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Walking the Camino as a couple

Walking the Camino as a couple By Cathy Seitchik Diaz David and I went to see the documentary, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago on February 21, 2014. As we left the theater, I said to David, “I want to do this. I want to walk the Camino de Santiago.” At that time, David, not […]


A Tale of Two Pilgrims

A Tale of Two Pilgrims By Daniel DeKay Salvitur ambulando ‐ St. Augustine (All things are solved by walking) Jeanette Lansbergen closed the front door of her home in Rotterdam and began walking south. Two months later she arrived in St. Jean Pied de Port. Along the way she camped out, cooking her own meals. […]


Escape. We all need it. #VacationMovie looks hilarious!

We’ve yet to see it. But, I’m guessing that “Vacation” will be our must-see 20th anniversary film after some fondue dinner.  Right up there with our first movie date, “Dumb & Dumber”.  Funny, yet to the point.  

We shall see if we even escape to dinner and a movie, after the wanderlust/abandonment of July.  Our boys have laid the guilt on thick. 

But, we all need to escape. No matter your age. No matter your socio-economic standing. Just, no matter. We all need & crave to escape the normal, unless one already enjoys his or her abnormal life somewhere special with very special people. 

As kids, we learn to get away. For my generation, that getaway was a bike, a backyard, maybe a pool, one beach trip a year, a sport, a weekend preoccupation, and/or a nightly television show on one of only 3 network channels. There were no gadgets, smartphones, nor Internet. Imagine that, kids out there. 

Today, kids, including ours, have a ridiculous number of cable channels, handheld gadgets, DVDs, and almost limitless internet bandwidth (maxed out our 30GB this month. Ridiculous)  All from our collective couches and recliners. They need to get away from all of that media clutter more than we ever did. 

And, that’s what we are doing right now. Off to the pool. Most kids around the world have no such thing. I know that. Our kids loathe my reminding them. But, it’s true. Appreciate the small escapes, especially those with modest exercise. 

Adults, as we age through good and bad times, really appreciate the all-to-brief escapes.  Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you, pool dad. “Hey, I’ve gotta go back to work” he says to his young son, before his boy climbs up the pool slide. I’ve never had the misfortune of saying those words before…when I actually had a career. Either I was “working “, if one could call it that, or I was not. You know, back when Blackberry phones were cutting edge and drove the business world . (Just saw one on the plane three days ago. He’s Canadian. Loyal to BBs dying day). Nice. Anyway…

That’s our escape from our Wii , DVD, and snack-filled sleepover time this morning. Whatever it takes, you know. 

For me, it’s fun times away from the usual and anytime where our collective “Blue Mind” is active…even at our pool. If you haven’t read the book, please do…

Blogged about this book and related state-of-mind one year ago today @ https://justbecausetwit.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/heart-healthy-thats-a-blue-mind/  .  No heart monitor this summer. “Celebrate good times, come on!  Let’s celebrate!”

Just one year can make a big difference. Sure, we’re all a year older. Our kids are grown and two are growing up faster than we can comprehend. My Love and I are less relevant…until we leave town and life is less predictable. You know. Normal. 

Escape with ones you love is very good. Even great!  Going it alone might be fine for some to escape. But, my dream of this month came true with three loved ones. Next escape includes another three. 

We head to Chicago for our nephew ‘s wedding this weekend, but I’m already looking into international travel for our next escape to Europe for 4-6 of us next year. Airfare is the largest investment/barrier to wanderlust. We shall conquer that. One way or another.  Preferably round-trip for now. 

Someday. One way for two, please  Others can just meet us there. Wherever there is. 

Really looking forward to that. Selling and giving it all away is the plan. 

Finding our places to not only land, but thrive with others…especially our loved ones and those yet to be born….is our next decade’s plan. By then, we should have two girls with their own families and two boys ready to soar on their own or I’ll be happy to launch them. 

Just saying. 

Ciao, for now. And, salute’, fb amigos. 


Guilt & Wildlife. Everywhere. 

An amazing July is coming to a close. 

I loved my 2+ weeks with our oldest daughter on the Camino de Santiago, 

my weekend with our youngest daughter in Madrid,

 and my four days or so in Costa Rica with my love….

…only missing two little dudes who I left behind for almost a month…

…and they let me know it. They broke down while I was away on separate occasions and I’m getting it today as Mom had to take off for a product launch meeting early this morning. We have a little quality time due as the start of school is coming fast. 

As I explained to our oldest boy, though his tears, this is just another lesson in what life is really like. You go on unexpected adventures. You miss people. Things don’t get done around the house without effort. Parents need to spend great times together. Job demands time & energy at the family’s expense. That’s life. 

But. Big but here. I promised him that our two decades of fun, tasty, traditional beach trips may be done. More non-traditional beach, mountain, village, and cross-countries experiences may just be our new norm. That’s my promise to these boys. 

From hailing taxis in Manhattan to doing the same in Europe to trekking through countries and soaking up sights via Eurail and Amtrak. My eyes are wide-open now to giving these boys travel experiences that we gave our girls and beyond, as our girls have ventured in their teens and early adulthood. Our boys need that wanderlust sooner than later. 

We’ve referred to our boys, amongst ourselves, as monkeys and they need to greet and meet other wildlife, as we did last weekend…

Holler monkeys are tough to see, but easy to hear, especially before sunrise.  Iguanas act like they own the place. Raccoons and birds use the pool as a watering hole. And, then, there are these guys & gals we enjoyed on the way to breakfast….

Funny little boogers. Nice early morning surprise.  Loved it. 

Here’s to you and yours , with monkeys or not, finding your happy places, vistas, conversations, and lasting memories….& motivations to do it over and over again. 


Happy Almost AARP time, My Love

That’s right. It’s My Love’s birthday today. Although you would think that we were already AARP members, by my striking Old Man and the Sea looks.  Alas, I’m a couple of years behind this lovely person. 

And, in other first, we awoke this morning early to the very loud calls of Howler monkeys. Thanks, guys. Hope you find who your looking for. I know I did. No howling required. 

Just like my birthday girl, Costa Rica is gorgeous. The beaches, the warm ocean, the landscape…it has it all. Plus, locals offering $20 one-hour, beachside massages…Jasmine for me and Jen for Gin. They were gooooood!

Then, back to this…

Then, there was this…

….to be continued. Off to the beach now…

Well, we are back in the shade. In a huge pool. My Love is happy. 

This is where we are. 

This is to our right. 

It’s all good. 

And this is me trying to sneak a pic of our birthday girl sleeping. Busted!

Great day. Hopefully a great birthday for Gin. 



Home. Sweet. Home. 

Well, we made it almost 3 weeks without a solid drop of rain in Spain…not even on a plane. 

Sunny everyday. Cloudy morns in Galicia. 52-55f degrees every morning and hot afternoons for cervesas & ciestas. 

Then, there was Madrid. Sunny and damn hot. Thank God for the metro. 

Then, yesterday. Gloomy, rainy Paris. I just hunkered down with duty-free libations and waited for the long haul home. 

Air France has a good grip on comfort. Personal movie/tv/music/where the hell are we? screens kill 9 hours nicely, along with tasty food & decent red wine. 

My movie medley began with a favorite of ours, “Chocolat”.   Very fitting. Small French village where chocolatier heroine and her little girl change lives for the better with chocolate. Then, “Four Weddings and a Funeral “.  Sure, London fun. Hilarious love story. Another classic for My Love and me. Next….


I do love Miss Witherspoon. She’s one of the coolest actors, moms, producers, and entrepreneurs…all of it…of our generation. The movie is gritty and involves hiking the entire Pacific Coast Trail. Another hike to consider someday. 

Lastly, one of our family soundtracks and fun 1980’s Classic…”When Harry Met Sally”….

I’ll have what she’s having. Funny. 

Back in the states and here’s my welcome home sign created by our little guys…

Notice the love & touches of Spain. I won’t do any future European adventure without them & My Love. It’s too much of a joy to not share with them next time. And the next. And the next. 

Between my body clock of 2-4am or so, the four of us kicked back to my pick of movie, the 1960’s Classic “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. Looked a lot like the last two weeks+ of villages we enjoyed. I just couldn’t stop myself. 

Back to our daily routine today and tomorrow. Then. Costa Rica awaits. 

Stay tuned.


Size matters. Europe knows it does, American behemoths. 

I’ve always been tall. Then, I became big. Pretty big. I’m certainly not svelte, as I was three decades ago. To be specific, I’m 6’3″ and around 265-275lbs or so, depending on how my week is going. There’s the back-story. 

As I sit here in Paris, awaiting my long, yet pleasant, 9-hour flight home on Air France (they treat even peasants pretty darn good with food & drink), I am reflecting upon how this one oversized American was perceived and treated in the sweet country of Spain and the rather short-shrifed airport of Paris. 

With a nod to the very Frenchman himself , Andre’ the Giant, I kinda know what he may have felt like when in America.  In weird way, I felt like an American version of him (albeit he was a foot taller and maybe twice my weight in his prime…which is why he died in his prime 40’s) across the pond this month. 

I’ve never ducked so many times walking through airports, not so much around train stations, but almost anywhere awnings protruded from buildings or when entering and circulating around historic structures. I avoided head injuries on an all to frequent basis. And I loved it all. 

Most of all, I got a lot of kicks from the reactions of towns people and fellow pilgrims. Here were my favorite ones:

#3….checking into our last pension in Santiago and we were shown a private room with only one double bed, but with a leather futon. Our host spouted off something about my size to Brianna and she was correct. God bless her. After we checked in and went out to explore the town, our host came in and made that futon as comfy for me as possible. However, there was nothing anyone could do about 2ft of my legs hanging  off the end. I still slept well, after 13 marathon days of hiking the Camino. (See all recent posts)

#2….one of our daily traditions was starting fresh after a good nights sleep, not rushing that part, and stopping a few kilometers up the Way at a small village cafe’. One morning, we had to go about 7 or 8k just to get to our first option, along with many others. Brianna had her usual and after a bit, I started to want something more than my daily, fresh-squeezed Orange juice (you should see the contraption that makes it fresh everywhere). I finally went in, apologized in advance for my espanol, and effectively asked for just sliced chorizo. No bread. Just meat. The older lady retorted “no bread?”  I said no. She pushed the issue. I said no. She held up two sizes of chorizo and I chose the large one.  She filled a plate and took one more run at my need for carbs. She pointed to my size. Discussed her point with her beautiful sidekick behind the bar and the said to me “you so strong (she did that muscle man pose) and so handsome…” with a really coy look on her face. Those two then looked at me like Ringling Brothers was is town and I retorted “Well, you two are so beautiful ” and they giggled like little girls. As they were, I was being generous too. BTW, my chorizo was outstanding for an early lunch….along with a grande cervesa. 

And #1……no doubt!  There were several moments with all of our Spaniard ladies who we were happy to sleep with (see a few posts ago), if only for one night. They giggled. They chatted in espanol. Their ring-leader spoke excellent English. They, in short, were the most entertaining group of pilgrims that we kept passing, allowing to dart ahead while we slept, and then catch up to everyday. I think the last time was the best as they giggled about me and I heard the interpretation from time to time. This last time demanded a photo. A really short, cute, funny shot the older gal wanted on the trail with me. Of course, I played along. Stooped over, the picture was snapped and we did that cheeky faux-kissing thing all around. They all giggled and we were off again for the last time. Ladies, you will be missed. 

Call me Andre’. Call me an albatross. Call me that super sized American…but don’t call me collect…(insert snare drum)…I have no qualms about being this size. It’s the way mom, dad, God, food, and booze made me. I’m fine with it. It’s Europe and their means of travel (not the trains, just the planes and taxis) that don’t serve big strapping, aging John Wayne types, with toupe’ or not,  very well. 

Won’t stop me. Next time, My Love and I, with any to all willing kids,  will be here and all over this country or countries of choice. I won’t do this again without My Love and willing & excited & engaged kids along for the ride.

Travel, no matter your preferences, your desires, nor even your size, is something you should share with all you love. I learned that lesson this week. 

Looking forward to decades of destinations with My Love, our kids, our grandkids, and only God knows who moving forward 

Cheers and happy & safe travels to you and yours!

Just Kaitlyn. In Madrid, Spain. 



Goodbye to Madrid. Shuttle to airport is almost here. 


So you think you might want to hike the Camino?  Let me help you, por favor. 

Just read. Read a year before. Read that entire year. Read on the plane. I bought four of the best books I thought Amazon could produce and each offered good to great advice. The best, by far, was the upbeat, practical, and even mystical back-pocket sized book of all Camino books…



Looks a little rough. You bet. If I wore you out for two weeks straight, you might not look too good either. This was my Camino bible. 

Next, what to pack. Quick dry shirts (Patagonia or Mtn Harware), same in shorts (Columbia , Marmot, Mtn Harware, Patagonia),  and underwear (Ex-officio only) work the best. Just 2-4 of each depending on your laundry accessibility. I took 5 of everything , which was too much. Lesson learned. Oh, and hankies. It’s our family thing.  But I used a lot of handkerchiefs on the Camino. A sun blocking Columbia hat too. Where did all of my stuff go …
…my Osprey 24liter backpack. Light, compact, fits easily on planes and trains. Held more than I needed for the Camino, plus strapped a water bottle, my back-up Keens, and a bottle opener to it. No problem. 

No trekking poles for me. Too noisy. Not physically helpful to me. Just adding tap dancing to a peaceful hike. 

Most important items of all:

Great wool socks (SmartWool or Wigwam, my choice) that may claim to be “blister-free”..and they almost were. But those dry socks with these big ol’Keens…

And you have a winning combination. 

No running. Just walking and hiking. Unless… cervesas are up ahead.  

(Yawning my head off…I’ll finish this tomorrow)

I’m back. You know Ameican influence has reach Madrid when..

Nothing rustic cafe’ about this AC Hotel and its breakfast buffet. But, I digress. 

Sure, bring all of the toiletries you think you need, but my toothbrush, floss, comb,  gel, soap, shampoo, quick-dry towel , and deoderant all fit nicely. 

Lastly, bring plenty of euros and your wifi capable smartphone and you will be set, with Camino bible as your ultimate guide to each day’s landmarks & destinations. 

Lastly, for real this time, bring a best friend or loved one to share this journey with and remember forever. I’ve been on Dad-daughter adventures to our known places of NYC and Pass-a-Grille, but never two weeks plus into the unknown.  If you just want to be alone, I guess it’s possible. Come to the Camino alone and you will meet a wide spectrum of characters, 99% well-educated Spaniards, French, German, Italian, or Canadian.  We Americans are rarely seen or heard on the Camino, at least during our two weeks in July. And it was wonderful. One retired steel mill fella from Ohio, who strongly resembled Santa Claus, was the loudest person at each cafe’ stop. His vast knowledge of everything reminded me of my Dad. 

Go do it, if you like. Alone or not, you’ll never really be alone. You will be with various “pilgrims” as you go. 

As the song says, you will never walk alone, at least on the Camino. 

Our Camino proved it. 

For more prep, laughs & mostly true things about the Camino (we had no bladder issues) check this out:


Hope all of this helps. Go explore. If you can affordably get to France or Spain, do 100km, 300km (like us from Leon to Santiago), or the entire 800km from St. Jean. You will be challenged and probably glad you did. 

Just travel. Wherever you go. 



FaceTime rocks!

Just a little shout-out to facebook. 

FaceTime is the cure for all that limits global communication. Verizon failed me. Facebook has not. 

See these faces…

My Love, that last one cracks me up !

Verizon can’t deliver that. Wasted $$$. 

Free FB service has won. 

Moving on. Goodnight, all. 

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