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Rundown for the Week of October 6, 2000

Mr. Beller's Neighborhood
Armchair travel used to be such a nice, safe non-aerobic activity. Now, the Internet has made snooping in on other people's stories into something far more energetic, while adding a whole new risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. To give you an example: Novelist Thomas Beller, author most recently of The Sleep-Over Artist, has created a website called Mr. Beller's Neighborhood.com. Picture an aerial map of New York City, so detailed you can pick out individual corners or rooftops. Superimposed on the map are small red dots. When you click on one, you can read a story about some happening at that address. The Savvy Traveler's Marianne McCune took the virtual tour.

Willa Cather's Red Cloud
For anyone who gets to know the people, the spirit and the weather of the Midwest, you soon learn that flat is passionate, flat is dramatic, flat is profound. Like the steppes of Russia, flat can liberate or deeply bind the soul. There's a word in Russian, in fact, for the feeling of being lost and found in vastness that specifically refers to the steppes. Our own flatlands found one of their great poets in Willa Cather. Meghan Daum traveled to her hometown and it was like walking through her books.

Bad Taste Tour: Branson, Missouri
Maybe you've heard of Branson, Missouri. Hear is the operative word. It's a virtual country music state park, a kind of be-tinsled pan alley, where some of the glitzier acts come to replay their greatest hits, again and again. But don't think that's why we asked Cash Peters to conduct one of his Bad Taste Tours here. As Cash uncovered, there's a whole other level of kitsch in Branson that even some of the locals don't know about.

Sleeping with Bears
In travel there's something called the "mosquito factor." It's the thing that turns your glorious back-packing trip to the High Sierras into a nightmare and that you completely forget about when you come home. Call it the sublimely ugly stuff that never makes it into your pictures, that reality factor whose absence makes most slide shows such a bore. Well here, in lurid color, is a postcard from John Runnette who didn't edit out the mosquitoes or some bigger carnivores joining him for the night.

Interview: Ted Conover
Leaving home is what writer Ted Conover does for a living. He's written books and articles about his experiences riding the rails as a hobo, crossing the border illegally with undocumented Mexicans, serving as a maximum-security prison guard at Sing-Sing. He calls it "participatory journalism", but whatever your name for it, the idea is to travel light, without preconceptions, and to travel deep into the heart of another person's life. Listen in as we talk with Ted about his travel experiences.

Deal of the Week
Last-Minute Hotel Rooms for Less

Question of the Week
Relationships Begun and Ended on the Road

Travelers' Aid
Disabled Travelers

Rudy's View: Tony's View
Me and my GPS
Guest host Tony Kahn fills in Rudy's view with his own...

Culture Watch
Korea's Andong Mask Festival

Next Week

Rudy Maxa will be back as your guide next week. First, he'll take you to Tokyo and show you where you can find a universe on a street corner. Then, meet a woman who went to Thailand to try an alternate mode of transportation, nature's answer to the SUV: the elephant. Everything went great, until she had to climb on.

Judith: "I can't do this."

Devorah: "Yes you can."

Judith: "But is ... This seat could fall off."

Devorah: "No."

Judith: "No, could you just check the straps underneath the elephant to make sure the seat can't ... The elephant is moving!"

Thai elephants and the brave souls who ride them. Plus Jazz legend Dave Brubeck on a place that inspires his music. All that and more during next week's edition of The Savvy Traveler

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Rudy Maxa's Traveler Newsletter
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