SHOTGraceful waderBy Fred Nagel, BaltimoreI was in...

MY BEST

August 15, 1999

MY BEST SHOT

Graceful wader

By Fred Nagel, Baltimore

I was in Venice, Fla., visiting an 89-year-old uncle in July when I took this picture. It was at dusk after a rainstorm and I went out to photograph the eagle that usually perched on a nearby flagpole. The eagle flew away, but I saw the egret in the water that sometimes is visited by alligators and manatees. It was a moment of peaceful beauty.

A MEMORABLE PLACE

John Wayne's western set

By Edward G. Ward

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Lights! Camera! Action! Where is John Wayne? It seemed like we were extras in one of his Western movies when my wife and I took a side trip to Monument Valley in the Navajo desert of Arizona.

Growing up, we had watched the early John Wayne films and were always fascinated with the scenery of nature's red rock skyscrapers rising majestically from the desert floor. Some of the movies set in this unique valley of mesas, spires and buttes included "Stagecoach," "Fort Apache" and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon."

Director John Ford had actually constructed a long, dirt path through this valley where the cavalry troops, Indians and other actors performed with these monoliths as backdrops. It is still the only freeway through this Indian territory with a pollution-free environment.

A chartered plane took us to Rainbow Ridge, where we took an Indian-chauffeured van direct to the area where Ford, Wayne and all the others had set up for location. The natural monuments were all around us over many miles of otherwise flat, desolate ground.

Based on their appearance, some of the buttes had nicknames: the Mitten, the Camel Butte, the Spires, Elephant Butte, Three Sisters and the Thumb. We visited an old Navajo hogan, a log and mud dwelling with an open top into the sky, a cooking spot on the earthen floor and Indian blankets hanging inside.

On this enthralling, bright-sky day with complete silence, one could meditate even beyond the film shooting, through the thousands of years when only natives survived in this unique wonderland of nature.

Today, these 29,816 acres of enchanted earthscape are protected. It is obvious, though, why the locals still consider sacred these wondrous gems of nature.

Edward G. Ward lives in Bel Air.

READERS RECOMMEND...

Italy

Edith Price, Crofton

"In May, my husband and I traveled with relatives to Sirmione on Lake Garda in northern Italy. We took excursions to nearby cities: Brescia, Cremona, Mantua, Verona and Vicenza. Everywhere we found friendly people, medieval and renaissance sites and wonderful restaurants -- it was a joy to visit this country!"

Alaska

Lynn and Estelle Goldberg, Reisterstown

"A visit to Alaska provides an opportunity to experience life as it was at the beginning of this century and is now at the end. Its appearance is much like it was at the time of the Gold Stampede in Skagway. Here, one of the most popular restaurants is the Red Onion. Once a brothel, it has decorated one wall with pictures of the ladies who worked there and another with chamber pots."

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