Thursday, March 24, 2016

Goodbye Mazatlan, Mexico, Hello Yuma, AZ............

After spending 8 winters and a couple summers in Mazatlán, we have decided to make a change.  It's with mixed emotions that we are saying goodbye for now to our Mexican home and friends in Mazatlán and have now bought ourselves a "park model" in Sun Vista Resort in Yuma, AZ. 

We have met so many wonderful friends in Mazatlán and have grown because of it.  We have been challenged to live out of our comfort zone, eating different food, thinking a bit broader and sometimes much different then how we've previously thought and are all the better for this.  We enjoyed being a part of the Mazatlán expat group and contributing to it's success. We volunteered at Recreo, the Library, Florecer, one of the orphanages, Hospice Golf Tournament and the local wine tasting group.  This was the 3rd wine tasting group Janice started over the years, and she will continue to start a new one here at Sun Vista Resort.  It continues to be a great avenue for meeting new and interesting people.  Joel turned in his application to volunteer here at Sun Vista Resort in Yuma just this morning.  Although as Joel says...his main ambition in life is now to power loaf, don't let him fool you.  He will also continue to be of use where ever he lives. 

After we returned home to Spokane the beginning of February, we stayed home to take care of a little business, see our family and get back on the road to head south 12 days later.  We decided to take Hwy. 395 all the way south.  We managed to do this in 4 days and found our way to the Palm Springs area. We ended up staying two weeks in a nice little retirement community in Indio just a few miles east of Palm Springs.  We had a great time doing more exploring of the area, visiting with school friends of Joel's that live nearby, and looking for possible homes to spend our winters in S. Calif.  Although this area is beautiful, the cost of living is much higher in this area so we decided to continue to drive east and visit Yuma.  We rented a place in Sun Vista after friends from Spokane also were looking for their affordable winter living home.  They found it here at this same park.  Janice spent several days previewing around 15 homes.  The prices of homes were cut drastically as the elderly (80+ years) were leaving for their summer homes to stay closer to their families. Also, with the Canadian dollar significantly decreasing, they are selling and returning to Canada.  We are sure this will change, so we wish they would stick it out.  However, this made it very appealing for us to find a gem at a pretty nice price.  The day we almost put an offer in on another home, the one we bought came on the market. We were the only ones to see it, and yes, put an offer on it that very day.  A little over a week later we moved in and have had two weeks to settle in before we head back to Spokane for the next 6 months.  Here are 4 pictures to give you an idea of our Winter Home in Yuma.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Camino de Santiago in 14 minutes video

Here is a 33 day experience condensed into 14 minutes. Sometimes the visual is a good substitute for words when describing this awesome experience.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Completed 500 miles all in all! 33 days.....

Certificate of Completion of the full Camino de Santiago

Day 32 started with rain for an hour. It cleared up and walking was pleasant. At 10:30 I was walking by this old Café when A Spanish man, an Argentina man and a Columbian woman came out of the café laughing. They brought me inside, pointed to the menu and said it was the best breakfast they had on the Camino. As I was hungry I said, order me one. It turned out humongous and delicious. It was a pile of French fries, covered by three scrambled eggs, then at least 1/2 pound of homemade Galician sausage, cut up and spiced wonderfully. An artery clogger. I gobbled it down! It fueled me the rest of the day.

                                         Fuel Joel needed for his very long day.

                                                                Breakfast Chef

At 1:00 the day went downhill. I missed my turn into my village. By the time I realized it I was a couple kilometers down the road, so I thought I will find an Albergue in the next village. Whoa, I went through three villages without an Albergue and it started raining. By the time I found an Albergue I had walked 15 extra Kilometers, totaling 37 for the day, 22 miles. I was four miles to Santiago. When I got to the Albergue I heard familiar laughter from the laundry room. Lisa and Johannes were putting a load of laundry in and said they had room for mine. Off went my sodden clothing, plus dirty clothes from my backpack. It was a bonus that I would have clean clothes for Santiago. Lisa is the woman that she was my much younger sister.
                              House on the hill that I knew Janice would like.
They get the right of way I think.

On Day 33, my final day on the Camino I got on the trail early and decided to mosey down the trail as I was close to Santiago. About 1/2 hour into my walk I saw Santiago from a hilltop.

I felt like Dorothy when she spotted Emerald City. I found myself singing "we are off to see the wizard".  About an hour into my walk I stopped at a café and had a coffee and sweet roll. Five minutes later Johannes and Lisa came in and we enjoyed coffee together. It was fortunate as Lisa had received word from a friend that there was this converted monastery where it was close to the Cathedral and inexpensive. She had good information.

Santiago Hotel
Fountain by Hotel
We each got single rooms with it's own bathroom for 23 Euros. Johannes and I took our rooms for three days. Lisa for one as she was continuing the Finisteria the next day.
Lisa, Lucas and Johannes
After settling in we met along with Lucas from Belgium and went to the Pilgrims office for our credential of completion of the Camino. For celebration we all had paella and split a bottle of wine.
Lobster, Shrimp and other delicacies in Paella.  
We then went our separate ways and met at the Cathedral at 5:00pm for a Completion of Camino party.
Jam from Trinidad
                             Ashley on left from Bellingham

Jam from Trinidad met us there and took to his very nice apartment he secured through Air B&B. There were about a dozen of us there. All had completed the full Camino and had seen each other many times since St. Jean,  France, but three of them I met for the first time, including Ashley from Bellingham, WA. Jam provided pizza, someone else made pasta, and there a spread of goat cheese, bread and chocolate, as well as wine and beer.  As was usual for Pilgrims, we partied hearty, but left before 9:00 and was in bed by 9:30! The Camino is now complete!

Oct. 28
Today was a day I just walked around, doing some local sightseeing.  At noon I attended the Pilgrims Mass at the Cathedral.  It is attended by those that complete the Camino and asking blessings on each of the Pilgrims in their lives from here on out.

In the afternoon I met a very special young lady for a glass of wine that I had gotten to know along the Camino.  She is a wonderful young lady that has a bright future ahead of her.  She became one of my Grandpa "kids" along the Camino.
I've met many people from all over the globe from many different countries.  My appreciation for the young "kids" along the way gives renewed hope in our future. Friday morning early, 10/30 I take a taxi to the airport and begin my long flight home. Home sweet home!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 28 - 31 Sirria to Ribadiso de Biaxo

Day 29
Today was beautiful. The day started foggy, but by 9:00am the fog had lifted and it was sunny and 70 degrees. I met an aunt and niece from Stockholm, Sweden. They had family in Seattle and had visited there several times.

I also walked with Rob and Phil from Great Britain. Phil was from Whales and Rob had just retired as head of Probation and Parole for England and Scotland. We agreed that the Camino walk was a time to not discuss unimportant things like work and politics!

On arrival in Portomarin a familiar voice called "JOEL"! It was my new Camino sister, Lisa from Skascatoon. I hadn't seen her in over three days and I figured I wouldn't see her again. We greeted each other like long lost family and we had lunch and cerveza.

Now I am going up town Portomarin and find about their history of being flooded 40 years ago and being rebuilt including several historical buildings torn down and rebuilt from the original materials.

Day 30
Wow, four days walking left at the start of the day and 57  miles left to Santiago. It was cloudy and warm when I started out. There was a steady climb right away. It was a uneventful climb until 10:30 when the heavens opened up and rained down kittens and puppies. After an hour I stopped at a trailside bar and had a Galician sausage sandwich and coffee. Joel from the other Washington I joined me at my table. He is 71 and has walked most of the Camino, but the last couple weeks he hasn't carried his backpack but has it driven to the next anticipated night's stop.
After a half hour I put on my backpack and rain gear. In a half hour more the rain stopped. I ended up walking with John and Mary Jane from Philadelphia. They were walking it together. In 1974 they were living together. They decided to backpack Europe for three months, staying at hostels, eating from markets, etc. It went so well they got married. Each passed the "roll with the punches test" and the ability to live on little.
When I arrived in Palas De Rei I found that Rob and Phil were my roommates. After getting settled I met John and Mary. John along with two ladies from Australia and one from North Carolina. We enjoyed beer and wine and I had a burger and fries. Have I mentioned how much I like the way they make fries on the Camino?

Day 31
Daylight savings time in Spain expired last night so we had daylight at 7:30am. I walked 25.6K yesterday and today day 15.9 miles. Only 26.5 miles to Santiago. Heavy rain is predicted for the rest of my time on the Camino. Rob had me take a photo with both of us, as his mother wants him to talk about the Camino to her church Version of The Red Hat Society. He said I was one of the interesting people on the Camino.
There are many interesting people on the Camino.  In Melide I crossed a 700 year old bridge. After I stopped at a café for a calamari sandwich German John came along. He was the cook at the Sangria party several of nights back. He is taking time off and traveling. I encouraged him and told this is the smartest thing he could do right now in his life. There is plenty of time to complete his education but if he doesn't do this now, society obligations will take over and he might not get the chance again. He is planning on going to South Portugal after the Camino and Work at a hotel to save money for his next adventure. I reached in my backpack and pulled out four Zone bars. I gave them to him, he shouted out "peanut butter chocolate" and devoured two of them within a minute! He is my kind of young person. I wish him the best.

I also spent a hour walking and talking with Bonnie, she is 71. She and her husband live in Boquete, Panama. Her husband is retired military officer. She was originally from Wisconsin, but now has traveled the world. People who travel are always interesting. Another great dinner with the other Joel and Peter and Tammy  from Vancouver. Off to bed as I have two days left on this Walk!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 25 - 27 Villafranca to Sirria

Each pilgrim when they start the Camino, is given a shell to attached to their backpack. This is Joel's.

Day 25 to Villafranca
This was a rainy, rainy day. In spite of this I walked over 30 K, 19 miles. Everyone in the Albergue was stiff and sore from yesterday' s climb and rocky, slippery decent. I massaged my quads for about an hour to get the kinks were out. I started out about 15 minutes before sunrise. Around 9:30 I stopped at a bakery across the street from this huge castle in Ponferrada. I was enjoying coffee and a roll when friend Lisa came in. This surprised me as she had left a half our before me. It turns out she had taken a wrong turn. After I finished my coffee, I took off and about an hour later I met the young people I had the Sangria party with Friday night. We agreed to meet at noon at this winery in Componaraya.
I arrived before the kids and dried out with a glass of wine and tapa, total cost 1.50 Euro. After the kids arrived we had and impromptu lunch with goodies from backpacks. I had a second glass of wine and then hit the road again. I ran into Lisa again who was having a tough day. I walked with her for a few Kilometers and then went ahead of her. Imagine my surprise when I entered Vivllafranca and she was there. She had taken the highway rather than the trail and cut 2K off the hike. Stayed at an Albergue operated by a unique person.  Day 26 promises to be strenuous.

Day 26 to O'Cebriro
I am O'Cebriro. No Internet at Albergue. Very small town. It was a Monster hill climb today. The Camino spirit is gone. I will get it back when I get to the next village.


Day 27 to Triacastela
The highlight today was a great dinner. I started with calamari, then pulpo, then a galacian dessert made with almonds washed down by white wine. There was a couple from Northern Manitoba, Marilee, from Cape Cod and Harm from the Netherlands. For 45 minutes we were treated to Spanish guitarists in a jam session. It would have been a, eat your heart out, night for Janice. Tonight was designed with Love in mind. A fun night!!

Day 28 to Sarria
Day 28 started beautiful with walking into daylight. On my walk I hardly talked to anyone and the spiritual thought that came into my mind was the impression of "I AM" and the thoughts arising from this. I've shared much of that with Janice, but still processing all that came to me with the simple statement, "I AM".  I reached Sarria at 1:15 and veg'd out. Then I talked with Ron over cerveza for over an hour. I returned to my Albergue and talked to Jennifer and Armonde for an hour. At 6:00 I attended a Pilgrims Mass with several friends. After I went for an over two hour dinner with Ron and Elaine from Manitoba, Barb from Portland, Or. and Margot from San Francisco.
Ron & Elaine

Barb and I had dinner four nights ago with sister Lisa. Margot is a nurse who has traveled all over the world as a nurse and is now thinking of going into chaplaincy. She wants to be a minister, but also doesn't want doctrine to get in the way.  A common thread of impressions on this walk I'm working on in this walk. How doctrine in churches have gotten in the way of our relationship with God.
                                                           Fountain with Shell

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day 22 - 24, A Broken Walking Stick, A Sangria Party and a Tough Day Climbing the Tallest Mountain on the Camino

Oct. 16
On Friday I hiked to Astorga from Leon. In Astorga I met the young people I walked the first five segments of the Camino. They invited me to a communal dinner. They combined their funds and bought the food. I said to them I was going to spend 10 Euros for dinner, so why don't I pitch the 10 Euros for wine. They were able to get eight bottles of wine and two liters of beer for the 10 Euros. They then chopped apples and pineapple into two bowls, one for white wine and on for red wine and made two batches of Sangria. Both Red and White Sangria and piles of pasta, Brie and bread! German John assisted  by some of the kids prepared the dinner. I offered to help both cooking and cleaning and was told I could do no such thing as I was the senior and honored guest. Great kids, and every parent should encourage the kids to do this sometime by them selves. They will make friends from around the world. A great time!


Oct. 17
Saturday was Australia day. While walking through a village I saw a sign advertising bacon and eggs. I had been wanting bacon and eggs for some time so I dropped in for some. While waiting, Maddie, a young girl I had met with others, sat down and we talked. She had trained as a concert pianist and at age 20 she was deciding between the piano and her college manors of biology and psychology. Madeleine from Tsamani, 20 years old, a trained a concert pianist. She had trouble sleeping last night due sore throat. I gave her two acetomephen PMs and told her to take them before bedtime. We all seem to help one another while on this walk. 
 After that I ran into a couple from North of Sydney, Australia. They said they had heard me order bacon and eggs, so they did to. They pointed out the crosses woven into the fence approaching Rabanal.  The young people came through a half hour ago, but are going 5 KM farther. Today's was easy and I got in at 12:45 and laid down while washer and drier did my clothes. Now in Rabanal de Camino I ran into a woman who invited me to monks chanting tonight, she is from Melbourne. That night it rained most of the night.

Oct. 18
I am in Riego de Ambros. Having cerveza and a sandwich. I took a half hour off and then decided I could complete the last 4.7 K  I prepared for the climb to the highest point on the Camino. It rained off and off most of the day. The scenery was beautiful. The descent was hard on my hips, etc and it took me 2 1/2 hours to make the last 3 and 1/2 miles. I broke one of my walking sticks a few days ago, so I had one left to help me up and over the mountain.  My friend Omar helped by carrying my backpack for a couple of kilometers. I stopped and had ibuprofen washed to with beer which allowed me to finish the days hike. Tonight I will had a communal dinner at my Albergue in Molinaseca.
                          Joel at the highest elevation of Camino.
Misty day today.

Beautiful Foliage along the way.

Somehow I've missed a couple of his days. I'm sure when Joel returns, he'll fill you all in on anything I've left out.  Joel and I continue to be able to visit at least once a day via Skype.  He is so amazing and while most of us could never do something like this, the Camino was made with Joel in mind. I am so very proud of him. But, he will be home in 12 days.  Yes, I'm excited.   Buen Camino Joel!