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July 08, 2007|Mary E. Forgione; Rosemary McClure; Susan Lendroth; Hugo Martin

A singed

ecosystem

The May fire on Catalina is long extinguished, but how did it affect the island's ecosystem? The Classic Inland Motor Tour, which uses restored 1950s-era Flxible buses as it winds through 31 miles on the wild (interior, above) side of Catalina, now adds a stop in a burn area. Drivers explain the environmental changes caused by the fire. (Hint: It's not all bad.) Cost: $69 for adults, $34.50 for children 3 to 11(not including transportation to Catalina). Two other tours -- Cape Canyon and Skyline Drive -- also pass by the area. Call (800) 626-1496, or go to www.visitcatalinaisland.com/avalon/Tours.php.

-- Mary E. Forgione

Speaking of fire ...

The Morton Peak Fire Lookout in the San Bernardino National Forest has just reopened. It was shut for eight months after the deadly Esperanza fire swept through last year. The remote 30-foot tower with windows on all sides sits at 4,624 feet above sea level. By day, there are panoramic views of the San Bernardino Mountains and the Inland Empire; by night, there's stargazing. Bring your own gear -- water, sleeping bags, food etc. Cost: $75 to $85 per night. Call (800) 424-4232 or go to www.bigbear.com. (To book, check the moving scroll at the top of the home page.)

-- M.E.F.

3 hours of ahhh

Enjoy a girlfriend getaway that's close to home during a Summer Spa Soiree at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, which has scheduled two of the events, one on Wednesday and another on Aug. 15. The three-hour spa programs, which cost $75 and begin at 6 p.m., include mini spa treatments (including head and neck massages and a feng shui beauty consultation), a cocktail, hors d'oeuvres and tips from health and beauty pros. Call (818) 597-3350.

-- Rosemary McClure

Revolutionary

Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes! American colonists hoped that strategy would help them fight the British at the Battle of Bunker Hill. (It didn't; they lost.) The first major Revolutionary War battle, on June 17, 1775, is commemorated in Charleston, Mass., with a 221-foot granite obelisk. The Bunker Hill Monument now has a new museum that includes a British army drum and a circular mural of the battle scene, above. Info: (617) 242-5641, www.nps.gov/bost.

-- Susan Lendroth

Plug in the sun

Summer means beach days, but do you have to leave your laptop or BlackBerry behind? Xantrex has just come out with the Powerpack Solar 400: a 22-pound device that provides up to 13 1/2 hours of power for nearly any electronic device with a charge from a standard outlet. It also comes with a solar panel to recharge the Powerpack. Cost: $169.99. Info: (888) 800-1010 www.xantrex.com.

-- Hugo Martin

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