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Alaska offers nature's best

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Any suggestions for arranging a family trip to Alaska this summer?

If you base yourself in Anchorage and rent a car, there are plenty of things to see and do for a family, especially if your kids enjoy hiking and observing wildlife.

Make sure you visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center ( in Anchorage, where your children will learn about Alaska's cultural groups through workshops, demonstrations and tours of exhibits and village sites.

Flattop Mountain near Anchorage is a popular hike, about three miles round-trip, with panoramic views of the city, the Chugach Range and, on a clear day, Mount McKinley (also called Denali).

Consider the Alaska Railroad (akrr. com), which has a number of day trips. You'll see glaciers, wildlife and beautiful scenery.

Check Web sites for the Alaska Travel Industry Association ( and the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau (

We're having trouble getting a passport for my sister. She was born in the Philippines to a U.S. father. The passport office is asking for an expired passport (which she doesn't have). Is there someone we can contact for help?

Getting hold of someone in a passport office isn't easy, even in the best of times. New passport regulations have caused a surge in demand since November.

But don't panic. If your problem requires contacting someone, you'll have to do it the old-fashioned way: Write a letter. Send it to the nearest passport agency (there are 13 in the United States) explaining your problem. You can find addresses at (click on "Passports"). Be sure to makes copies of all your documentation before sending it.

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