Walking East Journal


Dec 2009 28

Tempted

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We started walking again yesterday, the 27th, exactly eight years after Petra started her walk to Santiago from her home in Constance, Germany. It is easy to follow the yellow Camino de Santiago arrows (Here they are accompanied by blue Fatima arrows). But these little arrows don’t always lead you to a passable place at this time of the year. In mid-morning yesterday we ended up a couple kilometers (1.2 mi.) out on a path along a river only to have to turn back. The bicycles and 4-wheel motorcycles had made a mess of the path, digging deep mud holes that we couldn’t pass.
 
We ended up walking the highway the rest of the day. Our practice in the United States and Canada prepared us for that. The narrow to non-existent shoulder provided sufficient walking space most of the time.
 
The forecasted rain didn’t show at all two days ago in Lisbon. We had beautiful blue skies. Nor did it appear during the day yesterday. But it came down in bathtubs full last night. And a lot of lightning and thunder crashed through the night. Our room was damp and cold. The tile floor and walls actually had water on them this morning. We remembered this wetness from the last time we were in Portugal in the winter. They have little winter heating. Mildew in addition to the dampness and cold rooms were a problem then too.
 
The current forecast is calling for rain for the next ten days….
 
Last night I lay in bed awake most of the night thinking about that rain and the mud holes and spray from trucks along the road. I figured we were in for either becoming mud pies from walking on paths or covered with water from trucks. I was ready to quit, ready to go back to Lisbon and make different plans. Why go through the misery when we don’t really have to? But as we got up, we talked and Petra reminded me that most of the rain is only in the night. She reminded me of the native of Lisbon who told us that the winter rains come mainly at night because of some daytime, high-pressure atmospheric phenomenon–he made it through a winter without getting rained on. Somehow it would be a bit odd to walk all the way across the North American continent through all kinds of weather and then give up here after one day in Portugal. Besides, even when a big rain comes, a lot of bars line our path. We can easily stop for coffee and let the rain subside. Onward.
 
In the end we walked through a cloudy day. A short, light drizzle with a lot of warm wind made for a nice day of walking. And tonight we have a heated hotel room that will be able to drive off some of the dampness. We had a new birth of the pilgrimage for me this morning. It is a bit like late last June when we almost quit at the height of the Missouri heat in Herman when we actually checked train schedules and costs to Woodstock. As there, we realized this weather is as much part of the pilgrimage as the beautiful days.
 
So it takes us a few extra days to get to Santiago as we have to sit out some rain days here and there along the way. We will neither melt nor freeze. Be patient, listen, feel, and learn. That’s what this pilgrimage is all about anyway.
 
We lightened our load this morning. We stopped at the post office and sent 8.7 kilos (19 lbs) of miscellaneous extra stuff to Petra’s mother in Germany. We had summer things and other extras that we don’t need as we walk to Santiago. We can pick them up when we visit her for her 80th birthday in February. Before leaving the US, we sent the doll cart back to my brother Marty. We now have both backpacks and a bit more in the bigger cart. The things we sent actually lightened our load by one backpack’s normal contents. We still have more than we need….

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Dec 2009 26

Moving

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Lisbon has been a mostly wet but friendly encounter. But the weather report, which says rain for the nest ten days has been wrong more than correct. So we´re walking tomorrow, believing it will be incorrect again. Most rain has been late afternoon and evening rain anyway.
 


 
I added another page of pictures: Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. As always you can click the Pictures tab on the header to see all pictures

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Dec 2009 23

Updates

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Hi everyone. We are still in Lisbon. We moved from our hotel to a small apartment where we can cook for ourselves a bit and spread our a bit. We’re here till the 27th wandering the town on foot and by street car tram and just plain resting. Our place doesn’t have wi-fi so we have to search it our in the neighborhood. Since you are reading this, know that we have found it somewhere.
 
Yesterday, we walked north to the main bus station. In so doing we began our walk to Santiago de Compostela, our next major destination. It felt good to make a start even though we are going to rest a few more days. The Portuguese have marked the path very well in Lisbon. I don’t know what it will be in the countryside, but it would be hard to loose our way here. What a change after finding our own way all across the North American continent. Suddenly we have arrows every block. No more looking at maps or dead reckoning or plain old guessing. We just look for yellow arrows to point out the way. As long as they are there, we have one big task totally off our minds. We only have to walk. In life we don’t have the arrows to tell up where to go. But it’s ok now and then to let someone else point out the way.
 


 
Statistics
I made a major change to the statistics now that we have crossed an ocean and are in Europe. I changed them to show totals for North America, the Atlantic, and Europe followed by overall totals. That should give you a better measure of the distances we are covering. Click on the Statistics tab above to see them. If you have any suggestions for a more useful listing, let us know.

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Dec 2009 20

Thanks update

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I updated the Thanks page to include thanks to all we can now remember who helped us so far. Thanks, thanks, THANKS. To those who we have missed on this list, thank you so much, also. You are all in our prayers.
 
Click on the Thanks tab above to see the list.
 
As we walked, we tried to keep track of the gifts we received. Those that in some way can be assigned a value (like a ride or a night’s stay) I have done so. We added up all these gifts and are quite astounded and humbled by the total we came up with. You who have supported us have done so to the tune of more than 21% of our total expenditures for our Pilgrimage. We are very thankful for your help.
 
For the gifts we cannot count, we thank you also. To name a few hese thanks go out: to the weather spirits who gave us mainly wonderful weather; to the dogs who walked with us and those who barked and wagged their greetings; for the good thoughts and words you sent us; for your prayers; to the winds that carried us on; to the sun that warmed us in the winter even though you scorched us in the summer; to the cumulus clouds that showed up at 11:30 in the summer to shade us; to the horses and cows that ran over to check us out and greet us; to the mosquitoes that didn’t bite us; to the heat of Missouri that drove us north so we could decide to walk across southern Canada; to the thousands who gave us their smiles and inquisitive questions; to the wide shoulders for walking; to the birds who sang to us so often; to the summer shade trees; to the Universe for assigning this wonderful Pilgrimage to us; to our legs and knees and feet for carrying us all these miles; to each other for enduring and celebrating and dancing through life together; to all the ancestors who prepared our path and walked their paths before us; and to life and health.

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Dec 2009 17

Hello Europe

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We arrived in Lisbon, Portugal yesterday after a long and tiring flight to Brussels and Lisbon with six hours layover in the middle. Both planes were packed. A week of walking would have been easier. I have an especially hard time sitting still for so long, particularly when I am in a middle seat in the middle isle of a huge plane. And Petra caught a cold on the first flight, the first cold in a year.
 
But we already feel much more relaxed after a long sleep and a day wandering the streets of Lisbon. As of today it looks like we could begin walking again on Sunday (20th) or Monday. The latter would be especially symbolic since it is end of the old light and the beginning of the new light, the shortest day of the year.
 
We procrastinated leaving New York. We didn’t want to leave; we didn’t want to stay. We thought of going to India for a rest period. Then one day we bought a ticket to Lisbon, knowing we wanted to stay on our track to Jerusalem. Afterwards we still debated buying a ticket to India. But finally we decided to do that (if we wanted) after arriving in Lisbon. Now it feels comfortable to be here. Now we know it would have been wrong to have made that decision before we had to do so. (We are learning more and more to make decisions only when it is time to make them, not before). We feel ready to walk now and the last thing we would have needed is to spend another ten or 15 hours in three different planes flying to India when we can very well rest a while here should we so choose.

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Dec 2009 15

A couple views in New York

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The Statue of Liberty from lower Manhattan


Standing on the Atlantic in Coney Island, New York, we have finished this stage of the Pilgrimage.

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Dec 2009 14

Moving foward

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We have had a wonderful time here in New York and thank our friend Anna so much for allowing us to stay with her in Brooklyn. New York has been a wonderful part of our walk, a crown on what has been a royal pilgrimage walk across the continent.
 
Saturday we finished that walk with the last nine miles from Anna’s to the Atlantic at Coney Island where Petra burned the two pair of pants and some socks she wore out on the almost 11-month walk. As we returned to Anna’s on the subway, we got off at the Atlantic-Pacific Station, ending our trip from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
 
Now we are about to begin the next step. We fly to Lisbon, Portugal tomorrow evening. We have yet to decide whether we begin walking immediately or take some time off first. We’ll do that in the next few days.
 
You may hear little from us in the next few days, or even weeks. But we are here getting ready for our next steps to Jerusalem. We just may need to take off some times to reflect on what we have already accomplished.

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Dec 2009 09

Alleluia! We’ve finished the first half

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Well almost, anyway. We arrived at friend Anna’s in Brooklyn, NY last night and have only a few short miles to walk down to the Atlantic to complete the first half when the rain stops. Today we did little more than rest and go out to supper. Oh, we did a lot of Internet surfing for our next steps too.
 
After Peekskill we walked high up a mountain valley to get around a car-only parkway crossing a bay on the Hudson. In the end we walked across the dam capturing the water for New York City. My feet screamed at me as we neared the end of the day and so much climbing up and down. We spent the night in the Mariandale Retreat Center in Ossining where we were invited to take part in a retreat. We spent the next day at that same retreat. It was a very good time for the retreat and for the stop. We sat out rain as we renewed ourselves internally. We enjoyed the people running the place and our fellow retreatants. The next day we walked to Hastings-on-the-Hudson along the old aqueduct that carried water to the City and along Broadway (US9). We were aiming for Yonkers but Betsy stopped us along the road and offered us food and a place to stay for the night in her home. We accepted gratefully and had a wonderful time talking the evening away.
 
In the morning we had a wonderful walk down Broadway through Yonkers and The Bronx. It was an amazing walk through the cities that those up the river told us were not the best places to walk. Dangerous, you know. By the end of the day we had walked to L Hostel in Harlem on upper Manhattan. The people in L Hostel welcomed us warmly as they herd of our walk and the manager upgraded our booked room. The place was really clean and inexpensive by New York City standards. If I come back to the city without a place to stay, we’ll stay at L Hostle. They even found us an Ethiopian restaurant just six blocks away.
 
On our last day, we walked down 7th avenue into Central Park, took a circuitous tour of the park, walked down through the theater district on the Avenue of the Americas, and rejoined Broadway for our final curse through Manhattan. We saw the many faces of Broadway those two days. So many faces. So many different people. So many different neighborhoods. It was overload even for me and I have been here before. Petra kept saying, “So many people.”
 
We left Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge, an adventure in its own right. The Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island along with the Verazzano Bridge were clearly among the many sites. Soon we were welcomed by Anna at her home in Brooklyn. We have finished the first half of this Pilgrimage.

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Dec 2009 04

The City is on us

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We’re in Peekskill, New York just 41 walking miles north of Central Park in mid-town Manhattan. And we feel it. So many cars on the road. Commuter trains passing us every hour. Shipping traffic on the Hudson. And the people have a different air, the air of the city is on us. It won’t be long now.
 
Last night in Beacon we were the guests of Ed Benevente, a local artist transplanted from LA. Thanks, Ed, for a lot of good conversation and the place to sleep in a town without motels.
 
It feels strange to be in the immediate suburbs of a huge city and to also be in the mountains and along this huge river, the Hudson. It is good to walk and see that.

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