“Walk In A Relaxed Manner”

A creamy rosy sort of beauty.
A creamy rosy sort of beauty.

This is a wonderful book by Joyce Rupp that Sister Joyce pointed out to me maybe a year ago.  It was on my radar but I had to get to Dubuque to finally get a copy.  Well, it was a free copy which is even better.  It was a gift from Tim and Mary, wonderful folks that took me on a tour of the environs.

It is a book about walking the Camino de Santiago and some insights that Joyce gained.  It is marvelously detailed.  Right now in the chapter I am reading she is talking about how the beauty of Spain and the beauty of the people around her brought her through the hard places.

Well, I am off to the hospital.  Have to take Pancho, my sidekick portable chemo pump back.  Yup, and a chance to smooze with folks there.

So, consider beauty as a antidote to the hurt of your struggle.  It’s out there around us all the time whether it is in a book, CD, gallery or maybe growing up out of a crack in the sidewalk.  You’re the best, love, Felipe.

My Camino Went Through Dubuque, Iowa


Morning along the Camino in August 2014. And on through Dubuque in April 2016. Who would have thought that we would make it this far?
Morning along the Camino in August 2014. And on through Dubuque in April 2016. Who would have thought that we would make it this far?

People read this blog from all over the world and sometimes they may not be all that familiar with US geography, understandable.  There is always confusion about the two Washingtons, one on each coast.  What were we thinking?  But back to Iowa.  This state is located in the middle of the country, it’s eastern border the Mississippi River.  The Mississippi flows south and eventually goes through The city of New Orleans and empties into the Gulf of Mexico.  So in early US history before roads these waterways were the highways and adventurous folks traveled them in canoes, small and large.  And this is how Julien Dubuque made it to what is now the city of Dubuque in eastern Iowa.

The metal lead is what interested him in the area and he started the mining and refining of lead there.  And Dubuque is noted as the first American city west of the Mississippi and the first city in Iowa.

The Dubuque area is known for it’s energy due to the presence of ley lines that run through the location.  Ley lines are mysterious lines of energy that define certain spots on the earth in terms of their energy.  I wish I could say more on that but am new to the term and the knowledge.  Google it I guess.

So, ran into amazing people there and they will pop up here I am sure as the days go by.  Yea, and Phil’s Camino went there and was received well.  Maybe we recognized each other’s energy?  Hate to get too whoo whoo here but can’t help it.

The movie has a way of connecting people to the real feelings and turmoil of the cancer experience.  It may dredge up memories of hard past experience in there own lives.  It’s useful in that way.  And it gives a glimpse of hope for positive outcomes.  It shows a pathway, a Camino.

And that Camino just went through Dubuque, Iowa.  As Annie always reminds me, “We can’t help ourselves!”.   It’s a scary and comforting zone to be in.

Make it happen today,  energetic love, Felipe.









It’s The World We Live In


There is Felipe and Annie for wine and tapas at Robert and Cindy's next to the Julien.
There is Felipe and Annie for wine and tapas at Robert and Cindy’s next to the Julien.

Someone just said that in the waiting room here.  Little do they know that it will be used for the title of a post on a world class blog.   And on a shopping bag that came into my possession this AM the text printed there announced that the food in this particular super market was organic, wholesome, healthy, gluten-free, tasty, kid friendly, non-GMO, local, sustainable, green and delicious.  Well Caminoheads has all that stuff easy, plus we have dolphins!  Nothing dolphin free about us.  Yea, just letting the world know.

Let’s see what else is new?  I still had a bottle of water that I bought at the Dubuque Regional Airport and I watered the flower seeds that I planted in the freeway entrance ramp a while ago.   That was on the way to the hospital this AM.  Maybe that good Heartland water will jump start those little guys.

OK, Dubuque, that’s what I should be talking about.  Here is a link to an nice article in the Dubuque paper:


Just outside my window at the hospital a pair of pigeons have their nest.  That’s cool and also the world we live in, love, Felipe.

Checking Out Of The Hotel Julien


Julien's portrait done from researchers who started with his actual skull.
Julien’s portrait done from researchers who started with his actual skull.
New Iowa friend Kathy with Annie and Felipe.
New Iowa friend Kathy with Annie and Felipe.
Lunch at Mt Carmel , Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Lunch at Mt Carmel , Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
People's Choice Award!
People’s Choice Award!

Sitting in the lobby waiting for a couple of folks who are going to give me a tour of the city.  Flying out later today from the Dubuque Airport.  I’m sad to be leaving.  The festival was wonderful and people “Iowa nice”.

Now back to the world where I am just Phil, not that I mind.  But it is fun soaking in the attention.  My main job as I see it at the festivals is to snuggle up to the audience, be present to them and answer their questions.  And they have questions!

So, as a result of our great film and Annie and I doing some fantastic Q and A’s we mesmerized the fans.  We got close to them.  We hugged the ones who cried.  And in the end we won the People’s Choice Award.    Yea,  how about that!  It’s happening,  last month the train left the station and this month we are picking up speed!

So, I’m back at the ranch on Vashon and the sun is pouring in the window as I have my morning coffee.   Sort of regrouping after my wonderful trip to Dubuque or as PFJ calls it Do-Be-Q.  So many great things happened and meet so many great folks.  Kind of fell in love with Iowa.

I will try and put some pics up of the last few days.  I’ll have more about it tomorrow and good to be back safe and sound on the red leather couch, love, Felipe.





No Bail Money In The Budget

Here are the some of the adult's from the Conway clan last night at dinner.
Here are the some of the adult’s from the Conway clan last night at dinner.

Annie bless her heart messaged this in to Farmer John and myself.  I’m not sure what she was getting at but we smiled and went on.   We were doing great and keeping things clean pretty much, so yea.

I spent the afternoon and evening with Farmer John and lovely Farmer Cathy.  They had twenty family members for dinner and I have a pic here somewhere.  Then John and I picked up Annie O’Neil at Cedar Rapids Airport on the way back to Dubuque in the morning.  We just all saw Phil’s Camino and had a big Italian dinner.  Now we are sitting in the Filmmaker’s Lounge.  Annie is over doing an interview with someone, not quite sure but she’s smiling.

Iowa is my new favorite state, well next to my beloved Washington.  Farmer John was so awesome giving me the grand agricultural tour as we traveled across a third of the state. I learned a lot about corn, soybeans, rye, beef and other growie topics.

So having a planning session with Annie so I am going to sign off for now.  Just want to let you know that you are the best and miss you even if I have never met you yet.  If you are here then that is telling me something.  Love, Felipe.








Breakfast At The Julian Dubuque

Yea, taking advantage of the perks!
Yea, taking advantage of the perks!

Taking my first cup of coffee at the hotel restaurant sitting next to a window facing the Mississippi River.  I would be able to see it but there is some low lying fog in between.   Over yonder, that’s how they talk in Iowa I think, is a museum that has info on old Julian.  It is a must to learn about him for me and for you.  Thinking of Vashon and family and friends.  Wishing you all a beautiful day which I think is not that hard.  And then there are my buddy Caminoheads strung out around the globe.  Wishing you the best where you are in Madrid, Cairo, Sydney.  You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

I am here with Phil’s Camino but you are all a part of it in a very real way and are here with me it feels like.  Be with me at 11:30 this morning at the first showing for this audience.  Be with me at the Q and A afterward.  Annie is coming in tomorrow morning so I am handling this one alone.  It will all be a good time.

Pilgrim Farmer John will be here at 10 to join in that fun.  After the Q and A we are off to his farm about two hours out on the highway.  I feel so privileged to be able to hang around him.  So we have a tour of Iowa agriculture and a big farm dinner in our immediate future.  Also looking forward to meeting Farmer Cathy somewhere in there.

If that dinner is anything like the breakfast at the hotel restaurant I know that I am in Iowa.  None of that small plate stuff here.  I literally got half way through my scrambled eggs and corn beef hash.

Right now I am sitting in the Filmmakers Lounge writing and checking out the free coffee.  My iPad is doing some quirky stuff so I think that I will leave this for now.  It gets too frustrating for Felipe.  Where are my people?

Well Farmer John said on the phone last night that I would know that I was in Iowa because everyone is so nice.  Yes, I see that.  Looking forward to the whole darn adventure, love you, Felipe.






Got The Ironing Board Out

Hang on to you hat, little one, off to Dubuque!
Hang on to you hat, little one, off to Dubuque!

You know things are serious when the ironing board comes out.  Packing is getting in high gear for a visit to Julian Dubuque and his fabulous film festival.  Little did Julian know what he got started way back then.

Ellen from Ontario just emailed in this inspirational story and thought you needed to hear it and maybe work it into your day:

The New High School Teacher

After retiring, a former Gunnery Sergeant in the Canadian Army took a new job as a high school teacher. Just before the school year started, he injured his back. He was required to wear a light plaster cast around the upper part of his body. Fortunately, the cast fit under his shirt and wasn’t noticeable when he wore his suit coat.
On the first day of class, he found himself assigned to the toughest students in the school. The smart-ass punks, having already heard the new teacher was a former soldier, were leery of him and he knew they would be testing his discipline in the classroom. Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, the new teacher opened the window wide and sat down at his desk.
With a strong breeze blowing it made his tie flap. He picked up a stapler and stapled the tie to his chest.
Dead silence .
The rest of the year went smoothly.

There is an effective use of creativity right there, cost one staple, effect priceless.  Love that guy.  You looking for an example of a good mentor, there is one there.

Well, I’m inspired.  Off to met Julian, that is exactly what I needed.  So, I will be blogging from the great state of Iowa in the next few days and keep you up to date on happenings.

But for now, off to iron a few shirts.  Get out there today and get creative will ya!  Love, Felipe.


Let’s Review One More Time


In August 2014.
In August 2014.

One aspect of a blog that is difficult for the new reader is getting a grip on the flow.  I can’t explain everything everyday nor can I completely run endlessly on without thought for people just coming in.  It’s a balance.  So, I thought today that I would try and run through the last two years of this blog and give an overview that might be helpful to folks joining in.  And hopefully there will be new folks checking us out as I network at the Julian Dubuque Film Festival this coming weekend.

Basically this blog boils down to the three C’s and those are Cancer, Catholicism and Camino.  If I can give you a quick paragraph on each then I think you will understand the flow and be up to speed.  These three C’s are so entangled and related that it is impossible to totally separate them, just for beginners.

So, Cancer first.  My software keeps capitalizing it and I usually try and correct that but maybe I will leave it for today.  I originally got my colon cancer diagnosis back in 2012, had surgery, had some chemo, had some rehab and then a year off.  At that point I had a 70% chance that it would not come back.  It was stage two at that point.  But it did show up in my lungs and liver and that put me in the stage four club.  So, back on chemotherapy and back to rehab.  I have two incredible doctors and their teams at Swedish Cancer Institute.  One my oncologist, Phil Gold, code name “Nugget” I say keeps me alive and my Rehabilitation Doc, David Zucker, code name “Danger Zone” I say put me on the map.   Both are vital to this story.  So, the situation at present is that there is a rough truce going on, where the tumors have disappeared from my liver but still remain in my lungs but are showing mimimal growth.  So, the threat is real but larglely potential, looming but not exactly imminent.  This is the delicate truce as it exists today.

Somewhere during this time I converted to Roman Catholicism and am totally happy with that choice.  It was my dear mother’s heritage and I join in now to it after her death.   So, I was searching for a place that was substantial and had resources to help me in my journey.   Father Marc is my wonderful local padre and I have been lucky to have Sister Joyce as my Spiritual Advisor.   And part of this mix is having our neighbor Catherine to be my Mass buddy, she is also a great Caminohead and Tailgate Teologist.

OK, we got two out of three.  So, last but not least is the Camino which is deeply  entertwined with my cancer and my faith.   For me originally I needed a way to exercise outside of the machines at the local health club.  I came across the idea of “walking across Spain” in my backyard after watching “The Way” and needing an exercise program.  This gave me a structure and it gave me flexibility in that I could walk further by the week as I got stronger or I could cut back if the chemo was bothersome.  I began to study the Camino de Santiago and that lead me to seeing the Camino documentary “Walking the Camino” by Lydia B. Smith and Annie O’Neil.  Then magically Annie and I teamed up to try and tell this whole story in film and that came true with the documentary “Phil’s Camino”.

Ah, there.  So, now the blog has been running for two years in May.  It has various periods to it that might be helpful to mention.  May 2014 through July 2014 was preSpain and full of prep for going.   Late July and August 2014 the blog came out  everyday from Spain along the dusty trail.  Then some of the best writing takes place during my reentry period which is late Aug through September and on for three or four months.   And then finally the blog as it exists today is about keeping the flame alive.  How to walk the Camino after we walk the Camino so to speak.

OK, that should do it.  I have to read Terry Hershey and Richard Rohr and then get to work.  The best to you, love, Felipe.