Tag Archives: Camino de Santiago

If only … if only … if only … and the prescience of paragraph 4


For those of you enlisted to a frenetic ‘search committee,’ if only this letter had arrived a day earlier rather than be read at 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. If only.

It’s all about six benign sentences in paragraph four.

Think of the angst and anxiety and hand-wringing a simple call or text might have saved everyone. But my armchair after-the-fact analysis/critique will be saved for this week’s letter to Ellen and Reid you’ll read next week. Really, it will be an open letter of appreciation to the rest of you.


May 15, 2017

Ellen/Reid: It’s kind of weird to walk into the garage and not see the Harley. I’ve taken a second look several times, and when I pull the car in the garage, the subconscious takes over the steering wheel to pull the Camry a tad to the left so as to give clearance for the bike. It’s only when the car goes into ‘park’ that the realization is made that there’s no longer any reason to give the Road King leeway since there is no Road King. But I don’t miss it at all. There are no second doubts, no ‘yeah buts …’ – none of that. It’s gone, someone else is the proud new owner and that’s perfectly okay. It really is.

Miss Emma is atop the car and that was the real acid test for the surgery. It was awkward to lift it into position but I really didn’t feel anything other that some anxiety. I thought there was a faux-pinch in there but it hasn’t hurt since then. It’s been a four and a half weeks and the literature and the surgeon said return to full activity after four weeks. But I reserve the right to ask some of the Charleston Outdoor Adventures staff for a bit of muscle power tomorrow when the time comes to hoist her back atop the car. There shouldn’t be much of an issue on paddling since my legs are bent and my feet get some leverage against what amount to foot pegs inside the boat. I’m excited about again going down – and back – again although the weather is warming up in a hurry and that doesn’t spell much in the way of good fishing. I’ll view it as a shake down cruise of sorts. There won’t be any oysters this time around; that season is over and I’ll miss the back-and-forth banter with the black oystermen. I don’t know what they do for off-season jobs. Maybe work the shrimpers?

Ellen, you looked great in your cap and gown. It’s okay you didn’t go to the actual ceremony. In a way that’s sad, however, since going through the ritual seems to be falling by the wayside. I would have gone to yours too, Reid, if you’d wanted to go through it. It’s a nice recognition for all the work that you guys have put it. I do still grin at the thought that your ‘ceremony’ was last weekend and not this one.

I’m going to go hiking and camping with some new friends Wednesday through mid-day on Friday. I’m kind of excited about it. The Osprey is all packed and ready to go.

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The dehydrated meals for the Wilson Creek trek served as a metaphor for added food-for-thought: as in telling someone – anyone – when I head out of town on an extended excursion.

We’ll head to Wilson Creek and my fly rod is making the trip with me. Don’t know what’s catchable but one of the guys is supposed to be real knowledgeable about the fishing thereabouts. And Reid, there won’t be any infernal bear barrels.

Got invited to Adrienne Furstenau’s wedding the weekend of July 8 in Minneapolis. It’s an honor to be asked. It has me rethinking the plane flight. Scarcely nine days later I’ll pull back through the Midwest to pick up Tom and head west to the Bridger. What if … I drove up for the wedding, spent a few days in MSP, drove down to DSM for a couple of days, then headed east to Chi-Town for a few days before journeying West? I guess that would remove me from Charlotte for virtually the entire month of July and a few days into August. Ellen, are you guys going up to the lake that weekend of July 8 since the 4th falls during the week? That may figure into my plans so let me know ASAP.

The Spain trek is coming together. Ordered the guide book today and a new Osprey Kestrel pack. It’s about one-third smaller than what I tote into the Bridger so it should be a good option to carry just about everything I’d need without being too big and bulky. I’ve yet to pour over Tom’s gear list for the Camino but will do that in earnest when the guide book comes in. Now, I’ve got to get some sort of camera. Reid, any ideas? Nikon? Canon? Other?

Love, Dad

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And a time to every purpose, under heaven …


It took Pete Seeger and The Byrds to put a few verses from Ecclesiastes into perspective for many of us:

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

So it would seem for the contents of last week’s letter.


April 24, 2017

Ellen/Reid: By the time you open this, Ellen, surgery on your arm will be done and you’ll be all sewed up, good as new. Good for the dermatologist to catch it in the apparent early stages. There’s nothing wrong with check ups every three months. I’m still on that quarterly regimen, too, as is your mother and your uncle. Reid, I know Tim hit you hard about a skin check up but really, get in since this insidious beast can lurk around almost unseen. Almost the entire family has had melanoma. So please, get checked.

It rained all day yesterday around here and still is this morning. I didn’t realize how much of a downpour we had until I brought up the digital Charlotte Observer. Apparently some neighborhoods were badly flooded and are still out of power. The little creek behind the house is bank full. I guess it’s good for the reservoirs but it washes all the litter into them.

It’s a relief in a lot of ways that the Road King is nearly gone. I’m quite fine with it. It was just time. Not my favorite of all the Harleys I’ve had and maybe if it was the old Heritage Softail then there might still be a bike in the garage. But there’s not and that is just great. The guy who bought it was excited and he picks it up sometime in the next couple of days if the rain stops.

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The Road King needed a new owner who could put the bike through its deserved paces. And it got one in a great young guy named Matt.

We didn’t haggle much on the price, and I threw in lots of misc. gear like a cover and tour pack and a jacket and cleaning supplies and a helmet and some Harley tees just to be rid of stuff. I’ll use some of the proceeds to recover the kitchen cabinets, maybe re-carpet the place and buy tickets to see you goons. Whatever is left will go to my trek in Spain this fall. I’ve started to go to weekly coffees about how to plan for the Camino de Santiago. Since I’m not the planner extraordinaire, even a few tips will get me down the road.

Ellen, I’m close to a ticket for your graduation. Are you absolutely sure you’re okay with me visiting since you guys will need to be in a motel? You may not need me as a fifth wheel so help me make the call. Why aren’t they having the graduation there on campus? Wouldn’t that be the Continue reading

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Repeating myself …


There are times in letter writing when topics are rehashed – and rehashed. Then rehashed again for good measure.

Repetitious cases in point: kayak fishing, home sales, job searches, et al.

I wish it might be otherwise. But since we are creatures of habit we tend to do the same things time and time again. It’s just a matter of how you mix up the retelling of those reoccurrences. It’s all in an effort so Ellen and Reid don’t get bored more than they already are when they read the same things over and over. And over.


February 6, 2017

Ellen/Reid: This birthday thing is no big deal. It really isn’t. As of this moment I am declaring 67 to be the new 63. Knock on wood, but I’m feeling pretty good, continuing to not slow down (okay, maybe mentally) and feel generally pretty good about things. Of course, that’s a serious knock on wood. Life is fairly fragile and it can turn on a dime.

Ellen, your photos make it seem that you are ready to move in, maybe before I arrive in a couple of weeks. This really has to be a time of wonderment for the girls. They just have to be so excited at the prospect of their own rooms, their own bath, a new yard to play in. My perception is it’s a great neighborhood. Can’t wait to see it. It just looks so cool. Your contractors have really motored along. Can’t always say that about hired help. Maybe it’s the Minnesota work ethic.

Reid, tell me more about this London thing. Sounds intriguing. Are they paying you for your ideas and work? I wish I’d of visited you when you worked over there. Why didn’t that happen? That would have been a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see you in overseas action. That certainly was a marvelous experience. Once this home move comes to pass then I can turn attention to the Spain/England walkabout later this year. I’m going to pump some of the proceeds of the house sale into the trip. I’ll try to tap into the experience and wisdom of Tom and Vince and my friend Richard, all of whom have hiked the length of the Camino in one swoop. My penchant is to go over and hit the road  in an uneducated fashion but since I’m not the natural, intrinsic planner I need to take a step back and really get the logistics worked out. It will be a great solo adventure.

As for Wyoming there is now one more very interested/likely hiker. His name is Ted Ingold. He’s in my golf group and it’s 75/25 that he will make the trip. As of this writing it looks as if the likely hikers are Ted, Tom, Vince, Katy and me. Not a bad core group. Ted is really keen on fishing and being part of the great adventure. It would be great if you and Liz could make it, Reid, but when you land a new job your time will be spoken for. If we could entice another 2-3-4 people to sojourn with  us that would be fabulous. The more the merrier.

The new Realtor, the W Group, seems to have their act together. All three floors have been completely reconfigured per the suggestion of their stager. Frankly, she wanted to soften the rough edges Continue reading

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The curmudgeon in me …


Of my nearly 10 years here, most Christmases have been on the quiet side. But as my circle of friends (mostly golfers and some Caldwell people) has grown, it’s given me other outlets for the holidays. So this year was a mix of friends offset by a slight curmudgeonly side. The former was much more prominent than the latter, and it’s good for my two to know their old man has seasonal options.


December 21, 2015

Ellen/Reid: The curmudgeon came out in me this season. For the first time, the tree stayed in the box. Just not much of the holiday spirit floating around the house. Maybe it is that I’ll get the right dose of it up in the Twin Cities, Ellen, when I drop in to visit you guys. Still, I won’t be entirely alone on Christmas day in that I’ll play golf with some folks from my group.

There were quite a few from my golf group who were by themselves for Christmas, so we walked a golf course.

There were quite a few from my golf group who were by themselves for Christmas, so we walked a golf course.

The pro gave us the green light to walk the course even if it won’t be open. Reid, I still need to get the link to the FitBit shirt you want. We’ll just spread out the gift giving season a bit. The traffic around here going to and from the big mall has been totally whack. Out of control.

I hope to get to Charleston tomorrow. It’s largely on a whim and it will be the all-too-typical down and back jaunt. The temperatures are forecast to be in the 70s which means the water temperatures are staying up which in turn means the fish should still be sticking around The Barge and the sand marshes.

I always thought of myself as a landlubber and never dreamed I'd like being on the water so much. That's why there's appeal to Charleston.

I always thought of myself as a landlubber and never dreamed I’d like being on the water so much. That’s why there’s appeal to Charleston.

The replacement parts for the kayak aren’t here yet, so I’ll literally use duct tape to cover the holes. I sent the sand-filled reel to Penn for repairs. Sand literally covered a newspaper on the kitchen table as I dissembled it in an effort to clean it out. But some of the fine parts are covered in ocean grit and it’s probably better for someone who knows what they’re doing to tackle the job. The trip has a secondary purpose. I sure like Charleston a whole lot. The more I’m down there, the more it appeals to me. Once the boat is out of the water and rinsed down of sand, salt and brine, I plan to drive around a bit to check the lay of the land. My habit has been to clean up as best I can and head to Bay or Market streets for a nice post-fishing meal and a beer or glass of wine. Thus, I’ve seen some of the outlying housing areas near the downtown. Charleston has really been on the radar for the past 18 months and somewhat coincides with how long I’ve had the kayak. I’ve contacted a Realtor to nose around for me but nothing has come of that as of yet. It’s an area that’s seeing a huge influx of people and thus nice places are in high demand. I’m not unhappy with my situation in Charlotte by any means so if fate has it that I stay here, that’s okay, too. Miss Emma knows the route to the water. I’ll admit, though, there’s a sense of adventure/re-invention to the whole process. I’m not afraid of it.

The idea of dating has been placed on the shelf. It’s just not apparently in the cards for me right now.  I’m not washing my hands of it, it’s just been relegated to the back burner for the time being. You get bruised often enough and it starts to feel normal. But if you don’t take some lumps I suppose it means you’re not really trying. The other part is that I’m still wrapping my arms around this whole retirement ordeal and that’s moved to the number one spot in the pecking order.

My Medicare card arrived in the mail the other day so that’s one less thing on the to-do list. There are still some benefit and pension things to clear up. Ellen, when I’m in Minnesota, one of my days will be to drive to Des Moines to meet with John. I still don’t have a good handle on how that whole process works but I don’t plan to draw Social Security unless it’s necessary.

My plans for England are still in the works. I was at my friend Jane’s place yesterday for the Panthers game but didn’t corner her for ideas. She’s a Brit and goes home for relatively frequent visits. Reid, I’ll draw on your London experiences, too. I’d like to venture over to the south part of France to see where the Camino de Santiago begins then maybe end up in Portugal. But my passport application still languishes on the kitchen counter. That’s job one, to get that sucker taken care of. Maybe that ought to be on top of today’s to-do list.

Love, Dad

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‘Deep fried on a stick’ and time for Charleston …


It’s time to visit the girls (Emma and Georgia) and the Minnesota State Fair where the most popular booth is the one where they stretch your belt a few notches to accommodate the unique Midwestern style of state fair foods. Hopefully things won’t come to that.

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August 25, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Nice job by the stock market the past few days. Can you say ‘tanked?’ Holy smokes. Talk about putting a dent in retirement plans. I guess it’s only money, but man. How the markets operate and the international influences that drag it down are beyond me.

Can’t wait to get to St. Paul with you guys. I wonder what the new “deep fried on a stick” thing is this year. It can’t be much more fattening than whatever they’ve had before; butter, candy bars, etc. Actually I’ve never had anything deep fried on a stick and am not about to start now. I volunteer to push the stroller(s) and watch everyone on rides. Reid, you and Liz ought to go with us. If nothing else there will be incredible people watching.

Had my physical yesterday. Short of blood test results, everything appears to be in good working order; weight, blood pressure, lungs, that sort of thing. Talked to the doc about the sore left knee, but he basically said surgery has its own complications beyond any surgery itself. His advice boiled down to ‘live with it’ unless it’s debilitating. Played tennis last night and it’s sore but not debilitating this morning so that’s a good sign. Ellen, the story of Tim pulling out your stitches sounds hilarious. How come you didn’t go back to the doctor for that even though it’s a simple process?

Not too nervous about the Sept. 14 surgery. I’ve been forewarned it might be a tad disfiguring, at least for the near term, since it’s on the cheek close to the left eye. I’ll keep a low profile until the swelling is down and the bandages are off. It won’t bother me to miss golf for a little while, a week or so, maybe longer. All that matters right now is what the results are. A good friend in my golf group just had similar surgery a week or so ago and I’ll check in on him at Macs tomorrow night to see how he’s doing. He’s a veteran of multiple skin surgeries, too. Ah, that damned sun.

Loved Tim’s photo of your garden produce, Ellen. Hopefully all the raspberries won’t be consumed by Emma by the time I arrive. You sure have good dirt for growing healthy things. Gardening is just such a good thing in terms of produce and relaxation. What I wouldn’t give for a little plot of land to do the same thing. The pots out back are a good substitute but it’s not quite like working the good earth with your hands.

Reid, last Friday’s reunion with our Wyoming crew was fun. You should see the photos Vince took.

Our band of Wyoming hikers (Rebecca, Katy, Vince, Tom and me) cleaned up pretty well. We had our reunion (minus Reid) at Birdsong Brewery near Noda.

Our band of Wyoming hikers (Rebecca, Katy, Vince, Tom and me) cleaned up pretty well. We had our reunion (minus Reid) at Birdsong Brewery south of Noda.

He put together a little show that ran on his laptop. There were a lot of nice shots of you in there. Speaking of photos, be sure to send me a few. Rebecca sent me such a nice ‘thank you’ note. We got to meet her partner, Anna. She’s well along with her pregnancy and she made the right decision to skip the trip. It would have been really hard, especially some of the more taxing stretches on the inward half of the trip.

Went to a meeting of folks who have walked, or intend to walk, the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The momentum is building for that jaunt. My expired passport is sitting on the kitchen counter and I need to get off the snide and turn that beast in for a renewal. Looks like a new photo will be needed but not much else. Tom speaks so very highly of the trek. It would be fun to mix in another little taste of Europe during the visit to Spain. Reid, you can give me your impressions of places that are worth visiting.

It’s time for another visit to Charleston. The weather is moderating and I’m a little miffed that a couple of months has slipped by without a visit to Bowens Island. Reid, wish you could go. And that goes for Tim, too.

Love, Dad

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A walk along the Camino de Santiago …


Some friends have made glowing endorsements of the Camino de Santiago, a relaxed east-to-west hike (can hundreds of miles really be a ‘relaxed’ hike?) across the northern tier of Spain. Looks like I’ll ratchet up plans for just such a jaunt next summer.

That is, if I survive the Minnesota State Fair.

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August 17, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Things are in gear for Labor Day in the Twin Cities. Tell Emma that I’ll escort her to the rides but will leaving the twirling and tilting to you and Tim, Ellen. Papa doesn’t want to lose it in front of his granddaughter. The girls look so good these days. It is so wonderful to see little Georgia beaming. She is just such a precious little one. Can’t wait to get up there. The ticket will be purchased today. I’ll come up on Friday night and scoot early Monday morning.

War is declared on the ground squirrels that are munching on my tomatoes. They leave the half-eaten fruit on the ground. This will be a guerrilla fight in the trenches. All they had to do was leave the hard-fought tomatoes alone and we could have co-existed. But that won’t happen now. They wanted a fight, and how the little striped creatures are going to get one. The basil adjacent to the tomato plant remains undisturbed and has made for fantastic pesto. Quite a lot of it has been prepared.

The call came in last week that the program that let thousands and thousands of workers like me work from home is coming to an abrupt end. The bank now sees ‘synergies’ and ‘positives’ by having ‘teammates’ work and collaborate together. This is a thinly veiled plan to use the glut of existing space. Since there’s only one person on my ‘team’ that I can have synergy and positives with, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. There’s a fair amount of grumbling about it. When the bank got on the work-from-home train a few years back, it was to save on energy (gas) and transportation (cars) and parking (now about $140/month). But that forward thinking has evaporated. So they are to move me to an office on the west side of Uptown in mid-November. I may apply for a waiver since I’ll pull the plug in February.

There is a strong chance I may head to Spain next summer for a solo walk of the Camino de Santiago across the northern tier of the country going from east to west. Reid, Tom has done it and two other friends had a great time on the trip this past summer. It’s really the route (there appear to be several routes) followed by pilgrims for many centuries although for me it won’t be as spiritual as it might be for some people. Thousands and thousands of people do this every year, and you walk a leisurely pace and stay in hostel type accommodations. A friend of mine, Richard (he went to Wyoming with us in 2013) cautions me that it is a 5-6 week marathon rather than a hurried walk through. Sort of a stop-and-smell-the-roses type of deal. I’ll probably piggy back it with a side trip to London, Reid, and I might lean on you for some navigational help/directions. I don’t mind doing this on my own. It’ll just add to the sense of adventure. The only nation I’ve been to is Switzerland and I never left its borders for three weeks during the 1982 World Rowing Championships. There is a group here that meets quite often on the Camino and the thinking now is to get my feet wet by attending their meeting tomorrow night.

Reid, I’ve settled on some slip ons for the bike rather than a full exhaust system. This will save me about $500 over a full exhaust system. Ellen, the pictures of Tim and Emma fishing at the Pagoda were so cute. He’s a good dad, and she’s a good daughter. The kayak has been gathering dust for a couple of months now and it’s time it got hauled to Charleston. The paper keeps running photos of big fish caught in the salt flats and I want to join in on that party. Or at least try to join in. As they say, and as Emma found out, you can’t catch fish unless your line is in the water.

Love, Dad

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