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One journey leads to another

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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:

bit.ly/caminosunrise

Categories: Camino de Santiago, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Coming soon to Amazon

Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows

A memoir and Camino de Santiago adventure by Reginald Spittle

Illustrated by Sue Spittle

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Illustration: 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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Categories: Camino de Santiago, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 60 Comments

Discover The Cape Arago Beach Loop

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.

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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.

Categories: Oregon, Oregon Coast, Road Trips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Way of St. Francis: A View Through Two Countries

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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?

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Categories: Italy, The Way of Saint Francis, The Way of St Francis, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Way of St. Francis: Over The Hump

Yesterday afternoon we arrived at our hotel in Trevi so incredibly soaking wet that the owner simply handed us our key. No passports, no check-in, no formalities. Plenty of time for that after showers and hot tea!

We awoke to more rain this morning and grudgingly donned our rain gear as we set out to cross the invisible halfway point on our trail to Rome. By days end, our feet will have taken us 141 miles with 43,742 feet of elevation change throughout our twelve days on the trail.

As the skies cleared, our waterproofs instantly morphed into personal saunas. While Reg changed his clothes trailside, I fashioned my rain pants into a pair capris and we again set off toward our destination – the ancient city of Spoleto.

We’d walked a few hundred yards when Reg suddenly stopped and said, “Oh no! My glasses!”

Sure enough, they were not on his nose where they belonged. A quick about face and we retraced our steps.

How lucky he was that we chose the bike trail route, and that we had it mostly to ourselves…and that his glasses didn’t go flying into the tall grass or we might still be looking for them!

Categories: The Way of Saint Francis, The Way of St Francis, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Way of St. Francis: Birthday Boy

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After a long day of steep climbs, beautiful views and long descents, we’re celebrating Reg’s birthday at Pinky Bar in Valfabbrica! Cheers!

Categories: The Way of Saint Francis, The Way of St Francis, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Way of St. Francis: Umbria’s mountains

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We sit safely within the medieval wall surrounding Città di Castello this Tuesday night, exhausted but feeling a dose of exhilaration. Our boots carried us up and down nearly 6,000 feet of elevation change on country roads, through countless small farms, and under dense forests.

Heat and humidity added to the challenge, but Umbria’s natural beauty had its shining moments. Sue sat next to a field and doctored a blister while a farmer readied his field for spring planting. Our steep midday descent brought us to a tiny village bar for an energizing lunch. But the Way of St. Francis had plans for our afternoon, guiding our aching legs and feet up to yet another mountain ridge, then down again hours later.

After crossing the Tiber River, we found an oasis in the form of a beautiful old hotel and soothing showers. We soon filled two seats outside a bar where we watched Italian life in this city of 40,000. We lifted our cold drinks and toasted our day. The hardest days can sometimes be the best.

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Family meetup before the Bluegrass

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  1. A bluegrass music festival in Placerville, California brought son Chris and his girlfriend Gail from West Virginia to Sacramento for a day. Sue and I drove from Oregon and Brad came from Chico for a day of walking, eating, and even showing our skills at a shooting gallery. We wrapped it up with drinks at a K Street bar. Sue and I opted out of the weekend campout, but Brad and girlfriend Ashley returned the next day for the weekend festival.

 

Categories: Road Trips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Backroads Across America: Asheville Leaves Us With Questions

 

Eclectic, mild climate, college town, surrounded by the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains.

City traffic hassles, parking challenges, a place rough around the edges.

Both descriptions fit Asheville, North Carolina. A city of 87,000, there are 425,000 in the metropolitan area.

It was raining when we set out this morning, so we jumped on the Hop-on, Hop-off trolley, thinking we could see the city without getting soaked (I mean that literally.). The weather improved, so we hopped on and off several times and explored.

Do you like college towns? This may be the place for you. UNC Asheville has nearly 4,000 students and is known as a liberal arts school. A community college technical school here has 7,000 students.

Are you a shopper? There are outlets, a mall, lots of shops downtown and in the funkier West Ashevillle neighborhood.

If you like art, this may be your paradise. The River Arts District, which is polishing the rust off the old industrial area, brags more than 220 working artists in a one-mile zone along the French Broad River.  Or, you could explore the former Woolworth’s building downtown, converted into a two-story gallery of local art. In a nice touch, you can lunch or snack at the original soda fountain.

If you enjoy touring old neighborhoods with beautiful homes, you will find them here. Of course, the granddaddy is the Biltmore Estate (see our earlier post).

Music lover? You can listen to live music nightly at various venues. Local performers, but also some big names, especially on weekends. Probably more in tune with 20-somethings. (I promised our sons not to use the “M” word.)

Food connoisseur? Lots of choices downtown. Some pretty funky, some more refined. We had lunch today at a taqueria that doubled as a night club in the River Arts District. Grungy, but the food was alright. There were better choices downtown, but we were hungry and it was there.

Beer lover? Sierra Nevada (yep, the one based in Chico, California) is the big, new brewery in the area, joining a community famous around the country for its choices in local beers.

This city has been put on the map by a host of famous authors, artists, actors, and millionnaires who have called it home. It has a vibe. After three days here, we will move on to Virginia tomorrow morning, not sure what to think of Asheville, North Carolina. Lots of positives. When you visit, let us know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alas, spring arrives in Rogue Valley

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A warm spring day welcomed us to Upper Table Rock, a U-shaped mesa overlooking the Rogue River near Medford, Oregon. Friends Jeff and Lan hiked with us on the 2.8-mile loop that climbs 720 feet. Wildflowers, vernal pools as well as views of Mount McLaughlin and the Siskiyou Mountains made the trip well worth every step.

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Categories: Ashland life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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