Day One – Irun to Irun

An easy day consisting of errands and tasks and doing the first kilometers of the Camion. I checked out of my hotel and headed toward my next night’s stay at the Pensión Bowling. Pensión translate to “rented living quarters”.

Just 5.6 km with drizzle in the morning changing to clouds and then mostly sunny in the afternoon. I never really got wet.

Today’s walk started off with a bit of an error. Somehow, my Garmin GPS watch got off by 3 hours. So, when I thought it was 7:00 and I was expecting breakfast, it was really 4:00 in the morning. This gave the hotel clerk a bit of a smile. I went back to my small room and got a couple more hours of sleep.

I checked out of the hotel at 7:30 a.m. I took a short walk north to the official start of the start of the Camino del Norte which is at the border with France. I then headed to the south and then to the west following the yellow arrows embedded in the sidewalk. However, at one intersection there were no yellow arrows, at least I could not find one, and as such I got bonus kilometers today. After walking quite a ways off route I realized I was off route and used my maps to confirm.

The tasks I had to do today were to purchase walking sticks, mail items that I did not want to carry to the post office at the destination – Santiago de Compostela, activate my spare cell phone, and purchase stamps to mail postcards home. I accomplished all these. The first test that I did was to activate the spare cell phone. This did not go as well as I had hoped as all four people working spoke only Spanish. But, we all muddled through it and I got my iPhone working. In fact, I can use it as a hotspot for my Android phone. This is a good thing as my Android phone has all the apps that I need to not get lost.

The second task was to purchase stamps and to mail items to the destination. I was very pleased to find one person at the post office who spoke fluent English. It was quite humorous as she would often stop helping the person in front of her to assist the clerk helping me. But the other customers were not upset with me. In addition, the English speaking clerk gave me two postcards showing all the Camino routes in Spain for free. Yay!

I got lucky purchasing the walking poles. Google only showed outdoor stores that were not in my local area. And, asking for help confirmed this when I spoke with passerby’s. I finally just did a simple Google search for sports store and this led me to a store just around the corner from where I was at. When I arrived, I saw it was a sports shoe store. Oh dear, this didn’t start off well. Nonetheless, I entered the store and began asking the clerk if they did sell walking poles. She was confused and did not understand what I was asking for. But then I noticed another pilgrim (person walking the Camino) in the store with a backpack and walking poles with the pack. I smiled and just pointed to the poles. The clerk thin checked with the owner of the store and found out that they did have just one set of poles. I purchased them as fast as I could.

My only disappointment of the day was I was unable to enter the large church that was on the Camino route. In addition, at this point in time I’m unable to determine when the church stores will be open. But, it’s early afternoon and I still have time to accomplish this.

I returned to the church at 7:00 pm, just in time for Mass which I did attend. It was not in English (Spanish or more likely Euskara, the Basque language.

My first day on the Camino was from one hotel to another with stops for errands.
This is the post card given to me by the Spanish Post Office – Correos.
The back side of the postcard with a stamp of the King of Spain.
In the background is the Parish of Santa María del Juncal. It was constructed in 1508 and 1606 on a previous temple site. The statue in tribute to the bartenders of the Alarde de Irun, a festival which commemorates the victory of the inhabitants of Irun in their many battles against their French neighbors.
Inside the Parish of Santa María del Juncal
“Follow the Yellow Arrows”
My first (on many) Cafè con Leche in Spain
On the bridge between Spain and France – the official start of the Camino de Norte
Second Breakfast
The Vuelta a España bicycle race was going to start in Irun the following day. These three fit young men were setting up. I asked for a photograph and they want to make sure I knew they were not the racers. I smiled and said I know.

Day 0 – I have arrived in Spain.

Today was a very long travel day. I woke up in my nice warm bed at 5 o’clock in the morning the morning. My good friend Martin took me to the airport and I was on my way to Spain shortly after 9 AM. The 1st stop was Seattle where I had to quickly transfer to a much larger plane to take me to Paris, France. This this was over a 9 hour flight and I was not looking forward to it. However, I found it was not that bad.

As soon as we left Seattle I started to read a travel narrative on The Camino del Norte -“The Camino Norte: An August Adventure” by Len Stregles – a very good book and I and I enjoyed reading it. I plan to refer to it each day each day to make sure I don’t miss anything of interest.

The Flight into Charles de Gaulle airport went well but walking through Charles de Gaulle airport was an adventure. I climbed stairs, I took escalator’s, I took moving walkways, I took a train, I took a bus, and when I finally got to the gate, I had to walk out onto the tarmac and up the stairs to the plane. Yes, and adventure.

The flight to Bilbao was short and I tried to get some sleep but could not. The Bilbao airport is smaller than most airports I have been in lately and people were very helpful as to how I should get to a Irun. At the luggage area I saw a Tourist Booth and the nice English person to check at the Pesa Bus booth just down the way. There a nice English speaking lady told that a bus to San Sebastian will be outside the baggage area and in 10 short minutes. From there I can take a regional train to my Irun. Arriving in Irun, I decided to walk to my hotel as was only a couple kilometers. Yes, I got lost or more accurately I got off route. But folks were very helpful in pointing me in the right direction and soon I was standing in front of my hotel.

Now about the hotel room. It is small. The card key to the door is also needed to turn on the lights in the room. There is a slider for the card and once inserted you can turn on the lights. If. If you remove the card, the lights turn off. Which, is a great way to save electricity when you leave the room. In addition, the act of a small. It is not full size but about half the length of what the bathrooms back home are. It’s more of a shower stall than a bathtub. But you can fill it and take a bath with your knees in your face.

Tomorrow will be a preparation day before I begin walking the Camino. I am really looking forward to this and I’m sure it will be a fun adventure. In addition, I hope to learn a lot.

The Adventure Begins Tomorrow

Tomorrow, I fly to Spain and begin walking the Camino on Tuesday, August 23rd. I will be walking alone, unless other pilgrims care to walk along with me.

But one very special person will be with me.

I remember the day I gave Joanne the wedding ring with a large diamond. She melted with joy.

After her passing, I did not know what to do with the ring. A good friend of mine suggested that I sell it to finance my trip to Spain. But over time the one carat diamond had been chipped and lost value. Again, I did not know what to do.

Then one day I had an epiphany. The scallop shell is the symbol of Camino pilgrimages. I decided to mount the diamond on a scallop shell to be worn as a necklace. In this way, Joanne will be with me on this pilgrimage. Yes, I have a very large romantic side.

Getting ready for the Camino

Today I worked on some tasks in preparation of my pilgrimage.

I am doing this pilgrimage to face, feel and find myself. One area that I need address is my Catholic history.

I was born and raised in the Catholic faith. But I have not been practicing since my late teens. As Spain is highly Catholic country, I will take advantage of this and visit as many churches as I can. I want to tour and explore these churches as a gateway to the Catholic culture. In addition, I will also attend Mass often to I can experience the culture directly. So, today I visited with a priest who was very non-judgemental and extremely helpful. I wanted to make sure my decorum would be appropriate as I am a non-practicing Catholic.

In more mundane matters I ordered euros, so I will have them when I land in France/Spain and notified my banks of my travel. I also investigated using Canon Image to store my photos in the cloud, but I have not determined if this will be my solution to save photos.

Camino de Santiago – del Norte

I have decided to walk a pilgrimage

As some of you may know, life has been very difficult for me this last year. With Joanne passing, my life has been very empty. At first I kept myself busy with photography, an activity easy for me to do as Joanne did not share this with me. Since Joanne has passed, I have avoided activities that I did share with Joanne – cycling, cooking, and just being close to the one I love.

In early May, while visiting the Southern Oregon Coast, I met someone who I seem to click with. She too is facing some issues in her life. In talking with her, I opened up to some of the feelings that I had been hiding. Some feelings that hurt. Now, I am trying to face them but it is difficult. All around me are memories of Joanne. As such, I find it difficult to address my feelings.

So, I have decided to walk a pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, the del Norte way. I will walk over 850 kilometers in two months beginning in late August. I will use this time to face, feel and find myself again. This will be a true pilgrimage for me.

“A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.” – from wikipedia.

Life gets into the way

In 2016 my dear wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. We cried.

She survived the first set of tumors, but they never stopped appearing. She suffered through several instances of chemotherapy and radiation … until 2021 when cancer won.

During this time I stopped training and put my life on hold. Supporting Joanne was the most important activity in my life. So, I stopped posting to this blog.

But now, I’m back.

Back on the Bike, and Back on the Blog

I was hit by a DUII drive last year – on 3/14/2015.

I started riding and training again in May of 2015 with the intention of getting into shape to compete in the Race Across Oregon. That was not to be.

In late January of this year, I came down with a illness that was never diagnosed, but kept me off of the bike for two months.

But I am back on the bike now, and it feels great.

I have done four rides in the last week. The first was last Saturday, an 18 mile “let’s see if I still know how to ride a bike” ride. I choose a flat loop and rode my Colnago CT2, a ride I ride just for fun. I did will, but I was surprised just how tired the ride left me. Oh well, my fitness maybe gone, but I love working to get it back.

My next ride was the Salem Bicycle Club Wednesday Night Ride that my wife and I lead. Due to the illness and a class I was taking, it was not since December that I have been able to join my friends on this ride. While it does rain in March in Oregon, the sky was nice to me on my first ride back and there was no rain. Again, this is an easy paced ride so I had no issues but again the ride tired me out.

I should have taken a rest day on Thursday, but no, I joined the Scott’s Cycling group on Thursday. I did have some sense in that I choose to ride with the slowest group and I had lot’s of fun reconnecting with folks that I have not seen for months. Good times.


After three shorter rides, today I choose a flat 34 mile Salem Bicycle Club ride. My goals for this ride were to take it easy – no hard efforts. I am please to report that I was successful. My heart rate never exceeded 80% of max. This ride was nearly twice as long as my previous rides, and yes, I did suffer. But I was on the bike and suffering on the bike is the best kind of suffering there is.


Some Rides are Better than Others: I was hit by a DUII Driver.

Note: this post was authored over seven weeks after the ride.

I was on a long training ride; a loop out of Shaniko.

The weather forecast was for some rain, and just as I started the rain began. I stopped and added my rain jacket over my vest to keep dry.

The route took me down to Moro using Hwy 97. Traffic was light on this busy highway because I started shortly after dawn. The highway has a wide shoulder and there was not that much debris to avoid. My first stop was at the market in Moro. There I picked up some snacks (M&Ms) and spoke with a local who was impressed that I was on a 143 mile training ride.

I now headed toward Condon, a second of highway that is a bit of a bear to ride. You have to descend to the John Day River, and then climb out all of the way to Condon. This is a difficult section of roadway for me. However, I was feeling good and the suffering was minimized. In condon, again I stopped this time for a quick lunch of a deli turkey sandwich. The cafe was filled with locals and I was getting the ‘eye’; the kids were looking at me with what seemed to be desired while the parents were somewhat were just friendly.

Leaving Condon, I headed to Fossil. This section of road is not on the Race Across Oregon route, but is a joy to ride none the less. A gentle downhill takes you do Thirtymile Creek and then you climb. Lastly, you descend into Fossil where I rode into town to reach the market. After a few quick calories, I turned toward the west rejoining the Race Across Oregon route. I now had three major hills to climb; Fossil, Clarno and the hill out of Antelope to Shaniko.

The first hill is fun to ride and I enjoyed it. But my mind was on the Clarno Grade, and eight mile monster that could really make me suffer. I submitted and headed down toward Clarno and passing over the ‘Useless Hill.

I crossed over the John Day River and began the Clarno Grade. Checking my watch, I knew that I would not be at the summit before sunset, but I should reach the summit before twilight ended. I was not worried as I had two blinking rear tail lights on, I was wearing my bright yellow rain jacket and I was riding my Litespeed which is equipped with lots of reflective tape.

I felt good. I felt very good. I picked a good pace and was climbing the Clarno Grade well. Near the top, the sun set and I stopped to turn on my two Night Rider headlight so any oncoming traffic would have no problem seeing me.

I have done this climb many times and I know it well. I knew I was almost at the summit and I was looking forward to the descent to Antelope.

However, the next thing I remember is waking up in the St. Charles Hospital in Bend. There, I was told that a DUII driver hit me and left me along side of the road. I was not found for over an hour and then was light flighted to Bend due to my injuries; five fractures of my lower left leg, four broken ribs and a broken left scapula.

I am lucky to be alive.