I bought a stein in Germany, a miniature Eiffel Tower in France, a painted cowbell in Switzerland, and a bust of Johann Strauss in Austria. Although my tchotchkes are corny, they represent great memories of a summer spent exploring another part of the world.
—MAGGIE ESPINOSA, SAN DIEGO, CALIF.
In the Thicket of It
Living only 10 miles from the Big Thicket National Preserve, I read Douglas Gantenbein's article about threats to our national parks [August] with particular interest. Although the encroachment of new houses and subdivisions does create some problems in the park, more damage is caused by thoughtless local residents and tourists, who tromp through the woods crushing fungi, lichen, and carnivorous pitcher plants, and even by non-native animal species such as the feral hog, which uproots the thicket floor and destroys the food sources found there, creating shortages for other creatures.
—JEFF THOMPSON, BEAUMONT, TEX.
Start Your Engine
I don't understand why, when Amy Fine Collins was given the chance of a lifetime to drive the Maybach ["Vroom, Vroom!" September], she gave up the wheel less than halfway through the trip and let someone else take over. Is she trying to perpetuate the notion that women can't drive fast, powerful cars?The "macho" episodes, such as the speeding ticket and drag-race challenge, coincidentally occurred when her Mercedes escort was driving. How did the story go from newly-licensed-and-loving-it, racecar-driving, motorcycle-riding Amy Fine Collins to oh look, I got the sandwiches out of the fridge, passenger-eye candy Amy?
—R. AARON, VIA E-MAIL
AMY FINE COLLINS REPLIES Part of being a good driver is knowing when to take a break for maximum alertness and safety. After three hours, I felt the time was right—and as far as I'm concerned, the time is always right to be hospitable and look one's best.
Massawa on My Mind
Tara Bahrampour struck a chord with "Eritrea Emerges" [September]. My first visit to the country was in 1957, as a naval officer. The coastal city of Massawa was hot and dusty, with few paved streets; I especially remember the delicious Italian and local food—berbera, harissa, granita, the best prosciutto I've ever had. Thank you for taking me back 47 years.
—FRANK O'CONNOR, SARASOTA, FLA.
READER'S FIND Savannah
This summer my boyfriend and I spent a week in Savannah, Georgia, where locals directed us to the Olde Pink House on Reynolds Square [23 Abercorn St.; 912/232-4286; dinner for two $80]. This 1771 Georgian mansion, complete with pine floors, Venetian chandeliers, and 18th-century antiques, was the backdrop for a dinner of low-country favorites, like hopping John (black-eyed peas and rice), served alongside the restaurant's signature black grouper stuffed with blue crab. When we discovered that the house was supposed to be haunted, we felt as if we'd stepped into Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. We scurried to the lounge to look for wandering spirits—and to enjoy some live piano jazz.
—CHRISTINE BERLANE, NEW YORK, N.Y.
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