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July 22, 2007|Mary E. Forgione; Rosemary McClure

Chalk one up for governor's 'office'

Curators are working on a curious cover-up at the governor's mansion in Sacramento, specifically in a third-floor office of the 19th century Victorian home. During routine maintenance in an area closed to the public, workers found evidence of something wonderful under layers of wallpaper and paint: part of the original 1877 ceiling with a painted motif of two pool cues and billiard balls, suggesting this was a playroom, not a work room. State parks officials plan to leave some authentic decorations in place; other parts of the walls and room will feature reproductions. Though Earl Warren, Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan slept here, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't. The house now functions only as a historic landmark. Info: Governor's Mansion State Historic Park, (916) 323-3047, www.parks.ca.gov/governorsmansion.

-- Mary E. Forgione

Heritage for all

If the recently deemed seven wonders of the world aren't enough, consider adding 851 UNESCO World Heritage sites to your must-see list. The U.N. body just added 22 sites, including the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the old town of Corfu on the Greek island of the same name, each singled out for its architectural splendor. Obscure newcomers: the rain forests of the Atsinanana on Madagascar, Jeju volcanic islands and lava tubes in Korea and Gobustan rock art in Azerbaijan. And the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (which protects an antelope-like animal) in Oman was dropped because, according to the World Heritage's website, the country failed to preserve it. The list is at whc.unesco.org.

-- M.E.F.

Why have a cow?

Cozy up to a cow in the Swiss Alps on your next European trip. Near the remote Seealpsee Lake in the Appenzell district (an hour by car east of Zurich), visitors can rent a cow by the month or for the whole summer for $155 to $286. Courses on milking and cheese making -- you can even stay on the farm to be closer to Bossy -- are offered too. Take home a photo of you and your cow as a memento. Info: (877) 794-8037, myswitzerland.com.

-- M.E.F.

Ironing out kinks

Kiss the frizzies goodbye on your next getaway by packing the Miniglide On-the-Go Hair Straightener. The 10-inch flat iron weighs in at only 5 ounces, making it a good substitute for those heavy home units. The iron's surface is coated with tiny ceramic pins to detangle as they straighten curly locks or calm down frizz. It heats up in seconds and has dual voltage for international travel. Magellan Travel Supplies, $29.85. Also available with adapter plugs, $36.85. Info: (800) 962-4943, www.magellans.com.

-- Rosemary McClure

In the long run

Why head to Death Valley in summer? To watch runners take off Monday on a 135-mile nonstop course from the Lower 48's low point (Badwater, Death Valley National Park, 280 feet below sea level) to its high point, Mt. Whitney (14,497 feet, though the finish is at the peak's portal at 8,360 feet). About 90 runners pass through Furnace Creek and Lone Pine in their quest to finish the race in two days; winners finish sooner (men's record: 24:36:08, Scott Jurek of Seattle). Temperatures are expected to be about 120 degrees at start time. Info: 30th Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon, www.badwater.com.

-- M.E.F.

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