Olivia Harden

Travel Reporter at SFGATE -- based in California. Writing about social justice and mental health everywhere else. Passionate about food, exploring the world, and uplifting the voices of those who often go unheard.

Rattlesnakes are a problem for this sunny stretch of Calif. coast

For anyone who suffers from ophidiophobia, or the fear of snakes, it’s probably unsettling to learn that it’s rattlesnake mating season in California with the warmer weather.

“People used to kill rattlesnakes. Some still do, but more and more people are realizing that the tide has shifted,” Taylor told SFGATE. “We’ve learned enough about rattlesnakes that many people don’t want to do that anymore.”

In the five years that Central Coast Snake Services has been active, Taylor said she’s had an up

Airline quietly makes vacation flights pricier with new fee

JetBlue, known as the low-cost carrier with legacy airline perks, is tweaking its business model and joining the likes of Bay Area highways and Uber.

The airline is adopting dynamic pricing for checked bags. For flyers traveling within the U.S., Latin America, the Caribbean or Canada, prices will range from $35 to $50 for their first bag, depending on whether you pay in advance of your flight. Transatlantic flyers can expect to pay between $60 and $70.

“The cost of transporting bags has gone u

An opening day Disneyland ride is getting a huge change

Autopia may be among the oldest operating rides in Disneyland history, but it has a pungent reputation due to gasoline fumes. In fact, SFGATE’s Disneyland editor crowned it as having the worst scent in the parks.

While the cozy feeling of crawling through traffic isn’t coming to a close, the park is preparing to adapt a major feature.

Autopia is ditching its gas-guzzling engines and replacing them with “cleaner sources of energy,” Jessica Good, a Disneyland spokesperson, told SFGATE over email

How to avoid Boeing planes

While Airbus has been the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer for the past five years, Boeing, with its 42% share of the market, is still Airbus’ biggest rival, according to Reuters. This means that, while it might be tricky or inconvenient to avoid flying on Boeing planes entirely, it’s not impossible. Travel companies have added dedicated features to their websites and apps, and even created whole websites, to make it easier for travelers to figure out whether they’ll be flying on one.


California park warns of illegal trails near 'unexploded' grenades

The Bureau of Land Management has a clear message for visitors to Fort Ord National Monument: Stay on the designated trails.

Fort Ord National Monument in Marina on the Central Coast served as a military base for the U.S. Army between 1917 and 1994, and 1.5 million soldiers trained there over the years. But recently, U.S. Army safety officials said visitors have built illegal trails and bike jumps west of Barloy Canyon Road. Visitors could be in danger of running into “munitions and explosives

Rail deaths spike near Calif. county’s popular beaches

California has a growing problem with train-related deaths, and one coastal county in particular is seeing a recent uptick in fatalities, especially near its popular beaches.

Between 2020 and 2023, California accounted for 24% of the nation's rail-related trespassing deaths, totaling 593 people over the four years, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Warren Flatau, spokesperson for the FRA, told SFGATE in a statement that a vast majority of rail fatalities are due to illegal tresp

Is LAX Calif.'s worst airport? Maybe not anymore.

There is an inside joke among locals in Los Angeles — their airport is always under construction.

With over 75 million passengers last year, Los Angeles International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the country. With nine passenger terminals it holds the record for most terminals in the world, according to travel deal platform Going.

In 2017, LAX began an ambitious $30 billion renovation to redesign the airport experience. Although the upgrades aren’t entirely finished — the airpor

These Calif. workers may earn the highest minimum wage in the country

Following a “hot labor summer” that saw some California hotel works arrested for protesting near Los Angeles International Airport, a coastal city is on its way to offer certain hospitality workers the best starting wage in the country.

A majority of Long Beach residents appear to have supported Measure RW in the March 5 election, which will raise the minimum wage for hotel workers from $17.55 per hour to $23 an hour for both union and nonunion workers. Beginning in July, hourly pay rates wil

Passengers on infamous Boeing flight share what the media got wrong

The California resident is one of seven passengers who filed a lawsuit against Alaska Airlines, Spirit AeroSystems and the Boeing Company alleging their negligence lead to the now-infamous flight from Portland International Airport to Ontario International Airport on Jan. 5.

The plaintiffs argue in the lawsuit that it was negligence that caused the door plug on the 737 Max 9 aircraft to rip away from the plane once it passed 10,000 feet in altitude.

Los Angeles law firm Wisner Baum filed the l

Two parks could beat Golden Gate Park in national contest

A San Franciscan treasure that is so beautiful fact checkers once had to prove it’s real is in the running for the best park in America.

Golden Gate Park at the time of writing is in the lead for the Best City Park award from USA Today. It’s the only California nomination, and was previously lagging behind Forest Park in St. Louis and Ala Moana Regional Park in Honolulu.

The nominating panel for USA Today’s 10 Best Award defined the best city park as a “space to connect with nature and the com

Las Vegas' newest corporate overlord consolidates power on the Strip

For loyal members of one national chain looking to visit Vegas, the hotel giant’s portfolio is opening a new world of properties on the Strip.

Marriott International announced a partnership March 6 with MGM Resorts International to allow 40,000 rooms at 16 MGM resort properties to be booked under the new Marriott Bonvoy program. The partnership follows a breakup between Hyatt and MGM that happened last year.

The resort stacking, dubbed MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy, spells good news for

Tahoe battens down for weekend rush thanks to clear roads, fresh snow

A tumultuous blizzard struck the Sierra last weekend, stranding drivers and blocking the road to Tahoe for days. This week it’s a different story and Bay Area travelers can expect an easier effort to drive up to the mountains to enjoy what the blizzard left behind.

“Even though it’s not going to be totally dry, we’re not expecting any heavy snowfalls between now and Sunday afternoon,” Justin Collins, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service, told SFGATE.

The forecast is expected to be

In rare move, NPS fires park contractor after fiasco at Crater Lake

After a tumultuous several years, the National Park Service has made good on its recent threat to terminate its current contract and replace Crater Lake National Park’s concessions operator.

Kansas-based ExplorUS announced in a news release on Monday that it had signed a “definitive letter of intent” to take over operations from Crater Lake Hospitality as well as its concessions for the popular West Coast national park.

However, after taking over the park’s management in 2018, the company was

Videos show 60 mph windstorm thrash through Las Vegas Strip

While the Sierra Nevada endured blizzard conditions this weekend, a massive windstorm consumed another section of the West, blowing up mountains of dust and knocking out power across Las Vegas.

The popular social media page Las Vegas Locally shared a video where traffic on the Strip came a standstill; huge gusts of wind swirled to conceal the Conrad Las Vegas in a cloud of dust.

The National Weather Service reported record-breaking winds; at Harry Reid International Airport, the weather serv

Flipped big rig on I-80 stalls traffic as winter storm slams Tahoe

A big rig flipped on eastbound Interstate 80 near Truckee, according to California Highway Patrol, just as a strong storm started plowing through Tahoe and the Sierra.

At 7:37 a.m., a semitruck flipped on its side, blocking all lanes near the Donner Lake Interchange. The driver walked away with only minor injuries, CHP Truckee said on social media. Cal Fire and a towing company were called to assist.

The crash was likely caused by icy roads due to the major snowstorm that is expected to last t

'It would be foolish': Officials warn against Tahoe travel as blizzard nears

A storm is brewing for the Sierra Nevada beginning Thursday, according to the weather service. Winds are expected to reach over 60 mph in the Sierra with 1 to 4 feet of snow in Lake Tahoe communities or 5 to 10 feet of snow above 7,000 feet elevation.

“This is definitely looking to be the strongest storm that we have seen so far this season,” Jeremy Linder, a spokesperson for Caltrans, told SFGATE. “Not only in the amount of snowfall but also the coldest. We're going to be seeing snowfall down

Hawaii officials move forward with unusual fee for tourists

Over the past two weeks, two Hawaii House committees heard testimonies regarding a bill that would impose a $25 tourism tax on visitors that the state would use to address the effects of climate change on the islands. Both committees overwhelmingly supported the bill.

House Bill 2406 “Establishes the Climate Health and Environmental Action Special Fund in the Department of Land and Natural Resources to minimize the impacts of, and respond to, climate crises,” according to the Hawaii State Legis

NFL QB's wife partied at Las Vegas hotel recently treated for bedbugs

Las Vegas might be known as the entertainment capital of the world, but nothing is fun about dealing with bedbugs after they hitch a ride home in your suitcase.

In a report spanning five months, health inspectors from the Southern Nevada Health District found bedbugs in four resorts on the Las Vegas strip: the Encore, Venetian, Excalibur Hotel & Casino and Mirage, KLAS-TV reported.

The first sighting occurred in September at the Venetian in a guest’s room. Hotel staff cleaned the items and pla

Video shows SFO flight to Boston grounded for plane wing 'coming apart'

A United flight from San Francisco to Boston was forced to divert to Denver after its crew discovered damage to one of the plane wing’s flaps.

On Monday, United Flight 354 left San Francisco International Airport around 1:45 p.m., according to FlightAware, and was scheduled to land around 10 p.m. Eastern time in Boston. However, the plane diverted to Denver because of “an issue with the slat on the wing of the aircraft,” a spokesperson for United Airlines told SFGATE in a statement.

A passenge

Viral TikTok shows man at Disneyland arrested on suspicion of assault

In the latest case of unruly behavior at Disneyland, a man was forcibly removed from the park by police after he allegedly assaulted a woman and a Disneyland employee, a spokesperson for the Anaheim Police Department told SFGATE in a statement.

On Feb. 9, at about 9:30 p.m., officers responded to a call from Disneyland security about a possible assault inside the park. The officers arrested the 20-year-old man on suspicion of domestic violence and assault. Following the arrest, he was taken to

NPS threatens 'extremely rare' termination at West Coast national park

Following years of reported issues with facility upkeep at Crater Lake National Park, the National Park Service is threatening its most drastic measure — terminating the operator’s contract.

The park’s concessionaire, Crater Lake Hospitality, is a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Aramark. The company also manages Yosemite’s hospitality programs. In 2018, Aramark was contracted to handle food and lodging at Crater Lake, taking over from Xanterra Parks and Resorts, which operated in the park f

'Yelling, screaming' fistfight breaks out on Oakland to Hawaii flight

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a passenger disturbance in which a fight allegedly broke out on a Southwest Airlines flight from the Bay Area to Hawaii.

Flight SWA 128 took off on time from Oakland on Monday and was headed to Lihue in Kauai around 10 a.m., according to FlightAware. However, two passengers “became disruptive” on the flight, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines told SFGATE over email.

“I heard yelling, screaming and punches. I turned around and saw one man

$500K anti-Tesla Super Bowl ads under fire from government agency

For the second year in a row, the Dawn Project, which “aims to make computers safe for humanity,” according to its website, launched two attack ads at Tesla, alleging that its “Autopilot” system is unsafe and asking consumers to boycott the company. Dan O’Dowd, a software company owner based in Santa Barbara, founded the Dawn Project, which spent $552,000 on the Super Bowl ads this year, a spokesperson for the organization told Business Insider.

“90% of people agree that the safety defects in T

Popular Yosemite trail closed until further notice

Winter visitors to Yosemite hoping to admire the snow and the park’s legendary firefall might be disappointed to find that a popular Yosemite Valley trail closed this week.

“The trail between Happy Isles and the Vernal Fall footbridge is closed due to a rockfall until further notice,” a Feb. 6 post on the national park’s Facebook page said.

The park offered an alternate hiking route, saying visitors could “follow posted detour signs from the Happy Isles shuttle stop (#16) to the stock trail be
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