Originally created 07/18/04

Travel briefs

City books

BREDA, The Netherlands -- The latest pocket-sized travel books to hit the market are called "100%" and they provide a selective neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to sights, shopping, dining and accommodations in six cities.

The guides to Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, London, Rome and New York, published by a Dutch company called mo'media, divide each city into six sections, then describe highlights and sample itineraries.

The colorful guides are $9.95 each and packed with photos and easy-to-use maps.

While the books list must-sees like the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, what distinguishes them from other more comprehensive guides is their emphasis on trendy hangouts where you can people-watch while indulging in a cocktail, cappuccino or a favorite local snack.

Recommendations for grazing like a native include bagels at the H&H in Manhattan (639 W. 46th St.); a croque-monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich) on the Left Bank at Bar du Marche (75 rue de Seine); and ice cream in Rome at Gelateria della Palma (via della Maddalena 20-23).

Among the nightspots listed in "100%" are Goa, a Roman disco; Bus Palladium in Paris, and the China Club near Times Square.

Off-road vehicles

DENVER -- ATVs, motorized trail bikes and other off-road motorized vehicles would be restricted to designated roads, trails and areas in federal forests and grasslands under a new national policy proposed by the U.S. Forest Service.

If finalized, the proposal would help stitch together a patchwork of off-road motorized travel restrictions that vary from forest to forest.

Snowmobile use would not be affected by the proposed policy.

The plan comes as more people are visiting national forests for activities ranging from camping and hiking to ATV riding, posing a threat to the ecosystem and creating conflicts between users.

"We want to improve our management by achieving a better balance and helping users of the national forests have a better recreation experience and reducing the impacts on land," said Jack Troyer, the agency's intermountain regional forester.

"The proposal makes a national policy that says wheeled motor vehicles must stay on designated roads, trails or areas," Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Rick Cables said. "There is no such national policy in place right now."

Environmentalists and hunting and recreation groups said the proposal would be a good start but that it should include better enforcement and the money to pay for it, and a public analysis of environmental impacts and user-conflicts.

Under the proposal, each forest and grasslands district would work with the public to draft a plan identifying routes, trails and areas suitable for off-road vehicles. An environmental analysis would be required on each proposed site to determine potential impact, Cables said.

The result would be a "use map" that clearly states what activity is allowed in what area.

If the draft becomes final, it could take up to four years for the designated policies to take effect across the nation, but they could be implemented in some areas more quickly.

Between 1976 and 2000, the number of off-road vehicle users increased from 5 million to 36 million, causing conflicts with other users such as horseback riders as well as with the growing number of homeowners who live next to national forests.

Route 66 museum

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For years, legendary Route 66 breathed life into Lebanon, Mo., and its collection of hotels, diners and other traveler havens.

Decades after the road passed into myth, Lebanon is hoping Route 66 still has some magic.

The town in south central Missouri plans in September to open the latest museum dedicated to the memory and history of this most American of highways.

The museum, being built in a former Kmart that now serves as the Lebanon-Laclede County Library, will feature remnants of Route 66's past. That includes signs, furniture, gas pumps, a soda fountain, a hotel switchboard and a rotating collection of antique cars.

The museum will also have a research center, including 650 highways maps dating as far back as 1915, plus hundreds of books and magazines featuring Route 66.

Other Route 66 museums have sprouted in towns ranging from Eureka, Mo., near St. Louis, to Victorville, Calif., to varying success.

Jim Powell, founder of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, said Lebanon's museum should do well as nostalgia for the route continues. It once ran 2,448 miles between Chicago and Santa Monica, Calif., but began disappearing in 1956 as interstate highways replaced it.

"People are trying to experience America at the slower pace of a two-lane highway," Powell said.

Outdoor guides

NEW YORK -- Forests in the Northeast, waterfalls in the mid-Atlantic and hikes in Wisconsin are the subjects of three new travel books to help you enjoy the great outdoors this summer.

"50 Hikes in Wisconsin" (Countryman Press, $17.95) lists loop trails around the state, from 1 1/2 to 6 miles long. Locations range from within a half-hour's drive of Milwaukee to remote islands accessible only by boat and only in the warmer months.

The last remaining old-growth forests of New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are identified in "The Sierra Club Guide to the Ancient Forests of the Northeast" (Sierra Club Books, $16.95). From 120-foot-tall pine trees in Maine, to the scrubby, contorted hemlocks and black birches on the jagged cliffs of New Jersey's Kittatinny Mountains, the authors have located some 400,000 acres of virgin woods in nine states.

"Waterfalls of the Mid-Atlantic States" (Countryman Press, $17.95) lists 200 of these natural phenomena in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania - and no less than 12 of them are called "Buttermilk Falls." Other evocative names include Ringing Rocks Falls in Bucks County, Pa., Bridal Veil Falls in North Haledon, N.J., and Cascade Falls in Elkridge, Md.

All three books include detailed directions.

Road trips

ATLANTA -- The summer issue of travelgirl magazine lists nine scenic road trips around the country, complete with "fit stops" - hiking and other get-out-of-the-car activities to break up the drives.

The road trips and "fit stops" recommended by the Atlanta-based magazine include:

-Acadia National Park in Maine, with a climb up Cadillac Mountain and a walk around Jordan Pond.

-From Watch Hill to Newport on the Rhode Island coast, with a stop at the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Preserve and a hike along the famed Cliff Walk.

-The Hudson River Valley in New York, with stops in Rhinebeck, Saugerties and Woodstock; at sites associated with "Rip Van Winkle" author Washington Irving, and at the Rockefeller and Franklin D. Roosevelt estates.

-The Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, including a scramble to the top of a 130-foot-high sand dune at Jockey's Ridge State Park.

-Door County Loop, Wisconsin, which has inn-to-inn cycling routes and is known as the "Cape Cod of the Midwest" for its cozy Lake Michigan harbors and quaint villages.

-The Ozarks, in Arkansas, from Hot Springs to Petit Jean State Park, where travelers can find hot soaks, wildflower rambles and canoeing.

-From Central City to Estes Park in Colorado, through Roosevelt National Forest, Golden Gate Canyon State Park and Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.

-From Yellowstone to Glacier National Park, where must-sees include Old Faithful and Logan Pass, the summit of the Continental Divide.

-Mount St. Helens, Washington, where ash and felled trees from the 1980 volcanic eruption are slowly giving way to new growth.

Seven-star hotel

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- If you're the type of traveler who looks for discounts in lodging, you won't be checking in to the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.

The cheapest room here goes for $666 a night, and a standard two-bedroom suite is $2,231. But those who can afford it believe it's worth every penny. According to The New York Times, the Burj Al Arab "ranks among the world's great hotels" and is considered by many travel writers to be the world's "first seven-star hotel."

The hotel is located in a glass skyscraper shaped like a sail billowing over the Persian Gulf. Amenities include chauffeur-driven Rolls Royces, a private beach, personal trainers and a brigade of butlers working 24 hours a day.

But the location will give pause to most U.S. citizens, even those who can afford the rates. The U.S. State Department's travel advisories include concerns about terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East and warn that "Americans in the United Arab Emirates should exercise a high level of security awareness."

Australian surfing

SYDNEY, Australia -- Dedicated surfers will travel the globe to catch the best waves.

To get them to consider a trip down under, the Australian Tourism Commission has put together a list of that country's 10 best surfing beaches.

The destinations are Bells Beach, Victoria; Lennox Point, New South Wales; Margarets, Western Australia; Kirra, Queensland; Cactus Beach, South Australia; Clifton Beach, Tasmania; Dee Why, New South Wales; Burleigh, Queensland; Pennington Bay, South Australia, and Trigg Point, Western Australia.

For more information on vacationing in Australia, visit www.tourism.australia.com or call (888) 333-7848.

Railroad museum

CARONA, Kan. -- Train buffs are hoping a new museum in southeast Kansas will preserve fading memories of the days when railroad depots were the social hubs of rural Kansas.

The Webb Family Railroad Heritage Center, dedicated in early July, includes a collection of railroad signals, grade-crossing warning devices and assorted memorabilia that tell the story of the area's rich railroad history.

The museum and several train cars and cabooses are on the grounds of the Carona Depot west of Scammon. Heart of the Heartlands, a railroad heritage group that will meet in the new building once a month, created the heritage center.

The museum is named for the family of Dick Webb, who owns the South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad.

"When I started at Kansas City Southern in 1955, there were probably 500 people working here," Webb said. "Now there is nobody. We've got to preserve that and make sure people understand that the railroads played a big part in our course of history."

The center, located at 6769 N.W. 20th St. in Carona, is open weekends, noon to 5 p.m., through the summer.

Jackson, Wyo.

JACKSON, Wyo. -- An annual report on the Rockies lauds Jackson as a premier playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

"Jackson, Wyo., located within Teton County, may be the supreme location for recreation in the United States," states Colorado College's 2004 "State of the Rockies Report Card."

"Positioned as a gateway to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, and at the base of the world-renowned Jackson Hole ski resort, it is difficult to image a better place for the outdoor enthusiast or second-home owner," the report adds.

Hinsdale County, Colo., northeast of Durango, ranked second.

The number of acres preserved in wilderness or owned by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management determined the rankings.

Scenic and outdoor recreational amenities are increasingly important contributors to economic and population growth for communities in the Rockies, the report said.

"In reality, public lands play a vital role in creating a setting that makes the adjacent communities attractive places to live and do business," wrote Ray Rasker, director of the Socioeconomics Program of the Sonoran Institute.

During the past 30 years, population in the region has grown by 119 percent, compared to a national rate of 39 percent.

"The economy of the West has changed so significantly in the last 30 years that economic dependence on public lands for mining, energy development, logging and grazing has become the exception, and not the rule," Rasker wrote.


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