Cast your ballot before going awayAbout 10...

Cast your ballot before going away

About 10 million Americans are away from home each Election Day, according to the Vote America Foundation. The foundation reminds travelers who are registered voters that they can cast their ballots anyway.


Details of absentee voting vary by state, so absentee voters should call their local board of elections (usually listed in the blue pages in the back of telephone books) for details. But these are the basics, according to the foundation: To get an absentee ballot by mail, send a letter requesting one at least a week before you will be leaving. The letter should include your full name, address at which you are registered, Social Security number, birth date and a signature of your full name. Absentee ballots sent by mail must be postmarked the day before Election Day and be received within seven days of the election.

There is another, easier option recommended by the foundation: voting early. Every state except Pennsylvania allows those who will be away from home on Election Day to fill out an absentee ballot at the local board of elections or county clerk's office. In most states, this can be done as long as 21 days in advance.


Haunted B&Bs;

If you'd like to stay with ghosts for Halloween, or any time of the year, the second issue of the newsletter Bed & Breakfast Adventures includes some B&Bs; that claim to be haunted.

In Beverly Hills, Calif., making a regular appearance is the ghost of actor Clifton Webb, who once lived in the home; in Santa Fe, N.M, there's a "weeping woman" who likes to push and shove, and in Franklin, Tenn., there's a friendly but tricky ghost.

Bed & Breakfast Adventures is $1 a copy, or $10 for a year's subscription. Write to BBA Publishers, 8205 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90046; or call (213) 656-9187.

Surf's up at China Beach

In another small step toward attracting U.S. tourists to Vietnam, the Vietnamese government has cleared the way for an international surfing tournament sponsored by a California foundation to be held at China Beach on the South China Sea.

The beach was a recreational site for the U.S. military during the war, and it was prominently featured during a scene in the movie "Apocalypse Now" and in the ABC-TV series "China Beach." The tournament, to be held in late December, will include amateur teams from the United States, Indonesia, South Africa and Japan.

Santa Fe, N.M., tops San Francisco as spot travelers like most


Santa Fe, N.M., beat out San Francisco as the favorite destination in Conde Nast Traveler magazine's annual readers' poll, which drew responses from 24,000 readers.

Remarkably, Santa Fe wasn't even on the ballot; it won on the strength of write-in votes. San Francisco, which had topped the poll the past four years, placed second.

The top vote-getters in other categories were Alaska Airlines, Singapore Airlines, the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Canyon Ranch spa in Tucson, Ariz., and Seabourne cruise line.

Where is Cicely, Alaska, anyway?

The ways things are going, Alaska will just have to make room for a town called Cicely.

Cicely is the fictional bush community featured in the CBS series "Northern Exposure," but there is no such place on Alaska's map. Besides, the show is filmed in Washington state.


That hasn't stopped viewers from calling Alaska's Division of Tourism asking, "Where is Cicely?" And, "How can we experience such a place ourselves?"

Connel Murray, director of Alaska's Division of Tourism, said his staff explains to callers that the quirky, small-screen town of Cicely, Alaska (population 839), really is a "composite" of several Alaskan communities.

Travel hints for Cicely look-alikes include the Alaskan towns of Skagway, Talkeetna, Tok, Seward and Haines.