Saturday, July 22, 2017



Our Camino came to an abrupt end this year when after 10 days and 110 miles, Cathie developed a severe case of tendentious.  We were very disappointed, but within days we were discussing when we would return and complete our journey to Santiago.  We have been home for a month now, and that was enough time for us to make our decision to return.

As the sign says, we will not stop walking.  In fact, Cathie and our daughter Julie have been walking about 3 to 4 times a week on a four mile route near our home.  This time Cathie is not taking any chances with the training regimen, starting a full 9 months before our intended departure.  Speaking of departure, being anal retentive as I am, yesterday I purchased our airfare as the price was right and in my mind it was time to make a commitment.  With the price for premium economy completely covered by points on my Capitol One credit card, it was a no-brainer.  Next April we return to Spain where we will retrace our steps via Madrid and Pamplona. We will began walking from the latter instead of Saint Jean Pied de Port as the weather in the Pyrenees could be iffy in early April.  We had considered starting in Navarrete where we left off, but Cathie said she wanted to repeat some of the trail, and who am I to argue.  We have scheduled our return to allow us up to 45 days to reach Santiago and hopefully Finisterre, so the plan is to go slow, something Cathie now agrees with.

That's the latest update.  Probably won't see much here on Walking Our Camino till next year, but we are not sitting still.  We are off in a couple weeks for 2 months in the RV, so follow along on Gassaway's Adventures.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Just a short update....We spent almost a month in Portugal after having to end Our Camino.  We saw much of the country from the mountains to it's beautiful beaches, but we were definitely ready to come home after being away for two months.  During our time in Portugal, Cathie fully recovered from her tendinitis and we actually managed to get a couple of hikes in.

After the disappointment of ending our walk, Cathie has come the the realization that she misjudged the difficulty of walking day after day over different types of terrain.  She said it was a very humbling experience, having to end our journey.  But it is really not the end as we have already decided to return to Spain next spring and continue where we left off.  With a lot more preparation and a lot less weight in her pack, we will be able to complete Our Camino to Santiago de Compostella.

Here is a short (5 min) video that I put together of our walk.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


It's been a week since we have stopped walking in hopes of Cathie recovering from her tendonitis.  We have holed up in the city of Burgos where we planned on staying until we started walking again.  Cathie is greatly improved, but each time after walking around the city for an hour or so, she is limping and in pain.  We thought we might continue tomorrow (Monday) and see how it goes, but thinking it through we made the decision to stop Our Camino.  Walking day after day was too much of a risk.  Plus we would have been entering the Meseta a 7 to 10 stretch with few facilities if we had needed special attention.

Anyway, all is not lost as I have spent the better part of the morning cancelling reservations and making new ones.  We have extended our stay in Burgos one more day and will be leaving here on Tuesday.  We will take the train to Santiago and as luck would have it, there was a cancellation at a very nice family run hotel which I stayed in two years ago.  We will stay in Santiago for two nights and will recover the suitcase we had shipped there.  There we have reserved a rental car for the remainder of our trip.  I have made reservations for one week and will make more once we figure out exactly where we want to go.  First stop is a monastery converted into a hotel on the coast in Spain.  Then it's on to a countryside B&B near Porto, Portugal .  I'll provide links below so you can see that we will be enjoying ourselves.

Although we are both extremely disappointed in the outcome of all our planning, the show must go on.  We are not cancelling our trip, just changing our plans, but there is already talk of returning to Spain to complete Our Camino in the future.

For the remainder of our time here I will be switching over to Gassaway's Adventures, so be sure to follow along as the adventure continues.






Tuesday, May 9, 2017


I am sitting in the lobby of the Parador Hotel  in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on a very comfortable leather couch.  We are taking a break from walking, so I thought this would be a good time to tell a Camino story.

Parador Hotel

As legend has it, many years ago, a young German man, Hugonell, was walking to Santiago with his parents.  I suppose his parents where with him because he needed a chaperone.  But anyway, while in Santo Domingo, they stayed with a farmer and his family.  As many farmer stories go, the farmer had a daughter.  Now the daughter, most likely looking to leave the farm, tried to seduce unsuspecting Hugo but as a pious pilgrim he refused her.  That turned out to be a big mistake on poor Hugo's part.  The young girl became so angry that her amorous intentions were repulsed, that she hid some silver in his pack.  After he left, she called the authorities and accused the boy of the theft.  Upon finding the silver in his pack, he was promptly found guilty and hanged.  There was swift justice back then, not like today.  As was the custom, the body of the accused was left to hang in the town square as a deterrent to others.

His parents, though grief-stricken, continued on with their pilgrimage to Santiago.  It was common back in the day, that after reaching Santiago, pilgrims would turn around and head back home.  So on their return journey they stopped again in Santo Domingo to pay a visit to their son who was still hanging there.  Much to their surprise he was still alive, if you can believe it.  Hugo's folks figured it was a miracle and that Santo Domingo had held him up so he wouldn't die.

So off they went to see the magistrate and ask him to cut poor Hugo down, as he was obviously innocent.  The judge, who had just sat down to a hearty chicken dinner exclaimed, "Why, he is no more alive than this roasted chicken I'm about to eat."  At this, the cooked chicken stood up on his plate, miraculously brought back to life feathers and all and crowed.  So Hugo was saved to live another day.

To this day, in the church in Santo Domingo there is a chicken, who is said to be a direct descendent on the resurrected fowl in the story.  For a few euros you can go a pay a visit to said chicken, or like us, we've seen chickens before and opted of some vino tino in the bar.

A warning though.  Santo Domingo is surrounded by farms and I am sure many a farmer's daughters looking for a way out.


Monday, May 8, 2017


I suppose that one can be inspired on the Camino by many things.  For many who come here, it is a religious journey and they are many times inspired by the teachings of Jesus or a bible verse.  Some are inspired to walk in the memory of a loved one or a friend who has passed.  A whole bunch of people who walk the Camino Santiago because they were inspired by the movie, The Way.  It is probably the one reason that the Camino is so popular today.

As for me, it was not just one thing that inspired me to walk, but many things over the years.  Yes, the movie was part of it, but I wanted to walk the Camino before the movie.  I can't remember where I first heard of the Camino, but over the years, books, blogs, documentaries  and people's personal experiences motivated me.

One such person was Bill Bennett, an Australian film maker who walked the Camino in 2013.  First his blog, which I followed as he walked, and later a book he wrote about his journey, The Way, My Way.  Since I have walked one Camino and now on another, people I meet continue to inspire me.

One such person is Henry.  I met Henry a couple of nights ago in Viana and I along, with others, shared dinner with him.   Henry comes from California and is 87 years old, or should I say young.  Thirteen years ago, Henry's wife died, and at the age of 74 he walked his first Camino.  He has walked the Camino from different starting points twice a year since then and said he will continue to do so as long as he is able.  Besides the French route starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port, there are many routes throughout Europe ending in Santiago and Henry has walked many of them.  He has walked from London, crossing the channel to Calais and walking the length of France to SJPDP then on to Santiago.  He has walked from Paris, Le Puy, France and from Southern Spain.  And remember he does this twice a year.  Some of these routes are over 1500 miles!  Obviously he is extremely fit.  He said he started this year in SJPDP, so I asked if he spent the first night in Orrison as we did.  Told me, no.  Why would someone stop after just five miles?  He always ops to do the full crossing of the Pyrenees in one day.  Now that's inspiration.








It's Cathie who now need inspiration.  The walk from Viana to Navarrete was pretty easy in terms of up and down, but a good portion of it was on pavement.  You must walk through the city of Logrono, which is a large city with a population of about 200,000.  After leaving the city proper, you walk several more miles on pavement through a large park.  We think all this pavement and the fact that Cathie's pack weighs too much to a toll on her.  By the time we reached Navarrete she had pain in her hip and could hardly walk.  The next morning was no different.  So we opted for taxi to Najera our next stop.  Of course we arrived before our room was ready, but the hotel owner was accommodating and got our room ready.  She suggested we see a doctor and called a taxi to take us.  Our driver, Nacho, stayed with us at the clinic and helped with translation.  We got an appointment for later in the afternoon, so back to the hotel until then.  At the appointed time Nacho picked us up again and returned us to the clinic and again stayed with us until we got to the correct doctor's office.

Using Google Translate we were able to communicate with the doctor who gave a diagnosis of tendinitis, a common ailment on the Camino.  So there is no walking for Cathie for a while.  I have changed our reservations so we can have a week off.  So tomorrow, Nacho will drive us to the next stop where we will spend one night.  The following day we will take the bus to Burgos and remain there through the weekend.  If Cathie gets better we will continue walking, shipping her overweight pack ahead each day.  If she is not better we will rent a car and go to Portugal and lay on a beach.  One must be flexible on the Camino.




Friday, May 5, 2017



We're doing great.  Both of us feel pretty darn good for having just walked 95 miles.  We each got some blisters in the first couple of days, but they are now nearly healed and no new ones have appeared.  Taking care of one's feet is paramount to enjoyable Camino.  We stop often, change our socks and check for hot spots.  Vaseline works wonders as a blister preventer.  Physically we are a little sore and of course tired at the end of the day, but we're keeping a respectable pace while not over doing it.

Just one pilgrim's foot care

As I write this, we are in a very nice hotel in the hilltop walled city of Viana.  I am sitting in the hotel bar drinking very good Spanish wine that cost the equivalent of $1 a glass.  Cathie is upstairs reading her bible and taking a nap.  We are taking a scheduled day off as we are on a vacation of sorts.  In the morning, Cathie will sleep in while I explore the city in the early morning light.  We will also spend time with our fellow pilgrims as a Camino family is forming. This is the Camino.


Yesterday, we walked 13 miles on the first warm day since starting.  We try to pace ourselves so we don't get worn out before arriving at our destination for the day, but we were slowing down by the afternoon.  We were walking through fields of young wheat on mostly flat terrain.  Having each brought music on our iPhones this seemed like an opportune time to stick in the earphones and sing along.  Now Cathie usually doesn't sing along,  but I do, and I do it poorly but loudly.  I think I embarrass Cathie, but I don't care, it's what I do.  One thing that happens to both of us when we listen to our music.  We pick up the pace.  Before long we are moving right along, passing pilgrims, many who give me a sideways look when they notice my musical talents.  At one point I was singing the song "Happy" and doing a slight dance of sorts when I passed a woman.  When she saw me, she too started dancing.  There are times of pure joy like this as one walks along.  This is the Camino.



Last night we stayed in a very nice pension in the town of Los Arcos.  We were greeted by the owner, a man in his 50's.  He spoke some English and we engaged in some small talk about where we were from, family and the fact that I have a girls name.  In Spain (and Mexico) Dana is a girls name.  We paid the bill and he gave us the keys to the room and said goodby.  We figured we would probably never see him again.  So today, while checking into our hotel in Viana, he appeared a the hotel desk.  He was bringing something that one of his guests at the pension had left behind.  He drove here to do so.  When he recognized us, it was like old home week, with Cathie receiving two cheek kisses.  This is the Camino.


231,780.  Now there is a number.  That is, according to my iPhone, how many steps we have walked so far.  Now, that's not just the steps from point A to B, but includes the steps one needs to locate a bar.  We eat in bars.  Restaurants too, but for small meals and bocadillos (sandwiches) the bar is the usual choice.  Yesterday while walking in the afternoon, we came upon a Spanish entrepreneur has set up a bar out in the middle of nowhere.  You come over a low rise in the wheat fields and there it is, and oasis where it is least expected.  He has tables and chairs set up and is selling both hot and cold food and drinks.  He even has beer on tap. And he is making money, as he is the only game in the wheat field.  This too is the Camino.

For those of you reading this, please, if you have questions about our journey, do not hesitate to ask.  You can do so at the bottom of each blog post, or by e-mail and Facebook it that works better for you.  If you use the latter options for your question or comments, I will copy them to the comment section on the blog.  I hope that others will be inspired by our journey and may perhaps want to walk their own Camino.

Before I close this episode of Walking Our Camino, Cathie wanted me to give a shout our to her church family who have been following along.  She wanted to thank them for their continued thoughts a prayers.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017


If you seek creative ideas, go walking

All is well on the Camino.  We are at the 70 mile mark in the town of Estrella ensconced in a really nice B&B in a room with a terrace and a view overlooking the city.  It is 4 in the afternoon and Cathie is taking a nap in a huge king sized adjustable bed.  Who said the Camino can't be comfortable.  It is siesta time in Spain and most of the business are closed till about 5. Even so our laundry is being done downstairs for the small fee of 4 euros.  Soon we will head down the hill into the old town to explore and to pick a restaurant for dinner, which is served starting at 8 pm.

Our B&B

The generosity on the Camino is contagious.  Jim, helping Cathie with her pack.  I saw someone carrying a woman's pack when she was struggling over the Pyrenees.  Sharing what food you have is common.  In Zubiri while drinking and talking with other pilgrims, Erica, a young woman from Germany was talking about being cold at night in the albergues.  She said the thin blanket provided was not enough and she was sleeping in her clothes to keep warm.  Cathie got up and when to our room and returned with her sleeping bag, giving it to Erica.  Erica was beside herself with emotion, that someone she just met would do what Cathie did.  Cathie told her that we would be staying in private rooms the rest of the Camino and the sleeping bag was just extra weight.  That my friends is the Camino.

Speaking of extra weight.  Walking across Spain with a bunch of extra stuff in your pack is only asking for trouble.  You feel every pound you are carrying.  There is a train of thought that one should only carry 10% of their body weight.  In SJPDP in the pilgrims office you can weigh your pack.  Cathie's came in at a whopping 27 pounds, way more than 10% of her body weight.  But girls have to have stuff to make them look pretty, right?  I have learned a long time ago that my suggestions usually fall on deaf ears.  What do I know anyway.  Well Jim, you remember Jim, the guy that adjusted Cathie's pack?  When he picked it up, he immediately made a comment or two how heavy it was and stuff needed to be removed to lighten the load.

Well, that got Cathie to thinking that perhaps she didn't need all the makeup for a hike across Spain.  So yesterday when we arrived at our stop for the night, we gathered up some of the needless stuff, put in a box and mailed it to Santiago, where we can retrieve it when we arrive there.  Cathie still refuses to give up her pillow from home.  Yes, she had managed to stuff a full sized pillow into her pack.

We are both basically doing fine physically, although Cathie is discovering new places on her body that hurt.  Normal aches and pains one gets from walking 13 miles a day.  Just so you know, according to my iPhone, that's 33,500 steps.

We are enjoying ourselves, the scenery is spectacular and the weather has be cool.  That makes for good walking.  Tomorrow the tempatures are expected to rise so it will be time to put away the fleece and long sleeved shirts.  Having walked for one week now we are beginning to recognize other pilgrims and remember their names.  This evening we sat at a sidewalk cafe in the main town square and chatted with others that we have become aquainted with.

I will end now and try to get this posted before I fall asleep.