Things you learn when you travel

More Observations Posted

trekker2013's Blog

Seat bottoms are very hard in an Airbus !

Jet Lag lasts more than a day !

Brews are very tasty. Spend 2 Euros for a tall brew and you get 5 Euros worth of Tapas for free. How does that work?

A Quarter Pounder with cheese is called a McRoyale. Ha.

Buy a soda and it comes with a glass ! NO STYROFOAM CUPS.

If you get a glass with one ice cube, it is like a lotto win.

The United States is the trashiest place you will ever find.

Truth in advertising?  Saw a billboard in front of a cafe, Great pictures of the table fare. A great looking “Sub” type sandwich was pictured, loaded with meats, cheese, tomato and lettuce.
Couldn’t communicate what I wanted so I took the proprietor outside and polnted. Oh, Si Si Senor. Soon I had a 4 ” sandwich. A hard roll…

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Where I have been

Late July, I was really bearing down on my preparations to leave for Spain and the Camino de Santiago. So excited to get going. Then a phone call from my long-time friend Jim. He told me his brother Paul has Cancer. The three of us were friends for more years than most of you have lived. Paul and I first met before I was in 1st grade. Many tough nights pondering what to do.

Three Friends 2013 600X800

I decided to go to Spain. My thoughts were consumed with my friend. I carried a stone on my Pilgrimage for Paul that came from Lake Ontario about 3 miles from his home. I left the stone for him at the Cruz de Ferro. I am not ashamed to tell you I had a serious melt-down at that point.

Shortly after my return from Spain, I was back in the Air to New York State. I found my friend to be very weak and frail, not the Gun-ho, Semper-fi Marine that I knew. So hard to hold it together for him. I was told he had stage 4 Cancer in both Lungs and one kidney. Just didn’t seem fair for a Non-drinker/smoker. He was in no pain ,very upbeat and optimistic. Denial, I am sure. On my last visit , He asked if I would return in the Spring to go Salmon fishing with him. That was Monday 11/11/2013. The next morning, found me jetting back to Texas. That evening, he had difficulty breathing and passed away at the hospital. 73+ years. God’s Peace my friend.

Tomorrow is the day…………

No Pain Large

Tomorrow morning, The journey begins…………Well, sort of…..

 My Camino friend from Florida , Dr Bill, gave me some advice to just let thy will be done……… Been thinking a lot about that piece of advice. it’s as good as it gets.  So my Camino starts tomorrow, but thinking about it, My Camino actually started months ago.  Tomorrow is the beginning of the end of the Camino….

I am still struggling with the fact that the actual Pilgrimage has been shortened.  Just may have to go back next year if my body holds up. I am about as fit as I can get. My last training walk was this morning and I aced it.

Thanks for all the Prayers and Wishes. I will be carrying all with me……………


What Did I Forget??????????


Two days !!! Losing sleep !! I know I have forgotten something ! What is it ? Is it Critical ?

The Bus leaves for The Camino de Santiago on Tuesday 9/17/2013. I will be on that Bus. The Pilgrimage starts on the morning of the 19th. Oh my ! Feet don’t fail me now !

Two Weeks tp Go !

What I will look like in Late October.

What I will look like in Late October.

14 Days ! Can it be? Sounds like a long time but I think I have three weeks worth of things to be done……………..

Over the weekend, Doctor Bill, my Camino friend from Florida, sent me a list of tips. Having “Been there, Done that”. I was struck by the simplicity and logic he advises. So much so, I decided to repost his comment that can also be seen my last Blog Post (23 Days/23pounds). See Comment below

dogtorbill on September 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm said: Edit

I am so excited for you. Beginning to wish (shocking!) I could do it again. I will be doing it again vicariously, rest assured. Just a couple of suggestions. I would trade the sleeping bag pad in for a insecticidal liner. (I’m more than glad to lend you mine. This time of year the bedbugs may be rampant, and they will def help. Also some nights way too hot for bag, so sleep on top of bag, with liner a brilliant idea. I did this often when hostel room was too warm from heaters. I considered the pad, but was one of the first things I booted when shaving off 10#. Absolutely do not need it, unless camping. Also, with your back issue, the foot gear is so very critical. If you don’t wanna spring for fitted orthotics, strongly suggest super soles. That’s what we both used. Also at least knee bands, if not full braces. I’ll lend you my braces, or sell you the bands (still in package) I got for Sharon. Two short sleeve T-shirts and one long (maybe also the one button up) are enough, as are four socks and boxers. Make sure boxers and T-s are under armor or similar synthetic (NOT COTTON)! One towel only. No shorts? Good call on losing the pillow. Lose the PJs. Your fleece should be plenty this time of year, I slept in next day’s boxers and T-Shirt. One less thing in a.m. Finally, get good (really good) quality baggies to keep organized, waterproof, and compress. Socks, boxers, T’s in one; pants & shorts in one; raingear in one; fleece, extra shirt in one; etc. Anyway, fold garment to take up no more than 1/2 of baggie, stack them flat inside, zip baggie 1/2 way, then roll very tightly, compressing out all of air & then complete zipping before releasing roll. PRESTO! Can’t stress enough that back will not stay dry, regardless of cover, and all clothes will get wet! Remember bar of soap (ivory?) for yourself (I used in hair also), as well as clothes in hostel sinks, and clothesline length and clothespins. More to follow… Hope these

Time to Soundoff !

September 2,2013 I leave to trek the Camino de Santiago in Spain. It actually begins in St Jean Pied de Port , France. Well, for me it Starts at Corpus Christi Texas, USA. Preparations began some time ago and there the troubling scenarios began.

The first thing was the company I retired from informed me that I could no-longer receive fully paid medical benefits as I had been promised for taking early retirement. Recent legislation (Obamacare) makes that unfair. Thank God I am on Medicare. Supplemental insurance is expensive, especially when you plan to travel out of country.

I am thinking before I go further with this, you need to know that I am a registered Democrat and that in 2008 I voted for the sitting president. I thought he was the best choice. He sure was a great talker. I just couldn’t see the puppet strings.

Puppet Master

Puppet Master

Okay move on. Part of my Pilgrimage preparations was a thorough physical. A tiny spot on my neck turned out to be cancer (Basal Cell Carcinoma) . Five spots actually. Treatment starts and then I am informed that my Dermatologist  now accepts CASH or Credit cards only. Sorry, no longer accepting insurance. I said I would have to change Doctors and she said, “Good Luck”.  Hmmm, Found only one doctor that would take insurance, but they said, “Sorry, not accepting any new patients”. Fun !

The next problem, Blood tests are in. Everything is great except for my PSA was elevated. My GP says my Prostate is enlarged. Off to a Urologist. No fun there. “We need to do a Biopsy” . Oh boy, So there I am lying in this contraption that I need not describe when my Doctor says, “It’s a good thing you are having this done now”. I thought I was about to hear the early detection spiel. He says that effective 1/1/2014, he will have to submit paper work to a board to approve or disapprove a biopsy for me. So? He tells me that he sees ~50 patients a day. 80% will need some sort of procedure. Paperwork submitted for each patient.. Hire more help? He said there are 100+ doctors in his complex all submitting requests. He says, the “board” will be overwhelmed the first week. How long will it take fo get approvals? He thinks it will be a “Rubber stamp” decision.

So my biopsys come back negative , all 6.  Diagnosis, BPH. The treatment? Meds the rest of my life or a procedure called Prostiva RF that reduces the Prostate size. Doc says it is a certainty that this treatment will be difficult or impossible to be approved.  I have completed the treatment and it was quite painless, so no meds needed.

I asked what he thought about the Obamacare package? he said there are 15,000 pages of legislation that apply. He said, (as close as I can remember) “Who do you think wrote this stuff? I would like to know myself. It surely was not our President” Then he told me he is considering closing his shop. Nice.

Last night I am  watching the president proclaim his new thing, the war on coal burning. Maybe a good idea if the other 99% of the countries in the world would participate. Not going to happen. We are the laughing stock of the world. Think I am kidding? In prep for travel, I have started watching Euro-News. A whole new perspective about our country. and I can’t find where to argue with them. So the prez continues “The Special interest groups will tell you this is a bad thing”. This is much different from the “Special Interests” that think medical reform is a GOOD thing.

I remember the promises made in 2008 that were so exciting , even to me. Thanks to places like YOUTUBE, Denials are impossible.

Remember the National debt promises? Trillions and Trillions of Dollars in debt. My poor grandkids are going to see a depression that will make the “Great Depession’ pale by comparisson. Instead of our leaders saying , Holy %$^ we have to stop the spending! We hear the #1 priority is to stop burning coal…………….Go figure…

Well, I am certain I have lost some of my followers, but that’s how I feel. Go ahead blast away…………..It’s a free country,,,, well, sort of……….

That reminds me, my cousin that lives in Michigan , Is such a believer in the Democratic party, that everything from them is the truth anything else is blasphemy. Lord help you if you should dare listen to the FOX news channel. It is so bad, he even said someone should shoot George W, Bush. I guess Homeland security wasn’t reading my mail then.  Well that was okay,  the first Ammendment protects him. However, the first time I questioned my voting skills, This when Nancy Pelosi said we would learn what was in the law AFTER it became law. I told him Obama, Pelosi and Reid were “3 Blind Mice”. he informed me that I am a RACIST ! No 1st ammendment rights for me…

Oh well, freedom of the Press !!!!!! I feel better. With luck and Faith, after my Pilgrimage , I will be more tolerant of dumb things in our world and just turn the other cheek. Then again, by definition, that is the Silent Majority !! So Speak up, give it to me.

God’s Blessings and

Buen Camino

Fathers Day 2013

Dr. William Klein

Dr. William Klein

I just knew that my ‘Brother’ Dr. Bill would post today. Sure enough. There is no doubt , he is one of the all time best Fathers. I have followed him throughout his Camino with his son Cullen. Being an emotional person like Dr. Bill, I think I shared many of his tears. Only Faith in the Blessed assurance has seen him through. God’s Blessings to you and your family……….

It is time now for me to say goodbye to the “Reposts” from Dr. Bill.  I can only hope he has touched as many of my friends the way he has moved me with his love and courage. A small part of Cullen will help guide me through my Camino that begins in 78 days………

Enjoy his post at the link below.

The Cathedral at Santiago Spain


And so it comes to pass that Bill and Sharon enter the Cathedral at Santiago Spain on the 17th of May. All through the  Pilgrimage, I wondered why Doctor Bill punished himself by making daily treks way beyond What should be considered rational. It’s the Date! They had to be there on that DAY ! Buen Camino and Bravo!

One exception I take with the movie ‘The Way’,  Religion has everything to do with it, EVERYTHING !

Please read & enjoy the link below……………

A Very Heavy Heart


My reposts from Dr Bill Klein have had  a profound affect on me. It started out that we had common interests ie: The Camino de Santiago. I so much wanted to follow his progress along the ‘Way’. In 88 days my journey begins. I have fallen behind on my postings because this past weekend, I did some research on Bill’s journey. Early on I sensed there was more going on than a ‘long walk’.

The courage of this family is a testament to Christians everywhere. It is all about Faith and the Blessed Assurance……… Their story follows the Movie in a way that is FAR to close.  I am not sure I could carry their burdens………… God Bless you my friends.

More on Camino with Cullen


My last post , I forgot one important item. There is a Fund set up for Bill’s son Cullen at FSU. Please donate in his memory at the Link below. Cmon, FSU is only the enemy when it comes to Football. 😀 I have ordered my Bracelet, will you?

Sometime last night, I had a brain-far* . Sometimes very dangerous for me! Anyhow, I have decided to wear my bracelet until I reach Cruz de Ferro. (God Willing) I will leave it there along with all the other burdens I will be carrying. Trust me, if I leave all my burdens behind at Cruz de Ferro, I will float to Santiago. Then again , I may be struck dead when I reach the Iron Cross. Deservedly so, but I am ready now for what ever is waiting for me. That’s a good thing !

And so we continue with Dogtor bill as he meets up with his pretty wife Sharon……..XOXOXO

Sarria – 23rd day, 10 May 2013
by dogtorbill

When I left the Rural Casa (kind of a country “bed and breakfast,” not really an albergue) in Biduedo called San Xato, it was cold and raining. I sloshed through the often ankle-deep mud on the Camino trail that paralleled the asphalt highway, and the brilliant idea occurred to me that it wouldn’t really be cheating if I just slipped over and walked on the shoulder of the road. Yes it was hard on my feet, but I was still walking to my goal, and I decided that I didn’t really HAVE to punish myself on the rocky muddy choice, just because it was there. Even though my body had been destroyed over the past 3 weeks, my brain still seemed to function, and the logical choice was obvious. Besides, even if the scenery was typically “better” on the trails, it wasn’t going to be today, I reasoned, and I had yesterday seen the most magnificent views in my life. I arrived in Sarria about 2 hours sooner than the two Polish guys (Sebastian and Robert) that I had met about a week earlier, and walked with earlier today.

Reading the guidebook while hiking poses specific challenges, much like texting while walking (reference youtube: running into poles, trees and fountains), but I was attempting to find an albergue (read as cheap) that also had a private room or two (many do) that I can switch over to for tomorrow night after I get Sharon, who’s going to be jet lagged and want a good night’s sleep the first night. I decided on San Lazaro, very close to the bus stop for when we get back, and very close to where we’ll commence the last leg of Camino.

I was astonished to see that I had made it to Sarria, and it was only 10 after 2! I was almost out of Euro, so I asked the tourist office where the nearest bank was that has cambio (money exchange service), and was told just two doors down, but didn’t I know (apparently I’m the only person in Spain) that the banks all close at 2:00. OH NO!!! I’m gonna be out of money after I pay for tonight and the two bus fares. He assured me that at least one bank was open Saturday morning. Whew!

In just a few minutes, I arrived at San Lazzaro Albergue, which seems clean, is nice enough, only costs 8 Euro, and has one private room, which I have been assured was available for tomorrow night (the 11th) for 36 Euro. This is much more than I had wanted to spend, especially with such low cash on hand, but apparently all four hotels in town were completely full, and I had been warned that prices would increase the closer we drew to Santiago.

I did my laundry, but then it was too late to find a vodaphone shop to find out why my SIMM card was not downloading my MapMyHike data the past two days, and why my international minutes were all gone so soon. So I went to a nearby cafe for dinner, and returned early enough for a good night sleep, which I did get.

I realize that was all kind of boring, but the next morning I discovered that the one bank “open on Saturday morning” hadn’t been for over 2 years. Think this looks bad? It gets much better. Soon I was having a “discussion” at the Vodaphone store, where I was told by the helpful associate (who speaks “poco” En-glaze) that although I had paid for 30 Euro of talk time, and that it only costs .18 per minute after 8:00pm, the one call I made home had been disconnected (card was depleted) after 12 minutes because of “taxes.” I’m really sure thats what he told me, because like I said, I’m really fluent in Spanish now, and I understand everything that people say to me. Anyway, like I said earlier, I still have a (partially) functioning brain, and I realized I wasn’t going to resolve this issue to my satisfaction, so I was just wasting my time. I thanked the kind associate for his assistance, and headed back to the albergue to move my stuff to the private room, cause I had to catch the bus in just under an hour. Although this day was not at all looking good, I managed a smile – pleased at the “new and improved” version of me that could laugh at misfortune instead of exploding.

Things continued to deteriorate. The kind senora at San Lazaro Albergue that I had made the arrangements with yesterday was gone, and her mean replacement insisted that someone named Carlos Perez had the private room reserved, and had done so several days previously, as she remembered making that reservation herself.

This day was not going well. I searched on foot to discover that not only were all hotels full, none of the other listed albergues had private rooms available.

I had to be at the bus station now in 20 minutes, so I had resigned myself to stay in Lugo, where we’d need to change buses, at a hotel (I would surely find one there). Always have a plan “B.” So I had just enough time to get Sharon two trekking poles and get to the bus station. My pace quickened dramatically as I trotted to the hiking supply store I had spotted yesterday.

As I rifled through the display of poles looking for the cheapest ones to fulfill our one time use requirement, guess who walked up behind me, laughing… DIRK! Again, I was so glad to see him, and always funny that we would run into each other time after time after time after time in such a mass of pilgrims.

As I hugged him, I saw over his shoulder there was a fifth hotel, that wasn’t listed in the guidebook (had they refused to give Brierley a referral cut?) Great to see you Dirk, I love you, man, but I gotta go, gotta pay for these poles, run over there, see if they have a room, and get to the bus station. We’ll connect in Santiago, if not sooner…

No vacancy in the hotel, but, at last I really did get a break. The manager called a “pension” (kind of a cross between a private albergue and a hotel) nearby that he seemed to know had a private room available. I could only laugh at how things seem to run down to the last second. Apparently some things just will NOT change in my life, kind of cool though that I had just laughed, knowing I would work something out.

The “pension” was just down the street, over a bar/cafe, in the direction of the bus station. When I walked into the bar, he greeted me by name, grabbed my backpack, told me he’d put it on the bed to hold the room, and I could pay tonight. Great news, Shar had changed some money at the airport in Orlando. This was actually better than good, because I actually did not have enough Euro to pay for the return bus fare for us if I paid now. Haha, anyway, my doubly quickened pace placed me in the line, boarding the bus, about four minutes prior to departure.

I laughed out loud at my good fortune as we pulled out of the bus station. And I was so excited to be picking up Shar. I couldn’t wait to share “my Camino” with her.

Sorry, I couldn’t find any pictures of Sarria, Vodaphone, Bus ride on anything relevant to todays post.

Thought I’d share my family, who have done nothing but love and support each other. They lift each other, which lifts me. And my son, who will travel this camino with me forever.

Bills family 2-crop

Bills family 3

Bill & Sharon Klein

love Character-crop

Camino with Sharon
by dogtorbill

My heart pounded as I waited in the sea of people waiting for their loved ones to, one at a time, come past airport customs, after baggage claim. Shar hadn’t checked a bag, only her backpack as carry-on, so she’d surely be one of the first through to join us. As you can imagine, she was not. So many things today had gone contrary to plan that I almost expected her flight to arrive without her. As each passenger greeted and hugged someone waiting for them, I grew a bit more anxious. I hadn’t actually been able to contact her since she told me that, like how I had began my trip three weeks earlier, her flight from Orlando to Miami had been so delayed that she was put on a different flight.

Did that flight arrive on time? Did she make her next flight from Miami to Madrid? If so, theye would be a five hour layover – had she been able to sleep on the flight, or did she unroll her sleeping bad and crash for a while during the layover… Did she sleep through the boarding, and miss this flight? Did she set an alarm on her phone? Did her phone battery die, so the alarm didn’t wake her? So many things that we just take for granted could always go wrong.

A dozen or more people had filed past, and many now had much larger bags with them that didn’t look like they could be allowed as carryons. I had resigned to the liklihood that she’d missed her flight. How would we contact? Especially if her phone was dead…

Sharon bounced through the doorway, and beamed with joy as our eyes met. I felt like I hadn’t seen her in months, or that we were still dating, I was so happy to see her.

She hadn’t been delayed at all. She actually was one of the first ones off the plane. I looked at the time; I had only been waiting six minutes. Felt like a long time.

As we rode the 3 hour bus ride back to Sarria, as you can imagine, I thought about lots of things. Many things would be different after this Camino, some would not. What would my thoughts, attitudes, and my life change after this. Will it be just remembered as a “big adventure?” Or will it be that mid-life, post-tragedy reset that everyone was hoping for…

How will I respond