Tickets to balls and other events related to the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration will be hard to come by, but you can always join the crowds along the parade route.
Hundreds of thousands of people always gather along Pennsylvania Avenue to watch the procession from the Capitol to the White House after the swearing-in ceremony. You'll likely see marching bands and floats no matter where you stand, but you're not guaranteed a glimpse of the president and his family. Only bleacher seats require tickets.
The Monday holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration, which will also add to the crowds.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies prints some 240,000 tickets for official events to be distributed for free through Senate and House offices to constituents, and through the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The official Web site, inaugural.senate.gov/index.cfm, advises that "members of the public interested in attending the Inaugural Ceremonies should contact their Member of Congress or U.S. Senators to request tickets."
The baggage merry-go-round
Baggage rules are changing. If there's anything you do not want to do, it's to take overweight or oversize luggage.
At press time, here are the one-way fees for domestic travel included (double for round-trip; overweight fees apply on 51-70 pounds):
AirTran: Free first checked bag, $25 second checked bag, $39 overweight fee.
American: $15 first checked bag, $25 second checked bag, $50 overweight fee.
Continental: $15 first checked bag, $25 second checked bag, $50 overweight fee.
Delta: Free first checked bag, $25 second checked bag, $80 overweight fee.
Northwest: $15 first checked bag, $25 second checked bag, $50 overweight fee.
Southwest: Two free checked bags, $25 overweight fee.
US Airways: $15 first checked bag, $25 second checked bag, $50 overweight fee.
Winter in Vegas; fall for wine
Arranged by calendar month, The Americas: Where to Go When (DK, $40) recommends the best time to visit various sights in North and Central America, South America and the Caribbean. In the month of January, for example, the editors suggest Las Vegas in the United States, Cartagena in Colombia, the Lake District in Chile and the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. Places to go during the summer months range from Pennsylvania Dutch Country and Bermuda to the Dominican Republic and Quebec City. The autumn and winter months include Utah's national parks; Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; California Wine Country; San Antonio; and the Falkland Islands.
The text discusses cultural events, carnivals and festivals, natural wonders, riding the rails, fall foliage in New England and much more. It also includes an atlas of the Americas.
Gladiator battles in 3-D
Ever wonder what a gladiator fight looked like from the front row of the Colosseum?
"Rewind Rome," a 3-D simulation presented in a theater a few steps from the ruined arena, will offer visitors the chance to experience the monuments and daily life of the ancient capital.
Virtual tourists will see the simulation on a giant screen and animated characters will guide them through the streets of Rome as they appeared in A.D. 310, with bas-reliefs on triumphal arches and less ambitious graffiti scrawled by vandals on buildings. The show opens to the public Thursday and can be followed with earphones in eight languages. Details at www.3drewind.com/ENG/Default.aspx.
A cool New England getaway
The Appalachian Mountain Club is extending its new family weekend series through the winter with programs that range from snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to animal-tracking and learning how to build a snow shelter.
The programs are in addition to other cold-weather activities like a guided lodge-to-hut trip for families, and a five-night winter family adventure camp.
Programs are based at AMC lodges in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and in the Moosehead Lake region of Maine. Rates vary, but for weekends, they start at $155 per person for adults and $85 per child with lodging and most meals included. Details at www. outdoors.org/winterguide or (603) 466-2727.
Intrepid museum reopens
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum has reopened to the public after nearly two years of restoration.
The museum on the Hudson River underwent a 22-month, $120-million overhaul at a New Jersey dry dock.
After WWII, the ship saw service in the Korean and Vietnam wars and was twice a recovery ship for NASA astronauts. Since 1982, it has become a popular tourist attraction, drawing 750,000 visitors yearly in the past decade.
Compiled from Times wires