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Vacation of a lifetime to be shared with others

Imagine looking for gloves and extra blankets to stay warm on a 30-degree night -- in midsummer.

Or hiking in snow in the middle of July.

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Or walking through a waterfall mist that blew so hard it was like walking through a hurricane.

These experiences might sound foreign to those of us who spent the summer simmering in Carroll, but they became an unforgettable vacation for Marcia and Ed Leiter and their sons, Brian and Benjamin. The New Windsor family spent eight weeks of the summer traveling, camping and hiking out west.

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They left northwest Carroll on June 25 and logged 10,000 miles on their Dodge Caravan before arriving home Saturday.

What a trip they had! It took the Leiters a week to drive to California, then the adventure began.

At Yosemite National Park, the melting of the near-record snowfalls of the winter and spring made the waterfalls "absolutely spectacular," Marcia said. The mountain road they traveled through the park cut through 15-foot snowdrifts that resulted after an avalanche was cleared. The Leiters spent three days hiking the waterfalls, including the challenge of hiking through a hurricane-strength mist storm.

At Sequoia and Glacier National Parks they learned how not to attract grizzly bears -- by locking everything, including suntan lotion and bug repellent -- in the bear boxes provided by the parks, and to sing, shout and generally make as much noise as possible as they hiked through the woods. Grizzlies don't like to be surprised.

The Leiters saw North America's famous tall trees at Redwood National Park, as well as hundreds of seals basking in the sun on the rocky shore. At Crater Lake National Park in Oregonthey saw the cleanest lake in the world and the deepest lake in North America.

"The lake is so blue you can't capture the color on film," said Marcia, who took dozens of pictures of the family's journey.

They took it all in with awe -- the Columbia River Gorge, the Lewis and Clark Trail, Mount St. Helens, Yellowstone, Grand Coulee Dam, Ho National Rain Forest and a city stop in San Francisco and rodeo in Wyoming.

Witnessing the kinds of wildlife we don't see in the East -- a moose almost blindsided Brian as he hiked a trail in Grand Teton National Park, they saw a black bear crossing a river near Mount Rainier, three bald eagles on San Juan Islands and a herd of bison jamming the road in Yellowstone -- was the highlight of the trip.

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Other surprises included meeting people from all over the world.

"We met people from Germany, Japan, Russia, France and Eastern Europe," Marcia said. "And everyone was so friendly, and in such a good mood. People loved the sights and the common experience of seeing such beauty rubbed off on everyone."

Another by-product of the trip was the closeness that camping ** and traveling together provided.

"Working together through problems, working together to set up the campsite, trying to figure out how to stay warm -- focusing on immediate needs, without phones or the distractions of work and school -- was really a good experience," Marcia said. "It feels strange to be home."

It took the Leiters a year to prepare for the trip, and now they're preparing a slide show to share with friends and neighbors.

"We feel so fortunate to be able to do this," Marcia said. "We want to share it with others."

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Calling all actors and people who love the stage. Arnie Hayes, who for more than 20 years has produced "September Song," a benefit musical held in Westminster every year in September, is pursuing a new venture. Mr. Hayes, in cooperation with the folks at Elmer Wolfe Elementary School, wants to produce a one-act play in December to help raise money for playground equipment for the school. The dinner theater will be held at Francis Scott Key High School.

The new group needs help in two areas: Naming the group and recruiting actors. Vickie Mastalerz, who is organizing the effort, says "Name our group, and you'll win two tickets to the play." Submit your entries to P.O. Box 597, Union Bridge 21791 by Sept. 30.

Auditions will be Sept. 25, 26, 27 and 28 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Key auditorium. Scripts will be provided, and all parts are open to ages 18 and up.

"I'm looking forward to this," Mr. Hayes said. "And I think we'll have fun. We'll do a one-act play and have some fun with it."

The type of play -- either a melodrama or comedy -- will be determined by how many people show an interest in performing.

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"People who want to be in the play can expect a leisurely pace until December. We'll rehearse a couple of nights a week at Key," Mr. Hayes said.

It takes commitment to learn lines, but Mr. Hayes assures it will be a lot of fun. Information: 775-7638, 751-3307 or 848-3186.

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Today is the last morning for D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read), sponsored by Sulphur Springs Lions Club. Come to Lions Park in New Windsor and win prizes, free books, and enjoy crafts and snacks from 10 a.m. until noon.

Read your books, or one provided. Children in grades one through 12, and adults are welcome.



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