Washington Monument closed indefinitely

The Washington Monument is closing indefinitely because of ongoing problems with its elevator. The National Park Service announced last week that the D.C. obelisk, which draws 600,000 visitors a year, will remain closed until its elevator control system can be modernized, a process expected to take up to nine months once it begins. The lone elevator carrying visitors to the top of the 555-foot obelisk has broken down frequently over the past two years, roughly since the monument reopened after being damaged in an earthquake. The news comes just as crowds arrive for the opening of the Smithsonian’s adjacent National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Associated Press

New flights head to Iowa

Air Choice One will start service to Fort Dodge and Mason City, Iowa, from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Nov. 7. Tickets are on sale now. Both cities will be served with 12 weekly nonstop flights. The airline, with a fleet of turbine-powered Cessna Grand Caravans, launched service at MSP June 1 with five weekly flights to Ironwood, Mich. (airchoiceone.com; 1-866-435-9847).

Kerri Westenberg

Don’t prepay on car rental

Some car rental companies offer a small discount if you prepay. But Gary Leff, founder of the travel deals site View From the Wing, advises not going that route, because you’ll lose the opportunity to save money if rental prices drop before your trip starts, which they usually do. Upon making your reservation, he suggests going to AutoSlash.com, a site that tracks car rental prices, and adding your reservation details. The site will keep track of price changes on your rental and also scout competitors’ prices. Users will get an e-mail when a lower price for the same rental becomes available and will have an option to rebook.

New York Times

Great Wall marred

Chinese officials are being pilloried over the smoothing-over of a crumbling but much-loved 700-year-old section of the Great Wall of China in the name of restoration. The widely mocked project involved a 5-mile unrestored Xiaohekou section of the wall that has become known as the “most beautiful wild Great Wall.” Defensive works and guard towers were knocked flat as part of the project, officially launched to prevent further deterioration by the elements. Reports said sand and other materials were poured on top, protecting it but giving it the appearance of an elevated bike path running through steep forested hills. “It really was an ugly repair job,” conceded Ding Hui, head of the Liaoning Provincial Antiquities Bureau.


The last TCM Classic Cruise

It’s the final boarding call for classic films at sea. The sixth TCM Classic Cruise this fall on the Disney Fantasy will be the final classic film cruise, even though all previous cruises have sold out. A spokesperson said the network will focus on other opportunities, including the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles next April 6-9. In the meantime, the cruise, set to sail out of Port Canaveral, Fla., from Nov. 12-19 with celebrity guests Leslie Caron, Mitzi Gaynor, Jerry Lewis and Kim Novak, still has limited space available (from $1,910 per person; tcmcruise.com).

Orlando Sentinel