Here I go...

Walking and Talking Across Spain

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Meet Annette St-Pierre - Our New Group Leader!

Anniewalkers USA has a new Group Leader!

I have been looking for a nice Peregrina 
to help me with new pilgrims on the Camino. 
After meeting up and talking with several lovely ladies, 
I finally made a decision.

My new Group Leader is Annette St-Pierre.

Annette lives up in the Gorge above Portland, Oregon.
She walked the Camino in 2013 and is anxious to go again!
I've met with her several times and we've corresponded via email.
I've shown her the schedule, 
tried to scare her off with a few 'war stories,'
and made sure she knows what the position entails.

She is confident she can handle a group,
and I agree!

Annette will walk with me and my group 
from Pamplona in May,
so I can "show her the ropes."
She will then will travel to Pamplona to pick up her very own group.

She's a go-getter, that's for sure!
She has very nearly filled her dance card for June 2015, 
and I'm convinced she'll make a wonderful Group Leader!

Here is Annette's photo and bio:

Walking and adventure are in Annette's blood. Feeling very lucky to have been raised in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest and living now with hikes literally out her back door, she spends a lot of time walking. She has summited Mt Hood and was for several years the captain of a relay team walking 130 miles from Portland to the coast. She has always been bitten by the travel bug. In May 2013 all those things came together when she walked the Camino from Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, to Santiago -- an experience she views as incredible, marvelous, and life-changing.
Welcome Annette!

We look forward to walking with you!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


We had to put our sweet kitty boy down last week, unexpectedly.
He had acute liver failure - had not eaten in a week.
I feel the culprit was a particular brand of food, 
but we'll never know.
My son wrote this Memorial.

It's perfect.

Memory of Light - Today

“You were born a child of light’s wonderful secret— 
you return to the beauty you have always been.” 
― Aberjhani

Rao -- everyone has loved you through your life.
 I've loved you. 
My brother Rob loved you (and he hates everything!), 
my nieces and nephews loved you. 
And I'm pretty sure my mother loved you more than me.

You saw me through some pretty tough times.
 About 4 read-throughs of the Wheel of Time (thus, the dedication), 
about 4 different relationships. 

You let me hold you like a baby when I was sad, 
would soak up all the bad and turn it into good.
Though I am sure the love in my house is strong enough to keep the bad out, 
your vigilance and dedication will be missed. 

I will remember you every time I visit the back yard, 
every time I eat ice cream, 
and every time I am alone in the dark.

I will miss you pawing at the pages 
as I send myself to different worlds while I am reading, 
bringing me back to give you some pets.

 I will miss you in those moments that are bad, 
when somehow you would know and come rescue me.

What I will not miss are all those times you woke me up at 5am 
because you were fat and wanted more food.

As I was burying you,
 I dug up a toy airplane from the US Air Force.
It's sitting on your gravestone now. 

I hope you enjoy your next life as a fighter pilot 
Must have been all that Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek 
you've been watching throughout the years..

Rao -- you fulfilled the bargain. 
The price has been paid.
Fly free, strong, and true. 
I will miss you.

Meet the Girls

And here are my four new chooks!

First is Bertha Butts! 
 She is what is called an Easter Egger.
She lays blue eggs.
She is also the rule of the roost!
She is somewhere between 6 months and 1 year old.

Next is Penny.
Penny is a beautiful Speckled Suffex hen.
She will lay brown eggs.
She is very sweet to humans,
but is a bully to the two younger hens.
She is about 6 months old.

This is Kallie.
Kallie is a Barred Rock hen.
Her eggs will be light brown.
She is about 5 months old.
She is a sweet hen
and is very smart.
She is Sissy's best friend.
They stick together like glue.

And here is little Sissy.
Poor Sissy is at the bottom of the totem pole.
She is a Rhode Island Red hen.
Sissy will lay pretty brown eggs too.
She is only 4 1/2 months old
and right now, 
Penny and Bertha bully her mercilessly!
But I have news for them!
Sissy is going to be bigger than them when she grows up,
and things just might change!

I'm really excited to have these chooks.
I've been wanting chickens for year,
and now that I own a home, 
they were high on my list of priorities.
Fresh organic eggs…

My New Chicken Coop

See those banana trees in the background?

Well, this week I traded this henhouse and 3 hens for 3 banana trees.

The coop was just as tall as those white legs, about 4 feet.
We put it up on stilts to begin with.

Once it was up, my friend Joe framed the run.
We used wood from a couple of pallets we scavenged.

I bought the plywood for the roof and the treated baseboards.

Joe made a door from the pallet wood.

I put hardward cloth all around, 
leaving a 6-8" skirt at the bottom.
Bertha is checking out her new digs.

Finished inside, with two cozy barrel nesting boxes.
When we are finished, 
we will be able to draw the ladder up 
during the day 
to give the chooks more room inside.

Finished outside.
I'm happy.
The girls are happy.

We put concrete all around the base
to keep out raccoons and mice.
I love my little henhouse!
It fits right into my beautiful back yard.

But THIS is the only problem.
Bertha is the first bird to bed each night.
She gets in there and hops up on the roost.
Then Penny, seen below,
 goes up the ladder and turns AROUND, 
facing the doorway and daring the other girls to step on her ladder!

She pecks the heck out of them when they approach.

It's like a game.
They go up, she chases them down.
They go up, she chases them down.

Finally, I have to step in and push her into the coop, 
then the others can go to bed.
What a pill!
Is this normal?

I love her dearly - 
she's a sweet girl to humans, 
but she's mean as a snake to the smaller two hens.

She may have to become Sunday dinner if she doesn't ease up.

Anyway, I'm tired, and happy the coop's finished.
Tomorrow we'll fence off an outdoor run, and will be done.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A VERY cool HAT!

Today I got a surprise in the mail!

One of my Anniewalkers, Barbara,
 sent me this AWESOME hat directly from China!

I had seen several Korean pilgrims wearing these 
and happened to say out loud, 
"That would be a great hat to wear on the Camino in the hot sun!"

Barbara took note, 
and I'll be darned if one didn't show up in today's mail.


Won't I be the height of fashion!
And… no sunburn!
The attached scarf completely shields the back of your neck
and the sides of your face,
places that got quite sunburned on my last walk!

This hat is definitely going on my next Camino!

(I probably won't wear the face mask, 
but it is very cool and you can see just fine through the screen.)

Thanks, Barbara!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What's New for 2015!

Today I booked almost all the lodging for our 2015 Camino trips!

There will be two trips in 2015:

1) A "Crone's Camino" for women only. This trip has only 1 spot left!

2) The "Best of Both" mixed group trip.  This trip has 2 spots left!

We've made some changes this year.

No More Pyranees.
We've cut out the Pyrenees.  Why? Because in the past few years, we've seen a change in the weather, making the crossing in May often dangerous. We have seen more and more injuries due to the weather and due to people not being in shape for this strenuous section. Injuries can mean the end of the line for some people.

This year, our walkers encountered rain, sleet, snow, hail and winds over 75 kph! We've decided we are just not willing to risk our lives and the lives of our friends to make a crossing that isn't even traditionally a part of the route. So we'll leave the Pyrenees to braver souls.

Instead, we'll begin walking in Pamplona. It's easy to fly in and there's a lot to see there. It's the perfect place to recover from the time change and get ready to walk!

Upgraded Lodging!
We have upgrade our lodging. No more gites. No more low-end lodging. We will only be staying in one albergue in private rooms. The rest of the time, we've upgraded to very nice casa rurales, apartments, and hotels.

No Ponferrada. No Viana.
We have cut out Ponferrada and Viana. The two 7 kilometer stretches just weren't worth the effort. Ponferrada has become depressingly covered in grafitti. Sure, there's the castle to see, but folks can see that on their way through. And Viana, though a lovely village, doesn't have as much to do as Logrono. So we're going to try walking straight through.

Bag Transport is INCLUDED!
We have included Bag Transport in the cost of the trip.  People can still carry their pack if they wish, but it's been our experience that most people would rather have the heavy stuff transported.

We include the price of the two bus transfers from Logrono to Burgos, and from Burgos to Astorga.

TAXI to O Cebreiro INCLUDED!
We include in the cost a taxi ride to O Cebreiro for breakfast!

Our New Tentative Schedule is as follows:

Day 1: Meet in Pamplona
Day 2: Walk to Puente la Reina  -  23k
Day 3: Walk to Estella - 21.9k
Day 4: Walk to Los Arcos - 21.1k
Day 5: Walk to Logrono - 28k*
Day 6: Bus to Burgos
Day 7: Bus to Leon
Day 8: Bus to Astorga
Day 9: Walk to Rabanal del Camino - 21.4k
Day 10: Walk to Molinaseca - 26.5k*
Day 11: Walk to Villafranca - 30.9k*
Day 12: Taxi to O Cebreiro and Samos, Walk to Sarria - various k
Day 13: Walk to Portomarin - 22.4k
DAy 14: Walk to Palas de Rei - 24.8k
Day 15: Walk to Arzua - 25k
Day 16: Walk to Pedrouzo - 22.1k
DAy 17: Walk to Santiago - 20.1

We have raised prices a bit to reflect these changes, but we are confident people will love the new itinerary and will be very satisfied with their Camino.

In fact, people are SO excited about the trip that we only have 3 spaces left for 2015!
If you wish to join us, it's time to sign up NOW!

We look forward to seeing you on the Camino!


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Joe's 2014 Group

I didn't walk with Joe's group so really didn't get to know them.
But here they are, happy to have made it to Santiago!
And I believe they had a great Camino.

I did get a photo of Lee getting her Compostela.
Can you tell she was excited?

When we get settled in, I'll ask Joe to write a short post about his trip.

Annie's 2014 Group

I just wanted to say a few words about the group I escorted this Spring.

Four of them have known each other since childhood,
growing up on the Isle of Mauritious,
which I (embarrassingly) had never heard of!

This made for quick bonding, 
and those four generously
and lovingly pulled the others in,
making the walk a beautiful example
of community, and how it should work.

The first one to contact me was Paul.

Full of personality, I soon came to love his sense of humor,
and his quick wit!
Paul kept me in line.
He let me know when I made mistakes.
And I appreciated that!

His wife, Patricia,
a gentle beauty,
was spiritual, kind, and soft-spoken.

Jack showed a sensitive quiet strength.
He was even-keeled and when I needed a rock,
or advice,
Jack was there.

Oh, we loved Chantal!
She kept us laughing,
and kept us fed
with her great cooking skills.
She lost her glasses crossing the Pyrenees 
and had to wear sunglasses the rest of the trek.

 If I could describe Jan with one word,
I think it would be steadfast.
She was strong and good-hearted,
and kept us well entertained with poetry and prose.

Gary kept us fed 
at the finest restaurants along The Way.
He was another fairly quiet, but strong team member
who was always helpful.

And Barbara!
How we LOVE Barbara!
She was our navigator,
always finding the best directions
to the next hotel.
She also kept us in stitches 
with her AWESOME personality.

We had one other walker, who has requested his name and photos not be posted. 
He was a quiet, but friendly pilgrim,
who never met a stranger,
a speaker of many languages,
and an intellectual who always had a story to tell.
He was another well-loved member of our group.

What a wonderful experience this year's walk was!

Thank you all so very much!
And wherever life takes you,
may you walk a Buen Camino!


Sunday, June 15, 2014


We made it!

I have spent the last hour trying to upload the last post of this trip. 
I think the photo heavy post is too much for San Marin Pinario's Internet. 

And so it will have to wait until I am in Madrid next week. 

Until then, know all pilgrims made it safe and sound. 
They kindly treated me to a fantastic seafood dinner upon arrival. 

This was a wonderful and unique group who bonded closely on the Camino

I will miss them. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014


The walk to Pedrouzo is beautiful and easy.  Here are some photos. 

Pension Maribel

We love pension Maribel!  She has just remodeled the whole place and it is super nice. 

The rooms are clean, bright, cheerful, and affordable. There is a sweet yard and patio out back. 

I will post photos when I return to portland. They are in my dropbox and I cannot figure out how to get them onto my iphone. 

For dinner, Padrilla Boy can't be beat!  The food is home cooked and mouth watering!  To me it is more affordable and much better than Galaisco. 

Beef Churrasco

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lovely Casteneda

I'm in love with Castaneda!

Seen in Melide

Still being used for laundry.

Barbara washing her clothes