Almost!!

March 9

Almost means the Cardinal boys hockey team came within one goal of being the class A state champion.  The journey began as the No. 3-seed in section 6A, where we dispatched both teams seeded above us, Sartell-St. Stephen and St. Cloud Cathedral, thus earning the No. 4-seed in the state tournament.  In the first round at state, we defeated the No. 5-seed, Thief River Falls, 1 – 0.  Then I drove down with Ken Howell and John Etnier for this section semi-final against defending state champion and No. 1-seed, Hermantown.  The Cards amazingly made it to the championship game (we couldn’t attend) where we lost 2 – 1 to the No. 3-seed, Orono.  Further speaking well for our performance, Thief River Falls and Hermantown won the consolation title and 3rd place games, respectively.

[Saddling up to leave town for the state tournament (Voice of Alexandria photo) . . . ]

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[I got in.  But a situation with the “TSA” at the Xcel Energy Center threw off my timing and I forgot to get a tournament program!!  So, we’ll have to work off the above roster.]

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[The Cards hit the ice at the 19,000+-seat Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild.  This game drew a crowd of over 11,000 as I recall, a record for a class A semi-final game . . . ]

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[Hermantown had reached the title game annually since 2010, which means adult fans on Hermantown’s side of the arena with a toddler on their lap held a child who has only known the Hawks as a fixture on the season’s final day.  The Hawks, the No. 1 seed, rode a 48-game unbeaten streak against 1A opponents and hoped to play for a third consecutive championship after six consecutive defeats.  ~  Dave La Vaque, StarTribune, 3-10-18]

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[Under the full glare of statewide TV coverage . . . ]

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[Pre-game introductions . . . ]

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[Pre-game instructions to each other . . . ]

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[And we’re off!]

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[That appears to be Jack Westlund (10) chasing after the puck.  He scored the only goal in the Thief River Falls game . . . ]

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[Westlund and likely his center, Ben Doherty (7), mixing it up . . . ]

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[Freshman Jakob Stender (27) in on goal . . . ]

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[But the Hermantown goalie gathers the puck . . . ]

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[And this looks like Shane Birkeland (25) making a cross ice pass . . . ]

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[You may note that we’re at a bit of an elevated position here.  We were in the club section, one level above level one, making number identification difficult at times . . . ]

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[Face-off in our offensive zone . . . ]

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[Jack Powell (21) scored 2 minutes after the Hawks had scored tying the game at one . . . ]

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[The Cardinal band and fan section celebrate!  I believe you can tell when I’m shooting the ice and when I’m shooting the ginormous scoreboard screen?]

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[Looking good, all even after one . . . ]

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[Cheerleaders and students exchange photo ops . . . ]

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[And then cheer!]

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[Period 2 . . . ]

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[Late in the period, otherwise controlled mainly by the Hawks, Caleb Strong (3) scored on an assist from Powell giving the Cards a 2 – 1 lead going into the 3rd . . . ]

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[Into the 3rd, the Cards broke it open . . . ]

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[Powell scored again on a beautiful end-to-end rush . . . ]

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[Then Ben Johnson (9) scored, Cards up 4 – 1 . . . ]

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[It looked like a breakaway goal here for Caleb . . . ]

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[But the defense kicked out his back leg for a tripping penalty . . . ]

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[With the Cards up by 3 goals with a little over 3 minutes left in the game, the Hawks pulled their goalie and Powell scored on an empty-netter for his hat trick!]

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[Nice post-goal knee slide, Jack . . . ]

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[The loneliness of an empty net.  Evan Lattimer (12) also scored an empty-netter making the final score 6 – 1 . . . ]

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[We had slayed the giant!]

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[On to the championship game . . . ]

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[The fans . . .  we had a ringer.  We were joined by the class of ’65’s homecoming queen, who was appearing at her first Cardinal game since high school.  When the final result was tallied, the boys agreed Kathy, in her full Cardinal paraphernalia, had to have been a good luck charm.]

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Wrapping up:  The Cardinals only allowed 3 goals in 3 games, and both goals in the championship game were a bit flukey – on their 1st goal one of our defenseman lost his stick and was unable to defend against a point blank shot; and on the 2nd, the puck took a weird angle bounce of the backboards right to an Orono player in front of the net (that Orono player, incidentally, is the grandson of one of my Alexandria high school history teachers?).  If you toss out the anomaly of the girls Warroad game, both Cardinal teams allowed only 5 goals in 5 state tournament games, and both won 2 out of  3 games there.  Senior goalie Jackson Boline (30) had a tremendous tournament with a 96% save percentage – he was named recipient of the Herb Brooks award and was named to the all-tournament teamSenior Jack Powell (21) became a star in this tournament and was named to the all-tournament team.  They were joined on the all-tournament team by junior Jack Westlund (10), who scored our only goal in the Orono game, and by sophomore Caleb Strong (3).  Congratulations to the team for a great tournament.  Thanks for the magic carpet ride!

[Photo samplings from the mainstream media.  First the goalies from the Hermantown game from the Duluth News Tribune . . . ]

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[Two from the Pioneer Press, Powell’s great end-to-end goal . . . ]

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[Five from Echo Press of the Hermantown game, Strong here . . . ]

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[Westlund and Powell . . . ]

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[Zach Wosepka (20) . . . ]

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[Powell and Boline . . . ]

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[Shane Birkeland (25) and Powell . . . ]

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[StarTribune of a Powell goal celebration . . . ]

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[Voice of Alexandria with the Powell end-to-end goal . . . ]

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[Five from Echo Press of the Orono game, Boline and Matthew Carlsen (26) . . . ]

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[Carlsen and Boline . . . ]

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[Westlund and Carlsen . . . ]

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[Birkeland . . . ]

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[Lattimer . . . ]

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[Wrapping up with Westlund and Boline at the end of the championship game from Echo Press; and Boline from Voice of Alexandria.]

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People didn’t know the difference between a blue line and a clothes line.  ~  Al Michaels (prior to the “Miracle on Ice”)

Up Next:  Girls basketball going to state . . .

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Another Team to State!

March 8

Following in the fine tradition of the previous two weeks, where both the girls and boys hockey teams punched their tickets to the state tournament, the girls basketball team decided to join that caravan down I-94 with a section title . . . 

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[So inspired were we by the possibilities, that I actually deigned to drive all the way to the University of Minnesota, Morris, from which I then had to drive home, at night, in winter.  Give it a try sometime when you’re over 70!]   ]

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[This is the neutral court site for the section championship game between the Cardinals and the Otters.  I believe I was here once before for a “Prairie Home Companion” program?]

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[Yes, dear, Brad and I safely made it.]

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[Cards warm up . . . ]

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[And warm up some more . . . ]

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[Under the supervision of “The Leader of the Pack.”  Sheree Saxton is responsible for you all receiving the Cardinal Connection, a/k/a, a catalog of all the weekly things going on at or concerning AAHS . . . ]

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[Oh no, is that Kim Kardashian again?]

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[And if you do this, it could be a misdemeanor . . . ]

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[Card student fans warm up . . . ]

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[Under the direction of Sheree . . . ]

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[Game time approaches, the stands are almost full . . . ]

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[Heading for the final pre-game meeting . . . ]

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[Introductions:  Ella (11), Kaye (3), Emma (25), Courtney (31), and McKenzie (35) . . . ]

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[And the final warm-up . . . ]

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[Cards take the floor . . . ]

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[Where are the Otters?]

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[Here’s a little something you don’t see everyday – a double opening jump ball. McKenzie went up first, that tap lead to a tie-up, and then another jump ball with Ella. We got that tap.]

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[Kaye drew a foul, likely on a foray to the basket . . . ]

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[Ella runs back on defense . . . ]

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[I acknowledge memory lapses, but this is the first game I can remember where Kohler just had the team play a hard man-to-man defense the entire game.  No pressing, no trapping, no zoning, just in your face individual defense . . . ]

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[Kohler counsels our wild cards.  McKenzie and Courtney will always play the box, Kaye will always play point guard, but Emma and Ella are more generalists . . . ]

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[They’re both 5’11, can play high or low, and are defensive specialists with their length.  In this game, Fergus is a shooting team, so nobody could ever be left uncovered.  Emma followed the Fergus star, the coach’s daughter Katelyn Strand, wherever she went, because if she had a hint of clearance she’d launch a quick ‘3’ . . . ]

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[Our goal on offense is to get the ball inside – here with McKenzie . . . ]

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[Emma was fighting through pics all game to keep on eye on Ms. Strand, No. 11 . . . ]

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[Our defense leads to such as traveling infractions . . . ]

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[Emily Jones (43) on the line.  A big factor in the game was the free throw proficiency of our “bigs” –  Courtney, McKenzie, and Jonesie . . . ]

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[Did someone say defense?]

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[In the 2nd half, Courtney at the line.  Our offense even more emphasized getting the ball inside – to score and/or get fouled.  I think Courtney made all her free throws . . . ]

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[McKenzie too.  Nevertheless, the Otters held a slight lead most of the way – they just never seemed to miss any 3-pointers . . . ]

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[And then Kaye made her move.  When she steals a pass, she beats LeBron James down the floor for lay-ups . . . ]

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[And she got a little more agressive on offense . . . ]

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[And another steal and score . . . ]

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[The Emma on Strand saga continued throughout the game . . . ]

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[OK, here are the options?]

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[Pizza or burgers after the game?]

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[I think (don’t hold me to it) this was the winning assist as Kaye launches a pass to Ella cutting in from the right side for a lay-up . . . (Editor’s note:  I have been advised that Emma launched the final pass to Ella!  Thank goodness for “editors”!)]

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[This was the time left after Ella’s basket.  Then Mia McGrane got a steal to end the Otters’ last chance.  So, after three games against each other this season, one point separated the two teams.  The Otters won by 2 at our place; we won by two at their place.  And they are totally different teams – the Otters are all about the 3-point shot; the Cards are all about discombobulation.]

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[While low scoring, it was a very intense, entertaining defensive game for we fans . . . ]

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[You’ll recall last year’s team went to state, then graduated all five starters and 11 seniors, but now we’re back to state with a whole new cast of characters!  Great job by the team and coaching staff . . . ]

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[We did good!]

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[Now this is scary!  Allegedly fugitives without proper paperwork . . . ]

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[Handing out the individual hardware, numerically beginning with Kaye Paschka . . . ]

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[OK, Summer Gerhardt should have been first . . . ]

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[Now I’m confused (so what else is new?), here’s Kaye again . . . ]

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[Mia McGrane . . . ]

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[Jaya Hatlestad . . . ]

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[Ella Grove, OK Ella should have been ahead of Jaya . . . ]

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[Taylor Partington . . . ]

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[Matie Wirtjes . . . ]

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[Emily Aker . . . ]

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[Emma Schmidt . . . ]

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[Courtney Gould . . . ]

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[Flora Kvale . . . ]

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[McKenzie Duwenhoegger . . . ]

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[Cathryn Bloom . . . ]

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[Emily Jones . . . ]

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[Mataya Hoelscher . . . ]

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[Sadie Boraas . . . ]

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[Larissa Lamb . . . ]

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[Alayna Strand . . . ]

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[Captains Courtney, Emma, and McKenzie collect the team hardware . . . ]

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[The team joins in . . . ]

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[The Cards drew No. 1-seeded Robbinsdale Cooper at state, Wednesday, March 14, 10:00 am, Williams Arena.  We’ll be there.]

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[Angie Saurer photo as posted on Coach Kohler FB page.]

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How it continues? I recently ran across this photo from the 2011 section championship game between Alex and Fergus Falls. I took it because I thought it was so cool these young girls were fans of that 2011 Cardinal state tournament team. Upon further review, I noticed these young girls went on to become last year’s state tournament team.

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If you make every game a life-and-death thing, you’re going to have problems. You’ll be dead a lot.  ~  Dean Smith

Up Next:  Boys hockey . . .

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Panama Canal (Day 12, Part 2)

December 26

The afternoon session (Puntarenas Panorama) . . . 

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[Again, bypassing the beaches . . . ]

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[And this is our afternoon guide, Natasha.  Yes, both guides on this day did look like movie stars . . . ]

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[Are you taking my picture?]

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[I’m connected to Russian trolls?]

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[Some of the local residents out catching rays . . . ]

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[Let me out!  I’m innocent!  But as you can see, this is merely a parking lot . . . ]

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[Is the guy on the right related to our Supreme Court justice?]

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[Arriving Esparza (founded by the Spanish in 1574) where local dancers in traditional costumes entertained us in the city park . . . ]

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[The historic Catholic church known as the historic Catholic church . . . ]

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[Natasha was an enthusiastic participant . . . ]

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[The kids were all terrific.  It’s a long running tradition, the dancers all between the ages of x and y (the ages I’ve long since forgotten) . . . ]

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[As I recall, the young lady on the left (in the yellow) was in her last year as she was aging out . . . ]

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[Adios!]

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[The “Panorama” part continues now, riding along the shore . . . ]

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[Through commercial areas . . . ]

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[Photo ops out the bus window . . . ]

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[On the lookout for some authentic Costa Rican cuisine . . . ]

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[Well, it’s the day after Christmas . . . ]

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[And now, as the sun sinks slowly in the West, a/k/a, the Pacific Ocean, we just sit back and enjoy the views . . . ]

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[Leaving Costa Rica now, next stop Nicaragua . . . ]

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Today, in 1692, the salem witch hunt was started, what we today call “TSA screenings.”  ~ Michelle Wolf

Up Next: The cruise, continued?

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Panama Canal (Day 12, Part 1)

December 26

A return trip to Costa Rica, the Pacific side . . . 

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[And here’s a little something I recently learned at our local Senior College.  Our port of call, Punta Arenas, is on the Gulf of Nicoya.  The Nicoya Peninsula, across the Gulf from Punta Arenas, is one of five international Blue Zones.  This Central American nation isn’t that far from the U.S. geographically, but it is way ahead of us in longevity. The Caribbean nation is economically secure and has excellent health care. But other factors are at play, especially in Nicoya, an 80-mile peninsula just south of the Nicaraguan border (bluezones.com).  Blue Zones are demographic regions of the world where people commonly live active lives past the age of 100 years (Okinawa; Sardinia; Nicoya peninsula Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California).]

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[Or maybe the reason for the longevity of these Costa Ricans are the beautiful sunrises?]

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[Well, it works for me . . . ]

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[Arriving in Punta Arenas . . . ]

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[Ho-hum, another sunny day on hand . . . ]

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[A beach . . . ]

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[And now we’re on one of the dozens of buses here to take we tourists on various land excursions . . . ]

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[Past the beach . . . ]

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[No, not our final destination, but . . . ]

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[A stop along the highway (literally on the shoulder) where buses have been pulling off for wildlife settings for so long . . . ]

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[That the wildlife reacts to the arrival of the buses . . . ]

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[Here capuchin monkeys . . . ]

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[They come in anticipation of . . . food!  Just like human beings!]

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[And here, for variety, a coatimundi . . . ]

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[Not the least bit concerned about being among we two-legged giants . . . ]

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[Do you know the way to . . . ??? ]

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[We’re on the way for a walk in a rain forest.  To pass the time, “old” Costa Rican is passed around the bus . . . ]

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[The signpost up ahead . . . ]

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[The Twilight Zone?]

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[Here we are!]

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[Carara National Park sits near the Costa Rican Pacific coast, in the Central Pacific Conservation Area.  Carara lies just about 30 miles (about an hour) west of San José and is home to one of the largest populations of wild Scarlet Macaws in the country.  You’ll often get a sighting as you drive on the nearby highway. The park is predominantly formed by primary rainforest, which makes it ideal for birds who nest in the dense trees (vacationcostarica.com).]

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[Elderly tourists begin what for many was a longer than anticipated trek through a rather warm and humid jungle . . . ]

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[A tree tumor . . . ]

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[I took this shot for a reason.  Do you see it?]

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[The monkeys, upset by our presence, attempted to discourage our trespass by launching debris at us from the tree tops.  Fortunately, the trees are so dense nothing seemed to get through . . . ]

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[A highlght for me were the leaf-cutter ants . . . ]

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[I don’t recall seeing any exotic birds (well, a pair coming up) . . . ]

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[There!  See it up there?  I have no idea what they were pointing at?]

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[Again, there’s something here somewhere . . . I think?]

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[Just to highlight a tall tree among other growth around and attached to it.]

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[The giant kapok tree . . . ]

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[The common American tourist . . . ]

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[They were looking at a tiny white bat – see it?]

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[Another large rain forest tree . . . ]

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[An example of the strangler fig (as it wraps around a host tree) . . . ]

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[I recognize it’s hard to see – but there’s an agouti back there in the sunlight . . . ]

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[Our guide was a good spotter of such.  Speaking of our guide . . . ]

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[Finally, you get to meet our morning guide, Andrea . . . ]

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[Another strangler fig . . . ]

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[Now you know . . . ]

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[We came to a fork in the road – and this was it . . . ]

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[Strangler figs are everywhere.  And if you look just to the right of this one, you’ll see . . . ]

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[The ultimate destination for our into the forest hike was to see them – a Scarlet Macaw couple in their living room.  Carara National Park is a major habitat for this endangered species . . . ]

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[Located at the bridge over this torrential body of water . . . ]

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[We said our good-byes to Mr. and Mrs. Macaw . . . ]

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[And turned around to head back out . . . ]

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[I forgot what this was, but it doesn’t look appetizing . . . ]

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[Leaf-cutter ants cutting over, under, and through our path . . . ]

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[Do you see it?]

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[I don’t recall . . . ]

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[But it wasn’t this guy, who I ran across a bit later . . . ]

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[In the jungle, the mighty jungle . . .  It was a 2-hour round trip hike.  Some realized early on they weren’t going to make it, so they sat down and waited to rejoin the group on the return trip.  Since I was constantly taking photos, I was lagging behind the group which allowed me to keep an eye out for any stragglers . . . ]

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[The park’s name is the native Huetar word for crocodile. Visit the park and you’ll understand why since the Tarcoles River, which forms the park’s northern boundary, is famous around the world for its giant and plentiful crocodiles. The Tarcoles River Bridge on the Coastal Highway is a favorite place for tourists to stop and view the monster-sized crocodiles below. Boat tours on the river also are very popular (enchanting-costarica.com).]

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[It was a tough walk across the bridge – it was high (my acrophobia), the walk lane was very narrow, and there was continuous vehicle traffic on both sides of the road (the holiday season) . . . ]

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[It was still morning, and we’re heading back to ship to catch our afternoon excursion.]

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[Passing by our beach . . . ]

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[And the holiday traffic . . . ]

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[And to say good-bye to Andrea.  We would have another guide in the afternoon . . . ]

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The only way to be sure of catching a train is to miss the one before it.  ~  G. K. Chesterton

Up Next:  Part 2

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Panama Canal (Day 11)

December 25, MERRY CHRISTMAS

At Sea

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[Christmas Day, just floating around on the boat all day, the Super races out front in her swimsuit amid reports of whale sightings . . . ]

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[It was too windy to see . . . ]

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[So, let’s just have Christmas lunch by the pool . . . ]

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[And then a little classical trio before dinner . . . ]

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[Dinner . . . ]

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[Back row seats in the theater . . . ]

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[Merry Christmas to all.  Since we were on the move all day, Santa was unable to find us so I never received my well-deserved gifts.  Our photo bomber, Ibe May, still reports in as a “worlder” – now two months since we left the ship, she last reported in from Malaysia.  When asked how she’s doing, she reported, “Hey Tom it’s been incredible!”  Ha, I still can’t imagine having two more months on the ship since we left.]

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A cruise ship is a floating town of lazy people.  ~ Garrison Keillor

Up Next:  Maybe basketball?

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Panama Canal (Day 10)

December 24, a/k/a Christmas Eve

Panama Canal

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[What better way to spend Christmas Eve . . . ]

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[A beautiful day for a cruise through the Panama Canal . . . ]

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[I believe this boat is delivering a local pilot . . . ]

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[All the other ships waiting “in line” for passage . . . ]

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[Mission completed . . . ]

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[The third bridge over the Panama Canal, known as the Atlantic Bridge, is a road bridge under construction in Colon, which will span the Atlantic entrance to the Canal. When completed it will be a third bridge over the Panama Canal after the Bridge of the Americas and the Centennial Bridge, both on the Pacific side of the canal.  The bridge is proposed to be a double-pylon, double-plane, concrete girder, cable-stayed bridge with a main span of 530 metres (1,740 ft), and two side spans of 230 metres (750 ft).  The east and west approaches are to be 1,074 metres (3,524 ft) and 756 metres (2,480 ft) long, respectively.  (Wikipedia).  The estimated completion date is mid-2018.]

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[Needless to say, all cameras on board are here!]

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[I remain amazed at how they build these things?]

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[The audience (passengers) are agog . . . ]

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[Looks like we have another cruise ship in front of us . . . ]

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[About to enter the locks.  The Panama Canal is an artificial 77 km (48 mi) waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.  The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade.  Canal locks are at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artifical lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 m (85 ft) above sea level, and then lower the ships at the other end. The original locks are 34 m (110 ft) wide.  A third, wider lane of locks was constructed between September 2007 and May 2016.  The expanded canal began commercial operation on June 26, 2016.  The new locks allow transit of larger,  post-Panamax ships, capable of handling more cargo (Wikipedia) . . . ]

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[The new look of the modern tug . . . ]

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[France began work on the canal in 1881, but stopped due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate.  The United States took over the project in 1904 and opened the canal on August 15, 1914.  One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, enabling them to avoid the lengthy, hazardous Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or the Strait of Magellan . . . ]

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[Colombia, France, and later the United States controlled the territory surrounding the canal during construction.  The U.S. continued to control the canal and surrounding Panama Canal Zone until the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties provided for handover to Panama.  After a period of joint American–Panamanian control, in 1999, the canal was taken over by the Panamanian government and is now managed and operated by the government-owned Panama Canal Authority . . . ]

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[Annual traffic has risen from about 1,000 ships in 1914, when the canal opened, to 14,702 vessels in 2008, for a total of 333.7 million tons.  By 2012, more than 815,000 vessels had passed through the canal.  It takes six to eight hours to pass through the Panama Canal.  The American Society of Civil Engineers has called the Panama Canal one of the seven wonders of the modern world (Wikipedia).]

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[And if you’re interested in the political history of the Panama Canal Treaties, you can read all about it in my Dad’s book . . . ]

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[These “mules” (train engines) are used for side-to-side and braking control in the locks, which are narrow relative to modern-day ships.  Forward motion into and through the locks is actually provided by the ship’s engines and not the mules (Wikipedia).   The mules weigh 42 tons . . . ]

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[A ship coming through from the Pacific side.  We are, incidentally, going through the original canal.  We were told a large container ship has to pay about $1.2 million to go through the canal.  Not sure what our ship had to pay . . . ]

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[The ship ahead of us in the first lock . . . ]

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[Our mules start forward . . . ]

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[As two ships pass in the daylight, both sides are shooting photos . . . ]

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[The boat ahead is now in lock number 2 . . . ]

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[As we enter 1 . . . ]

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[The mules will go up the ramp guiding us through as we rise with the water . . . ]

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[Must be time for a breakfast break with boat friends, Jack and JoAnne, who arranged Ruthie’s birthday party.  They were a hoot . . . ]

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[Local legend decrees that if you see an isthmus rainbow on Christmas Eve, you will be forever endowed with a TSA PreCheck . . . ]

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[It didn’t work!]

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[We’re going through the canal now, a major part of which is Gatun Lake . . . ]

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[Another feature that is visible in the lake is the sets of canal markers.  These look like small white lighthouses.  When you see the first one on the right, watch behind it to the right and you will see another up a hill in a clearing.  The ships use these to guide through the canal.  Watch forward to see the ones currently in use and they will point a straight path directly up the center of the leg of the canal.  Every straight leg has a set of markers for each direction.  The bridge crew line up to the markers and stay straight to avoid any under water obstacles (tiggertravels.com).]

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[The lake is 165 square miles large . . . ]

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[Returning inside, the wall photo at Mamsen’s . . . ]

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[A couple of Norwegian cross-country skiers?]

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[Obviously shot through a window . . . ]

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[A narrowing stretch of the canal . . . ]

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[We must be getting close to the end . . . ]

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[The aforementioned Centennial Bridge . . . ]

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[Guide posts on the terraces . . . ]

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[The end is nigh . . . ]

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[In the distance, the aforementioned Bridge of the Americas . . . ]

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[And there it is, the Pacific Ocean on the other side . . . ]

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[And there’s Panama City again – one hour by bus, eight hours by boat . . . ]

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[Feeling the waters of the Pacific . . . ]

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[And under the bridge, the highway that goes from the southern tip of South Amerca to the northern tip of North America . . . ]

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[And within sight of the Biodiversity Museum again . . . ]

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[Putting the Bridge of the Americas in our rearview mirror . . . ]

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[Ahead, the vast Pacific . . . ]

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[Free of clutter, the city . . . ]

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[Getting upclose and personal with the Biomuseo . . . ]

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[We bused out here the previous day . . . ]

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[Adios, Panama!]

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[And as the sun sets . . . ]

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[We look forward to an all day cruise on Christmas day . . . ]

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[Proof that we did it . . . on the first Viking ship to pass through the canal.]

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I get pretty much all the exercise I need walking down airport concourses carrying bags.  ~  Guy Clark

Up Next:  Cruise, day 11

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Panama Canal (Day 9)

December 23

Panama

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[Ships, boats, and floating things all circling for access through the canal . . . ]

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[By the dawn’s early light . . . ]

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[We would not be going through the canal on this day . . . ]

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[Coming into the port of Colon . . . ]

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[Colon, from which . . . ]

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[We would see tons of bridge cranes . . . ]

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[And then board a bus for the short cross-country trip to Panama City, on the Pacific side.]

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[Leaving Colon (this is all we ever saw of it) . . . ]

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[Our guide, whose name we have forgotten, was an interesting fellow.  His Ancestry.com profile would list him as Chinese and indiginous American.  . . . ]

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[Panama’s population was 4,034,119 people in 2016, compared to 860,000 in 1950.  In 2010 the population was 65% Mestizo (mixed white, Native American), 9.2% Black, 6.8% mulattoes, 13% White and 6% Native Americans. Ethnic groups in Panama include Spanish, British and Irish, Dutch, French, Germans, Italians, Portuguese, Poles, Russians or Ukrainians (a large number are Jews), and Americans (Wikipedia).  Our guide noted there is a large Chinese population in Panama.  Panama has a considerable population of Chinese origin. The first Chinese immigrated to Panama from southern China in the 19th century to help build the Panama Railroad. There followed several waves of immigrants, especially after the 1970s, when the ensuing decades saw up to 80,000 immigrants from all over China. At least 50,000 Panamanians are ethnic Chinese, though some estimates count as many as 135,000. Most of the Chinese population reside in the province of Chiriquí. Some studies suggest that almost 1 million Panamanians have at least one Chinese ancestor  (Wikipedia).]

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[Crossing the Panamanian countryside . . . ]

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[It was about an hour bus ride to Panama City . . . ]

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[Which is a modern city of skyscrapers . . . ]

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[I tried to shoot the skyline as we bused through the city . . . ]

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[SPI, the Institutional Protection Service, are the national security forces of Panama. Panama is the second country in Latin America (the other being Costa Rica) to permanently abolish standing armies, retaining a small para-military security force (Wikipedia).]

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[On the right, a similarity to Cedar-Riverside?]

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[Probably the most surprising aspect of the entire trip . . . ]

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[I really had no idea Panama City was Miami Beach, on steroids?  Hey, and Merry Christmas!]

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[Moving out to Old Town, a better view of the modern city . . . ]

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[We disembarked the bus for a walking tour of Old Town . . . ]

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[The breakwater approach . . . ]

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[With a nice subtropical park . . . ]

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[Mindful of New Orleans . . . ]

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[Casco Viejo (Spanish for Old Quarter), also known as Casco Antiguo or San Felipe, is the historic district of Panama City.  Completed and settled in 1673, it was built following the near-total destruction of the original Panamá city, Panama Viejo in 1671, when the latter was attacked by pirates.  It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1997.  Panama city was founded on August 15, 1519 and it lasted one hundred and fifty-two years. In January 1671, the Governor Juan Perez de Guzman had it set on fire, before the attack and looting by the pirate Henry Morgan.  In 1672, Antonio Fernández de Córdoba initiated the construction of a new city, which was then founded on January 21, 1673. This city was built on a peninsula completely isolated by the sea and a defensive system of walls.  Today this place preserves the first institutions and buildings of the modern city of Panama. It is known as ‘Casco Viejo’ (Wikipedia).]

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[A founding father . . . ]

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[People of age had just completed an hour bus ride right after breakfast.  Guess what we were thinking about?]

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[First president of Panama . . . ]

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[Yep, we had to pee . . . badly!  (Often a major concern on cruise shore excursions – might want to consider Depends on such adventures.  There seems to be dearth of public restrooms particularly in historic areas.)]

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[The Pink Panther?]

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[Another founding father . . . ]

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[Central Hotel Panama . . . ]

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[Finally, in agony, the Super stopped at this small police station.  They happily obliged our need.  And we had a nice visit . . . ]

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[Again, looking back on the skyline . . . ]

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[We’ll drive out there soon . . . ]

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[An artsy promenade . . . ]

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[We’re at the “end” of Old Town, Esteban Huerta Seafront . . . ]

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[And now heading back on a circle route.  Here, the French Obelisk . . . ]

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[French Plaza . . . ]

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[Big ole gnarly tree in the French Plaza . . . ]

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[It was more than warm . . . ]

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[The French Embassy . . .]

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[Feliz Navidad!]

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[Hi!  I’m in Casco Viejo.]

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[As I recall, the bricks are now merely an old facade.  It’s the ruin of the Santo Domingo convent . . . ]

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[Because it’s attached, I guess the unruins of the Santo Domingo convent . . . ]

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[On street level, a clothing store . . . ]

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[The Old Church (from the 1500’s) . . . ]

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[As noted (and the following internal photos), Saint Joseph Church . . . ]

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[The first head of state of the area that became known as Panama . . . ]

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[Some architecture shots . . . ]

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[Remember “we’ll drive out there soon”?]

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[Well, the end of the peninsula has every appearance of being the main marina . . . ]

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[With the skyline in the distance . . . ]

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[Why, of course – the Flamenco Marina!]

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[And the drive around . . . ]

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[Back off the peninsula . . . ]

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[And a roundabout . . . ]

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[Frank Gehry’s Origami-Like Biomuseo . . . ]

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[On the Amador Causeway, it opened in 2014 . . . ]

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[Memorial to Dr. Arnulfo Arias, 3-time president of Panama . . . ]

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[Back to the ship for dinner, the Super shoots the gingerbread house . . . ]

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[I shoot my wish list . . . ]

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[After dinner, to the Torshavn (the cabaret lounge) for music from Viking Duo . . . ]

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[We dined with this couple, so they invited us here.  Nice lounge, the Duo played classic rock and roll, but this was the only night we went here.  Too late for old people?]

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If you think adventure is dangerous try routine, it’s lethal.  ~ Paulo Coelho

Up Next:  Basketball?

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