From Arizona to France

Each month, I scan the latest issue of Travel + Leisure for inspiration—my wife and I keep a "places to go" list. Although we have yet to visit Tucson, the photographs by Martin Morrell in "Under the Tucson Sun" [February] intrigued me. I leafed through the article until I came upon the sentence "The Tucson night is a soft and tangible presence, dark beyond velvet." It was as if Joan Juliet Buck were painting with words. I was hooked, and I had to return to the beginning to absorb the story slowly, word by word, until I felt as though I had made the trip myself. Tucson is now on our short list; when we finally go, the February issue will come with us.

Revisiting Vieques
As a resident of San Juan, Puerto Rico, for more than 20 years, I had avoided traveling to Vieques because of the anti-U.S. Navy protests. In November I went to the island to see what changes had been made since the departure of the Navy—a trip Matthew Yeomans took for the February issue ["From Bust to Boom"]. As Yeomans confirms, some anti-American sentiment still exists. I spoke with a taxi driver who thinks the United States has left the Viequenses in the lurch, and with an innkeeper who was forced to sell his business because of the hostile atmosphere—he added that so many houses were for sale because the longtime "foreign" residents were getting out while the getting was good.

The Call of Kauai
I couldn't agree more with writer Bonnie Tsui that Kauai is a virtual Eden ["Paradise Island," December]. I first visited the small Hawaiian island in December 2002 and plan to return this summer. I loved that Tsui injected the local lingo—watching the pau hana ("quit work") traffic while enjoying an ahi nori wrap at Mermaid's Café. I have not stopped thinking about those delicious wraps since having lunch there more than a year ago. My boyfriend suggested calling the café to see if they could survive a FedEx trip to the mainland!

France's Spiritual Side
Spirituality and architecture have interested me for years, especially because I am a minister, so I thoroughly enjoyed Miriam Rosen's article on stained glass in French churches ["Sacre Bleu," February]. When I think of how architecture has influenced the transmission of faith to the masses, the purpose of the cathedral is as important to me as the cathedral itself. Why spend great sums of money on an elaborate structure when something simpler may do?Rosen's article has sparked my interest in learning more about the churches she mentions—I hope I can make a trip to France soon and see them in person.

On a recent tour of universities, my son and I stayed at the Inn on the Green [71 S. Pleasant St., Middlebury; 888/244-7512 or 802/388-7512;; doubles from $140]. Our room in the carriage house adjacent to the main building—an 1803 Federal house with Italianate details—was charmingly furnished with faux antiques. The breakfast muffins were so good, we saved some for a midday snack on the road.

For a true organic experience, the Nob Hill Lambourne [725 Pine St.; 800/274-8466 or 415/433-2287;; doubles from $179] is a hotel that uses no toxic chemicals, furnishes rooms with all-natural fabrics, and stocks the mini-bars with organic snacks. My room was luxurious but reasonably priced, and the management was most helpful.