Sunday, May 24, 2015

SPAIN

Well I guess it's time to update Gassaway's Adventures. After I walked the Camino de Santiago, I flew to Madrid where I met Cathie. We stayed in a really nice B&B in the old city. http://www.artisticbandb.com/ B&B's are hard to come by in large cities, and Madrid is no exception. When doing a internet search most responses are for hotels that serve breakfast, not what we were looking for. We did manage to find Artistic B&B and although up 4 flights of stairs, it fit our needs.
STREET WHERE OUR MADRID B&B IS


With Cathie arriving late on my second day in Madrid, I continued to do what I had been doing for the previous 5 weeks. I walked. Then I walked some more. Madrid is really walkable with lots of pedestrian only streets in the old center. It didn't take much to keep me entertained, with sidewalk cafes galore, it was people watching time. I did find myself looking for pilgrims I knew, but never found a one.

Cathie finally arrived after her flight was delayed around 9 in the evening. I took the bus to the airport and met her and we retuned to the city in the same fashion. Cathie hadn't eaten, so after dropping her luggage off at the B&B we headed to a close by restaurant for dinner. In Spain, restaurants don't start serving dinner until 8 or 8:30, so dinner at 11 pm was the norm. Madrid with a population of over 3.2 million is huge, but we pretty much confined ourselves to the old center of the city. After being in Northern Spain for 5 weeks walking the Camino, Madrid was overwhelming and expensive in comparison to what I'd been used to. Cathie really only had one full day in Madrid, so we opted to take the Hop On Hop Off tour bus to get an overview of the city. So, we hopped on and rode around for about 1.5 hours listening to the narration in hard to understand English, then we hopped off and stayed off. We decided that it was more enjoyable just to sit in a side walk cafe and watch the world go by.
CATHIE DISCOVERS TAPAS, OR IS IT ME?
For the remainder of our trip, I had attempted to rent a car in Madrid and drop it off in France where we were to catch our flight home. For a 3 week rental, the rental fee was around $550, not too bad, but the drop off fee was a whopping $2000. So back to square one. We could have used public transport to get around, but you waste time and have no flexibility. We had leased a new Peugeot in the past for longer trips, so I looked into to cost. More expensive than I had hoped, but it was doable. So on the day we left Madrid, we took a taxi to a predetermined location near the airport and met with the representative from Peugeot. He delivered to us a brand new Peugeot 308. The car comes fully insured with roadside assistance and is registered in my name. When we go home, a different representative will meet us at the airport in Mulhouse, France and take the car back.

So we left Madrid and drove the short distance to Segovia, a city with a roman aqueduct and a bunch of other old stuff. We stayed in a gem of a B&B just on the outskirts of the city, where communication with the owner was limited due to the language barrier. Even so, we managed to be served wine and beer both afternoons we were there on the terrace.
B&B IN SEGOVIA
We spent the morning checking out Segovia, touring the Cathedral, the Castle and admiring the aqueduct. The two tiers of the aqueduct are believed to have been built between the 1st and 2nd century. It was constructed with out the use of cement or mortar, is 2388 feet long and has 165 arches. The castle or The Alcazar of Segovia is a sight to see from the surrounding area. The first written record of the Alcazar dates back to the beginning of the 12th century. It became on the the favorite residences for the crown of Castile throughout the middle ages.
CATHIE FINDS HER KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR

After two nights in Segovia, we headed to Santo Domingo de la Calzada for our last two nights in Spain. The purpose for going to Santo Domingo was two fold. First, there is a Parador Hotel there and second is because it is on the Camino de Santiago. The Paradors are a Spanish Government hotel chain with many of the hotels occupying old historic buildings. I had stayed in one in Leon while walking the Camino and now it was Cathie's turn. The Santo Domingo Parador is in an old pilgrims hostel built in the 1500's and is right in the center of the old city. The second reason for going was to show Cathie some of the places I had walked.
THE PARADOR

WE CLIMBED THE BELL TOWER
There is also a legend about a pilgrim from long ago, and it goes something like this : A German family, father, mother and son, Hugonell, were on the pilgrimage to Santiago. In Santo Domingo they stayed with a farmers family, and the farmer's daughter tried to seduce Hugonell but, as a pious pilgrim, he refused her advances. She became so angry that she his some silver in his pack and after he left, called the authorities and accused the boy of theft. Upon finding the items in his pack, the boy was found guilty and hanged.

The grief-stricken parents continued to Santiago but stopped to see their son's remains on the return journey. It was common at the time that thieves were left to rot on the gallows as a warning to others. They were delighted to find that he was still alive, claiming that Santo Domingo had held him up so he did not die. The parents hurried to the magistrate and asked them to cut down their son, as he was clearly innocent. The magistrate, who had just sat to to a hearty chicken dinner, shouted, "Why he is no more alive that this roasted chicken I'm about to eat." At this, the cooked chicken stood up on his plate, miraculously brought back to life feathers and all, and crowed.

In remembrance of this story, live chickens are kept in the Cathedral and are said to be descendants of the resurrected fowl.

As I write this, Spain is behind us we are now in Pau, France. This is Basque country and three days to explore it, so stay tuned.


Monday, February 09, 2015

WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING

Since I've been posting over on the Walking My Camino blog, I seem to have been neglecting the ongoings at Gassaway's Adventures.  Although we haven't been traveling to some exotic spot, we haven't been sitting on our hands either.

Don and Dorthory, who we met in Moab several years ago, took us up on an open invitation to do a little moochdocking in our back yard.  Now you may have heard the term "boondocking", which for an RV'er is camping for free in the boondocks.   Moochdocking is much the same except you're in someones back yard or driveway.  So first on the agenda is a tour of the USS Midway.  Don, who spent some time in the Navy, was in his element.  I was able to take him to the Combat Information Center, which is generally not open to the public.  This is an area where he worked while serving on board a ship.


Our guests had been to Borrego before, but just scratched the surface.  So, acting as tour guides, we headed out to the desert for a week of exploring.  We did some tame 4-wheeling, exploring Seventeen Palms, the Pumpkin Patch, Sheep Canyon, the arroyos of the badlands Spilt Mountain, and Hollywood and Vine.   Here's some photos:

CAMP IN ARROYO SALADO





No trip to Borrego would be complete without taking a look at the many sculptors that are on land that surrounds the town.




You and see many a different and strange things out in the desert.  How about a South African and a German camping in an 1959 Caddie.


Meet Johan, the South African and Kiki from Germany both of who love camping in Borrego in their spare time.  They bought the Caddie in Las Vegas, registered it in Utah and drive it around the west.  Of course they were invited to happy hour around the campfire for some great conversation.  Turns out Johan is the captain of the sailing yacht Kaori and Kiki calls herself the stewardess.  I think she is also the cruise director, purser, and wears any number of hats.  The Kaori is a 125 foot two masted sailing yacht currently berthed in San Diego.  Johan was gracious enough to invite us for a tour at the end of our camping trip.


So of course we took him up on the invitation and one evening we showed up at the dock. With a crew of 5 in addition to Johan and Kiki, they  have their hands full.  Recently they hired new crew members so training is in progress. Even so, we were given the grand tour, which included happy hour and story telling afterwards.

THE HELM

HOLDING TANK READOUT


THE SALON

MAIN CABIN WITH HIS AND HER'S BATHROOMS

THE GALLEY

CREW QUARTERS

JOHAN TELLING A GREAT STORY


You can do a Google search of the Kaori to find out more about the yacht.  Oh, if you have a spare $6,000,000 laying around, it can be yours as it is for sale.  Crew included for an additional price.

So what better motivation to get our boat in the water and do a little sailing.  We spent just shy of a week sailing each day with great weather and favorable winds.



 1st MATE RORY AT THE HELM

END OF ANOTHER GREAT DAY

So you see, we haven't been doing nothing.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

ACROSS THE STATES (AND SOME OF CANADA) IN 80 DAYS

Once back in the good ol' USA, we held up in Bangor for a couple of days for a re-supply. We didn't spend much time doing touristy stuff except for a short leaf peeping excursion. We are told that here in Maine the fall colors are at their peak.  We did see some really good fall foliage, but if we were a week later I think the would have been better.  Beautiful just the same.



As we weren't hiking, it was hard to find good photo opportunities from the road with all the wires and power poles.

From Maine we headed south making a stop in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.  New Hampshire doesn't have much of a coastline, just 18 miles long, so beachfront camping is scarce.  But for a price you can stay on the beach at Hampton Beach State Park.  Our main reason for stopping in New Hampshire was to pay a visit to friends Toby and Laura who after retiring in California made the move to Manchester.  They tell us they love it, and Laura can't wait for winter and the cold.  I guess you can understand it knowing that they lived in Victorville, CA for years. They have a beautiful condo right on the Merrimack River which runs through the center of the city.

Both Toby and Laura like to keep up on the latest in computers and phone gadgetry. When Toby found out that I was still using a flip phone and not texting, he took pity on me and gave me his old 3rd generation iPhone, in an attempt to bring me into the 21st century.  But, shhhh, don't tell the kids.


Toby and Laura took us on the short drive to Concord (everywhere is a short drive in N.H.) the state capitol.  After lunch we took a stroll through the capitol building, which by the way is the oldest state capitol building in the U.S.  Upon entering the building you first notice that you don't pass through any metal detectors and no one checks your I.D.





In New Hampshire you must buy your liquor from the State Liquor Store, so the state gets the best locations.  While you're there you may as well buy a lottery ticket.  This sign is no joke, by the way, as we saw one on the interstate between Manchester and Concord.


Upon leaving New Hampshire, it was time to head home.  We put some miles on the first day, driving to Central Pennsylvania and finding a beautiful camp in Bald Eagle State Park.  We didn't seen any eagles as they only show up during certain times of the year.


BARN IN PENNSYLVANIA

We continued our hurried pace across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois before stopping in Iowa for a visit to the Amana Colonies.  Yes they do make Amana appliances there, but the attraction is the several communities that were settled by German immigrants.  Calling themselves the Ebenezer Society or the Community of True Inspiration,  they first settled in New York state near Buffalo in what is now the Town of West Seneca. However, in order to live out their beliefs in more isolated surroundings they moved west to the rich soil of east-central Iowa (near present-day Iowa City) in 1855. They lived a communal life until the mid 1930s. Today much of the communities income is a result of the tourist which flock to the area.

This is a typical house in the Amana Colonies, built with the native sandstone.


Next we crossed into Nebraska making a stop at one of our favorite campsites at Walnut Creek Park in Papillion, just outside of Omaha.  We spent 4 nights at Walnut Creek, allowing me to get some much needed bike riding in.  We then made the final push home, with 2 overnights in Colorado and our final overnight in Mesquite Nevada.

So we made it.  No problems, the truck ran great and the 5th wheel behaved itself.  We drove a total of 13,208 miles, used 941 gallons of diesel and averaged 14 MPG.  We did all of this and still managed to stay within our budget.  Now that's a surprise.  The only downside, if there was one, was that the rain seemed to find us, but that happens just about every time we travel.

The next big adventure will be my 500 mile trek across Northern Spain in the Spring.  Be sure to follow along on my other blog, www.walkingmycamino.blogspot.com

Now for some final photos:


Fishing is big in the Midwest.  If the bait shop is closed you buy from vending machines.


CAMP AT WALNUT CREEK

BIKE RIDE SUNRISE

 CROSSING THE ROCKIES

ROCKY MOUNTIAN COLOR