justbecausetwit

Just another WordPress.com site

Category: Education

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:

http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/20-truths-walking-camino-de-santiago/

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. 

Cheers. 

  

Camino reflections. 

For anyone who has followed Brianna and her old Dad for the last two weeks, you have seen & heard sights and sounds that the two of us have never experienced before. 

Imagine walking, not running, a marathon everyday for 13 days.  Cross-country marathons with hills, valleys, mountains, and river and creek beds. Farms and villages. Dirt paths to concrete roads. Highways and rarely used back roads. You get the pictures…..

   
    
    
    
    
 
Like our world, the Camino is diverse with places & paths,,,,,and people. We walked between and lived in 14 different places, most called albergues, over these last 14 nights. Every single one was managed by capable folks, but varied wildly from hippie style to chic. Throw in an eclectic bunch of pilgrims at each stop, all randomly brought together based on timing and levels of exhaustion…and you have a different dynamic every night. 

   
    
    
    
    
 
This is a beautiful thing. Like God’s creation, each of us are our own little miracle. You don’t need a long hike to figure that out. But, I digress. 

Any travel you do, local to afar, is about the big 3. People. Places. And things. Or, nouns, as I like to call them. 

The last being interesting to totally boring. The middle being required to get you out of your daily comfort zone. And, the first, to engage you in conversation, laughs, and memories that can never be duplicated anywhere..

.to be continued tomorrow.  I’m tired…

 (7.5 hours of needed sleep later…)

Good morning !   I’m up.  As I was saying, before exhaustion overcame me….Things are just things, Places get you going and out of your comfort zone and the People are many reasons to motivate you to get out there. Be it your daughter who asks for that Spring Break trip to NYC or the beach or for weeks walking Spain…..I know. What young person asks to spend precious vacation time with old Dad? Well, evidently, mine….the point is to find a way and just go. 

None of us are getting any younger, especially yours truly….

   
    
 
Yeah, that was me & My Love when our girls were tiny. Me and my Mom. And miss Lilly, our newest addition. 

How does one go from such black to gray, you may wonder? Life details provided in my initial posts are archived here.  My 40’s started in a rough way and we’ve regrouped, downsized, and prioritized like the younger me could not anticipate.  Two constants, over most of the last decade, have held steady.  Family and travel.  Sure, we lost both of our Dads a couple of years ago, but our family was there.  Sure, I cannot plan and bill business/pleasure trips to my company anymore. But, we still find a way to go and help our girls explore foreign lands & experiences via Delta SkyMiles. Thanks, AMEX & Delta!

What motivates you to get out of your ordinary world and explore that different place?  Or, keep returning to that place where family memories keep building up layers upon layers? 

Here are my motivational loved ones…

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
 
   
 
There you have it. The big five reasons (plus pup) why I still care. Why I’m still here. And why I made this trip to sunny, beautiful Spain (not a drop of rain in over two weeks).

Those are my reflections from this long and fruitful experience with Brianna and many others.  Santiago again today. Train to Madrid tomorrow. Back to home on Monday.  Hanging with our boys for a couple of days, then…off to Costa Rica on Thursday with My Love. Couples-only trip that she earned with her business team.  Nice July, heh?

As I’ve tried to make all too clear, I may not be getting any younger, but my loved ones and the places & experiences we share together are about as good as any fountain of youth that this mind & body has found. Or. Maybe they found me. 

Maybe that’s what God had planned all along. 

Maybe. 

Stay tuned…..

Heart healthy @ 46. Maybe…

IMG_0308.JPG

Good times. Good times.

There is nothing like a month-long, hidden heart monitor that makes you think about life. Just sayin’.

Today is my silly day. It’s just another day. Another heart flutter. Another day. But, it is my 46th anniversary of living on this marble. That’s about it.

Loved my 4 well wishes & love from 4 children I’ve helped to spawn…not to mention my one true love.

Our oldest girl reminded me of supporting her dreams and she encouraged me about mine. Dreams are very real. They speak to us in our sleep. Moreover, they drive us when we are awake.

Dream on. Make them happen.

Cheers…says this future Captain.

Join us for our second half.

IMG_0195.JPG

IMG_0306.JPG

IMG_0319.JPG

IMG_0314.JPG

IMG_0324.JPG

In thier eyes…

image

Early morn is pretty darn good for personal reflection. Above is my pre-sunrise view today in sunny Florida.

Having 3 of 4 kids down here this week, with our oldest missing due to her Masters degree beginnings right after graduation, it just makes my mind twirl a bit.

We have four perfectly different kids, ages 22, 20, and almost 10 & 8. Oldest 2 are girls. Youngest 2 are  boys. Since each pair are practically different generations, in addition to different genders, we have quite the spread of parenting eras. Raising kids before the government opened the internet up to all, before email, before smart phones, before any social media…before DVDs….it was different. Not better or worse…just different.  My folks were raised without television. People had to actually talk to each other. Weird, huh?

Our kids now need thier gadgets to entertain, if not survive, everyday living. They see thier world differently, as every generation does. They see thier parents differently too, I presume. I can see it in thier eyes….

image

image

So different. So wonderful. So challenging too.

There’s nothing more challenging & rewarding than raising future contributors to a global experience. For us, it’s 2 down & 2 to go. We can do this.

Grown girls getting educated beyond us and going forward with loves & adventures is fantastic. Two little guys headed to tween times of challenge & opportunities we cannot comprehend is too. My solution is to relocate to the wild & let each roam free, like the primal boys they are. Gadget-free wild too, since gadgets fail in water. We must make this happen soon.

All 4 kids see us & hear us differently now, as parents. What will we be as grandparents someday?  Who knows? It will just happen, I guess.

In the meantime, we sail on. Enjoying the fleeting moments with grown kids & tolerating and/or enjoying young ones. Neither is easy, as we get closer and closer to that inevitable AARP membership.

From our family to yours, have a great weekend….

image

…and thanks for your time today…

Do we need to fake it?

According to the Today show, today is national honesty day, the last day of April. If Matt & Savannah say it’s so….

Coincidently, I’ve been thinking lately about the antithesis of honesty. To fake or not to fake?

I’m just not sure where to start…my history of faking it…my older self rarely faking it…my former & current family faking it…or not. Too much there. And, too personal to detail here.

However, what about all of the modern faking of all kinds by so-called friends, acquaintances, & strangers?  Fakes are everywhere we go. Thus, when we stumble upon genuine, unique characters, we find a little Heaven on earth.

We all want honesty & truth to prevail & improve our lives.

We all need honesty. Really need it, for sure.

I walked into a great family movie last night about a work-aholic dad, his submissive wife, neglected kids, and illuminating/corruptive nanny….yes, Mary Poppins. Really. But, the truth did prevail and all ended well, thanks to Walt Disney & Co. of 50 years ago.

Having about two decades of sales & small business management experiences in my gut, I’m convinced that we are only as successful as what each of us accomplished today. Your college transcript means nothing. Your resume’ means very little.  What really matters are proven results you influenced and your potential to do so moving forward for others. You cannot fake those.

Enjoy your national honesty day today….and, hopefully, many positive results to come for you & yours.

Brad

image

“…for Heaven’s sake!”

image

So dapper. Another tale of two very different boys. Very different.

Max, with his matching fedora, vest, & slacks…you literally get this picture. A tie?  He’s the only one in this family who will wear a tie. Really. Boy Reagan…he’s his own guy too. Nice vest…by mom’s choice, but shirt-tail out…rebel yell.
Both great boys. Just typically different. 

image

Classic.

If you’ve followed this journey from two years ago, you understand my giving up organized religion. 43 years of it was enough.

Well, in the “apple doesn’t fall far” department…here goes…

Young Reagan is standing on our bed Easter morn, not feeling the spirit, and offering “this is what you want” re: going to church. Instantly, I retort “Not exactly. Easter is important to your Mom and I love her. I’m with you, but if all of us at church this morn makes her happy, let’s go.”.  He had, for once, nothing to say.

Fast-forward to our church parking lot…getting out of our car…boy offers, when being rushed to pick up his pace…”It’s just church…for Heaven’s sake”. I could not let that go.

Pointing at him, I offered “Do you know how funny that was?”. I repeated his quote and it kinda sunk in. Slam church while referencing Heaven. Really my kinda Methodist funny.

Boys did great during the ceremony of Easter church. We all did early church just fine.

Easter lunch at our home was great with our two moms. Missing dads, but it was swell.

Our girls were off and having a great Easter too.

image

Beautiful & dashing is this couple.

All is well. Jesus is still the Lord, to me…but…I just don’t need the ceremonies & dressy rituals required every Sunday.

Find your religion, wherever that is.
Love it. Read about it. Live it.

In short, do what you need to do.

Thanks for joining me here again,
Brad

image

Life PhD (in process)

image

Beautiful sunrise this morn. Said good morn to Tampa Bay today. Nice start.

After lunch, which is her breakfast, Kait says, as we rest next to another marina, “livin’ the dream”…in support of me & my second-half career mission.  My reply was quick. “Yes, but it’s no dream if you’re alone.

Gin & I are planning this for everyone. Sure. We need a year-round playground. But, little guys need year-round outdoor activity. We all need year-round vitamin D. Our remaining parents & grandparents need Florida too (pretty sure it’s the law). We need to walk, run, bike, relax, dine alfresco, skimboard, snorkel, scuba, and, yes, sail 300+ days a year.  Oh, then there’s the arts community. Too vast & fun to do justice here, from St. Pete to Sarasota. Yikes. Oh, and there are a few fun theme parks around these parts too.

Then, there’s inevitable grandkids. We need a maximum fun base to entertain & cater to those joining us.

This is a first step, a transition into our more global family life. We already have two globetrotting daughters…

image

Bri is teaching in Panama and shared this shot with Flat Stanley (our oldest boy’s school project) just this morn. She’s cool and “livin’ the life”. So cool.

image

Kait, above, heads back to Germany this summer for her next cultural immersion & study & fun.

Good for them. Good for all of us.

Gin & I have been blessed to travel and enjoy a dozen or so amazing islands, towns, and/or regions. Many mental notes have been etched in our minds about just what makes great places conveniently attractive.

Our last big move is coming. The kind with a big truck. We don’t know just when, but it’s coming. And, it’s for all of us. A homebase for all who want to join us for year-round fun.  Family & friends alike.

image

There will be dark clouds, but they tend to be everywhere. We faced a few last year, as detailed here in past posts.  Friends of ours face huge clouds this week. A great husband, dad, & friend of many passed away ay 47. Unreal. But too real. Gin text me the news with a “Carpe diem” closing. Seize the day is the only way.

At the same time, we need to plan better days ahead. I’m 45. Gin is slightly beyond.  Girls are grown & starting different journeys and boys will be 8 & 10 this summer. 10 is scuba certification age. Just sayin’.

Florida for a solid homebase & launch to the USVI & BVI…with the Keys between. All good.

image

It’s all good.  Sailing on now.

Cheers…for now….

Evolution happens.

Change is good. Very good.

A lady last weekend asked me why I wasn’t so enthused about our college football program. I paused and offered up “well, it seems that I’ve outgrown “orange 151″ and any emotional connection to such a machine. After all, football is just another form of entertainment. Isn’t it?”  She left with some kind of answer, I guess.

My best pal was over watching pro baseball & football with me last night. I recounted that story & I went on with this rhetorical stream of thought.

We just outgrow things at various stages of life. Like voluntarily choosing to stop soiling our underwear as a toddler…we eventually choose to stop soiling our heart, mind, & soul with thoughts, people, & places that don’t really matter to our most loved ones health & happiness.

It seems that we all eventually evolve beyond our upbringing. I grew up with organized religeon and fairly strict biblical interpretation & gender role expectations. Okay. Moving on. I grew up with great parents doing thier best with thier given educations & local opportunities. Okay. Moving on.  I grew up with a menu of tasty, but overcooked, meats & veggies that I cannot serve my family as chef & top-notch dishwasher. Again, okay. Moving on.

My single point is that we all must move on. The past makes you. But, your own personal evolution should  make you even better as your decades pass. It’s not about pleasing everyone, especially ones parents. It’s about growth. It’s about experiences. It’s about fresh & intelligent perspectives coloring your personal canvas.

None of us are masterpieces, but we are all unique. Like Darwin, Edison, Churchill, both Roosevelt’s, Hawking, and millions more insightful & intriguing characters, we should choose to expand our horizons….as we age gracefully, not kicking & screaming.

Please, guys of a certain age, keep evolving. Please.

image

“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul” ~ William Ernest Henley.

Molten glass on copper “Voyager” artwork via Houston Llew @ http://www.houstonllew.com and http://www.shopinbliss.com

Boobs, Bubba, & wrestling

As this school year began, I ran into an old acquaintance and he was nice enough to introduce me to his wife. The intro was unique, but not unexpected. “Brad’s the one that would write letters to the Editor…or you used to…”. So true. Like pressed khakis, dress clothes, crowded parties, wine coolers, bleached jeans, and relying on anyone for financial advice, I’ve given up on productive politics and the hacks & puppeteers who manage thier every move. Public and private airing of opinion has zero impact without a checkbook whipped out for results desired.

I’ve learned this cynical truth in various forms from a majority of elected “leaders”.  The sad reality is local, regional, and, most disappointing, nationwide with our Congress, which is primarily comprised of bullies or lemmings.  Clean house again next year and a new crop of each will emerge. The historic tradition of compromise & reconciliation is dead. The Gipper & Tip must be rolling over these days.  Reagan offered amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens, sense he was a realistic person and bigger  leader. This White House & Congress set up epic annual battles with unrealistic budgets, trillion $+ annual deficits, and inevitable debt-ceiling wrestling matches.  Today’s politics is more like a sport. Winners, losers, and fans cheering on each sideline. But, a football analogy would be too kind.

Today’s politics here in our hometown, in our state house, and in DC resembles professional wrestling more than any sport. Neckties replace masks. Nice suits replace tights. Past that, its the very same egos, testosterone fueled angst, and an endless search for ultimate domination in our politics. Not results. Not greater good. Not sacrafice of any sort. Just re-election. That’s the perpetual goal of most elected officials.

Our federal government hit the mat yesterday and each opponent is blaming the other for throwing the good fight. Sad, but typical.

It’s no wonder why so many other countries look so much more healthy & positive for frustrated Americans and ex-pats.  After a year of research, I’ve realized that there are far more healthy places to call home someday.

This week has proven again why a few banana republics offer greater economic & political stability than our birthright of a country.

Where are our Gippers & Tip O’Neils of today…dead and long gone, it seems. Cheers.

Brad

One particular harbor…

image

“it’s been quite a…summer?” is part of a live “Come Monday” song from Jimmy Buffett in Hawaii. I highly recommend his Pandora channel for a getaway anywhere. Yes, it has been quite a summer. Usual trips with kids, lots of sun, never enough beach time. The usual. But, this summer turned another page on us. We said goodbye to my Dad. He went on his own terms after just a three-day hospital stay. It was time. Alzheimer’s disease did not have its way. Neither did diabetes. Dad did. He did not want to live under an oxygen mask. So, he removed it for the last time and he left us. On his terms. “My Way” as Sinatra would sing. Good for you, Dad.

Life does indeed go on. Saying goodbye to three loved ones this year should be enough. I hope God agrees. Losing both of our Dads this year is awfully sad. But, both suffer no more and Heaven is a funnier place now with them.

Fall is in the air around here. Perfect running, biking, camping, & sailing weather is upon us. Really looking forward to sharing a family weekend with our girls at there university next weekend. Then, a sailing camp reunion for our family the next weekend. And I just booked our fall stay up at Elkmont in the GSM National Park and ordered our Big Agnes tent, as well. Should be crisp & cozy up the mountains. Then, before we know it, the holidays will be here. Time does fly.

Back to that “One particular harbor”, as Buffett would sing…I found it. Actually, I found a few harbors & quality marinas. In a few years, we will be blogging & entertaining friends, family, and tourists from one of several harbors & coastlines between St. Pete, Florida and the Florida Keys. After securing my keelboat certification, my next task is to secure my coastal cruising & SCUBA certs, then, work towards my Captain’s license, in order to make a living with fun, sun, sand, & saltwater. It’s how our second-half needs to be enjoyed.

Give our boys an adventure. Give our girls a fun destination, as their schedules allow. Prep ourselves for our empty nest time, probably on a Hake-Seaward 46′ in the BVI. And, as for grandkids…well, they’ll have a ball. Lots to do, one step at a time.

If this year has reaffirmed anything for me, it’s my passion to do it “My Way”. Not any banker’s way. Not any workaholic’s way.
Not any preacher’s way. Not any politician’s way. My way. Clutter free, downsized, quality over quantity, and paying cash for everything moving forward. My way. With my one true love, Ginny Lee. With our four true loves and their partners & kids to come. Our way.

Let the training continue. I just started today running at least 10k in just over one hour. Heart started fluttering a bit again. That little thing began the day after Dad died. But, I’m fine. I’m here. I’m healthier now at 45 than I was in my lucrative 30’s. Ginny is too. She’s one hot Mom. Let the training & execution of The Plan continue.

Lastly, many thanks to fellow bloggers WindTraveler.net , ZeroToCruising.com ,LahoWind.com, and (all blogspot.com contributors) sv-Totem, The Monkey’s Fist, & Savannah Sails for a tremendous sailing & live aboard education. Keeping it real, they are. And inspirational too.

Sail on…to that one particular harbor, y’all.

Bradley

image

%d bloggers like this: