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Alto de Perdon

Can anyone translate this for me? It appears to be Italian.

Alto de Perdon.

That means “Height of Forgiveness,” and traditionally a pilgrim reaching this height was pardoned, even if she didn’t make it all the way to Santiago. The wrought iron statue of peregrinos here – a recent addition – reads “donde se cruza el camino del viento con el d las estrellas.”

And it is the path of the wind. Above me and stretching off along the hilltops are wind turbines. Their steady thrum contrasts with the higher, faster chirrup of a grasshopper nearby.

I am sitting in the shadow of a stone shrine much older than anything else up here, waiting for my parents to catch up and feeling the arches of my feet relax from the long climb. My decidedly untraditional pedometer app tells me we have walked more than 7 miles already.

Beside the shrine is a cairn. People have written on the stones they left, benedictions and remembrances. Hats and scarves are pinned under the stones. Ribbons are tied to the peregrino sculpture. I have nothing to leave; the stone in my backpack I am saving for Cruzo de Ferro, later in the trip. So I kneel before the cairn and kiss my fingers to the stones, then I sit and I write, taking away intangible things since I have nothing tangible to leave.

Man, that was pretentious. The idea of being on a pilgrimage can give one airs when one writes.

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Buen viaje y buen camino

A fountain in Barcelona by night.

A fountain in Barcelona by night.

One year ago, I left Alaska for points east (Barcelona) and then began trekking back west (Seattle, via New York, via Santiago, via Pamplona).

August 23, 2012

LAFAYETTE, WE ARE HERE.

Here being Barcelona! With all the time zone changes, we got here . . . Approx. 36 hours after leaving the house. So since the Camino pilgrimage – and indeed, all pilgrimages – traditionally begins with the first step out your door, I have been on pilgrimage since yesterday.

It is, as Bilbo said, a dangerous business, stepping out your front door, but thus far the worst we’ve had to deal with was non-functioning wifi in Heathrow and the hostel mixing up our reservation such that we have a room with a shared bath rather than a private.

There are a lot of “One year ago I…” moments coming up, and I have hundreds of photos from the Camino that I never posted anywhere, so expect a lot of those, and a lot of nostalgia, in the next month and a half.

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but the Eagle has landed; tell your children when

This is a video taken by the camera attached to the space shuttle’s booster rockets.

NPR’s Robert Krulwich writes:

It’s about two minutes up, then four minutes down, starting in lazy loops through the empty (except for the metal groaning) upper atmosphere; then the Earth’s surface swings with the arc of our fall, the atmosphere thickens, you hear wind, see inky, smoky moments, bursts of flame, winds start whistling by, groaning gets louder, clouds appear below like distant pillows, which we swoosh through and, after ejecting something, there’s a snap, parachutes suddenly appear and we drop, then splash into, under and out of the sea, only to watch something else toppling out of the sky nearby.

It’s amazing. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to going to space. It makes my heart hurt the way La Sagrada Familia made my heart hurt, with sheer beauty. I nearly threw my laptop off my lap at a couple of points because I got so excited.

It’s about eight minutes that you won’t regret.

(Title text from Leslie Fish’s “Hope Eyrie“; hat tip to Batya, who I think told me about this one, or at least about a similar song.)

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Meet me by the water’s edge

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The 520 was letting boats through as I headed west after a very long day of work, which meant stopping and waiting, but I didn’t mind. Honestly, there are worse places to be at dusk on an August night then the middle of a lake, with the cool air filling up the space around you and the water lapping a few feet away, and nowhere to do and nothing to be.

On blackberries

A clump of blackberries, some ripe, some not.

How can you not want to eat these?

It’s summer in Seattle, and that means that those asshole bushes with all the prickers that grow everywhere in Seattle are finally doing what they were made to do, which is producing blackberries.

Whenever I go by blackberry vines, I think of Tom Robbins’ Still Life with Woodpecker:

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The Doctor lands in Alaska

The Doctor lands in Alaska

So I’m visiting my family in Alaska, right? And we go to Homer, which is a small tourist/fishing town, and after dinner we drive out to see if we can spot any moose on the outskirts of town.

Instead we found this.

It’s next to some industrial oil/gas building, tucked into a copse of trees and cow parsnips but still visible from the road. It had clearly been touched up recently, as there was blue paint on the plants next to it, and it showed no signs of having weathered an Alaska winter. Who the hell built it and maintains it? Why put it there? And is it really bigger on the inside? That I’ll never know; the doors wouldn’t open.

Shine on, Alaskan Whovian, shine on.

ETA: Two more pictures; all of these are courtesy my mother, who blogs over at roadtripteri.com.

El Camino: The RPG

So my impression of the pilgrimage has become FINFAL FANTASY XVIASDF: EL CAMINO, because walking it really is just like an RPG:

*The way is marked by official signs with yellow scallop shells on them, or in some places by fancier scallop shells the towns have put into the sidewalks or along the walls, and by painted yellow arrows that are slapped up in every damn place: walls, trees, lampposts, rocks, the sidewalk, anything fairly immovable. In towns there tends to be one every block or so, but in the country they’re more once a kilometer. In other words, it’s a sandbox world with markers to keep you headed towards the next level, and spotting the right markers can be a challenge.

*You have a limited inventory which you are constantly performing maintenance on, and you’re often forced to carry weird random things just in case they become useful.

*You run into the same dozen people through the whole thing. Occasionally they join your party.

*With each new stage you gain XP and get stronger/more tan/your Spanish gets better and you level up.

*If you want to skip particularly difficult stretches, there are codes available to do that. (They’re called “bus routes” and “taxi companies”.)

*The background graphics are amazing but the foreground is full of bugs.

*The final boss battle is looming. (A 1200 meter climb up O’Sobreirio.)

*It costs an ass-ton of money and time, and you can’t really tell until you get to the end whether all the times you wanted to throw your stick across the room and give up were worth it. But you’re pretty sure it will be. It got really good reviews.

El Camino – Alto de Perdon

Alto de Perdon.

That means “Height of Forgiveness,” and traditionally a pilgrm reaching this height was pardoned, even if she didn’t make it all the way to Santiago. The wrought iron statue of peregrnos here – a recent addition – reads “donde se cruza el camino del viento con el d las estrellas.”

And it is the path of the wind. Above me and stretching off along the hilltops are wind turbines. Their steady thrum contrasts with the higher, faster chirrup of a grasshopper nearby.

I am sitting in the shadow of a stone shrine much older than anythin ele up here, waiting for my parents to catch up and feeling the arches of my feet relax frm the long climb. My decidedly untraditional pedometer app tells me we havewalked more than 7 miles already.

Beside the shrine is a cairn. People have written on the stones they left, benedictons and rememberances. Hats and scarves are pinned under the te stones. Ribbons are tied to the peregrino sculpture. I have nothing to leave; the stone in my backpack I am saving for Cruzo de Ferro, later in the trip. So I kneel before the cairn and kiss my fingers to the stones, then I sit and I write, taking away intangible things since I have nothing tangible to leave.

El Camino, days 1-2

LAFAYETTE, WE ARE HERE.

Here being Barcelona! With all the time zone changes, we got here . . . Approx. 36 hours after leaving the house. So since the Camino pilgrimage – and indeed, all pilgrimages – traditionally begins with the first step out your door, I have been on pilgrimage since yesterday.

It is, as Bilbo said, a dangerous business, stepping out your front door, but thus far the worst we’ve had to deal with was non-functioning wifi in Heathrow and the hostel mixing up our reservation such that we have a room with a shared bath rather than a private.

This is my first time in un pais hispanohablante – a Spanish-speaking country – and it is an absolute thrill to be someplace where I can communicate with relative ease. I mean, I’m worried that when I greet people in Spanish they’ll think I’m fluent, but . . . Like, the guy checking us into the hostel was trying to explain that he’d had Mom sign the wrong credit card slip and I was able to act as an interpreter (although much to my amusement, that interaction drew as much on my recent experience running lots of credit card charges as on my ability to say “You charged this already – ya, ya-” “¡Si!”).

Tomorrow, whether I like it or not, we are doing touristy stuff. I do want to see La Sagrada and La Rambla, which I guess is a market-y street, but mostly I find I am itching for the pilgrimage. Traveling and tourism (especially with parents in tow) are complicated. Walking is simple. Point me west towards Santiago and let me walk.