The Wonder of the Camino!

The last two days have been great examples of the wonderful Camino.  The walk from Villafranca del Bierzo to O’Cebriero was long and especially difficult at the end.  The first 13 miles were just a slight uphill grade but then the last 6 miles included a 2,100 climb to the little village.  The views were awesome along the way and I took lots of opportunities to catch my breath and look around.


The village of O’Cebriero only has about fifty residents but it is teaming with activity.  It’s a favorite tourist stop and overnight stay for Pilgrims.
The next day, today, was a bit simpler walk of just about 14 miles.  Mostly down hill which is easy on the breathing but really hard on the legs.  The path was through lots of wooded areas and pastures.  Really a pretty walk.
But, I did get my first blister in over 700 miles of Camino walking!  Not too bad fortunately – nothing that a little bandaging won’t fix.  A short walk tomorrow and then a rest day.
To the positive, the weather has been spectacular as you can see from the pictures.  Temps always start out in the 50s and end in the 70s with bright sunshine and light winds.  Just  perfect for enjoying a walk across Spain.
A group of fellow pilgrims are planning to walk into Santiago together next Friday.  That should be a wonderful time with lots of emotions.  If you are a fellow pilgrim reading this, the plan is to meet at Monte do Gozo at 9:30 AM Friday.  Hope to see many fellow pilgrims!

Bien Camino!

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Villages of Spain

Today was a delightful, almost leisurely (I said almost!) walk through Spanish villages — a total of six between Ponferrada and Villafranca del Bierzo.  The villages really cater to pilgrims — lots of services like pharmacies, which seem to be the only places to buy tissues, supermarkets (most UDFs or Speedways are bigger) to get a banana, and bars for fresh water or coffee.
Much of the walk today was in the Bierzo region which is kind of famous for their wine.  Several wineries were open for tastings. I didn’t stop but did enjoy walking among the vineyards.
Not much conversation as I walked but did exchange “Hola” and “Buen Camino” with many fellow pilgrims.   Never alone among friends even if we’ve not really met.
The weather was just perfect with sunny sky’s and temperatures in the 60s and 70s.  Way to go if you’ve been praying for good weather for my Camino.  You have connections!
I remembered a quote from the book A Million Steps:  “There is absolutely no guarantee that tomorrow will exist, and it if does, our physical condition may limit our enjoyment. There is no way to be happy yesterday or tomorrow. The only time to be happy is now. The only time to be or feel anything is now.”  Oh so true!
Buen Camino
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A Camino Highlight

Today was another long day through the roughest turrain I’ve encounted so far.  The path went up and down via lots of ravines of loose rocks.  A little tendinitis was the result but some ibuprofin did the trick.  The weather has been outstanding — early morning temperatures in the 50s and highs in the afternoon about 75.  Sunny all day!
I did reach the highest altitude of the Camino, over 5,000 feet. But the real highlight was getting to Cruz de Ferro.  I didn’t make it by sunrise as I hoped but it was still early morning.
For all of those whose intentions I carried, rest assured that your stone and your intentions were delivered.
“Lord, may this stone, a symbol of my efforts on pilgrimage that I lay at the foot of the Cross of the Savior, one day be the balance in favor of my good deeds when the deeds of our lives are judged.
Let it be so.  Amen.”
Continue to pray for good weather and my safety.  It helps,
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Back in the Groove!

Yesterday was a very long and difficult day.  Per my Fitbit, I did over fourty six thousand steps.  That’s more than I’ve ever done in one day in my adult life.  All the pilgrims in the main town square were seriously limping, so I wasn’t alone.  There were several alternative, scenic paths and I guess I took them all!

Today was oh so much better!  Just a little over 12 miles to one of my favorite and most inspirational villages, Rabanal del Camino.  The total population is about 50 and about 10% are Benedictine monks.  I can’t wait to get to vespers at 7:00 and then the pilgrim’s blessing after dinner at 9:30.
Definitely out of the planes and back into the mountains.  This morning’s fog was pretty and it really warmed up at about 10:00 when the sun burned away the fog.
It seems that all modes of travel and transport are available if you’re creative!
Tomorrow, I hope to leave early and get to Cruz de Ferro at sunrise.  It’s only about three or four miles from here.  I will be leaving the stone that Father Dan gave me for all the Bellarmine parishoners.  I pray that their intentions are granted along with Kathy’s and mine.
Buen Camino and keep me in your prayers too.  You are in mine,
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Long day . . .Short Post

Today was over 22 miles and took 7 1/2 hours over several hills.  Enough said! I seemed to have chosen several alternative routes!  Really tired after that.

I did cross and ancient Roman bridge that was pretty cool.


Tomorrow is shorter but even more hilly.

Good night all and Buen Camino!



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A day in Leon

It’s great to have a rest day on market day!

Bien Camino!


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Arrived in Leon!

Friday’s walk was a brisk four hours and twelve miles to get me into Leon before noon.  It was a cool morning and a good time to reflect on the first nine walking days.  I did see my shadow on a building and thought that this was an “allegory of the cave” moment.  Perception is so limiting while enlightenment is so difficult.20170916_110950

It’s clear from the width of the streams and the magnitude of the bridges that the mountains are not too far ahead, the Meseta will be behind me soon.

20170915_083602The Camino has taken me through 32 towns during the 115 miles I’ve walked.  Someone has said, “Tourists pass through places, but pilgrims let places pass through them. Tourists seek comfort; pilgrims seek the cross. Tourists ask questions about sites, pilgrims let sites ask them questions. Tourists ask to walk where Jesus walked, pilgrims ask how Jesus walked.”
I have come across some other Pilgrims who drank from the non-potable fountains and they may read the first line of this quote and cringe!
Leon is a big city, about 130,000 people, and has one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain.

20170915_215629There is also the beautiful Basilica de San Isidoro.  The Sanctuary is quite spectacular.  I attended the Pilgrim’s Mass at 7:00 on Friday night and after the Mass, was invited to read the blessing in English while the priest read it in Sapnish.  Really a pretty cool experience.  Another priest took this picture and sent it to me!  You just never know what might happen on the Camino.

Today, Saturday is a rest day.  I’ll be a “tourigrino” and not walk too much.  I hope and pray that everyone is safe and well is enjoying the weekend.  And to my fellow Bellarmine Vincentians, stay safe as you do God’s work.  I’m thinking of you today.

Buen Camino!


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Another day and the Camino delivers again.  I don’t know if you are into reading the Catholic readings for today but this one was from the book of Numbers 21:4b-9, my brother’s favorite!  It seemed to fit today’s walk.  I’m not really whining like the Jews in Egypt though.  The weather was perfect again.  I got in about 12 miles in just 4 hours.  Tomorrow I head to Leon where I will enjoy my first rest day since I started walking on September 7th.

I did manage to leave a little early and get to Mansilla de las Mulas by about noon.  I went to the hotel in stayed in two years ago and saw Javier again.  How nice!  He offered me vino tinto just like two years ago.  Like seeing an old friend.
Today included some quiet time and some time for lively and deep conversations.  It seems as if after seeing the same person a few days in a row, the usual question “So what brings you to the Camino?” gets more to the heart of the answer.  Listening, talking, and even silence can be rather cathartic.  The fields can be so furtile if we just tend to them a little.


The next picture looks as if someone said “We need trees here!” or God was being especially structured that day!

Thanks for all your prayers and support.

Buen Camino,


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Simple . . .

Today may be the simplist stretch of the Camino.  An uneventful walk of about 12 miles from Sahagun to a very small hamlet of about 250 residents called El Burgo Ranero.  The main buildings are built of mud and straw — life is simple here!  This was my seventh day of walking and I’ve now covered about 100 miles.

The weather continues to be ideal — sunny skys, light winds and temperatures between the 50s and 70s.  You feel like you could walk forever on a day like today.

I had some nice conversations with my new friends from Delhi and people from more distant parts of the world☺  But most of the day gave me time to just listen to the sounds of the Camino and the thoughts that walked into my mind.

There is a quote from the book A Million Steps that I like and think really captures one of the important leasons of the Camino.  “The key, I decided, was to stop worrying about the many things in life that are beyond anyone’s control. When useless worry is removed from the brain, it opens up lots of space for actual living. In my life, worry takes two distinct forms. The first is a closet full of regrets about the past and the second is an ocean of concern for the future. When I waste thought in either zone, it robs precious time from the present moment where things are usually pretty damn fine.”  Walking for the last week, especially two days with Dan, really drove home this message for me.

I did get a nice picture of a couple leaving Sahagun this morning.  This looks like a great way to start the day.


For my fellow parishioners at Bellarmine, I invite you to place a stone at the base of the Cruz de Ferro in the narthix this Sunday.  I will be carrying your intentions with me.  Please stay safe and enjoy the day.

Buen Camino,


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A Blessed Time!

Today my son Dan and I walked together for about 15 miles.  15 miles may not be enough to connect completely with your son but it’s a damn good way to make sure that the bonds are strengthened.  We are so blessed to have shared the steps, the kilometers, the miles, the fields, the way together.   When we arrived in Sahagun, I met with Dan after our day of walking at his hotel and the lady at the desk directed me to him with the words “Your son is hear.  You have a fine son!”  She could not have said it any better.  I heard it several times today.  I have a fine son!  Kathy and I are so blessed to have three beautiful children and I was blessed even more to get to spend the last few days with one of them.

The Camino continues to provide opportunities for companionship and conversations.  Pilgrims usually find their way to the “Plaza Mayor” to connect with new old firends.  Tonight was no different.  We saw Susan from Utah, David from Canada, Mie from the Netherlands, Peggy (I forgot where she’s from) and met Alex and Nick from Colorado.  Dan and I talked with them about the colors of the buildings, the newest aches we each felt, to unloading the baggage we carry.  Oh, I showed the bar tender how to make a Manahattan so life was about as good as anyone has a right to expect.

And we did pass the Spanish Camino half way point between Roncesvalles and Santiago.  All those who started in St. Jean on the French side of Roncesvalles picked up their half way certificate.  That deserved a cheer and high-five.  This picture shows Dan and me celebrating our passage through the official half way marker.  You can see that the weather was just perfect for a most glorious day on the Camino.


Thanks for all your prayers and support and please know that while my attentions were on my time with Dan, my prayers were always for your intentions.  May God bless!

Buen Camino!


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