-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Virginia is not only for lovers, it's for people who love to send vacation postcards.
For the second year in a row, the commonwealth provided the most mailed missives in our annual summer vacation postcard contest with 15. That nudged out second-place Georgia, which had 14 cards.
Third place was more crowded. Arizona, California, New Hampshire and Tennessee provided destinations for 13 postcard senders, South Carolina sent us 12.
Two states were our least visited. Rhode Island and Oklahoma generated one card each.
If there was any travel trend this summer, it might have been the drop-off in foreign journeys. Australia and Russia provided two postcards each, and there were individual cards from other countries.
Now to our annual recognitions.
BIGGEST CARD: That would be the one from North Dakota sent by Charlotte Cash . It was 111/2 inches by 53/8 inches and showed a big, blue sky and a vast open prairie. It also prompted Charlotte to write: "Glad I don't have to live here!"
UNIQUE: Four cards were very different. Barbara Sanford sent a wooden card that was really a miniature surf board from Hawaii. Jane Edmunds sent a card from the Titanic Museum that "reflects" two different images, depending on the angle you hold it.
Cal and Marisue Avery sent a wooden card showing an old-fashioned fisherman at the Grand Teton National Park.
And Sylvia Rambo sent a beautiful three-dimensional card from Mount Rushmore that provides the famous four presidents in a bas-relief format.
STATE MAPS: I like the classic old postcards that show a map of a particular state with the cities and sites. We got 13 this year, three from Montana.
BALLPARKS: I also love baseball, and 14 of you sent cards this summer showing your ballpark experiences. The biggest and best was from AT&T Park in San Francisco sent by Cheryl and Jimmy Melton .
ANIMALS: Twenty-two postcards featured animals. Horses were the most common feature. Pigs came in second with three. There was only one showing a mythical "Jackalope" -- a horse-sized Texas jack-rabbit type creature (with saddle.)
HUMOR: You're getting more sophisticated. There was only one postcard featuring an outhouse.
The Churchills , of Martinez, sent a card from Texas offering helpful hints, such as "Don't squat with your spurs on."
But my favorite was probably passed along by Pat and Wayne Fuller , of North Augusta. It showed a bear in the woods, and you can probably guess what it was doing. (He was even reading a newspaper while doing it.)
BEACH OR MOUNTAINS? Those are often two basic vacation decisions and beach always wins.
We got 36 postcards from the mountains or showing their peaks. Fifty-two cards featured beaches.
SPECIAL CITATIONS: Rose and Preston from Beech Island visited 23 states and traveled 6,757 miles. Cal and Marisue Avery , of Swainsboro, also hit 23 states, sent 26 post cards and put 8,843 miles on Cal's 2001 Ford F150.
Thanks again for all those cards.
As I've said before, they were special, and so are you.