California Coast Drive

I LOVED Cindy Loose's article on "Going Coastal" [Aug. 28]. I have been attempting to put together an itinerary like this for Northern California, Oregon, Washington and Vancouver (the Pacific Northwest). What you have provided is perfect as a start for me.

Herb Lieberman

Edgewater, Md.

Balmy Rochester, Minn.

WHILE ELINOR Horwitz wrote a superb article on Rochester, Minn. ["In Minnesota, Hold the Mayo," Aug. 28]), her weather-lady skills are poor indeed, with comments such as, "Rochester's formidable climate with mid-winter temperatures of 10 to 20 degrees below are commonplace, and much lower readings are frequently recorded."

The Rochester Visitors Guide states, "January is normally the coldest month of the year, with the average temperature of 20 degrees and the average low of four degrees -- and very few days below zero degrees at all."

Please leave the weather report to the professionals and natives. Otherwise, Horwitz wrote an outstanding piece.

Sheloy Giglotti


Aruba, Cont'd

IN RESPONSE to all the articles regarding Aruba and what a wonderful island it is, beware, Utopia it isn't. My husband and I visited the island in September 2004 and had a horrible experience.

Even though Hurricane Ivan did not hit the island head on, there were severe results of the tail end of the storm, there was severe rain for several days and the island was left practically flooded. People were without power, sewer systems and communications for days. My husband had an emergency during our second night there and was left unconscious. It took the ambulance more than half an hour to locate us and drive us to the emergency roonm. His two-day stay there was something out of the 18th century. Luckily he survived, but upon our return we were disillusioned and much poorer, since the island did not accept our government health insurance.

My suggestion to readers is to visit a British-run island where communication problems are less likely to occur and health care standards are more up-to-date. Think twice before visiting an island during hurricane season.

J. Keller

Falls Church

Myths, Cont'd

REGARDING the "stolen kidney" urban legend: I have a good friend whose son was, indeed, drugged in Malaysia several years back. The druggers contented themselves with stealing his backpack, money and passport, but perhaps it was incidents like this that gave rise to the legend. Frankly, I think being drugged and robbed in a foreign country is plenty scary enough.

Bec Hamadock

Clarksville, Md.

THERE'S AT LEAST one version of the "stuck on the loo" legend earlier than 1992. In the 1967 book "Coffee, Tea or Me? The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses," "authors" Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones (actually, Donald Bain) tell the tale of a woman whose "fundament" became stuck to the toilet when she flushed while seated.

I also recall reading a "traveling gnome" story in the mid-'90s (in Reader's Digest, I think), but the kidnap victim was a pig statue taken from a porch. In that story, the pig actually did travel, and the owners regularly received photos of the pig at various landmarks.

Liza Recto

Lexington Park, Md.

THE FIRST encounter that I remember with a traveling gnome was fictional. In Sharyn McCrumb's excellent satirical mystery, "The Windsor Knot," published in September 1990, a gnome was kidnapped from the garden of a man engaged to be married. The gnome sent postcards from around the world to the engaged couple before he showed up as a wedding gift at the wedding. A wedding guest had flight attendant friends send the postcards.

Diane Lending

Harrisonburg, Va.

Gas Prices

YOU WROTE that "Venezuela is the country with the world's cheapest pump prices, where a gallon of gas goes for 12 cents" [Coming and Going, Aug. 28]. I think that is incorrect. Iraq is the country with the cheapest gas, five cents a gallon. It is costing American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, according to an Associated Press article.

S. O'Donnell

Worton, Md.

YOU MAKE a comment about oil- producing nations having all the bargains. Ahem. Would you care to guess which country was the No. 3 producer of oil in the world in 2004? And continues for 2005?

That would be the United States of America. Venezuela is No. 9!

At any rate, we sure don't see any of our oil-producing Texans selling their crude at a lower price just to help out fellow Americans, do we?

Paul Battaglia



I HAVE managed a travel agency since 1979. Carol Sottili's story on consolidators ["Consolidators: Can You Get a Fare Deal?", Aug. 21] is one of the best I have read: well-balanced, solid advice and right on with the facts.

Ody Norkin

Okemos Travel

Okemos, Mich.

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