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LAX launches iWatch program

Los Angeles' community anti-terror program, iWatch, has been expanded to the Los Angeles International Airport. The program, created by the LAPD, is intended to "educate the public about behaviors and activities that may have a connection to terrorism."

Launched last October iWatch uses posters and pamphlets to spread the message. These printed materials encourage readers to report suspicious activity and list contact information for reporting perceived threats.

Critics worry the program may be used to racially profile innocent people. Los Angeles mayor Villaraigosa was careful in pointing out, "iWATCH not only provides an avenue to report suspicious activity, but more importantly it involves and educates the public about suspicious activities and behaviors, not personal characteristics, that may be associated with terrorist activities. The LAPD's website lists suspicious behavior but doesn't provide guidance on profiling.

Those witnessing suspicious behavior are encouraged to report using the threat line at 1-877-A-THREAT (1-877-284-7328), call 911 if an emergency or crime is occurring, contact their local police station, or go to to file a report.

(Photo: Flickr/drbertdelgado)

2010 Telluride Bluegrass Festival

The annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival will be filling the mountains of Colorado with music this weekend. Unlike last week's Bonnaroo, in Manchester Tennessee, the festival in Telluride draws a much more mellow collection of acts. This years line-up includes - Lyle Lovett, Allison Krauss, Béla Fleck, Yonder Mountain String Band, Del McCoury Band, and more.

Coinciding with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, the festival is not only a celebration of bluegrass but of the beginning of summer. Nestled in the San Juan mountains at 8,750 feet elevation, Telluride is a fantastic spot to begin the season. Mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, ghost towns, and the highest cascade in Colorado (Bridal Veil Falls) await those who want something beyond the music.

A four-day festival pass will set you back $185 but the day passes are just $60. Camping is still available for the concert so if you want to get into the mountains for some "pickin" act fast.

Five stylish items that save time in a security check

We've all been there. A security check procedure goes something like this - untie and remove shoes, unbuckle and remove belt, take out wallet, drop keys in the bowl, dig into your bag for your laptop, then step through the metal detector only to discover you had change in your pocket.

It's an annoying process but one set in place to keep us all safe. So we deal with it. Seasoned travelers know there are shortcuts for the security hubbub and travel goods manufacturers are constantly innovating new products that help us get to our gates a little quicker. Here are five products that fit the bill.

Jimi Wallet
The beauty of the Jimi lies in it's simplicity. The basic clamshell design and minimalist approach are ideal for those who know how to pare down to the essentials when traveling. With room for a few credit/debit cards, an ID, an insurance card, and a few bills the Jimi forces the user to keep it simple. Its translucent water resistant casing is versatile enough for a trip to the beach or a hike in the hills. The included money clip is also made of plastic and won't set off the sirens as you breeze through security. All this coolness comes in under $15. The Jimi shows us that plastic wallets aren't just for kids.

Kavu Burly Belt
Belts are often forgotten as a flier strolls into the metal detector. Then it's back through the scanner or into the dreaded plastic booth for a pleasant wanding. Kavu has taken a similar approach to our friend the Jimi Wallet. The Kavu Burly Belt uses a plastic fastener for a buckle and doesn't incorporate metal anywhere in the design. The trippy designs on the webbing that makes up the strap will make your more outdoorsy friends jealous.

Chaco Flip Pro
"pictured above"
This uber-cool flop, available in men's and women's models, sports a webbing upper and a rubber lower. The sole is Vibram and is designed to grip all types of terrain. Unlike many flip flops the Flip Pro also keeps feet comfy for the long haul by including an arch. The advantage to flops in the security line are obvious; simply slip out and slide through.

Blogger Jason Heflin

Introducing another new blogger at Gadling, Jason Heflin. . .

Where was your photo taken: The Wedge/Little Grand Canyon, Utah

Where do you live now: Bowling Green, Kentucky

Scariest airline flown: I once flew a short commuter flight from Tanzania to Kenya. The baggage attendants at the gate tried to hustle my travel party for bogus extra baggage fees. The conversation got a bit heated and since the machine gun-toting guards at the door seemed to be friendly with the baggage workers we negotiated a rate that satisfied all parties. Yes, the bags did make it to our destination.

Favorite City/Country/Place: My favorite spot would be Interlaken Switzerland, hands down.

Most remote corner of the globe visited: One of the most remote experiences I had was hiking the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu. Camping deep in the Andes is a real treat. The milky way looked as if it were painted across the sky with thick white paint.

Favorite guidebook series: I always go with Lonely Planet. They haven't let me down yet.

Connected or disconnected (re: phones, computer): Reluctantly connected. My iphone, laptop, and a handful of other gadgets always accompany me on every trip.

First culture shock experience: I took a summer class in Ireland my senior year in college. It was my first international trip, the first time I had spent over two hours on a plane, and my first experience with the still unmatched Irish pub scene.

Worst place to catch a stomach bug? I'm sure there are worse places, but I once got Salmonella in the Dominican Republic. When I saw the local hospital had a gravel parking lot with chickens pecking the ground I opted to fight it out in the hotel room with a bag of fluids and a lot of prayer.

The most unusual food I've ever eaten is... Zebra. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Lazy rivers: The best U.S. float trips

Paddling through serene wilderness or idyllic farmland is a relaxing way to spend time with friends and family, or to reconnect with yourself. Float trips are ideal for those who don't wish to brave the uncertainty of rapids and like to stay close to home.

The U.S. has millions of miles of flowing water -why not float along a few? In the early days of settlement, towns sprang up on the shores of these water ways to support commerce. Odds are good that you live near one since so many major U.S. cities sprouted on river fronts.

Snake River, Wyoming
The Snake River meanders through what is arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of land in the lower 48. An easy day outing from Jackson allows paddlers to get a close-up view of the Grand Teton range. Bald eagle, moose, and elk are often spotted on the rugged banks of the Snake. Lost Creek Ranch offers early morning float trips that give visitors a better chance to catch wildlife in action.

Caney Fork, Tennessee
Trout are the reason most come to the Caney. But paddlers will enjoy the relaxing feel of this slow river as it slips through limestone canyons and open farmland. The Caney boasts a multitude of access points used for put-ins and take-outs. Middle Tennessee Fly Fishers offers trout fishing classes and outings for all skill levels.

Ten outdoor destinations with everything!

Who says you can't have it all? For many travelers vacation time is limited. Those in search of adventure want to maximize that short window of travel time. Here are ten cities where adventure-seekers can expand their options with a range of heart-pounding choices.

Buena Vista, Colorado
Buena Vista translates to "beautiful view." It's easy to understand why the name stuck. Nestled into the central Colorado highlands, this Colorado town just might be the hidden adventure gem of the Rockies. Peak-baggers have twenty 14ers within roughly an hour-and-a-half drive from Buena Vista, making it a perfect base camp for high-altitude hiking. Ski Cooper, Monarch and Aspen are all close by for a winter sports fix and the class III-V Arkansas River provides thrilling whitewater rafting all summer long.

Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa is considered by many to be the adrenaline capital of the world. Cape Town has no shortage of blood-pumping options. Traditional sports like sea kayaking and mountain biking are epic here, but there's also more unique endeavors like sand boarding. If that's still not enough to get adrenaline junkies excited, there's always the shark cage diving experience.

The world's best hikes

With so much challenging terrain, magnificent vistas, and unique cultural opportunities on the planet, shining a spotlight on the world's best hikes is a difficult task. After all, there are various styles of hiking fitting different skill levels: some people enjoy long treks, while others like to get in and out in a single day. Some folks enjoy challenging, technical climbs, while others simply like to stroll through nature and appreciate her beauty. What follows is a list of ten of the top hikes in the world, offering a blend of styles that has something for everyone.

Mt Whitney, California
A fortress of peaks stands to the west of the small California town of Lone Pine. Driving north from Los Angeles, the Sierra Nevada range slowly begins to rise from the Mojave Desert and tops out at 14,505 feet on Mt. Whitney's summit. As the highest peak in the lower 48, Mt Whitney gets quite a bit of traffic.

This overnight -- or very long day hike -- requires a permit. Permits are obtained through the forest service and are dolled out by lottery. If you are one of the lucky few to be granted access, you'll enjoy some of the best high desert views in the states... and perhaps the world.

Salkantay Trek, Peru
The ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu have been stirring spirituality and emotion in visitors since Hiram Bingham rediscovered them in 1911. Most hikers take the standard Inca Trail to reach this stone fortress in the clouds. However, alternate routes are also an option and the Salkantay Trek tops the list.

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