Zip Line

The next place we stopped in Costa Rica was the zip line.  I had ridden one in Costa Rica and Thailand before, and was excited to experience the thrill of flying through the trees again!

To our surprise, we ran into some of the staff from the ship that were also going on the zip line.  It was great that we ended up in the same group so we could get better acquainted.  Later I was able to share photos with them, since they didn’t have cameras.

The girls had been tricked into thinking they were going to the beach, and they were dressed accordingly, which we thought was hilarious.

Their names and countries are Aleksandar (Serbia), Stanko (Serbia), Diana (Montenegro) and Lori (Croatia).

What a delight to spend this time with them, laughing, squealing, and being goofy (rather than the normal stance they would take serving on the ship)!

And — to top it off — guess who waited on us at breakfast the next morning?  This is always the best part of traveling — the food AND the people we meet!

 

 

Two Great Speakers

We hadn’t known this before we booked our cruise, but one of the speakers for the week was our own former U.S. Senator Al Simpson.  We were thrilled to know he would be speaking throughout the week.  In addition, his close friend, Norman Mineta would be sharing the speaker’s platform.  Norman was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush, the only Democrat to hold office on his cabinet.  He was in this position on 9/11 and was the man who issued an order to ground all U.S. civilian aircraft, something that had never happened before.  He also worked on the implementation of the Transportation Security Administration department for airline safety. Here is an excellent video of Norman’s recollections of the events on 9/11.

We listened to all their speeches throughout the week and they were fascinating, funny at times and entertaining.

The story of how the two became best friends is amazing, and they took turns sharing the story with us.  Norman’s family had been detained at Heart Mountain–near Cody, Wyoming–one of the Japanese internment camps during World War II.  Al’s Boy Scout leader decided to take his troop of young boys out to the camp to play competitive games and camp-out together.  They ended up in the same tent and became fast friends for life, though one joined the Democratic party and the other joined the Republicans.  Maybe this is why Al was always so good at crossing party lines and working to compromise rather than hating the other side, something that is badly needed now.

We had met Al several times before, and he invited us to have lunch with them in the Palm Court; it was a special treat to sit with these two giants of the political world–men with integrity, kindness, intelligence and openness.  Their wives, Ann and Deni, are also about as kind and caring as anyone you could meet.

We asked a lot of questions about Washington and about 9/11, of course, and they willingly answered them all.  What an honor and privilege to dine with these special people!

Here are some photos from breakfast and from our dinner that evening.

 

 

 

Market Signs

Here are the final photos of signs from our trip to northern Spain.  I hope you have a feel for the culture and beauty of that country now.  We certainly loved our trip there, and will certainly go back again if we get the chance.

Signs on the Bike Path

Here are some of the signs we saw along the bike path in Spain.  I know that many of you, oddly, are very fascinated with the sign pics I post from trips, so here you go!  The Senda Del Oso is very well marked and easy to follow.  It goes through several villages as well as into the countryside, through tunnels and along mountain streams.

Railway Tunnels

One of the most interesting things about our mountain bike ride in Spain was the many tunnels we saw along the way.

There were many various types of tunnels.

This one was scary because it was nearly pitch dark in places, and other bikers were going past me quickly.

Some areas had beautiful rocky overhangs like this one.

Obviously, I stopped often to take photos of tunnels.

This was the original railway line for the mines, and I’m so glad they turned it into a wonderful bike trail.

I will definitely ride this bike trail again, if I ever get to go back again, hopefully with Paul next time.

Bears, Dogs and Cows

Here are some of the sites along the Senda del Oso–the bike ride we took in the mountains near Oviedo, Spain.

They actually have a small zoo along the pathway featuring the type of bears that inhabit the mountains there.

We didn’t see any wild bears but I did see a wild boar in a yard.  We also saw cows with bells, such as you would see in Switzerland or Germany.

The villages and houses were all so interesting to see.

This was a little picnic area with stone bike racks.

I loved these unique stone stairs, too.

We saw these friendly dogs that were out for a stroll with their family.

It was truly a beautiful and fun day!