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August 26, 2007|Vani Rangachar; Mary E. Forgione; Jane Engle

Lucy is paying Houston a visit

Dig those old bones? Lucy (at right), one of the oldest fossils of a hominid, will be on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science from Friday to April 20. "Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia" will include more than 100 artifacts from museums and private collections from the African nation considered to be the cradle of humankind. Among them: tools, baskets, vessels, and illuminated manuscripts from early Islam and Christianity used in the 1st millennium and earlier. But the exhibit's showcase piece is Lucy, the 3.2-million-year-old skeleton of a woman discovered in Ethiopia in the 1970s. Tickets are $12 to $20. Info: (713) 639-4629, www.hmns.org.

-- Vani Rangachar

Bay Area closure

If you're going to San Francisco over Labor Day weekend, steer clear of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which will be closed in both directions from 8 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Sept. 4 to complete seismic work. Events that may be affected: the Sept. 2 Summer of Love concert planned for Golden Gate Park and the Sausalito Art Festival, which runs all weekend. One suggestion: Ferries will be running expanded service. Info: (510) 286-7167; www.baybridgeinfo.org.

-- Mary E. Forgione

Test hot wheels

Getting there may be half the fun, but it's nothing compared with getting around there. Especially if you're cruising in a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder or a Ferrari F430. Those are two of five super-luxe cars that you can test-drive for a day under a program called World Class Driving, which makes its West Coast debut next month. If the idea of piloting a fast car doesn't raise your pulse, maybe the price will: $1,295 per person, plus $250 for an extra guest. For that, you get to drive the fleet. The cars will be available in more than 20 U.S. cities, including Palm Springs and San Diego, on various dates through Dec. 17. Info: (877) 597-6403, www.wcdriving.com.

-- Jane Engle

Hertz simplifies

Hertz is rolling out a new company, Simply Wheelz by Hertz, that it says offers "faster, easier and more affordable access" to rental cars. You reserve online and use self-service kiosks to complete the transaction after you arrive. Some caveats: You can't rent specialty, and you may find cheaper rates from other companies. The program is to make its debut Sept. 14 at Orlando International Airport in Florida. Info: (888) 999-9078, www.simplywheelz.com.

-- J.E.

Vegas meal deals

You can eat, drink and be merry without guilt at Vegas' Restaurant Week, Sept. 2 to 8. That's because a part of the proceeds from your meals will go to Three Square, a nonprofit that works to combat hunger in Sin City. Fifty-one restaurants are participating, including the Eiffel Tower at Paris (above). The set three-course meals will cost $50.07. Info: www.threesquare.org.

-- V.R.

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