These days no one has a bad word to say about St. Louis's Gateway Arch, celebrating its 25th anniversary Oct. 28. But during construction, skeptics called the arch "nutso" and a "big croquet wicket," said the builders would never make ends meet (at the top), and even suggested it would affect the city's weather.
Who would have guessed that the arch would be so triumphal -- as an engineering feat, a memorial to the country's westward expansion, and the enduring symbol of St. Louis. President Bush has been invited to toast the 25th; there'll also be exhibits, entertainment and a fireworks display at dark. For details, call 314-421-1023 or 1-800-247-9791.
If there is one, the next "Airport" sequel should be set in Customs at any major U.S. airport -- what better setting for a disaster waiting to get off the ground? Even one INS official expressed wonderment at what happens when "a half-dozen or more jumbos drop in one hour" at high-traffic airports like Kennedy, LAX or Honolulu.
So for a 120-day period that began Sept. 25, INS will experiment with pre-inspection for all U.S.-bound passengers, on select flights out of London to a number of East Coast destinations. Passengers clear Immigration before departure, but still clear Customs and Agriculture stateside. INS projects that the procedure should reduce paperwork and speed up arrivals (though it may add slightly to processing departures). Pre-inspection currently operates permanently out of the Shannon and Aruba airports.
But remember: This is only a test. Call the airlines -- including Pan Am, TWA and British Airways -- for more information.
Get those armchairs tuned up, and rotate the cushions. We're going on a sentimental journey to Canada and Pakistan, courtesy of the Smithsonian Associates' Campus on the Mall.
From Oct. 30 to Dec. 11, "A Vicarious Journey to Western Canada" looks at that remote paradise and the vital role it plays in the country's political, intellectual and artistic life. Programs at the Canadian Embassy (501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) will feature Canadian writers, explore the art scene and present an insider's guide to touring the "untamed" West.
Meanwhile, "A Journey Through Pakistan: Past and Present" continues Thursday evenings at the Ripley Center (1100 Jefferson Dr. SW) through Dec. 13. American and Pakistani scholars will address contemporary politics and the changing role of women; the archaeological wonders of the Indus Valley civilization; and the awesome beauty of the Himalayas.
None of the dates conflict, so you can commute from Canada to Pakistan all fall. For ticket information and schedules, contact Smithsonian Associates at 202-357-3030.
TRAVEL TRIVIA What two literary characters find themselves in distress on the Cobb in Lyme Regis? ANSWER BELOW TRIVIA ANSWER: JANE AUSTEN'S LOUISA MUSGROVE ("PERSUASION"), WHOFALLS DOWN SOME STEPS THERE, AND THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN,WHO FELL FOR THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT.
NEWSLETTER NEWSThe editors of International Travel News -- a no-nonsense, mostly reader-written, plain-looking and -speaking magazine -- will gladly send a free copy to anyone who asks. So go ahead, make their day: ITN, 2120 28th St., Sacramento, Calif. 95818, 916-457-3643.