West Highland Way: Kinlochleven to Fort William

September 5, 2015: Kinlochleven to Fort William

WHW_Day7-1100286e While gazing over at the campers cooking their breakfasts, I do a last-minute check to see if I have everything.  Yes, I remembered to get our sandwiches out of the hostel refrigerator and pack them in my backpack. (I have been known to forget!)

whw_day8-1100312eWe start our day with Laura from Berlin. I often find myself thinking of her and hope all is going well with her life.

 

 

whw_day8-1100333eWhat a beautiful site for wild camping, overlooking the town of Kinlochleven. Beautiful weather today and hikers seem to be going at a leisurely pace as if savoring their last day of hiking.
whw_day8-1100444eJoan, AKA The Beast, is ready to tackle the last leg of the hike with Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the U.K., in the background.

whw_day8-1100474eWe are fortunate to be able to share part of this last day with Mike and Stacy (Ireland/Ukraine) as we descend into Fort William. Such a lovely pair…

whw_day8-1100493eThis is the last we see of Leon and his gang from Holland as they are staying in the campground just outside of Fort William. We notice they still have energy to play tricks.  Oh, to be so young again.

We see many runners from the Ben Nevis race walking back to their vehicles with their medals and trophies.  Apparently, I didn’t have enough energy to pull out the camera. After walking 16 miles today, I don’t think we’ll attempt Ben Nevis.

Maybe, some other time.

Mike and Stacy are going on through town to pay homage to the new end of the trail, but we are close to our check-in deadline for the B & B so we must bid them farewell.  Sad to see them go.whw_day8-1100497eWe appear to be faking glee and excitement. Maybe we are a little disappointed to not have all of our WHW friends cheering with us at the end.

Hold on.. Who is that I see chatting in the distance? No, it can’t be.  Yes, it is!!!  Mandy just happens to appear along our route.

whw_day8-1100507creLater, we meet up with Mandy and Karen at a the Grog and Gruel Pub, popular with the Ben Nevis race crowd as you can see by the race numbers in the background. The fun-loving Scottish gentlemen in these photos are our photographers tonight so that we could get some group photos. You can’t help but love the Scottish people.

whw_day8-1100508dmvWe also spend time this evening visiting with a minister from Canada on sabbatical doing research. I can’t remember her research topic…  Could an evening in the pub provide inspiration for a few sermon topics?whw_day8-1100510eCheers to the West Highland Way!
96 miles and we did the WHOLE thing! We may walk slowly, but we never walk backward.

Here is the video of our last day hiking the West Highland Way:

 

The Chicken House

Blind School Chicken House

Bronika ETRSi Medium Format Film
Double Exposure
Photographed to create digital file, dirt layer added for texture, bronze god Kubota action.

Former South Dakota School for the Blind:  The Chicken House

The South Dakota School for the Blind was officially opened in Gary, South Dakota on March 1, 1900, under the Board of Charities and Corrections. The citizens of Gary were instrumental in pursuing the location of a state “Blind Asylum” in their community and offered the former Court House as a facility.

The Deuel County Court House building was torn down and this chicken house was made from the wood, thus, putting into practice the old saying, “Waste not, want not.”   I’m guessing it would have been built sometime in the 1920’s since they moved the Court House building to just east of the administration building in 1903 and a photo taken in 1930 appears to have the chicken house in the background.  The history hounds in Gary, SD may have a more accurate date.

~ Gary, South Dakota History Book  1872-1997

~ History of SD School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Picture Perfect? Nope.

Traditional, eye pleasing, balanced family portraits with each individual  arranged perfectly have always been a challenge for me. I would not last long as a church directory photographer. While it is good to document a period in time for a family unit, we adults don’t seem to like how we look in portraits.  (Oh, I look so old, fat, my ankles appear too thick, can you give my husband 6-pack abs and a smile?  While you are at it, thin my thighs and waist…)   Then to find a background in the midst of Christmas chaos.  Oh, my.

2013xmascard inside1dBWFB

So, for the annual holiday card, rather than striving for the “perfect” portrait I decided to celebrate our imperfect, unique, quirky lives with a photo that embraces reality.  We are all leading lives that cover quite a wide spectrum of vocations, educations, interests and then you add a two-year-old.  It is what it is.

Thank you to my mother-in-law for crawling up onto a step ladder to capture this chaos.

Canon 5D Mark 2, Canon 24-70 L lens, ISO 3000, Gary Fong flash diffuser on a Canon 580 speedlight

I leave you with a toast for 2014:  Here’s to another year of experience.

CHEERS!

…for the love of the game

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. ~Helen Keller

Looking for some action? Try attending a sporting event at your local high school. Here you will see the sport in its purest form; no huge salaries (in fact, no player salaries), endorsement contracts or plush player buses transporting them to games. A good old school bus will do just fine, thank you.

You cannot be a fair weather fan at the high school level These fans, which include parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors (pretty much anyone that knows a player on a first name basis) are the most loyal fans a team could ask for and hang with the players through the ups and downs of a season.  The fan base remains constant no matter what the win/loss record shows and the teams provide plenty of subject matter for conversations at local coffee shops and businesses.

(Double click on image for a larger view)
Album template

A community has such an influential role on local school activities, whether that be athletics, music, theater, arts, or other organizations. Providing support through attendance, following  the school news in the local media and supporting fund-raising projects, helps these programs exist to provide opportunities for our youth.

Overemphasis on the performance results of any high school activity, including sports, can have a negative effect, but learning discipline, hard work, teamwork, and social skills WILL have a positive impact on your life as an adult.

Click on the link below for an interesting article in the Huffington Post regarding the value of sports in the schools:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kai-sato/high-school-sports_b_3997391.html

Photo info:  Canon 5d Mark 2, Canon 70-200 L lens, 6400 ISO, 1/500 shutter, 2.8 aperture, custom white balance

Collage info:  10 x 20, Photoshop 5.0, Albums DS base template with mask edges, flames from Shutterstock. Lancer text layer utilizes a photo I took of a basketball to give the textured look.

The passing of time…

Rudy8x10text2frame
My husband’s family recently experienced the loss of its patriarch, who was born in 1925. The original painting featured above was painted by his granddaughter, Elizabeth Meyer.

It boggles the mind when you think of the history and changes in the world since his birth:

  • farming with horses and mules to GPS auto-steer farm equipment
  • Telephones using a party-line system to cell phones with internet allowing constant contact with people all over the world
  • Horse and wagons and Model T’s to cars that parallel park themselves
  • No one had been to the moon in 1925 and now NASA has plans to colonize Mars
  • Outhouses to private indoor plumbing with jacuzzi and whirlpool features
  • Entertaining radio shows such as Fibber McGee & Molly to black & white television and really “living the dream” when a color television was purchased. Now we have Netflix, cable and satellite programs, as well as programs on dvd.
  • Technology changes in weapons and aircraft used  in warfare to utilizing unmanned drones
  • Food primarily grown or raised on the farm to a multitude of products available at the store
  • A large percentage of the United States engaged in farming to less than 2% of the current population
  • Country school with one teacher for all eight grades to consolidation of several towns into one school district
  • Polio and various epidemics to vaccines and treatments for a multitude of illnesses

This is the list I came up with, but maybe you could add some more.

The big question is:  What changes will occur during the NEXT 88 years?

The wedding day… happily ever after.

Lean on each other’s strengths; forgive each other’s weaknesses.  ~ unknown

DanAmandabw
Friday, October 11, 2013 will be an exciting day for this young couple as they exchange wedding vows before family and friends. Nervous anticipation, joyous fellowship with family and friends, fun and entertaining reception and dance will make for a wonderful celebration for all.
Yes, it’s fun to celebrate and share fellowship with family and friends on “the big day” but it’s the little things that you share each day that follows that are truly blessings. Sharing a conversation over a cup of coffee in the morning or a beverage on the deck at the end of the day are moments to be treasured. These are the events I would miss if I didn’t have the love of my life to share them with. Life will throw you a curve from time to time and there will be days of sadness and loss. Having a spouse to share in the joys of life, as well as lean on during the challenging times is truly a blessing.
Congratulations, Dan & Amanda… may your lives be truly blessed.

Cathedral of Segovia

The massive Cathedral of Segovia was built between 1525-1577 except for the dome, built around 1630.

Spain-1050121dmvpop
The Cathedral: Located in the Plaza Mayor, this beautiful Cathedral looms over Segovia’s historic center. It was built in a Renaissance Gothic style in the 16th century following the destruction of the previous Roman cathedral. It has a museum which has the first printed book in Spain from 1472. This Cathedral is acclaimed for both its size and beauty, designed by Juan Gil de Hontañón, it has 3 naves with adjoining chapels on each side.   http://www.euroresidentes.com/euroresiuk/guides-spain/guide-to-segovia.htm

Spain-1050088dmv Spain-1050074dmv Spain-1050065 Spain-1050073 Spain-1050051 Spain-1050047dmv Spain-1050042dmv Spain-1050029dmv Spain-1050030dmv
Gruesome, life-size sculpture of the crucified Christ. Makes one think…

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:

Spain-1040020dmv

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!

Spain-1040026dmv
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!

Spain-1040041dmv

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.

Spain-1040043plcl

Clothesline in the old lean-to. Why not?

Spain-1040045kp

This garden is way ahead of mine.

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

Spain-1040060dmv

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.

Spain-1040056dmv

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

Spain-1040066dmv
Another one bites the dust… Memorial to an Irish pilgrim. By the grace of God…

Spain-1040068dmv

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

Spain-1040072dmvcr
Busy traffic as we near our albergue for the night.

Spain-1040071cr2dmv
This pilgrim from Chicago has decorated his backpack with the traditional shell, practical umbrella and the common yellow flowers we see along

the way.

Spain-1040077dmv

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.

Spain-1040006dmv
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 4: I walk slowly but I never walk backward.

Quote by Abraham Lincoln
camino-frances-25vega

I literally crawl out of bed since my leg muscles are protesting the previous day’s events.  Steps are especially painful, but coffee gives me the incentive to go down the two flights of stairs to breakfast. We devour a filling breakfast of tostados, fresh squeezed orange juice, cafe Americano for me and a cafe con leche (with milk)  for Randy .

A 73 year old mother from Germany and her 2 daughters, who are also walking the Camino, were our breakfast companions this morning.  We share Camino experiences with each other since we feel so experienced having 3 full days under our belts.  We could have visited longer, but the day is not going to wait for us and the rest of the gang has left without us (Even Kathy with the bum knee is speedier than me!).  We strap on the backpacks and step outside.  Overcast but not raining.  O.K., …so far so good.

Spain-1030598dmvWe dodge puddles as we stroll down the quiet, Sunday morning streets of Cacabelos, Spain. The legs feel stiff and sore but seem to work just fine.

Spain-1030594dmvYour guess is as good as mine as to the meaning of this mural we see along the narrow street.  My guess is the gorilla in the upper left has something to do with evolution, Christ with the crown of thorns is in the lower right, and the soldier on top of the largest human could be Christians dominating the Moors.  What do you think?

Spain-1030596dmvWe remind ourselves to not get so wrapped up in the surroundings that we forget to follow the yellow arrows.  Follow the seashells…follow the yellow arrows.  All are determined to walk today so no taxi is needed.

Spain-1030599dmvThe plan is to meet the rest of the gang in Vega.  Too bad the town doesn’t have an “s” at the end of its name.  I could have had fun with that!

Spain-1030600dmvOn our way out-of-town we pass by a woman mopping and cleaning in front of a church.  It is Sunday so I don’t think anything of it since they probably have mass this morning.

Spain-1030601dmvActually, it’s an albergue.  Locals call Albergue de Peregrinos de la Augustina de Cacabelos  the Old Church, since the albergue was built around the church. Yes, around.  The rooms form a ring around the church, with a courtyard in between.  It has modern facilities including showers.  As nice as the heaters and cozy room were last night, it would be so cool to stay here.  Bonus points for only costing 5 Euro per person.  My socks and boots are dry right now, so I guess that means bonus points for  last night’s lodging, Hostal Gallega.

Spain-1030617dmvThe path turns to dirt and we enter wine country with the wet, muddy path winding through expansive vineyards.

Spain-1030609dmvcrAs I gaze across and ponder this panoramic view, I feel more of a desire to do the Camino de Santiago again someday…in September during grape harvest.

Spain-1030610dmv

Oh, no… it’s raining AGAIN!!   AARRGGHH!! 

At least today will be a shorter day than yesterday.  

Really?  Are you sure?