California & the West
In Katmai National Park, Alaska, up close with bears pursuing salmon
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Golfscape.com might fit sportsmen to a tee

Here's a smoother, more modern way to book your tee time at golf courses around the world.

Name: Golfscape.com

What it does: This website lets you plan and book golf games in the United States and 47 countries from your desktop, tablet or mobile device. Create a profile and make a wish list of courses you hope to play.

What's hot: It's a tempting site for the destination golfer. Scroll down the home page beneath the search bar to see featured golfing destinations in Da Nang, Vietnam; Cape Town, South Africa; and Hua Hin, Thailand, to name a few. There are plenty of course photos, a map and lists of amenities and weather reports, plus the opportunity for golfers to rate and review the courses à la Yelp or TripAdvisor. Users can make instant bookings in California, Arizona and Nevada.

What's not: You're getting just a sneak peek at features. For example, by year's end you should be able to search by city or individual course rather than by just a list of destinations. Also, there were...

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Travel letters: Couchsurfing.com another entry to sharing economy

I read Catharine Hamm's article "Learning to Share" (Aug. 24) with great interest. I have been thinking a lot about our sharing economy and whether it is really just that.

I was surprised that there was so little mention of Couchsurfing.com. I have just recently dipped my foot in these waters, hosting travelers from around the country and world. Unlike Airbnb, with Couchsurfing, no money is exchanged.

I open my home to travelers and offer a place to sleep. Beyond that, I offer what I wish or am able — food, day trips, etc.

The site also offers opportunities to ride-share and meet up. It is an exercise in trust for both parties. It may not be perfect, but it opens up a new world for everyone and the potential for friendships to grow across cultures.

It has expanded my horizons and is an example of the limitless possibilities of the Internet.

Jeff Bernhardt

Valley Glen

 

Sock it to 'em

Here's a solution for the smelly-feet issue on flights ("Raising a Stink When Shoes Come Off," On the...

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Films and events

EUROPE

Workshop

Hostelling International will conduct a workshop for those interested in exploring Europe by rail. Topics include types of Eurail passes and classes of service.

When, where: 7 p.m. Thursday at the REI store in Santa Monica, 402 Santa Monica Blvd.

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (310) 393-9913, Ext. 3104.

 

CANYONEERING

Movie

Meet director Brian Olliver and view his documentary "Gorging," about the sport of canyoneering.

When: 7 p.m. Friday at the Adventure 16 store, 11161 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles

Admission, info: Free. (310) 473-4574.

 

ECUADOR AND THE GALAPAGOS

Presentation

Writer and photographer Wendy Windebank will discuss her travels to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When, where: Noon Sept. 7 at Delphi Greek Restaurant, 1383 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles

Admission, info: $19.50 for lunch and program. Hosted by the Network for Travel Club. RSVP to (323) 578-3601.

 

...

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Readers recommend -- France: Wake up in a farmhouse outside Lyon

We just returned from France, where we had the great fortune to end our stay at Ferme de la Vallée, a beautiful B&B about 20 minutes outside of Lyon. The house is owned by Charline and Gilles Lauga (they speak English), who are wonderful hosts and ready with suggestions about what to see in the area. The property was gorgeous with walking paths surrounding the house. Charline makes a beautiful breakfast, and the room is great with private bath. An added plus for animal lovers is the big, friendly Newfoundland dog and four cats.

Ferme de la Vallée d'Arche, Route du Mont Thou, Chemin de la Vallée; 011-33-4-26-63-76-32, clauga.free.fr. Rooms from $126, breakfast included.

Sarabeth Rothfeld

Woodland Hills

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Labor Day: Last-minute hotel deals that cost less than $100 a night

No plans for Labor Day? Why not get out of town, even if it's just for a single night. Same-day hotel booking app Hotel Tonight will be offering $59 to $99 last-minute rooms in key cities around the country.

The app's Endless Summer promotion can save up to 45% off room prices, the company says in a release. App users can browse same-day prices and "Look Ahead" to see estimates on rates for upcoming nights. Hotel prices are posted at 9 a.m. local time each day and may be booked until 2 a.m. for a same-day stay.

Travelers who use the app Sunday night in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Sacramento of Phoenix can expect to find rooms for $59 a night. Pay $79 a night in Portland, Ore.; San Diego; and Denver, and $99 a night in New York City, New Orleans and San Francisco.

I checked the app's Las Vegas deals for Thursday night and found Endless Summer rates of $24 at the Four Queens Hotel & Casino and $41 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. (Priceline's same-day app also showed $41 for the Hard Rock on...

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Airfare: Round trip to Ho Chi Minh City from LAX is $798 on Air China

Air China is offering a round trip from LAX to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for $798, including all taxes and fees.

That fare is significantly less than recent round-trip tickets to other Asian destinations.

Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, has been influenced by numerous cultures, including French, Cambodian (it was part of the kingdom of Cambodia) and Japanese, who occupied the city during World War II. Saigon, as it was called, was captured by the North Vietnamese in April 1975, and it was renamed soon thereafter. 

The fare is subject to availability, but it is good through Dec. 9. You must stay at least seven days but not more than three months.

Info:  Air China, (800) 882-8122

Source: Airfarewatchdog

Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel

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Palm Springs: New Architecture and Design Center to open in November

Each year Palm Springs dedicates a week to celebrating Midcentury Modernism architecture in the desert city. Now, it has more reason to celebrate.

The Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion, is set to open Nov. 9. It will provide a place to showcase the sleek style pioneered by architects such as Richard Neutra, Donald Frey and E. Stewart Williams.

In fact, the building at 300 S. Palm Canyon Drive that houses the center was created in by Williams in 1961 as the Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan. And the center's inaugural show will pay tribute to the architect.

The project is an expansion of the Palm Springs Art Museum, which also is housed in a Williams building. It bought the bank building in 2011 and has overseen the rehabilitation by L.A.-based Marmol Radziner architects.

Photos from architectural photographer Julius Shulman and Williams' original plans guided the work.

"The new A+D Center provides us with the much needed space for our permanent collection and...

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Six Flags Magic Mountain turning wooden coaster into Twisted Colossus

Six Flags Magic Mountain plans to convert a classic wooden coaster into the world’s longest hybrid coaster that adds two barrel roll inversions and a first-of-its-kind in the U.S. “high-five” element.

Dubbed Twisted Colossus, the massive makeover is to transform the now-closed 1978 Colossus racing wooden coaster into a 4,990-foot-long wood-steel hybrid ride with two separate lift hills and a pair of near-vertical drops.

Set to debut at the Valencia amusement park in 2015, the Magic Mountain ride is to be built by Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Construction, which has converted a number of wooden coasters into hybrid rides with looping inversions typically associated with steel coasters.

Twisted Colossus sounds like it could be an epic ride.

Departing from the station, the train will navigate a series of bunny hops before ascending the first of two 121-foot-tall lift hills.

Following an extreme 80-degree drop at 57 mph, riders will travel through a “high five” element where the tandem trains...

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Six Flags unveils new attractions for every park in 2015

Six Flags has unveiled its 2015 lineup of new roller coasters, thrill rides and water slides at the amusement park chain's 13 locations.

Additions are to include three roller coasters, five thrill rides, two dark rides and two water attractions.

Among the highlights:

Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio)

By far the biggest addition at any Six Flags park for 2015 is Batman: The Ride planned for Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio.

The new first-of-its-kind ride is described as a cross between the Green Lantern fourth-dimension coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia and the X-Flight wing coaster at Six Flags Great America in the Chicago area.

Sitting on a compact footprint, the 120-foot-tall 4-D wing coaster is top feature an elevator-like lift hill, forward and reverse inversions and beyond-vertical freefall drops.

Six Flags has used the Batman: The Ride name on several Bolliger & Mabillard inverted coasters, including one at nearby Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.

Six Flags Magic...

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New Mexico: Author D.H. Lawrence's ranch near Taos reopens to visitors

British author D.H. Lawrence described his connection to New Mexico as "the greatest experience I ever had from the outside world. It certainly changed me forever." The rustic ranch northwest of Taos where he spent a brief part of his life during the 1920s recently reopened to visitors.

How did the author of "Women in Love" and "Lady Chatterley's Lover" wind up in the Land of Enchantment? He had been invited by socialite Mabel Dodge Luhan, a woman who counted Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams among her circle.

It was Luhan who subsequently gave the Lawrences the 160-acre ranch that sits at 8,500 feet in elevation, according to a University of New Mexico ranch history. (It's also known as the Kiowa Ranch, named for the Native Americans who once lived there.)

Of three buildings that remain at the site, the couple moved into what's called the Homesteader's Cabin. It was a simple but rundown three-room affair, the history says. Lawrence worked to fix it up with the help of...

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Hawaii: Google Maps makes it possible to visit Oahu, if only virtually

Stunning 360-degree views of various Oahu attractions are available online, thanks to a partnership between Hawaii officials and Google Maps.

The website features virtual visits to 15 sites, including such destinations such as Byodo-In Temple and the Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail plus world-famous Waikiki Beach. The site, which launched Wednesday, is operated in conjunction with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

A similar page featuring Hawaii island locations was launched last year. The Big Island scenes include Crater Rim Trail at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area  and Akaka Falls State Park

The ventures mark the first time Google Maps has partnered with a third party to provide imagery. The 360-degree scenes were captured with assistance from the staff of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.  

Crews used a high-resolution camera with 15 lenses, the same equipment that Google uses to take its Street View images.

Tourism...

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Travel deal: $9.99 a day for Enterprise car rentals on weekends

Enterprise Rent-a-Car is rolling out a weekend special after Labor Day that's good for folks planning a getaway in fall or even next spring. Compact and economy cars cost $9.99 a day. Airport locations are excluded, but this should work for those willing to rent their car once they're in the city.

The deal: This weekend deal is available at most of Enterprise's more than 5,500 locations around the U.S. (again, except airports). When you search the deal online, you'll see which Enterprise offices are participating in the offer.

Some rules: You have to rent Friday to Monday (three days), and you receive 100 miles a day, or 300 miles total for the weekend. After that, you'll be charged.

When: The offer is good Sept. 5 through May 18.

Tested: I found rental cars at the $9.99 price at several sites while checking random dates. For example, I found a compact or economy car available Dec. 5 to 8 at locations in Phoenix and Los Angeles, including one at 7100 Beverly Blvd.

Info:

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