Saturday, March 28, 2009

Next stop Alicante, Spain

My backpack is ready, all work is complete and I am ready to leave Houston.  In twenty-four hours I will be in Alicante with Kees.

More late hopefully ......

Friday, March 27, 2009

Fun with family and friends ...

For my birthday Dawn presented gave me the yellow arrow pendant above.  It was made by a local artist and can be attached to my pack. The next photograph shows the tadpole from Katie representing the metamorphism that can take place when walking a camino.  Melinda sent the heart with the word DREAM to remind me of the Shake Russell song, Dream Big. Charlotte made her Gran the sparkly heart, this little girl is the light of my life. I will carry these items with me along the way.

Oops, my pack is heavy it weighs 10.2 kilos without water. My hat will be on my head, the fleece could be on my back, and the stick will be in my hand .... all weight out of the pack. Dream Big!

Farewell's continued..... when Rochelle and I relaxed at the New York Diner sharing 'girl time'.  Katie and I cooked an encore Paella and Coeur à la Crème for family and friends, Elise and Dale.  Wednesday night, Katie and I were having a girls night out at Mama Ninfa's Mexican restaurant then Chris and Garry decided to join us.  Thursday night, my little family enjoyed a lobster fest at Red Lobster for a final farewell.  Tonight, we (Katie, Chris, Garry, and me) had dinner at Brisket & Barb-B-Q and followed up with a game of Mexican Train.  I lost!  With all this eating I am going to roll along the camino for the first few days.

I have received Buen Camino emails and telephone calls from friends, thank you.  I also read the messages on Ultreya! from fellow pilgrims.  I am ready to leave knowing that I have the support of many.  When possible, I will pick up emails from but please be aware that the Internet is not always available.

Buen Camino to those folks I know through Ultreya! who will be walking the various camino paths over the next few months.

Thank you all for your support.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

I have my stone .....

Talking with Dawn last week she reminded me about carrying a stone.  I have a stone from our garden for leaving at Cruz de Ferro (above) which is something pilgrims have done for centuries.  In 2001, Benny and Bonita picked up a stone at the Grand Canyon and gave it to me for the camino.  I put all my sorrows into that stone as I thought it was the only stone I would leave along the camino.  It was forgiveness I needed in 2007 and that was the energy I put into my stone.  I wanted folks to forgive me, and I forgave them.  This year I go with Brian L. Weiss' book in mind, Only Love is Real.  So Andrée, read about the carrying of a stone and if you wish, pick up a stone to carry along the way to leave at Cruz de Ferro.  As you are starting in Astorga you will only have to carry your stone for two days, lucky duck!

3, 2, 1 .........


Friday, March 20, 2009

Cajun Country, Louisiana

Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana

A farewell visit with Dawn, Danny, and Lisa in Louisiana.

Since moving to Houston I drive Louisiana regularly to help Dawn with the data input at The Harrington Gallery. Last summer I experienced a hair disaster from a salon in Houston. Dawn made arrangements with the stylists at her regular salon to correct the problem. Now I get to visit my friend every six weeks, work for her and have my hair done. What a great way to see old friends. I bring goodies from Houston that are not available in Sulphur and get to feast on Danny's Cajun cooking, yum!

It was to Dawn and Danny's that we (Kees, Andrée, and me) went to escape the wrath of Hurricane Ike in September, 2008. Well, that did not save us from the Category 3 storm as we were in the outer band.  However, it did teach me what we need to do when preparing for a hurricane watching Danny prepare their home by boarding windows and moving all possible flying objects outside. Friends in Houston could not believe that we hightailed it to Sulphur stating that Beaumont, Texas, and Sulphur, Louisiana (TX/LA border towns) are usually within a Gulf of Mexico hurricane path. Sulphur took a direct hit from Hurricane Rita in 2005 three weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  Just two weeks ago Dawn drove to Georgetown, Texas, a 12 hour drive for her that night running for Hurricane Gustav. Yes, we live in a hurricane zone.

Thankfully, we all came through Ike with minor damage to our properties (only garden debris and fence damage).  When it was all over Andrée, Kees, and I, had experienced our first hurricane and tornado watch.  We returned to Houston two days later to a home with no electricity and the power outage lasted for fourteen more days.

Today the weather is beautiful.  It is the first day of Spring.  The azaelas and blossom trees are flowering and the town of Sulphur looks very pretty.

I have had my first "hug or kiss the Saint for me" request, something that I am very happy to do for those folks who request it.  Many times while walking the Camino Francés a Spaniard has offered me fruit or candy and then asked me to kiss or hug the Saint for them.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Caminos de Europa - CSJ map

Click on map for a larger view
Confraternity of Saint James (UK)

The 1,000 kilometer Via de la Plata (VdlP) to Santiago de Compostela begins  in Seville, Spain.  A pilgrim can chose to go west after Zamora through Ourense or continue to Astorga where the VdlP T's with the Camino Francés.  Astorga-SdC along Camino Francés is the route we are taking after meeting Andrée on May 20.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Time for yourself

A Spiritual Walk

It is quiet in the fog/mist with only the sound of your footsteps and stick, one can get lost in thought.  Often you have the camino to yourself and that is a magical time.  Later, when the fog lifts, your spirit is lifted, your pace quickens, and the day may be bright and sunny putting a spring in your step (that is if you are blister free).  All is right with your world. I have precious memories of walking on misty days along the camino and not so precious about the rainy days. I always look forward to walking those last few days in Galicia where many days can be misty. Andrée think of those photographic opportunities coming up. Dawn, you know from our conversations that this photo is up here for you.

Pilgrimages in Spain and Portugal

A light backpack

Soon I will be along the way again. Each time I have left home with a very heavy backpack. I am trying to be careful this year by keeping my backpack light because I believe the 1,000 kms Via de la Plata is a tough camino. The long walking distances between albergues (up to 38 kms) coupled with the heat of the Extremadura make for a long day. I did not want to walk this way alone and when my friends asked me to join them it was a golden opportunity to walk the Silver Route. Hopefully by starting in early April we could avoid some of the heat problems. If not, it will be pre-dawn starts to walk in the cool of the morning. I am challenging myself by walking a new path.