If getting on the wrong side of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano this summer gives you the jitters, then get a little French fix on this side of the ash plume, and head to Montreal. It's a beautiful destination, and English is welcome. Plus, this summer presents three great reasons to go.
From June 12 through Aug. 14, eight countries, including the United States, face off on Saturday nights in what can be considered the Olympics of pyrotechnics. Known as L'International des Feux Loto-Quebec, the competition was founded in 1985 and drew more than 5.7 million people in its first season. It's been a hit ever since, drawing more than 3 million sore necks a year. Presale tickets are based on a person's height, so show prices start at about $35 for people 54 inches tall and $26 for those shorter. Taxes not included. Visit www.tiny. cc/3of29 or call 514 397-2000.
And because the competition is held at Montreal's LaRonde amusement park (www.laronde.com/larondeen), you might as well hit the roller coasters. But you'll have to pay for park tickets, which don't include the fireworks competition.
Then there's the jazz. The Montreal International Jazz Festival (www.montrealjazzfest.com) will run from June 25 to July 6. This legendary fest stations stellar performers at venues around the city. This year will see such headliners as Bobby McFerrin, Cassandra Wilson, Herbie Hancock, Nicholas Payton, Dave Brubeck, David Sanchez, and Keith Jarrett.
Still not convinced? New this year is the Montreal Festival of Circus Arts, attracting more than 100 circus artists from Belgium, Germany, Spain and Canada to perform July 8-25. For an overview, visit www.tiny.cc/mi9ns. You probably will be able to figure out the calendar (French only) at www.montrealcompletementcirque.com - click on calendrier.
There are many more reasons to visit Montreal - even if just to visit one of the most bike-friendly places on Earth - but these should get you started. Also visit www.tourisme-montreal.org.
SALT LAKE CITY - Major road work starting June 7 will shut down Zion National Park's east entrance at times. The national park says the Mount Carmel Junction Road will be closed weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Oct. 28. It's the first major reconstruction since state Route 9 was built in 1930.