Another Trek

On the Camino.
On the Camino.

The headline of our local newspaper, the Beachcomber, this week was “Vashon siblings share a trek of a lifetime”. Early this year I grabbed the headlines with my own trek of a lifetime and it is now Josh and Lizzy’s turn. Josh is a good friend of our son Wiley’s, both fishermen, adventurous guys. Lizzy’s is the younger than Josh by a few years and a force in her own right.

Thursday evening the bro and sis had a talk/slide show at a local book store. Rebecca and I made sure to go. So, the talk was about their experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail here in the western USA. This is commonly known as the PCT and generally follows the crest of the Rocky Mountains from The Mexican border to the Canadian border. Yea, 2620 miles.

Of course, my mind was busy comparing and contrasting with the Camino Frances. What struck me first was the immense physicality of the PCT. 2620 miles translates to 4216 kms of mountains and desert and forest with little or no facilities and lots of middle of nowhere beauty. I was exhausted just watching the slides and thinking this is a young person’s deal for sure.

Most people hike this from south to north to start as early as possible in the South. And generally they have to average twenty miles a day to get to the North before serious snow. Sort of has a definite serious edge to it.

Another serious part to this that we became involved with first hand was the logistics. Wiley did 750 miles of the trail with Josh and Lizzy and company and had his own provisions to worry about. Mailing packages of dried and freeze dried foods to advanced localities was the method employed. So every couple of weeks we would bring another prepacked parcel to the post office for shipment.

So, in some ways Caminoheads we had it easy. They carried the 2 liters of water like we did but also real food, stoves, cooking utensils, tents and other serious gear, heavy gear. We had albergues, cafes and churches to cater to us.

But there were serious similarities that were fun to discover and contemplate. One was the throwing off of gear and learning the blessing of simplicity. Two was the sort of unworriedness that tends to develop where the Camino will take care of me is the thought. And the best thing is the same bonding that happened to us happened to them also and maybe even more so.

It also became apparent that the PCT seemed to fit young people’s mentality and interests better than our Camino. They are the bulletproof ones who can do any thing or almost. It is glorious to have that youthfulness and the will to challenge. Our Camino seems to fit people of more years who for one reason or another have been knocked off their horse as seems to happen to every one of us and seems to be just a matter of time. Loss, divorce, sickness, death, loneliness catch up to us and we need a place to sort things out and maybe learn new ways of seeing the world and relating to it. We have our own personal burdens that we bring to the Camino that are our challenges.

Thanks, I am over 500 words. Time to go, long distance loves, Felipe.

TGIF/Mary Margaret # 2


Hola Felipe!

I always seem to have either too much to say or too much to feel that can’t be expressed but thought this attachment would spark some thoughts on the Camino Experience. I remember sitting at a cafe about 10 km before Belorado after a very long, tough climb and descent and then many miles of hot, dusty trail and thinking that as soon as I finish this Coke (served in a Johnny Walker just-keep-walking glass) I’m going to call a taxi. My feet are on fire, I’m drenched in sweat and every muscle aches. In my notes on my iPhone, I wrote: ‘taxi = 10 minutes; walking = 1.5 hours. What to do?’ A couple of kind French women convinced me to rest another 5 minutes and then walk it, which I did. Our pension, Quatro Cantones, was perfect and the town itself was like a jewel box.


Mary Margaret

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails.

(OK, lovely, another great TGIF. Thanks MM. See you all tomorrow. Seattle is coming unglued with the anticipation of the big game on Sunday. Go Hawks! Hawkish loves, Felipe)

Mabel Runs Again!!

Mabel on the move!
Mabel on the move!
Snowdrops getting ready to bloom!
Snowdrops getting ready to bloom!

Well, I am convinced that there is nothing that my good buddy Steve and I can’t figure out in an hour. He was over yesterday to help me out of my winter doldrums which was personified by Mabel my trusty tractor. Just would not start and would not start and I spent all my free time for two weeks sweet talking her, like some kind of mechanical CPR. The whole thing was getting me depressed but the addition of Steve to the mix was IT. Mucho gracias my beloved amigo!

Off the Seattle and the hospital today to get my portable chemo pump disconnected and see my beloved Dr Zucker who is my rehab guy and general soul mate. We always have a good time trying to make positives out of negatives. Mucho gracias my beloved amigo!

Wow, just peeked outside and the sky is a pleasant ratio of blue and puffy little clouds. Nice. And Mabel is parked in a new spot from where she was from before Spain, over her jealousy. Nice. Yea so, off to a good start.

I was just trying to sweet talk Angela in Sydney to come up with a last minute blog post for tomorrow’s TGIF. I know it is late but some folks work better like that. So also, if you have anything to contribute you are perfectly welcome to add your Camino thoughts to YOUR Caminoheads blog. Short and juicy is better than long and dry is the only rule.

Time to get today moving. So juicy loves, Felipe.

Up In The Night Thinking About The Three Loves

Today promises to be a good one. I am going to have two visitors, a new friend who is three years old and has a book on swords that he wants to show me and Steve my old buddy who has his sourdough rye Viking bread that he wants to share. And in between all that my dear tractor Mabel will start. But first I have time to be with you.

I was up for a time in the wee hours sleepless and this is some of the best time that I spend these days. It’s quite and there is nothing to distract me and it is just my thoughts and perhaps a visit by the Holy Spirit to hope for. But for sure it is a situation that I am over trying to fight thinking that I am “missing” sleep.

But the topic du jour is the longing for love. The three types of love that the Greeks identified with three different names. Agape, Eros and Phileo are them I think. Maybe we as people need them divided and it keeps us out of trouble but they have to do with each other closely.

Agape, or unconditional love is our love for God (and he for us) so one would think that it would be a fairly easy proposition to connect with him. But sometimes it feels like trying to get a glass of water from the bottom of Hoover Dam. Or, my image last night in the wee hours was God as a gale. Standing in a strong wind has always been a cleansing experience for me. It buffets me so strongly that I have to forget everything else for as long as I can stand it. When I want to start forgetting I can start to forget in that space. God can be found in that emptiness for me. Maybe the only thing that creeps in is fear which is perhaps the idea of “God fearing”.

Or there is Eros, which is the erotic version. This joining with a beloved feels as intense as a gale for sure and can cause major longing when absent as the world of love songs can attest.

Or there is Phileo love which is brotherly love which we got a serious dose of on the Camino. This is the predominant feature of the Camino in most people’s minds. In every way possible this happened continually and was impossible to ignore. It may have started as a breeze but it got to be a gale later as we all got the hang of it. And then I think that this was the major longing during our rocky reentry.

All these kinds of love are related and may have to be divided up for our benefit. We are like kindergarteners and need help to keep on task and out of trouble, me included at sixty seven years of age. God is the root though as we experience any love anywhere at any time.


At The Hospital

Twelfth Man flag in the waiting room at the hospital.
Twelfth Man flag in the waiting room at the hospital.

image Twelfth Man flag on building in the distance.

I’m at the hospital but it is just my routine every other week chemo treatment. Yea, and Steve my good buddy is supposed to show up to spend some time with me a little later. So, I am going to work on this before he arrives.

A little lingering issue needs to be taken care of. My Rebecca says that I was a little disingenuous a few blogs ago when I mentioned something about falling asleep while trying to watch Downton Abbey. I think that she was talking about the idea of trying as in not trying very hard. Well yes, I really watch it for the woodwork and also it used to be way more interesting when there were great horses and carriages before the age of automobiles. I’m just not into the melodrama of it all I guess.

OK, that taken care of, the excitment is building here in Seattle with the Super Bowl coming up this Sunday. Our Seahawks are going to kick the snot out of The Patriots, my personal prediction. And I picked up some supplies for our party at Trader Joe’s today. Spanish wine and cheese and some Greek and French olives (couldn’t find any Spanish). Yea, championship football meets the Camino. What could be better?

Just one more football related item and I will shut up for a few more days. This is the phenomenon of the twelfth man. At any giving time a football team will have eleven players on the field. Seattle has this deal where we have twelve only that player is the loud fan in the stands. We are known for all the noise that we make while the opposing team has their offensive team fielded. It just screws them up because it is so distracting. So, now you know because you will maybe hear about it if you watch the game and are unfamiliar with some of the details. So, I took two pics of twelfth man flags for you, one close up and one far away.

So what does this have to do with the Camino anyway? Well, not a whole lot but spending time on the trail in Spain meant getting involved with various bull runs and holy day processions along the way. So this is like that in that if you are anywhere within a five hundred mile radius of Seattle you will get sucked up in Seahawks fever. You will see blue flags with a white 12 on them everywhere. Everybody and their brother wants you to know that they are the real twelfth man.

So, that about it for now. Steve’s going to show up and we will be smokin and jokin and getting rowdy and that is not conductive to the serious literary endeavor of bloging. Yes. So go Hawks, love you offensively, Felipe.

Another Day On The Planet

A beautiful morning on the Camino,  Vashon Island.
A beautiful morning on the Camino, Vashon Island.
The beautiful Mam Jones.
The beautiful Mam Jones.

Monday, and we have a big day today. Mam Jones is back from South Africa and coming to visit and I definitely want to give you a report on her message. And today is the day that the beloved tractor will start. I have to walk in a few minutes so I need to gear up and get some laps in, so must leave for now. But you are always ready and available for my thoughts to contemplate and so you are never far.

Here I am and it is late and the blog is not finished but my Rebecca insists that it gets done before sleep. OK. Well, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that the tractor didn’t start yet but the good news is that Mam Jones did make it. Let’s talk about Mam Jones.

She is a young woman that is a friend of our son’s from college here at Western Washington University. She has spent the last year and half in South Africa with the Peace Corps. Her tour was supposed to be two years but she had to pull out early because of safety concerns. We were following her closely there and supporting her efforts. Her job was to act as a school teacher there in a government school. The situation was extremely bare bones and one of the problems was that there were little supplies and books.

We shipped numerous boxes to her and talked friends into it also. In the boxes were art supplies, sports equipment and books. Mam Jones started a lending library for the kids which was extremely popular. She also was teaching violin to some of the students. She had all kinds of things going that really inspired us to help. But she finally had to leave early because of safety concerns. But she left a mark on those young people and that is what is important.

As I walked on the Camino I thought about this very issue and I came to the conclusion that in life one must do what one can, as well as one can, for as long as one can. Having ultimate success is not always there but that is not as important as the striving regardless of outcome. This is what Mam Jones did and that is her message to us today. Ah, and I must add, a little late maybe, that is what the students called her, “Mam Jones”, like Ms Jones.

And here is an email that Annie O’Neil sent to me this AM and it is too good not to pass along:

Life is truly
Rock Bottomly


So my life is full of these extremely positive people these days and I am going to keep it that way because it is the only way. Peace – Felipe.

Somethings Interesting

Hats on Sunday.
Hats on Sunday.

Ah, my WiFi is back working again. Time to be with you and catch up. First I just slept through Downton Abbey, no huge loss as they will be showing them over from now to eternity. But have to report on some major culture that I was in on last evening. My Rebecca and I were invited to The Robert Burns Dinner here on our fair isle. What is that you might ask and I was in the same boat myself.

But it so happens that old Rabbie Burns is the national poet of Scotland and his dates are 1759 – 1796. So every year hither and yon his birthday is celebrated by crazy Scotsmen doing things Scottish that roughly revolves around his memory. Some of it is just plain fun and drink. This is the first one that either of us has ever attended although it is coined the best party of the year on Vashon by some.

So add that one to your bucket list. I understood two words all evening as everyone, not me, was maxing out there brogue, I think is the right term. But you don’t have to understand it to grasp its power and grandure which is the charm of it all.

That was last night and then today was beeeautiful weatherwise and everyone was outside enjoying that. Three folks came and walked with me which was great. And I had one of my archery students come for some shooting. And the days are noticeably longer allowing me more time to get more greasy working on the old 1956 Ford tractor. It’s all fun and part of shaking off winter.

Well, so glad that my WeeFee is up again as I get grouchy when I can’t blog. So, I have to tell you about a little project that I have going that I will need help on from some of you. This is something that goes back to my high school days in Buffalo, New York. That is only important in that Buffalo lies in the Northern Hemisphere. I can clearly remember my Earth Science teacher Mr. Kelsey drawing diagrams explaining how in the Northern Hemisphere water goes down the drain one way and in the Southern Hemishere it goes down the other way as one in clockwise and the other counter clockwise.

So yesterday I checked in with any old friend in Buffalo that currently does teach Earth Science and she says it’s bogus. That the design of the fixture dictates the direction. And I can see that to a certain extent but what about a simple pool of water over a simple drain in the bottom of a sink? Nothing is forcing it one way or the other when you pull the plug, so which way will it go?

So in the interest of science I would like you guys to report in with one observation of three different sinks in your locale and we will keep track. OK, I want Sydney and Cairo and London and etc reporting as in hither and yon. Just put it in the comments. This will be fun and above all educational. Who will be right Ms. Laurie or old Mr. Kelsey?

So a report by you should should be simple and straight forward so we can put them all together in a final overall report. And that would look like:

Robert Burns from Edinburgh, Scotland on February 1, 2015.
Sink one – counterclockwise.
Sink two – same.
Sink three – same.

Well, that’s all the fun I can handle for the moment, time to get some shut eye. Off to Monday, love, Felipe.

More Flora

Here are seven small lavender plants that I got in the ground along Phil’s Camino. Thank you my Rebecca for buying them for me.


Quince bush showing some color.
Quince bush showing some color.
Indian plum bushes with buds ready to go.
Indian plum bushes with buds ready to go.

Ranch Flora

Yea flora, as in plants. It was 52 degrees F this morning as the sun is coming up. That very warm for January and it is the result of the weather pattern known as El Nino. The ocean currents coming from the west set up in certain ways and they set up weather patterns that effect us here along the coast. So, even though I whine about our winter, this one has been almost a non winter.

OK, three times I have lost the rest of this post. I am really loosing my touch and perhaps you didn’t have time to read it anyway. So I will try and add the pics and call it good. Calling it good loves, Felipe.

(for the life of me I can’t seem to place the pics on this post, sorry)