See the cavernsImagine strolling 164 feet beneath...


See the caverns

Imagine strolling 164 feet beneath the earth's surface to view ancient limestone caverns and sparkling pools of water.

Instead of taking the family to the movies this weekend, take a trip to see the natural wonders of Luray Caverns, a registered Natural Landmark in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

For $11 per adult, $5 per child ages 7-13 and no cost to kids under 7 the entire family can visit Luray Caverns. Guided tours, departing every few minutes, visit the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world's largest natural musical instrument, Dream Lake, Wishing Well and Fried Eggs, a group of monumental formations sunny side up.

Included in the admission fee is an exhibit of antique cars and carriages and a concert at 8 p.m. every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at at Luray's Singing Towers, one of the country's major carillons, with 47 bells.

Luray Caverns also offers visitors overnight accommodations, separate from the admission fee. Daily hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Groups of more than 25 need to make reservations. For additional information call (703) 743-6551. Vacationers will be spending more, traveling more and packing airliners more this summer, according to the annual vacation forecast of the Travel Industry Association.

On average, Americans expect to spend $1,076 on each trip, an increase of 9 percent over last year, according to the forecast, which also said Americans would take 230 million trips at least 100 miles away from home, up 2 percent from last year.

Cities, resorts and casinos were cited as preferred destinations by more respondents this year than last, and the percentage planning a foreign trip rose 3 points to 7 percent over last year. Mexico and Canada, where the dollar has strengthened, are likely destinations.

The TIA said air travel would be up 5 percent. The number of available seats has not substantially changed, though, which should result in fuller flights.

The survey, sponsored by TIA and the American Automobile Association, was based on a random telephone survey of 1,500 U.S. adults in April.

Riding in the Rockies

From July 2 to Aug. 27 the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, a volunteer nonprofit group, will offer 10 six-day horseback expeditions in the Spray River Valley of Banff National Park.

Each group rides 11 miles from the trail head to the campsite between Mountain Ware and Birdwood Mountain. Breakfast and dinner are served at the camp; lunches are prepared by the attending cook during the rides.

Day rides from the base camp are led by professional guides and visit Palliser Pass, White Man Pass, Birdwood Plateau and Leman Lake. Two of the rides, on July 2-7 and Aug. 6-11 are for families..

Trips cost about $565 U.S. ($780 Canadian), about $347 U.S. ($480 Canadian) for children, plus a membership, park-user fee and tax. Fees include horse, equipment, all meals, camp coordinator and musician and transportation to and from Banff and the trail head.

Riding experience is not necessary. For additional information call the Trail Riders at (403) 264-8656.

Airport alert

Denver's new airport, which opened earlier this year, will undergo runway repairs starting this month. But airport officials say that the work will not disrupt flight schedules.

Sections of the runways were improperly installed, without the 200 steel rods that were supposed to be inserted in the cement as it was poured. Although the missing steel rods are not mandatory for safety, they are believed to prolong the life of the runway.

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