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Category: Parenting

Ciao, Camino! It’s been belissimo. Really.

Now is the time.

Goodbye, my Camino Frances.

I may not return, especially alone.

If you’ve followed this blog, you know how I love โค๏ธ Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ and, at this moment, detest my Divided States ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ of America. So happy to have four weeks away from the man who shall not be named.

Regardless, it’s about time to fly home to the D.S.A. and my loved ones.

Really loved ones.

Many post about the post-Camino blues and readjusting to their normal lives. Back to normal responsibilities and cares that don’t involve 20-40kms walking ๐Ÿšถ per day.

I admit that I did had a bit of that after my first Camino. My first European experience was special and rather emotional with my two daughters.

Not as much this time. Just as special, just much less emotional. Except for happiness. Very happy few weeks here with everyone. I love this world ๐ŸŒŽ even more now.

Moving on…

I have a wonderful, gorgeous, and super successful wife, partner, mom, and sales pro supporting me and wanting me home. Two boys that miss me too. Two girls out on their own adventures. And a great life and belissimo hometown to return to in no time.

This last week began in Samos and its Monastery from the 6th century. I made a couple of friends from France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท and Boston/San Diego and they made my lunch and my evening walk joys.

This was and is a lovely town of Samos.

Off to Sarria and just passing through. Too overcrowded. Roughly 60% of Camino pilgrims start there. 5 days to Santiago for that piece of Compostela paper. To each his own Camino.

I filled up my APOC credential and I am now using the Espana credential that I bought for โ‚ฌ2 at the Samos Monasterio. Lots of room for stamps.

This last week, as well as parts of the last four weeks from Burgos to Santiago, have been my long goodbye. I know the end of a very good thing when I experience it. Like a sweet beach town with nothing but locals in business turning over to chains and big $$$ business interests. That’s when I need to move on. The magic is gone.

Our Camino now smells of ample Euros. What was โ‚ฌ5-7 is now โ‚ฌ8-11. Habaticions to ordinary pilgrim meals, the smell of money ๐Ÿ’ฐ is in the Camino air. BTW. Check out the number of BMWs and Mercedes in very strange Camino places. One huge BMW parked on the lot/sidewalk of the newest Albergue in Trรญacastela. Not a pilgrim, I’m guessing.

Standard “sandwich ” signage everywhere for sugary desserts and carbon copy pilgrim menus. Hamburgers and pizzas??? I came here to escape America. Not eat more of it.

Please understand.

I love Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ!!! Her countryside. Her authentic food and her vino tinto. Her happier people. Her rare villager who will smile and offer “Buen Camino!!!” …those 3 older folks…one sweet woman in her gown with a cane, one cigar chomping man on the road, and one beret wearing man sitting under a tree in his backyard….three brief joys and my heart and mind were lifted as I responded “Gracias!!!” to each “Buen Camino!!!!!” each of those three offered right when I needed it. All too rare moments this time on my Camino.

I will indeed miss the cool daily walks on uncertain paths and the sights, sounds, and smells of rural Spain. No doubt there. But, as I’ve shared with many, one can make one’s own Camino everyday, anywhere. Just walk.

Walk through any wooded park. Walk through fields. Walk around any small town or village, if they still exist.

Just walk. And think.

No phone. No tunes. No distractions. Just walk and listen to the natural ๐ŸŒŽ world including your own footsteps. Easy to do in rural Spain. Little traffic. Mostly people on foot. Locals and pilgrims alike. Just walking.

Outside the old to ancient towns and villages, there are a million+ calm and beautiful places to walk by and through…..excluding the tissue strewn areas where grown men and women squat and literally dump on their Camino. ๐Ÿ’ฉ Yuck.

I’ll never understand that level of disrespect for such a special, historic Way of St. James. Tissues used to wipe off the disrespect are all up and down the Camino and don’t think that the locals haven’t noticed. Hence, the lack of “Buen Camino” in the air. More Camino magic lost on me.

Back to the beauty of my last week here in Spain.

Beauty is everywhere here.

My walks alone. Walks with others. Just walking.

Jeremy, an actor from California, was another joy to walk and chat with. We only learned our names hours later at the top of Sarria. Funny. Hours after meeting in the Trรญacastela dark. I had a flashlight for us to see our way.

What I love most about my Camino, and travel anywhere , is the unknown that turns into a discovery. A wonderful discovery. Sarria is too big and busy. Barbadelo offered a resort and farmhouse. I wanted more. Delicious menu and belissimo company for the evening. Si. Every night!

Is there a country spot that’s peaceful and smells of fresh air? Yes, there is.

Milano de Marzan.

Her owner looks very young, but acts like a mom to this middle Age pilgrim. Kinda funny. She did not appreciate my efficiency for vino tinto consumption in very remote regions of Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ. Fair enough. She grew on me.

I chose to miss out on the Barbadelo resort for a farmhouse that wasn’t attended until 1pm. It was 11am. I moved on, with my trusty guide book, and found my paradise for one night. It was more magic.

Once the usual cleaning and laundry was hung, I went for …what else???…another walk. Met several peregrinos along The Way and offered all Buen Camino! with gusto. Most were happy.

God was watching and caring.

I arrived home that night to an almost full room of Italians. I had just slept with a small room of Italians the night before. No bueno.

This group was different. Young to my age. Maybe older. Who knows??? Very friendly. Not detached like the albergue before. They were and are very sweet at dinner and beyond….

I won’t forget our belissimo time together that night and the brief morning walk together too. More than belissimo.

Made my way to Portomarin and very familiar sights. Small river town, but not as small as the Gonzar ahead that we enjoyed before. This town did not smell of cow ๐Ÿฎ and had more dining and sleeping options.

However, “Completo. Completo. Completo….” was all I heard until I ventured off my Brierley guidebook grid and found a small, family bar albergue with two bunks, four beds and that’s where I settled, washed, and cleaned early.

Sometimes, you just take what you can get for 10โ‚ฌ.

Later, to be joined by one BASQUE biker ๐Ÿšต and two other Spaniards. There’s a difference… Basque is not Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ, even though the Basque territory straddles Spain and France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท. Watch “The Way”. It explains.

All 3 gents are very nice, very fit, and probably very curious about this large fellow that is not from around here. I understand.

Fine healthy meal, churchside!

y

Belissimo siesta. Bueno tour around Portomarin.

No cow smell. All good that night.

Tomorrow is another day….

What began as a short 4 hour day turned into an almost 7 hour day covering about 27kms. About my maximum. The nice cafe owner 10km back advised me that his albergue was Completo or full with reservations tonight. One group. A growing Camino issue that goes against the history and spirit, in my opinion. So, I kept walking. I’m pretty well trained these days. Another 10k came and went with beauty…

Until, after offering “Ciao!!” to my Italian ladies, I found my next albergue paradise. First one there again….

Casa Domingo was recommended by a friend of the owners at the Ant sculpture albergue that was Completo. I made it. I rested. I napped. I ate. And I loved Casa Domingo…

After I inhaled my super burger for only 4โ‚ฌ, I chatted with the owners who live in the distant farmhouse. They own 8 albergues. Guess where I’m staying tomorrow night?

But, another dinner with a lovely Italian family of 4 and my bunkmate, a German….

The 21 yr old daughter was my family interpreter. They were a joy.

We chatted in the yard all afternoon and after siesta while it rained at dinner. All belissimo. Italians are very curious about America.

I tossed and turned a bit that night, let most bump and thump their way out by 6 and I finally rose to get ready to walk at sunrise.

Other than my classic sunrise ๐ŸŒ…, grande croissant ๐Ÿฅ, and those ancient Roman bridges…all that’s left to show before today’s siesta is the most beautiful young couple in the ๐ŸŒŽ!!!!

That photo cannot begin to describe how beautiful these two new “friends” from Madrid are!!! Then, add their curiosity, their youth, their spirits, and their collective energy….so beautiful to spend seconds with them everyday and a good hour with them today!!! They will be missed, as we had to say buenos Dias and Buen Camino to Marta & Danny one last time….

Goodbyes sadden me.

A few family updates and a short siesta later. I’m back. Ready for dinner. Menu sounded so limited and bland, but I am stuck in this one kitchen town. So I thought!

First, my sweet server gives me choices.

Insalata, por favor…..ehhhhh…no tuna. Jamon??? Si, she says. Grilled steak???? Si!!!!

The best grilled meat, fried potato, and fresh insalata with Jamon I’ve ever had…no dressing needed Perfecto!!!!

Then St. James tarta and a mysterious shot. Looked harmless.

Goodnight, sweet Saint James.

Another 20km done today in rain. A 4 hour slog was enough for me and The Way Pensiรณn I booked in Brea allowed me in 2.5 hours early. Being soaked may have helped. The pool is perfect for kids and polar bear challengers.

Hoping for the sun to make an appearance soon or sometime tomorrow. Then on to Santiago on Thursday.

I recall a pretty industrial landscape between here and Santiago de Compestella. Not going to bore anyone with those sights.

Not going to selfie the historic Cathedral either. Plenty of those out there.

I’m just going to end my almost three year fascination & Love affair with Frances this way.

The Way. My Way.

My Love, you know who you are.

Our way from now on.

Gracias for following along.

Find your Camino where your heart is…just be there, walk long walks, and think about your Way everywhere and everyday.

Finally…..

Buen Camino!

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Home. Camino. Home. All sweet.

I miss home…again…and that’s a very good thing. Just a few great reasons why here…

When we get away from home, it’s almost always as a family, sometimes as a couple, and rarely on business or pilgrimage. That’s just how we roll.

Although, My Love did ask me the other night if she could go stay on the coast of Mexico next February with a great friend and fellow working-hard mom/business pro. I’m in Spain for four weeks. I’m sure you can guess how easy my answer came. Of course.

This will be my last Camino Frances for a while. I need time to process and explore other pilgrimages with loved ones. It’s just not the same solo. I did not expect that thought. But, it’s true for me.

We all need to getaway. With family or alone or with best friends. It’s healthy and makes you realize who and what you miss. But, you also have super, rare moments that will be etched in your brain forever…

My 2017 Camino is etching beautiful caverns in my brain this month. Half of it dig a little deeper with the help of July, 2015. Other half brand new.

The kind of caverns I see My Love and willing kids and others carving through all of Europe by train and foot, through the Sea of Cortez, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and ??? by sail, moorings, marinas, and other friendly confines. Deep memories that last for generations. Not what we did for a living. Nor what we owned. But, what we did with what we had and who we shared it with…that is my intended legacy for our future kids I’ll hang with and those I’ll never meet. In the meantime, My Love and I plan to share really fun, interesting, and mind-altering places and people with the kids we have, those they bring to the adventure and those we cannot imagine.

If you can’t tell, I’m already thinking about post-Camino.

A sad American curse is struggling to live in the moment. We are always thinking about the next thing. Or 22 next things. It’s sad and I’m guilty too. Another reason to love Spain and other “in the moment” cultures.

Dinner outside at 10pm , even with kids, with little regard for tomorrow. Siesta in the middle of the afternoon because you need it…and it’s just feels good.

I had a communal dinner several nights ago with 6 Italians, 1 older German gent, and 1 very young Hungarian gent…all very entertaining and too curious about the America that I gladly left behind.

Tonight, it’s dinner with my new Israeli/Irish young couple. Already caught up with them after siesta as we lounged on our respective bunk beds in our cool (literal and figurative) bunk house/room with a new bath and stairs to it!!!!

The other 3 dining companions were Italian, of course…it is August…and worked very hard to speak English for all of us to understand. We did. Another young couple and a fellow a few years younger than me with a story of love. His new love is just a couple of days walk behind up. We wants to wait for here here or in the next town. Not sure how that love is going to work out. We shall see.

These five from Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น, Ireland ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช, Israel ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ, and our hosts from Brazil ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท & Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น joined in a round of Happy Birthday ๐ŸŽˆ in their respective languages…so, Reagan had a happy birthday from this world ๐ŸŒŽ.

So sweet.

Take #2 happened (to be posted later) with a different group of pilgrim diners since I decided to hang back and stay in La Faba, Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ a second night. Not usual for a non-injured guy on my Camino like me. I just need my second dose and I will move on. Maybe. We shall see. Hard to move on from all of this lush green and simple agrarian life. Except for animal poop everywhere. I could live without that, like people ๐Ÿ’ฉ along the Camino.

Then, today, a little 4.5km day trip to O’Cebreiro….up there and back….

…to pay homage to Father Don who , before his death in 1989 at age 60, he led the yellow arrow waymarking movement along the Camino. Many salutes and memorial plaques with his likeness outside and his resting place in this church. Thank you, Santiago & Father Don for The Way.

A day trip to O’Cebrieo was a good morning climb, kind of touristy past the beautiful church, but also had gorgeous views and I met several beautiful young people from Wales and Spain on foot and on bikes. Both asked for pictures and I took mine too plus conversations with each, before I went one way and they another..

Back up early before 4am. Cannot make too much noise, like the Italians behind me…

…during my lunch today.

We were in bed and not a courtyard. I waited for the two Spaniards to wake up and make noise before I even moved.

Then, back in the dark to Galicia…

Long 26km to Trรญacastela. Passed my Canadian friends as they pushed their bikes a km or two to O’Cebrerio. Arrived there. Filled my 1.5 liter agua bottle. And onward through several little towns. Jewel of a meeting was Elizabeth from Australia ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ. About my mom’s age, I’m guessing. So strong. So beautiful. Left her son in her dust. Oh, so funny too. Our encounter was just minutes, as she needed coffee โ˜•๏ธ. I can only imagine our conversation past family chat we had. I was strong and needed to keep moving. No caffeine required. Which led to meeting Louis from Paris. I passed him at a cafe and he quickly caught up. He had a hearing issue or something that we did not discuss. We just walked and talked.

Fortunately, he was a fan of Americans and his English beat my French hands-down. We walked a long way together, discussing life , and parted ways when my body told me to find rest. His young frame took him onward, I’m guessing.

I passed the Albergue that I knew from last time, toured and declined the historic one I liked in my book, then tripped over the chosen one. I helped “Completo” this one. Bunking with more Italians. All Italians. Maybe one family. Very loud people. Everywhere.

Moving on. Great 10โ‚ฌ meal with calamari, pulpo, Santiago tarta, and a bottle of vino tinto. Alone. On a patio. No Italians. By design.

Now relaxing in my pension garden. All clean. Clean clothes. All packed for quick launch ๐Ÿš€ tomorrow and ready for Jean.

Jean is the very lively U.K. gal I met while she searched for an Albergue. She seemed so relieved meet someone who spoke fairly good English, by mother land standards.

She asked if I had enjoyed dinner yet. I said “no, I just ate it” and she carried on to eat hers. I’m expecting Jean anytime for sundowner vino tinto….

…alas, Jean never made it back. Must have had a better offer. Goodnight, Jean. Off to bed to rest with 7 Italians in our tiny bunk room. Then. This!

and then this…

Most peaceful, tranquil, and lovely solo walk over 10k in my life. Only to arrive here early and find my ideal habaticion privada for โ‚ฌ20 in …

Samos town revolves around this 6th century Monastery that is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the western world ๐ŸŒŽ. Pretty cool, no?

Si….

Last picture. My room view. Gracias.

Samos is small and lovely. I walked around town in a few minutes. Found places of rest. Ate a late lunch…

8โ‚ฌ plus vino tinto de la Casa๐Ÿท. Done.

Then, siesta in the lounge….

…with windows open and a nice breeze.

The Camino provides again!

Home for tonight. Still thinking about our actual home ๐Ÿก and my loved people. Happy to share with and speak to some via FaceTime today with this strong wifi.

Less than one week now to Santiago. Last week of 4 weeks away from home. It will be time. I could go home now.

But, I will finish. I will continue. I will pray even more. I will take it all in as it reveals the journey to me. And, I will continue to share the highlights.

All great. Goodnight from Samos in Galicia, Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ !

Buen Camino.

And, Ultreia.

Losing it, them, and me….

Get lost!

It's what you think and/or say to things and/or people that annoy to anger you. These damn flies right now are my tiny, annoying nemesis's .

Even our largest social media enterprise makes "like","dislike ", and "banished from my kingdom" distinctions available to us. But that's not the real world nor real loss. Really getting lost has costs.

Getting lost on one's Camino takes on several possible meanings.

I lost my water bottle. True story. Big blue is lost to me. But found by someone at my hostel in Leon. Cheers!

I lost my shirt. No, not $$$ gambling. I had an ink pen explode of me and I looked like a shooting victim who bleeds black blood…right as I enter Leon. I temporarily lost my dignity too.

I lost my senses. More than 30km walking a week ago from Burgos to Hontanas, I lost my senses, hydration, and ability to photo or film life right side up. None of you have seen the upside down world that I captured. Funny stuff.

I really did get lost today. Saint James and Jesus must have been laughing their sandals off at this "pilgrim" going astray down an unknown road, whipping out his compass, and wandering through the wilderness to the road of golden arrows. With my wits and I little help, I found my way. Ha!

I lost my good healthy body. That is inevitable on the Camino. We just hope and pray for decades more to share when we return home. My swollen lower leg pales in comparison to the life taken recently and a lovely family left to deal with that loss of a kind man, husband, and father. That is true loss to a turn in good health.

On that note, not to long ago, I lost my heathy sobriety. When outed, I then chose to lose my Russian-American alcoholic me for a much better Euro-American alcoholic me. Took a few millions literal steps to arrive there. One dozen just wouldn't do for me. Cheers!

Decades ago, I lost my marriage. I must have been lost in other ways too to just lose a love that was once there. Terrible loss then became a tremendous gain later with My Love taking her place forever.

Years later, I lost people who mattered. From my business mentor and his wife, our great friends, to old school chums and really good men who died so soon, to my father, who at 78, was relieved of his pains, suffering, and memory loss as I was almost 45. All too, too soon…but dad's gain was our loss, for sure.

Lost it. Quite a loaded phrase. We all eventually lose things. People. Ourselves.

Our challenge is to find meaningful things, people, and, yes, ourselves.

It certainly does not require a trip to and pilgrimage across Spain, but this place certainly does not hurt my sense of meaning and purpose.

I don't missing any THING. I only miss my people. My Love. My other Loves. Granted, they are all in 4 different cities. Thus, I miss one or more at any time. But missing all of them is very rare. Again, I don't miss America and all of her trappings, distractions, false gods, and materialism. But I do miss my people. It's that simple.

Expect losses, large and small, and your gains in life will be sweeter because YOUR gains can be others gains too, while you are still here.

Buen Camino.

Ultreia!

Cliche’ Alert: “The Camino provides”

….but, if you allow it, the cliche' becomes true.

After a very relaxing afternoon and restful night at La Morena, an oasis of its own, we hit the trail at 7am and sunrise for another day. Their last day on their Camino.

Another beautiful Camino morning for all who are up to enjoy it.

Our morning went on with searches for breakfast and allowed us fresh zumo de naranjara , as Brierley's book was no so bueno.

We finally found a crusty couple who opened up their bar fashionably late, seemed to be irritated by pilgrims, but actually had real food that was not commercially wrapped in plastic. More zumo and croissant pour moi. It was delicious and came with a healthy serving of disgust. Buen Camino.

Hours later, we made it through our walk, very personal conversations, and fine vistas to reach the ceremonial mid-point of the Camino. For Jen & Ron, it was time to stop, for now, stay the night in Sahugan, train back to Madrid, and fly home to Massachusetts.

I've never met a happy, American couple on the Camino like them. Americans are rare anyway. We are typically solo and have reasons to be here alone. Jen and Ron had been here before. Time only allowed them their St Jean to Sahagún Camino over two weeks, as they still have careers back home….and a sweet beagle and two grown kids too.

We hugged, exchanged phone numbers, and settled up the €3 each for beers and ample, free tapas that we inhaled quite nicely on Sahagún's Plaza Mayor. And off I went…

My Camino continues for a couple of more hours and I pass a young lady that seems to be grinding out each step and an Italian couple who is about done like me.

Another small village awaits to provide a nice bed and lots of delicious food and conversation over vino tinto . First, at check-in, the nice Italian couple walks in and kindly offers me Italian and Spanish lessons about requests for non-peregrino menu options….nice effort. Hot shower and clean clothes later, and I'm outside with all cafe tables occupied. Very nice German couple that I had exchanged pleasantries with over days had a seat at their table. I asked. They obliged with smiles. Lovely, lovely couple. After an hour or so, they had to go and meet a bike delivery van to help speed up their Camino to fit their German life back home. Peddling to Astorga tomorrow. Not moments after they left, a young girl leaves her table and her parents as well. I recognize them from the last few towns too and ask to join them. Another sweet couple from France and their 3 teenage kids, with two other families, totaling 14 on their walking Camino. Lots of stories there. We talked about family, politics, and other cultural things until their sleeping kids arose and joined us for tapas and cola drinks.

A young man sitting beside alone finally chimed in when I was inspired to whip out my jaunty, Cockney accent to make a point "there guvnah!" He is a philosophy graduate from London, who's father is Indian and mother is Nordic. Handsome chap with a wealth of conversation. Thus, he must join me for dinner.

He reminded me of that fellow in "Lion" and the "Marigold" hotel movies. Young, smart, global, and fairly seasoned for a man of 25.

We both shunned the peregrino menu and ordered the grilled steak and chips (double insalata for me, no chips). Delicious slab of beef was devoured by each of us. €9 each with a shared bottle of vino tinto. Like our long, very personal conversation, that meal was a joy and nourishing beyond food.

We settled up at the bar, since no one auto-presents the check here…take your time in Espana….and we said our good nights.

That was one remarkable, global day that will never be repeated. I love that.

Most of us shall meet again. No doubt.

Buen Camino.

Man of a Certain Age is baaaaack!!!!

Out of my winter hibernation, Spring has sprung, and my personal renaissance kicks into high-gear this year of our Lord, 2017!

I’ve made a few drastic and much-needed changes to my diet & activity routines and I feel so much better. Cut out hard booze, minimal meat & salt intake, and back walking long distances as my legs and feet allow.  And, back to my Camino pilgrimage this summer, Burgos to Santiago de Compastella, Spain…and I can hardly wait.   

But, for the here and now…it’s downtown Memphis, where our oldest girl and her hubby live…for now…


Great downtown with music everywhere, lively bars, a speakeasy, the Orphium Theatre, historic sites & destinations, riverside trails to run, bike & walk, quiet spaces, fancy dining to dives like Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken (the best ever) and on and on…we love this booming downtown with lots of young people and their positive energy. 

Just a typical, beautiful, sunny Saturday evening with pizza, salads, Coppola Rosso, cannoli, and great company on and off the patio…


Beale Street is fine to bar hop and enjoy as grown-ups, but Main Street is where it’s at for families and you’re just a couple of blocks from the river trail and green spaces. 

After dinner, we walked about a mile or so to the Loflin Yards beer garden, where ours and many other young kids played cornhole and what looked like a giant beer pong (soccer balls and giant red barrels spaced 15 yards apart) on a huge lawn.  All of the chairs & firepits were taken, as the sun was setting and the temperature was falling.  So, we watched all of the kids go a little crazy with little to no supervision (mom & dad love their Pinot & brew, you know) and a few more of our grown kids friends joined us, bearing another pitcher of a fine, local coffee stout, for even more lively conversation. 


Great kick-off to our latest spring break road-trip, thanks to Bri & Cam!

More to come about our return tour from one end of Tennessee to the other.  

Ciao, for now!

Buen Camino! 

โ€‹โ€‹

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.ย 

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. 

   
    
 
Cheers!

Home. Sweet. Home.ย 

   
    
 
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….

“Wild”

   
    
 
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.

  
 Cheers. 

Size matters. Europe knows it does, American behemoths.ย 

  
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.ย 

   
    
    
 

   
    
 

  
Goodbye to Madrid. Shuttle to airport is almost here. 

Cheers!

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