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Rundown for the Week of January 12, 2001

Bagby Hot Springs
For many travelers, getting back to nature is the perfect way to heal and renew the spirit. For others, a nice hot bath can do the trick. Well, contributor Gretchen Lehmann found the best of both worlds when she visited the Bagby Hot Springs in the foothills of Mt. Hood in Northern Oregon. But as she tells us, she also learned a lesson about losing yourself in the great outdoors.

The Beagle Brigade
When rushing through an airport to grab your suitcase or catch your next flight, it's easy to miss some interesting things around you. For instance: do you remember what your last luggage inspector looked like? Well, you would if you encountered one of the guys we're going to meet next. At some 21 airports around the country, the Department of Agriculture depends on the trained noses of dogs to sniff out illegal produce, plants and meat. We sent reporter Deborah Clark, who's frankly just a little crazy about canines, to introduce us to members of The Beagle Brigade at Los Angeles International Airport.

Tsarist St. Petersburg
Part of the fun of traveling is coming home with a new collection of stories about the places you've seen. And if it's great stories you want, what better place to visit than a city that's been home to some of the most dramatic events in modern history: St. Petersburg, Russia. Now, you may be more familiar with it as Leningrad, the name it held for most of the last century when it was under communist rule. With its rich history and culture, walking through the city is like viewing pictures at an exhibition. Nearly every building has a story to tell: tales of passion, intrigue, murder - and revolution. Martin Stott gives us a tour.

Rank Strangers
Musicians who've spent a good deal of time on the road will tell you they find enthusiastic audiences in some pretty offbeat places. Take the case of one of our contributors, Jeff Biggers. Recently, he and his band, The Rank Strangers, took an unusual tour through Northern Italy's Po River Valley. After performing a number of tough gigs to less-than-receptive crowds, they think they finally found their niche - in Italy's mental ward circuit.

Interview: Jim Hall
When you've heard about aircraft accidents, you've probably heard The National Transportation Safety Board mentioned. It investigates transportation accidents and acts as sort of forensic scientist for the government agencies that regulate the ways we travel. In 1996, President Clinton named Jim Hall as chairman of the NTSB, where he has probably been best known for child safety improvements: most notably with car seats and airbags. Mr. Hall steps down from the safety board in just a few days. I had a chance to talk with the Chairman this week, and asked him what the relationship was like between the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration and how responsive the FAA has been to his board's safety recommendations.

Deal of the Week
East-coasters Cut the Cost of the Caribbean

Question of the Week
Strange Things You've Seen on Planes

Travelers' Aid
The End of TWA, The End of Choice?

Rudy's View
The State of the Airways

Next Week

Now, there are many unusual ways to get around the world. Next time, we'll meet someone who right now is racing around the globe - in a catamaran. Plus, we'll check-in with someone circling the world high above the earth - in the Alpha Space Station! And, how can you travel around the world on a budget that barely gets you around town? Find out how one person does - and how you can, too. Guest host Melinda Penkava has all that and more, next week.

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Rudy Maxa's Traveler Newsletter
Check out Rudy's monthly newsletter at www.rudymaxa.com.

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