Magical, historical southern Colorado
Regarding "Climb Into the Puebloan Past," by Christopher Reynolds, June 22: If you are intrigued by the Pueblo history at Mesa Verde, drive 30 minutes to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (outside Cortez, Colo.), where its mission is studying this history. You can take a one-day tour, including visits to active excavations and the lab, or participate in a five-day archaeological research program (which we recently did and really enjoyed). They also have programs for kids. Check it out at (800) 422-8975, www.crowcanyon.org.
In late September 1973, I went from Durango to Silverton and back on the railroad ["'Round Every Bend," by Christopher Reynolds, June 22]. They had just had the first snowfall of the season the night before. Along with the fall leaf colors, there was snow on the mountains. As a native Southern Californian, I found the experience magical.
VRBOs, no; hostels, yes
Regarding "Gorgeousness. On a Budget. It Can Be Done," by Susan Spano, June 15: When she suggests renting a house or cabin from VRBO and "live like a local," she should know (and let readers know) that this issue has galvanized and traumatized Big Sur.
There are huge issues with VRBO in our high-fire-risk and nearly nonexistent-affordable-housing community. More and more residents here have lost their homes to property owners who care nothing for the individuals who live, work, create art, fight fires and raise families in this town.
Our unique, artistic, intrepid and hard-working folks are unable to continue to live in homes they've loved for decades due to the VRBO plague. This negatively affects businesses — hiring people who live in their cars is not an option. It's destructive to our schools, the arts and community efforts of all kinds.
Please ask your readers to stay in the many wonderful inns in the area and to make their reservations well in advance.
Spano's article about wallet-friendly lodging omitted a top choice along the California coast.
Hostelling International's Monterey Hostel (www.montereyhostel.org) offers both dormitories and private rooms in a fantastic location. The facilities are clean, and the atmosphere is charming.
When I attended a professional conference in Monterey I stayed at this hostel and walked to the convention center. My husband and I enjoyed staying here for a visit to the aquarium and other local tourist attractions.
Another budget option along Highway 1 is the Bridge Street Inn in Cambria, also affiliated with Hostelling International. It's near Moonstone Beach and is the closest hostel to Hearst Castle. I stayed there on a road trip with my niece (www.bit.ly/1qF2z9z).
The hostel is near several of Cambria's quaint used bookstores, which we both enjoyed, in addition to tours of the castle and viewing the big seals a bit farther north.