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Tours Pique Interest in Twin Destinations

April 25, 1993|KIM UPTON

The quirky 1990-91 TV series "Twin Peaks" stimulated national interest in the Cascade Mountains area of Washington state, east of Seattle, swelling the ranks of U.S. travelers interested in the region and drawing tours of foreign visitors, including Japanese, Australian and English groups. More recently, the popular television show "Northern Exposure" (now in its third season) has made the same area of Washington a hot ticket all over again. Not to be outdone by previous tours, Gray Line of Seattle is making the best of both TV allegiances by offering a scenic bus trip from Seattle, east through the Cascade Mountains, to Roslyn, Wash., where the current hit series is filmed ("Northern Exposure" actually is set in Alaska). The tour also takes in the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie (called The Great Northern in "Twin Peaks") and drops by the Mar-T Cafe in North Bend (the R&R Diner in the show). Price for the daylong, narrated trip is $30 for adults, $15 for children 2-12. For information: (206) 626-5208.

Travel Quiz: What state is home to the oldest continuously run horse race in the United States?

Danger in Jordan and India Reduced: The U.S. State Department has canceled travel announcements, issued last month, advising tourists of the increased chance of danger in Jordan and India because of terrorist attacks and internal civil unrest. While the threat in both places is now considered reduced, the department is still recommending that Americans exercise caution in Jordan due to ongoing tension in the Persian Gulf region, and in India because of conflicts between Hindu and Muslim extremists and the resulting terrorism, although tourists have not been specifically targeted.

Parking Fees in Our Future? A newly released Interior Department audit of National Park Service fees advises that charging admission at currently free national parks could raise more than $100 million annually. (Charging entry to Nevada's Lake Mead National Recreation Area alone could generate $8 million a year.) But the chances of this happening in the near future are probably minimal, if the Park Service has anything to say about it. Although entry fees at some of the 136 park sites that do charge will probably rise, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service said it isn't feasible to collect fees at many other parks. For example, there is no place to put up fee collection stations at some parks, where geography makes it impossible to monitor and regulate park visitors. Public pressure is another roadblock. The Park Service has proposed charging a fee at Lake Mead several times during the past few years, but public opinion--tying the levying of fees to improvements at the facility--has kept the agency from getting the idea through Congress, which must approve the imposition of fees at national park sites.

Passport Fashion: There's a new look for U.S. passports. Covers of passports issued on and after April 12 have returned to green cloth, a change from the blue paper they have been made of for the past 17 years. But the change wasn't made just for style. The green covers will signal to immigration and customs officers that the passport has new tamper-resistant features. Among them: an optical device similar to holograms used on credit cards that will make the cards difficult to counterfeit, as will special inks and graphics. Current blue passports will remain valid until their scheduled expiration date.

Face Lift for Tut Founder's Tomb: Heeding appeals from archeologists, the British Museum is refurbishing the run-down grave of the man who discovered King Tutankhamen's tomb in the hopes of making it into a tourist attraction. Tutankhamen's tomb in the Valley of the Kings in southern Egypt is one of the world's great tourist draws. But the grave of its discoverer, archeologist Howard Carter, is a little-visited plot surrounded by broken stones in southwestern London's Putney Vale Cemetery. The museum will spend several thousand dollars to restore the grave and put up an additional inscription.

Quick Fact: Another sign that to overspend on vacation is international: Thousands of Mexico City residents, broke after their yearly Easter vacations, flocked to the national pawn shop the week after spring break, pawning goods at a rate almost double the normal, according to the government daily newspaper El Nacional.

No More 800 Number: Relais & Chateaux, the Paris-based hotel/resort/inn chain--an association of 411 luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants in 40 countries around the world--has discontinued its reservation service and 800 number and is advising customers that they must contact the individual hotel or restaurant to make reservations. Information about properties--which include California's San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito and Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford--as well as telephone and fax numbers, can be obtained through the New York office: (212) 856-0115.

Happy Anniversaries in Europe: Americans may be celebrating the improved strength of the dollar against European currencies, but the Continent has a few of its own reasons for celebrating. Potsdam, for example, is marking its 1,000-year anniversary this summer with sports and German cultural events. Also in Germany, Munster is celebrating its 1,200th anniversary, Lubeck its 850th and Wittenberg its 700th. The Louvre is marking its 200th birthday now through July 26, with a history/art exhibit. And Antwerp, Belgium, is celebrating its designation by the European Economic Community as the 1993 Cultural Capital of Europe.

Comparatively Speaking: U.S. airline to receive the most mishandled baggage complaints in February: Delta. Next greatest: USAir. Next: United. Least number of complaints: Southwest. (Source: Department of Transportation.)

Quiz Answer: Kentucky, which has run the Kentucky Derby without interruption since 1875 and will host the 119th in Louisville this Saturday.

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