Friday, December 16, 2016

Familiar but Always New

In early December, we escaped the New England weather and headed south.  

As we drove along route 17 through the Carolinas we noticed that we were traveling on the Cultural Heritage Corridor extending from Wilmington, NC to Jacksonville, FL.  We looked up this designation and learned that this was now a National Heritage Site recognizing the Gullah/Geechee people and culture, a distinct, living African American group that survived the passage to America as enslaved Africans. They came from West Afica primarily and worked the islands and plantations of the low country of the four states from North Carolina to Florida. Because they were kept to these isolated geographic areas, they maintained their language and other aspects of their own culture.  Google!

We also noticed cotton fields being harvested along this same stretch of states and were amazed at the size of the bales of cotton.  

Square bale can weigh up to 20,000 lbs.

Round bales might weight about 6,000 lbs.

On Dec 8, we landed in St Mary's Georgia for our first camping trip of the fall season, and planned our visit to Cumberland Island National Seashore.

This has been a special place for us for over thirty years, and one of our fondest memories was the time we brought Carrie and Phillip here for Christmas and decorated the Palmetto ferns.  The armadillos, the deer, the snakes, and the feral horses add to the colourful experience of the island along with the sixteen-mile beach and the history of this place.  Worth a Google.

After our five days at Crooked River State Park in St. Mary's GA, we repacked the van and headed across the border to Florida.  There was some sadness for me realizing that since my stepdad had passed away, and mom was a now in Pennsylvania with my sister, there would be no more Christmas celebrations with them. Life had irrevocably changed!

Instead of turning onto route 301 toward Mom's, we got onto route A1A, and headed south thru Jacksonville and St Augustine toward our next camping spot, Tomoka State Park, at Osmond Beach 
(just north of Daytona Beach).  The spot we visited yesterday is relatively close to our state park, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore.  Pictures from the day:

Northern Shoveler male

Northern Pintail pair

Eagles and vulture fighting over some carrion

Snowy Egret and Dowitcher

Hooded Merganser trio

Reddish Egret


Snowy Egret

Tri-coloured Heron

Interesting Facts 

The Launching Area

Latona loves every beach we visit

Ruddy Turnstone

Royal Terns


Tomorrow we hope to visit St. Augustine's historical area and learn about the oldest city of the United States.  

As we head closer to the holidays, I want to say a special thank you to all the friends and family we visited in October and November.  Thank you for special conversations, our shared meals, plug-ins for the van, and all the gifts and moments that you share with us that create the fabric of our life. Our most valued gift is YOU, your love and relationship with us.

Yet, we are also aware of the suffering that is going on in this world today and send prayers for a peaceful end to these killings, human sufferings and conflicts. We also feel the losses that loved ones have suffered this past year.  My mom lost here husband and her life in Florida, my uncle lost his wife of 71 years, and the Merrilene Johnson family lost their husband Buddy, and sweet daughter, Effie.

We will travel into the New Year to Texas to spend this winter, a change from our regular time at Big PIne Key Fishing Lodge, (although do have our reservation for 2018). So even though our lives are filled with changes, we are filled with love and gratitude for all we have been given.  We pray for those who are suffering and pray that there will come a day where there is truly peace on earth and goodwill to ALL people!

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a Joyous Celebration of ALL you hold dear!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Special Post Script

Latona and I want to thank Carrie and Jay for taking care of our home, the van, while we were gone. Not an unimportant issue for us.

Carrie also made sure we made our departure connection from Manchester, and then collected us at Logan on our return Ocober 8.  So sweet.

We are so grateful that we belong to the same family! Love you.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The End of the Story - Camino Portuguese

The last day of the actual pilgrimage was one of anticipation.  Hiking along we waited for the first sighting of Santiago.  Pat and Jean looking for the top of the cathedral.

Along the streets of Santiago, we walked and I watched and waited.

Soon, I could see the prize ahead.  

To say we were overwhelmed by the size, beauty and grandeur of the cathedral would be quite an understatement! 

There really are no words that will describe the magnificence of the buildings that make up the Cathedral of Santiago.

                  *****                My heart was very full of gratitude and joy.         *****

The following day, we made a plan to go to the Pilgrims Office and to present our credentials.
Our pilgrim passport had been stamped at most places where we ate, and especially where we slept.
This became the "proof" that we had at least hiked the required path to receive our Compostela. 


My Compostela

The journey was complete but we planned to stay a few days in Santiago, and take a day trip to Finistere before beginning our trip back to the states.  Finistere is considered by some the westernmost point in Spain.
But it was time to begin our return and it started with a long bus trip from Santiago back to Lisbon.  We enjoyed the city for another day, and thought of all that had happened since September 2, and our start of the Camino Portuguese.


This enjoyable day included a trip to the botanical gardens, and the pond just outside of the gardens.

The always interesting Banana tree.

A lovely pair of Black Swans.

Our flight back to Boston included a stop in the Azores, in the city of Ponto del Gado. It was an unexpected treat to visit here. Very quick stop for an overnight, but a quaint look at this island paradise. 

The lovely footnote to end our trip was the fact that everywhere we went that final day, we saw the Bird of Paradise in bloom.

Well, there will be much reflection and writing about the time on the Camino Portuguese. It was a lovely journey in so many ways, but the image that stands out the most right now includes the faces of the lovely Portuguese people and the other pilgrims, and all the help they offered to us. We were provided with everything we needed along the way. 

Special thanks to our friends Pat and Jean for including us on this journey of self-exploration and spiritual awareness. We will always be grateful. Thanks for all the moments you waited for us to catch up to you!

And as always, my special thanks to my partner who has walked beside me many miles and many years. Bom Camino!