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.
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.
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.
One of our favorite activities in Spain was the bike ride we took in the mountains. The Senda del Oso runs 25 miles on an old mining rail line through the mountains above Oviedo. There are several tunnels, which I’ll feature in a later post. We had a wonderful day on rental bikes, and thoroughly enjoyed the views along the way. These are some of the many granaries we saw along the way.
The countryside was beautiful and we had great weather all day!
We came across this small church with an interesting cemetery behind it.
We stopped for lunch in a small village and found the food to be delicious.
Chris and Sarah each bought a frozen fruit bar.
Then we headed on up the path nearly to the end, when we had to return to get the rental bikes turned in.
More granaries along the way.
I’ll show more scenes from the bike ride on the next blog post.