We chose the long way home after a visit with my Dad (for his 93rd birthday). Highway 1, California’s Pacific Coast Highway, stretches the length of the state and offers some of the most stunning coastal views you’ll find anywhere. We drove the section from San Luis Obispo to Monterey, taking advantage of a few of the roadside stops along the way.
The little community of Clarkdale owes its existence to the copper mining industry. It was a true company town, founded in 1912 by William A. Clark, owner of Arizona’s largest copper mine. Although the good old days of the copper mining industry are long gone, the Arizona Copper Art Museum continues to celebrate the very thing that put Clarkdale on the map. Housing over 5,000 pieces of copper art from the 1500s to present day, it certainly exceeded our expectations! The old high school has quite an interesting history of its own. This is a not-to-be-missed treat!
I’m fascinated with the desert saguaro cactus. Thousands upon thousands are spread across the Sonoran Desert, each one as unique as a human fingerprint. And since I brought up the comparison, I thought you might like to see the chart I found at The Saguaro (east) National Park Visitor Center.
We’re calling Tucson, Arizona home for a few days while we explore all the area has to offer…and hopefully enjoy some warm southwestern sunshine.
Our first stop: Saguaro National Park, home to the iconic Saguaro cactus featured in so many of your favorite westerns.
After a quick stop at the Visitor Center, we found ourselves armed with a trail map and directions to the Sendero Esperanza Trail which would lead to what the ranger described as, “The best wildflower showing in years…a desert super bloom.”
As we climbed higher along the trail we reached the poppy fields where acres and acres of bright orange petals were strewn across the hillside. The desert bouquet also held red, yellow, purple and white blooms of all shapes and sizes. I gave up trying to capture the scene on film and simply enjoyed.
As the trail snaked uphill, we climbed out of the flower fields toward the top of the ridge. Our map indicated a picnic table that we thought would be the perfect lunch destination before our journey back down the hill, however it proved elusive.
As the 21st century began its last year as a teenager, carryoncouple turned seven in record-setting fashion.
Our travel blog collected 8,758 views from 3,654 visitors in 2018, both eclipsing our previous record of 5,232 views by 1,561 visitors in 2013, the year we walked the Camino de Santiago.
People stopping by our blog represented 75 countries, led by the USA with 5,813 views. Canada was in second place for much of the year, but lost the No.2 title to the United Kingdom, which had 486 views, topping Canada by nine views.
Our 2012 post from Italy–Basilica Honors San Zeno–mysteriously continued to attract attention, with 91 views, but lost its 2017 top post title to another surprising choice, Coming Soon to Amazon. Was it the “coming soon” or just the word “Amazon” that attracted the clicks? Or Sue’s book cover? We remain puzzled by the record-setting (for us) 564 views of the post from many countries.
Although our numbers are humble by WordPress standards, we remain thankful to our blog followers and viewers. We hope to keep the interest going through several adventures in 2019, including another one with backpacks, to be announced.
Our favorite trip of 2018? That’s easy; see Sue’s slideshow by clicking here.
When I took my first steps on the Camino de Santiago, I never could have imagined where the famed pilgrimage would lead me.
When I sat at my MacBook Air a year and a half ago to chronicle my journey in Spain, my words had an unknown destination.
Little did I know that the trek would take me back to my troubled childhood and lead to real dangers on the path, as my wife Sue’s illustrations show, above. Her ink-and-watercolor works grace each chapter.
Less than two weeks after publication of Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows, my first book, readers have kindly shared where my words have taken them.
“Reading this book reinforced my own interest in “minimalism” and renewed my desire for peace in my own life,” one wrote. “As Reg bares his soul, you can’t help but reflect on what is important in life…just read it.”
Another shared his thoughts: “What an adventure! I was traveling every step of the way with you and feeling every bit of it.”
A third reader shared this: “So well described that I feel like I was there and that the connections you made along the way are my friends too.”
My story features humor, tragedy, triumphs, and hardships through a cast of characters that I call my Camino family. I describe real events and how the Camino stripped away the unimportant and exposed the best in life.
Click here to go to Amazon. I would love to hear from you after you read my book and ask that you consider reviewing Camino Sunrise on Amazon.
When I pressed the publish button on the “Coming Soon” story last weekend, a lump swelled my throat. It is still there. The response has been so gratifying. Thank you!
More than a year ago, I sat at this MacBook Air in the corner of a downstairs bedroom that became, at least partly, my office. I inserted my earbuds, hit “play” on a list of favorite music, and began my first journey as a book author. At one point, the wall behind my desk was filled with notes on color-coded 3-by-5 cards.
Hundreds of thousands of words later, my drafts (stacked to my left) morphed into one final 67,000-word printout that Sue and I will read one last time in search of elusive typos. Finally, it will be time to format and insert Sue’s watercolor paintings for Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.
I look forward to your company on a new path when I press “publish” one more time. When will that be? I am aiming for September. At that time, Camino Sunrise will be available on Amazon and carryoncouple will send word.
I welcome your questions. Submit them by commenting on this post. Also, feel free to forward this post to friends and family!
Here is a link to the Camino Sunrise announcement and the form to register for the book’s email list:
Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows
A memoir and Camino de Santiago adventure by Reginald Spittle
Illustrated by Sue Spittle
They call it a pilgrimage, but for Reginald Spittle the 500-mile Camino de Santiago was the test of a lifetime.
A professional journalist and a gifted educator, Reg projected an air of confidence to those who thought they knew him. Recently retired, Reg’s new life of leisure included morning coffee on the front porch, bike rides and day hikes in nearby Yosemite National Park, followed by an evening glass of wine (or two) next to his backyard pool. However, painful childhood memories filled with relentless teasing, insecurity, and loneliness cast shadows on his adult life, undermining feelings of self-worth, trust, and friendship.
Tragedy brought him to reluctantly accept his wife’s challenge to carry his red backpack across Spain on a trail traveled by millions for centuries.
Self-reflection, humor and a recurring cast of characters create the backdrop for Camino Sunrise — Walking With My Shadows. Join Reg as he sets out with anxieties about the lack of privacy in communal dorms and about competition from younger, experienced backpackers. But his journey would also lead him to places far removed from daily Camino life. As each new day reveals lessons in camaraderie, acceptance, and hope, Reg is forced to confront disturbing emotional shadows from his past.
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Just a short detour from U.S. Highway 101 in Coos Bay lies a beautiful stretch of the Oregon Coast where three state parks await your discovery. The parks are easily reached by car, but the best way to see the sights is by foot along the cliff top path, an 8.5 mile walk out and back.
Cape Arago State Park, located at the south end of the loop, provides picnic tables, views and hiking trails down to tide pools. A highlight is the viewpoint overlooking a noisy colony of seals and sea lions. We were lucky enough to see the occasional spout from a whale swimming about. Be sure to bring your binoculars!
Simpson Beach, a secluded cove with a sandy shore, is breathtakingly beautiful and a perfect spot to wiggle your toes in the sand or dip them in the surf.
Directly above the cove is Shore Acres State Park. Originally home to timber baron Louis Simpson and his family, the estate home is long gone. The remaining Gardener’s Cottage is surrounded by 5 acres of formal gardens, open to the public and well worth a stroll. Be sure to stop and smell the roses!
Because we were lucky enough to have secured a campsite, our walk ended where it began…with our return to Sunset Bay State Park. Make your reservations here early…this is a popular spot to escape the summer heat and, of course, to watch the sunset.
Were it not for the line of curiosity seekers, we might never have found the peephole we were looking for. It’s there, just to the right of the white hat brim, looking very much like a round keyhole. It is, in fact, known as The Aventine Keyhole and is part of the property owned by the Priory of the Knights of Malta, one of the last surviving orders of knights left from the Crusades.
It was the rumored view through this peephole that led us to climb Aventine Hill to the piazza Cavalieri di Malta.
Was it worth it? I don’t know…what do you think?