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Well, I was flying low

Feeling the need for some time alone? You could become a hermit. Or, you could do what Gary Eagan did earlier this month: climb aboard a motorcycle and ride solo from the farthest north road in Alaska to Key West, Fla., where the southernmost street in the US ends, a distance of 5,632 miles. That gave him 100 hours - a little over four days - of solitude. One hundred hours? Yup, but then he was trying to set a transcontinental record as recognized by an organization of biking enthusiasts, the Iron Butt Association. He succeeded, too. The old mark, set last year, was 114 hours, 49 minutes. Eagan might have arrived even sooner but for a minor accident. Asked for comment, he said: "I'm a little tired."

Dirty air: No respecter of treasured nature reserves

The air in America's national parks isn't always as clean as many imagine, or so the Environmental Protection Agency concludes. It has identified seven parks that exceed the new standard for ground-level ozone. Some of these must cope with heavy visitor traffic, but much of the smog is not attributable to the parks or their patrons. At Yosemite, for instance, automotive pollution blows in from California's Central and San Joaquin valleys. Meanwhile, in the East, Great Smoky Mountains, the nation's most visited park, finds itself upwind from coal-fired power plants and other industrial pollution. The national parks where the air quality is below par, according to the EPA, and the communities nearest their entry gates:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Shenandoah National Park Luray, Va.
Cape Cod National Seashore Wellfleet, Mass.
Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park Three Rivers, Calif.
Yosemite National Park Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Joshua Tree National Park Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Acadia National Park Bar Harbor, Maine
- National Parks Conservation Association

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