Travel briefs

Burning Man blazes in Nevada desert

The infamous Burning Man Festival is coming to Black Rock City Aug. 27-Sept. 3.

Every summer, 25,000 free spirits gather in the northern Nevada desert for a week of activities such as balloon couture, hula hoop class, kite flying, Elvis Costello sing- alongs, and the long awaited Spice Girls reunion dance.

Unfortunately, some of the saltier (read: fun) events are unsuitable for publication in a daily newspaper. The festival, which has been running since 1986, is intended to bring people together in the harsh, 100-degree heat and allow a forum for self- expression.

Groups create art installations and performances together, dance in the desert until all hours of the morning, and wear crazy costumes.

The event usually involves camping — the nearest hotels are more than two hours away — and communication with the non-Burning Man world is nearly impossible. It’s all intended to bring participants closer together.

Tickets are $280; available online; 415-863-5263 and

Dry dock ahead for dowdy Delta Queen

Next year might bring the last dance of the Delta Queen, the 81-year-old doyenne of American paddle- wheelers. Its new owner says the boat’s exemption under a 1968 law that bans wooden super- structures in some bigger passenger vessels expires in November, 2008, and Congress is unlikely to extend it.

The ship will make its last scheduled Mississippi sailing from Memphis, Tenn., on Oct. 31, 2008. Then its future is unclear.

Joe Ueberroth, of Ambassadors International in Newport Beach, which bought the boat last year, said it might see service abroad or become a floating hotel and museum. Info: 800-434-1232,

Web buzz

A Britain-based social networking site for travelers — Where Are You Now?, — can help you meet travelers on the road or in your home town.

Members can keep track of where you have been, where you are going and where you are through photos, instant messages, blogs, chats, e-cards and e-mail.

Best of all, you can locate members in places where you are headed. The global site boasts more than 8 million members. However, be sure to edit your profile and set the privacy preferences, or your profile will be available for anyone to see.

There are three levels of membership: regular, which is free; premium, 99 cents a week; and VIP, $1.99 a week.

MJC group eyes NYC, Georgia

Vicki Vander Veen, Modesto Junior college’s community education travel coordinator, says she can help with your end-of-year vacation plans. How about a pre-Christmas trip to New York or ringing in the new year at a famed Georgia resort island?

The New York City holiday package includes four nights in the heart of the city. Some highlights are: a tour of the "Big Apple” and lunch at Tavern on the Green and Chinatown.

Theatre highlights will be the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall featuring the high-kicking Rockette’s, and a Broadway play. Tour Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the largest cathedral in the world built in Gothic-style and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You will also visit Ellis Island and see “Lady Liberty” up close. Double $2,499, single $3,599, triple $2,469 per person.. The Southern Charm New Years, Dec. 30 through Jan. 4, is a six-day tour that includes two-night stay at the Jekyll Island Club (including New Year’s Eve), one night in Savannah and two nights in Charleston, S.C. Double $2,399 per person, single $2,999. Call VanderVeen at at 575-6063.

Shooting in Texas

A digital photography workshop Sept. 14-16 at Big Bend Ranch State Park in Texas challenges par- ticipants to capture the beauty of the rugged landscape. Professional photographer Jim Carr will lead the workshop.

A fee of $400 includes lodging and most meals. Contact: 432-229- 3416;