Bella Vista cou­ple trav­els for ad­ven­ture

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - LYNN ATKINS

After a ca­reer that in­cluded a lot of travel, Mark Kreym­borg re­tired to spend his time trav­el­ing. He and wife Ronda have sto­ries from all over the globe.

“We just wanted to do in­ter­est­ing things,” Kreym­borg said.

Both re­tired within the last six months and cel­e­brated by spend­ing six weeks trav­el­ing around Europe. They rented an apart­ment in Lon­don but didn’t stay there full time. They took two- and three-day trips all over the con­ti­nent.

Air travel around Europe is rea­son­ably priced, Kreym­borg ex­plained, so they flew from Lon­don to all the places they wanted to visit, in­clud­ing Moscow, where they saw a Krispy Kreme dough­nut shop on Red Square.

They spent time vis­it­ing St. Basil’s Cathe­dral.

“It’s the most beau­ti­ful build­ing I have ever seen, in per­son,” he said.

“I al­ways wanted to go to Rus­sia,” he said. Now that’s checked off his bucket list.

They also vis­ited sev­eral bat­tle­fields around France and Bel­gium. Ronda Kreym­borg ad­mit­ted that she wasn’t en­thu­si­as­tic about vis­it­ing the mil­i­tary sites, but it turned out to be fas­ci­nat­ing. Part of the rea­son, she said, is that her hus­band com­piles all kinds of in­for­ma­tion be­fore they visit each site and brings it along in a note­book.

“He’s like a travel agent,” she said, but he calls him­self an ama­teur World War II his­to­rian.

In Bel­gium, they vis­ited a field where the re­mains of fox­holes are still clearly vis­i­ble. They vis­ited the beaches at Nor­mandy and the forests where the Bat­tle of the Bulge was fought. They saw sev­eral small memo­ri­als, in­clud­ing some funded by ac­tor Tom Hanks, and vis­ited Gen­eral Ge­orge Pat­ton’s grave.

One of Mark Kreym­borg’s fa­vorite mem­o­ries is an ear­lier trip he took to Iwo Jima. The is­land is only open to vis­i­tors one day a year, he said. And the year he vis­ited, he heard the grand­son of the Ja­panese com­man­der speak. He flew in on a plane with sev­eral veter­ans and their fam­i­lies and heard first­hand about the bat­tle on the tiny is­land.

The Amer­i­can tourists and the Ja­panese tourist visit at the same time, but they don’t min­gle, he said. Each group stays in its own tent.

They’ve also had some mem­o­rable trips around the United States. They took a train ride up the coast of Cal­i­for­nia and the fa­mous train, “The City of New Or­leans,” from Chicago to New Or­leans.

Alaska is a fa­vorite des­ti­na­tion, but they don’t al­ways visit the usual tourist spots. Last year, they vis­ited bears in Alaska.

Only about 600 peo­ple a year take the trip. They flew into the wilder­ness, about 110 miles west of Homer, on a small plane with only a few pas­sen­gers. After the plane landed on a pond, the pas­sen­gers were able to get within 40 feet of griz­zly bears fish­ing in the river.

“I wouldn’t put us in dan­ger,” Mark Kreym­borg said. The pi­lots had been bring­ing tourists to the area with­out in­ci­dent for 28 years. The bears, he ex­plained, have no other con­tact with hu­mans and don’t as­so­ciate the hu­mans with food. They have plenty of salmon and berries to eat and ig­nore their au­di­ence.

“We heard a lot of roar­ing,” Ronda Kreym­borg said, but the roars were mother bears with cubs and weren’t di­rected at the hu­mans.

They plan to re­turn to Alaska in June and see the bears again at a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion. An­other tour will take them to the shore­line where the bears emerge from hi­ber­na­tion and start their year.

Kreym­borg found both trips when he was re­search­ing things to do in Alaska. He also found a bus ride through De­nali Park that lasted 11 hours. He didn’t tell Ronda how long it was un­til they were get­ting on the bus but, look­ing back, they agreed that it didn’t seem long at all. They saw a lot of wildlife and heard the bus driver talk­ing about liv­ing on a homestead miles away from any neigh­bors.

Other up­com­ing trips in­clude a cruise in Fe­bru­ary, Texas in April to see his daugh­ter com­pete in an Iron­man Triathlon, with side trips to see World War II mu­se­ums and maybe an­other train ride.

Pho­tos sub­mit­ted

Mark and Ronda Kreym­borg took a small plane into the Alaskan wilder­ness to see griz­zly bears up close. Be­cause the lo­ca­tion is so re­mote, the bears don’t know to as­so­ciate hu­mans with food and ig­nore their vis­i­tors while they fish for salmon.

Pho­tographed dur­ing a re­cent trip to Moscow, Mark Kreym­borg said St Basil’s Cathe­dral is the most beau­ti­ful build­ing he has ever seen.

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