Photo info: Canon 5d Mark 2 / 70-200 lens / aperture 5.6 / shutter 1/200 / Time of day – 11 a.m.
Blended with cloud images and snow added from Albums DS art
Another phase of my life goes by… taking a career break from traditional portraiture.
This has been in the planning stages for the past 4 months and I was going to wait until mid October to announce my future plans, but I guess now is as good a time as any.
It’s been 16 years of growth and transformation, starting with 35mm and medium format film, darkroom processing and now the digital age with Lightroom and Photoshop. It is time to move on, so I will be closing the traditional portrait studio as of October 15, 2013. All sessions scheduled up to that point will go on as planned and the current website will be up until May 1, 2014 to facilitate senior orders. After that, I’ll start working on a new website reflecting the art of both Randy and myself. The studio will then be transformed into Randy’s painting studio and workshop. It’s his turn now.
I still love photography and hope to continue learning and exploring new, unusual techniques and push for a more and more creative style. Maybe even try an impressionistic painting style of photography. I also plan to continue showing art work in galleries, promote the arts, and hope to find time to put together other products using images. (Greeting card line?) I may ask to borrow some of your kids if I get an idea for some prairie photography because, after all, southwest Minnesota/Eastern South Dakota is a great place to raise children and that is a theme near and dear to my heart.
I will not be twiddling my thumbs and eating bonbons by the truck load, as I move into this phase of my life. I’ll need to complete this year’s photo orders, try to be Randy’s farm hand/gopher, occasionally Granny Nanny (Grandkid #2 is expected in March 2014), clean/organize/paint inside the house and sheds (long overdue), continue involvement with community and art organizations, garden and go back to the classroom environment as a substitute teacher – look out, G-D!
Then, in my spare time, I’ll learn Spanish, how to knit/crochet, bike/hike or maybe even jog, work on songs with Randy (maybe my sister will dust off her accordion and we can hit the nursing home circuit!), read the books I haven’t had time to read and travel / hike anywhere I can, as well as visit friends and relatives. Yep, lots to do.
Don’t worry, I’ll still blog about whatever trail I’m on or something that wanders through my mind and conjure up some “thought for the day” to amuse myself and the world from time to time. Hey, I may even bring back “Photo Friday” with educational topics.
Thank you to all who have been on this journey with me… It’s been a good ride.
One day at a time…Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering. ~Unknown We are now out of the town of Arco do Pino as tall, weathered trees line our path through the Spanish forest. The moss and vines give the woods an eerie appearance. We 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. A gentle haze settles in the bottoms. The path lends itself to variety today as we hike though thick woods, open valleys with gentle slopes, easing our way toward the end. I 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. Quiet walking today as we culminate our journey with reflective thoughts. I really should start raising my own chickens, but I’m not crazy about the butchering part of the process. Functional or decorative? Here come the Spanish girls! We take one of their “last day” group photos for them and we all go on our merry way. Camino on a bike? Nope, not for me. Getting closer…anticipation. Slow down! I don’t want this day to end, quite yet!
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:
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.
Some lucky critters will get a treat today!
Yep, tail’s still there.
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.
Clothesline in the old lean-to. Why not?
This garden is way ahead of mine.
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.
It helps to look at things from a different angle, from time to time.
E.T., phone home? Not sure what this is, but it may have something to do with the tub at the bottom.
This pilgrim from Chicago has decorated his backpack with the traditional shell, practical umbrella and the common yellow flowers we see along
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.
It’s the afternoon of Camino day eight and we continue down the path.
Our 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!
I’m surprised to find so many trees and flowers blooming this early in the spring.
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…
Day eight…. really? We’ve been walking THAT long!
The old kilometers marker contrasts the modern setting.
Meet our new friends from Germany. A mother, father, and two children in their late teens spend their holidays on hikes throughout Europe and the UK. Favorite hiking destination? Ireland. That may be worth checking out!
Finally out of town and enjoy the company of a few pilgrims this morning.
Lugar means place, and Pregontono, I believe, is the street name spelled slightly differently from the other house. Albergue in the busy season?
Looks like they didn’t use all of their chopped wood this winter. Grapevine is ready to do its thing.
Maybe too pleasant…
The swollen river rushes by as I look below from the medieval bridge.
We hike through 4 to 5 inches of mud, manure and water, up and down steep hills, all the while enjoying the countryside, small villages and hamlets. (At least, I am enjoying it) The day is getting longer and fewer photos are captured since I need to make some time and get to our destination.
We arrive in Ribadiso only to find that the albergue has not opened yet for the season and are given directions to an albergue in Arzua. Another 5 kilometers… A-r-r-r-g-h!!
We walk and walk and walk some more. This long day is starting to seem like an eternity.
O.K., will we find lodging just around the corner?… past the next grove of trees?… at the top of this hill? Maybe it’s never going to appear, and we’ll have to sleep under the stars.
Our distance today is approaching 21 miles.
A-h-h… O Retiro. You are a friend of mine.
On the seventh day God rested, but we just keep on truckin’.
Don’t put the camera away!
The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The 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.
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.
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
Our 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.
Romanesque 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.
This 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…
Wet, tired, stiff, sore, hungry… A-h-h-h-h…. home, sweet, home.
Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason. ~ Jerry Seinfeld
There is a spot in Villafranca del Bierzo where the path forks and Kathy, Lori and Jane are standing there contemplating which Camino arrow to follow. They attempt to take the strenuous climb up the mountain, but 4 women (angels?) sternly send them down the path following the road.
Meanwhile, Joan and Diane get bonus points for choosing the “True Pilgrim“ route up the mountain instead of the “Camino Lite,” which goes along the highway you see in the distance. Click on the True Pilgrim link to see a comparison elevation map so you can see how high they are really traveling today.
During medieval times the “Camino Lite” that the rest of us took along the main highway was extremely dangerous with murderous thieves. However, those that chose the “True Pilgrim” route faced a financial mugging, too. The Castle Auctares stood on the exit from Trabadelo and the lords supported themselves by taxing (eg extorting) the Pilgrims until King Alonso VI put a stop to the practice in 1072. ~ Eric the expat.blogspot.com
Nobody messes with us since we are such a tough looking group. It helps to look homeless.
The True Pilgrim route is marked as strenuous on the map and involves a steep, muddy path. The constant rain continues to dampen spirits, while temps are getting colder and it starts to feel like it could snow.
Listen carefully and you may hear Diane humming a song by the Carpenters:
I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation…
Meanwhile, Randy and I are shlepping our feet along in the rain on the lower route and the miles to Vega de Valcarce seem to go on and on.
A taxi goes by with a passenger violently waving at us. Wonder what that’s about?
We continue to walk and walk and walk some more until we see a hotel. Better turn the radio on and try to make contact. Nothing…
O.K., we keep going for, what seems like, forever. We go through town and we appear to be leaving the village. This must not be right; better go back. The rain, blisters, and the walk begin to wear us down as it takes all of our effort to put each heavy, soaked. foot in front of the other.
We eventually make radio contact and discover the mountain path meets up with our path at Trabadelos. Joan and Diane had found a taxi to take them from Trabadelos to Vega de Valcarce, since they were exhausted from being real pilgrims. So that’s who was waving… We live on the South Dakota border where EVERYONE waves, so we are accustomed to friendly motorists.
Good news ~ they have found an albergue. Yay!! We describe our location and Joan estimates that we need to walk about 15 more minutes. Hoping our home for the night would be just around the corner, 15 more minutes of walking seems like completing a marathon. Fifteen more minutes?!! N-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!!!!!
Randy and I drag in last to find a nice albergue with 10 bunk beds, nice showers, heaters, a little fireplace heater and a bar/restaurant a few short feet away from our beds. Plus, we have the whole place to ourselves. Bueno!
I don’t take any pictures tonight or grab a business card, but my research tells me we may be at Albergue La Mochila.
Let’s just say we will sleep in the bar tonight.