SHOTBeautiful New MexicoBetty M. Rippel, Ellicott...

MY BEST

July 11, 1999

MY BEST SHOT

Beautiful New Mexico

Betty M. Rippel, Ellicott City

My husband, George, and I spent a week touring Seattle and a week traveling in Albuquerque, N.M. Both were beautiful in their own way, but I found the scenery, the sunsets, the mountains and the terrain breathtaking in New Mexico. My husband snapped this picture high up on Route 502 leaving Los Alamos. The gorgeous blue sky and white clouds accented the rustic terrain below.

A MEMORABLE PLACE

A willing prisoner

By Truitt Smith

Special to the Sun

I spent a night on the rock. No, I am not talking about Alcatraz but Mont-St.-Michel in France. My wife and I were touring France with another couple and were headed for Mont-St.-Michel, anticipating a night on the island with the abbey. Approaching from Rouen, we could see the abbey spire some miles from our des- tination. Each mile brought us closer and closer to this memorable site, which France has used as one of its national symbols for tourism.

We parked our automobile on a causeway at the foot of the island to avoid the high tides of the evening. We proceeded, with all our baggage, to make the climb. The trip on the stone steps from the base of the island to our accommodations near the top, but below the abbey, was somewhat exhausting and required being in good physical shape.

During the day, the island is crowded with thousands of tourists who come by the bus loads. But at 5 p.m. the buses begin to leave with their passengers. Soon the island is quiet, and only a few hundred visitors remain.

The serenity of dusk, the calls of the swallows and the lapping of water makes it a wonderful moment in time. The tides surge in and only the automobiles on the causeway are safe. You are now a willing prisoner of Mont-St.-Michel.

After a quiet dinner, we wandered up the steps to the abbey where a light show illuminates its medieval arches and walls, its courtyards and chapel. Music evocative of the Middle Ages added a somewhat spiritual experience to the evening's relaxing mood.

It was such a memorable experience to be on this historic island and feel a serenity that is hard to find in today's world.

Truitt Smith lives in Baltimore.

READERS RESPOND...

What is your favorite country to visit?

Ireland

June Sommers, Perry Hall

"Misty mountain peaks, a palette of green -- never fading. Cliffs of breathtaking grandeur that rise high above the sea. The sweet scent of the turf fires pervading the countryside. And Doolin, in County Clare -- so dark at night, you catch sight of the edge of the Milky Way."

Morocco

Rebecca M. McNamara, Baltimore

"To me, the one country, more than any other, symbolizing the word 'exotic' is Morocco. Truly the Arabian Nights come alive. Whether I'm experiencing nostalgia in Casablanca or being fascinated by Marrakech's snake charmers, it is far and away my favorite place to visit."

England

Karen Hellen, Baltimore

"Writing an international pen pal for 35 years, then finally meeting her, makes her home my favorite country. Sussex County shows a lovely contrast between beautiful Tudor homes and the lush countryside filled with heather-covered fields and forests superbly fit for long walks."

Our Next Question

Where was your favorite vacation with the kids?

Please answer in 50 words or less. Send via fax to 410-783-2519, or write to: Travel Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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