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Yosemite National Park: Half Dome rocks; cellphones in Europe

Yosemite National Park brings memories of a lifetime; smartphone apps for staying in touch overseas.

June 30, 2013

Thank you for the wonderful article on Half Dome by Christopher Reynolds ["A Full View of Half Dome," June 16]. We were reminded, word by word, of our 83 years' experience in "our" valley.

My wife, Virginia, first visited with her parents as a newborn, her mom and dad having spent their honeymoon in July 21, 1922, at Camp Curry.

My introduction was made by Virginia the week after my discharge from the Army in 1955. Our four children have spent many summers in Yosemite Valley. Our family accounts include the "renaming" of the valley. When in conversation about Yosemite, our daughter Debbie, age 3, announced with a stamp of her foot, "It's not 'Yosemite,' it's 'Mysemty!'"

John and Virginia Grande

Glendale

::

Best view of Half Dome? Try directly across the valley from the summit of North Dome (four-mile hike off Tioga Road). You'll stare straight into the sheer face. Nice article. We're heading to Yosemite in the near future, and Reynolds' piece got my blood flowing.

Stephen F. Cunha

Professor and chair, department of geography

Environmental studies program coordinator

Humboldt State University

Arcata, Calif.

App cellphone solutions

I read with interest the article on international cellular plans in the June 16 On the Spot ["Mobile Strategy" by Catharine Hamm]. I just returned from Europe on June 12, and our cellphones were a problem.

My daughter and I both have the iPhone 4S, and prior to our trip to Europe, I contacted Sprint about arranging an international plan. Upon arrival in Rome, we were unable to access either data or voice services.

I'd downloaded the troubleshooting guides before our trip and we did all the suggested steps. Nothing.

As a backup to any international plan, I'd recommend that travelers install the WhatsApp before departure. Anyone you plan to contact must also have the app installed. Your phone contacts are imported into the app so you can easily see who is a member and invite those who aren't.

The WhatsApp offers free texting between WhatsApp members. This worked seamlessly as long as we had a Wi-Fi signal. You can also send photos and videos.

Viber offers free calls, even internationally, among Viber members. Unfortunately, only my daughter had installed it prior to our departure. She was able to contact her friends with Viber. I installed it on my return (she is still there), and we've talked several times a day. Call quality varies depending on Wi-Fi signal, but overall, it's very good. I've had everyone I know install it.

Had I done this before my trip, it would have saved me time, aggravation and money. I won't bother with an international plan in the future — I'll just turn off roaming and rely on Wi-Fi and the above apps. We had no difficulty finding or accessing Wi-Fi in Europe; most of it is free.

Susan Lorenzana

Beverly Hills

Golden Nugget fee? No thanks

Over the years, I've enjoyed staying at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. But I won't anymore. Why? Because hotel management has decided to charge all guests a daily $5 fee for the Fremont Street Experience, starting July 1. Why not charge this fee to only those who wish to attend?

Perhaps the Nugget should cut out all those gourmet meals and fancy comped hotel suites that they extend to these high-rollers. Then the average guest wouldn't have to be nickel-and-dimed at every turn.

David Tulanian

Los Angeles

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