Oakwood Lakes State Park 2014

State park camping spots tend to fill up quickly, so we thought we’d end up camping in our backyard this weekend until one spot happened to pop up on the Oakwood Lakes SD State Park reservation site. Oakwood Lakes SD State Park is located near Bruce, SD and is a beautiful facility with clean rest room, friendly staff, hiking trails, boating and fishing. We snatched it up quicker than Usain Bolt sprints down the track.

Here’s the view…

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No camping trip is complete without the traditional marshmallow roast.
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Enjoyed the “Praise in the Park” service provided by the Preston Christian Church on Sunday morning. Preston Christian Church is located three miles from the campground and provides the worship service at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday morning at Oakwood Lakes State Park from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
2014Oakwood-1060719dmvhpcrCampers were all invited to their church at noon for a meal (fundraiser?).  We all know church dinners are always delicious (FYI ~We are farmers so dinner is eaten at noon.) and after stopping in nearby Bruce, SD at noon on a Sunday, I realize that offering a church dinner was a smart move since everything in town was locked up tight.  They may have quite a resource to tap since they have hungry, tired campers close by that would just as soon grab a meal on the way out on Sunday noon versus preparing, cooking and cleaning up after another meal.  After all, Sunday is a day of rest, right?  Well, maybe not for the Preston Christian Church…

2014Oakwood-1060723dmvcrEveryone wants a back pew, even at an outdoor worship service.

Update!  I was contacted by Pastor Smith of the Preston Christian Church and the Sunday noon meal during the summer is just a meet and greet get-together – NOT a fundraising event.

Swoosh… the sweetest sound.

End of February brings March Madness as high school basketball tournament games ultimately determine the state champion.  It truly screams, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”  Every team loses, at some point, except for one.

A loss ceases the opportunity for advancement and thus ends the season for some and an era for others.  Juniors on down have next year to look forward to and work towards.

Seniors, on the other hand… well, this is the end of the road for most of you.  I have a tender spot in my heart for those hard working seniors that would love  these moments in life to just keep on going.  It’s tough to be done…

As a spectator, the excitement of a close game is nerve wracking, at best, but always adds a deeper layer of empathy, encouragement and community pride.  You love ’em when they’re up and you love ’em when they’re down.  This is the beauty of a small town high school…

Click on collages for a larger viewing window

Album template

Album templateCanon 5D Mark 2 ~ 70-200 L lens ~ Collage in Photoshop/Albums DS

“On the go” germ warfare

Small one ounce spay disinfectant works great when traveling.  I’ve used it to disinfect shoes after hiking through muddy cow path trails, accidental steps in dog doo-doo and general traveling who knows where.
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Questionable restroom facilities? Quick spray and all is well again in your world.
Just a little handy tip for the traveler.

Takin’ Care of Business

Segovia, Spain…a day in the life.

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Spain-1050288dmvcrWash day break to catch up on the news.

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Spain-1040993dmvpopLast drag on the cig before 10th grade math class…

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Spain-1050279dmvEven this little bird has found its own little spot in this world ~ a special perch on the aqueduct.  I guess we all have a special place and purpose and that makes the world go around.

If a look could last a lifetime…

May you never forget what is worth remembering, nor ever remember what is best forgotten. ~Irish blessing

Spain-1040729Fancier than my ceiling.

Spain-1040675dmvAny closer to the communion ware and I will probably be reprimanded by a nun.

Spain-1040733Yes, I am a spy. I peer through the gap behind the ornate altar to survey the crowd at the next Mass.

Spain-1040730dmvSt. James may feel that this is his better side so I’d better post this, too.

Spain-1040678dmvClose up of the rope equipment that stayed idle during this Mass.

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The ever present seashell. Enough time in here.  Let’s go outside.

Spain-1040630Street artists are working for tips in the cathedral plaza.

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So much detail to observe.

Spain-1040620As a place of pilgrimage. People that through 2 centuries. It became a symbol of the brotherhood of vertebador (walkers?). Something about awareness in Europe.  Joan may have to help out with this one.

Spain-1040771These boots are made for walkin’. All together these pairs of boots have walked at least a thousand plus miles.  Probably over two thousand miles if you consider training miles.

Spain-1040768Last chance for a photo opp in front of the church before we head for the train station.  Ready or not, Segovia, Spain, here we come!

Myth, Mist and Melancholy

It is often said the Camino de Santiago does not end at Santiago de Compostela, but at Cape Finisterre on the Atlantic coast. We are not true pilgrims today as we cheat and hop on the Monbus to go to “the end of the world.”  

Spain-1040561Finisterre (Fisterra in Galician) was both the end of the known world until Columbus altered things, and the final destination of many of the pilgrims who made the journey to Santiago in past centuries. There are various explanations as to how this continuation came about (one such is that it was based on a pre-Christian route to the pagan temple of Ara Solis in Finisterre, erected to honor the sun) but is it also known that a pilgrim infrastructure existed, with “hospitals” in Cée, Corcubión, Finisterre itself and elsewhere. Pilgrims in past centuries also continued northwards up the coast to the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Barca in Muxía, 29km north of the “end of the world” itself.  ~   http://www.csj.org.uk/route-finisterre.htm
Spain-1040384Our attentive bus driver pays close attention to the road as we cruised through towns and countryside, picking up passengers along the way. 24 Euro a piece for a round trip ticket from Santiago. The time each way varies depending on the number of people getting on at the stops along the way.  Our trip took about 2  hours each way. It would have taken 3 long days of walking, so that doesn’t seem to be such a long ride, after all.

Spain-1040403Dreary, rainy day the whole way to Finesterre.

Spain-1040410Our energetic friend, Jane, is taking in the scenery along the way.

The two South Korean gals are also on this bus and have reservations to stay in the hotel at the end of the world. That sound kind of interesting, doesn’t it!  They have walked ALL the way from France, which includes hiking the Pyrenees and O’cebreiro, so I’d say they deserve it.

Spain-1040462The welcoming committee is ready greet us at the bus stop.  Hey, guys!  We’re here!

Spain-1040458It is the kind of cold rain that chills a person to the bone, so we find a handy coffee shop to warm our insides before tackling our excursion for the day.

Spain-1040472Finisterre’s main industry is fishing along with tourism, but seem to keep it real rather than over-dressing the town for the tourists.

Spain-1040465Monument dedicated to Galician emigrants who, being dispersed through all world around, took part in creation of better world. This monument is not far from the Finisterre Bus Station.

Spain-1040470This anchor was spared from an old ship sent to the metal scrap and now is part of a monument near the fish market dedicated to the local sailors.

Spain-1040572Fishing nets are resting for the day.

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Closer inspection finds donuts in the nets.  Huh…I’m assuming the donuts are bait and they aren’t catching donut fish.

Spain-1040491Only one bastion of fort San Carlos survived till nowadays. It was built in XVI century to defend the city and harbor of Finisterra from pirates.

Spain-1040507There is maritime museum in inside the fort now, but it is closed today.

Spain-1040523Fisterra is on the rocky Costa da Morte which in Galician means “Coast of Death,” named because of the large number of shipwrecks along these shores.

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Pilgrims still leave rocks.

Spain-1040565Time to head back so we can catch our bus back to Santiago.

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We are here.  Due to the cold, sometimes heavy rain, we do not walk to the far tip to the lighthouse.

There is also another possible final destination, and this is Muxia. You can walk from Finisterre to Muxia along the “Costa da Morte” or walk straight from Santiago to Muxia.

According to the legend, Muxia is the location where the boat carrying the body of the apostle St. James arrived. One legend even has it being a stone boat. Don’t think I’ll sign up for a ride in a stone boat.  Doesn’t sound very seaworthy.

Spain-1040467We are cold, wet, as well as hungry and it is time to catch the bus back to Santiago.

Finisterre is known for its fresh seafood, but to Randy’s dismay we are short of time to sit down and eat a delicious meal and it is too early. We are starving since we haven’t eaten much and our time in Finisterre has been spent taking photos in the rain while trying NOT to ruin the camera. Wonder where our off the beaten path, menu de la dia will be tonight?  Pulpo? (octopus) We’ll find out in Santiago.

Camino Day 9 ~ Living in the present

One day at a time…Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering. ~Unknown Spain-1040094dmvWe are now out of the town of Arco do Pino as tall, weathered trees line our path through the Spanish forest. Spain-1040100dmvThe moss and vines give the woods an eerie appearance. Spain-1040165dmvWe find the orthopedic surgeon and fiancé along our way and discuss history. He could be the next Rick Steves type tour guide. The path seems to be cut down into the ground with a wall of rock alongside us. Spain-1040111dmvcrA gentle haze settles in the bottoms. Spain-1040112dmvcrThe path lends itself to variety today as we hike though thick woods, open valleys with gentle slopes, easing our way toward the end. Spain-1040121popdmvcreI could speculate that the red, white and blue circle on the photo is an orb of some paranormal being, but I know it’s only lens flare from the sun trying to pierce through the clouds. Spain-1040123dmvpop Quiet walking today as we culminate our journey with reflective thoughts. Spain-1040131crI really should start raising my own chickens, but I’m not crazy about the butchering part of the process. Spain-1040133dmvFunctional or decorative? Spain-1040141dmv Here come the Spanish girls! We take one of  their “last day” group photos for them and we all go on our merry way. Spain-1040158dmvCamino on a bike?  Nope, not for me. Spain-1040177dmv Getting closer…anticipation.  Slow down!  I don’t want this day to end, quite yet!

Camino Day 8 ~ Travel to the beat of a different drum

The 2-way radio comes alive: 

BLIP…Hurry up and get here.  We are having SO much fun!!  Ireland is here, the Dr. and his fiance are here, Switzerland is here, Spain is here, drummers are here…  (Apparently, everyone but us are there)

We hear the clicks of our walking sticks pick up the pace as we try and catch up to the fun.

We arrived too late for the fun, but did catch some drumming on video.  We see evidence on the bar from the previous crowd:

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Ireland and Switzerland are still lingering on the steps of the bar enjoying the first consistent rays of sunshine that we have seen in days.  Oh, well.  Guess Randy and I aren’t having the MOST fun on the trail today.  We missed most of the festivities at the bar, including unique stamping techniques, but it is still a wonderful day to be alive!  Can’t complain.

Back on the road again.

Spain-1040024dmvThe sheep munch on the tender, sweet blades of new spring grass.

Spain-1040025dmvSome lucky critters will get a treat today!

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Yep, tail’s still there.

Spain-1040028dmvAlone and together at the same time… That kind of sums up the Camino for most of us, I think. Plenty of time for private reflection, but still try to watch out for one another.

Spain-1040037dmvTwenty kilometers to go to fulfill our goal!

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What does this say?

Although everyone, Nolle-guamos (tall branching leaves of trees used to shade coffee plants), bodies in souls become oars all.

Is it something to do with the fluid movements of our walking sticks as we flow down the Camino path of life?

May need to phone a friend and use a lifeline on this one.

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Clothesline in the old lean-to. Why not?

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This garden is way ahead of mine.

Spain-1040047kpsh50We see quite a few gardens with these tall plants.  Collard greens?

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Tall, tall trees remind me of what I envision of the California Redwoods.  I’m guessing these trees would appear dwarfed next to the Redwoods.

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It helps to look at things from a different angle, from time to time.

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Another one bites the dust… Memorial to an Irish pilgrim. By the grace of God…

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E.T., phone home?  Not sure what this is, but it may have something to do with the tub at the bottom.

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Busy traffic as we near our albergue for the night.

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This pilgrim from Chicago has decorated his backpack with the traditional shell, practical umbrella and the common yellow flowers we see along

the way.

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We find a nice albergue in Arco do Pino.  Large room full of bunk beds, nice hot showers and food/bar across the street.

A-h-h-h-h… a little bit of heaven here on earth.

Only one more day of walking… after laundry and sleep.

Camino Day 8 ~ Meet South Korea, poultry and more.

It’s the afternoon of Camino day eight and we continue down the path.

Spain-1030952dmvOur new friends this afternoon are from South Korea. (From now on referred to as Korea) One is a software engineer for Samsung (My tablet is a Samsung) and the other works at the Seoul airport. They requested a photo with us so we reciprocated.  They started the Camino at the border of France and have been walking for 37 days.  I don’t know how they did the Pyrenees during the winter let alone O Cebreiro.  Tough cookies!

Spain-1030964dmvGrapevines are found on many of the fences. Homemade wine, perhaps?

Spain-1030968dmvSmall, elevated buildings appear in this region. A horreo holds grain and some are quite elaborate with crosses on the top.

Spain-1030973dmvFamiliar scene for those of us from the farm.

Spain-1030977dmvSomehow this character trying to entice me into the bar creeps me out.  Looks like something out of a horror movie!

Spain-1030980dmvYep, still creepy.

Spain-1030983dmvAre you sure this is the way?

Spain-1030988dmvLeft or right?  Hmmm…

Spain-1030989dmvA quick shower of rain, but the temps aren’t too bad. The path winds through old, old buildings in a small hamlet.

Spain-1030993dmvI’m surprised to find so many trees and flowers blooming this early in the spring.

Spain-1030996dmvI tried to find information on Outeiro, Spain but all the pilgrims must be too tired, at this point, to care.

Spain-1030999dmvIt may not be raining right now, but creeks are still running at full speed.

Spain-1040004dmvcrPretty poultry brighten our Camino experience.

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My grandma would say that the Bontons live here. Must be an affluent resident to have a palm tree growing in the yard, landscaping, security fencing and a nicer house than the neighbors.

Randy and I are lagging behind the rest of the group, as usual.  Randy checks in with the 2-way radio.

Randy to Hot Cross Buns… bleep!  Nothing

Again he tries to make contact:

Randy to Hot Cross Buns…bleep! 

Contact is made:  Garble, mumble, rumble, waa-waa-waa…boom,boom-boom, boom… RANDY!!!!

Randy looks at me with a puzzled look,  It sounds like a bar…

Camino Day 5 …and the beat goes on…

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.  ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Spain-1030694dmvThe challenging path continues to be flooded in areas and muddy at best.  I think all of us are beginning to wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into and what may lie ahead.  Water-soaked boots are heavy weights and pull on our tired, sore leg muscles as we schlepp along.

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We are now in Galicia and the scenery has blossomed into the emerald green of spring as we weave through woods and dale.  We crossed into Galicia on day four before crossing the snowy mountain and the village of  O  Cebreiro sits near the top.  I must have missed the sign.  (Better go back and hike that mountain so I can see the Galician border sign.)   I’ve read that in the Galician language,  O replaces El.  Our final destination, Santiago de Compostella, is the capitol of Galicia.

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Two languages are official and widely used today in Galicia; the native Galician, a Romance language closely related to Portuguese with which it shares the common Galician-Portugal medieval literature, and the Spanish language, usually known locally as Castilian. 56.4% of the Galician population always speaks in Galician or speaks more in Galician than in Castilian, while 42.5% speaks always in Castilian or more in Castilian than in Galician. ~ Wikipedia

Spain-1030704dmvOur path continues through a muddy, hilly wooded area and we come across a colorful, although tacky, looking memorial made of cast-off clothing, snack garbage, socks, hats…  It appears as though it is the  pilgrim dump.  I am not impressed with this area since it contrasts so starkly with the quiet, remote woods,  farmlands and small villages.  The site does kind of remind me of Jamaica with its bright colors.  Randy would like to take home that nice jacket on the lower right, but it’s not his size.

Spain-1030705dmvI have no idea what the pine cones are all about.  Any ideas?

Spain-1030707dmvcrRomanesque stone walls border our path as we cross through pasture areas, working our way down to the city of Portomarin.  The slimy mud pulls on our boots and the path is also mixed with  sweet smelling cow manure ~ Watch your step!   The farmer is getting the herd adjusted to their new pasture grounds using a stick and his dog.

Spain-1030712dmvRomanesque walls border the path and pasture and makes for an interesting cattle fence.

Portomarin bridgeThis long bridge over the rushing waters of the Mino River is the only thing between us and our destination for the day, Portomarin, Spain.  I hang tightly onto my walking poles as the strong gusts of wind push, tug and pull on me as if playing the old playground game, King of the Hill.    ~ Photo from Google images.

Portomarin is tucked in amongst the hills of Monte do Cristo and the river intersects the village.  During medieval times people lived on the right bank of the river, in an enclave (territory surrounded by another territory) by the Camino de Santiago.

The Portomarin we see today dates mostly from the middle of the 20th century with much of the old town now below the waters of the Miño.  In the 1950’s Franco decided he wanted to build a hydro-electric dam 40 kilometres down river and in doing so would flood the town of Portomarín.  The townspeople wanted to save some of their most important monuments and transported these stone by stone up to their new home, high above the river, which you see in the photo above.   Now, that would require some heavy lifting!  Parts of the old town resurface in the fall when the water level gets low.

As we first come across the new bridge, we pull our tired bodies up some steps to an arch where we see the Iglesia de Santa Maria de las Nieves, built on the site of a former pilgrim hospital.  The staircase is actually the sole remaining part of the original 2nd century Roman bridge, which was destroyed by Doña Urraca.   I would have taken a photo but it was raining.  Go figure…

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Wet, tired, stiff, sore, hungry… A-h-h-h-h…. home, sweet, home.