Volunteer Vacations

I HAVE been on a number of "service vacations" and found Andrea Sachs's article ["A Working Vacation," Aug. 8] to be an accurate description of the fun, pain, hard work, enjoyment and necessity of such programs. She captured the essence of my experiences and informed the reader of both the good and the bad. It was one of the better travel pieces I have read in The Post.

Ray Mims

Washington

Bay Crazy

YESTERDAY my wife and I were taking a long ride--destination unknown. After a stop at the outlet in Perryville, we ended up in Chesapeake City, Md. I saw a sign for the Bayard House and remembered your article ["Chesapeake Bay 102," Aug. 8]. We found the Bayard House, got a table and had an enjoyable dinner. Keep up the good work.

Ron Hebron

Upper Marlboro

Filoli Fun Facts

ENJOYED YOUR article about Filoli ["In Silicon Valley, a Domain Without the .com," Aug. 8]. I lived a few miles away in the San Carlos hills some years back and enjoyed visiting the estate. Two additional items worth mentioning:

* The site sits right on the San Andreas Fault and was built to withstand earthquakes, and in fact has survived them all during its 80-plus years since construction.

* K.C. Summers mentioned that she felt like she had "dropped into a Merchant-Ivory film." In fact, Filoli has been the site of numerous movies and TV shows, including "Heaven Can Wait." It also posed as the mansion in the TV series "Dynasty."

David Guskin

Potomac

Icelandish

YOUR ARTICLE on a weekend trip to Iceland by Carol Vinzant ["Fire and Nice," Aug. 8] left me disappointed. The tone of the article was consistently rude and condescending to Icelanders and had no practical information for a prospective traveler.

For example, Vinzant mentions a five-hour flight arriving early in the morning locally. From which airport did she leave? What airline? (Icelandic Air has e-saver deals, but did she take it?) What kind of hotel accommodations were included in the package? Where was the hotel? Was there a transfer from the airport?

Once in Iceland, how did she get around? Rent a car? Take a bus? How far was the Blue Lagoon from the hotel? Was there anything else there besides the water (such as a restaurant, changing facilities)? Where did she eat? What kind of food was served?

Vinzant apparently got no feel for the people or communities she was visiting. I couldn't tell if she had a good time or not, because she just kept complaining. Her observations, because that's all what was written could be called, were neither interesting or insightful--all in all, a waste of my time.

Michael Lustig

Arlington

Surf City

I READ Alex Salkever's article on Sandy Beach, Hawaii ["Waves of Fear," Aug. 1] with much nostalgia, having moved from Oahu to D.C. almost two years ago. I spent many hours enjoying the best body-surfing spot in the world--yes, getting "worked" most of the time. The article was quite accurate to point out that even experienced locals wipe out frequently. The difference between how the locals and tourists wipe out is that the experienced ones know it's coming, prepare for it, and know how to handle themselves through the "rinse cycle."

My only caution to anyone reading the article who may have taken the quote that "the fearful stay ashore" as a challenge is to please stay out of the water! At the very least, talk to a lifeguard or experienced body-surfer and get some advice on how to handle yourself. It may look easy from shore, but it's a totally different story when you are out there.

Scott M. Johnston

Woodbridge

Montpelier Rocks

I AM writing to report how much our family enjoyed reading Peter Mandel's article about Montpelier, Vt. ["A Small World," July 18]. Montpelier is unusual because it is so cosmopolitan for a small town. It is, without a doubt, the nicest small town I have ever visited. I should know, as I have been visiting Montpelier regularly for 34 years.

We would suggest that visitors also would enjoy the Savoy (art/foreign films) and the Lost Nation (live) theaters; La Brioche, the French bakery run by the New England Culinary Institute; and the various bookstores, all downtown.

Mary Sue Lyons

Vienna

Green B&Bs

WE JUST returned from Great Britain, where for five weeks we stayed in B&Bs, save for London. We had the good fortune to read of a small brochure titled "Bed and Breakfast for Garden Lovers." We stayed in three of the listings (we stayed in eight B&Bs altogether), and although different from each other, each was as good as they get. I really can't rave about the experience enough. We might have taken a different route to Edinburgh if we had known how great the B&Bs in this book were. Only three were on our route.

Not only were the gardens really special, but the accommodations were excellent, and the hosts were friendly, knowledgeable and fun as well. The brochure lists 100 carefully selected B&Bs. There are no photographs, but the description of each was met, if not exceeded, in fact. I was told by one host that they are visited at least once and usually twice a year to see if they meet the standards set. The brochure is available by sending a self-addressed, legal-sized envelope with three international reply-paid coupons to: BBGL, Handywater Farm, Sibford Gower, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX15 5AE, U.K.

Roz Harris

Chevy Chase

Poetic Justice

AS A FORMER D.C.-area resident now living my dream lifestyle (no traffic, no heat waves and no indoor plumbing) in Fairbanks, Alaska, I enjoyed Amy Nevala's story about hiking in Denali National Park ["In Deep Denali," July 4]. However, I believe that Nevala may have wrongly attributed the park's description as a "mighty-mouthed hollow, plumb full of hush to the brim" to Harry Karstens, the park's first superintendent. Most Alaskans would recognize those lines as coming from Robert Service's poem, "The Spell of the Yukon." Karstens was no doubt quoting the most quotable Service.

Suzanne Zbailey

Fairbanks, Alaska

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