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Earlier ski resort openings

NEWS, TIPS & BARGAINS | TRAVEL LOG

October 31, 2004|Jane Engle; Laurie Berger

Skiing before Halloween? Through a trick of nature, California resorts are treating skiers to record early openings.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in the Sierra opened Oct. 21 after storms left 5 feet of snow. It was the resort's earliest opening in 10 years, said spokeswoman Joani Lynch.

In the Lake Tahoe area, Kirkwood logged its earliest opening -- Oct. 23 -- since its founding in 1972, said spokeswoman Kirstin Cattell. Boreal Mountain Resort also opened early, and Squaw Valley, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Sugar Bowl were expected to open this weekend.

Many resorts were discounting lift tickets and planned to operate only on weekends through mid-November, then daily.

Call the resorts for details.

-- Jane Engle

What's new, pussycat?

Visitors can go nose to nose with a six-member pride of South African lions, separated from zoo-goers only by see-through panels, at a new exhibit in San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park in Escondido.

Lion Camp: The Sylvia G. Straton Lion Savanna, which was to have opened Saturday, is a 33,000-square-foot habitat. At the observation station, lions lounge on a rock outcropping behind a 40-foot-long glass panel. The rocks are heated on cold days to lure the cats from their lair.

A pathway leads through African sumacs to a research outpost, a tented area divided by a 12-foot glass panel separating lions and visitors.

Lion Camp, which cost nearly $5 million, took nine months to build. It's part of a multimillion-dollar overhaul of the 1,800-acre park that includes a $25-million research center, which opened in early October, and a new bus system to be built next year to replace the electric-powered train that takes visitors around the grounds.

Admission is $26.50 for adults, $19.50 for children ages 3 to 11, and $23.85 for ages 60 and older. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. (760) 747-8702, www.wild animalpark.org.

-- Jane Engle

Getting close

to a giant

of Space Age

Starting Monday visitors can examine the space shuttle Enterprise up close -- though not climb aboard -- at a newly opened hangar at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

The 53,000-square-foot hangar also displays 600 space artifacts, including an android used to test spacesuits in the 1960s. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Free. (202) 633-1000, www.nasm.si.edu.

-- Jane Engle

Travel searching made easier

Former executives of Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz have taken the wraps off a travel search engine, Kayak (kayak.com), which they say will make online travel shopping faster, easier and possibly cheaper.

Like competitors Mobissimo (mobissimo.com) and Sidestep (sidestep.com), the tool scours airline, hotel and third-party sites with one click.

Kayak remembers recent searches and airport preferences, filters out duplicate results and offers the choice of booking direct or through a third party.

Information from Southwest, Travelocity and Expedia are not included.

Kayak is available to use in beta version (it's still buggy) after free registration. The full product launches in January.

-- Laurie Berger

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