'Little Women' Lives

YOUR ARTICLE on the Alcott houses in Massachusetts brought back good memories ["Boston's Alcott Trail: Little Women Slept Here," Oct. 31]. We lived in Durham, N.H., when my daughter, Amy, announced that over the summer she was going to read everything in the library about the Alcott family. By the time her birthday came around in August she had completed her goal, and I took her to Concord, Mass., to see the Alcott houses. Too bad I didn't know about the houses in Boston at the time -- we could have visited those also.

Connie Freiermuth


YOUR ARTICLE didn't mention one more major Alcott site in the Boston area: Fruitlands.

In 1843, Bronson Alcott brought his family to this hilltop property (off Route 2 in Harvard, Mass., about a 30-minute drive from Concord). His intent was to start a utopian commune, living off the fruit of the land. It was one of America's first communes, with a vegetarian lifestyle, no less, but it failed within a year.

You can visit Fruitlands year-round, although its museums (including the spartan building the Alcotts shared with several others) are only open from May to October. The estate has miles of hiking trails and the views are incredible.

Lori Murray Sampson

Garrett Park, Md.

AFTER READING your article, I thought you'd like to know that the Aurora Theatre group of Western Loudoun County will be putting on a production of "Little Women" Nov. 12-28 in the Old Stone School in Hillsboro,Va., 50 minutes northwest of D.C. Those who love the book might be interested in a weekend jaunt to the countryside to see this lovingly rendered production. Details: 540-668-6779, www.storyroot.com.

Nancy Purcell

Purcellville, Va.

Marfa, Marfa, Marfa

NO, I don't understand why Zofia Smardz would scream at two cyclists on the scenic loop near Marfa, Texas ["In Texas, Bright Lights, Small City," Oct. 31]. I fail to see how cycling represents the "narcissistic, plugged-in present."

There is no better way to appreciate scenery and cover vast distances at a reasonable pace than to travel by bicycle. It is much easier to stop for those historical markers, wildflowers, turtles and other random things by the side of the road. You hear the birds and cows, breathe fresh air and feel the heat and cold, wind and rain. A car insulates and isolates.

As a visitor, Smardz had very little right to tell anyone to "go away," even through a closed window. I encourage her to think again.

Katharyn Bine


AMTRAK IS also an enjoyable option when visiting the Alpine/Marfa area. Several years ago, my wife and I rode Amtrak's Texas Eagle/Sunset train from Austin to Alpine. The route closely follows the border and is quite scenic. Upon arrival at Alpine, we rented a car and drove to Big Bend National Park and Fort Davis.

Often, it seems, your "Getting There" comments seem entirely focused on planes and cars, when trains are also available.

Rob Siik


Homer's Home Town

WHILE I enjoyed Andrea Sachs's article on Springfields [Springfield 101, Oct. 31], I was disappointed that she was not able to identify the Springfield where the Simpsons live.

How can we know which of the 54 Springfields is the true one? As fans of the show know, the Simpsons' Springfield is next to Shelbyville. According to the 2003 Zip Code and Post Office Directory, only four states have both a Springfield and a Shelbyville: Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.

It should be a simple matter for the Travel section to discover which of these states has a Springfield that has a nuclear power plant and a tall mountain nearby.

Michael Hoyt

Silver Spring

Free-Style Dining, Cont'd

WE WERE apprehensive at the thought of free-style dining on our cruise to Bermuda in October. However, we loved it. We never encountered any lines, and the waitstaff was gracious and accommodating. We were served anything we asked for. Also, we met new and interesting people each evening. We would, without hesitation, take another free-style cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Marge and Hank Kalinofsky


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