Personal Journeys


August 01, 2004|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Thrills of Arizona's Canyon de Chelly

By Wayne Kern


Arizona holds some of the most awe-inspiring natural beauty I have ever seen. My neighbor and I took a sightseeing trip to the Southwest in May. We saw all the major attractions nature has to offer in Arizona, including the Grand Canyon, Rainbow Bridge and Monument Valley. But the highlight for me was Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

The narrow canyons, at around 1,000 feet deep, are not nearly as deep as Grand Canyon. But in many places, the drop is straight down.

There are many areas along Canyon de Chelly's rim where there is no guardrail, so I experienced a high fear / excitement factor as I weighed how close I wanted to get to the edge to get a view.

From various overlooks, we could see cliff dwellings once occupied by the Anasazi Indians, who are believed to have abandoned their homes sometime after a drought in 1276.

The floor of the canyon is still full of life, as the Navajo farmers and sheepherders spend their summers there. We saw Navajo women at several of the stops selling their finely crafted jewelry -- I got some early Christmas shopping done.

For me, the most impressive site was the last one I saw -- Spider Rock. I had never heard of this formation or seen a photo of it, so I didn't know what to expect.

Imagine looking down on a natural structure roughly the shape of two Washington Monuments side-by-side, only taller. I became aware of the heat of the afternoon and the silence -- no cars, birds or insects -- and this monolith before me. I stood in awe.

When I went to bed that night, I couldn't fall asleep because I kept thinking about Spider Rock. I hope to go back sometime to see it as it must be seen -- in person -- to get the full experience.

Wayne Kern lives in Baltimore.

My Best Shot

Hillary Levin, Baltimore

On the edge of Italy

While backpacking in Europe last fall, I took this photo from the terraced vineyards of Manarola, Italy, in Cinque Terre National Park. By day, we hiked through hillsides covered with olives, grapes, lemons and basil. In the evening, we sat along the coastal trail, where this photograph was taken, and watched the village glow from the setting sun as it slowly melted into the Ligurian Sea.

Readers Recommend


Robert Gaver, Baltimore

My wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary on Barbados, spending a week exploring the varied coastlines and interiors. The east coast (pictured), where the Atlantic Ocean meets the rocky shoreline, is in direct contrast to the peaceful blue Caribbean and sandy beaches on the west.

Inch Strand, Ireland

Kate Magnusson, Ruxton

My husband and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary in May by traveling to Ireland. We discovered the beautiful Inch Strand (pictured) while driving along the Dingle Peninsula. We were excited to find a sandy beach nestled at the foot of cliffs, rolling hills and farmland. It was an unexpected surprise.

Let Us Hear From You

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

A Memorable Place -- In 500 words or less, tell us about a travel experience that changed you; about the nostalgia a certain place evokes; about a favorite beach, the mountains, a city cafe. Include a photo. (Cash value: $150.)

Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

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