Tag Archives: webetripping

3 Fun Short Stay Activities in Lake Tahoe

Each summer we try to escape the heat and humidity of Florida. We first hung out in Denver, spending time with our youngest son, visiting old friends and playing a little golf. Lynn had never been to Lake Tahoe so we spent a few days enjoying lake views, golfing, and sampling a few wines.

Taking in Lake Views

We stayed in Squaw Valley — a 15 minute drive from northwest Lake Tahoe. This area is bike friendly so we rented bikes and cycled down the trail that goes from Squaw Valley to to Lake Tahoe. It was Sunday and there were lots of people floating down the river in tubes and rafts (you can rent these at the base of Lake Tahoe).

As you cycle along the river, you see scenic bridges, people enjoying the water, and families having picnics.

Once you reach Lake Tahoe, continue the trial south to enjoy beautiful views along the lake. A good place to stop for brunch is Sunnyside Restaurant. Located right on the lake, it has great food and lake views.

Another way to take in the views is to drive the perimeter of the lake. There are hiking spots along the way if you want to stretch your legs. The drive around the lake will take you about 3 hours but you will want to make some stops along the way. We spent about 5 or 6 hours, stopping to eat and and take short hikes.

One of our favorite stops was Sand Harbor on the Nevada side. It has a Bar and Grill but also has a few beaches with beautiful views of the lake. It gets crowded so its best to hit this place early.

If you’re into hiking, consider taking the gondola at Olympic Village in Squaw Valley. This is where the Olympics were held in 1960. Once you reach the top, there are tons of hikes for all skill levels. There is also a small museum with memorabilia from the 1960 Olympics.

You will also get views of the lake from up top.

Taking in Olympic Village

Olympic Village normally has something going on each weekend. When we were there, California wineries were hosting a wine tasting. This was ideal because we were visiting Sonoma soon and wanted some suggestions for wineries to visit. There were also musicians playing and people out enjoying the weekend.

Golfing Squaw Valley

I played The Links at Squaw Creek in Olympic Village — it is a course surrounded by 6 majestic Sierra peaks. The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones and offers a challenging round due to its narrow fairways, hidden greens and thick grass bordering every fairway.

I played alone towards the end of the day and it was a challenge to know where to hit the ball because of the hidden greens and dangers on both sides of the fairway. I lost about 6 golf balls because I just was not sure where to aim. If I had played with someone that knew the course, I would carded a much better score than 94! But this was a really fun course.

I’ll leave you with a final picture from the course. You traverse most of the holes along a boardwalk that keeps you out of the high grass along the fairway. Challenging. Beautiful. Incredibly Fun!

Visiting the Capital of Hungary: Budapest

While in Austria, we had a chance to visit Hungary’s capital city, Budapest. Budapest was previously 2 cities (Buda and Pest), separated by the Danube River. One of the most iconic landmarks is the Hungarian Parliament building (red-top building in the background of the picture below) — I will include a closer image of that at the end of this blog.

We first stopped at City Park, a place where locals ice skate in the winter and hangout in the summer.

Imagine this entire lake being frozen during winter.

The castle across the lake takes you back in time. You can climb the tower for a better lookout.

As we drove around the city, you catch glimpses of haunting statues. These are not statues of nobility but of suffering.

If you visit, be sure to spend some time walking around the Buda Castle district (Budai Varnegyed) — there is so much to experience here.

From the Buda side, you get a peek at the Hungarian Parliament building.

From the Pest side, you see it in all it’s glory.

Cycling through Vienna Austria

Our friends had just finished up a vigorous (and rainy) 200 mile cycling trip in Austria and met us in Vienna to start a trip that would span 3 countries and thousands of miles in the coming weeks. You would think they would’ve had enough of cycling but not so — we saw Vienna Austria via bike — what a great way to see the city!

Vienna is one of the largest cities in Europe with over 1.9 million residents. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so there’s lots to see. The State Opera house is a big attraction — you can enjoy opera or just take an inside tour.

We saw an Opera while there but not in the State Opera House. Opera is so plentiful in Vienna, it is easy to catch a show.

If you’re into horses, check out the Spanish Riding School. Here you can watch professional riders training for upcoming events.

Notice the decadent chandelier

As you cycle through town, you will catch glimpses of many churches. One of the most iconic is St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its Gothic architecture.

Another beautiful building is the Hofburg Palace.

If you have a flair for oddities, Hundertwasserhaus checks that box. Its creator Friendenserich Hundertwasser hated straight lines and angles, he was an ecologist and the buildings he designed are a combination of architecture and nature. It reminded us of some of the Guadi buildings we saw in Barcelona Spain.

One of my favorite areas we cycled through was Vienna University of Economics and Business. The architecture of the buildings is amazing. It was a collaboration of architectural firms from Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Austria.

If you have an extra day to spend in Vienna, be sure to visit Wurstelprater amusement park. It’s about like going to Six Flags in America — it has rides for every age.

Seeking Kings Landing in Dubrovnik Croatia

Continuing our journey from Split to Dubrovnik, our next stop was Korcula, my second favorite city in Croatia. It is an old city surrounded by a fortress. Streets and buildings were designed in a maze to keep invaders from quickly exiting the city.

I love this city because of the unique castles and walls and the fact that Marco Polo spent a lot of time here. Some say he was born here (there is a Marco Polo house you can visit) but others say he was born in Venice.

MlJet, Croatia

Our next stop was Mljet, Croatia – a sleepy little fishing town with great seafood restaurants.

Next to it was a national park in an area called Pomena. Here you can cycle, swim or visit a local monastery.  The waters are glacial so the colors are amazingly emerald.

A short boat drive takes you to the monastery and the surrounding area is astonishingly beautiful.

We ended our evening enjoying a sunset in a local restaurant.

The waiter’s fiance’s mother owned the restaurant and he introduced us to her and his fiance. Everyone we met in Croatia were so warm and welcoming. The waiter also looks a little like our oldest son, Cameron.

Ston, Croatia

Ston is a walled city located at the south of isthmus of the Pelješac. Before visiting Ston, we stopped into an adjoining fishing village called Mali Ston.

From here, we took a boat to a local family’s oyster farm, where we tasted fresh oysters.

They explained how they raise the oysters before they gave us a taste.

This was the first time I’ve ever eaten oysters. I didn’t think I would like them but they were quite good.

After eating our fill of oysters, we made our way to the walled city of Ston. No, you’re not in China but they do have a great wall.

We needed to get more steps in for the day so we walked along the wall.

As you reach the top, you are rewarded with a nice view.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Prior to reaching Dubrovnik, we were offered a couple of swims — I took advantage of each opportunity. Living in the Gulf of Mexico, we are used to 80 to 85 degree water. This water was more like 60 degrees — pretty cold! But it was refreshing.

If you haven’t visited Dubrovnik, you’re in for a treat. You can take a walk along the city walls, I highly recommend that — you can take great pictures from there.

This walled city is where Kings Landing (Game of Thrones) was shot. This is the perfect setting for the quest for the Iron Throne.

One of the funnest things we did was to take a Game of Thrones tour. They took us around Kings Landing and showed us where they shot certain scenes and how they pieced scenes together. They also shared funny stories about how locals encountered the stars of Game of Thrones and the cost and intensity of shooting the episodes. Check out the pictures below — I am sure you will recognize some of the scenes (Red Keep, etc.).

Recognize the Red Keep (top left of picture)?
Shot from the Red Keep
Standing at the top of the stairs where Cersei had her WALK OF SHAME

I can’t say enough about how we enjoyed our trip to Croatia and our favorite city Dubrovnik. We also enjoyed the company of our 2 great friends, Kathy and Greg Tawes.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures of Kings Landing (Dubrovnik), shot from the Red Keep:

Sea, Castles and Game of Thrones in Croatia

We started our Croatian journey in Rovinj, a medieval seaside town in the northern section of Croatia. Rovinj looks imposing but only about 14,000 people live there today.

Inside this idyllic city, you stride along cobblestone streets and you can hear the locals chatting and going about their day. Fishermen unload their day’s catch. Markets are buzzing. Clothes are hung up for drying along the balconies.

We stayed in Rovinj for about 3 days in this impressive hotel (Spirito Santo Palazzo Sterico). It was recently converted from a set of decrepit homes and they did an amazing job with the design and construction (we highly suggest staying there if you visit).

We hired a private tour guide for 2 days who showed us the entire Istria area (the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea) — Rovinj (along with many other cities) are in this area. We had wine tastings, olive oil tastings and visited Pula — a city just south of Rovinj.

When you roll into Pula, you may think you are in Rome, check out the arena.

Split to Debrovnik

After visiting Rovinj and the surrounding areas, we hopped on a small yacht with 36 other people to island hop from Split to Dubrovnik.

Split, Croatia

Split is a beautiful seaside city where many of the Game of Thrones scenes were shot.

They used the Palace of Diocletian as the place where Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons were raised.

The palace is huge and incredibly interesting — it has lots of shops and restaurants. It also has a Game of Thrones museum that I highly recommend visiting. They will tell you where each of the scenes were shot within the palace.

Bol, Hvar, Croatia

When you first sail into Bol, you will see the beautiful beach that lies just outside the city. Seas were rough and we had rain, so we did not get to swim here but it would be great to do if you get the chance.

We strolled a pretty empty city, visiting shops, a local church, and a winery.

Jelsa and Stari Grad, Croatia

We continued our journey to Jelsa and Stari Grad, seaside cities in route to Dubrovnik.

All of these medieval cities have squares and churches. I can only imagine what it was like to live here in older times — probably lots of community and plenty of gossip!

We capped off our day with a local dish called Gregada. Fish and potatoes cooked in the oven for about 45 minutes, it was the best fish I’ve ever tasted.

In an upcoming blog post, I will talk about our continuing journey to Dubrovnik, where we visit Korcula, Mljet, Ston and then Dubrovnik.

I will leave you with a lonely lighthouse we saw during our journey towards Dubrovnik.

Finding St. Paul in Ephesus Turkey

If you’re familiar with St. Paul (he wrote most of the books of the New Testament), then you are probably familiar with the Book of Ephesians. At the time, people of Ephesus worshiped idols (Greek goddess Artemis) and Paul was there to spread the Christian gospel. He spent 3 years there but eventually was run out of town by the silversmiths who created the idols because it was cutting into their business and causing them economic hardship!

Covered up by volcanoes for several centuries, the ruins of Ephesus were discovered in 1863 and are in amazing shape for their age.

As we began walking the cobblestone streets of Ephesus, it felt amazing to be walking the same streets as Paul, Alexander the Great, Antony and Cleopatra.

Ephesus Architecture

The architecture during this time frame was amazing, everything was hand carved — imagine the effort that went into this.

Palaces of Ephesus

If you visit Ephesus, you will have the option to visit the Palaces (for an extra fee) — I recommend you do it. The palaces were the homestead for royalty and many of the palaces are up to 10,000 square feet — absolute mansions.

Nike – Just Do it!

In Greek mythology, the goddess Nike flew around battlefields awarding victors with glory and fame, symbolized by a wreath of bay leaves. There was a carving of Nike at Ephesus:

Oh look, Nike must have lost her hat while flying around and Lynn picked it up:

It’s amazing to know that only about 20% of Ephesus has currently been excavated — 80% of the city still lies below the earth’s ground cover.

Turkish People

We found the Turkish people to be very friendly and warm. Our tour guide was Turkish and he knew as much about America as most Americans (he knew the states, local culture, etc.). They are a proud people but are challenged economically. You will find that many will come up and try to sell you things as you walk around, we did not see that in Greece. But they are polite and will not bother you if you decline their offer.

They also create a lot of knock-off watches, purses and other items. You can buy a Rolex for about $20 but it may not be working by the time you get back home. I love the sign below, how can it be genuine and fake at the same time?

I’ll leave you with our view as we docked at Kusadasi. Notice the Hollywood style sign on the hill and the multi-colored houses:

Snorkeling Milos Greece

Milos Greece was a perfect spot for snorkeling — it has crystal blue waters, amazing landscapes, and accessible caves. We took an afternoon cruise to the best spots.

As we sailed, we saw amazing port villages and pumice walled cliffs with ocean caves.

Doesn’t the middle rock look like a bear (head at top facing right)?

Snorkelers dove off the boat from about 15 feet up — you could never do that in America! Why not – I happily joined the few that dared.

We approached the infamous Sarakiniko Beach — a local hangout with stellar pumice beaches and cliffs that people dive from. Our boat sailed right along the beach and we later visited the beach from the land.

After leaving the beach, we stopped in at Plaka to view the sunset.

What a place!

Knossos, Crete

We made a quick stop in Crete to see Knossos, a bronze age archaeological site that is referred to as “Europe’s oldest city”. Knossos was built and inhabited by Greek royalty from 2700 to 1100 BC. Marked by huge palaces and complex architecture, the ruins of this site are awe inspiring.

Amazingly, they had running water, flushing toilets and elaborate architectural designs — all over 4,000 years ago! They painted frescoes on the walls eliciting hints as to how life was at the time.

There were also a lot of pottery found in this ancient city — notice the detail.

I’ll leave you with one more picture of Milos:

Podcast: How an Entrepreneur achieved Lifestyle Freedom

Steve Miller Entrpreneur

Jordon Bryant of ChambersDS App Academy just published this podcast with Steve Miller, who built a multi-million dollar software business and sold it in 2009 and retired. After being retired for several years and traveling the world, Steve is now creating mobile apps in between time he spends golfing, boating, cycling and keeping fit.

Ways To Listen To This Episode

About Steve Miller

The guest for this podcast is Steve Miller, an entrepreneur who built the multi-million dollar Pragmatic software and sold it to AutomatedQA, which is now SmartBear Software, in 2009. He has over 24 years of experience in software development, project management, and software architecture.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Steve:
  • 1:23 : Steve gives us a peak in his consulting days with Microsoft and how this influenced him in forming his previous company, Pragmatic Software.
  • 3:21 : The solutions, features and benefits of their software, and the pivots they had made to fully develop their company including branding and building up clients to make the business viable. These strategies resulted to winning awards and, in turn, made them more attractive to other companies.
  • 06:16 : How they ended up being acquired by creating strategic partnerships and pre-planning integrations with other vendors with products complimentary to theirs. We also discuss the value exchange that happens during cross promotions and partnerships, not only in terms of revenue, but also when it comes to building relationships.
  • 08:46 : We dig into how he came up with a SMART exit strategy and how he ensured that this buyout plan came into fruition. Steve shares the timelines, starting out by identifying the list of companies which would be a good fit, narrowing them down, reaching out to form a relationship to those which remained as potential candidates and finally achieving the goal of being acquired.
  • 12:07 : Steve explains what a buyout earn out is, as well as the things that companies are looking for before doing acquisitions. He adds that they are not just interested in the product but also, they are interested on what you will bring into the table. As someone who knows your product well, they would look at you to be there to support the transition initially. He also shared pay out terms during their buyout and how they exceeded revenue targets which resulted to bonuses.
  • 14:04 : What Steve is currently doing with his free time including travelling, exploring his hobbies, and finally deciding to enter the mobile app development world.
  • 15:10 : His amusing story of how losing his iPad spurred his genius and resulted to his first app creation, aMemoryJog. He also talks about how travel can change perspectives and about his long-term plans.
  • 18:41 : The structures Steve had in place when he started working with aMemoryJog starting from looking at the competitive landscape, creating a business plan after his analysis, and documenting his processes along the way.
  • 23:53 : Apart from looking at the App Store, Steve also shared his other validation techniques such as having the app reviewed with friends and family and leveraging on his network.
  • 25:21 : How detailing his specifications helped him in landing a good price and using oDesk and Elance services for his app development needs. Steve also shares advice to people seeking development.
  • 27:57 : Steve’s other marketing efforts including reaching out to bloggers to tap them to become beta testers in different silos to get feedback. He also shares how he plans to reach out to them using a template with a YouTube video and how he tracks response rates.
  • 36:10 : Other key take aways that Steve had learned from his first app that he will be applying for the second: driving social virality through sharing capability and establishing good PR.

Rapid Fire Questions

  • Would you put more emphasis on the idea or the execution? How would you weigh each of them why?
    • Everybody has an idea for an app so for me it’s 10% idea, 90% execution.
  • What is your biggest learning lesson on your journey so far?
    • It’s good to localize but you can localize too early.
  • What is your favorite business book?
  • What is your favorite app?
  • What is the coolest thing that you are working on right now that you want everyone to know about?

Links From The Episode

Connect With Our Guest

Fleeing the Glacier National Park Fire

On our quest to visit all of the major US national parks, we set off last Saturday for Glacier National Park in Montana. Little did we know that more than 4,000 acres of forest would burn in the coming days. More about that later.

Bozeman, Montana

Our trip started in Colorado, and after a full day of driving, we landed in Bozeman, Montana, a funky little hip town. As we always do, we looked for a local brewery or pub. We found Montana Ale Works, a cool watering hole that offered up good eats and local brew.

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ale Works

Montana Ranch

Our second day took us to an 80-acre Montana ranch to visit some early retiree friends, Bob and Robin Charlton, whom we met in 2011 after an article was written about them on the Yahoo finance site. Our first face-to-face meeting with Bob and Robin was just after we retired (2012).

We happened to be in Maine at the same time and met up at Arcadia National Park and shared a lobster dinner. Since then, we’ve kept in touch via email and visited them in Boulder early this summer.

As luck would happen, they were house sitting for friends who had a beautiful ranch in Montana. They graciously asked us if we could stop by and visit with them on our way to Glacier National Park.

Beautiful Montana Ranch

Beautiful Montana Ranch

The cabin was custom designed by their friends and is incredibly well done.

Custom designed cabin

Custom designed cabin

The cabin has beautiful mountain views, complete with horses.

Beautiful Montana views

Beautiful Montana views

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Friendly Horses

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Beautiful Blue Eyes

We spent our afternoon kicking back a few brews, chatting about retired life and enjoying each other’s company.

Hanging with Bob and Robin

Hanging with Bob and Robin

Bob wrote a book called “How to Retire Early”, it’s a great book — I’ve purchased copies for our boys. Bob and Robin are about to embark on 2 full years of traveling — they chronicle their travels on their website (www.WhereWeBe.com).

Flathead Cherries

After spending a full day and night with the Charltons, it was time to head towards Glacier National Park. We kept hearing about “Flathead Cherries“. On the way to Glacier, we saw Flathead Lake and found out that there were lots of cherry groves around the lake.

Flat Head Lake

Flathead Lake

We stopped by a local cherry stand and purchased some. I’ve never eaten a cherry so sweet and juicy. If you are ever in the neighborhood, you have to try them!

Flathead Cherries

Flathead Cherries

Glacier National Park

Once we arrived to Glacier National Park, we entered the west entrance on the “Going to the Sun” road.  Our first stop was at Lake McDonald and dipped my toes into the cool and clear glacier waters.

Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald

As we made our way up to Logan pass, we stopped to take in several waterfalls. Although I missed getting a picture of it, a huge brown bear crossed the road about 50 yards behind our car during one of our stops.

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

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Waterfalls of Glacier National Park

Hidden Lake Hike at Logan Pass

Our goal for the day was to hike to Hidden Lake. The 3.5 mile hike is not terribly difficult but offers some incredible views of mountain vistas, wildlife, waterfalls and ends at Hidden Lake.

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Views during our hike

As we were hiking up to Hidden Lake, a mountain goat came within about 5 feet of us. He could really care less about us, he was just moseying down the mountain without a care in the world.

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The reward for making this hike was Hidden Lake, a beautiful lake at the base of a mountain.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

On our return trip, we saw the same mountain goat eating vegetation along the way. How cool is to see wildlife in their natural habitat?

Natural habitat

Natural habitat

We finished our day by driving the rest of Going to the Sun road. Pictures hardly do it justice.

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

Going to the Sun Road

St. Mary Lake Tour and Hike

On the second day of our trip, we took a boat tour of St. Mary Lake, at the east end of the park. You take a 30 minute boat ride to a ranger guided hike that takes you up to St. Mary Falls.

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

St. Mary Lake Boat Tour

The boat ride was surreal, a slow ride over 300 foot glacial water. The captain explained the biology and ecology of the glaciers and the ranger gave us insight into the forest and wildlife.

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Boat tour of St. Mary Lake

Ranger Lead Hike

Ranger Lead Hike

The 2.5 hour hike wasn’t too strenuous, only about 300 feet of elevation change and it culminated in views of the silky St. Mary Falls. On our way back, we spotted a moose at the end of the St. Mary Lake.

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

Glacier National Park Fire

During our boat tour, the captain mentioned that the St. Mary Lake forest area had not had a major fire in about 100 years. We finished up our time at the park around 3 p.m. on July 21. Later that night, we saw on TV where a fire broke out at Glacier National Park, exactly in the spot where we had just hiked to St. Mary Lake and only about 30 minutes after we had left.

As of July 23, it has already burned over 4,000 acres and is still not contained. We also heard that they evacuated the restaurant and lodge that where we ate just before leaving the park.

Glacier National Park Fire (not my photo)

Glacier National Park Fire (not my photo)

We were incredibly fortunate to have viewed St. Mary Lake in it’s pristine grandeur. Our friends (Bob and Robin) were planning to camp there for a couple of weeks and I spoke them today, they were re-evaluating their plans because a lot of the park has been evacuated.

About the Millers

Steve and Lynn Miller retired early and now enjoy traveling and embracing new hobbies. In their spare time, they develop mobile apps. You can learn more here:

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya: Can you guess where this Buddhist Monument is located?

A stupa is a spiritual Buddhist memorial that is used to renew a spiritual connection to Buddha’s teachings. If I were to ask you where you might see a stupa like the one below, where would you guess?

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

I bet you would guess one of these places: Tibet, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, or Bhutan.

Not so! We visited this stupa located near Red Feathers Lake, about an hour from Fort Collins, Colorado. We were amazed. The stupa is located in a very remote area, with beautiful mountain views but nothing but a few houses and farms located nearby.

Lots of farmland next to the Stupa

Lots of farmland next to the Stupa

As we drove up to the compound, we were surprised that it was difficult to find a parking spot. There were a lot of people visiting on a Sunday afternoon. Once parked, it is about a mile hike to the stupa. People come to the stupa as a retreat and camp in the many tents inside of the compound.

Tents for retreat visitors

Tents for retreat visitors

The hike to the stupa is pretty easy, you simply follow the flags and cross several bridges along the way.

Black bird shows you the way

Black bird shows you the way

As you make your way to the stupa, you can hear the sound of nearby creeks.

Bridges along the path

Bridges along the path

Before long, you arrive at the stupa.

Arriving at the Stupa of Dharmakaya

Arriving at the Stupa of Dharmakaya

Once inside, you are greeted by a huge Buddha. As you walk clockwise around the room, you can see relics and donations left by other visitors.

Buddha greets you inside

Buddha greets you inside

Once you’ve visited the stupa, you are invited to watch a 25 minute movie that explains how and why it was built. It was built in honor of Shambhala Mountain Center’s founder, the meditation master, author and artist Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It honors his contribution in bringing the spiritual teachings of Tibet to the West.

Up close shot of the Stupa

Up close shot of the Stupa

I’ll leave you with our view on our walk back to the car.

Our view back to the car

Our view back to the car

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