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December 11, 2012 | By Chris Erskine
Snow carvers from around the world will call North Lake Tahoe home Feb. 8-13, for the first-ever Carve Tahoe competition. For details, click here www.carvetahoe.com . . . . Writing workshops, daily readings and other gatherings by screenwriters, songwriters, playwrights and poets will be featured at the Ojai WordFest, April 6-13. Info: www.ojaivisitors.com . . . . Look for lots of ski deals, now until Christmas. Big Bear's midweek lift and lodging packages start as low as $69 per person per night, double occupancy.
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NEWS
December 7, 2012 | By Chris Erskine
With four to six feet of fresh snow, Mammoth Mountain is opening the entire hill today (Friday) - all lifts, Canyon and Eagle lodges and all terrain . . . . The latest round of powerful, early-season storms has pushed Tahoe's season-to-date snowfall totals to well over the 100-inch mark entering the month of December . . . .Walt Disney World opened its new Fantasyland on Thursday, the largest expansion in the park's 41-year history....
NEWS
December 4, 2012 | By Chris Erskine
The National Park Service still does not know when the Statue of Liberty will reopen or how much the island repairs will cost. The statue itself is intact but the storm flooded the island's power and heating systems. Brick paths around the 12-acre island are also torn up . . . . Throughout December, wine lovers can pick their favorite gingerbread replicas of 14 Sonoma wineries in the 7 th Annual Sonoma Valley Gingerbread Winery Contest . . . . The 5th Annual San Diego Big Bay Whale Festival will be held at the Port Pavilion on the Broadway Pier on Jan.
NEWS
November 28, 2012 | By Chris Erskine
Fire Island, New York's idyllic summertime getaway, took a direct hit from Superstorm Sandy, losing about 200 homes.   But about 4,000 structures survived on the 32-mile-long barrier island. AP reports that a well-maintained wall of dunes is being credited with taking the brunt of the storm's fury . . . . The Food Network has opened its first Food Network Kitchen, in the JetBlue terminal at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Since opening Nov. 8, the restaurant has averaged 1,500 customers a day . . . . Nearly a quarter of business travelers would give up stipend money to have extra time to explore the local neighborhood where they are staying, a survey by  IHG's Hotel Indigo found.
NEWS
November 23, 2012 | By Chris Erskine
Las Vegas leads Hotwire.com's list of cities where hotel, air and car rental rates have dropped the most as compared with November last year. Vegas saw a 10% drop. Palm Springs ranked fourth with a 6% decline . . . . Superstorm Sandy has created a shortage of rental cars for Thanksgiving weekend travelers. Existing reservations are mostly being honored, but those booking last minute found almost no cars left . . . . Meanwhile, all but a handful of New York attractions and hotels are open following the storm , though the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island remain closed.
NEWS
November 20, 2012 | By Chris Erskine
LAX says plane spotters and Tolkien enthusiasts will be able to catch a glimpse of the Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER aircraft that has been turned into a giant billboard for the upcoming movie, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” The plane touches down Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. The viewpoint will be the Observation Deck at LAX's Encounter Restaurant. The flight typically lands between 1:20 and 2 p.m., the airport says. The Observation Deck is free, but usual parking rates apply . . . Note that Pacific Surfliner trains (San Luis Obispo-Santa Barbara-Los Angeles and San Diego)
NEWS
November 16, 2012 | By Chris Erskine
A computer outage at United Airlines delayed thousands of travelers on Thursday. The two-hour outage held up morning flights from Los Angeles to London. It was United's third major computer mishap this year, Associated Press says . . . . More than 1.792 million passengers will pass through LAX during the Thanksgiving holiday period, a modest increase of 0.3% over last year. If you need help navigating the busy airport, keep an eye open for red-vested volunteers, who will be there to answer questions . . . .  LAX is second to only Chicago's O'Hare for Thanksgiving traffic,  the online travel agency Orbitz Worldwide reports . . . . L.A. Tourism has become the first U.S. convention and visitors bureau to hit 1 million Facebook fan s , according to a commissioned study conducted by Sparkloft Media.
NEWS
November 6, 2012 | By Chris Erskine
A wavering El Niño makes this year's winter outlook less certain than previous years, NOAA forecasters say. The phenomenon has not shown up as expected, making this one of the most challenging winters ever for forecasters. Typically, El Niño means warmer ocean water that can influence the strength and position of the jetstream and storms over the Pacific.  An El Niño watch remains in effect because there's still a window for it to emerge . . . . Speaking of outlooks, a lighthearted survey of 1,062 people by Cheapflights.com finds that nearly equal numbers would choose President Obama to “fly their plane” as they would to “throw him off.” From a list of 19 past and current candidates, he was selected most often as the choice to pilot the plane as well as to be bumped from the flight.
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