…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)
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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:


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.


“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”

~ Title quote by James Michener

Our backpacks are ready to make their last trek of this trip, and we see the ever impressive Aqueduct as we leave the hostal.Spain-1040888rhp  We saunter to the Segovia, Spain bus station, drinking in the sights before we head to Madrid so we can fly back home to cold, wintry Minnesota.

Spain-1050295dmvWe pass by the butcher shop with its unique (to us) featured products.  What is that large white item in the window?  Pig stomachs? Brains appear to be on the lower shelf.


Last chance for shopping. Spain-1040851 Spain-1040852
We’ve learned that completing challenges in life can be an empowering experience.

Spain-1040845Last chance for a group photo before we go our separate ways.

Spain-1050307I look out the bus window to see this trio sharing a good laugh.

Could it be the sight of Randy and his “harem” of women getting on the bus that is tickling their funny bones?

Spain-1040355dmvWe’ve been living out of backpacks for about 2 1/2 weeks now and the comfortable feeling of home is calling our names.  This whole Camino experience has had a surreal feel to it and I often had to remind myself that it wasn’t a dream.  The Camino has been a unique experience in that we not only visited Spain, but also visited with people from all over the world, joining us in the communal mission of reaching Santiago on the Way of St. James. Gives a United Nations feel to the Camino.  Plus, the side trip to Segovia was just icing on the cake.

Walking the Camino de Santiago may be the hardest thing I’ve ever done ( Even childbirth didn’t take this long).  Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat.

Takin’ Care of Business

Segovia, Spain…a day in the life.


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


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


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.


A Lutheran Goes to Pilgrim’s Mass

This post is for all my Catholic friends ~ Yes, I went to Mass and I sat quite still, for me, other than shivering in the frigid cold, hard pew.  We Lutherans have it so easy with getting in and out of church after less than an hour of sitting in a padded pew. We find other ways to suffer, I guess.

Eye above the altar in the Santiago Cathedral.

Eye above the altar in the Santiago Cathedral.

Pilgrim’s Mass is held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela each day at noon for pilgrims.

2013Spain-1040694dmvThis nun has the most beautiful voice.  No organ accompaniment and just the pure sound of her God-given talent.  No organ accompaniment since it is during the Lenten season.

Spain-1040636dmvWill they swing the thing?

Spain-1040702dmvPilgrims who received the compostela the day before have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass.  As usual, we are a day late and a dollar short since we received our compostela 2 days ago.

Spain-1040679dmvThe highlight of the Mass is the synchronization of the “hymn to Santiago” with the swinging of the huge Botafumeiro, the famous thurible kept in the cathedral.  Incense is burned in this swinging metal container, or incensory. As the last chords die away, the multitude of pilgrims crowd forward to reach the spiritual highlight of the Mass, the rite of holy communion.  ~Wikipedia


Will they swing it?  I don’t see the large gold container they swing in the movie, just that black bag hanging from that thick rope Oh, never mind… I see it now.  


The rite of Holy Communion has commenced so it looks like we are witnessing a regular Mass as the one token Catholic in our group participates.  We are disappointed that they didn’t swing the thing. Shouldn’t have taken showers.  We must smell way too good.

Click on the link below to see what we didn’t see.  We are sitting on this side, so I’ll just have to imagine what it would have been like.

Pilgrim’s Mass link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUxSdgKnYkQ  


After Mass we walk around and stand in line to see the tomb.

The crypt shows the substructure of the 9th-century church. This was the final destination of the pilgrims. The crypt houses the relics of Saint James and two of his disciples : Saint Theodorus and Saint Athanasius. The silver reliquary (by José Losada, 1886) was put in the crypt at the end of the 19th century, after authentication of the relics by Pope Leo XIII in 1884.

In the course of time, the burial place of the saint had been almost forgotten. Because of regular Dutch and English incursions, the relics had been transferred in 1589 from their place under the main altar to a safer place. They were rediscovered in January 1879. ~Wikipedia

Spain-1040719dmvOops! Just noticed this sign.

Spain-1040731dmvWe tour the cathedral and the line takes us behind the altar.  Peeking over the shoulder of the statue, I see the next mass has already started and a clear view of the thing they swing.

Spain-1040741dmvThese little electric offering candles even have fake wax dripping.  No tickets?

Spain-1040663dmvSt. James, the Moor slayer.

Spain-1040748 - CopydmvHow do you score the exit doorway of  the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela for your ultimate begging location?  Smart to laminate the sign due to the frequency of rainy weather, too. I gave her money, but it must not have been enough to earn a pose including eye contact for pictures.

Leaving the church we are still disappointed they didn’t swing the thing. By the way, the thing is called a  Botafumeiro.  The thing is a lot easier to say.


Day 9 ~ It’s all downhill from here.

No matter how long it takes…if you take one step at a time…you will eventually reach the finish line.
Spain-1040292dmvBerlin stops to chat before we start down the hill.

The name Santiago goes back to the Apostle James (Saint James = Santiago) who went to this most north-western part of Spain, called by the Romans “Finis Terrae “end of the world,” to preach and convert people to Christianity.

We see Santiago in the distance. So close.

The population of the city in 2012 was 95,671 inhabitants.


Cars speed down the busy highway as our path blends with the city.

Spain-1040309dmv I think any day the sun shines must be wash day.

Follow the arrow…follow the seashell.

Santiago, Spain is the most popular catholic pilgrimage in the world after Rome, which was founded after the discovery of the remains of the Apostle Santiago also known as Saint James of Compostela in the 9th century.

Santiago, Spain is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, in the northwest region of Spain in the Province of A Coruna. ~Wikipedia


Randy is operating a Lost & Found on the Camino service. He found a nice glove on the trail and is trying to track down its owner. No success so we may be bringing a lone glove home. It would be a shame to throw away a perfectly good glove.

Spain-1040321dmvThis deluxe seashell is pointing to the real deal. Look closely and you can see the cathedral. Whoo-hoo! Excitement mounts as we envision the thrilling crowd ready to welcome us to the end.

Spain-1040324dmvShould we stop and get tattoos? We did keep our minds busy on the long days of walking the Camino by planning our tattoo design. I don’t think I would spend the money, so I’m merely dreamer.  Randy, on the other hand…

Spain-1040330dmvAren‘t you excited that we’ve finally arrived?  We don’t get much reaction from the locals as we stroll into the city center near the cathedral.

Spain-1040332dmvIs this the cathedral?  Nope.

Spain-1040335dmvThis looks like a church.  Could this be it?  Not very large, though. Hmmm…

Spain-1040336dmvThis must be the cathedral, but nobody is here. Where is the welcoming committee?   Where are the crowds of people ready to congratulate us on our feat? Why don’t we hear cheers of weary pilgrims, ecstatic that they’ve reached their final destination.

Blip…. Joan makes contact with the 2 way radio.  Where are you?

We describe our location and decide we must have come in on the back side of the church.  Sure not much action going on back here.

Spain-1040342popdmvThe sun continues to drop behind the steeples as we make our way to the front.

Spain-1040355dmvWe finally make our way to the front and meet up with Joan. We are thrilled that she is here to greet us and will forever appreciate sharing this moment with her. It would have been disappointing to stand there by ourselves and say, “Huh…there it is.”

But where is the rest of the gang?

Spain-1040359Next stop: turn in our stamped Pilgrim passports for our official certificate. On completion of your pilgrimage at Santiago de Compostela you can present your credential at the Pilgrim Office beside the Cathedral. You will then be given your Compostela certificate, the traditional document, in Latin, confirming your completion of the pilgrimage.
It is required that walkers and pilgrims on horseback must have completed at least the last 100km and cyclists the last 200 km in order to qualify for the Compostela.


…and we STILL follow the yellow arrow. This time we go upstairs to look for the office.

Spain-1040362dmv50Randy uses the elevation map to show the official where we started. Randy has become quite adept at getting his point across with a vocabulary that includes, hola, adios, and vino.

Spain-1040365dmvWe sign in the distance traveled, and that we are from the U.S.A.  for their records.

Spain-1040368dmvThe final stamp.

Spain-1040369dmvThe official Compostela certificate in Latin.  Now we are legit.

Spain-1040363dmvWe put some money into the container and we head back downstairs.
We drag our weary, sweaty bodies to the nicest hotel of the trip and, low and behold, who should we find as we enter?


We find the rest of the group is in the hotel bar with the Camino Celebration phase in progress. Excuse the noisy image since my flash didn’t fire, but you get the drift.

Buen Camino!   El fin.

The following link is an interesting video of the Camino de Santiago from France to Finesterre.  The last half covers areas that we walked.

Video of a truly legit Pilgrim

Hmmm…Finnestere.  Maybe we should check that out, too?


Day 9… It’s what you CAN do…

…not what you can’t.

A man on a bicycle approaches us speaking Spanish and, through his photos, we understand his purpose.

Spain-1040239dmvRandy is signing the guest book of sales. This gentleman, on the bike, pedals the Camino selling t-shirts to fund trips to Para Olympic athletic events. His binder is full of news articles and photos of his participation to help prove that he is legit. Scam or not, we purchase a 10 Euro t-shirt and don’t regret it. You just have to trust once in a while.

Spain-1040242dmvcrPlus, he shares a cell phone photo of his baby AFTER the sale (Or, maybe he thought we’d buy more shirts).  I mention to Randy that it could be anyone’s cute little baby, but Randy chooses to trust that the story is all truth.

I’m happy to discover that he is legit and our t-shirt purchase is going toward an honest endevour. Check it out at this website:  http://ionutpreda.com/

Spain-1040247dmvThe path is along the side of a tar road and the old wall has a sturdy appearance.

The origin of the horreo is the horreum from the Roman Empire, and is an old technology that has nearly disappeared in the rest of the empire regions.

A horreo is for storing grain off the ground to keep rodents out and the design dates back to the Celtic era. Some are quite substantial and made all of stone.

Hmmm… So many signs to read. Oh, look left!! Oh, my goodness!!!

This photo doesn’t really imply the height of this monument built to recognize the pilgrimage and a papal visit. We estimate it to be around 50 feet high.

Spain-1040262dmvMonte do Gozo (Hill of Joy) is a hill in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. It is known for being the place where Christian pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) get their first views of the three spires of their destination, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. At 370 meters (1,210 ft), it is the pilgrims’ last hill and last stop before reaching the cathedral, with about an hour’s walk still to go, and by tradition is where they cry out in rapture at finally seeing the end of their path.  ~Wikipedia

Another pilgrim tells me that I should be able to see the cathedral from the monument hilltop area, but I can’t seem to make anything out.
This modern sculpture utilizes all four sides in its design.


The Capilla de San Marcos looks rustic, but isn’t all that old compared to what we’ve already seen.  Follow another path and it takes you to an albergue that has 500 hostel beds in rooms of 4 to 8 beds.


We are not stopping here so I guess we’d better follow the arrow to the right and head down the hill.

One more hour of walking…


Day 9 ~ Close encounters of the urban kind

Life is what you make of it, always has been, always will be. ~ Grandma Moses

Spain-1040176dmvThe sun continues to shine and we still find rocks left on side markers and monuments. If the size of rock matches the sin…

Spain-1040170dmvThe path leads us on, just as it may have done when the apostle, James,  walked on this earth and preached in this region following the old Roman roads.  Kind of mind-boggling when you think of it.

Spain-1040180dmvI’d like to introduce you to Michigan. This husband and wife are walking the Camino with their son (Doctorate in music with a trombone emphasis) and his wife (Professional opera singer). We visit with the parents while we walk and later meet up with their son and his wife having lunch as we strolled by. Of course, we had to stop and visit. Gee, I wonder why we are so much slower than the rest of the Camino walkers?

Spain-1040179dmvThanks, Michigan, for taking our photo. Life IS what you make of it and our Camino experience is richer thanks to the people who took the time to meet us and share a moment in time.


Evidence that we are getting closer to Santiago.

This Camino monument is at the entrance to the what is considered the Santiago metro area, even though is is still about 7 miles to the cathedral. It  depicts the traditional symbol of the Camino de Santiago, the carnet shell. The symbolic shell dates back to a  2,000 year-old legend. The apostle, James, returned to Jerusalum, but was decapitated and was said to have had his remains put on a boat and shipped off to Spain (where he had previously spent 12 years as a missionary). The boat is said to have arrived on the northwestern coast of Spain in Galicia, where carnet shells from the sea surrounded it.

In medieval times, the resourceful pilgrims walking to Santiago de Compostela were said to have used the shells to ladle out soup and coffee from pilgrim supporters along the way with their carnet shells. In modern times it is customary for pilgrims to hang carnet shells on their backpacks.

~ www.thebestwaycamino.com

Crosses on the fence, placed by pilgrims, line our path.

Is everybody happy? H-A-P-P-Y!


Randy adds his cross to the display.

Spain-1040202dmvIf you linger too long at this spot a security official stops to survey your activity, so there must be something top-secret or hazardous along the path.    Spanish Area 51?  We must have appeared suspicious since we were being watched. Was there a sign that said No Photos that I missed?

Actually, it is the Santiago Airport that borders the Camino path so I doubt that we’ll see aliens or spies.


We enter the town of Lavacola, Spain which is also near the Santiago Airport. This devout woman is arranging fresh cut flowers by the tomb in an old mausoleum.  Her spouse, child, parents…?


That is quite the flower power display by the nearest tomb.

Randy waits on the steps outside since his blisters are causing great discomfort todaySpain-1040377dmvblisters.
Ouch!  A member of our Camino group, Lori, was a nurse in a previous career and was brave enough to pop blisters for anyone needing this procedure. The blisters looked much worse a couple of days before this photo was taken.

Spain-1040211dmvcrWe no longer see the old, stone kilometer markers and our signs are now more contemporary. We see and hear the sounds of traffic nearby, jets landing and taking off, and I’m starting to miss the natural surroundings that take you back in time, and give you a mythical type of experience. The sounds and signs of the city are interrupting my bliss.

Oh, well.  It’s all part of the Camino experience and required in order to make it to the finish line.