Travel briefs

NASCAR fans drive all over to see the races they love so much. Now American Thunder, a new magazine for NASCAR fans, is encouraging them to hit the road without necessarily heading to a racetrack.

The June/July issue of American Thunder offers five itineraries for road trips that make great getaways for anyone who subscribes to the “have car, will travel” philosophy of life – NASCAR fan or not.

The trips are:

* Highway 101 along the Oregon coast toward California, 365 miles or about three leisurely days with dozens of parks along the way and less traffic than driving north along the coast from southern California.

* The Blue Ridge Parkway, from Virginia to North Carolina, 469 miles or about four days of slow drives along a winding mountain road, with plenty of stops for hikes and scenic overlooks.

* Great River Road, from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, 2,000 miles over two weeks following the Mississippi River, from the cornfields of the North to the cotton fields of the South.

* Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, between Ironwood, Wis., in the west and Sault Ste. Marie on the Canadian border in the east. You can take one of two routes for the 300-mile trip through old mining towns and Great Lakes wilderness areas.

* Route 66, Chicago to Santa Monica, 2,400 miles or about two weeks on the “Mother Road,” which you won’t find on regular maps because it was gradually replaced by superhighways. Still, 85 percent of the original roadway can still be driven; to get your kicks on Route 66, get directions at

Leaf peepers alert

The summer travel season is barely under way, but the expert leaf watchers already are thinking about fall.

The folks at Tauck World Discovery, a Connecticut-based tour group that offers fall foliage tours, have begun posting information on their Web site about changes in the forests and advice on when and where to see the most beautiful colors.

According to Tauck’s “foliologist” Scotty Johnston, from the second week of September through early October, look for changes in the trees of northern and high-altitude Rocky Mountain regions from Alberta and British Columbia, south to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

In the East, the leaves start turning in eastern Canada, New York’s Adirondacks, northeastern Vermont, New Hampshire’s northern White Mountains, and parts of Maine beginning in September.

Most of northern New England turns in early to mid-October, southern and coastal New England toward the end of October.

For Tauck’s latest fall forecasts, call 800-214-8209 or visit

Ah, wilderness

Interested in California’s unspoiled places? Get a copy of the new California Wilderness Guide, a free reference book that details every wilderness area in the state.

The guide includes:

* Trinity Alps Wilderness in Eureka, which features glacier-carved lakes, ancient forests, excellent fishing and sheer canyons;

* Lassen Volcanic National Park Wilderness in Redding, which includes hot springs, sulfurous vents and other geological phenomena;

* Philip Burton Wilderness in the Bay area, with its secluded beaches, cliffs, dunes and whale-watching;

You can check out the California Wilderness Guide at pubs/wguide.php or order it by calling the California Wilderness Coalition at 510-451-1450.

Travel bargains

Rooms at the Libertel hotel chain in Lyon and Paris have been discounted by as much as 50 percent this summer. Prices are $90 to $155 a day depending on hotel; the usual rates are $130 to $264. The deal is good through Sept. 5. Book through a travel agent or at

Buy a ticket on United, United Express or Ted and get a free third day on a Hertz car rental. Book the flight by July 22, travel by Sept. 30. The car must be booked for at least three days, including a Saturday, in the United States or Canada.

Book at or 800-654-2210 (discount number CDP 62455 and promotional coupon PC 953503).

Hooked on fishing? Then look at Tico Travel’s four-for-three-people “Fishing for a Tarpon &Snook Deal” to Casa Mar Lodge in Costa Rica. Four-night price for four is $5,235; usual price is $1,745 per person. The deal runs from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 and includes lodging, four days of guided fishing, transfers, meals and beverages.

Call 800-493-8426, or look at

Weather phone

Weathernews is a $3-a-month service you can receive on your cell phone that provides detailed weather information for 60,000 forecast locations around the world.

You can preset five ZIP codes so that the weather in your favorite places is always at your fingertips.

The service also provides sunrise and sunset times, moon phases, weather alerts, conditions at top U.S. airports and weather bulletins.

You can subscribe to Weathernews through the “Get It Now” feature on cell phone service from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Midwest and AllTel. For more information, go to

Hawaii lava flows

Lava flowing from Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been drawing 2,000 visitors a day, quadruple the usual number.

Lava began tipping off a 20-foot cliff into the Pacific Ocean in early June for the first time in nearly a year.

The flow of liquid – so hot it will start a fire instantly on combustible materials like wood – also provides a show from the air for helicopter tours.

Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, has been in continuous eruption since Jan. 3, 1983, but the lava flow varies from week to week. For a constantly updated report, visit

Travel classes, seminars

Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door hosts free travel classes most Saturdays at 11 a.m. at the Edmonds Theater, 415 Main St. in downtown Edmonds:

* July 10 – Packing light.

* July 17 – Venice, Florence, Rome.

* July 24 – Rail skills.

* July 31 – Italy.

Classes are free, reservations recommended. Call 425-771-8303 ext. 298 or visit

From staff and wire reports

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