Visual Reflections

Images and thoughts for contemplation.

Redwoods or Bust – Final Entry

Today was officially the last day of our trip–this special time for Judy and me with our dear grandson, Nick. There is nothing like traveling with a twelve year old, and nothing like spending special time with a grandchild. Though this was the last day, it was not a very eventful day since it mainly consisted of a seven to eight hour trip from Trinidad, California to Portland, Origen. We are back in our motel, the first place we stayed in Portland. Nick and I have bathed literally–the pool, the hot tub, the sauna, and the steam bath. It's a routine every grandfather and grandson should share. We did invite Judy to join us, but those of you who know her also know how she reacts to heat, and Nick and I were in some intense heat.

We thought about taking pictures of these baths, but were afraid we might frighten folks. Actually, we did not take a lot of pictures today at all; one only, in fact. Judy had wanted a picture of the National Park sign that begins the redwood forests, but we missed it going down. I was driving on that occasion, of course. Since she was driving when we passed it today, we stopped and got the picture below.

Since that image, more than any other, describes our trip, I suppose it is fitting to be the only one shared in this final blog.

My dear friend, Linda Spalla, does a really great blog each year during her visit to Paris. At the end of the trip, she adds a summary of the things she has learned and experienced. As we close this blog, I thought that Judy, Nick, and I might do the same thing. Some of these things you may know and some you may not. I'll list them as we talk about them.

  1. We learned the first day that Oregon is an unusual state for two particular reasons. First, they have no sales tax–what you see on the price tag is what you pay, nothing more. To me, that demonstrates their concern for the less fortunate, since a sales tax is a regressive tax, much harder on the poor than the wealthy. I don't know if that is why the do it; I suppose it could be they have trouble multiplying the percentage and then adding the tax to the total–maybe they're not very good at math. I like the concern for the poor reason myself, and I'll stick to that, even if it is an alternative fact.
  2. Second, Oregon is one of only two states in the union where you are not allowed to pump your own gas. I'm told it is a state law that gas must be pumped only by an attendant. When Judy asked why, she was told that it adds jobs. I thought it might be due to unauthorized personnel pumping gas and causing an explosion. Who really knows?
  3. People in California and Oregon seem to be really serious about protecting the environment. Steve and Jen, our host and hostess at Pilot Rock Cottage, were adamant about composting and recycling. I saw very little trash on the roadside while traveling in either state, and lots of signs designating individuals who were responsible for keeping a stretch of roadside clean. In particular, with the drought they have experienced, they are very concerned about water resources and I found numerous recommendations about conserving water.
  4. We also learned that twelve year old boys really like to eat, and eat, and eat–lots of food and lots of calories. Of course, we did do a lot of hiking and moving around, activities that build appetites for growing young boys. We loved taking our precious Nick, but will be glad when we can finally pay off the bank loan we took out to feed him.
  5. Nick's favorite part of the trip was the dip in the Pacific Ocean. Notice the word "dip." It did not qualify as a swim. Only the feet, ankles, and finally the legs up to just below the knee were allowed to get wet. I suppose that would qualify as a "midi," swim, if you are considering hem lines. That leads to another fact; the Pacific is cold, cold, cold–much more than our delightfully warm southern gulf and warmer than the Atlantic, at least at the latitude where we live.
  6. Nick's least favorite part of the trip was the riding, and I suppose we must confess that there was a powerful lot of riding in the SUV to get to the different places. A lot of the travel also took place in mountainous areas, making the drive seem even longer and more tortuous to this vertigo sufferer, especially when Judy was driving.
  7. Nick's main reason for wanting to come to see the redwoods was to see where Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, was filmed. There are several redwood state and national park stations stretching from southern Oregon through the area we visited. Judy discovered that those particular scenes were actually filmed in Humboldt County, California where we stayed and toured. This was strictly a coincidence on our part.
  8. Crater Lake is an amazingly beautiful place, even in the smoke from the forest fires, but we regret that we were unable to see it from rim to rim.
  9. The redwoods were far more amazing than any of us imagined. I think we simply expected to see some exceptionally large trees. Instead, we walked into the remnants of a world far removed from our own; the kind of world once inhabited by dinosaurs. These giant trees were an important part of that stable environment and competed with the other gigantic life forms for continued existence. Only the redwoods remain today.
  10. The rocky coastline of this part of California and Oregon, especially when shrouded in fog, is mysteriously beautiful. I found it hard not to stop a every cove we passed to photograph the rocks, catch the crashing of the waves, and just enjoy the beauty we found there.

Well, I suppose that is enough–at least those things stand out for us right now. In the weeks and months ahead as we recall the trip and experience other things, perhaps different learnings and experiences will percolate to the surface. That's how travel affects you. It's a dynamic affair that continues to grow long after you return to a normal routine. We'll remember and cherish these days with Nick for years to come, and as the years go by, we'll find that different aspects will become significant to us for reasons we never imagined. As we end this time together, let me just say that we are thankful for each other, for the love we share, for the experiences that we have had together, and for the deepening of our relationship that this time has provided.

Redwoods or Bust – Sixth Entry

Today was the touristy day–an early morning walk along the beach (with camera, of course), a long jet boat ride, a visit to the Rock City of the Redwoods, a late afternoon view of the ocean, and finally a shot of our local lighthouse garnished with a full moon. Notice I said "our" lighthouse as if we have already taken residence here. Though we are getting anxious to get home to our family, still we hate to leave this lovely, little coastal village. Trinidad, California, along with Pilot Rock Cottage, will always have a special place in our hearts.

I am by nature an early riser. Having published the blog last evening, I was free this morning to walk along the beach and capture a few shots of the rocky coastline. I made my way around 6:15, right at daybreak, down the broken-down stairway leading from the lighthouse to the beach. Only one other old codger was stirring; probably someone like me who finds himself awakened by arthritis before he really wants to get up. Since he didn't brave the stairway down to the beach, I was left with only the sounds of the seabirds, the peal of boat bells, and the slight rustle of wind among the trees and bushes. The fog was not heavy as it had been on previous mornings, but there was still enough to surround the harbor with a mysterious mist. The whole scene affected a peaceful feeling deep within me–a perfect start for the day.

When everyone was ready, we headed for our first destination–a jet boat ride along Klamath River. Now, I'll have to admit some backwardness on my part. I didn't really understand what we were doing, and had in mind a peaceful and informative ride along the river in something like a fast party boat. The experience was informative, but anything but peaceful, quickly beginning to wonder what Judy had gotten me into. I finally realized that a jet boat is like a boating version of a jet ski–fast, slippery, and lots of fun, at least for a twelve year old. The captain was our guide along the river, and along the way he pointed out bald eagles, several varieties of duck, Ospreys, Great Blue Herons, and even a rare turtle. He told us a little about the aquatic life in general, the history of the area, the devastating flood of 1964, the spawning of salmon, and the Indian tribe that had inhabited the area for centuries. All of that was of great interest to me and I faithfully listened and took pictures as I was able. Gradually along the way I came to realize that the educational part was not the main interest of the other eight passengers; they were interest in the "jet" part. Every now and then he would do what they called a 360, in which the boat would quickly make a 360 degree spin. That was fine for most folks, but for an old guy like me with vertigo–well, let me just say that when they did a 360, I continued on to a 720, and the last 360 was not much fun at all. Some might say that I got double my money's worth, but I'm not so sure about that. The good part, however, is that my twelve year old grandson absolutely loved it–I believe Judy did too, though she feigned sympathy for me!

From there, after eating a picnic lunch, we went to what felt like a redwood version of Rock City. Like yesterday, it is part of a redwood forest, only more designed for tourists. It is called "Trees of Mystery," a locally owned business started in 1946, owned by a private family, and developed to help people understand and appreciate the redwoods. I really found it more helpful than the national park, for they had signs and explanations along the way that helped me understand the redwoods much better. I made the remark that we should have gone there first and we would have known more about what we saw in the park. You might not know, for instance, that the whole earth was once completely covered with these enormous trees, only to lose many of them when the ice age ended. Did you know that the redwood bark is resistant to fire since it does not contain resin? Still you might not know that the redwood bark has certain medicinal qualities and is useful in healing certain diseases. You would learn all of this at "Trees of Mystery," taught to you in simple fashion on a six grade level. That was perfect for me, but our twelve year thought it a little juvenile. And they say we are not challenging kids today.

We topped off the afternoon with a visit to the Klamath Cove Overlook–a high parking area looking out over the Klamath River as it flows into the Pacific, one of the areas we had visited that morning on the jet boat ride. Nick said that Judy and I deserved a date night for dinner, so while he ate a pizza at the cottage, we had delicious Pacific Chinook Salmon at one of the local restaurants. After dark, as we were driving back to the cottage, Judy captured the beautiful shot of the full moon over "our," local lighthouse, one block down from our cottage. For my photography friends, she only had her iPhone, and of course its naturally wide angle lens made the moon much smaller than it should be, and I was too lazy to go up and get a telephoto lens so she could do it properly. For my other friends, I know you really did not want to know that, but you were kind to listen anyway. Hope you enjoy the images that hopefully give you some sense of what we experienced today.

Redwoods or Bust – Fifth Entry

Today was a day of amazement, beauty, and just a tinge or two of guilt. It was redwood day, the reason we came here in the first place. Crater Lake was for Judy, but this was for Nick–his reason for the trip. When asked months ago, what he wanted to see, redwoods came out without hesitation. Judy and I would have probably never come here except for his interest, but we are so grateful we did. To say that we were awestruck by these amazing trees is an understatement. They truly are beyond description–so tall, so straight, and living for so many hundreds and thousands of years. Today, I walked among trees, which grew out of the ground as seedlings when David sat on the throne of Israel, some three thousand years ago. There is a kind of sanctity in that!

Imagine, though, that trees that old and that large once covered the coastline of California and Oregon–thousands and thousands of acres of them. Amazing! Sadly, in just about a hundred years, we nearly wiped them out. These trees had existed on this coastline for thousands of years until our modern needs for lumber, jobs, and wealth nearly brought about their extinction. Thanks to conservationists from the early nineteenth century, we were able to preserve about 6% of the remaining redwoods. We cut down and destroyed 94% of these amazing forests. I didn't cut down a single tree and I was not even alive when most of the cutting took place, yet still I feel a some guilt, along with a great feeling of loss. People needed jobs to feed their families. The nation needed lumber to build buildings. We needed the trees and we used them. Yet, we almost lost so much history, beauty and wonder in doing so. It made me stop to think, what damage could we be doing without realizing it, that our great grandkids will say someday, "What in the world were they thinking?"

Well, enough preaching and ruminating. I have been trying all day to find a way to convey to you how wonderful and majestic these giants trees are, but I have utterly failed. Nothing in all the many pictures I took today does justice to these earthly wonders. They are just too amazing to be captured in a picture. As we walked among them today, we kept saying, "Can you believe this? I had no idea they were like this!"

I'll just show you the best we have, but ask you to note that in reality they are ten times greater than anything we captured. Nick was kind enough to pose in many of them, as was Judy so you could get a sense of perspective. Note also that even though my images present the trees leaning and distorted, in reality they are perfectly straight as they reach to the sky. In one image, Nick has figured out the year of his birth in relationship to the other historical events pointed out in the rings of the tree.

We arrived home just in time for a late dinner and a glorious sunset. Most of the fog had lifted, and though we have yet to get great shots of the rocks in the harbor, we certainly enjoyed the light show the clouds and sunshine gave us at the end of the day.

Redwoods or Bust – Fourth Entry

Strange and wonderful how God provides a place of healing for you when you don't even know you are going to need it. Yet, that was the realization that came to me today.

Once again, as we awoke this morning, Crater lake was still covered in smoke. The atmosphere was better than the day before, but still smoky. I got up early to go to the store and post the blog since that is the only area with internet connections for us. When I returned, Judy was already up and sitting with a cup of coffee on the picnic table outside our cabin. It was a chilly morning, around 50 degrees, so we both needed our coats.

Once we all had breakfasted, packed and loaded the car, we yet had to wait for the gift shops to open so we could do a little shopping for souvenirs. It gave us the opportunity to ride up to the 1923 lodge, located right on the rim of the crater. It was a breath-taking sight as you can see below. We were amazed to find Wizard Island almost clear! Judy finally got to see the beautiful azure blue water, though from a distance and still in a little smoky. We never could see it from rim to rim.

Leaving for the five hour journey to Trinidad, CA, and the redwoods, we discovered the smoke getting thicker. It was a very unpleasant time for about a third of the trip as the smoke irritated our eyes and sinuses.

As we turned on the coastal highway, US 101, near Crescent City, the sight of the tallest trees in the world, the coastal redwoods, absolutely amazed us. This particular variety is fond in only one place in all the world; right here! They are so amazingly tall that I was unable to get a picture of a single tree, bottom to top, without distortion. They appear curved in the picture, but in real life, they are straight as an arrow.

For those who may travel this way, let me say that US 101 is not the best highway in the world. You have small patches of four lane roadway, but much of it is curvy, two lane with little pull offs on the side for slower traffic, allowing faster vehicles to pass. The worst part, however, are the one lane sections where construction is taking place. There you have to wait until either an attendant or a traffic light gives you permission to go ahead. Most of these sections came about because half of the roadway literally fell away at some time. We decided that it must have been caused either by a mud slide, or by too many Chevrolets driving "through the USA" during the late 50's and 60's, for those who remember that old jingle.

I must say that I was not expecting much from our accommodations in California. The pictures on the internet did not inspire me, nor did the descriptions or reviews convince me. I thought it was just a rustic place in a little village by the ocean. Furthermore, as we passed through the other little towns on the way, my expectations fell even lower. Judy always does a great job of researching places for us to stay, reading reviews and checking amenities, but I began to worry that something had gone awry this time.

Boy, was I ever wrong. The little cottage is just like the pictures, though maybe the interior a little nicer now, but what is true about this place is something you can't really put in a review or describe on an internet site. There is an atmosphere here; a quiet calmness, even when the little village is filled with people. As soon as you drive up, you feel that it is a place for healing, perhaps even a "thin space," as the Irish say. I will admit there is a possibility that I felt it more intensely due to the deep need for healing in my own soul right now.

The house is small and quaint, the yard resplendent with coastal herbs, plants, and flowers; one for which Judy is determined to find the name. There are two sets of doors with full glass on the front looking out over a church to the rocky shores of the Pacific below. Tonight the bay was covered in fog, the almost full moon momentarily breaking through. We walked down the street in front of the cottage, past the church, to the viewpoint overlooking the harbor, and felt this wonderful sense of peace, and realized that in some miraculous way this had been planned all along. Maybe you can get a sense of what I mean as you look at the pictures below, taken mostly by Judy this time.

Redwoods or Bust – Third Entry

We found Crater Lake–Judy’s one desire of the trip–in dense smoke. So disappointing! Due to my need to spend four hours in the AT&T store yesterday, we arrived at Crater Lake much later than expected. In fact, it was so late we wondered if we were going the right way. From the very beginning there was an indication of trouble as you can see from the first picture below. We learned that this area had several storms over the weekend and that lightening started some severe forest fires. You can see the resulting smoke in the pictures. When we awoke this morning, the smoke had settled down into the crater. Judy was not a happy camper.

Nevertheless, we persevered and made the hike down to the lake. Earlier, we had registered for the boat trip and were looking forward to it, only to learn two days ago that our trip had been canceled due to a new National Park ruling. The hike down to the water was deceptive. I wondered if we had trained all those early mornings for nothing. Judy and I had taken early morning walks/hikes up a part of Cecil Ashburn and Green Mountain for a couple of months in order to train specifically for this hike. Going down, I had hoped to say that we prepared ourselves so well that the hike was a breeze, but that would be an “alternative fact.” The trip back up was brutal! Even with many many stops along the way, the two seventy year olds on this hike were exhausted. The lone twelve year old, who did not train a bit, was just fine! Well almost; note the picture below. High altitude probably had a lot to do with our exhaustion.

We enjoyed a delicious peanut butter and jelly lunch along with a much deserved nap before leaving for the afternoon ventures. Our first stop was a delightful “wildflower garden” hike through a mountain meadow of lupines, American bistorts, and Lewis Monkeyflowers. A babbling little stream, fed by melting snow, ran throughout the mountain meadow. The beautiful setting was actually a clearing nestled within a spruce forest, the tall trees sheltering and protecting the delicate ecosystem there. I think this was Judy’s favorite part of the day, and frankly mine as well. Grandparents like pretty little meadows filled with wildflowers; grandchildren prefer cool for swimming and wading.

We topped of the day with a trip to a cascade and waterfall near the park headquarters. As you can see from the picture, the water falls rapidly at first and then cascades down the rocky hillside. Mosquitoes were terrible here, but I persevered to get several shots in the hopes that on might decorate a wall somewhere, someday. Off to the California coast tomorrow and some Redwoods.

Redwoods or Bust – 2nd Entry

Linda Spalla, I feel you travel pain. This blog is very late due to a major accident involving my beloved iPhone, which died right at the beginning of our. vacation. This was a big problem since I planned to use a lot of information on my phone to keep us going and organized. It has no comparison to Bernie's kidney stone, and nothing like his needing to jump across a courtyard from the second story while tethered to an IV, but it did take several hours and more anguish and money than I wanted to spend in order to rectify things.

Here is the story. We left Atlanta, happy as clams, yesterday morning at 10:30. The flight was delightful–no pain and no problems, just a long cross-country trek. Well, I will admit that the seats were a little close and when the guy in front of me leaned his seat back and mine would not go back in reciprocal fashion, I had to sit somewhere else. His back was so close to my face that it affected my vertigo.

The airport was actually fun yesterday even with our long wait for the flight. Nick sat next to a window watching the planes come in and almost got attacked by a cute little cub as pictured below.

Arriving so early, I had planned to rest for the remainder of the day–not the case with my dear sweetie. "Oh," she said, "we're not far from Haystack Rock and Cannon Beach." You may remember the old movie, The Goonies (an old family favorite), was filmed near there. Off we went for a two hour delightful drive through the mountains to reach the coast.

Now, Judy is all about the destination, not the journey. As we traveled through this beautiful primordial forests, I kept hinting that perhaps you, my dear blog readers, might like to see a picture of those delightful trees. I said it several times, but Judy had her eyes on the destination. She wanted to get there, "because I want Oregon fish for dinner." I never found out how that differed from an Alabama, Tennessee, or North Carolina fish, but she did get Pacific cod at Cannon Beach.

Since I don't have a picture, you will just have to close your eyes so I can describe it to you as best I can. The trees were not redwoods, but must have been a close relatives. Imagine trees as tall as mountains themselves growing all over beautiful rolling hillsides, so thick that we needed the lights on as we passed under their canopies. Where you could see through the trees, huge fallen trees and brown stumps caught your eye all across the underbrush–oh, and speaking of the underbrush, imagine all variety of ferns growing thickly under the trees and bleeding out onto the side of the road. Now add the colors of goldenrod, QueenAnn's lace, and various other flowers of purple, red and yellow that we could not identify. It was overwhelmingly, mysteriously beautiful!

Cannon Beach was crowded, due both to summer tourists and an open air farmer's market. We visited the tourist information office after finally finding a place to park and then made our way down to the beach–you probably know where I am going with the iPhone. Nick had always wanted to put his toe in the Pacific, so off he went through the tidal pools and headed for the surf. Like good grandparents, we followed as best we could over the powdery soft sand and through the tidal pools ourselves.

Now these tidal pools are deceptive. What looks like dark mud is actually hard, slippery rocks that torture your feet and test your balance ability – Judy excellent, not so with me. Water that looks only a few inches deep is actually–well, you know don't you? It was deeper than I thought, and down I went. At first not too far, but believe it or not, I actually misjudged the depth of several of those tidal pools. When I finally had time to look at the damage, the bottom part of my shorts had gone in the water, somewhat. To be honest, there was just a little water on the phone, but it was enough to KILL THE PHONE. Why do they make something as usable as a smartphone and allow it to be attacked and completely destroyed by a drop or two of water? Do they not know that water occupies more than two-thirds the surface of the earth?

We stayed almost until sundown to get a few shots of the rocks from the overlook in Echola State Park, listed interestingly enough as a tsunami evacuation route.

So, here we are now at the ATT Store in Eugene, Oregon waiting while my new iPhone sucks the information about my account from the cloud. I will have to say that the staff is delightful and we are also having a lot of fun just talking with them while we wait. I suppose that's what really makes a vacation a great vacation–the little, delightful surprises that come your way.

Redwoods or Bust – First Entry

Taking a 12 year old on a special vacation is a most informative event. For one thing, you get to learn all the special snack food you never knew existed. I had no idea there was such a thing as Combos–small bits of pretzels with something stuffed in the middle (ours had cheese). Judy is sure they have been out for awhile; who knew?

This 12 year old likes to eat. Lunch at Arby’s–French dip with curly fries and a shake. Dinner at a Grill and Pub in Marietta–Wings (10), fries, and a Coke. To be fair, he did not eat all the fries. We are traveling with a twelve year old who can eat us under the table. We had not finished lunch 30 minutes until he asked, “Where are we going for dinner?”

We left Huntsville this morning around 10:30 am and stopped by to see my mom. She loves these great-grands like they are her own children, and would like nothing better than to be able to get down in the floor and play with them, or take a trip like we are taking with this one. I suppose we should say, we do this for you as well as for us, Mom. Nick, our delightful twelve year old, was so good to her, sitting right beside her, helping her FaceTime with Jason and Amy, and giving her a big bear hug. She loved every minute!

I suppose I should back up a little. Judy promised to take each one of the grands on a special trip around their twelfth birthday. The program is simple–they pick a place (one we can afford), we plan the trip, and then off we go! Six years ago, we took Bradley to the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon on his twelfth birthday. Considering what happened a few weeks ago, the memories of that trip have become precious treasures to us. Judy, with my sister Kathie, took Haisey to New York last Christmas. She wanted to go to Paris, HA!, so New York was Plan B. Regretfully, I was not well enough at that time to go with them. It became a girl trip that they probably enjoyed more not having me tagging along.

Jason Nicholas Gattis, Jr. (Nick) has just turned 12, so here we go with him. He wanted to see the Redwoods in California. Judy has always wanted to see Crater Lake—sooo, we will spend a couple of days at Crater Lake and then another three days touring the Redwoods and swimming in the Pacific. Tonight, we are in Marietta, flying out tomorrow morning for Portland where we will spend the night again before heading to Crater Lake. Thursday is the hike down to the lake, and unless a helicopter comes into the picture for me, the gruesome hike back out of the crater. Prayers for this venture are appreciated. Of course, I’ll do my best to describe the trip and include pictures. So, stay tuned if you are interested in seeing how a couple of 70 year olds travel through these adventures with a 12 year old.

Amsterdam – April 12, 2015

Set out last night, cruising at a clip to make Amsterdam by mid-morning. We relaxed during the morning as we cruised toward Amsterdam on the Rhine Canal.

Pastoral settings along the way. We learned the canal was built in 1952, and tulips were brought to the Netherlands from Turkey. The roots of tulips are fed to cows.

Cruising to Amsterdam

Cruising to Amsterdam

Judy on Deck

Judy on Deck

The four of us opted for the canal, bus tours. What can I say about Amsterdam? We “lucked” out to be here on not only a Sunday, but the first pleasant, warm weekend the locals have experienced this year. Crowds were oppressive, but who can blame them?

The canal ride was ok, but we couldn’t really take pictures as we’d like. Same for the bus ride, so bear with the rather average shots. Charles tried hard. We needed the time and energy for a leisurely afternoon walking along the streets and canals. We would have enjoyed an evening in town but the ship docked too far for a stroll back to town. We were also pretty tired.

Chinese Restaurant

Chinese Restaurant

Old Town Tower

Old Town Tower

Housing In and Along the Water

Housing In and Along the Water

Canal Bridges

Canal Bridges

Canal Views

Canal Views

Three Story Bicycle Garage

Three Story Bicycle Garage

New Building Contest Winner

New Building Contest Winner

Picturesque Canal

Picturesque Canal

Amsterdam Flowers

Amsterdam Flowers

Coffee Stop in Amsterdam

Coffee Stop in Amsterdam

I’m thankful for so much here at the end of the trip:

That all seemed calm and uneventful at home, at least as far as we were told
– that we stayed well (regretfully Ann experienced one bad night).
– that Charles worked the 7 months interim so we could take the trip.
– for our soft Costco toilet tissue.
– for another special trip with our dear friends.

Ann's Birthday

Ann’s Birthday

Classical Ensemble

Classical Ensemble

We were warned from those who have taken river cruises that they can be addictive. This is probably true, but this will for sure have to be our first and last ($$$). So glad we were able to do this.

Sooo–

Widerluege, Switzerland
Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland
Au Revoir, La France
Doci, Nederland
Hello, USA!!!

For those considering a river cruise, we highly recommend AMA Waterways. A travel agent on board, whom we befriended and who has traveled all the cruise lines, provided us the following comparison:

Viking – Sheraton
Avalon & Uniworld – Marriott
AMAWaterways – J. W. Marriott
Tauck – Four Seasons

Cruising to Cologne – April 11, 2015

We set sail early this morning from Koblenz to Cologne.

Rhine Castle

Rhine Castle

On the way, we passed the World War II tower remains of the Remaden bridge. This was bittersweet to Carey in that his father was part of the campaign there serving under Patton. His father crossed the bridge before it collapsed. Charles and I will try to find the 1960’s era movie documenting this sad chapter of the war.

Remaden Bridge

Remaden Bridge

Arriving in Cologne, Ann and Carey took a beer tasting tour while we opted for a walking tour of Cologne’s historical district and the Cologne Cathedral. Noteworthy is the fact that the district was almost totally destroyed (90%) during the war. Allied forces tried not to destroy the Cathedral, but some bombs directed at the nearby train station accidentally hit the church. Yet only minor damage resulted. Over the years the entire town was rebuilt with only a handful of original 16-17th century structures still visible today.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral

Modern Buildings in Cologne

Modern Buildings in Cologne

The Cathedral was packed today as this is a Saturday, but our guide directed us through an interesting interior tour. It is another UNESCO World Heritage site and definitely the city’s most recognizable landmark. It was built in the 1200’s to house the reputed relics of the Magi, and was the tallest building in Europe until the Eiffel Tower was constructed.

Cologne Police Encounter

Cologne Police Encounter

The day concluded with the ship’s “dress-up” Farewell Dinner. Good food, good wine, and great fellowship preceded a relaxing evening in the lounge. We had the first rain in several days as we entered the dining room, and a lovely rainbow appeared as we were leaving Germany cruising toward the Netherlands, our final destination.

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