SHOTThe art of CaliforniaBy John Przylepa...

MY BEST

August 22, 1999

MY BEST SHOT

The art of California

By John Przylepa, Baltimore

This photo was taken in late May while I was traveling along the Pacific coast of northern California. After spending the night in a wonderful bed and breakfast in the quaint town of Mendocino, about 2 1/2 hours north of San Francisco, we awoke to a glorious morning and decided to take a walk. That's when we spotted this artist painting what we were amazed by -- one incredible view after another.

A MEMORABLE PLACE

Three spirited travelers

Patricia Laibstain

Special to the Sun

"Three Women Came to Wyoming..." That was the first song my two friends, Ricki and Wilma, and I heard upon arriving in Wyoming's Wind River Valley in the summer of 1992 -- a summer that would forever change the way I traveled and looked at the world around me. Nestled in a glacial valley a few hours from Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, the Audubon Camp in the West was our destination for a week of outdoor learning and living.

As a young woman in my mid-20s residing outside New York City, I had met Wilma through my book club. Ricki, on the other hand, was one of the first and best friends I had made since moving to the Big Apple. Wilma, recently widowed, and in her late 60s, was making efforts to rebuild her life after the unexpected loss of her husband, Bernie.

Avid, adventurous travelers, Wilma and Bernie had seen so much of the world together, and this was to be Wilma's first big vacation without him. Ricki and I, both recently out of college, had no idea how our lives would change when Wilma said at the book club: "I'm going to Wyoming this summer. Does anyone want to go?" and we both, offhandedly, and without other plans, said, "Sure, why not?"

And so we went, and so I changed.

I learned to look at the the world around me, to slow down and enjoy the beauty along the way, to appreciate the beautiful things we can see in any day when we just take time. For that, I have Wilma, Ricki and Wyoming to thank. We spent a wondrous week at the Audubon Camp exploring and learning about mountains, glaciers, lakes, wildflowers, wildlife, petroglyphs, the Shoshone, constellations and more.

We stayed on for another week and walked the burned woods of Yellowstone, listening to the cries of the wind through the trees. We stared in amazement at the oozing mud of the bubbling paint pots, saw fumaroles and bison, watched Old Faithful erupt. We stood awestruck and silent as a moose swam across Teton Lake. We spent countless hours hiking, with Wilma stopping at practically every wildflower, amazed and appreciative, and extolling the virtues of each petal, leaf and stamen (while Ricki and I laughed at her enthusiasm).

Wilma's passion for travel returned on that trip. We've now been on six trips together, exploring the coast of Maine, the beaches of Long Island, traveling national parks in California and Utah, being dazzled and humbled by the enormity of the Canadian Rockies. And now, everywhere we go, we stop and look at the wildflowers together. Amazed and appreciative, we don't laugh at Wilma anymore.

Patricia Laibstain lives in Baltimore.

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Lisa Zang, Clarksville

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Seattle

Fred and Andi Weiss, Baltimore

"We saw the Seattle Mariners play an exciting 10-inning game in their new outdoor ballpark, Safeco Field. The view of the field is great from any seat, but our seats in the upper deck provided spectacular views of Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline. Don't worry if it rains -- Safeco Field has a retractable roof!"

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