also offers the same route on the Ruby Princess starting at $84 (Sept. 13 and 19 next year).

--Holland America's Westerdam sails from San Diego and stops at Victoria, British Columbia, before ending in Vancouver. Four-day trips next spring start at $249.

--The Golden Princess sails on four-day cruises...

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Texas: $2,900 for dinner and a swig of rare 50-year-old Scotch

To hear Ryan Roberts tell it, Balvenie Fifty, Cask 4567 had "something different about it." Whatever made this 1963 Scotch whiskey remarkable -- how the barrel was put together or a quirk in the aging? -- the manager at Cullen's restaurant in Houston knew he had to have a bottle.

And he will. Roberts plans a meal Nov. 15 for a dozen guests who pay $2,900 each to sample the single malt Scotch whiskey with the man who sealed it in its original cask half a century ago, malt master David Stewart.

"For Scotch lovers, this is nirvana," Roberts says. Seven people have already bought a seat at the table.

How rare is the bottle? For starters there are only 131 bottles of the stuff on the planet, each valued at $38,000. Of those, only 15 are coming to the United States, he says, and most of those will go to collectors.

Add the fact that Stewart, whose legendary career spans more than 50 years, will fly from Scotland to oversee the meal and the tasting and ... maybe it's one of those...

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3,700-pound sculpture you can sit on is flown up to Palm Springs tram

The Palm Springs Art Museum on Wednesday moved a 3,700-pound carved granite bench up to its new perch at 8,500 feet on a patio at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway high above the desert city.

It may be "one of the few pieces of public art at this elevation in the nation," a museum statement  says.

The bench, by artist Bruce Beasley, is called "New Horizon" and was flown by helicopter. It sits at the north patio of the tramway's Mountain Station in the San Jacinto Mountains.

Though it's a work of art, visitors may pause to sit on it and enjoy the view.

The sculpture was a gift from Palm Springs philanthropist Bradford W. Bates to mark the museum's 75th anniversary and the tram's 50th anniversary.

"I wanted to contribute something significant that might offer the casual visitor a deeper understanding and appreciation of the area," Bates said in a statement.

He's also a founding member of the museum's new Architecture and Design Center which will make its debut Nov. 9.

Beasley's work is...

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How early should you buy airline tickets to get the lowest price?

To find the best deal on an airline ticket, when you purchase your ticket matters, but how much? The lowest domestic airfares were bought eight weeks beforehand and the lowest international fares were purchased 24 weeks beforehand, according to a report, released Wednesday from a company that analyzed 19 months of airfare purchases.

Airlines Reporting Corp. looked at data for tickets bought between January 2013 through July 2014 to figure out the sweet spots for lowest fares. At the eight- and 24-week points, the report says, fliers saved 19% on domestic flights and 27% on international flights.

The company also found that the least expensive air tickets were purchased on Sundays for just about any destination.

"This latest study by ARC is significant because it reveals that not only have the lowest airfares shifted from six to eight weeks out for domestic travel, but the savings are markedly greater on a percentage basis," Chuck Thackston, managing director of enterprise information...

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