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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!

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Backroads across America: Our sun sets in Hawthorne

Reg did an phenomenal job of driving today, putting far more miles behind us than we had planned for and delivering us to the perfect roadside stop.


Considering this is our first trip of the year, and a long one at that, we set up our site in what seemed like record time.  We poured a quick glass of wine and sat back to enjoy the setting sun!


Are the sunsets always this beautiful in Nevada?

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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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The best dam burger is in Redding

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A stop in Redding, California for a walk across the unique Sundial Bridge and along the raging Sacramento River left us looking for lunch downtown. We stumbled upon Damburger, which opened in 1938 at the construction site of Shasta Dam. It is a classic burger, fries and shake place that offers indoor and patio seating. Is it worth the short trip off I-5? Dam(n) right it is!

 

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Sierra Nevada: Good times, as usual

 

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An evening of beer tasting and dinner at Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico was a highlight of our weekend visit with son Brad and his girlfriend Ashley.

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Three days to Texas

With just three days to cover 2,200 miles, we had our work cut out for us. I know your asking yourself, “What in the world were they thinking?” Well, truth is, we probably didn't have our thinking caps on when we cooked up this adventure, but it sounded good at the time…and as it turned out, we did have a pretty good time!
Reg and I crawled out of bed in the wee small hours of the morning with plans to drive straight down Inerstate 5 – as far south as we could. Our destination: Austin, Texas…a state neither Reg nor I had ever been to. Our goal: To deliver our Subaru to our son Brad who was visiting a friend in Austin. Ultimately, the car will find a new home in West Virginia with our son Chris and his girlfriend, Gail. Brad is on his way there as I write this.

Another early morning on day two as we left Blythe and California behind. No time for sightseeing, so I snapped this shot of the Arizona desert as we sped along the interstate.

We stopped for breakfast in Gila Bend, Arizona where this sign captured our attention. Not only was it the best breakfast in town, but it was the only breakfast in town!

Another window shot as we speed past mile after mile of the iconic Saguaro Cactus that cover southern Arizona.

Day two draws to an end and we seek lodging in Van Horn, Texas. A wide spot in the road you might think, and you'd be right. But this little town has a claim to fame and it's not just the Friday night Karaoke.

 

Chuy's, we learned, is home to The John Madden Haul of Fame, where there is an abundance of memorabilia on display. It is well documented that former NFL player and television commentator John Madden doesn't like to fly, and during his TV career he preferred to travel in his private coach, watching football games along the way. In 1987, reception was not great while traveling by coach along this stretch of Interstate 8, so Madden had his driver pull over at Chuy's Restaurant, where he sent his assistant in to search for a clear picture. The rest, as they say, is history. Madden was able to watch the game while enjoying Chuy's delicious Mexican cuisine, a combination that proved so successful that he returned year after year.

We said good bye to Van Horn, Texas well before daybreak and were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise as we drove east.

We reached Austin right on schedule, a little road-weary but eager to see downtown.

Here's Brad getting ready to devour The Notorius Pig, a macaroni and cheese covered hot dog offered at Franks Restaurant in Downtown Austin.

 

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