Sabbatical Pilgrimage

On May 27, 2011, we will lock our front door and set off on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain. We'll fly to Paris... Take a high speed train (TGV) to Bayonne, France... Change to a slower train that will take us to St. Jean Pied de Port, in the foothills of the Pyrenees -- where our walk begins. On May 29, Sunday, we will set out on foot for our 500-mile walk across Northern Spain.

The Camino de Santiago is a centuries-old pilgrimage trail. We join millions of pilgrims who have walked this path over the years.

Journey with us, as we post pictures and highlights of our adventure.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


We've been home for almost 2 weeks and are still reflecting daily on our amazing journey across northern Spain. Thank you for reading this blog and supporting us through your prayers and encouragement. Here are just a few images of the trip. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

We're here!!!

We walked into Santiago today, arriving at the cathedral, the official end of the Camino, at 12:40 pm. Yay!!!! Walking through the arch and taking those last 100 steps was deeply moving. We were on the Camino for 34 days. The last 13 days we walked every day. We are very happy to be here and will rest for a few days, making the transition from pilgrims to tourists and enjoying this beautiful city.

Reflecting over the last 5 weeks we remember beautiful and varied scenery, many old churches and other buildings and monuments, and most of all the people we have met, other pilgrims and also many Spanish people who have reached out to us with assistance and kindness. We have been changed and enriched by it all.

We are disappointed that we were not able to add photos as we went along. We'll post a few when we get back home.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The finish line is in sight

We are in Rua, a tiny village near Arca, and just 22 kilometers from the Cathedral in Santiago. We expect to arrive in the early afternoon. It will be our 34th day on the Camino. As we washed out our clothes this afternoon we laughed about that daily ritual being one thing we well not miss about this adventure!

The number of pilgrims has increased dramatically, so that at times it feels like we are part of a crowd streaming toward a sports stadium. By afternoon the crowds had thinned out and we enjoyed walking through eucalyptus groves and through tiny farming villages. More cows, no more storks. It has been interesting to see how the types of scenery and architecture and even language have changed as we have moved across Spain.

More tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting close

We walked in cool mist most of today, about 26 kilometers from Portomarin to Palas do Rei. The path and all the daily destinations have gotten a lot more crowded since Sarria, where a lot of pilgrims begin so they can earn the Compostela by walking 100 kilometers to Santiago. After 3 days of high heat today's cool rain was welcome.

Portomarin, where we were last night, was moved to higher ground in the 1960s when a hydroelectric dam flooded the old city. They moved the centuries old church block by block and rebuilt it. The reservoir was low as we came into town and we could see ancient walls and small buildings.

Today we walked with Denise from Guadalajara, Mexico and Elizabeth from Brazil.

We're less than 50 miles from Santiago! 3 days to go ...

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Wow! So great to hear from so many who are reading this blog. We were excited to read the Pioneer Press article online and know how much St. Anne's has done. We can't wait to see the path, and are encouraged by all the support of those who are walking with us and praying for us.

We have been without Internet access for most of the past week. We moved into a much more rural area, and the last few days especially have been walking through farmland and tiny farm villages. Cow pies everywhere (watch your step!) the older buildings are all made of stone with slate roofs or thatched roofs. We climbed to O Cebreiro and the down to Triacastela yesterday, over 31 kilometers. Today was just 19K into Sarria. But it's very hot--mid 90s.

Last night we attended the Pilgrims' Mass at Santiago Church in Triacastela. About 50 pilgrims crowded into the ancient stone church, and the priest welcomed us all. Prayers and scriptures were read in many languages. At the Lord's Prayer we all prayed in our own languages. Very moving.

We are 5 day's walk from Santiago now.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Since our last update we arrived in Leon, a major city in the Castilla y Leon region. We arrived Friday to find the city very busy as a two week long music festival was under way. We had some difficulty finding lodging, especially for Saturday night. Once settled we explored this beautiful city and its enormous cathedral. So much stained glass! Saturday, we met our friend and Lydia's colleague, Janet Wheelock, arriving to begin her Camino. The days have been hot and sunny and Sunday was no exception. We had ambitious plans to walk about 26 km, but we got a late start and with the heat we were praying that we could find a place several km short of our goal even though none were listed in our guide. We experienced yet another Camino moment when we found an ad scrawled on a wall for El Molino Galochas just 2 km ahead. I called the phone number and requested a room as Janet and Lydia trudged ahead. We scored a room at a very charming casa rural with hostess Mercedes and spent a wonderful evening and breakfast with a German couple, a Frenchman, two Italians and a Danish woman. Such a wonderful mix of cultures and languages. Lydia is having opportunity to exercise her language skills in German, French and Spanish. The hot sun today was our adversary. Few stops were available and we arrived hot and tired in Astorga, an ancient Roman city known for its chocolate. About 6 km before the end of our walk we came to an oasis. A young man had set up a stand with juices, fruit, nuts all free or for a donation. It was lovely.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pilgrims' Progress

We have left the rain behind. It has been hot and sunny as we work our way across the meseta. The meseta is the high, flat farmland consisting of miles of wheat fields and other grains (and sheep, etc). We are getting stronger and moving faster. We are near the midpoint of our 500 mile journey. Tonight, in Carrion de los Condes, we attended a short service for pilgrims at the albergue led by three young nuns from Peru. We sang songs in many languages and shared something about ourselves with our new friends from around the world.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Buenos Dias de Burgos. Burgos is a beautiful, page city. Full of energy and excitement. The cathedral of Burgos is huge, with many towers and spires. The artwork inside is from many ages and styles. There seems to be a large church on every corner here; all catholic. Some have been converted to hotels and public use. There is a large monastery here, too. Yesterday was a local holiday to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the monastery. Tomorrow we set out for a long 30 km day. Sorry we are not publishing pictures. We have not had good Internet facilities available.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We have come to Santo Domingo de Calzada. This town is remembered for the miracle of the cock and hen. In this story a cooked chicken jumps to life from someone's plate. Chickens have been celebrated here ever since. Live chickens are kept in the cathedral, though none were there wnen we visited. The cathedral has very cool tunnels and staircases in the walls which were used for defense in about 1100. We like this town!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rain, rain go away

It has been raining steadily the past couple of days. It makes the walking seem more like work as we are more focused on staying dry and watching where we step to avoid mud and PUDDLES. We have walked a couple of shorter days to keep moving while we rest (relatively speaking). We are now in Najera a small town with lots of storks. They are nesting all over the red cliffs against which the town is nestled and there must be at least 8 active nests in the church bell tower. It is very cool and wet tonight. Warm weather and sun are expected tomorrow.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


We walked through 2 small villages today, then a long time through vinyards and olive groves. Along the way we kept seeing these little stone shelters, one-room hermitages which were occupied centuries ago by... well, hermits. We arrived in Viana at about 2:30 to find the streets crowded with people of all ages, all dressed up, and lots of boys and girls in beautiful suits and dresses. It was the day of First Communion. It's now 9:00 at night and the party is still going on in the streets.

We have had time to walk around this beautiful village. The main church, Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Asuncion, is closed because it's Sunday (!) but we saw the ruins of Iglesia San Pedro, which had been the oldest church in Viana, built in the early 13th century. But its roof collapsed in 1843, and now it's just walls around a city park. In front of the Iglesia de Santa Maria is the tomb of Cesar Borgia.

One thing we are enjoying quite a bit is getting to know some of the other pilgrims. We have met people from all over the world, and encounter the same people over and over again when we stop for meals or snacks, and when we are in the towns where we stay. There is Carmen from Canada, Rosa and Adriana from Italy, Gabriel and Agnes from Korea, and even a group from Minnesota, one of whom took violin lessons from Sister Pat at St. Anne's, and one of whom is an Episcopal priest now serving as chaplain at Emery University in Atlanta. Small world.

Tomorrow -- on to Navarette!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Long Way Home

We have arrived in Los Arcos. We have just completed our 6th day of walking. It is very hard going at times. Our feet are sore and our muscles ache.  It is very exciting when we finally arrive at our destination after 7-9 hours of walking. But, the sights we see and the people we meet make it all worth the effort. We have met people from all over the world- not many Americanos though.  We have seen so many old churches and monestaries!

Internet has been hard to find. I am now updating  the blog from my iPhone which has its drawbacks.  I hope to be able to post photos soon.

Peace to all. We continue our quest again tomorrow. Sleep comes easily these days and so I must sign off.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Hello All,
We're safe, and finally checking in with you after 3 days as pilgrims. Pamplona is the first city we have come to where we can get on a computer to update our blog. What an adventure so far! Just getting to the start of the pilgrimage trail was challenging. Our only piece of checked luggage, our hiking poles, didn't make it to Paris. Looking for them and filing a missing baggage report made us almost miss our train to southern France. But we got safely to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port Saturday afternoon, and checked into a little pension. Our room was on the 4th floor, with a balcony overlooking the old city wall. The next morning we set off, with new hiking poles and a lunch packed by our innkeeper, Maria Camino. That first day was the hardest. About 18 miles, climbing up over the pass of the mountain into Spain. That was hard enough, but the descent was even harder. Very steep, over gravel. Down, down, down. By the time we reached Roncesvalles I thought I would never walk again. A shower and some refreshments helped a lot.

We have met many other pilgrims from all over the world. Only a few speak English and fewer still are from the U.S. The second evening, when we stayed in Zubiri, we had dinner with a group from South Africa. That night it poured all evening and through the night -- fortunately after we had arrived and found a room in a little pension right next to the Zubiri bridge. The rainstorm brought in colder weather, and yesterday we walked through mud and puddles, through rain and wind and occasional moments of sun. We got to Pamplona in the afternoon and decided to stay a day here, to rest and be tourists for a day instead of pilgrims.  It has been cold the last 2 days. We have worn our fleece vests and rain jackets and all the long sleeved things we brought.

We're taking a lot of pictures, but there doesn't seem to be a way to load them at this computer. So... we'll try to post photos next time.

love, from Pamplona, on the Camino de Santiago,
Lydia and Mark

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Journey Begins

The adventure begins today. How strange it was yesterday to finish up loose ends at work and shut down my computer for the last time in over 5 weeks. It was hard to get out the door, but once I left the building I was able to breathe new, fresh air into my lungs. We are blessed to have this opportunity.

The Going Away Party

Saint Anne's provided a wonderful, loving going away party for us on Saturday, May 21. The evening included a potluck dinner, a talent show, gift-giving and live music and dancing.  It was a very special evening. Worship services on Sunday were also special liturgies to bless us on our journey. Thank you to all who contributed to making those days special.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dry Run

On Saturday, May 14, Lydia and Mark made a practice run at Afton Alps. We walked for about 4 hours on hilly terrain in wet weather with packs fully loaded - about 25 pounds each.