Escapes: Better than Yosemite? These 2 parks may be

Anthony Ambrose measures the diameter of the base of a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Nature nurtures.

“It used to be that we looked at cataclysmic events, like divorce or loss of a job, as stressors,” Kathleen Wolf of the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington is quoted as saying in an Utne Reader article by Deb Aronson.

“But now we are seeing that our daily lives have constant small stressors and the cumulative effect is significant. Consequently, even small, incremental contacts with nature in our daily lives are beneficial.”

With that in mind, we offer pathways to healing in California, in Canada and across the Southwest by rail.


No amount of nature can help you finally get an appointment to finish a Global Entry application, you say? Maybe not — but we do offer some solutions to untangling travel’s thornier problems. Plenty to soothe the soul, and some things to stir it. Take a deep breath and plunge right in.

A Yosemite alternative?

What’s not to love in Yosemite? The crowds, for one. Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, which are administered together, rival Yosemite for natural wonders, often with a fraction of the company. Rosemary McClure explains why fall is the ideal time to visit, and how you’ll be rewarded with a sense of well-being and greater solitude.

Cool, cool Canada

As we bake here in the Southland, Christopher Reynolds offers an escape to Bowen Island, a good family destination that’s just 14 miles from hip, happening Vancouver, British Columbia. One look at a photo of lush Dorman Point Trail, where walkers amble with umbrellas raised, was enough to make me say, “Yes, please.”

Walkers head out on Dorman Point Trail, Crippen Regional Park, Bowen Island, British Columbia, Canada.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Keep it clean

I’m not the brightest bulb when it comes to packing, which I confessed in my recent On the Spot column about doing laundry on the road. Trying to mend my ways, never mind spruce up my wardrobe, I consulted some textile experts about what to pack and how to wash it if need be. Then I asked readers for tips — and boy, did you respond, with some ingenious ideas. Thank you for sharing your insight and solutions. Well done!

A window on the Southwest

Just looking at nature helps, as that Utne article notes, and there’s plenty to look at from Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, Karl Zimmermann writes: “My day had begun at 5:45 when the train’s stillness woke me. We were in Flagstaff, Ariz.; the moon was low in the sky, and I could smell bacon in the adjacent dining car.” Just picture yourself in that moment, and you automatically begin to relax.

The Sightseer Lounge as the train drops down from Raton Pass, N.M., at dusk on the Southwest Chief.
(Karl Zimmermann)

The wait is over

OK, not completely over, but at least it will be more accurate. We speak, of course, of the wait times in the security lines at the airport. If you use the Transportation Security Administration’s wait-time app, you may have noticed that what it says doesn’t always reflect reality. That’s because the data aren’t in real time. A new app promises to fix that, Bharbi Hazarika writes.

One last chance to submit your vacation photos

The deadline is 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, to send us your pictures from this year’s summer vacation. Your photo could be included in the Sept. 22 Travel section or in the online gallery. You can see submission instructions in our online story.

Readers photo issue 2018 — Serengeti plains, Tanzania by Cate Evans of  Los Angeles.
Cate Evans of Los Angeles. Evans journeyed with her family to the Serengeti plains in Tanzania. Late one afternoon, using a Nikon D7200, she caught this image of a bird gobbling a grasshopper that became part of our 2018 reader photo issue.
(Cate Evans)

That ‘no’ is now a ‘yes’

You know those wildly popular Disney “Star Wars” grenade-shaped sodas? The TSA banned them in carry-on and checked bags. Then it reconsidered and said it would allow them in checked baggage or, empty, in carry-ons, Mary Forgione writes.

Trouble getting a Global Entry appointment?

The LAX Global Entry office on La Cienega has been closed since late June because its personnel were sent to the border with Mexico. That has put pressure on the Long Beach office for appointment times. What to do if you can’t get in? Customs and Border Protection gives tips.

A different kind of a guidebook

Want to know about a city’s gang history? Hear from its culinary luminaries? Get into its “messiness?” Margaret Wappler writes about the Wildsam travel guides, the brainchild of Taylor Bruce, formerly the travel editor for Southern Living.

What we’re reading

Whether you are an RVer or just wish you were, take a look at what your rig might have looked like in the olden days. Kevin Johnson at Atlas Obscura tells the tale of these Tin Can Tourists who embraced the adventure of the outdoors, of course, and of driving, when it was a much trickier proposition. The photos are priceless.

There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned game of hide-and-seek, right? The Scotsman says no, especially if it’s in Glasgow’s IKEA. Alerted by Facebook, thousands planned to play the game in the store until their plans were thwarted. This isn’t the first time the Swedish store has attracted the hiders and seekers, the article says: The event started five years ago in Belgium and drew crowds in the Netherlands. It was banned because it was too popular.

Speaking of popular, what’s the most popular city in the world? Why, Los Angeles, of course. OK, just kidding. CNN’s real winner is Bangkok, Thailand, based on overnight visitors as calculated by Mastercard’s Global Destinations Cities Index.

And the most livable city, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit? (Hint: It’s described as having “grandiose architecture, lashings of green spaces and traditional coffee shops.”) I guessed wrong. Click to see if you did too.

Thai Buddhist novices walk around the Marble Temple, holding lotus flowers and candles, during a ceremony to mark their passage into monkhood in Bangkok, Thailand.
(Pornchai Kittiwongsakul / AFP / Getty Images)

What you’re reading and writing

It’s a newsletter, one of many created for Los Angeles Times readers. We’re happy to share with you by delivering the latest to your inbox. To explore the veritable buffet of news and information, check out our newsletters member center. They’re free.

If the L.A. Times isn’t on your reading list, you’re missing out. Read it online. Read it in print. Read it both ways. You have a menu of subscription options that give you access to this window into the world that is Southern California.

Our world doesn’t go ’round without you. I noted that again this week as readers began sharing their laundry wisdom. That’s what I like about this community: They’re willing to share.

But don’t wait until we ask you to write. Just tell us what’s on your mind — whether that’s what you think of this newsletter, whether Gavin Lux is the real deal (see our Dodgers coverage for more on the phenom), or whether you’re embracing Britain as a travel destination during Brexit difficulties or staying away.

Write to us at We look forward to hearing from you.

End paper

As a flier, I have no ax to grind with how TSA officers do their jobs. Occasionally, I’m annoyed by their brusqueness, baffled by their comments (“You need more vowels in your last name,” an officer at Washington’s Dulles told me early one morning after he tried to pronounce my married name, which doesn’t seem vowel-deficient to me) and inconvenienced by their security measures, which can be different depending on the airport or your status as a Trusted Traveler.

They’re doing a job.

But what happened to Nadine Pellegrino seems beyond the scope of regular screening, according to an L.A. Times editorial on Wednesday that explained why she “could pursue a lawsuit claiming that TSA officers who searched her luggage at the Philadelphia airport in 2006 had abused their authority.”

The editorial details the reasons for the suit, which is interesting from a legal standpoint and horrifying from a passenger’s perspective. It’s worth reading for the background (luggage as an “instrument of crime”?), regardless of whether you agree.

It brings into sharp focus once again that life is about choices and sometimes long-lasting ones. (This suit has been going on since 2006 — not a typo.) It is always our prerogative, as an older, wiser adviser used to tell me, to choose which ditch we want to die in.

Before you lose it, as a traveler who will face adversity of some sort (because it happens, we know), have you thought about your choices and the consequences of acting on them or not? It’s worth contemplating options — passively pleasant, quiet simmering, full-blown ballistic, somewhere in between — and what might produce the best outcome.

You can’t anticipate every problem, but maybe you can practice a response to a perceived miscreant, whether that’s a TSA officer or a 4-year-old kicking the back of your airline seat.

Begin with the end in mind and be prepared to live with it, knowing that some events make better roommates than others.

And, as always, travel safely and well, and know that we will be here to welcome you home.