Court shuts downnational parks site
About a half-million people a day -- most of them planning a vacation -- turn to www.nps.gov, the National Park Service's online catalog of every national park in the country.
But the site went dead last month, and no one knows when it can be revived.
The park service got caught in a battle between American Indians and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, simply because both agencies are part of the sprawling Department of the Interior.
The bureau has been accused of mismanaging tribal funds, and a court overseer proved it by hiring a computer hacker who was able to manipulate the accounts through the bureau's Web site. That led a federal judge to order Interior to shut down all its Internet sites (except for the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Interagency Fire Center). All other agencies must prove that hackers can't penetrate from their sites to the bureau's. They're working on it.
In the meantime, you can resort to the telephone: (202) 208-6843 for national park brochures and (800) 365- 2267 for campground reservations.
Online junkies can find information from a clothing manufacturer's site. Sign on at www.llbean.com, click on "explore the outdoors," then type "national parks" in the search field. An online travel company, www.gorp.com, also has info on national parks.
Dollar Rent a Carstill fingerprinting
Dollar Rent a Car is continuing its fingerprinting test program through the end of January. Jim Senese, vice president of quality assurance for Dollar, said after its first monthlong program ended last month that "99.75 percent" of Dollar customers either said they approved of the fingerprinting or did not complain. But Senese said Dollar still wants more feedback before it decides if the policy will be adopted throughout its system.
Dollar also added three new test sites: New Orleans, New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark. Dollar is already fingerprinting customers at Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington International airports as well as in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Diego and San Francisco.
Senese said the rental agency began requiring customer fingerprints to thwart theft. Renters can voice their opinion of the program by sending an e-mail to Dollar customer service agents at cservicedollar.com.
Minirefrigeratoris great for trips
Here's how to keep your cool on the road -- a minirefrigerator! If this isn't the cleverest idea since bottled water, we don't know what is.
The teeny fridge, called the Cool It, is just big enough to hold a six-pack, or snacks for the kids, or a couple of sandwiches, or even live bait for a fishing trip. It's also a great idea for those who need to keep medication cool on a long trip.
It comes with a car adapter plug, plus an optional AC adapter so it can be used in the office or the bedroom.
Made by Can You Imagine of Chatsworth, Calif., the Cool It comes in white, black, yellow and red. It retails for $70-$80 (the optional adapter is $20-$30) and is available online at wonderfullywacky.com and tarheeltrail.com. Or you can call Can You Imagine at (818) 727-9555.
Photo exhibitshows U.S. history
America wasn't always as united and flag-waving patriotic as it now finds itself. "Oh Say Can You See: Great American Photographs," a new exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art, presents images from the desperate and despairing days of the Great Depression, the postwar materialism of the 1950s, and the strife and chaos of the 1960s' Civil Rights upheaval. Dorothea Lange's famous "Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936" is among them, and there are some pleasanter images too.
The show is up through March 24 at the museum, One Diball Circle; telephone (504) 488-2631; www.noma.org. On indefinite display at the museum are the brightly colorful and evocative paintings of Gullah life in the low country of the Carolinas by folk artist Sam Doyle.
Air France expandsto world destinations
Air France has in the past focused its vacation packages on traveling to and within France. Now it's expanding to include about 20 other world destinations in concert with about a dozen tour operators.
Many of the trips use Air France's base in Paris as a hub. Air France offers daily nonstops between Philadelphia and Paris.
Among destinations in the World of Air France program are Austria, Belgium, Egypt, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, South Africa and Spain.
Information: Air France Holidays, (800) 237-2623; www.airfranceholidays.com on the Web.
Cruise lines addAla., La. ports
It's not that they're deserting Florida ports. But the cruise lines are lining up new home ports with lots of space for parking their giant vessels. Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans are the rising stars.
Carnival Cruise Lines will operate its 1,452-passenger ship Holiday on a series of Western Caribbean cruises from Mobile starting in March. After that, the Holiday moves to New Orleans for a series of year-round Caribbean cruises. When the 2,976-passenger Conquest debuts next September, it will also home-port in New Orleans.
The city is finding that its $7 million cruise terminal expansion, completed this summer, is paying off in big ship traffic. Royal Caribbean's 1,950-passenger Grandeur of the Seas will sail out of New Orleans from November through April 12, 2003.
Travel club mustersdeals for military
Retreat & amp; Reveille International is a travel club for military people who enjoy staying in the homes of fellow members, or B & amp;Bs and inns that provide discounts.
An annual directory offers about 470 places to stay in 50 states and 28 foreign countries, many of them recommended by former guests. A quarterly newsletter features new listings and members' travel experiences.
To join, send your military affiliation and a check for $39.95 to Retreat & amp; Reveille International, 3106 Military Road, Arlington, Va. 22207-4136 Contact: (703) 525-3372, www.ret-rev.com.
Snowbirds shake jitters, head to Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Arizona's tourism officials are relieved now that winter visitors are flocking to the warmth of the Southwest.
"We were waiting with bated breath for the big snowstorms and it has happened in the Midwest and East," said Jean McKnight Guymon, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & amp; Visitors Bureau. "Our 800 number is overwhelmed with calls. People are coming back to Tucson."
Tourism officials had been worried that the recession, concerns about air travel and declines in the stock market would translate into masses of people staying home.
Some businesses that cater to winter visitors have been hit by waning interest in rental cars, cruise ship trips and international flights. Those owners and managers say the drop in winter visitor sales revenues is tied to people spending more time closer to home since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
About 300,000 winter visitors traveled to Arizona last season, says Tim Hogan, director of the Center for Business Research at Arizona State University, which conducts an annual winter visitor survey.
More than three-quarters of those Arizona winter visitors are at least 60 years old and stay up to six months.