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National park tips: Is this the year you finally ride a Grand Canyon mule?

Letters: Memories of the Grand Canyon

If you'll be returning to your car after dark at the Grand Canyon, bring a flashlight

The cover and center spread of the April 19 Travel section brought back wonderful memories of the Grand Canyon ["Alive in the Shifting Light," by Christopher Reynolds].

In my youth, on my bucket list was a mule trip to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon before I reached age 50. I was older when I was able to go and pulled it off the year the ranch allowed visitors to stay two nights instead of one. My then-college-age daughter went with me. We arrived a day early, stayed in one of the historic cabins with a fireplace, had a drink in the lobby of El Tovar and looked forward to the trip the next day.

The morning after arriving at the ranch, my daughter and I hiked six miles along the Bright Angel Trail to Ribbon Falls, which still had water trickling down the algae-covered rock faces.

Before we left Phantom Ranch, we dropped postcards in a pouched leather bag that was labeled something like "Mule Train Express" — a clever take on the Pony Express and a way to authenticate that our postcards came from the bottom of the canyon — or so we thought.

About 24 years later, we are still waiting for those postcards. I hold no grudges. The experience of the canyon is with me still.

Carole Dougherty

San Clemente

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Be careful where you park at the Grand Canyon. My wife and I visited the South Rim in August. Early in the morning, we parked at Mather Point and then took the shuttle to other vista viewing areas. By the time we returned to the lot, it was well after dark. The parking lots and streets have no lighting so as not to pollute the shining of the stars. If you don't have a flashlight or a car remote key to spark your beams, it will take you some time to discover where you left your vehicle.

Bill Spaniel

Santa Clarita

Recycling soap

Thank you so much for the article on recycled soap in the April 19 Travel section ["Offering a Cleaner, Healthier Future," by Jay Jones]. I have often wondered what happens to the soap I leave in hotel rooms, and this is a very positive way to "re-purpose" it. I will frequently take the unopened packages and donate them to a local women's shelter where homeless women can bathe.

Carolyn Simpson

San Diego

Slavery truths

Thank you for the article by Millie Ball on Whitney Plantation in Louisiana and how it is telling the accurate story of slavery ["Voice for Those Who Had None," April 5]. My family visited two plantations in Tennessee last year and at both places slavery was mentioned, but get this: The docents rather proudly (we thought) proclaimed that the plantations' slaves were well taken care of and that when Northern troops advanced during the Civil War, the slaves were "transported to Mississippi for their safety."

It was hard to believe we were expected to believe this lie. At both plantations, the slave quarters had been torn down. We feel they should be rebuilt and the real story told.

Mahela Morrow-Jones

Goleta

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