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And All the Rest

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    One Year of Travel

    The Grand Adventure Abroad

    One full year.  On the move.  Out of the USA.  Living the Grand Adventure.

    Yes it’s already been a year.  So very much has happened. So many miles we’ve traveled.  And I am not the same.

    Thailand

    58,000 Miles

    Living outside of the United States as an American creates such an amazing opportunity to really understand privilege and gluttony and consumerism.  These words I use not only because I am guilty of these things but it is how much of the rest of the world sees Americans. Not flattering.

    Cambodia

    What is a surprise is when we are able to spend quality time with someone we meet in our travels and change their view of the average American.  This means more to me than most anything else over the past year.

    My eyes have been opened, looking back to the USA and my friends there, I now clearly see two kinds of people – those who embrace this image of Americans and cultivate it greedily, happily and knowingly, and those who acknowledge it but want to change it.

    To each his own.  I know both kinds.  But as for me and my travels, there is only one way to

    Vietnam

    move forward in our travels and that is to do anything and everything to debunk the image.  In my own little way – one human at a time. One country at a time.  This is not what I expected when I started this journey but it is important to me now more than ever.

    23 Countries

    New Zealand

    We get asked the same questions over and over, and always the first question is “what has been your favorite so far?”.  It’s become a little joke.  We keep telling each other we need to come up with an answer to this question.  But we honestly don’t have a favorite.  We have favorite things about every place we have been.  We have things we disliked about many places.  Mostly our favorite thing is the surprises and education we get from staying a long

    Laos

    time in a place and really feeling the culture, the food, the religion, the life of the place.  That by far is our favorite thing.  I’ve changed in my travel goals – loving the days we truly are not tourists, the days we are able to haltingly communicate in someone elses language, the days we blend in.  Not the things I was expecting – but definitely

    New Zealand

    the most meaningful of all our “favorite” things.

    We’ve learned most people are sincerely nice and helpful and interested in telling us about their country.  They are proud and patriotic.  And yet so many countries are oblivious to trash and litter and pollution and it can really be astonishing.  Feral cats and stray dogs another big problem in so many countries – as a visitor you notice these things, all while being acutely aware that many people have very little and live on the street as well.  In some countries people just can’t worry about dogs and

    Portugal

    trash – they are just trying to find their next meal. It would be nice to see governments addressing all these issues.  But, none of these things stop us from visiting these places. It is part of the Grand Adventure.

    I’ve become more aware of the negative impact tourism has on many places and I am uncomfortable contributing to that.  Europe is very different in 2017 than the first time I visited 1988. We are tourists some days, while other days we steer away to less traveled and under the radar destinations.  But in a global world things begin to

    Bulgaria

    feel the same – tchosky souvenirs start to look the same in Bulgaria and Morocco. Locally handcrafted? Not likely.

    We’ve learned to sleep in beds hard and soft and eat every imaginable cuisine.  We’ve learned food is a great introduction to culture and a great conversation starter but also a comfort when we feel a bit homesick.  A good taco makes me happy when I miss our old life.

    6 Mexican Restaurants in 4 countries

    We embrace technology for communicating with our children and parents and for tracking so

    Seychelles

    much of our travel details.  I do miss my kids but speak with them frequently and marvel at their own personal journey each is on.  I think the coming Christmas season I’ll feel their absence the most.

    Speaking of holidays, they go by in a blur.  Other than Christmas last year in Thailand, most places

    Bulgaria

    we have been,holidays have shown little consumerism and celebration.  In the USA we embrace every little holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to Halloween and have our own unique set of holidays that we make a big to do over such as Thanksgiving and Fourth of July.

    19 holidays abroad

    Croatia

    Holiday celebrations in countries we have been in so far focus mostly on family and religion and food and almost not at all on buying things and decorations or gift giving.  I think it used to be this way in America, but our focus is different now.  As for me, I no longer want the gifts to give or receive.  The experiences we are having are the best gift of all.

    Slovenia

    Sometimes a holiday sneaks up on us.  Because we spend much of our time not even knowing what day or month it is.  When it’s 85 degrees in February or 32 degrees in April my brain and body get confused.  Am I above or below the equator?  Is it winter or summer?  What country am I in?  What day is it?  It’s actually a bit scary how often we have to stop and think about these simple questions.

    I’ve learned how little you need in a day-to-day life

    Portugal

    to feel satisfied.  Although I did get pretty tired of the three sets of clothes I wore over and over on the Camino, in general I don’t desire more than what we currently have in our suitcase.  It’s enough.  I have what is comfortable and works for our life. I still have one pair of shoes in the suitcase that I’ve only worn twice in a year – the low black heel.  I keep looking at those thinking I should throw them away.

    Lost luggage once. Found luggage once.

    I’ve learned to live without a clothes dryer and sometimes without a washing machine. No dishwasher, no movies, no American TV.  Don’t miss it. Don’t need it.

    I’ve also changed as far as what I would describe as “beauty ritual”.  Water conservation in most

    Camino

    countries makes me realize I don’t need to shower and wash my hair every day as I used to.  I no longer wear makeup (except on a rare occasion) and my hair is easy and manageable with a washing every few days. And nobody cares.  Really.  One more thing I can let go of for now at least (and I still get so many compliments on the grey).

    3 hair cuts 

    Occasionally I have a nesting urge – when I miss my

    Spain

    house and garden – but it’s rare.  Sometimes I see things I’d like to buy for a future home but I check myself.  Sure the Moroccan rugs are stunning – but, I really don’t know what my next house will look like so I walk away.  Save my money for an experience instead of a thing.

    Our “home” over the past year, and actually over the past 19 months since we closed the door and walked away from our house in Gig Harbor, our home has been wherever we are at the moment.  When people ask where we are from we say the United States, Washington or Seattle, depending on who we are talking to.  And if we meet someone from the Pacific Northwest we say Gig Harbor.  But really none of

    Tunisia

    those places are home.  Where is home?  Right this minute as I write this it’s Morocco.  In a few days it will be Namibia. On Christmas it will be South Africa.  Home is where I am with Arne at this moment.

    27 Airbnb’s 

    63 other lodgings (boats, hotels, apartments, Kiwi Caravan and Albergues includes 41 nights on the Camino)

    I read more than I ever have in my entire life.  I walk more than I ever thought possible. Yoga is a very important part of our lives to keep us going. I challenge myself at almost 58 years old in ways I could never, would never have even considered at 28 or 38.  I see myself in an entirely different way than I did just ten years ago.  I am better, stronger, smarter, happier and more relaxed than at any other time in

    Morocco

    my life.

    This is not a coincidence.  It is entirely by design.

    I want to influence and encourage other people to seek happiness for themselves.  Not my kind of happiness but yours – whatever that is. I ignore those who push negativity towards me – and yes they are out there. Masquerading as “friends” on Facebook while criticizing our life, our message, our politics our choices and our success.  I don’t ask or expect everyone to understand this journey I’m on.  But it’s not about you is it?  It’s about us and it is exactly what we needed and when we needed it.

    Morocco

    62 books read

    20 pounds lost

    2446 miles walked

    And every day of this journey, nearly every minute of it and every mile has been spent with my best friend Arne.  People have asked if we get tired of each other?  Nope.  In fact the opposite.  We find we are the best companions – encouraging and collaborating better now than ever in our entire lives.  It’s both a test and a testament to our relationship and how we have developed it and defined it over the years.  We celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow as a matter of fact.  Yes we do, it seems like we have been married forever, and

    Vietnam

    I hope forever is how long we will be together.

    35 years

    And now year two begins.  Can I do this forever?  I doubt it.  Some times it’s exhausting and frustrating.  Those times are infrequent though so I think I can do it for quit a while longer.  So for the next six months we have ten more countries before heading back to the USA for a two and a half month visit.  Then we will finish year two back in Europe and Africa.  We are already toying with ideas for year three.  But it’s a bit too soon.  Let’s not get

    The family last Christmas in Thailand

    ahead of ourselves.  Take it just a few months at a time is best.

    Thank you for sticking with us this past year and continuing to love our blog because the blog is a labor of love for me.  Tomorrow we fly to Namibia for ten days then on to South Africa where we plan to really relax for three weeks as we end 2017. A year for the record books!

    One year. One fabulous year!  Year two here we come!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    Cats of the World

    Chapter Eleven – The Cat Lady

    I did not intend to become the Cat Lady. It just happened. The Cats of the World have intrigued me and now I’m hooked.

    Of course there are dogs.  Remember the dog bite in Thailand?  But cats are much more patient than dogs – aloof As well and therefore easier to

    It all started with this picture in Bulgaria

    photograph.  And so I do.

    It all began by accident, while traveling in Bulgaria.  It was here where I first began to see many feral cats.  Hadn’t seen cats in Asia (opps let’s not talk

    Croatia

    about why…), New Zealand or Seychelles.  But there they were in Bulgaria sleeping in the sun, rubbing against my leg, strutting down the street.

    The first cat

    Slovenia

    photo I posted on Instagram was a surprising hit with my followers.  So then there was another post, and another and next thing I knew I was stopping to take photos of cats around the world;Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain and the Camino, Tunisia and now here in Morocco.

    Portugal

    I’m hooked.  But, it’s also sad.  We don’t see the stray dog population like we saw in Thailand and Vietnam (although Thailand was so much worse than Vietnam).  Where are the dogs?  Are they using spay

    Spain

    and neuter practices for dogs and not cats?  We do see some dogs, but the cats outnumber the dogs easily 50 to one.

    Some of the cats look cared for, but many do not.  In fact, clearly some are ill and won’t make it.  The smallest babies seem to be fending for

    Camino

    themselves.

    And so I have become a cat whisperer.  A little kindness and love to the creatures of the world.

    Morocco

    Cats of the world – what will the next countries bring?

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    Beyond the Camino – The Adventure Continues

    What’s Next?

    For the last few days I’ve been trying to process my feelings about completing the Camino de Santiago Adventure. It’s a big task. Not sure I can do it in just a few days. In fact not sure I can do it at all.

    Our Camino journey is just one incredible adventure on our Grand Adventure world tour. We are so lucky to be leading this life and sometimes, like now, it’s good to stop and really absorb our own reality.

    (Note – many people are asking where we go next. Check the end of this blog for upcoming adventure details)

    What have we learned?  I think we learned some valuable things, but we also reconfirmed things we already knew. For instance –

    We learned how amazing the human body is. Even in our Fabulous Fifties our bodies did not fail us. It was about day 12 when one morning I got up to get ready to go and my body acknowledged it. I think that morning my body said “Oh – I get it. You intend to do this long walk EVERY day. Okay now I understand. I can do that. Let’s go.”

    We reconfirmed our mental need to have a day off or a do nothing day from time to time. These days I believe make living a full-time travel life possible. Otherwise the mental fatigue of the Grand Adventure really takes a toll.  After awhile in this travel life you don’t feel the need to see and do every monument and tourism hotspot. Just enjoying putting your feet up and relaxing becomes a cherished and fabulous day.

    (Note – did you know you can click on any photo in our blogs and Pin directly to Pinterest? Give it a try!)

    We learned what an amazing and wide range of people it is who tackle a Camino walk. We met some fascinating people from all over the world, many who will live in our memories forever. I can’t think of any other experience we have ever had where it included so many people from so many cultures speaking so many languages but all sharing the same goal. That was a wonderful and inspiring lesson- one our world leaders should learn.  We are all in this together.

    And yet we reconfirmed how much we enjoy each other’s company and most of our time was spent just us on the trail doing what we do best – being together. After almost 35 years of marriage we got that down.

    While news of natural disasters unfolded in our online news services we were blessed with great weather, spectacular scenery, countless sunrises and sunsets and vast and varietal geography reminding us what a remarkable planet this is and how we need to nourish and care for it. And we need to do it now.

    While I spent time taking and editing photos or writing and editing blogs – Arne spent time tracking and calculating data. And boy did he collect a lot of data to share;

    41 days

    489 mile

    1,355,229 steps

    224 walking hours (37 walking days and four rest days)

    2 days of rain 39 dry days

    55 Euro per day lodging and 45 euro per day food

    47,400 Feet elevation gain overall

    Longest day 19.5 miles. Shortest day 5 miles.  Average miles per day 13.2. Average elevation per day 1280 Feet.

    Cheapest lodging g $24 Euro. Most expensive $100 euro.

    Not everyone can or wants to do a walking adventure like the Camino.  But if you have considered it I have this piece of advice – do it sooner rather than later.  Do it your way and don’t let others tell you what’s best. But most of all – do it.  Don’t spend your life thinking about it and regret later that you didn’t get to it.

    We will continue to process within ourselves this experience and what this milestone means. But in the meantime, our Grand Adventure goes on.  We have planes to catch and new adventures ahead.

    We fly to Barcelona for a week before saying goodbye to Europe as our Schengen days have run out.  We have been in Spain almost two months- the longest we have spent in any country since leaving the USA.

    (Note – other than Reading Wednesday I’m going to take a week off from blogging while in Barcelona.  Watch for a blog from Tunisia next)

    So where to next? Here is the plan;

    One week in Tunisia to visit our friend Leslie and then a month in Morocco where we will be joined by our friends Steve and Sarah. Morocco has long been on my list and I can’t wait!

    On our 35th wedding Anniversary on November 27th we arrive for  a 12 day Adventure tour in Namibia before heading to South Africa for Christmas.

    On New Years Eve we fly to Sri Lanka for three weeks, then a quick five days in India and a week in Bangladesh visiting our friend Natalie before flying to the Maldives for almost a month.  We plan to relax and do nothing here.

    Next it’s a week in Guam (by way of Singapore) visiting our niece Bekah and her husband Davy.  Then three weeks in Australia and then three weeks in Bali and Lombok where we will be joined by our friends John and Carole.

    This brings us to the end of April at which time we plan to take a 26 day re-positioning cruise back to the USA for a two-month visit before heading off again. We look forward to seeing friends and family then.

    So there you have it.  Lots of great adventures and blogs on the horizon! As usual, thank you for your continued interest and support.  We are humbled and blessed and grateful each and everyday.

    It’s truly a FABULOUS life. Buen Camino

     

     

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    The People You Will Meet on the Camino de Santiago

    My Camino

    I can’t begin to count the people we have met. Hundreds. Thousands? Unique all.

    Hiking Skirt Lady – Cheerleader  Guy – Peter &Jane – Pennsylvania – Crazy Wine Guy – Dan & Louann – Japanese couple – Argentina – Gail from Sequim – Calgary Ladies

    It’s another amazing aspect of the journey we are on. You can’t begin to comprehend the array of nationalities, personalities, physical abilities, age and languages you encounter amongst the pilgrims on the Camino.

    The Marys – Guy with Dog – Bad Leg Australia – Denver – Super nice Italian Guy – The Brits with the van – Mexican partners – Nebraska

    We can’t remember everyone’s names so we give them nicknames.  “Hey look there’s little Japanese lady.  We haven’t seen her since Burgos.”  Or “Was that South Africa #2 we just passed?”

    So many conversations.  We learn a little bit about a lot of people.  Once again it’s astounding how each person’s journey is unique.

    Sisters from Sisters – Nathan – German tour group – Quebec – Lady/Man? With stuffed Tiger – South Korea – Brazil Guy – Obnoxious Vegetarian American

    A woman from Australia told us she hates the Meseta, it reminded her too much of the Outback. So she took a bus and skipped the entire section.  What??  That was my favorite! So beautiful.

    French boys – Finnish Family – New Zealand – Cute Irish couple – Richmond Virginia – Rogue River – Flower hat lady – Texas Gals

    For weeks we have encountered a British group of
    six walking, and one woman driving a van to meet them at the end of each day.  Another group of Germans also with a support vehicle following but they stopped at the halfway point.  They will return next year to do the second half.

    Old Slow Man – Toronto – The Dutch – Big guy with tattoos – Mexico – Catalan Girls – Guy with long hair – Salt Spring Island – Northern Ireland

    A conversation with  Spanish man who thinks too many tourists on the Camino take away from the “original” purpose – only to find out this guy is riding a bike.  Doubtful many original pilgrims had a mountain bike.

    Mutt & Jeff – Munich – Maia from Australia – Vancouver – Wilkerson WA – Chain Smoker – Guy in my Bunk – Ohio

    At the same time we arrived at the Cruz de Ferro the other day two huge tour buses pulled up on the road and out piled at least 100 Korean tourists.  We had just walked up to the 5000 foot mark while they came up on a bus.  Then they proceeded to walk down the other side making the trail crowded and making me irritated. I was exhausted and they were fresh and fast.  This seems wrong to me to see the Camino done this way, but I’m trying hard not to judge.  It’s hard though.

    Couple celebrating 30th Anniversary – Punk Rocker from Taiwan – Loud Woman on her cell phone – Utah – Munich – Blind Guy with Brother

    On our first day we met an older woman from Australia and she was walking alone.  She said she was slow but could go far.  I’ve thought of her every day since. Particularly on the days where I was struggling, when the weather was bad or the trail was tough. I hope she is still out there. I wish I had gotten her contact info.  I’m worried for her.  This isn’t easy.

    Spanish Six – Curly Redhead – Irish Hiking Club – Scotland – Tattoo Girl – Phoenix – Lost Lady

    In just a few days we will reach Sarria, 100km from Santiago.  We know the Camino will change at this point and we feel sad about it.  Here is where we will be joined by hundreds of pilgrims who only walk the final 100km.  I know the experience will be different starting here and I expect not as serene.  It will also be odd to suddenly be surrounded by fresh new pilgrims we don’t know.  I hope our comrades aren’t lost in the shuffle.

    Seattle – Grey Couple – Slow Walkers – Coug – Hawks Fan –

    What do others call us I wonder?

    We all are here for different reasons with different goals, life experiences and expectations.  But we all share one name in common;

    Pilgrim.

    Buen Camino.

    Miles walked 375. Miles to go 114.

     

     

     

     

    And All the Rest

    Let It Blow

    Let it Blow. Holy cow it has been so windy here. I began to think maybe this is just the way it is in this little southwest corner of Portugal.

    My hat took flight

    The palm trees laid low

    The sand whirled about

    The sailors wanted to go

     

    My laundry dried in minutes

    The flags Snapped and whipped

    The waves made a statement

    The windsurfer dipped and flipped

     

    My hair is a rats nest

    This wind is so strong

    But the forecast says it’s temporary

    In two days it will be long gone

     

    Okay I can wait –

     

     

     

     

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    Slow Down You Move Too Fast

    Chapter Ten continues with some much needed attention to Feeling Groovy

    Slow down you move too fast – you got to make the morning last.

    I’m not feeling so groovy.  I’m feeling exhausted.

    Our stated goal of not being tourists has gotten lost over the past month.  Our much appreciated “days off” have disappeared.  We have been on the move and on the go pretty consistently since arriving in Croatia in late June.

    With Arne’s mom we were busy tourists in Croatia and then again with our friends in Slovenia. The past six days we have been on the move enjoying and eating our way through glorious Lisbon with our son Erik whom we hadn’t seen since New Years.

    But now I am tired.  Time for a break and to work on getting my groove back.

    We head today south as Chapter Ten continues in Lagos Portugal in the Algarve region for three weeks.  I plan to not have a plan.  In fact the only touristy-type thing on the schedule is a cooking class.  We will relax and enjoy the sun and sand.  We will walk and do yoga everyday in our final preparation for the Camino (three weeks away), we will cook at home and eat healthy home-made foods.

    For the next three weeks we will prepare physically, mentally and emotionally for our 500 mile Camino walk.  And we will do it in beautiful Lagos Portugal.  And we will relax, read, sleep, stroll, sip and surrender to the ebbing of August and the beckoning of fall.

    And doesn’t that sound fabulous? And groovy?

    I have to admit I am a bit nervous as the start of the Camino looms closer on the calendar.  I think the next three weeks will be a good time to bring my body and mind both together into a place to tackle this walk.  My husband insists I am physically ready – and yet I am still nervous.  As with anything, the waiting is the hardest part.

    And so it’s time to work on feeling groovy again.  Writing makes me feel groovy so I’ll be blogging in Lagos…and hopefully feeling relaxed and fabulous and groovy.

    I got no deeds to do
    No promises to keep
    I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
    Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
    Life, I love you
    All is groovy

     

     

     

    And All the Rest  --  Travel Around the World

    Smoke on the Water

    Chapter Nine – Split Fired Up

    We have been in Split Croatia now for four days and it is a very beautiful city.  I’ll write more about the city itself soon, but today I want to briefly mention the heat.  The heat is definitely on in Split, and all through out Croatia and the result is some devastating wildfires.

    Split sits on a beautiful harbor and the city itself is low.  But on three sides rise beautiful mountains and it reminds me very much of Eastern Washington.  And today it reminded me very much of summer fires in Eastern Washington.

    We first spotted the smoke

    We first noticed the smoke yesterday, very subtle.   We had noticed a similar situation when we were in Dubrovnik but it never amounted to much.  But yesterday it did.  In the morning it was just a little smoke.  By late afternoon it was a firestorm, that unfortunately resulted in loss of life, loss of property and loss of homes.

    The locals seemed shaken.  Even though summer forest fires in the pine forests and dry scrub are common.  But this fire was close.  Too close for

    Late yesterday

    comfort.  Several villages in the surrounding hills lost buildings, schools and homes and one man was said to have died from a heart attack while watching his olive grove burn.

    By the early morning hours today the fires were said

    Fire plane in the distance ready to dip in the sea

    to be under control, although throughout the day we could see smoke and watched the firefighting airplanes dip into the sea to fill their tanks and head back up to the mountains.

    We are safe, and the part of the city we are in is also safe.  We will see how the rest of the time in Croatia plays out – and the rest of our time throughout

    Another fire in the distance today

    Europe.  Portugal, where we arrive on August 1st has had its share of fires since June.  We may see more there.

    Tomorrow we take a ferry to the island of Brac for the day and like everywhere else, the forests and villages there are like a tinder box.

    Cautiously we go.  The heat is on.