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Ketchum, Idaho, festival celebrates bringing in the sheep for winter

A wall of wool will “baa” its way through Ketchum, Idaho, next month as a decades-old tradition--the moving of sheep to their winter lambing and grazing grounds--returns.

The autumn event has been a way of life for more than 150 years, but in more recent times, it’s also been a cause for celebration in the Sun Valley area. The 18th annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival will be Oct. 9-12.

Sunday, the final day, draws the most attention when a parade moves down Ketchum’s Main Street starting at noon. The procession includes musicians and dancers, but the main attraction is the sheep, all 2,000 of them.

Shepherds, horses and sheepdogs all work together as the flocks are brought down from the mountain high country. (Visitors are strongly urged to leave their dogs at home.)

The run-up to the parade is a kaleidoscope of all things ranching and sheep-related.

Championship sheepdog trials will take place Oct. 11 and 12 from dawn to dusk. The trials, sanctioned by the U.S. Border Collie...

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Vegas.com's Drop Watch tool promises you'll get the lowest room rate

Guarantees promising to match the lowest price on hotel rates are nothing new, but a Vegas-centric website is taking that one step further by offering to do the homework for customers.

As part of this week’s relaunch of its site, Vegas.com, one of the largest marketers of hotel rooms in Sin City, has created Drop Watch, an online tool that eliminates the need to keep checking various sites to make sure you have snagged the best deal.

Customers can book rooms, locking in a rate in the usual way. If that rate drops before the arrival date, an email notification will be sent to them. Guests can then call Vegas.com to cancel the old reservation and rebook at the lower price.

“We say to folks, ‘Listen, make a commitment now and we’ve got your back,’” Steven McArthur, the site’s chief executive, told me.

“We are the only travel brand offering the ‘we’ve-got-your-back’ approach to this that we’re aware of.”

McArthur noted that it’s usually wise to book as early as possible, because prices...

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Newly renovated White House Visitor Center reopens

For visitors to Washington who want to take a tour of the White House but did not get the necessary clearance from their congressional office or embassy, there is now another option — the newly renovated White House Visitor Center.      

The center, which opened to the public Saturday, gives tourists a more intimate look inside the White House, according to Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Assn.

“For those who don't have the opportunity to visit the White House, it still gives you a rich, deeply meaningful interactive education on what the White House is like as home to the first family, as office to the president and as ceremonial stage for the president and official functions of government,” he said.

The renovated center provides tourists with a glimpse of everyday life inside the White House. A 14-minute film, "The White House: Reflections from Within," features the voices of past presidents and first ladies, including President Obama and First Lady Michelle...

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Knott's completes a Halloween Haunt revival with two new mazes

Two new haunted mazes coming to Knott’s Scary Farm will complete a five-year reboot of the granddaddy of all Halloween events that had grown tired and creaky as it crept into middle age.

The turnaround began in 2010 with the introduction of the Terror of London maze based on the Jack the Ripper tales and continued with the apocalyptic Endgames (2011), the puzzle-solving Trapped (2012) and the Harry Houdini-inspired Black Magic (2013). This year, Voodoo and Tooth Fairy carry on the Knott's Haunt revival.

During an exclusive preview, Halloween Haunt masters of mischievous mayhem Lara Hanneman and Daniel Miller offered a walk-through tour of the two new mazes debuting at the 42nd annual event.

Spoiler alert: What follows are detailed previews of the Voodoo and Tooth Fairy mazes. Consider yourself warned.

Behind the Ghostrider coaster, the Voodoo maze travels into the swampy backwoods of a Louisiana bayou brimming with witch doctors and zombies.

Out front, the maze's elaborate facade sets the...

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Paris Las Vegas marks 15th anniversary with food, drink, room specials

Paris Las Vegas will celebrate its 15th anniversary with food, drink and room specials this month.

Special activities are planned throughout the month to celebrate the Sept. 1, 1999, opening of the iconic Paris resort, complete with scaled-down versions of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower.

Guests can enjoy celebratory food and drink offers throughout the property. At Café Belle Madeleine, where the emphasis is on freshly baked pastries, an anniversary treat awaits. The special -- a French vanilla cupcake filled with vanilla mousse and topped with chocolate ganache and a chocolate Eiffel Tower -- sells for $5.  

St. Louis Cafe, a restaurant designed to evoke the atmosphere of a Parisian sidewalk cafe, is offering a three-course lunch for $15 that’s available daily. The choices include traditional French onion soup, a Croque-monsieur sandwich and, for dessert, a Napoleon pastry.

Can’t decide just what sounds good? There’s a huge selection at Le Village Buffet, where lunch is on...

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New Mexico's Enchanted Byway brings fall foliage viewing full circle

For great fall color, the mountains of northern New Mexico are certainly in contention for a “best of” award, and an 85-mile byway makes it easy.

The artists’ colony of Taos can be the base from which to explore nature’s palate along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway.

Fall color is expected to peak early this year -- the first week of October in the Taos area -- according to the state's tourism website. The U.S. Forest Service also maintains a fall foliage hotline. Dial (800) 354-4595 and press 3 for conditions in New Mexico. (As of Tuesday, it had 2013 information.)

The Enchanted byway loop links Taos and Questa, N.M., with, in clockwise order, the neighboring resort communities of Red River, Eagle Nest and Angel Fire.

You can make the drive in 2 1/2 hours — if you don’t stop. But you’ll probably need to take some breaks for hiking, leaf peeping, photo ops and wildlife viewing.

Heading north from Taos on State Highway 522, you’ll find a couple of detours. There’s the 1,273-foot Rio...

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'Magic Flute' to be staged this weekend in Las Vegas' Container Park

Visitors in search of a cultural fix in Las Vegas will find one this week as a troupe of opera singers presents Mozart's "The Magic Flute."

Sin City Opera, a company whose motto is “Yesterday’s Opera Today,” will perform a contemporary version of opera at the Downtown Container Park.

Mozart’s classic, designed as a family-friendly introduction to opera, will retain its comedic and dramatic elements, but it will be adapted to feature characters drawn from Las Vegas’ colorful past. The story of Tamino's quest to save Pamina will be sung in English.

“This free admission outdoor show is part of our education outreach to our community [and is] an excellent and easy introduction to opera as we know it today in our fair city,” Skip Galla, Sin City Opera’s artistic director, said in a news release.   

Shows are scheduled at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 5 p.m. Sunday.

The Container Park, 707 Fremont St., just a couple of blocks east of Las Vegas Boulevard, is an eclectic...

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Classic cars rev up for Route 66 Cruisin' Reunion in Ontario

Hop in your Little Deuce Coupe, Hot Rod Lincoln or Pink Cadillac and drive out to Ontario this weekend for a heavy dose of automobile nostalgia.

The Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion starts Friday evening and continues through Sunday afternoon. About 1,000 classic cars are expected along Ontario’s Euclid Avenue.

The events get underway at 5 p.m. Friday  when hosts Rick and Kelly Dale from the History Channel’s “American Restoration” help cut the ribbon opening a new amphitheater at Ontario Town Square. From 8-10 that evening, spectators can line Euclid for a “neon light cruise.”

The parade, billed as one of the largest such events, is described as “a dazzling, moving light show on wheels,” a release says. Some participants spend years outfitting their cars with colorful neon.

Saturday’s highlight is the birthday bash that begins at 11 a.m. It will pay tribute to the 50th birthdays of the Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO. More than 50 of these highly polished pieces of the past will be on display.

...

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TripAdvisor reviewers name Getty among top museums in the U.S., world

Los Angeles’ Getty Center ranks among the top museums in the world according to a new TripAdvisor survey, but it’s edged out for No. 1 by a Chicago favorite.

Visitors to TripAdvisor ranked the Getty as their fourth favorite museum on the planet. It’s also their second favorite in the U.S.

Reviewers also consider the Getty the top visitor attraction in L.A. out of nearly 400.

“Plan to spend the entire day there,” a reviewer posted on Sunday. “The art work on hand in the permanent collection will take away your breath and fire your imagination.”

The 2014 list ranks the Art Institute of Chicago No. 1 in the country and the world.

“The collections represent fine art from all over the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe, America, as well as Native American art,” a recent visitor wrote. “Plan to stay all day.”

Another critic urged TripAdvisor fans to “take more than one day to see it all. …[There is a] mind-boggling expansive collection of all forms of art.”

The Top 10 list of American...

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Hawaii: Bike tour lets you see the Big Island, burn some calories

Adventure travelers can work off the pounds they may gain during the holidays on cycling trips across Hawaii’s Big Island.

Bicycle Adventures, an Issaquah, Wash.-based company, offers several late fall and early winter departure dates for rides across the largest Hawaiian island. The cycling trips, intended for vacationers who prefer a good workout to a day at the beach, are offered as three packages.

The Hawaii Classic is a seven-day trek that provides overnight stays in upscale resorts. The journey begins at Waikoloa, north of Kailua-Kona. Participants average 45 miles each day, two of which are spent pedaling through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Six 2014 trips remain, including those starting Nov. 23 and Dec. 26. The price is $3,495 per person.

The Hawaii Casual follows nearly the same itinerary as the Classic, but it’s a six-day trip with more moderate lodging options. The price is $2,695 per person. Four 2014 departure dates, including Dec. 27, are available.

For families, the...

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Alcatraz to host Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's exhibit

Ai Weiwei, arguably China’s best-known artist, spent 81 days in prison in 2011, so he knows about incarceration. That's part of the reason he is helming an exhibit opening this month on San Francisco's Alcatraz Island.

He developed the works in the exhibit, part of the National Park Service’s “Art in the Parks” program, in his Beijing studio, and they will be delivered by boat and plane.

The details of the installations for "@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz" aren’t public yet, but his seven large pieces will incorporate sound and sculpture and will be themed around captivity and freedom of expression.

Of the content of his Alcatraz creations, Ai, who is not allowed to travel abroad, has said, “When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.”

The Rock, as it's called, is about 1 1/2 miles from the city and attracts about 1.3 million visitors a year. It has been, variously, a bird sanctuary, the site of a lighthouse, a military prison and a federal prison,...

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Gear: Over-door rack keeps your garments pin-neat

Sometimes a lodging’s closet hanger space is insufficient – or nonexistent. No problem.

Just grab the Spectrum Over the Door Wardrobe Rack, a well-designed rubber-coated steel clothing rack with brackets on each end that hang over doors up to 1 5/8 inches thick.

It weighs a little more than a pound and stashes in most roll-aboard bags. The rack provides 17 inches of hanger bar cast in a wavy design so garments don’t slide around. Reinforcing diagonal bars hold the rack in place about 10 inches from the door’s surface; side bars on both ends can hold even more hangers. Vertical back bars on both sides extend about 7 inches down from the top of the door.

The rack stashes easily in a standard wheel-aboard bag. Place the rack in first, then lay out the rest of the contents between the bars. I keep an extra in my car. Works great for hang-drying garments on the back of a bathroom or closet door.

Info: Spectrum Over the Door Wardrobe Rack costs $11.99.

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