Category Archives: Personal experience

Some “remembrances” on better times…

One such “remembrance” – about an adventure in old age: Hiking the Camino in Spain…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden. Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime…

I did my last post on June 6, almost three weeks ago. (“Random thoughts (on ‘Socialism,’ etc.“)

It started off with a note that we were then in the “12th full week of Covid-19,” and that we also had to process the George Floyd protests. (Based on his May 26 death.) So I proceeded to remember back to a May 24 post, a “hark back … to This time last year – in Jerusalem!

Which was – as I noted – most likely “an exercise in escapism.” That is, a “mental diversion from unpleasant or boring aspects of daily life.” Another note: “Escapism may be used to occupy one’s self away from persistent feelings of depression or general sadness.”

Or when the world as we know it seems to be “Going to hell in a handbasket.”

So here we go again. This time I’m harking back to another variation on a theme, back to 2017’s post Last year at this time. Which in turn went back to one year earlier. Here’s what I wrote:

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Stephen Dobert standing on rock near False Summit looking south toward Skagway, Alaska.Last year at this time [June 2016] I was training for a four-day “hike” on the Chilkoot Trail.* ([D]eservedly known as the “meanest 33 miles in history,” and illustrated at right.)

I was also getting ready – last year at this time – to canoe 440 miles down the Yukon River, in Canada.* That canoe-trip started three or four days after the hike, and took 13 days.

This year at this time [2017] I’m in training to hike 450 miles in 30 days on the Camino de Santiago, in Spain, in September.

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I made it to Spain in September, 2017, and have now hiked the Camino de Santiago twice. Once in 2017, from Pamplona, and again last September (2019), from Porto, in Portugal. (Where Port wine comes from.) And by the way, we’re now in our 15th full week of “the Covid.” (Also BTW, for an explanation of the asterisks after “Chilkoot” and “Canada” in the rehash above, see the full post.)

Which brings up the fact that before the Covid struck, I’d hoped – this next September, 2020 – to go back overseas. Back to either Israel or Spain, for yet another pilgrimage. But it was not to be. Instead, my “adventurous brother” – from Utah – just came up with what could be the only viable alternative. The idea of canoeing five days or so down the “lower” Missouri River. (Basically retracing the Lewis and Clark Expedition as they were heading back home from the Pacific, in the late summer of 1806, memorialized above left.)

Accordingly I’d planned to do a “before” post, with preliminary information on the trip. But that will take some time, and a new post is way overdue. So instead I’ll present this and other  “Remembrance(s) of Thing Past, in the form of 2018’s Last year the Meseta, next year “Porto.”

That post has a lot of details on what my brother and I experienced on October 4, 2017. We got into León, in northwest Spain, “for our second one-day break after 20 days of hiking:”

The good news was that once we reached León, we had to switch from hiking to bicycling. (We were running out of time.)  The bad news?  That change just led to “a different kind of hell.” (From Dorothy Parker’s famous quote, “What fresh hell is this?”  In our case, it only meant a change in where we got sore…)

The other good news? We were finally done with the Meseta part of the hike. That is, hiking through the “Meseta Central plateau part of Spain – and it’s dry, dusty and hot. In fact, it’s the part that some people recommend Camino pilgrims skip.  (If they want to be all ‘wussified.’)”

So by October 4, 2017, we’d hiked 250 miles from Pamplona for 20 days, and got to León. And aside from taking a day off in León, we rented two 15-speed mountain bikes. “With them we covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days. Even though neither of us had ridden a bike in 40 or so years…”

Which is why it wasn’t really surprising “when my right handlebar took out – smashed the heck out of – the side-view mirror of some poor slob’s nice new car,” heading out of Leon. And in a second mishap I literally “ran my ass into a ditch.” (See “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited.)

Those were some great times. (As shown at right.)

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But getting back to 2017’s Last year at this time. That post spoke of the the idea of “65 being the new 30.” (Or as just checked, of 70 is the New 50. Whatever. I plan on being around a while.) And on my then-just-turning 65, and so being eligible for Medicare. I noted that either way:

There’s a lot of living left to do after age 60…

Or after age 69 for that matter. And to help make that happen – and maybe get a date with Christie Brinkley – I did the posts A Geezer’s guide to supplements, Part I and Part II

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Christie Brinkley: Still Stunning in a Swimsuit at 60!

Or “Yours truly at 69” – come this next July, 2020…

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The upper image is courtesy of Pilgrimage – Image Results. And no, that’s not a picture of me. The image goes with an article, An Ancient Religious Pilgrimage That Now Draws The Secular (NPR), about the Camino: “A 1200-year-old European pilgrimage route is experiencing a revival. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of modern-day pilgrims have followed in the footsteps of their medieval forebears, trekking across France to the Spanish coastal city of Santiago de Compostela.”

Another thing about the “Chilkoot.” I use quote marks because – all things considered – it’s not really a “trail” at all, “it’s one big frikkin’ pile of rocks after another.” Except for the glaciers of course…

Re: “Remembrance of things past.” That’s an alternative title to the novel In Search of Lost Time, “in seven volumes, written by Marcel Proust (1871–1922).” See Wikipedia:

‘In Search of Lost Time’ follows the narrator’s recollections of childhood and experiences into adulthood during late 19th century to early 20th century aristocratic France, while reflecting on the loss of time and lack of meaning to the world.

Hmmm. It seems that some things never change. For some gloomy people anyway…

Re: “65 is the new 30.” There seem to be a lot of variations, but see my posts, On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30″ – (Part I) and On RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30” – (Part II)

I borrowed the lower image from 2017’s Last year at this time. You can also see “her” at the posts A Geezer’s guide to supplements, Part I and Part II.

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Re:  The IsraeliteHarry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Thus the “Carolina Israelite.” I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia. 

Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  So anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s. He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.” (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.” But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life. As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life

For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

Random thoughts (on “Socialism,” etc.) – from March 2020

One random thought about “Socialism,” from back in March – before the Floyd protests began…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden. Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime…

We’re now in the “12th full week of Covid-19.*” And aside from that, we now have the George Floyd protests to process. (Based on his May 26 death.) Which is another reason I  haven’t checked Facebook lately. (Who needs more aggravation?) But I do try to post on a regular basis, and my last post was on May 24. In it I harked back to This time last year – in Jerusalem! (Featuring the photo at left.) And yes, I suppose it was an exercise in escapism.

But back to those “random thoughts – from March 2020…”

This past fall I got in touch with some former students in my high school class of 1969, through Facebook. And was surprised at how many of them had become grumpy old geezers. As evidenced by the many grumpy, whiny and negative posts that way too many of them put on Facebook. (Which is why I learned the magic of “unfollowing” rather than “unfriending.”)

For example, many former classmates – once all full of happiness, hope and hormones – now refer to any political persuasion to the left of Attila the Hun as “Socialism.” Yet another favorite Facebook topic has to do with Social Security. And how it’s not an entitlement. One typical comment:  “I earned it, I paid into it, and nobody is going to take it away from me!”

Which led me to do a little research…

I learned that back in 1970 – the nearest census year to 1969 – the average American life expectancy was 71 years of age. But now, in 2020, the average life expectancy is “78.93” years of age. (See In 1970 what was the average life expectancy for Americans, and U.S. Life Expectancy 1950-2020 | MacroTrends.)  Which we can round off to an even 79 years of age.

Which brings up the difference between life expectancy in 1970, compared to 2020: A full “extra” eight years. Which means that  you – my typical Old Geezer high-school classmate – are getting a “free” eight years of Social Security benefits. In other words, for at least eight years of your life – assuming you make the “expected” life span – YOU’RE GOING TO BE A SOCIALIST!

In other words a mooch, a freeloader, or whatever other label you want to use…

Which led me to ask whether Social Security itself is a form of socialism. One answer:

it seems fair to call the Social Security program a form of socialism. The program requires workers and their employers, along with self-employed individuals, to pay into the system throughout their working years. The government controls the money they contribute and decides when and how much they get back after – and if – they reach retirement age.

See Are Social Security Benefits a Form of Socialism? On the other hand, there’s the Libertarian view, if not the “traditional conservative” view. See for example The Socialism of Social Security – The Future of Freedom, an article by .

Hornberger started off noting the irony of Trump and his fellow conservatives “excoriating” Democrats as Socialists, when he and his Republicans, along with their “Democratic cohorts, are fierce advocates of America’s premier socialist program, Social Security:”

Our American ancestors … understood that once people go onto the government dole, they become dependent on it. Many seniors today are convinced that without the dole, they would die in the streets. Many of them have also become docile and passive in the face of grave government wrongdoing because they fear that the government will cancel their dole if they protest governmental misconduct too vociferously.

Hornberger concluded, “Freedom and voluntary charity versus socialism and mandatory charity… Which one is better? I’m a libertarian. The answer is a no-brainer for me.”

And incidentally, Hornberger noted that conservatives don’t like “us Libertarians.” Why?  “We make them confront their life of the lie. We make them see that they are just as socialist as the socialists [Democrats] they love to decry.” Which sounds about right to me.

Also incidentally, just this past June 2 Hornberger posted Trump and His Standing Army.

He started off noting President Trump’s “warning to state governors that he is prepared to send his military forces to quell violent protests in cities across the land.” Which – he said – was precisely “why our ancestors had such a deep antipathy toward standing armies.” Another warning: “When it comes to shooting American protesters, make no mistake about it: Soldiers will do their duty… If their commander-in-chief orders them to fire on protesters, they will fire on protesters.” (But see Trump Privately Backs Off From Sending Troops Into States Amid Unrest.)

 included quotes from both our Founding Fathers and President Eisenhower, on the original intent of a limited-government republic, with No Standing Army. “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”

He concluded, “Under President Trump, the American people might yet experience the hard way what the Framers, our ancestors, and President Eisenhower were so concerned about.”

And he may have a point…

Two days after Hornberger’s Standing Army post came this: Unidentified prison agents patrol DC amid protests. Put another way, “Heavily armed men who refuse to identify themselves are patrolling the streets of Washington, DC. They were sent by the Bureau of Prisons.” And by the way, that’s from the Business Insider, the financial and business news website founded in 2009. (A side note, “In January 2014, The New York Times reported that Business Insider‘s web traffic was comparable to that of The Wall Street Journal.”)

That’s just in case you thought I cited a pointy-headed liberal-media outlet as a source. Said one observer, “it’s like Russia’s little green men have taken over the nation’s capital.” Or:

Some people on social media discussing the identity of the mysterious officials compared them to the “little green men” Russian President Vladimir Putin sent to annex Crimea in 2014 who wore no insignia identifying them as members of the Russian military.

Which – finally – led me to this bit of research on the definition of Fascism:

[The political philosophy or regime] that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Which is also starting to sound familiar. Suddenly, Social-Security-ism doesn’t seem too bad…

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Free stuff? Like not having 106,000 dead Americans? Or “8:46?” Or “little green men?”

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The upper image – and the lower image – are both courtesy of Socialism For The Rich Capitalism The Poor – Image Results. Incidentally, the “Monopoly Man” image at the top of the page is a take-off of a poster of Che Guevara, the “Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous countercultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture.” An “original” is below right. See Wikipedia, and also Che Guevara Poster – Image Results.

As to “weeks of the Covid-19 shutdown,” see On Week 8 of the Coronavirus shut-down. I calculated from Thursday, March 12, “when the ACC basketball tournament got cancelled,” and thus that the first full week “has it starting Sunday, March 15 and ending Saturday, March 21,” 2020.

The “incumbent freeloader” image is courtesy of Freeloader – Image Results

The photo to the left of the paragraph “Hornberger posted Trump and His Standing Army” is courtesy of Russian Little Green Men – Image Results

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Re:  The Israelite. Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Thus the “Carolina Israelite.” I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia. 

Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  So anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s. He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.” (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.” But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life. As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life

For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

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For more on Social Security as “socialism,” see Is Democratic Socialism Alive and Well in U.S.? It’s subtitled, “America is socialist, dummy[:] Let us count the ways.” Some key points:

“[A] dispassionate glance at American history shows that Uncle Sam has already gone a long way down the road of democratic socialism.

“Every American state decrees that all its children shall be educated at state expense, no matter how rich or poor.

“Second, the entire American highway system is built, paid-for and maintained by the state and federal governments.

“Third, estate taxes were introduced in 1916, in the name of equality and to prevent the children of successful parents from becoming a parasitic leisure class.

“Fourth, in the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal established the principle that the federal government should intervene on behalf of distressed citizens everywhere.

“Americans, once they begin to enjoy the benefits of a government program, are no more likely than Europeans to favor losing them. Cutting big government sounds great in theory, but few lobbies support the principle of giving up government-conferred benefits, whereas hundreds of lobbies fight to keep and enlarge them.

“Government on both sides [Democrat and Republican] is committed to protecting vulnerable populations, to educating them, to promoting opportunities and to intervening in the economy for the sake of stability, efficiency and high employment. In other words, in America, as throughout the developed world, democratic socialism is alive and well. Bernie Sanders is unusual not because he believes in it, but because he actually says that he believes in it and isn’t afraid to use the words.”

This time last year – in Jerusalem!

My pre-trip Google-work notwithstandingI got many a ‘tall Maccabee’ at nearby Leonardo‘s…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoorWe’re ending Week 10 of the COVID-19 lockdown, and so my thoughts drift to “this time last year.” This time last year – on May 23, 2019 – I was in Jerusalem. Specifically, “today” my group visited the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mount. (Now called the “Haram esh Sharif.*”) The Haram al-Sharif houses the Dome of the Rock, which most people notice in those long-range, panoramic views of Jerusalem. (On account of the bright gold dome.)

And where you sometimes see men having to wear these cover-all long brown “dresses.” Just in case they forgot the rule about “modesty” when visiting Islamic holy places? (And wear shorts instead?) But we digress…

May 23, 2019, was a Thursday, and I felt a bit overwhelmed. The visit was part of a pilgrimage, a course given by St. George’s College, Jerusalem. (The “Palestine of Jesus.”)  There were some 40 people in the whole group, and about 20 came from my hometown church in Peachtree City, GA. Nine of us had left Atlanta late Friday night, May 11, and arrived in Tel Aviv about 8:00 the next night, Saturday May 11. That Sunday was my first full day in Jerusalem, which I spent alone; we had to get our own lodging until the course started Monday night.

That’s when I discovered the BeerBazaar Jerusalem, on Jaffa Street. That was a good day…

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, people sitting, child, hat and outdoorSince that Sunday we’d done a lot of traveling and pilgrimage stuff, mostly by bus. We started the morning of Thursday, May 23, 2019 by getting bussed to the Dung Gate. It’s at the lower end of the Old City in Jerusalem. (And guess what went through there?) Then we went on to the Haram esh Sharif (the “Noble [Muslim] Sanctuary”). You have to go through that “Muslim section” to get through to the Jewish “Wailing Wall.” (A message there?)

That’s also known as the Western Wall, but getting back to the point: The rules for going through the Haram esh Sharif – to get to the Western Wall – call for “modest dress.” For women that means skirts below the knees, and for men that means no shorts. Women with skirts above the knees have to put on these doofy-looking long brown skirts.

But they definitely suit the women better than they do the men…

I reviewed the trip in “Back from three weeks in Israel,” posted on June 14, 2019. That was mostly about my disastrous last day in Israel; specifically, Tel Aviv.

I was “all cocky” from my smooth trip from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv the day before. And on miraculously finding some others in my group. (Rather than heading home, they were going to Petra, a “historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan.) I also reviewed the beginning of the trip in My first full day in Jerusalem. (In my companion blog, on the trials and tribulations of that first day of my pilgrimage. That included hearing a mysterious “explosion” at 4:08 on the morning of Sunday, May 12.)  But back to “this time last year,” May 23, 2019…

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoorThere was a long line to get to the Wailing Wall. We started on a ramp – seen at left from down near the Wall itself – then had to negotiate up, to and through the Haram esh Sharif, then around to the other side. (We saw Israeli soldiers escorting a Jewish family through the Muslim section of the complex, to avoid trouble no doubt.) Then – before going down to the Wall itself – deeply spiritual people (like myself) go through a form of water-ritual-purification.*

It was definitely crowded – in part because of the number of bar mitzvahs held that morning, as shown in the photo above left – but eventually I found a niche in the Wall. I stuck my own set of “paper and prayers” into the niche, then leaned up against the Wall, left hand out and on it, for quite a long time. A few minutes later I went back and leaned my forehead against the wall. (Like some of the locals were doing.) It was a very moving experience…

Now about that Leonardo Hotel, shown at the top of the page. It’s catty-corner from St. George’s College, which turned out to be very convenient. Briefly, before I left home I did some Google-mapping to find the closest bars to St. George’s, on Nablus Street. I just wanted to make sure I could get a nightcap if the need arose.

Those bars all seemed to be all clustered about a mile southwest of the college. But as it turned out, the Leonardo Hotel was a mere two-minute walk from St. George’s. It also turned out that there was a “Bistro” at St. George’s, but it closed a lot earlier. It also served Taybeh, the local Palestinian beer. The Leonardo served Maccabee, in tall drafts. (Wikipedia said Maccabee is 4.9%, but my souvenir bottle said it’s 7.9% alcohol.) Thus the “many a ‘tall Maccabee’ at Leonardo‘s.”

Officially it’s the Leonardo Moria Hotel, and aside from those later hours, the lounge sometimes functioned as a piano bar. Like one evening when the yarmulke-topped pianist played the Chicken Dance. But I seemed to be the only one in the place who’d heard it before…

Fortunately – because I “felt a bit overwhelmed” and all – we had a free afternoon that May 23, 2019. (I walked back over to Davidka Square, also on Jaffa Street, for some brandy “just in case.”) The next day we walked the Via Dolorosa (“Sorrowful Way”), then visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. That’s where my brother – part of the Peachtree City group – got “escorted” out of line by a big burly Orthodox monk. For taking pictures when you weren’t supposed to?

But that’s a story for another post…  (“Boy, some of those people are strict!“) 

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Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Some of my fellow St. George’s pilgrims at the “Wailing Wall…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Leonardo Hotel Jerusalem King George Street – Image Results. See also Leonardo Hotel Jerusalem | ex. Novotel Hotel Jerusalem. I took the other photos- including the one below right – of “deeply spiritual people” going through a “form of water-ritual-purification.”

The “Haram esh Sharif” is also referred to as the Haram al-Sharif. 

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Image may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and indoorRe:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in the Atlanta metro area.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

A final note: While this post is “dated” May 24, 2020, I actually posted it at 9:15 p.m. on May 23.

Looking back on “the summer of ’16…”

The Verrazano Bridge – over the “Narrows” I kayaked across – “in the summer of 2016…” 

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

What Happens When You Unfollow On Facebook 19Yesterday I learned to unfollow on Facebook. I applied that knowledge to some fellow classmates from my high school “Class of 1969.” Here’s what happened…

Back in October I thought about going to my 50-year high school class reunion. SO, I got in touch with a number of “old” classmates via the Class of ’69 Facebook page.

It was then I learned how way too many of them had turned way too old, grumpy, frustrated, whiny and/or negative geezers. (“What happened to those bright-eyed youngsters, all full of hope and hormones?”) I ended up not going to the reunion, but still tried to keep in touch. (For one thing it was my Christian duty to try and “bring them back from the Dark Side.*”)

But then it got to be too much. I kept losing sleep, trying to think of snappy comebacks, ways to “reach those people” through clever rhetoric and Christian patience.

I did think of some snappy comebacks, but usually six or so hours later. By then “they” had posted even more negative items, which kept on coming, and coming, and coming. Of course I didn’t want to tell any new Facebook “friends” that I’d “un-friended” them. I still wanted to reach them, if possible. But on that same “yesterday” I did note – on Facebook – that I was taking a break from politics. And on that note I posted a “remembering” photo from my recent Camino hike in Portugal. (Featuring some bikini-clad lovelies on a beach north of Porto.)

So – in that same vein – I hereby offer up in this blog a similar meditation, on some happy times back in the summer of 2016, BT. (Before Trump.) Like the time I kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows, from Staten Island to Brooklyn, and back. I covered the story in “No city for Grouchy Old White People,” and “No city for Grouchy Old White People” – Part II.

The posts were about a visit to New York City, while staying in Staten Island and taking the Ferry back and forth to Manhattan. Their point: “New York City is a refreshing reminder that there’s more to this country than just the right-wing wackos so prevalent back home in ‘The Bubble.’” (To wit: my area of Georgia.) And speaking of Facebook, here’s what I posted about the trip:

Ever since last Saturday, September 17, we’ve been taking the Staten Island ferry into and back from Manhattan Island. So that’s eight times – twice a day for four days now – that we’ve seen the Statute of Liberty, off in the distance…  And I don’t remember ONCE seeing a sign that said, “the heck with your tired, your poor,” those “wretched refuse … yearning to breathe free.”  WE’RE GONNA BUILD A FRIKKIN WALL!

There’s more in that vein in the Grouchy Old White People posts. But on Thursday, September 22, while the rest of the family left for further adventures on their own, I packed up and then kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows.  (Mostly following the Bridge of the same name.)  

So here – at left – is a photo I took, from the kayak, about half-way back to Staten Island.  You may notice the waters are fairly choppy.  And I can tell you those waters got WAY choppier than when I started.  In other words, I seem to have started out – that fine Thursday morning – on pretty much of a neap tide.

It only took me 20 minutes to get from Staten Island to Brooklyn, and I like to do a full two hours of kayaking a week.  So on the way over I toyed with the idea of cruising along the Atlantic side of Brooklyn for awhile. (And maybe even reaching Coney Island.) But I decided not to, mostly because I figured it’d be better to start back to the put-in side while I was still fresh.

And it’s a good thing I did.  As I was paddling back toward Staten Island the tide started going in. Which wasn’t so bad, since at worst it would have swept me in toward Hoboken…

Long story short, with the change of tide and all, I ended up having a mere 13 minutes left of my two-hours-of-kayaking-a-week quota. That’s when I finally got back to where I put in, at Roosevelt Beach on Staten Island.  (And got dunked “coming in for a landing.”)  But it could have been worse. The tide could have been going out.  (As in, “out to sea…”)

And that was pretty much it for my visit to New York City.  I drove home via the Cape May Ferry and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel, and got home Saturday, September 24.

Put another way I was lucky I kayaked across “the Narrows” at neap tide, so I wasn’t either swept by the currents into New York Harbor, or swept out to sea past Sandy Hook Bay

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brooklynsideVN

My view of the Brooklyn side of the “Narrows” Bridge…

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The upper image is courtesy of Verrazano Bridge – Image Results. See also Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge – Wikipedia, including the link to the Narrows, the “body of water linking the relatively enclosed Upper New York Bay with Lower New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.” The image was accompanied by a New York Post article, “Did you know the Verrazano Bridge is spelled wrong?” The correct spelling is “Verrazzano,” with two z’s and two r’s. For a video of a similar adventure, see September Paddle: A Clockwise Tour of NY Harbor – YouTube

Re: “Summer of ’16.” A familiar Meme, here alluding to such media events such as Summer of ’42 (the 1971 “coming of age” movie), Summer of ’69 (the 1984 song by Canadian musician Bryan Adams), and/or Summer of 84 (the “2018 Canadian horror mystery film“).

Re: “Unfollow.” See also How to Unfollow Someone on Facebook: 14 Steps (with Pictures).

Re: “Bring them back from the Dark Side,” and Christian duty. See Ezekiel 3:16-21A Watchman for Israel: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” Et sequentes.

And also Dark side of the Force | Wookieepedia | Fandom.

Re: “Neap tide.” See Neap tide | Definition … at Dictionary.com, “either of the two tides that occur at the first or last quarter of the moon [or month] when the tide-generating forces of the sun and moon oppose each other and produce the smallest rise and fall in tidal level,” and also Tide – Wikipedia

When the Moon is at first quarter or third quarter, the Sun and Moon are separated by 90° when viewed from the Earth, and the solar tidal force partially cancels the Moon’s tidal force. At these points in the lunar cycle, the tide’s range is at its minimum; this is called the neap tide, or neaps. Neap is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “without the power”, as in forðganges nip (forth-going without-the-power).

Re: “Swept out to sea past Sandy Hook Bay.” As noted, I thought about cruising along the south side of Brooklyn/Long Island for a while, and maybe reaching Coney Island, but luckily turned back. I could feel the tide changing as I paddled back toward Staten Island. 

I took the photos including the “Brooklyn side” of the bridge, but not the Facebook image.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 68year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – living in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”  Anyway, in Charlotte Harry wrote and published the “Israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made him special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

On my road trip out to Utah…

As it turned out, I managed to drive 3,600+ miles to Utah and back, without a major mishap…

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I haven’t posted anything since November 28, “last year.” One big reason? (Aside from preparing for the Christmas holidays.) Last December 27 I got in my car and drove 1,800 miles out west, “in the bleak midwinter.” (At right, a truck stop in Grand Island Nebraska, snowed in 12/29/19. See also the notes.)

I drove out to visit my brother in Utah, and his wife. (My “hiking buddies” from the Portuguese Camino. See Just got back – Portuguese Camino!Their son and daughter also came out – from Back East – along with my new (as of June 2018) “nephew by marriage.” (See On a wedding in Hadley – and John, Peter and Paul.) It was a great 14-day road trip.

To start at the end, I made it back to Atlanta on Thursday, January 9, “safe and sound.” That day I drove 566 miles in 12 hours, starting in Conway Arkansas. (Northwest of Little Rock.) And that was even though I lost an hour crossing into Georgia from Alabama. (4:25 Arkansas and body-clock time, 5:25 God’s Country time.) I had to be back to work the next day, Friday the 10th.

IMG_20191229_182623Those great memories from the road trip included getting snowed in at Grand Island Nebraska, as shown above right, and at left, as explained further below. (Westbound I-80 was closed.)

That was on Sunday, December 29, two days after setting out. Something like a hundred trucks were lined up on the side of the road, along with cars in the Motel 6 parking lot…

The day had started out well.

I left the Motel 6 in north Kansas City – where I had to pay a $40 cash deposit the night before* – and made good time…  I figured I was making such good time that I could afford to stop and do some “touristy stuff” before reaching my goal. That is, getting to Morgan, Utah by 3:30 or so on the afternoon of December 31. (Followed by a trip to Salt Lake City airport to pick up other guests arriving by plane.)

The weather was good, and the Weather Channel hadn’t given a clue about what was about to happen. Then the snow hit. The first clue came as I drove west on Nebraska state road 136, west of Brownville, just across the Missouri River. I cut over to avoid the “up and over” to Omaha. Then I saw another car, at first behind me but then it passed on the right.

It’s roof was covered with snow.

Anyway, I’d hoped to make North Platte, Nebraska that night, but ended up stopping early at Grand Island. (I did make it to North Platte next day, but in doing so covered only 146 miles “as the crow flies.” But the crow didn’t have to go around the closed I-80 via back roads, down to Hastings, then west on US 34, then back up to Lexington via State Road 23.) 

After checking in at Grand Island and getting settled, I walked – gingerly – through the snow, ice and slush from that Motel 6 to the big truck stop next door. While doing laundry I enjoyed two tall beers, a burger and conversation with the other stranded motorists, as shown in the image above left. (Those are my glasses, next to my half-empty glass of beer.)

Other memorable moments from the trip? Later on the way out I stopped in Wyoming for coffee creamer and other goodies at a Walmart. The price came to $6.66, which led me to think, “OH HELL NO!” So I bought some Tic-tacs to change the price. (See Revelation 13:18.)

But the best memory of the trip came on the night of Friday, January 3, at the “Old Manse” atop the family hill south of Morgan. “The girls” had gone to bed and the guys had stayed up and chatted. And drained a bottle or two of wine. (Next day we were to go skiing at Snow Basin.)

Eventually the drain-a-bottle-of-wine talk led to my brother and nephew swapping boot-camp-slash-Marine-slash-Army stories. (My brother served in the Marines in the 1960s, and my nephew served several tours in the Army, and is now in the Reserves while attending Penn State.) Like the Advanced Infantry Training that old-time Marines got after Parris Island boot camp. When the new Marines got to drink lots of beer at lunch, for a change. But then the “powers that be” had them line up in parade formation in their dress greens. Then they had to wait for hours in formation, “and the inevitable consequences thereof.” Or Matt sharing a story about taking a wrong turn down that back alley in Seoul, South Korea. “Further affiant saith not!”

BTW: We all slept late the next morning…

Good memories!

In the next installment you’ll see how I cracked a rib while skiing at Snow Basin…  And got a speeding ticket driving through *&^% Haysville Kansas!

But for tonight I’ll go back to the memory of getting snowed in at that Motel 6 in Grand Island, Nebraska. With a view of the near-frozen North Platte River from my motel-room window, next morning and as shown below. But it also included that great burger and two draft beers at the Thunder Road Grill at the truck stop next door. (As shown in the notes.)

So the way I figure it, “there’s some kind of lesson there!

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One of three branches of the Platte River, the morning of 12/30/19…

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The upper image is courtesy of Road Trip Winter – Image Results. It was accompanied by an article on safety tips for winter road trips, by Elaine Schoch. Among the recommendations: Keep your gas tank half full, “to prevent gas line freeze-up.” Which I didn’t know, but kept filled up whenever the gauge got to half-full, figuring it might be nice to have enough gas to keep the heat on, while stopped and as necessary. Also, “kitty litter,” for traction in the snow. (My Utah brother recommended sand.) Plus other advice such as “stay calm if stranded.” Including “Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.” I’ll read up on that article again if and when I do another road trip “in the bleak midwinter.”

On that note, see In the Bleak Midwinter – Wikipedia, about the “Christmas carol based on a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti. The poem was published, under the title ‘A Christmas Carol,’ in the January 1872 issue of Scribner’s Monthly. The poem first appeared set to music in The English Hymnal in 1906 with a setting by Gustav HolstHarold Darke‘s anthem setting of 1911 is more complex and was named the best Christmas carol in a poll of some of the world’s leading choirmasters and choral experts in 2008.”

I took the “Grand Island” photos, including the one of my glasses on the bar next to a half-empty glass of draft beer. The Motel 6 in question was at 7301 Bosselman Ave, Grand Island, NE. The full link to the “Thunder Road” website is Thunder Road Grill | Pizza, Wings & Burgers | Grand Island, NE.

Re:  The $40 cash deposit, at the Motel 6 near the airport, north Kansas City. In all my 68 years of travel and motel-stops, I’d never had to do that before. A general rule: Motel 6’s in or close to big cities seem to be rather “dubious,” while those in or near small towns are well worth the savings. 

Re: “Further Affiant Sayeth Naught.” That’s a “centuries-old statement that is still used on some legal documents such as pleadings as the final declaration prior to the affiant’s signature.”

“Greetings from the Portuguese Camino!”

The Lisbon metropolitan area; the Setúbal Peninsula is south of the Tagus River

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I flew back from Lisbon, Portugal, on September 25. “And, boy, were my arms tired!” But seriously, I did finish a 160-mile hike on the Portuguese Camino in September. (I flew to Lisbon August 28.)

Which means the “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino” is a bit of an anachronism. (A “chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of persons, events, objects, or customs from different periods.”)

But it seems like yesterday…

Part of the trip’s charm was that before, during and after the 18-day hike I greatly enjoyed the Iberian beers. Including CruzcampoSagres, Mahou and Super Bock. See Beer in Portugal – Wikipedia and its long history, “as far back as the time of the ancient Roman province of Lusitania, where beer was commonly made and drunk.”

I hiked with my Utah brother and sister-in-law. We started in Porto, then hiked “back” to Santiago. (My brother and I hiked the Camino Frances in 2017, and came to Santiago from the east.) This time we three came into Santiago from  the south. I wrote about that proposed pilgrimage on August 2d, in St. James – and “my next great pilgrimage.” (My companion blog.)

In 2017 … my Utah brother and I hiked [and biked) the most popular “Camino,” the French Way… But a month from now – September 2, 2019 – my brother and I will start hiking the [160] or so miles, from Porto “back” up to Santiago, via the Portuguese Way. And this time we’ll be joined by my Utah sister-in-law.

That Portuguese Way is another name for the Camino route passing through Portugal. You can begin in either Lisbon or Porto. “The Portuguese way is the second most popular route after the French Way and the Portuguese coastal way” – which we took, hiking west from Porto – “is the seventh most popular.” See What Is The Coastal Portuguese Camino De Santiago Like?

If you start your Camino in Porto and really want to be by the water, you have the option of spending your first day [or two] walking the unofficial but easy-to-follow route alongside the beach between Matosinhos and Vila do Conde… Towards the end of the following day, the route heads inland and unless you take a detour or two, you won’t see much of the sea until you get to Galicia.

Which is pretty much what we did.

10.8 miles from Porto to Cabo do Mundo the first day. (And by the way, the tablet I used to both take some pictures and post them on Facebook had a problem. It had autocorrect, which changed a name like Cabo do Mundo to “Cabo Dr Mundo” every time. It got to be aggravating after a while.) Then 10.2 miles to Vila do Conde. (Same tablet problem.) From there it was a mere six-mile to Arcos. (A rare short hike.) From there 13 miles to Barcelos, where we took our first day off. Which was pretty much the pattern: Our three days off were always preceded by one long hike.

Which – by the way – was prompted by my brother’s booking our hotels – auberges, whatever – a good six months in advance. And that made us different from most Camino pilgrims.

All the good books on the “magic of the Camino” focus on the wonderful people you meet and mingle with in the dormitory-style auberges. But my brother had that experience once – in 2017, crossing the Pyrenees, before we met up in Pamplona – and that was enough for him.

And me too, as it turned out. (I took his word for it.)

I like my privacy, and being able to get away from “mingling” after a long day’s hike.

So anyway and to repeat, we started out on the Coastal Route after Porto, then shunted over to the Inland Route. There – among other rivers – we crossed the Lima river at Ponte de Lima:

For the inland route, Ponte de Lima‘s bridge is used. The later bridge possibly dates to the 1st century and was rebuilt in 1125… [The bridge] is named after the long medieval bridge (ponte) that passes over the Lima river that runs next to the town.

Or as Arlo Guthrie might have phrased it, “that’s just the name of the bridge, and that’s why they called the bridge the Ponte de Lima.”

That’s a quick look at the first part of this Camino hike, with few scintillating details or photos. (Except those at the top and bottom of the main text.) But we’re digressing here, and getting to the end of the recommended number of words in a blog post. That leads to a final note.

Remember how we used to peel the skin off our back and arms after a bad sunburn? Back in the old days, when we were young and before today’s fancy-schmancy creams and lotions that prevent such peeling? Something like that happened to the soles of my feet once I got home.

By the time we reached Santiago the soles of my feet were like shoe-leather, tough, blister-over-healed-blister and callused. (Or “cayused,” as one cute Farmacia lady said.*) But then since I’ve been home, I’ve peeled off several layers of that tough, leathery skin. So apparently the affected parts of the physical body – like the soles of your feet – go through a process of “decompressing” after such an adventure, just like you do mentally.

Which I suppose is just another way of saying that when you engage in such a pilgrimage – or any life-changing experience – you can expect both good times and times that aren’t so good.

I’ll be writing more about our Portuguese Camino adventure, but in the meantime: The good memories weren’t just limited to the CruzcampoSagres, Mahou and Super Bock

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Re: “Beach” alternative. See What Is The Coastal Portuguese Camino De Santiago Like? it included a little blurb about the charms of “mingling” with other pilgrims: “One of the endearing aspects of walking the Camino, and possibly a reason people become addicted to it, is the joy of meeting fellow walkers, their support and encouragement and the friendships you make along the Way.”

Re: Cruzcampo. The link – Cruzcampo Pilsener | Grupo Cruzcampo SA | BeerAdvocate – included some definitely negative reviews, but I liked it. I had at most one or two samples on this trip, but on the 2017 Camino Frances hike, I especially enjoyed an ice cold can on the train ride from Madrid up to Pamplona, where I met my brother, who’d hiked over the Pyrenees. I’d had enough of mountain hiking, since we’d hiked the Chilkoot Trail the summer before.

Re: The number of miles hiked. I originally wrote 140 miles, but it turned out we hiked 160.

Re: “Alice’s Restaurant.” See Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant Lyrics | MetroLyrics: “This song is called Alice’s Restaurant, and it’s about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice’s Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant, that’s just the name of the song, and that’s why I called the song Alice’s Restaurant.”

Re:  “Cayused.” It happened first thing one morning on the hike. We stopped at a Farmacia, as my sister-in-law wanted something like Band-aids for her blisters. She looked at one brand in Portuguese, but the lovely clerk said “those are not for blisters, they are for – how you say? – cayuses.” Which is how the Portuguese pronounce “calluses.” It was very cute, and very memorable…

On a wedding in Hadley…

rehearsalwalk

“Day before” wedding rehearsal.  (I’m sure there’s no “body-language hidden meaning…”)

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Two weeks ago I got back from three weeks in Israel.  Then right away I had to make a dramatic transition:  From free-wheeling world traveler to “weird uncle of the bride.”

Town Hall and First Congregational ChurchWhich is being interpreted:  After my adventures in Tel Aviv – getting lost hiking to the train station, taking the wrong train (away from the airport) and going 26 hours without sleep – I had to begin preparing for an 1,100 mile road trip up to Hadley, Massachusetts.

There my “favorite niece from Utah” was getting married.

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My latest adventure started after church on Sunday, June 16.  By the time I got out of church and gassed up, it was noon in PTC.  That afternoon I got as far as Knoxville TN.  I wanted to make it to Dandridge, but had a bit of a mixup trying to online-register for a Super 8 there.  (After pulling over during one of several traffic tie-ups on I-75, northwest of Atlanta…  Among other things, to check alternate routes via more scenic but slower back roads.)

To  make a long story short – and after yet another traffic slowdown coming into Chattanooga – I took a fallback position:  I picked up a delightfully-retro Travel Coupon booklet at a convenience store.  (Another bladder break and coffee.)   Then I “proceeded on,” taking more back roads around the south part of the city.  (The good news:  Now I know where the Social Security and county farm offices are in south Chattanooga, should the need ever arise…)

Lonnie Donegan.jpgNext day – Monday, June 17 – I made the Motel 6 in south Harrisonburg VA.  I had considered taking my time and getting to Hadley around noon on Wednesday, but by that Monday night I’d had my fill of motels.

So next morning I got up at 5:00 a.m. and left Harrisonburg in the dark.  I made the West Virginia line by 7:02, the Maryland line by 7:24 and Pennsylvania by 7:34.  Then – at the exit leading to Cumberland Gap Park – the “radio*” started playing “Cumberland Gap,” by the 1950’s Skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan(Best known for his hit single, “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight?”)  I figured it was sign from God…  (That “all is well.”)

From there the going was pretty good – until I got through Chambersburg PA.  There was a bad accident on I-81 north of Lebanon and yet another traffic tie-up.  Then a sign beside the interstate noted another lane closure at Mile Marker 117.  So I took more backroads to “bypass resistance;” state roads 443 and 61, over to Pottsville and back up to Interstate 81.  (Well past Mile Marker 117.)  I passed through some cute little Pennsylvania towns and stopped for gas – and another bladder break – in Schuylkill Haven.  There I also got a ready-made chicken salad sandwich on a kaiser roll.  Despite being made at a gas station, it was pretty dang good!

319bridgeI ended up making it to the rental house in Northampton MA – across the Connecticut River from Hadley – by 6:00 PM.  (At right.  As you can see, it was cloudy, overcast and subject to passing bands of rain, as it had been for most of the drive up.) 

To review that part of the trip on the way up:  It took me 54 hours to make about 1,100 miles.  Interstate 81 was – as usual – a pain, with clusters of tractor-trailers trying to pass each other like slow-moving turtles that blocked both lanes so well.

On the other hand, Interstate 88 east from Binghamton NY was much better.  It passed through beautiful rolling hills, and farmland – and not much traffic.  And the New York Thruway (I-90, around Albany and south over to Massachusetts) was a very pleasant surprise.

The Tuesday night I arrived, my brother and sister-in-law were over at “the Kelly’s” – the future in-laws – doing their early part of getting ready for the wedding.  So I puttered around the rental house, finding the washer and dryer – much needed – along with how to get my stair-stepping equipment easily into the basement.  Not to mention a place to store my kayak.

On that note, the early part of Wednesday (6/19) I spent two hours and 24 minutes kayaking on the Connecticut River.  (Which runs between Northampton and Hadley.)  I put in near Elwell State Park, which has a footbridge from the Northampton bank to an island in the middle of the river, then onto the Hadley side.  For that bout of kayaking there was SOME sun, but not much.

Later that Wednesday we all had dinner with the future in-laws.

tentOn Thursday we got down to work.  The main wedding party started working on “favors.”  I helped most by staying out of the way.  (As in “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.”)  And by reading a first (1908) edition of Kipling’s “The Light That Failed.”

I made up for it on Friday by helping set up a tent-full of tables and chairs.  (As shown above left, completed.)  Then the wedding rehearsal finally started.  (A good bit after the scheduled 6:00 p.m. start time, but the happy couple was “not hung up on that deadline thing!”)  That’s when I took the photo of the father of the bride and bride-to-be, heading down the “aisle,” as shown at the top of the page.

Then came the final preparations the morning and early-afternoon of the wedding day, June 22.  Then came the count-down:  4:52 p.m. “It shan’t be long now!”  Then the Officiant getting some last-minute instructions, as shown by a photo in the notes below.

And finally – at or about 5:43 p.m. – it became official.  They were married!

And then – It was TIME TO DANCE!

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dancepic

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I took the upper-photo image on June 21, 2019.

The Wikipedia caption for the Hadley MA image is “Town Hall and First Congregational Church.”

Re:  “The radio.”  I do have a radio in my car but mostly listen to Sirius Satellite Radio.

Re:  Lonnie Donegan, and his “Skiffle” style.  Wikipedia:  “With a washboardtea-chest bass and a cheap Spanish guitar, Donegan played folk and blues songs by artists such as Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie.  This proved popular,” beginning in 1954.  Later Donegan “went on to successes such as “Cumberland Gap” – later to be the sign from God, as noted – and “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour (On the Bedpost Overnight?), his biggest hit in the U.S…  He continued in the UK charts until 1962, before succumbing [sic] to The Beatles and beat music.” lastminuteinstructions

Re:  “Final preparations.”  They included the Wedding Officiant – to the right, with beard – getting last-minute instructions.

An early kayaking adventure (blub, blub, blub)…

Cartoon depicting a man standing with a woman, who is hiding her head on his shoulder, on the deck of a ship awash with water. A beam of light is shown coming down from heaven to illuminate the couple. Behind them is an empty davit.

A bit of hyperbole – regarding my long-ago first-kayak voyage that left me all wet…”

*   *   *   *

There I was, in the middle of one of the local lakes around here, on a fine sunny summer afternoon.  I was happily paddling away in my spandy-new kayak, when suddenly…

*   *   *   *

There’s more on that early adventure later, but first a note.

It’s now Lent, 2019, and so a time to prepare for Easter.  That can include “prayer, doing penancerepentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial.”  And for many people, that means giving up something.  On the other hand, some people choose to add a discipline “that would add to my spiritual life.”  (See Lenten disciplines: spiritual exercises or ego trip?)

Last year for Lent I gave up yelling “Hang the sonofabitch!” at every mention of Donald Trump.  This year I’ll be doing the same thing; for one thing, it ended up netting the Easter-day United Thank Offering a little over $25 in penalties.  (At 25 cents a violation.)  But this year I felt the need to add something else.  To “add a discipline,” etc.

So for this Lent I’ll be trying mightily to add – i.e., to prepare – a reasoned, careful, logical treatise on precisely why I think Donald Trump’s presidency is a constitutional crisis on par with Watergate, though not yet on par with the Civil War.  (Not yet.)  But beyond that, for my Lenten discipline I will try mightily to understand why some Americans still support him, without my saying, “What are you, a bunch of dumbasses?”

That’s going to be the hard part…

So hard in fact that it’s going to take so much time I won’t be able to do a new post in a reasonable time after the last one.  (From March 5, Didn’t we try this “Wall” thing before?)

So for the time being, I offer up this in-betweener.  It’s about an early adventure I had back a few years ago.  (2013 or so.)   In turn, it will be related to the new book I’ll be doing, tentatively titled “My adventures in old age.”   (See for example, On Brinkley, Clooney, and aging gracefully, which spoke in part of Seeing Old Age as a Never-Ending Adventure.)  That post in turn cited an online article, 11 Smart Things About Getting Older, and an early post I pity the fool.  (Where I said, “I pity the fool who doesn’t … push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”)

November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4332_zps47e076b9.jpgSo, back to my early-on kayaking adventure…  Here’s what happened.  I was on the way back from Biloxi and a canoe trip on Lake Pontchartrain (Which led the following year to On canoeing 12 miles offshore, and the “siesta-at-sea” image at left.)  So on the way back – in 2013 – I stopped at an Academy sporting goods store and found a reasonably-priced eight-foot kayak for a mere $149.  That in turn led to me adding kayaking to my weekly exercise routine.

I did two early “voyages” without mishap, and figured I had this kayaking stuff down pat.  (Except for the part about getting in and out, gracefully or otherwise.)  On my third kayaking venture, while trying to “mount” the kayak at the Lake Kedron boat ramp, the thing tipped over a bit too far.  As a result, what seemed like a small quantity of water got into the kayak.

I didn’t want to go through the trouble of looking ridiculous or clumsy – getting out of the kayak and then back in – so I figured, “No problem, I’ll just put up with the water sloshing around the ‘bilges‘ until I finish up, in an hour or so.”  So I paddled down to the other end of the lake and was heading back home, after 45 minutes or so.  Just then I noticed what seemed to be a bit more water than I remembered sloshing around the seat.

I kept on paddling along, but my thoughts then turned to the water that had been left over after my prior canoe voyages – for example, “Naked lady on the Yukon,” which came a bit later – and how I’d been able to get that water out.  Then, while still paddling, I glanced back – a bit – and noticed that the back end of the kayak seemed to be much lower than the front.

That’s when I discovered a big difference between a kayak and a canoe.  I couldn’t get a really good view because a kayak is kind of awkward to move around in, and in fact is quite “sensitive.”  (Not to say “tippy.”)  So I couldn’t do a good check on the back-end of the kayak, which in turn – eventually – led to this thought:  “You know, I’ll bet there’s a drain plug somewhere on this craft.  I wonder where it is?  I’ll have to check the manual when I get back.”

"Untergang der Titanic", a painting showing a big ship sinking with survivors in the water and boatsThen, paddling around a bend in the lake, I noticed that the ol’ kayak was really getting sluggish and hard to maneuver.  So – discretion being the better part of valor – I reluctantly started heading to the mucky, muddy shoreline, figuring I’d better stop and get this stupid water out.  But it was too late.  I hadn’t made much progress toward the shore when – in a kind of reverse-Titanic denouement – the aft-end started sinking faster than I could paddle, and I found myself and my trusty craft sinking into Lake Kedron.

In seconds I found myself out the back of the boat, which by now had filled with water.  I tried to hold on to the two-ended paddle, and push the stupid thing to shore.  (Thinking all the while, “What?  This thing will never sink.  It’s supposed to be freakin’ unsinkable!!!”)  I also tried to find the cheap deck-shoes I’ had on, the shoes I had bought just last week, somewhere still inside the boat.  (Knowing from past experience what it’s like to come ashore in muck and mire, in bare feet.)

I found the shoes but then had to try and get them on my feet, while holding onto the paddle and kayak, and trying to push it ashore.  Aside from all that, I had a set of weights on my wrists, because I wanted to get more bang for my exercise buck, as it were.  (See resistance training.)  Plus I was checking for my car keys, in the upper left shirt pocket.  (Where I figured they’d never get wet.)  And that’s not to mention the Ipod Shuffle that I’d also stuck in the upper right shirt pocket, for use in case I got bored paddling and needed some music.  (Again, figuring that in my shirt pocket it’d never get wet.)

To make a long story short, I finally made it to the mucky, mirey shore, and not-gracefully-at-all managed to heave the thing up far enough on shore to get what seemed like tons of water out.  And that’s when I noticed – there, at the very back of the kayak – the drain plug that only moments before I’d been wondering about.  Somehow, the plug had worked itself out, and gradually, over the course of an hour or so, the little bit of water from my “opening mount” had shifted to the rear, thus enabling even more water to come in with each stroke.

So there, on the mucky short of Lake Kedron, right down the hill from some fancy-schmancy house – whose residents are likely even now yucking it up over the schmuck in the kayak that sunk that afternoon – I learned: 1) that there is a drain plug in my kayak, and 2) where it’s located, and 3) how to plug it back in (albeit after-the-fact).

So anyway, after the fact i did a little write-up – which formed the basis of this post – and sent it out in a number of emails, to family and friends.  Most people got a kick out of it, but my older (local) brother – not the out-of-state one I do all my latest adventure with – wrote back, “I don’t think I’da told that story!”  To which I can only respond:  “Hey, I’m secure in my masculinity!”

Besides, there’s always this little bit of wisdom from “Robert Matthew Van Winkle:”

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The upper image is courtesy of Sinking of the RMS Titanic – Wikipedia.

Re:  The idiom “all wet.”  See Etymology – Origin of … ‘all wet’ – English StackExchange.  In the sense used in the lead caption, “entirely mistaken,” misguided, or wrong.  The site dates the idiom back to 1909, and notes that by 1924 it was common “that humorists could use it as a punchline:”

Modern American slang is an institution that certainly merits as much approval as condemnation.  It is so tersely expressive.  But sometimes its application doesn’t fit.  “You’re all wet,” says the youth of today [in 1924] when he wishes to convey the idea that in his mind, your opinion or action or attitude in the matter under discussion is wrong.

Drawing of sinking in four steps from eye witness descriptionRe:  “Reverse-Titanic denouement.”  As shown in the main-text illustration, the Titanic went down bow-first, while my kayak on Lake Kedron went down “stern first.”  The main-text painting’s caption:  “‘Untergang der Titanic,’ as conceived by Willy Stöwer, 1912.”  See also “The sinking, based on Jack Thayer‘s description. Sketched by L.P. Skidmore on board Carpathia.”  (Shown at left.) 

The “overturned kayak” image is courtesy of Overturned Kayak – Image Results.  To which I originally added this sentiment:  “Okay, my ‘early adventure’ wasn’t quite this bad – but it was humiliating!”  And the photo-image is accompanied by an article, “How to recover a capsized kayak to the upright position?”  Some good advice:  D on’t leave too much water in the bilges.

Re:  “Secure in my masculinity.”  See also Secure in your masculinity – Asexual Musings and Rantings, for some interesting observations.

The lower image is courtesy of Learn From My Mistakes – Image Results.  Those “Results” includes the quote from Vanilla Ice, a.k.a. “Mr. Winkle.”  He is the “American rapper, actor, and television host,” born in South Dallas, raised in Texas and South Florida, “known professionally as ‘Vanilla Ice.'”  Born in 1967, his initial success faded by 1994, when he “began using ecstasycocaine and heroin.  During periods of heavy drug use, Ice received many tattoos from artist acquaintances.  According to Ice, he ‘was in [his] binge days.  [He] didn’t even realize how many [he] was getting.’  Ice attempted suicide with a heroin overdose on July 4, 1994 but was revived by his friends.   After being revived, Ice decided that it was time to change his lifestyle.”  So he knows whereof he speaks, in terms of mistakes.

On Brinkley, Clooney, and aging gracefully…

Christie Brinkley was photographed by Emmanuelle Hauguel in Turks & Caicos. Swimsuit by Monica Hansen Beachwear.

Now that’s my kind of “When I’m Sixty-Four” aging gracefully…  (“‘Christie B.’ – at 63…”)

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In this post I review some earlier posts on gracefully ageing – or aging:  RABBIT – and “60 is the new 30 (Part I and Part II), and A Geezer’s guide to supplements (Part I and Part II, featuring “Arnold,” at right) 

In RABBIT – Part I – from June 2015 – I reviewed Rabbit Remembered.  That was the 2001 novella, last of a series of novel-sequels to Rabbit, Run.  (The 1960 work by John Updike.  The sequels included Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest.)  But RABBIT – Part II is where things got interesting, at least in terms of aging gracefully.  (I turn 68 next July.)

It started with a “personal tidbit” from the 1971 sequel, Rabbit Redux.  Set in the summer of 1969 (the same summer as the Apollo 11 moon landing), the novel told of a time “when father and son are settling the bar bill.  Earl Angstrom had a Schlitz beer, and tells his son [Harry, the protagonist], ‘Here’s my forty cents.  Plus a dime for a tip.’”

RabbitReduxbookcover.jpgWhich led me to write:  “Are you kidding me…  Do you mean there once was a time when you could go into a bar, pay 40 cents for a beer and leave a dime for the tip?  And not get thrown out or insulted?”  (The answer:  “Yes, there was…”)

But the really interesting part was about how 65-year-olds were portrayed in 1969.  For example, Updike wrote of Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom’s father looking old once outside the bar; “liverish scoops below his eyes, broken veins along the sides of his nose.”  Harry then asks Earl about his money situation, and Earl responds, “Believe it or not there’s some advantages to living so long in this day and age.  This Sunday she’s going to be sixty-five and come under Medicare.”

Next Sunday Harry visits Mary (his mother) for her birthday and she greets him:

I’m sixty-five,” she says, groping for phrases, so that her sentences end in the middle.  “When I was twenty.  I told my boyfriend I wanted to be shot.  When I was thirty…”  [Harry:]  “You told Pop this?”  “Not your dad.  Another.  I didn’t meet your dad til later.  This other one, I’m glad.  He’s not here to see me now.”

The point is that even though Mary has Parkinson’s, Updike’s overall image of 65-year-olds in 1969 is of people who really are over the hill.  (“Living so long in this day and age?”  Really?)

Now compare that with Christie Brinkley, shown in the lead picture above in 2017, at age 63.

On that note see “60 is the new 30,” and also “Why 60 Is The New 30.”  The latter post noted the “55-64 age group has shown the largest increase in entrepreneurial ventures, now accounting for more than 20 percent of all start-ups.”  (Thus literally “starting over when our grandparents would be strolling around golf communities in Florida.”)

Or see Is 60 the New 40?  That article noted that what elderly “meant to the Greatest Generation doesn’t hold for their offspring, the baby boomers.”  Then there’s 60, Not 50, Is The New Middle Age – Huffington Post, and New research shows 60 is the new 40 – KING5:

Increasingly, people over 60 feel more like 40, and now they have the science to back them up…   The new research argues that since life expectancy continues to rise, age 60 should not be considered old.  It’s more “middle age,” because for many, there’s a lot of living left to do after age 60, even embarking on second or third careers.

Which brings us back to my Geezer’s guide(s) to supplements, Part I and Part II.  In those posts I noted that I “don’t want a Schwarzenegger body.  At age 67 [soon to be 68], I just want to stick around a while yet.”  (And “maybe run into a cute ‘young'” 60-some-year-old, like Christie B….)

So, to that end the “Geezer” posts  listed 10 good supplements from Menshealth, along with the question “Why do I bother with all these supplements?  Simply put, I want to live long enough” – among other things and if only metaphorically – “to dance on my enemy’s grave.”  (Illustrated at right.)

And that brings up two relatively new online articles, 11 Of The Smartest Things Anyone Ever Said About Getting Older, and 9 Things People Aging Gracefully Do Differently | HuffPost:

There’s nothing less attractive than someone desperately clinging to the last remnants of their youth.  We think it’s far sexier to be comfortable in your own skin.

That last thought was a “leaf” from George Clooney, along with the main thing people aging gracefully do:  “work out to get strong, not skinny.”  (Not to get a “Schwarzenegger body.”)

Other thoughts:  They stress less and forgive more, they learn something new every day, they stay positive, they get enough sleep – which for me includes daily naps “as needed” – and they eat and drink better.  (They “learn what changes we need to take with our diets as we age.”  Like Geezer supplements, and kale and/or spinach salads at night, not processed food snacks.)  

So here’s to Seeing Old Age as a Never-Ending Adventure (From the New York Times – that “enemy of the people” – on a thought that will be the subject of at least one future post.)

As far as those 11 Smart Things About Getting Older, here’s my favorite.  (Or as I said in I pity the fool, “I pity the fool who doesn’t … push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”)

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henry david thoreau

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The upper image is courtesy of Christie Brinkley Photos, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017.  And about that When I’m Sixty-Four.  (Referring to the 1967 Beatles song released on their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.)  Born in 1954, Christie is now – in 2019 – 65 years old, while she was 63 at the time of the 2017 Sports illustrated photo shoot.  So for this post I just split the difference.

Re:  How to properly spell “ageing.”  See Ageing vs. aging – Correct Spelling – Grammarist“American and Canadian writers use agingAgeing is the preferred spelling outside North America.”  

I borrowed the “dancing on enemy grave” image from Geezer’s Guide – Part II.  As to which enemy whose grave I “enthusiastically” look forward to dancing on, Part II said “Let the reader understand!”  (Citing Mark 13:14: “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”)

Re:  “Push the envelope.”  That also came near the end of Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

Last year the Meseta, next year “Porto…”

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This time last year – October 4, 2017 – my Utah brother and I were hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  Specifically, on this day in 2017 we managed to hike into León, for our second one-day break after 20 days of hiking. We got to the PENSION BLANCA B&B fairly early in the afternoon, and could then start relaxing.  Or at least easing our aching feet…

The good news was that once we reached León, we had to switch from hiking to bicycling. (We were running out of time.)  The bad news?  That change just led to “a different kind of hell.” (From Dorothy Parker’s famous quote, “What fresh hell is this?”  In our case, it only meant a change in where we got sore…)

Just the day before – October 3 – we hiked from Reliegos to Puente Villarente – shown above right – some 7.5 miles shy of León.  (See also the blurb on the hike from El Burgos Raneros to Mansilla de las Mulas.)  I know because I wrote in my journal, “We hiked 7.5 miles today.”  So again, we got to the PENSION BLANCA in León early in the afternoon, and started relaxing.

The other good news was that we were finally done with the Meseta part of the hike.  Which brings up the picture at the top of the page. [“Now defunct.”] The caption:  “Tom heading back to the Camino. Which gives an idea of the landscape we’ve been hiking through.” That hiking-through was on the Meseta Central plateau part of Spain – and it’s dry, dusty and hot. In fact, it’s the part that some people recommend Camino pilgrims skip.  (If they want to be all “wussified.”)

So the Meseta part of the hike presented its own “fresh hell,” its own set of fresh challenges.  But hey, that’s what a real pilgrimage is all about.   A “journey or search of moral or spiritual significance,” as shown at left.  Or in other words, “Finding yourself.”

Anyway, by October 4th we’d already hiked from Pamplona for 20 days, and ended up in León.  We’d hiked 250 miles.  And aside from taking a day off in León, we got our rented 15-speed mountain bikes.  With them we covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days.  Even though neither of us had ridden a bike in 40 or so years…

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Before leaving for Spain – and the 450-mile hike-and-bike – I wrote about this pilgrimage-adventure in Training for the Camino and Going back “whence we came.”  (We started hiking from Pamplona on September 13 and got to Santiago October 12, 2017.)  Once I got back I did “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited and “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts (The latter because my brother thought “Camino – Revisited” was too negative.)   From the latter post I said this:

This is also a good time to mention that dinners on the Camino were universally delicious.  Most of the albergues featured a three-course special, including a salad, main course and choice of desserts.  Which may explain why – even though people said I looked thinner when I got back home – I actually weighed the same 160 pounds as when I left.

Also about this time – leading up to the Leon stayover – there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Bill O’Reilly posted that that latest mass murder was “the price of freedom.”  I posted in response, “No Bill, putting up with dumbasses like you is the price of freedom.”

So much for a pilgrimage making you all kumbaya and hug-your-neighbor.  But we digress…

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The start of the Meseta outside Burgos - el Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances, SpainThe point is that this time last year we were just finishing the dry, dusty Spanish Meseta part of our Camino hike.  But next year we plan something different.  We’ll go back for another hike, but this time on the Portuguese Camino, “a fantastic route for pilgrims looking for a more rural experience on the Camino de Santiago.”  And the “we” will include me, my brother and his wife.  Which means I’ll have to get my own lodging.  (So it’s time to start saving my pennies.)

I plan to fly into Lisbon, mostly because I’ve never been there but always wanted to visit.  The three of us will meet up in Porto; “gorgeous Porto with its colorful riverfront and home of Port wine.”  From there it’s a mere 161 miles to Santiago de Compostela, on a more-leisurely pace of ten miles a day, for 16 days or hiking.  (Who says you can’t can’t teach old dogs?)

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Meanwhile, back in Leon, last year.  On October 5, on the day off, I found a McDonald’s restaurant, for a “little taste of home.”  And we practice-rode our rental 15-speed bikes.  I “didn’t fall down, and shifted gears without the chain coming off.”  But from there it wasn’t all smooth sailing.  On the ride out of Leon October 6, “my right handlebar took out – smashed the heck out of – the side-view mirror of some poor slob’s nice new car.”  In a second mishap:

I literally “ran my ass into a ditch…”  We were zooming downhill one afternoon.  I tried to adjust my left pant-leg, and the next thing I knew I was laying in a ditch, bleeding like a stuck pig.  And not just any ditch.  A nice deep ditch covered with thorns and brambles on the sides and bottom.  The “stuck pig” part came when my Ray-Bans gashed the bridge of my nose, causing it to bleed profusely…

See “Buen Camino!” – Revisited.  The point is:  We covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days, but not without some adventure (As illustrated at left, “An exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking.”) 

Which can be what a pilgrimage is all about.

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So anyway, this time last year we were just coming off the dry, dusty Meseta part of the Camino Frances, in our case from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.  And who knows, maybe this time next year we’ll be finishing up our hike from Porto to Santiago.  Or somewhere in the middle, or maybe just starting out.  Which leads to this thought:

I’m sure the Portuguese Camino will have its own challenges, it’s own way of helping me “find myself.”  But considering we’ll be starting in Porto, at least the start should be happy…

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Rabelo boat, used to transport barrels of port down the River Douro,” to Porto . . .

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The original post included an upper image with the caption, “My brother exploring some ‘ruinas’ on the Camino de Santiago, this time last year (10/4).” But for some reason this “platform for publishing” substitutes an actual image with a block stating – for example “image may contain sky, outdoor, nature,” which does me no good and is quite aggravating. When that happens I usually delete the useless “info box,” and note – as here – what used to be there…

So here’s what I wrote in the notes in the original post: “The upper image is my photo, taken with a ‘tablet’ rather than a camera.  A word of advice:  Take a real camera.  It adds very little weight, while the tablet seemed to take forever to set up, meaning you really had to think ahead to get a decent picture.” And for more on the platform, see WordPress.com – Wikipedia

Re “Now defunct.” See Is it now-defunct or now defunct? – Columbia Journalism Review. Which is an article I discovered while fixing the image screw-ups noted above. With this note:

The phrase “now defunct” is another journalism mannerism, a phrase not often spoken aloud. But we love it: It allows us to tell readers that this thing of which we are about to speak is no longer around.

Which leads to another photo that was in the original but is no more. I wrote of the image: “The image to the right of the paragraph beginning ‘This time last year’ is also my photo of the bridge for which Puente Villarente is named. ‘Puente’ means bridge and ‘Puente Villarente’ is four miles northwest of the ‘Mansilla de Las Mulas’ mentioned in El Burgos Raneros to Mansilla de las Mulas.  See also Camino Day 24: Puente Villarente to León 12km.  

So, in correcting the “defunct image” mishap I actually learned something new, about the term “now defunct.” Which why I like blogging, even if only for my own amusement. Meanwhile, the rest of the notes “hereinafter” are as they appeared in the original.

Re:  “Different kind of hell.”  The allusion – as noted – is to Dorothy Parker‘s famously saying – whenever the door rang in her apartment – “What fresh hell is this?”  It’s also the title of Parker’s 1989 biography by Marion Meade.  See Amazon.com: Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?  

Re:  “The part some people recommend.”  The actual title:  The Meseta – Walking the Camino de Santiago.  It says in part, “many people decide to skip this section of the Camino Frances entirely, which is a shame, because this part … has more to offer than meets the eye.”

The pilgrim image is courtesy of the Camino link at Pilgrimage – Wikipedia.

A note about the Camino Frances, in our case from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.  My brother opted to start at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the northern end of the “French Way,” after flying into Paris.  I opted to fly into Madrid and take a train to Pamplona, where we met up.   

The lower image is courtesy of Port wine – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “‘Rabelos,’ a type of boat traditionally used to transport barrels of port down the River Douro for storage and aging in caves at Vila Nova de Gaia near Porto.”  Also port wine is defined in pertinent part as…

… a Portuguese fortified wine produced with distilled grape spirits exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal…  Fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled spirit, usually brandy, is added.  Many different styles of fortified wine have been developed, including PortSherryMadeiraMarsala … and the aromatised wine Vermouth.

So that part should be fun…