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Letters to the Travel editor

Travel tips and Monticello.

March 06, 2011

The "Travel Checklist" in your ultimate travel guide ["Trip Tips? In the Bag," Feb. 27] was great, but you may want to suggest including electrical adapters (plugs) for countries where travelers want to use or recharge their electronics. There are various websites with this invaluable info. You might also suggest that they bring electronics that can accept 120-volt and 240-volt inputs or take a transformer. Good job!

Lew Bird

Huntington Beach

This is not a great, sexy or even fun travel tip, but it could save your life, if not a whole lot of trouble, in an emergency. When traveling abroad, always keep your passport on your person (in a zippered pocket), not in your purse or backpack. You might want to tuck in some money and a credit card as well. Also, always have a pair of shoes (not slippers) next to your bed in case of emergencies.

We were in Christchurch, New Zealand, during the recent earthquake that caused such devastation. I was home alone in our small apartment just four blocks from the Central Business District, which suffered the worst of the destruction. When the shaking stopped, I grabbed my cellphone and charger, my passport, a warm jacket and windbreaker and put on my boots before running outside. We later were able to go back into our building and pack some of our stuff in a small bag. We were airlifted out by the Royal New Zealand Air Force a few days later. On the plane, we met many people with just a plastic bag with the toothbrush, toothpaste and underwear that the Red Cross had issued them — no passport, nothing; they had not been allowed back into their hotel rooms to retrieve their passport and other possessions.

Isabel Downs

Santa Barbara

Inspired by Jefferson's Monticello

It is extremely rare that anything in the Travel section makes me cry. Judith Fein's moving story about the Levy family's relationship with Monticello did just that ["The Missing Chapter," Feb. 20]. I am still tearing up as I think about it.

Julane Marx

Sherman Oaks

Thank Fein for her article on Monticello. Knowing more of its history makes me want to revisit this national treasure. Charlottesville, Va., is one of the prettiest cities that my wife and I have had the pleasure of exploring, as well as Monticello and Ash Lawn-Highland and Montpelier (the homes of presidents James Monroe and James Madison) and the University of Virginia (founded by Thomas Jefferson), to name a few.

Patrick Henshall


In Fein's excellent article about Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, she indicates that Jefferson lived full time at Monticello when he left public life in 1809. Readers may be interested to know that, in fact, throughout his retirement years he also spent time at his personal retreat, Poplar Forest.

Poplar Forest was the only other home Thomas Jefferson designed for his personal use. He began directing construction of this sanctuary in Virginia's Bedford County — a 90-mile, three-day trip by horseback from Monticello — in letters from the White House. The year he stepped down from the presidency, Jefferson began regular sojourns to this very special place, situated far from public scrutiny and the demands on his time.

Experiencing Poplar Forest has been likened to reading Jefferson's private journal. The house and landscape, and the time he spent here, give us insight into the private man and his ideas. Jefferson created his getaway for pursuing knowledge, renewing his creativity and spending time with his grandchildren

Poplar Forest was purchased and opened to the public only relatively recently, and state-of-the art restoration is now underway. Today, it offers tours, special events, educational programming and a way to experience the private side of this very public Founding Father.

We would love to tell readers more about Poplar Forest at

Robert C. Clark

Chairman, Board of Directors

Corp. for Jefferson's Poplar Forest

Forest, Va.

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