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June 24, 2007|Jane Engle; Mary E. Forgione; Catharine Hamm; Cynthia Mines

From Dead Sea's shores to ours

More than 40,000 tickets have been sold for what is billed as the largest-ever showing of the Dead Sea Scrolls, opening Friday at the San Diego Natural History Museum. The Balboa Park museum expects more than 400,000 people to view the ancient documents in the next six months -- more visitors than the museum typically gets in a year, says spokeswoman Jessica Chatigny. Drawn from Israel, Jordan and other countries, the show features 27 scrolls, 10 of them displayed for the first time. Visitors enter through a simulated cave to experience how a Bedouin goat herder discovered the first scrolls in 1947 near ruins of the ancient village of Qumran. Other texts also on display shed light on the Bible and early Jewish and Christian practices. The exhibit runs through Dec. 31. Info: (877) 946-7797,

-- Jane Engle

Sites full for 4th

Two recreation areas in Central California are already tapped out for the Fourth of July. Camping reservations at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (the only state park where you can drive onto the beach) and Pismo State Beach are sold out from Friday through July 7, according to California State Parks officials. District superintendent Andy Zilke said in a release that the parks are expected to hit day-use capacity on July 4 when Pismo Beach sets off fireworks at the pier. Reservations are recommended through Labor Day. Reservations and info: (800) 444-7275,

-- Mary E. Forgione

A big huge deal

Carnival Cruise Lines started taking reservations Friday for 2009 seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach on its new, biggest-ever ship, the 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor. Among ship features will be a "sky dome" over the pool area, with an outdoor movie screen and concerts; the line's first pool with heated seawater; a two-level, 5,500-square-foot play area for children; and a teen club. Ports of call will include Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Fares start at $549 per person, double occupancy. Info: (800) 227-6482,

-- J.E.

Wipe your paws

Nobody wants to do dishes on vacation, least of all dog dishes. Bamboo Feed + Toss pet bowls take the "ow" out of chow-time cleanup with disposable plastic liners that snap into a plastic bowl frame. Once the hound has had its fill, the liner can be tossed (in the recycling bin, please). The bowls come in a 30-ounce version with two liners ($9.99) or a 12-ounce bowl for $4.99, also with two liners. Replacement liners cost $2.99 a dozen. Available at; for other store locations, go to

-- Catharine Hamm

We're Nos. 1-8!

As the rest of the world struggles to decide on seven new wonders of the world (, Kansas is trying to go one better by naming the Eight Wonders of Kansas. Among the 24 natural or man-made finalists is the hand-dug Big Well, considered an engineering marvel when it was built in 1887. A fatal tornado recently tore through its hometown, Greensburg, filling the 109-foot well with debris. Visitors can no longer walk to the bottom. Although the Big Well likely will receive votes, it faces competition from the World's Largest Ball of Twine, above, and the Garden of Eden, a series of sculptures created by an eccentric Civil War veteran. Natural-attraction finalists include the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and the Gypsum Hills. To see finalists and vote (polls close Dec. 31), go to

-- Cynthia Mines

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