Talking Trash

It's time we stopped trashing our parks, says the National Park Service, so recycling programs have been introduced at three sites -- Acadia (Maine), the Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee) and the Grand Canyon. A fourth, Yosemite, will join them in early 1991, as soon as the bear-proof trash cans are perfected.

With 20 million visitors a year, landfills at the four parks are perilously close to topping off, and officials anticipate that recycling of plastic, glass and aluminum will reduce landfill waste by an estimated 25 percent.

"Recycling: It's as easy as a walk in the park," goes the slogan of the park service program, which provides campers with special sacks for recycling and adds receptacles for plastics, glass and aluminum to the existing containers for paper and waste. As a final step in the program, salvaged plastic will be returned to the parks in the forms of picnic tables, park benches, signs -- and more garbage cans. If they can train 20 million American tourists, anything is possible.

Novel California

"This is not 'homes of the literary stars,' " says Robert Levin of Cultural Excursions Ltd., who with his wife, Julia, runs literary tours of California. While you might drive by and point, you can't visit the former digs of Thomas Mann, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Bertolt Brecht, Aldous Huxley or assorted other European ex-pats and failed screenwriters -- there are other Angelenos living there now. But the Levins's tours visit plenty of other places where famous writers "lived, drank, wrote and set their stories" -- from Mark Twain, Jack London and Bret Harte to members of the Beat generation.

Three separate itineraries of varying duration explore the state's rich literary heritage from Los Angeles to Big Sur, the Sierra foothills, Sonoma Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. A five-day tour of the Bay Area costs $1,250, including reading list, excluding air fare. For more information and a forthcoming 1991 brochure, contact Cultural Excursions Ltd., P.O. Box 84159, Los Angeles, Calif. 90073, 800-548-5506.

TRAVEL TRIVIA

Substituting "Xmas" for "Christmas" is often considered blasphemous. What does the X actually mean?

ANSWER BELOW

TRIVIA ANSWER: FAR FROM BEING BLASPHEMOUS, X STANDS FOR "CHI," THE FIRST LETTER OF THE GREEK "CHRISTOS," OR CHRIST.

SHOP OPS

Il Salvagente means "life jacket" in Italian, and if you've seen the prices for Italian designer clothes lately -- in lethal combination with the weak dollar -- you'll especially relish the savings at this Milan discount outlet. There are just plain jackets for sale -- if you call designs by Armani, Versace, Ferre and Gigli "plain" -- plus racks and racks of other apparel for women and men. Prices are discounted 60 percent, and up to an 75 percent before the annual August closing. Add Italian chaos to Filene's Basement and you'll get the picture. Il Salvagente, Via Fratelli Bronzetti No. 16, Milan, Italy, 011-39-2-761-10-328.

TRAVELS PAST

In 1906, you could take a 51-day all-inclusive tour of Europe for $285 -- to England, Belgium, Holland, the Rhine, Germany, Switzerland and France. These days you might easily spend that on one dinner in Paris. A recent antique fair foray turned up a Thomas Cook and Son, New York, brochure from 1906, "Fifty Tours to Europe," offering "conducted tours" for parties of 10, of 36 to 94 days, for $175 to $1,185, including "all traveling expenses" and three meals a day at hotels. All deluxe tours had a baggage allowance of "250 pounds ... on ocean steamships, and 80 pounds in Europe," and "private landaus {carriages} ... for sightseeing each day in cities visited."