My Best ShotMountain majestyBy William Somerville, Baltimore"When...


My Best Shot

Mountain majesty

By William Somerville, Baltimore

"When we arrived at Glacier National Park in Montana in late August, the weather was overcast and drizzly. Early the next morning, I awoke to a dazzling light show outside the window of our room at the historic Many Glacier Hotel. I grabbed my camera (a simple 'point and shoot' model) and took this shot from the hill behind the hotel."


Bicycling through Brittany

By Thomas Dorsett


"My God, Thomas, where's your backpack? It has all our traveler's checks, our passports and our airplane tickets!"

I had just pedaled in front of my wife, Nirmala, and my friend, Cartan. We were on the fourth day of the biking part of our vacation in France, somewhere in rural Brittany.

No wonder I had been feeling unburdened and carefree. Ten pounds were off my back for who knows how long -- and I hadn't noticed.

I groaned. Not only because the backpack was probably lost forever -- I had left it, my wife figured out, on a bench at a bay about 10 miles back -- I groaned because I would have to negotiate that hill again.

I took off in a panic -- in the wrong direction! Cartan, a little dot on the horizon, waited for me. Eventually we reached the bay.

The backpack was still there -- with all the valuables. Oh, did I ever praise the honest French, forgetting the signs that we had seen warning tourists that thefts occur here, too.

The rest of our bike trip went very well. Each day we traveled about 40 miles, after which, if we read our maps right, we would find our hotel.

How beautiful rural Brittany is! Every village, full of houses lavishly decorated with flowers, has a church at its center and a graveyard at its periphery. Between villages, nature is bountiful -- corn and wheat everywhere, cows in the pastures instead of people in malls. In France, towns remain towns and country remains country. You cannot "develop" land here -- Vive la France!

After eight days of biking, we were ready for our trip to Rennes, the capital of Brittany, where we were to attend French classes for five days. Our teacher also taught at the local middle school. We got the same curriculum; stories about teen-agers having difficulties with their parents, etc. Four other students, from as many countries, were with us. None of them, including the teacher, knew English. It was weird being like a kid again.

After that, we rented a car and headed for Carnac where the famous prehistoric Druid megaliths and dolmens are located. There are more than 2,000 of these menhirs, upright boulders arranged roughly parallel to each other. Although they are thought to commemorate the dead or play a role in sun worship, their origin and significance remain obscure. Where had all the Druids gone?

Where had our vacation gone? We returned to Baltimore on the 9th of August in a state of elation. "If only this mood could last the whole year ..."

No doubt the Druids used to say something like this, returning to work after a retreat at Carnac. On the way to my office, I recall how our retreat had changed us into Druids, that is, into worshipers of the light around us. And we had become lighter, too -- in my case, 10 pounds lighter.

Thank you, France!

Thomas Dorsett lives in Baltimore.

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