inspiration, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I loathe taking people to the airport. Not because I find it an inconvenience – I’m happy to do favors for friends and family. The reason I dislike it so intensely is because they are going somewhere and I am not. Jealousy, you green-eyed monster, you!

A lot of travelers hate flights in general. My husband is one of these. The cramped conditions, the noise, the germs from crying babies and coughing adults, all of it combines to make flying a thing of dread. I don’t mind it, though. I always load my mp3 player up with audiobooks and music, and make sure to bring paper and pen for uninterrupted writing time. I enjoy charting my flight progress on the interactive maps some airlines have. Looking out the window at the earth below is a favorite activity as well. Sometimes I’ll even snap a picture or two. This one was taken on a trip to Europe, as we flew over the Arctic lands. How beautiful and mysterious it looks from above.


Recently, I took a work trip to Jackson, Mississippi. I was only there for one night and was so busy that I had absolutely no time to see anything other than the (admittedly beautiful) hotel. On the trip there, though, I saw this out the window.

crop circles1

I think we were flying over Texas at the time, although I can’t be sure. The circles looked somewhat eerie. I assumed that they were farming plots, but now I’m not so sure. Do you know? Here’s a better shot:


The lights of Dallas Fort Worth, on a connecting flight home, glittered like jewels on a sea of black velvet. The low lighted conditions and the shuddering of the plane didn’t make for ideal photography, but nevertheless, here is a shot:

night flight

The next time you are on a plane heading out into the great unknown, spend a few moments enjoying the beauty and mystery of the world beneath. You might just come away with wonderful memories from that alone.

challenge, hiking, history, inspiration, photography, travel, Uncategorized, writing

Discovering the Spirit of Burgos, Spain – 108-121/200 Camino Photos

The historic heart of Burgos, Spain, is chocked full of shops, tourists, clergy, and workers. Buildings are joined in a continuous wall, and the daytime is alive with motion and sound. One place is different, though. You can see part of it on the right hand side of the photo.


Here is a better view. It is Divina Pastora, a chapel and albergue just steps away from the great Gothic cathedral in Burgos. Look closely at its design. You can see the oldest part, with light stone, and the more recent brick floor added atop.

Camino 864

It is a humble, quiet place. Simple. The complete opposite of the cathedral I will detail below. The albergue occupies the upper floor. It is small, but clean and warm. Alicia (Al-ee-see-yah) staffs it. In the evenings she sings in the chapel. In the morning she serenaded us awake with gentle guitar music and her sweet voice singing “Good morning, good morning, good morning.” The sound of her voice, the beauty of it and the sweetness, makes it my favorite memory from the Camino.

There, I encountered the Italian man I met in Santo Domingo de Calzada.

“Are you going to the cathedral?” I asked.

“No, I don’t like that you have to pay admission. A church should not profit from admission.”

I had heard this sentiment before. The admission price didn’t bother me, though, because the churches and historic sites that charge it must care for their collections, and this can be costly.

“You can tell me how it is,” he said.

I had never been to a Gothic cathedral before. The outside is nothing less than spectacular.


The interior can be just as overwhelming


Vaults, arches, marble, sculptures and more. All of it designed to draw the eye upward, to heaven, to the Light of the World


Works of art meet the eye in all directions





Even stairways are fantastic


But pathos lurks amidst the beauty. Note the upper right hand corner of the below shot, just above the chandelier.


It is known as the Flycatcher. A figure made in Germany, it rings a bell on the hour, and its mouth opens as if to catch flies. Forgive the blurry picture below.


It is, dare I say it? Creepy. But it is not the only creepy thing in the cathedral. There are crypts, because medieval people wanted to be as close as possible to the sacred in cathedrals, hoping it would wear off on them, even after death.


That is why the bones of saints were kept and revered, like this piece of an arm



Still, the opulence all around can leave one flat. How many mouths would have been fed from the cost of this incredible place? It is clear that while it was created ostensibly for spiritual reasons, it was also meant to communicate worldly magnificence. Burgos was the capital of Castile and Leon.

Back at the Divina Pastora, the Italian man said, “Well, how was it?”

“Just fantastic!” I gushed. I handed him my camera so that he could look at the photos.

“What do you think?” I asked when he was done.

“I should have gone,” he said, frowning a bit.

I could not argue with him there.


If you’ve missed any of these photos, feel free to backtrack over here.


humor, inspiration, photography, travel, travel memories, Uncategorized

Travel Throwback Thursday: Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada

I came across this picture while cleaning my desk just now. It was purchased some years ago on a road trip from California to Alaska when we stopped in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. I was so struck by how awesome and majestic it is. I just HAD to have it.


Then the lady manning the desk told me about the local area it was taken, a place that attracts lots of these noble and beautiful birds:

the city dump.

Oh, reality! You are so ironic sometimes, aren’t you?

challenge, hiking, inspiration, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Over the Next Hill – 26/100 Camino Photos

Curiosity drives me forward when I hike. What will I see beyond the next hill, around the next curve? Not much, sometimes. Amazing views other times. This view of the centuries-old Camino town Cirauqui is perhaps my favorite ever. Proud and picturesque, colorful and carefully maintained. It has much in common with other small Spanish towns, but this photo reminds me of the quiet sunny beauty of this part of the Way.


challenge, hiking, inspiration, photography, travel, Uncategorized

World Class – 25/100 Camino Photos

Pilgrims come from all over the world to walk the Camino de Santiago. I met people from South Korea, Japan, Germany, Austria, Finland, Britain, Estonia, New Zealand, France, Brazil, Italy, Canada, Mexico, and more. Indeed, it is a small world.


challenge, hiking, inspiration, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Mustard Seeds – 23-24/100 Camino Photos

Bright, crisp greens. Pure mustard yellows. Gray mountains and brown earth. The sound of gurgling streams. On the Camino de Santiago, nature needs do nothing more than be to inspire.



Centuries old pathways stretch over hills and through such fields. Thunder rumbles in the distance, and the smell of far-off rain scents the air. What will you find around the next bend?

challenge, hiking, inspiration, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Puente la Reina – 21-22/100 Camino Photos

Puente la Reina. The queen’s bridge, in English. A photogenic spot, this little town between Pamplona and Estella, is popular with pilgrims and tourists alike. Beautiful sights like these all along the Camino de Santiago lift your thoughts toward things eternal. I could only stay a few moments here because on the Way you must keep moving, always moving. The value of photographs like these is that I can enjoy the transient moments again and again.

Puente la Reina



inspiration, photography, travel, writing

Life on the Run. Okay, walk.

I am writing this from northern Spain in the small village of Obanos. The cathedral bells have just rung, temporarily drowning out the conversation of a group of local Spaniards near me in the plaza. The sun shines still though it is 7 pm. I am on Day 4 of my Camino de Santiago. About 65km down. 725 to go.

The challenges are probably obvious: kilometer after kilometer of walking, dealing with wayfinding and the weather, and missing loved ones at home. But there is glory, too, in rolling green hills, snow-dotted mountainsmountains, and the peace of an ever-extending path past grazing sheep, sun-yellow mustard fields, and rushing streams of clear, cold water.

More so is the joy of the companionship of fellow wanderers, restless spirits who are open to all that this lovely and difficult world has to offer. They understand like few others what drives me on, the curiosity and faith and wonder all at once.


inspiration, travel, Uncategorized

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

backpackThe backpack and sleep sheet have been treated with pesticide. The hat and backpack have been waterproofed. Duct tape has been applied to my heel blister. The proper socks and bras and pants and shoes (oh Lord have mercy, the shoes – I can write six more blog posts on just those!) have been procured. Reservations have been made. Electronics have been charged.

And the day has finally come. This evening I’m boarding a plane for the Camino de Santiago.

The shell is the symbol of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. My favorite story about them says that when pilgrims reached Finisterre (Latin for ‘the end of the world’), which lays just west of Santiago, they would pick up these shells from the beach to prove that they had been there. The ridges are said to symbolize the different directions that pilgrims come from, each to meet at one central point.


Because I’m a writer and a bit of a weirdo, here is my notebook. Inspiring, right? At the back I made my own pocket to carry prayers covered with clear packing tape so that they will last.

Thank you to everyone who has gotten me this far – and there have been a lot of you. I am blessed to have so many supportive, kind, loving people in my life. Sara hiked with me every weekend. Helen and her dog Galtee tromped up and down lots of hills with me. Martha gave me a travel hack kit of rubber bands and band aids and plastic bags. Stephanie hugged me. Many, many of you have encouraged me. Calls and well wishes and messages have been coming in. Bucks have been shelled out. Prayers by the dozens are coming my way.

And more.

Janet is coming with me. Dave has the brunt of work – taking care of my many animals (including the one wearing the cone of shame still) and the house not to mention emotional support. My mom is praying for me. My dad is bragging about me to random people. My daughter is waiting anxiously to hear from me.

All in all, I am abundantly, richly blessed, and I will not forget that fact.

So thank you again. I’ll see you on the other side.