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A replica of Noah's Ark has been built in the rolling hills of northern Kentucky and it is, quite literally, of biblical proportions. The wood structure stands seven stories high and is the length of 1 1/2 football fields.

The Department of Homeland Security might start requesting some travelers' social media handles.

That's according to a proposal submitted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection last week.

The proposed policy — which is currently open for public comment — would ask for social media "identifiers," such as handles or usernames, from travelers entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

Every place has its own sound. A small group of scientists is hard at work recording the natural sounds of national parks all across the U.S. — more than 70 soundscapes so far.

For our series on the centennial of the national parks, we traveled to Colorado, to find out how they create these portraits of sound.

First Lesson: It's Very Hard To Escape The Sound Of Humans.

Pioneer Square apartment listed at $130/night on Airbnb.
Courtesy of Airbnb

People that run Airbnb-style rentals in Seattle say proposed city rules are too narrow. Opponents of the rule shared their concerns at a City Council committee meeting Wednesday.

For a meeting in which the council was discussing, not voting, on the changes, Councilmember Tim Burgess noted that a lot of citizens showed up. More than 30 signed up to speak.


The head of the beleaguered Transportation Security Administration told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday the long passenger lines at screening checkpoints at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport this month should have been avoided. He also said it was a "failure" on the part of the agency to get some things done.

At London's annual Chelsea Flower Show, the flora is fit for a queen: shaped in her likeness and crafted in honor of her 90th birthday. The new princess has her own chrysanthemum too.

But this year's event, which opens Tuesday, kicks off with a warning from the Royal Horticultural Society: Britain has a "lost generation of gardeners."

When you sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, only half your brain is getting a good night's rest.

"The left side seems to be more awake than the right side," says Yuka Sasaki, an associate professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown University.

The parent company of Alaska Airlines has struck a deal to buy Virgin America, creating a West Coast-focused airline. If approved by regulators and Virgin America's shareholders, the combined airline will be the fifth-largest U.S. carrier, according to Alaska Air Group.

"By bringing them together, we're creating the premier airline for people who live anywhere on the West Coast," Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement.

Juvenile penguin on Genovesa Island. Click on this image to see more penguin photos.
Patricio Maldonado/Courtesy of iGalapagos.org

Bill Radke speaks with University of Washington researcher Dee Boersma about her website iGalapagos, where she is asking Galapagos Islands tourists to share their photos of penguins to help with her research. 

Blue Origin team members Bretton Alexander and Jeff Ashby, founder Jeff Bezos, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, and team members Rob Meyerson and Robert Millman at the company’s headquarters in Kent in 2011.
Flickr Photo/NASA HQ Photo (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/aSA5N4

Audio Pending...

Bill Radke interviews reporter Alan Boyle about his recent tour of Blue Origin -- the Jeff Bezos' space tourism and rocket factory that opened its doors to reporters for the first time this week.  

On Monday, Amtrak opens its Cascades trains to cats and dogs between Eugene, Oregon, and Bellingham, Washington. But there are some guidelines.

Removing any doubt about whether you're allowed to puff away on an electronic cigarette while airborne, the Department of Transportation has explicitly banned vaping on commercial flights.

When Godwin Ndosi first heard the word "Airbnb," he said, "Airbnb? Is that the name of a person?

Now it's the way he makes his living.

His introduction to the accommodations rental website came a year ago. Ndosi, a 23-year-old from Arusha, Tanzania, runs a safari business. A client had nowhere to stay after his hotel plans fell apart, so Ndosi invited him to spend the night at his pad.

Washington state government workers would be forbidden to travel to Victoria, British Columbia, on business under a budget proviso passed by the Washington House of Representatives. The proposed travel ban is meant to pressure Victoria to stop dumping raw sewage into shared border waters.

A lot of visitors to Colorado figure they might give the state's good ganja a try, but they might not be prepared for the effects. When it comes to bad weed trips, out-of-staters have been doing much worse than Colorado residents and are going to the ER more often since recreational sales of marijuana began in 2014.

A vote by Idaho lawmakers Monday showed Northwest states are moving toward full compliance with driver's license security upgrades demanded by Congress more than a decade ago.

On a chilly afternoon in south Georgia, more than 100 Transportation Security Administration trainees are huddled together on metal bleachers overlooking a field. They're watching an explosives instructor demonstrate what can happen if they don't do their job well.

"All right, confined smokeless powder in three, two, one."

BOOM!

The trainees (and an observing reporter) jump, startled by the explosion 100 yards or so before them.

More blasts follow, with different explosives. The lesson for these new hires? That the consequences of a mistake are deadly.

The Record: Thursday, Feb. 4, Full Show

Feb 4, 2016
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Today on The Record: Rick Steves, a well-known travel writer based in Edmonds, will tell you how to go to Cuba and what you might find.

Also, is Europe's immigration crisis something you should consider when it comes to visiting there? And move over Gala, Fuji, Braeburn and Red Delicious, there's a new Washington apple coming to your grocery store. Listen to the full show above or check out the individual stories:

The Obama administration is implementing changes — voted into law by Congress late last year — that tighten the visa waiver program, specifically targeting Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria. But the administration is reserving the right to make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

As Iran prepares to pump even more oil into an already glutted market, that oversupply isn't just making gas cheaper for your car — it's also causing jet fuel prices to go down sharply. And that's now pushing airfares down, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering a travel warning for countries where Zika virus is circulating. The reason: growing concern among researchers that the virus could be causing babies in Brazil to be born with brain damage.

The Zika virus is named after the Zika forest in Uganda, where it was first identified in the 1940s. For decades it was a rare disease, primarily popping up in Africa and occasionally in Southeast Asia. In 2007, there was a major Zika outbreak in Micronesia. Then in May of 2015 the virus turned up in Brazil.

It won't be long until passengers will be able to take a ferry to Cuba from Miami, an idea that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago in a city that's home to Cuban exiles who fled from the Castro regime. The Obama administration approved licenses last year to companies that want to run ferries to Cuba. Several are interested. Still, it came as a surprise last week when the port of Miami said it's considering building a new ferry terminal on land that had been slated for development.

The Department of Homeland Security Friday extended its deadline for non-compliant states to raise ID card standards. That means a regular driver's license issued by Idaho, Oregon or Washington state will be acceptable identification to board an airplane for at least another two years.

Travel expert Rick Steves speaks at Seattle Central College.
Courtesy of AARP/Bruce Carlson

Rick Steves is known for his guidebooks and radio and television shows, but travel is more than a business to him. He calls it “a political act.”

As an example, Steves tells about the time he changed vacation plans to go to El Salvador on the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. "No more expensive, no more risky than going down to Mazatlan, but a life-changing experience," he said.

Steves spoke Dec. 10 at the Seattle Central College Broadway Performance Hall as part of AARP’s Life Reimagined Speaker Series. Jennie Cecil Moore recorded the event.

A TSA bomb-sniffing dog.
Courtesy of TSA/Lorie Dankers

More than a million people are expected to pass through Sea-Tac airport this week and next.

More people means more chances for long lines and bottlenecks. But the airport has been working on ways to avoid that. Sea-Tac spokesperson Perry Cooper said the TSA has brought in more helpers to speed up the lines: bomb-sniffing dogs.

Hanford officials and community boosters In southeast Washington are hosting a celebration Thursday at an historic nuclear reactor. A signing ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday made the Manhattan Project National Historical Park official.

Need a fix of bright fall foliage? Kyle Waring can help with that. He’s now in his second year of business collecting and selling autumn leaves.

Waring tells Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti about his business called Ship Foliage and how he preserves the leaves. And for another seasonal fix, if New England has another snowy winter, Waring will continue his second year of Ship Snow, Yo! – packing and shipping that fluffy white stuff.

One Still Missing In Whale Watching Capsize Accident

Oct 26, 2015

More details are emerging from the capsizing of a whale watching boat off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Of the 27 passengers on board, five have been declared dead and searchers are trying to find one who is missing.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Flights to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, from Seattle and other West Coast cities were canceled Friday and Saturday as Hurricane Patricia slammed into Mexico’s central Pacific coast.

Updated at 8:05 p.m. ET

The National Hurricane Center says the eye of Hurricane Patricia has made landfall near Cuixmala on Mexico's southwestern Pacific coast. Its winds were measured at 165 mph, somewhat weakened but still a Category 5 storm capable of catastrophic damage.

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