The Check-In: Bring the hotel home, take a spin on the Oregon Carousel Trail, and more

Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel.

Hotels are making it easier to bring the vacation experience home

Sometimes, the souvenir you want most from a trip is the fluffy hotel robe you couldn’t take off or the intoxicating fragrance that wafted down the hallways. More and more properties are making everything from their bedding to glassware to trinkets available for guests to purchase, allowing them to relive their stay when vacation is over.

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MGM Resorts sells many of the same items found in the rooms and lobbies at its Aria, Bellagio, Vdara, Mandalay Bay, Skylofts, MGM Grand, Delano, Park MGM, and NoMad hotels in Las Vegas. Pillows are the top seller at, MGM Resorts Vice President of Retail Strategy Ana Maria Viditchi told The Week, because people want to “experience the comfort” again.

“You can sleep as you did, lounge in robes from your favorite rooms and spas, and immerse yourself in the home fragrance you smelled on the hotel or casino floors all at home while you wait for your next trip to visit MGM Resorts,” Viditchi added.

Guests are always requesting new items, and there are several on the horizon, including pool accessories, scent items for every seasonal installation at the Bellagio Conservatory, and collections for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, New York-New York, Luxor, and Excalibur.

Go around in circles on the Oregon Carousel Trail

Carousels are whimsical works of art, offering dizzying rides aboard beautifully handcrafted animals. In Oregon, there are several carousels in operation, with five appearing on the Northwest Carousel Trail passport.

The passport can be picked up at any location — the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum, Salem’s Riverfront Carousel, Oaks Park, Friends of Cottage Grove Carousel, and the Oregon Historical Society — with special stamps for each stop. (There are also a few carousels on the trail in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.) The carousel in Albany is a work in progress, with 41 animals now and several more planned. Kids and adults can ride zebras, dogs, cats, lions, tigers, unicorns, or a seven-foot-tall giraffe. Those who are artistically inclined can volunteer to help carve and paint the carousel’s new animals, literally leaving their mark.

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Aficionados should take note of the 46-animal carousel at Oaks Park in Portland. It was built circa 1913, and has the last remaining hand-carved carousel kangaroo in the United States. There’s also the newer Salem Riverfront Carousel that opened in 2001, where each animal was sponsored by a resident. It took six years to build the ride, which has 42 horses and fanciful characters like Mr. Hopkins, a tennis-playing frog.

Tourist who carved into the Colosseum says he didn’t know it was ancient

The tourist captured on film etching names into the Colosseum has claimed he didn’t realize the importance or age of the site. Ivan Danailov Dimitrov, 27, was recorded using a key to write “Ivan + Hailey 23” on a wall, sparking outrage in Italy and around the world. In a letter sent to Rome’s prosecutor and mayor, Dimitrov wrote that he is “profoundly embarrassed to admit that it was only after this sad incident that I began to appreciate just how ancient this monument is,” The Washington Post reported. By damaging the Colosseum, he “acted with frivolousness, flippancy, and incivility, to the detriment of other visitors. I have no excuses.”

The Colosseum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was completed in 80 AD and is a major tourist attraction, with millions of visitors every year. If convicted of charges related to the damage, Dimitrov could face a fine of 15,000 euros ($16,330) and up to five years in prison. Dimitrov’s attorney, Alexandro Maria Tirelli, said he will seek a plea bargain to keep his client from serving time. “The boy will certainly benefit from a suspended sentence, the fact is heinous but not serious,” he told BBC News.

Upcoming events to add to your calendar

If you relish the idea of attending the world’s largest pickle party, read on. The Big Dill is taking place at Power Plant Live! in Baltimore on Sept. 23 and 24, and there will be unlimited pickle samplings, a brine chugging challenge, a pickle eating contest, pickle cocktails, live music, DJ sets, and more. Depending on the pass purchased, extras include swag like pickle-themed sunglasses and temporary tattoos and access to carnival rides and activities. Passes sell out every year, so if you want to get one, don’t dill-ay.

The annual Badlands Astronomy Festival is for amateur astronomers, science professionals, and young stargazers alike. This year’s festival will run from July 14-16 in South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, with activities like solar telescope viewings, paper rocket launches, and evening presentations on the Earth’s place in the galaxy, how scientists study the geology of Mars, and astronomy math.

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