Friday, October 12, 2012

Visiting Washington DC

Hello Folks,

Since we have been back in the United States we have been visiting Washington DC with Roze and Steve. They flew out from CA and we flew in from France. It worked out pretty well, they arrived about a half hour before us, and although the weather was cold with misty rain, that was the last of the rain for the rest of the week. We had a few clouds, but most of the time we had sunny blue skies.

Hail to the Chief
We had a chance to tour the White House, the Capital, and the Supreme Court. We didn't actually get to see any always being made, but we got to see where every stage of the process takes place. It was a lot of fun.

Linda and Roze at the White House

We spent quite a bit of times seeing the great monuments of the town, some of by walking from place to place, and the rest using a hop on – hop off bus. The bus got us farther out to places like Arlington, which would have been kind of a challenge by foot alone.

At Arlington we saw the Kennedys and the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. I think the most moving part of the visit at Arlington is gazing out at all of the graves of people who served the country and protected us over the years. There are lots and lots of them.


Changing of the Gaurd
We did of course go to the Smithsonian a couple of times. It is one of the greatest collections of cool things anywhere. Any building that has a huge steam locomotive, Archie Bunker's chair, and Kermit the Frog is pretty incredible.

We will be home late Saturday night as long as the airlines cooperate.

Until we see you again, we hope you are doing well.

More pictures at this Picasa Link.

Stephen and Linda

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Finished Our Bike Trip

Hello Folks,

We completed the bicycle portion of our bike trip, and we are now in Toulouse, safe and sound. All 25 riders in the group I led, made it back without accidents or incidents and are for the most part on their way back home or off to their next destinations.

Since the last blog entry, we got into the heart of the Pyrenees mountains, climbing some of the well know 'Cols' or mountain passes featured in the Tour de France. Linda and I have now ridden over the Col du Tourmalet, the Col du Solour, The Col d'Aubisque, and the Col du Portillon. It was quite a bit of work, but the scenery was great and it gave us quite a sense of accomplishment. It wasn't bad for a couple of old farts.

On the way up the Tourmalet

On the Soulor

On the Aubisque

We had a chance to see many things other than the mountain climbs as well. We spent about four days in the National Park of the Pyrenees, and were able to see some of the scenic highlights of the Park and the French Pyrenees. We spent our rest day hiking along a mountain river with countless waterfalls and ancient stone bridges. The next day we walked into a huge mountain formation called the Cirque de Gavarnie, a spectacular cliff rising thousands of feet to the ridge line that is the border between France and Spain.

Cirque de Gavarnie

We finished our trip with a visit to Lourdes, which is where St. Bernadette had her vision of the Virgin Mary. It is a major tourist destination, in particular for those wishing to be healed of some affliction, by the waters of the spring. Since we were there during a festival or processional week, we were able to see the candlelight procession in front of the Basilica.

Lourdes - Candlelight Procession Below

Setting up this trip for a group was a lot of work, but I think that everybody had a good time.  Also when you are the one planning the trip, you get to see exactly what you want to see.

Now we are off to Washington DC for the portion of the trip that Linda has planned. Hopefully all of the issues with airline strikes will be resolved by the time we need to fly home.

There are more pictures from the last several days at this Picasa Link.

We hope you are all doing well.

Stephen and Linda