Far and Wide
WHERE DO YOU GUYS get your writers? "Here's Mud in Your Eye (and Your Ears, and Your Hair, and Your Nose...)," Tim Brookes's August story on bog snorkeling, was fabulous. He captured the strange humor of the Brits, especially the Welsh. I wish they'd had this sport when I was growing up just down the road from Llanwrtyd Wells. Then in September you ran "The Last Days of the Mountain Kingdom," by Patrick Symmes. It was moving, and quite distressing. Every issue has at least one outstanding article, all very different, all very good. I'm so glad I subscribe.
Running Springs, California
WHAT A GREAT magazine. I used your travel recommendations back in 1996
to go to La Manzanilla, Mexico. The sights and sounds were exactly as you described. And this March my wife and I visited Puerto Rico, again relying on your advice. We went from a dry forest on the coast to a rainforest in the center of the island loaded with giant teak, bamboo, and mahogany. The trip began on a dark, cold February morning in Pennsylvania as I read your magazine and drank a cup of coffee on my porch. Keep up the great work!
MIKE GRUDOWSKI includes Duluth in his list of the top ten places to live in the United States ("Welcome to Your New Backyard," September). This is the third time a city I've been living in was targeted by evil editors in Santa Fe. Both of the othersDurango and Missoulagrew like ugly weeds after making the list. I urge you all to tell every foreigner you meet that Duluth is a cold, barren, smelly Superfund site not worth a visit, and certainly not worth a move. The fishing sucks, mountain biking is impossible, and Lake Superior is too cold to do anything on or in the water. You'd love to move away from this awful place, but the pay scale is so low that you couldn't afford to rent a U-Haul to get out.
JUST WHEN the comfortable life (at least it seemed) and a balance of work, play, kids, etc. was taking shape (or so I thought), along comes your September issue highlighting dream towns. Now the obsession begins! Thanks to you, I'm seeking other venues, other abodes, other play and work sites and opportunities that may await me in a new environ. Here's the weird part: My wife, normally a steady rock who doesn't feel the need to make changes, is right there with me on this one. Fact is, I'm struggling to keep up with her! Thanks a lot for being the spark that ignites such fires. Andy Bailie
Haute or Not?
OBVIOUSLY YOUR SENIOR editors were out there researching "10 Dream Towns" when someone of lesser editorial backbone was convinced by a hard-pressing fashion-industry type dressed in black with microframed glasses to do a "cute little piece" showcasing fall fashion ("Lake Placid Luxe," September). I thought the mailman had delivered the wrong magazine until I looked at the front cover. I giggled, finally, at the herringbone coat so perfect for gathering wood, but almost barfed at "The Fish-Are-Jumping Jive." This was done by professionals? Sorry, but I haven't sold my mountain bike, fly rod, or backpack to fund the purchase of a $320 Jack Spade canvas tote bag or Diesel jeans for $199. $199?!
WITH NO DISRESPECT to the photo-grapher or the stylist, I was surprised and disappointed not only to find a "fall style extravaganza" between the covers of your magazine but to find it between articles on the environment and canyoneering to boot. Since when does a weekend "expedition" involve designer clothing? Leave the designer-label promotion to fashion magazines and stick to the great stuff you've been publishing for years.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Tune-Ups and Breakdowns
AS A TRIATHLETE living in Canada, I am grateful for Paul Scott's Bodywork section on the essentials of swimming, cycling, and running ("Smooth Moves," August). This was some of the best advice I have seen anywhere, and it decreased my age-group times considerably. Who knew that Outside could do all that, and still take you to exciting places?
NO SOONER HAD I finished "Smooth Moves" in the August issue, which debunks the fallacy of "no pain, no gain" and praises economy of movement, when the September issue showed up, containing Mark Jenkins's column on his brutal shoulder separation ("A World of Hurt," The Hard Way). The pairing couldn't have been more appropriate had you planned it. Jenkins opines that "If you've never hurt yourself, you've likely never pushed yourself," but then he offers a central lesson drawn from his most recent accident: Outdoor sports injuries are usually the result of basic carelessness. Your magazine runs plenty of fascinating stories extolling the virtues of macho self-flagellation in the pursuit of a natural high. Let's see more that delve into the mind of the eco-masochist inside each of us. Worried you might offend? Be a manget soft.
I JUST FINISHED reading "A World of Hurt." The article took me back to the many weeks I spent providing anesthesia for the good surgeons at Gem City Bone & Joint. I must, however, disagree with one statement made by Mark Jenkins. There are some doctors who do care about your pain. We are called anesthesiologists, and we make a living trying to keep you as far away from suffering as possible. (Granted, sticking scary-looking needles into people is great fun.) So the next time you have surgery, remember to thank your anesthesiologist in advance for protecting you from the pain. Even if it's only for a little while.
Melanie McMurry, MD
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Local Motion
I WAS A PEACE CORPS volunteer in Mali, I met and married my husband there, and we passed our honeymoon in Timbuktu. Together, we lived nine years in this fascinating West African country. He worked with a nonprofit organization doing development work, a lot of it in Dogon country. Neither of us has ever seen a Dogon "roam the desert on camelback" ("See You in Six Months," August). This mode of transport is favored by the Tuaregs, a separate ethnic and cultural group. The average Dogon walks everywherethe harsh stone escarpments to which they fled in the 15th century would not permit such huge beasts as camels. It's an amazing thing that humans have actually flourished in those broken ravines and unscalable cliffs, but then the Dogon are truly remarkable people.
Linda Olson Gray
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Far and Wide