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August 17, 2008|Chris Erskine; Jane Engle; Christopher Reynolds

My dinner with Salman

Travelers with deep pockets and deeper thoughts, take note: Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood resort in Los Cabos, Mexico, offers a chance to break bread and rub shoulders with acclaimed author Salman Rushdie in a reception and two dinners Sept. 4 to 7. Part of the resort's "Hot Type Author Series," the event allows guests to hobnob with Rushdie and discuss his latest novel, "The Enchantress of Florence." Rushdie, born in India but now a British citizen, spent nearly a decade underground after his 1988 novel, "The Satanic Verses," led to death threats from Muslims and a fatwa by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (it was later lifted). Room rates at the resort begin at $500 a night, and all guests are welcome to the Rushdie reception. The dinners cost $250 per person. Info: (310) 824-7781.

-- Chris Erskine

Hawaii short-hop

The Hawaii Superferry, which shuttles between Oahu (Honolulu) and Maui (Kahului), is hitting its stride after returning to service in April. In July, it ran about half full, averaging 390 passengers and 99 vehicles per trip. But how does this compare with flying? Time: No contest. The Oahu-Maui flight takes 35 minutes, and the ferry takes three hours. Cost: Pretty close. For a Sept. 18-to-23 round trip, including taxes and fees, the Superferry costs $128.99 per person. The lowest airfares (also including taxes and fees), when I recently checked on, started at $146.50 on Mesa Air Group's go! airline and $140 on Hawaiian Airlines. For Nov. 6-to-11 round trips, the ferry penciled out to $151.89, versus the lowest airfare, $141.50, for go! Caveats: Superferry fares bounce up and down, depending on whether you go midweek or during the weekend and whether an often-hefty fuel surcharge is applied. Info: (877) 443-3779,

-- Jane Engle

For train buffs

Wake up, trainspotters, and cast your eyes toward Kansas City, Mo. That's where the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Sept. 13 will open a show called "Art in the Age of Steam: Europe, America and the Railroad, 1830-1960." The exhibit, which features more than 100 paintings and photographs and runs through Jan. 18, includes works by Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Thomas Hart Benton and Edward Hopper. Among the photographers: Alfred Steiglitz, Charles Sheeler and Andre Kertesz. To see it in person, board an Amtrak Southwest Chief train at L.A.'s Union Station, pony up $269 per adult, hang on for about 35 hours, then step off in Missouri. Or take the easy way out and buy the catalog, "The Railway: Art in the Age of Steam." Info: (816) 751-1278;

-- Christopher Reynolds

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