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September 09, 2007

Instead of blasting your way to Mammoth on U.S. 395, slow down; there now are more reasons to enjoy the drive. A new Eastern Sierra Cultural and Heritage Alliance map details 20 sites to visit along California's mother road, including national parks, museums and visitor centers such as Death Valley National Park and the Mammoth Ski Museum. To entice visitors to dally at as many sites as possible, the alliance has started a Passport Stamp Program, and the rewards for a stop are free items. Each location will give you a souvenir when you get a stamp in your passport at any of the sites. Request the passports and maps from www.visitmammoth.com (click on Request Information, then check Museum Guide), or call (888) 466-2666. While you are driving from site to site, you can immerse yourself in the highway's long, rich history by listening to audio from the Roadside Heritage 395 project. "Eastern Sierra Audio Tours, Paiutes, Prospectors, Pioneers" is the first in a series of CDs and MP3s with stories of the people and places that shaped the highway. Information and downloads are available at www.roadsideheritage.org. CDs also are free at visitor centers and museums along the highway.

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Shopaholics can get their end-of-the-year fix on a luxe six-night Born to Shop & Spa trip that will take them to Hong Kong (at right) and Bangkok, Thailand, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3. Shopping guru Suzy Gershman will lead where-to-find-the-deals seminars in both cities, and participants will divide their time between spa treatments and shopping excursions. The tour, $2,751 per person, double occupancy, includes three nights at the Intercontinental Hong Kong and three nights at the Intercontinental Bangkok. Also included are breakfasts, afternoon tea, evening cocktails, two massage treatments and two dinners. International air transportation is not included. The trip must be booked by Oct. 1. For info: 011-852-2313-2335, or e-mail hongkong@interconti.com.

Enjoy that ride to Mammoth

Go East, shoppers

Park road closure

Glacier National Park will close the alpine part of Going-to-the-Sun Road, the 48.7-mile scenic byway that bisects the Montana park, earlier this year than usual to repair damage caused by storms last fall. On Sept. 16, the road will be shut down from Avalanche to Siyeh Bend, cutting off access to 6,646-foot Logan Pass, a popular lookout point, and the Logan Pass Visitors Center. Hikers and bikers will be able to travel six miles beyond the closure, but the visitor center will shut down Saturday Snows usually force seasonal closures of the road by November. Info: www.nps.gov/glac.

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Schiphol expands

If you're going to Europe and want to avoid London's beleaguered Heathrow airport, Amsterdam's Schiphol airport may be an option. The airport is expanding passenger-friendly amenities. It recently opened a free "Babycare Lounge" (above), with seven cubicles to hold sleeping babies and toddlers, baby baths, microwaves and seating for weary parents. It also has a play area for older children. The lounge, located beyond passport control, is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

--V.R.

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