Escapes: Will e-bikes play a starring role in parks?

Renata Lima, left, and husband Lucas Lima, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, ride their e-bikes on Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)


That was the subject line of an email to Christopher Reynolds, who reported and wrote this week’s story on e-bikes in national parks.

The regulations are still unclear, Reynolds wrote — so unclear that he inadvertently violated federal law by riding an e-bike in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

But a reader took him to task for what they saw as his misunderstanding of the law. The story, the reader said, was “horrible.”

I’m Catharine Hamm, and I’m the travel editor for the Los Angeles Times. If you haven’t read the e-bike story, have a look and tell us what you think. For that matter, we welcome your feedback on any article, anytime. Write to


This week, you might want to take a look at our guide to a quick three-day weekend, a story on where to see the gray whales, another on where to visit the sites of filming for Oscar-nominated movies (at least, most of them), a close-by Weekend Escape that’s quite a find and, just in time for Valentine’s Day, a trip that was supposed to right a relationship but ended up being all wrong.

To top it all off, Christopher Reynolds comes back with 11 ways to spend that $209 you might otherwise spend on a ticket to Disneyland (not that there’s anything wrong with that). There is, however, something wrong with being 6 if you’re actually 10 times that old, as we contemplate in this week’s End paper, which comes — surprise! — at the end.

Join us, won’t you?

What’s so bad about e-bikes?

Everything or nothing, depending on where you fall in the debate. There don’t seem to be many in-betweens. What still is on the bubble is where e-bikes are legal in national parks. No matter what you think about the electric innovation, here’s what you need to know. Just no name-calling, please.

What’s so great about a long weekend?

Pretty much everything, and this Presidents Day weekend, we have some ideas for a quick getaway. We also catch up with this week’s snow — as much as half a foot at some Southern California resorts, Mary Forgione writes.

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A whale of a time right now

It’s prime whale-watching time as the Pacific grays travel along the California coast to have their babies in the warm waters of Baja and then begin their trip back to Alaska. Mary Forgione and Bharbi Hazarika give you the 4-1-1 on watching the behemoths from land or sea.

In other wildlife news

If you haven’t read Chris Erskine’s article on the Bear Whisperer of Mammoth, take a read. It’s quirky and interesting, like the protagonist, and it says something worthwhile about street (or mountain) smarts as an educational foundation. It’s Erskine at his writing best, too.

The room (or the set) where it happened

What an interesting Oscars night. The variety of topics (the mob, marriage and family, movie stars, madness, racing machines and the military) made for a rich cinematic stew that I happily devoured. Afterward, I was interested in finding out where some of these films were shot, and especially where to find that magnificent house in “Parasite.” Sharon Boorstin gives us the inside story on where you can find the sites and, in at least one case, where you can’t.

That’s an ouch

Attention, Disney lovers: There’s a price for your love, and it’s going up, Hugo Martín reports. The cost of a ticket to Anaheim’s Magic Kingdom is now more than $200 a day on some days, thanks to yield management, the pricing method airlines use that means they charge the most for peak demand. Now, travel writer Christopher Reynolds offers you 11 ways to spend $209 for what may be a better travel return. See whether you agree.


Santa Paula for the weekend win

Here are two great things about Santa Paula: It’s close enough for a weekend getaway, and it won’t break the bank. Beyond that, though, it’s chock-a-block with interesting museums, Charles Fleming writes, including repositories devoted to art, oil, aviation and, of course, history. Who knew? Now we do.

The hardest way to say goodbye

Our Departure Points column is a first-person essay that has travel at its heart, including changes of heart that are part of the going-and-doing experience. This week’s tale involves the end of a relationship, and how a trip brought into focus what the awkward silences said without saying a word.

A spinning swing attraction in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.
(Rosemary Calvert / Getty Images)

What we’re reading

We recently ran a letter from an Orange County reader who had rented an Airbnb in Buenos Aires and had a bad experience. The reader was persuaded to post a better review than he wanted to give in exchange for a partial refund. That’s just one of the problems that Anna Merlan, writing for Vice, found in a detailed examination of some of the other issues with Airbnb. The article also acknowledges that owners sometimes get hoodwinked too.

We know airplanes are germy, but in this time of coronavirus — never mind the flu — what can a passenger do? Christine Sarkis of explains how to disinfect your airplane space, including the proper use of wipes. Among other things, I learned I’ve been doing that wipe-down thing all wrong.

Have you ever noticed the letters SSSS on your boarding pass? They’re the kind of thing that makes you want to say a swear word, because they stand for Secondary Security Screening Selection, Talia Avakian writes for Travel & Leisure. Here’s a bit of insight into why this happens and how you need to prepare.


More from the reading room

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End paper

As much as I didn’t like the reader’s name-calling of Christopher Reynolds, I have to say I was impressed with his reply. After clarifying to the reader that the story was about the red tape that has clouded the e-bike issue, he added, in conclusion, “At this point in these notes [responding to readers], I usually write, ‘Thank you for reading and taking time to respond.’ For people who call me [an] idiot, I like to quietly imagine other sentences.”

I’d rank that up there with how my dad reacted to a 20-something woman who thought she was first in line for a coveted parking space at an Orange County restaurant. He swore to me later that she wasn’t, and she swore at him then with a two-word phrase that began with “F” and ended with “you.” My dad was in poor health and looked it, but he rolled down his window and said to her calmly, “I bet you would.”

Name-calling and swearing are merely adult versions of “neener-neener, barf breath.”

As someone (maybe Charles Dickens?) said, “We are all six years old in our hearts, but some of us hide it better than others.”

I keep reminding myself whenever I’m packing to leave the kid at home, because it’s that kid who will say to the waitress, while awaiting a long-delayed omelet, “What the cluck?”

I’m better than that. So are you. I didn’t call the waitress in that little Tennessee town “barf breath” when she apologized for the third time for the delay. Instead I smiled and said, “Pretty sure I’m in no danger of starving to death.” We both laughed.


Remember, wherever you are, travel safely and well, and we’ll be here to welcome you home.