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Burgos, Spain…today!

That's how I'm ending my long travel day and 10kms walking all around Burgos. Simple dining alfresco from my hotel room now…

Buen Camino and goodnight!

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Getting to ONE’s next Camino…

1 day away…then here!

Love those relaxing Saturday mornings at home.

This Saturday was special.

Coffee. Cool weather. Cereal. No humidity. Yogurt with honey, blueberries, strawberries, and granola. More coffee. No TV. Chocolate chip pancakes. NYTimes. A sweet morning for 4, 2 boys and 2 parents. Mom goes for a run. Dad goes to Kinko's too anally retentively copy his passport, credit cards, and other id documents.

Sweet last hour of lunch on our patio and customizing messages on stones.

Prayers too. Then, we load up for the airport.

We are there 2 hours before my fight. One hour less than recommended. It was fine.

Hugs. Kisses. Love you's. Texts of well wishes and Love. All good. Really. Great.

Breeze through security and I'm roaming around my gate and concourse.

Then, my Camino officially began. Tap. Tap. And, two nice gents, long-time pals, just stopped me in international concourse to ask about my Camino out of the blue. They noticed my backpack shell. It begins here, it seems. Unbridled friendliness, curiosity, and quick fellowship, before we all 3 take on our Camino's (theirs from St. Jean in France). That wonderful tap on my shoulder ended with handshakes and, of course, "Buen Camino!"

I can almost taste Spain after that.

Suffice it to say, this flight is not Air France. Delta is fine. Just enough. Adequate. Our last trip to Spain went through Paris and it showed. This one went through Atlanta and it shows. Even sleeping on this flight lacks in potential for recharge, relative to the French. C'est la vie.

On our plane, a lovely college girl named Jessica plops down beside me. She's heading to Madrid to intern with disabled kids. Good for her. Plans to graduate on a six year plan after changing majors. She's young. Plenty of time to figure that out. She reminds me of our
girls, especially when she curls up on the two seats reserved for both of us , as I gave up mine to cross the aisle for more room for both of us. Much to the displeasure of a young man who thought that he could make a sofa out of three mid-plane seats. Sorry, Charlie. You might just have to sleep upright or leaning into the middle seat like a grown-up flying to Spain. FYI. It's not even 6pm, my friend.

Even after cocktails, I'm jazzed, finished a Doc about stand-up comedians, and I'm blogging. And dinner is on it's way. Smells good, but we shall see.

Before and after the big reveal….

Okay. Delta veg lasagna tastes good. The rest. Ick. Cheesy lasagna is just fine.

Back to #MyComfyCamino …it's here. Nighttime over the Atlantic. Delta folks just killed the cabin lights. I guess mom said that we are all supposed to sleep now. Hmmmmm… nope. Not me. Watching or listening to another stand-up comedian and I'm fine. Just sayin'. Okay. Okay. Mom, I'm just blogging again!!!! And falling asleep. Never was good at all-nighters.

Made it to Burgos…next post will just let my pictures and videos do the talking, from walking into Burgos from the nearby bus station to my AC Hotel by Marriott, to my walking tour and 3 tapas & wine stops for under €15 combined. Pulpo (€3), seafood combo (€2), and 3-course (€7)…all three with vino tinto.

Can't you just taste Spain????

Ultreia!!

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! 

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. 

  

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….

“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. 

  
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!

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…..

Bad wifi. Horse puckey. And the running of the Bulls …and cows. We are waaaay out here, Camino! Viva Spain!

I was in business for almost two decades and I navigated a lot of $#!+. But nothing like the merde I’ve navigated literally and technologically the last few days. But, here we are, in Gonzar, at the bar (oh, Dr. Suess) wifi from afar.  Oh, the places we go. 

  
  
You see. We had a first world problem. When in the vast space of Galicia, techy concerns, wifi (pronounced “wee-fee”) is what it is. The flies here have stronger connections than technology. Maybe that’s the point. Horse a and cow poop smells stronger than any online connection could be. C’est la vie. (Camino is French too)

Until I have a real connection with gusto. Trust me. I have pics & videos to write home about. That’s the whole point. Sure, I want to entertain my blog followers, but this blog is mostly for the most beautiful and caring woman & partner and our 4 remarkable kids (2 grown women & 2 little dudes). 

Find pics and videos & links @justbecausetwit on Twitter. I sincerely wish I could do better here. Just. Not. Gonna. Happen. Galicia. Spain. 

Thanks for reading and following. 

Best to you & yours,

Brad

The Plan

Forget the old “best laid plans…” adage.  We need a plan. 

My most original plan, as a kid, was to be an airline pilot or FBI agent. Neither happened and life was good. Next plan, get our family’s 1st college degree and live it up. Got the degree but married way too young, in that process. Life was good, thanks to two little girls.  Planned to marry once and live happily….blah, blah, blah….never happened. Wife #2 makes me feel like #1 never existed sometimes. Unconditional love will do that. Planned to have the normal 2.3 kids, as demographics forecast.  Nope. We have 4 and all are good-looking and smart. Go figure. Career “plans” are a moving target. Took chances that paid off big and others flopped miserably. Best laid plans, you know. Really. We need a plan. 

We need a plan for the next big thing. Here goes….but, a little backstory, please…  

The next four years are a time that our two young ladies enjoy & complete their undergraduate experience, where each have earned full scholarships to a great, private university, and each will be off to do whatever they dream to do someday.  Why should their parents be any different?  The same years see our little guys heading fast towards the most challenging, awkward, and dysfunctional time of life (okay, not including middle-age years)…their middle-school years. Isn’t a real adventure just perfect for these years?  I digress. We need a plan. 

Weeks of googling, reading, linking, and a little networking tell me one thing….there are much more adventurous and positive places for these two parents to raise two future, interesting, and considerate men.  Too much technology, toys, and Jones-ing influences here for us to battle. We need simple, much like our downtown life…but even better. Simple. Beautiful. Cheap. And the easiest pleasures are opportunities right out the door at a nice beach, the little school house, that ancient church, and the food pantry we can help make happen.  I digress. We need a plan. 

Belize. Panama. Costa Rica. Uruguay. Even Mexico’s NW coast!  All are open and welcome ex-pats, in different ways. It’s just a proper formula of quality-of-life, cost of living, business opportunities, and security that will create our “plan” sooner than later. Belize looks great with no language barrier and an extraordinarily diverse offering of vast places to disappear and small spaces to congregate with Canadians and other North Americans…including our GenX and Boomer friends in need of a temporary or permanent getaway.  We all need that plan. 

Most informative resources to plan a plan around a plan are….

http://www.LiveAndInvestOverseas.com

http://www.InternationalLiving.com

http://www.PathfinderInternational.net

http://www.ExpatFocus.com

http://www.VRBO.com (for long-term rental info)

And let’s not forget Mexico Edd, who prompted me into this next-life realm about 9 months ago. You can find him and his adopted village school kids on facebook.  Very purpose-driven mission and fun fellow, indeed. He has a plan.  

Like the old infomercial mantra says, “facts tell, but stories sell”. So fitting for this plan. “live in paradise for $600 a month!”. Really?  “Modest living for only $1,000 a month”.  Getting warmer.  “live a life you always dreamed of for $2,000 or less per month”. Much better. Truth of the ex-pat life is that you can live in beautiful places for much less than here, Florida, California, and almost anywhere in America that’s worth living. It’s just a fact. We need a plan. 

How do we get there?  We slash and save. Gin was serious or joked about living like college kids. Fine.  Bring it on. I know the figure we need and we can have it ready in four years. Slash and save is the challenge now.  Plus, we sell everything we cannot take in material goods and give away anything that’s left. 4-5 years of new life expenses are what we need to save.  Creating new business ventures, connecting with local entrepreneurs, and/or finding partner businesses stretch our budgeted savings even farther.  Two smart sales pros & marketers like these two parents can figure out how to generate $1,000 or more month and make that savings go farther, up to 10-15 years!  Then, if the U.S. government still exists…we’ll have our pre-funded, taxpayer retirement every month, as promised…..maybe.  (Truth be told…the collapse of our federal government is possible, if we run up $20t to $25trillion in debt with $1trillion+ interest due every year.  Makes a 3rd world country look strong).  We need this plan. 

The plan is so simple. Love. Live. Plan. Slash. Save. Plan. Sell. Prepare. Convert. Plan. Move. Live. Love. And, Ginny’s favorite….Engage…while living and loving. 

Join us, won’t you?

Sincerely, 
Brad

Fathers Day. Happy & otherwise.

Today, it’s here again. One day on the calendar to do what we should do for most of 68 million Dads in America. Simply saying thanks and I love you will do. Our two boys did just that in voice and handwritten card form this morning. Very sweet. On the other hand, my Dad will be sleeping late in the same home that I was raised in and will not recall what day today is, let alone the holiday itself. Alzheimers never takes a day off, it seems.

I may be a very profitable, family business manager. A hit and miss entrepreneur. Any career politician’s pain in the rear. An intolerant, bitter, and disgusted ex-husband. And many other things….but, more important than anything, I am a 20+ year father and almost 17 year husband of unconditional love. Today’s gifts are sweet and appreciated. But the year-round challenge, laughs, stress, and privilege of being a fulfilled man at just 43 is the very best.

As our parents age, we are educated even more about the priorities, challenges, and opportunities ahead when our parent role declines again. What will Ginny and I do? Where will we be. I have a few ideas to explore far from here in God’s Country. Wherever it is…this family’s fulfillment will lead the the way. Dare to be different, as we say, today and everyday.

May all dads out there have a blessed day with those you love and who return such a blessing unconditionally.

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