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Day Two – Irun to San Sebastian

Today was a very hard day for me. The difficulty was with the amount of climbing and the condition of some of the trail. I was very surprised with both the steepness and the amount of rocks In part of the trail today.

I left the room at 5:15 a.m. and walked out of town in darkness. Soon, the street lights ended and I use my headlamp to see. I was thinking that at walking in darkness is a bit disheartening because there is lots to see but a since it’s dark and you’re using a headlight it’s tough to see she. I love to take photographs but without daylight it’s a bit difficult.

I did reach Santuario de Guadulipe – The sanctuary at the version of guada loop page was closed when I arrived. I took some photos of it but the the clouds were making it difficult to get nice images.

I then turn to the west and took the less difficult option. This was a dirt road with very little intense climbing. However, descending into the next town was difficult as the road became very steep. The other option, the ridgeline trail, included some very serious climbing but one would be rewarded with views. However the clouds were blocking the view is so I did not choose that route. Plus, my legs voted for the easier option.

I stopped for lunch, but communication was non-existent. I did get my cafe con leche, however food never came. I finally asked and was advised that I had not ordered food. Disappointed I paid for my coffee and then left to continue my walk. I ate the snickers bar which has been traveling along traveling along with me in my pack.

Today, I walked for a short time with 2 French layfrench ladies. They could walk much faster than I could, but they would slow down and talk with me. I asked them where they had stayed in Irun. And they responded with a chuckle. It seems their plan was to sleep in the large cathedral I could see a girl but at 8 PM 8 PM a woman was locking the church down. They explained they had nowhere else to stay so the nice woman loaded them up in her car and took them to her house. The next morning, the woman even returned them to the church.

I spent the night in the pension bowling blank. Yes bowling as in let’s go bowling. It was a basic small room all room. It did have everything I needed, except toilet paper. Add to clerk spoke little English I was not inclined to line to ash for toilet paper but use what I had staffed in my pack.

Day one – Irun to Irun

An easy day consisting of errands and tasks

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 was 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 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 arrow, 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, 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 passerbys. I finally just did a simple Google search for sports stored 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 person 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 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 perin 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 talk was Seattle where I had to quickly transfer to play transfer to a much larger plane to Paris France. This this was over a 9 hour flight and I was not looking forward to it. But. However, it was not that bad.

As soon as we left Seattle I started to read a travel narrative on The Camino del norte.. A very good book and I and I enjoyed it. I plan to refer to it each day each day to make sure I don’t miss anything of interest I’ve been trished. And In addition, I watched 1 touched 1 of the newer James bond movies and movies and I try to watch Sin City, but I lost interest and left it unfinished.

The Flight into Charles dega airport went well but 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 flight to Bilbao was short and I tried to get some sleep but could not. The bill bow 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. I was told I was told that a bus to send Sebastian with Sebastian will be outside the baggage area and 10 short minutes and from there I can take a regional train to my final destination. 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 my 1st official day is official day 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.

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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.

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