Smoky the Dog
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Q. We'd like to spend a week in the Smokies or someplace south of Washington. We'd like activities and historical or scenic attractions, plus we have a large dog.
J. M. Robbins, Great Falls
A. In the Great Smoky Mountains, hikers, elk and bears can roam free, but not so much Fido. "It's not the most dog-friendly region," says Len Kain, co-founder of DogFriendly.com, an online pet travel resource, "because the Great Smoky National Park has only a few trails you can bring your dog on." But don't start dialing the kennel just yet.
The national park does allow dogs in campgrounds, picnic areas and along roads, including scenic overlooks -- but pooches must be on leashes no longer than six feet. Dogs are also permitted on the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. For people with pets, the park also recommends Mount Rogers and the Pisgah forest, among other national areas, and Kain suggests Shenandoah National Park, where dogs can trot along all but 20 miles of trails (out of a total 500 miles), and Grandfather Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
For more urban attractions, the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., offers visitors' dogs Doggywood, an indoor dog-care facility (reserve at 865-428-9826, http:/
Closer to the Smokies, the Holiday Inn Sunpree Resort in Gatlinburg (800-465-4329, http:/
My family is planning a trip to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic in mid-April. Does our stay coincide with the Dominican baseball season?
Barry Leopold, Falls Church
The Dominican Republic, where baseball players grow on palm trees, has two seasons: the Summer League, which runs from late April to September, and the Winter League, which goes from October to January and culminates with the multi-nation Caribbean World Series in February.
The Summer League is "rookie ball," says Rich Johnson, president of Dominican Baseball Tours (347-273-1991, http:/
The Winter League, meanwhile, is major league ball. In fact, many players from U.S. teams, such as the Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz and Baltimore Oriole's Juan Tejada, return home to play ball during the colder months. The six teams compete in five stadiums, including La Romana, Santiago and Santo Domingo. Tickets cost $7 to $12 (even for primo seats on the field), and concessionaires sell everything from fried chicken and plantains to mix-your-own rum and Coke.
Your hotel should have a schedule for both leagues. Or, if you prefer an organized tour, Johnson offers single- and multi-day trips. A day outing, for example, takes fans through the "backstory of Dominican baseball" in the countryside. The $100 fee includes a game ticket and baseballs to hand out to budding Babe Ruths; transportation is extra.
Are there any ballroom-dancing events we could see while traveling from L.A. to San Francisco?
J. Kowal, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Competitive ballroom dancers cut a rug nearly every weekend throughout the year, but you need to be in the right ballroom at the right time. The Embassy Ball DanceSport Championships, the discipline's biggest event, will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 3 in Irvine, Calif., and will feature dancers from 50 countries. And this spring (March 31-April 2), American couples will twirl off in the San Francisco Open DanceSport, which includes "Dancing With the Stars"-esque pro-amateur teams. The National Dance Council of America ( http:/
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