Personal Journeys


July 03, 2005|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Close encounter on an Arizona road

By Susan Drey


My 7-year-old daughter Sam and I were touring the Four Corners area of the Southwest in a rental car. One evening at dusk, we were still 40 miles from the nearest lodging. It was dark by the time I walked into the lobby of the only hotel with a vacancy in Kayenta, Ariz.

The rooms at the Holiday Inn were $82, almost triple what we had been paying. I am frugal when it comes to motel expenses and decided to drive on. I asked the people working in the lobby where the next closest motel might be. They said, "If you continue north, there are some places in Mexican Hat, about 45 miles from here."

I always plan my vacations loosely. I like the possibility of finding something new, not already reviewed in one of my travel guides. For this trip, reservations were never made and not necessary, because we stayed away from popular destinations.

I like the freedom to change plans -- linger a little longer in places we like, bypass locations that bore us, or take a detour based on the recommendation of a local resident.

But now we were stuck, and so we drove up the dark road. There were no other cars in sight. It was eerie.

I was exhausted and impatient to get to the next town. I wanted to unpack, eat and go to bed. I knew we were in the midst of Navajo Indian reservations but had not studied my maps beyond that.

I had no sense of the surrounding terrain, but I could tell that I was driving up and down long, steep hills. Sam was fast asleep in the seat beside me.

About 20 miles into the drive, I crested a particularly tall hill and saw what looked like a brilliant, large star in the distance. I watched as it seemed to be falling toward me at a good pace. I thought it might be a satellite or an airplane. But my heart gave a little jump when I realized that the object was heading straight for me.

Stories of UFO encounters immediately came to mind. Such encounters were often reported on dark, desolate roads. And we weren't far from Area 51, the location of numerous reported sightings.

The light was constantly growing brighter and larger.

I am not one to pray, but I said, "Please God, don't let this happen."

My heart was racing -- it was only a matter of seconds before our paths would meet. And then the light was right there, right next to me, and it passed right by: A car with one headlight.

Susan Drey lives in Baltimore.

My Best Shot

Alan S. Ratner, Clarksville

Winter resort of the monarchs

Ever wonder where our black and orange monarch butterflies go when it starts getting cold in Maryland? They join others from around the United States and Canada and head south for the more inviting winter temperatures in Mexico. Their offspring end up in a forest of fir trees at an elevation of 10,000 feet. The monarchs seem to like togetherness because several hundred million cram themselves into just a few acres within the La Rosario Reserva de la Biosfera Mariposa Monarca from November to March.

Readers Recommend

Kilkenny City, Ireland

Joe Goforth,

Parkville My wife, Traci, and I went to Ireland for our honeymoon. We saw much of the country and took many photographs, but this picture of Kilkenny Castle in County Kilkenny stands out for us, because as rich as local history is here in Baltimore, it's awe-inspiring to see buildings dating back to 1192.


Teri Lura Bennett,


Last fall, my husband and I celebrated my 50th birthday in Paris. On our last evening, we enjoyed a late dinner (late for us, certainly not for a Parisian!) at Thoumieux restaurant on rue St. Dominique. As we walked back to our nearby apartment, we had a great view of the Eiffel Tower. It was a fitting end to our trip, and my favorite image from this wonderful vacation.

We Want To 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.)

Because of the volume of responses, photos and manuscripts cannot be individually acknowledged or returned. Submissions from all categories may be used for Readers Recommend, and upon submission become the property of The Sun.

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