Yesterday we visited Plitvice Lakes National Park in the mountainous center of Croatia. This park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Register in 1979 because of the unique natural ecology found here. The 73,000 acres of dense forest is a hiker’s paradise with a labyrinth of trails over rocky paths, wooden boardwalks, and bridges. Sixteen terraced lakes, fed by three rivers, create a watery and interconnected wonderland. Towering cliffs loom behind cascading waterfalls and rushing rapids. A wide range of birds, flowers, mammals, and insects live beneath the tall canopy of beech, fir, and spruce trees. During the visit we descended into caves and rode a boat. Thankfully, no meandering brown bear crossed paths with us. Instead, for a few short hours, we caught our breath as we quietly contemplated the majestic splendor of this natural wonder. Then, we climbed aboard the bus and headed toward Slovenia.