Day 3: 03/18/13!

Day 3-1Day 3-2Day3-3Day3-4Yep that is what my tren ticket said as I heard the tren ticket taker say “Billete no válido!” That I understood! I didn’t sleep all night; upgraded my tren ticket online last night; printed my boarding pass at the concierge before leaving; took a cab to the tren station to be early and sat there for 45 minutes before they opened for boarding! My heart dropped when i heard that! When I upgraded my ticket to a premium ticket online the night before, I hit March not February. They fixed it and I made it to Pamplona! Whew! The walk was about 10 miles from tren station to Pamplona city center. Haven’t slept since 3 pm yesterday so I got a room and slept all day. The weight of the backpack is taking some getting used to. (Where is Danny Noonan when you need him!).
I will explore Pamplona tomorrow, get my pasaporte de pelligrino for the Camino and proceed to walk.

The beginning route I am taking is as follows (so that my mother knows where I am:): Pamplona to Logrono to Burgos, and I will update where from there.

Today was harder than most emotionally. I think in part because I was so exhausted from no sleep. After my moving evening devotional, I am now sitting across from the bull fighting ring from the Sun Also Rises drinking a vino and listening to the remainder of the book.


Day 2: False Start!

Day2-1Day 2-2Day 2-3Day 2-2 Day 2-6Day 2-7Day 2-8Day 2-9Day 2-10Day2-11Day-2-12Couldn’t sleep last night until about 6 am this morning. I got up, repacked my backpack, put it on and checked out of my hotel. Walked 15 blocks to the tren station and missed the tren to Paloma to start my trek (good dry run with the backpack!). Well God had other plans! Apparently I hadn’t seen enough of Barcelona yet. I checked back into the same room and explored. So glad I did. I was able to see the Sagrada Familia Basilica. When Lindy and I were in Florence we were enamored by Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. She would have loved the Sagrada. I walked most of Barcelona and now I’m at the beautiful Port of Barcelona having my daily devotional (with a glass of vino), looking over the coast, missing Lindy. I am learning to embrace the peace God is trying to give me. I know he holds my right hand and Lindy, my angel, holds my left. That gives me peace. Tomorrow I hope to catch the tren and begin my walk. But tonight I will enjoy Barcelona night air.

Day 262: My Walk for Jacque (In Honor of the DFW Brain Tumor Walk 2013-Team Lindy Lou)

My wife passed away 10 months ago. She was diagnosed with her first Glioblastoma October 2009. Immediately, she started raising dollars to fund research for treatments and a cure. Even though she was way late to the game with less than six weeks to walk day, Team Lindy Lou was top fund raiser with over $20k. She also took top spot as individual fundraiser as well!

That year the theme was “Walk for Jacque.” She named her first tumor Jacque. She also named her other two tumors after French men. (Still not sure the connection to the French). But, Walk for Jacque has always stuck with me and her team. The banner for that year still hangs in our garage. I see it every day – sometimes 10 times a day.

The morning Lindy passed, with no regard for dark storm clouds and looming rain, I snuck out from the room full of friends & family through the back gate and walked toward the lake. I simply didn’t want to be at the house when the funeral home came to take her. I didn’t want to live with the memory of her lifeless body being taken. During that disappearance, I experienced the first moment I have had “alone” for the last 9 years. I truly felt lonely for the first time ever in my life. She was always there, even if not physically present. Now she was gone. Gone where? I really didn’t know. At the time, I was agnostic and wasn’t 100% sure where she went. She was Catholic and very sure of where she was going, thanks to the confirmation she shared with her “Second Mom.”

I walked the uncut path from our house to White Rock Lake in the drizzling rain. I learned something about myself that day. Walking was kind of cathartic for me. I had a vague memory of a movie I had seen a couple years before called “The Way.” It’s about a walk in Spain. That is literally the only thing I remembered. Hours later I was booked for a flight to Barcelona, departing two days after Lindy’s funeral. Pushing through emotions, I bought some gear at the backpacking store and flew my out-of-shape self to Spain. I hopped a train to Pamplona and commenced to walking. I learned the hard way about how long and difficult this trail is. Let’s say this… I sat on a bench ready to quit the first day. I was just waiting for a bus, a car, a horse or anything to come get me. God and Lindy had other plans. I walked and cried all day, every day for almost a month. It was the off-season. Walking in sub-freezing temperatures made it even harder – the consequence of being completely unprepared for the walk.

I have hiked 225 miles of this trail through the French Pyrenees and the mountains and hills of Northern Spain. It ends in Santiago. It is the Camino de Compostela: The Walk to the Apostle St. James’ grave. God worked a miracle in my life on this pilgrimage. The wonder of this story occurred in the Camino de Compostela office in the Catholic Church when I was asked which path I took so they could put it on my completion certificate. Heck one day prior, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a completion certificate. Two German kids told me about it the night before at the hostel. I had a pilgrim passport that got stamped every night, but I thought this special passport was because I was too old for hostels. I thought this passport gave me special permission since I was doing this walk.

I told the lady that I didn’t know, and she would have to figure it out from my pilgrim passport. She replied, “You did Chemin Jacque”! I said, “Huh?” She said the French way is “Chemin Jacque” – “The way of St. Jacque” in English. I broke into tears and fell on a chair. Unbelievably, I had just finished my wife’s Walk for Jacque.

Life has a way of connecting things. That pilgrimage was so sprinkled with Lindy’s connection along the way. That special place and time will always be my Walk for Jacque. I finished what Lindy couldn’t – at least not in this life.