Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Camino Continues.....

Our newest update - it is now almost March of 2018 and returning to the Camino still eludes us.  I am now almost three months post total hip replacement.  At this time I still have restrictions from the doctor as to what I may and may not do.  At least we are spending these days now in Arizona where it is warmer than Illinois - unfortunately much colder than normal for Arizona.  We will survive - at least we do not have to cope with snow and ice during this period of rehabilitation.  At the current rate of healing I might be good to attempt the Camino at the end of the year; however, upcoming family events seem to present a conflict.  We may have to wait until 2019 to return to the Camino.   For some this could be a real challenge; however, we still have our first Camino under our belts and the memories which are with us daily.  Whether we return or not - will not -  be a major disappointment as we have learned from the past to appreciate that which we have been blessed to experience.  Any future pilgrimages are a bonus to us at this stage of our lives.  We are still involved in religious pilgrimages and are scheduled to make our third pilgrimage this October to Israel - to once again visit the Holy Land.  Although not the Camino, walking through the various sites in the Holy Land still somewhat of a challenge especially with the hills and uneven terrain.  Walking through Italy and Spain - definitely easier - especially when you are traveling with a group of people who are not avid walkers.  My goal - before we head back to Illinois - to at least do some hiking in the mountains surrounding us here in Arizona.  If I can do that within  the next two months, I will be a happy trekker.

Hope your Camino plans are working out for you - remember, all of us have been called to walk our own Camino so no right or wrong way - and it is all in God's time that we do.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Future Vision Or Just A Dream?

BAM! It just has to hit you like that - sometimes. Our original three year timeline for our return to the Camino - constantly being altered. Fall 2017 has come and now rapidly turning into winter. So here is what has happened since my last post.  The leg causing all the delays did not get better as hoped. We returned from Arizona in May thinking that things had improved. A twelve day trip to Italy with fourteen family members made it very clear that my condition was getting worse - not better. Once back home we went to my eighth? maybe ninth doctor - only to discover that the cartilage that was damaged in the hip was now completely gone.  The doctor commented something to the effect that - of course you have pain - you are bone on bone. 

A few more visits to the surgeon and picking a date for surgery which would not interfere with a pilgrimage we were leading to Portugal - Spain - France in early November forced us to delay surgery until the end of November.  It has now been sixteen days post surgical and I am on the way to complete healing - in another four to six weeks. Back to square one - waiting - healing - getting well enough to restart training. New revised schedule possibly late summer or fall of 2018.  That could also get delayed - frustrated - yes - lost hope - no. As long as the rest of my body stays healthy there is always hope that we will return to walk parts of the Camino we missed the first time around. 

Fatima - Lourdes Pilgrims

In the meantime we rejoice in the fantastic pilgrimage we led to Fatima - Lourdes. As a bonus we got to stop in Burgos where I had the privilege of preaching the homily for Mass in the Cathedral. It was great to see the Cathedral again and even better to function as a deacon while we were there. With the average age of 70+ of the group this was not a walking pilgrimage - but a pilgrimage just the same. 

The journey continues.  If your own pilgrimage is suffering from a few bumps and obstacles - hang in there - it will happen - in God's time.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Return To The Camino On Hold - Still

It has been months since our last update - the time spent visiting doctors and physical therapists. It is now mid April 2017 and I am not one step closer to returning to the Camino. Of course this is frustrating - life does go on. Having spent a month in 2013 walking from Pamplona to Santiago did teach us a few things - patience was one of them. My leg is somewhat better - still not able to walk long distances. At this stage in my life at 71½ years old I have to accept the simple fact that I am alive - fairly well - if you don't consider the struggle walking long distances and after all is said and done the alternative i.e. death is not attractive. 

At least while in Arizona I have mountains right next to me - in fact I have a house on top of the Sierra Estrella Mountains and this is the view I get occasionally - just to remind me that beauty exists even here in the States. 

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Good News

In my last post I shared with you the fact that we were forced to delay our return to the Camino due to a hip issue. After numerous visits to many doctors we have finally learned #1 I do not need a hip replacement - yet - and #2 I have an issue with a persistent severe bursitis. What that translates to is this - physical therapy - stretching exercises - slow recovery time. It is disappointing - but God willing - only a delay.  In the meantime we are pursuing less vigorous activities and accepting God's time line - not our own.  

We were recently informed by our sons that we are going to Italy next June with the entire family - traveling with a group of fourteen to visit Venice - Rome and spending five days at a villa on the Adriatic.  For now - that is the extent of our travels.  Unlike many who choose to ignore their doctor's recommendations and end up in a hospital in Spain - we will continue therapy here until back in good health. The Camino has been there for thousands of years - it is not going away- so we will wait.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bumps In The Road

And this too will past - plans to return to the Camino for 2016 - now in the trash. I have been coping with a leg issue since last November and due to circumstances - too many to enumerate - we have cancelled our return trip this fall. Now - if lucky - not until 2017. This is not what either of us  wanted - what we have to contend with - knees - hips - legs - backs - all very important when considering the Camino.

When we walked in Fall of 2013 - we met many people walking - against doctor's advice - most who ended up cutting their Camino short - going home - many in tears.  Hip - knee - back issues - ignored - due a romanticized idea of the Camino. The Camino will provide. That statement spoken so frequently by the naive - inexperienced - lucky ones whose major issue was not enough food - lost trekking poles - buying forgotten items of necessity. This old boy scout - be prepared - for anything - everything. This deacon smart enough to know that God helps those who help themselves - uses their brains - God given talents - wisdom - to walk any pilgrimage - well prepared. Miracles do happen on the Camino - the majority - in the region of the heart - not the flesh and bloody heart - but in that place inside each of us - we call the heart - where our spirituality - wisdom reside.

This current issue is a setback - not a stop sign - rather a caution sign - yield to the moment - exercise wisdom - caution before proceeding. Proceed we will - just not in this year.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Back In The Saddle

Illinois is flat - very flat - not many hills to climb - no mountains - just flat that goes on forever. Walking for hours on end on flat terrain may help with our endurance - does not challenge us as far as vertical gain. Back home in Illinois - away from the Casa del Camino training center in Arizona - we have taken up biking. Long distance biking - an effort in the works. We figure if we challenge ourselves with greater distances on bike - we will be able to work our thigh muscles and abdominals to a greater degree - than just walking. Our number one barrier - decent places to ride. We live in the country - which means country roads - small roads - no bike lanes - lots of vehicles using the roads along with us - vehicles that do not allow enough space when passing. Bike trails are a possibility - getting there another issue. Living in the country means driving distances to locate safe trails suitable for bikes. The best trail we have found so far - close to us - eight miles away - the Virgil Gilman Trail with the trail head at Waubonsee Community College.  It goes from Sugar Grove, Illinois through Aurora, Illinois - an 11½ mile pleasant ride though the countryside with only a few roads that have to be crossed. Thanks to walking/biking bridges built by the Fox Valley Park District we are able to pass over the I-88 extension and Orchard Road in Aurora. I would have never believed that we could bike from Sugar Grove into Aurora in less than 30 minutes. Our goal is to find a safe trail where we can do a thirty mile loop. For a couple quickly approaching their 70's this has become our primary Camino training while in Illinois - back in Arizona we will focus on walking the trails in the mountains. 

Virgil Gilman Trail 

We have more than a year to prepare for our next Camino - plenty of time without stressing ourselves. Our experience from fall 2013 - very important as we look forward to fall of 2016. We know the terrain - the albergue system - the issues that we faced on our first walk. It will not be any easier the second time around - next time we walk better prepared - better informed.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Camino Update

Just a short post today - it has been a year since our last post. In that time we have been very busy - recommitting ourselves to walking a second Camino - this time starting in France - over the Pyrenees. It only took three days after our first Camino for the longing to return - very strongly - to repeat our journey. In that time the calling of the Camino kept growing and last September we bought a house in the Sierra Estrella Mountains in Arizona - a mountain training center for our next Camino. We named that house - Casa del Camino - house of journey - and what a journey it has been. Had we been able to train in those mountains for our first Camino - we would have been much better prepared. As it stands right now - we will be able to make that second Camino in 2016. Until then - we continue to prepare ourselves physically - mentally - spiritually. 

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Camino Tattoos

It is now nine months since we walked from Pamplona to Santiago - a feat that many still do not believe we actually did. For us - it was suppose to be a one time event - something to add - and scratch off - our life's bucket list. Of course - like many - we do not have a bucket list - this was done completely on a whim - a challenge to ourselves - to literally step outside our comfort zone - go to a foreign country - place our lives - our well being - our safety and comfort - completely into the hands of God -the people of Northern Spain and other peregrinos -of whom we did not know. If you have read our earlier posts - you know that it was a fantastic experience. Like many who walked before us -like those now walking the same trail - the Camino de Santiago gets into your blood - refuses to leave - refuses to go away. Memories and daily reminders - abound - constantly beckoning you back - to a point that many have the need to - wear their Camino experience on their sleeve. This desire frequently manifests as a Camino tattoo. 

Arlene's CaminoTattoo
Our time to resist has come and gone - as evidenced by the photo above - Arlene's right ankle now proudly displays her forever Camino shell - drawn by our granddaughter - Gaby - tattoo artistry courtesy of Proton of DeKalb, Illinois. I have not yet yielded to the forces of the Camino -no ankle tattoo for me - I make every effort to avoid anything around my ankles and veins- having had vein surgery for a valve problem - the same surgery which I partially blame for my twin brother's early demise.  Maybe a shoulder - that is far enough away from the area of concern - maybe - that will be a future post. Thousands of peregrinos have done exactly what Arlene did - the size and styles - as various as the people who wear them. How anyone remembers their Camino experience is up to each person - just as how and when and why they walk - it is their Camino- there is no wrong way to walk - to remember.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Older and Bolder

It has been a while since our last post - took a group of pilgrims to Italy in November and are currently looking for a winter home in Arizona so we can have a warm place to walk during the winter as we start training for our return Camino walk in fall 2015.  We picked the Phoenix area for the White Tanks mountain range and the Estrella Mountains - lots of hiking trails within a short distance from our future home. We made one trip in May and will be returning next week to try to lock down our new home. In the meantime we have been busy around the Illinois place - just having hosted a wedding reception and now - free again to make a road trip out west. This will be special for us as we will be driving to Arizona with our dog who does not travel well- hopefully - he will be a seasoned traveler by the time we return.  If time allows we will try to get some hiking in when not home shopping.

We keep in touch with other peregrinos who have also walked at least once via the Facebook page - American Pilgrims On The Camino - lots of conversation form newbies and old timers sharing advice back and forth - so we are very much still connected to the Camino. Will write more as the new training gets more serious.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Yes we have a botafumeiro of our very own.  We had to jump through a few hoops to acquire it from Spain.  It would have been much easier if we had purchased it while we were still in Santiago after completing our Camino - but we did not know it was available at that time. It was only after reading a post on the Camino Forum that we learned of its availability.  We ordered it in November 2013 hoping to hang on our Christmas tree as an ornament - it arrived in January.  Mail service from Spain is slow - as it was explained to us by the vendor.  Slow mail service coupled with the fact that the vendor did not accept credit cards or Paypal compounded the delay.  The only acceptable way to pay was by using a wire transfer service.  We selected XOOM to handle the process. Our botafumeiro now sits on top of our piano next to our shadow box holding our Credencials, Compostelas and Shells.  It is about 6 inches long - 10 inches if you include the stand.  No - we do not burn incense in it.  It is a fragile work of art - we want it to last so we will not be heating it up.

If you would like one of your own we suggest buying while you are still in Santiago - otherwise you can order online at: Souvenirs del Camino.  As mentioned above it took some time to arrive but it did finally get here.  Cost in Santiago is 16€ with shipping to the USA total was about 40€ - expensive but cheaper than a flight to Spain.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

WOW - it is now 2014 and it seems like ages since we walked the Camino.  It is very interesting that with each passing day we miss the Camino more and more. We never dreamed that would happen to us - experienced world travelers - but it has.  When we first made the decision to make the walk - we promised ourselves that we would not get caught up in what an outside observer might term - Camino "fever" - but we have.  What we have learned from our experience is that walking the Camino is an experience like none other. Sure we long to return to many of the other places that we have visited - Italy and Poland -in particular - primarily because we have family in both countries. The longing to return to the Camino is different and one that is beyond explanation - the only people who can understand are others who have already experienced the Camino - the desire to return continues.

I recently revised the video that we posted on YouTube - it has been edited and eight minutes has been removed - twenty-six minutes is more comfortable than almost thirty-five.  Perhaps more people will view the shortened version - hopefully it will inspire others to walk the Camino.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Camino Christmas

After you have spent nearly a year preparing to walk the Camino and then walking the Camino - you deserve some kind of recognition - a reminder of your efforts - a reminder of the blessings received - the inner peace and enlightenment gained.  To this point Arlene and I decided to create a permanent reminder of our Camino - thus this early Christmas present.  Thanks to the folks at Hobby Lobby  and especially Kendra - who was particularly enthusiastic about creating this for us.

May each of you be blessed this Chistmas season - by God - by people such as Kendra - by all the people you met or will meet on your own Camino.

Merry Christmas - Happy New Year - Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dale & Arlene's Camino - The Video

Finally - we have created a 30 minute viedo with pictures of our Camino from August 25 - September 30, 2013. It is posted on YouTube - either search under "Dale & Arlene's Camino" or just click this link:

And - just to inform you - today I told Arlene that I am seriously thinking of walking the Camino again in 2015 for my 70th birthday - God willing.

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Gear Reviews

When we began preparing to walk the Camino we went though a lot of trials and testing before we made our final decision on what gear to use. Now that we are back home - we can give a better review of what gear we decided to use.
                             Dale's Deuter ACT Trail 32L                                Arlene's Deuter ACT Trail SL 28L

The Deuter ACT backpacks were awesome - plenty of room for all our gear - very comfortable to wear - we both loved the hip belt which was wider than some we had tried. The hip belt is very important in displacing the weight from your shoulder to your hips.  The ladies is designed especially for women as their hips are different than men's - Arlene felt very comfortable since she is on the short side at 5'1" - both of us got to the point that we barely noticed we were walking with a back pack on. We saw many peregrinos with huge packs - we don't know what they were carrying - or hiding - but we were happy with our 32L and 28L packs.

PaceMaker Expedition Trekking Poles w/Cork Handles

The PaceMaker trekking poles we selected were excellent. They were not the lightest weight ones on the market - but we felt it was not worth spending an additional $200 to get ultralight carbon poles. Ours were made out of superior 7075 aircraft grade aluminum shafts with tungsten tips and weight of 10.5 ounces each.  The ultralight poles we compared these to came in at 8.5 ounces - not worth the money to save 2 ounces. The cork handles were much more comfortable than the rubber ones we had also tested and after 5 weeks look as good as new.

Vulcanized Multi-tip - Reminds Me of the Octopus We Ate

They also came with mud and snow baskets and two sets of vulcanized rubber tips. We used the multi-tip ones and after 400+ miles (650+ kilometers) still have 80% of their rubber.  Many peregrinos wore out their tips in a week or two - ours are like the Energizer Bunny - still going strong.

Our Shoes After Walking 400+ Miles

The Patagonia A/C Drifter - Gore-Tex shoes proved to be excellent choices. They were much lighter than the ankle height boots we started with - had excellent traction - very comfortable. Arlene had zero blisters - I - on the other hand did have an issue with blisters. In retrospect - hind sight is always so much better and makes you look smart - erred and switched both my shoes and socks - not the best thing to do - one week before leaving. I should have either worn a  thicker sock - done the double sock routine - or perhaps bought the shoes a half size smaller - the toe box which gave me the extra room I was seeking - was actually too big - that allowed my feet to slip inside and create the scenario for blisters to develop.
After 400+ Miles Lots of Thread Left
Darn Tough - Darn Comfortable

At the beginning of our trek I was wearing one pair of Darn Tough socks - then switched to wearing two pairs - and ended up for the last week with one pair at a time. The good news is that I did solve the blister issue after the first 10 days and remained blister free for the remainder of the walk. Socks are still in great shape. Arlene wore only one pair with no liner socks and did just fine - no blisters. 

REI 55F Travel Sack

Instead of a sleeping bag - we chose a 55F travel/sleep sack which was more than enough. Most of the albergues we stayed in had wool blankets - yes they were clean and free of bed bugs - many nights we used the sacks like sheets with the blanket on top - some nights the sleep sack was enough.  Although not cold - there were multiple nights - particularly at the end of September when we slept inside the sack for extra warmth. The big plus with this sack was it packed down very small and easily fit lengthwise in the bottom of our back pack.  If we had walked in warmer weather - June/July - we probably would not have needed this - definitely necessary in cooler months. 
                         Sierra Designs Rain Pant w/zippered legs          Patagonia Torrent Shell w/Hood & Pit-zips

After hauling the Sierra Designs rain pants and Patagonia Torrent Shell for the entire trip we began wondering why we had packed these two items - they took up space and added weight to our packs  On our last day of walking - it finally rained - we were not 100% happy with rain - but we were happy that we did have the rain gear. Both worked out very well. The torrent jacket had pit-zips to help keep us cool inside the jacket and the attached hood with the extended head bill kept the rain completely out of our faces. The pants were easy to put on over our shoes thanks to the zippered legs and were long enough to cover the tops of our shoes to keep water out. Unlike other rain pants we had tested - these were trim fitting - giving us less bulk to cope with. The questions now is would we carry a jacket and pants again or use a poncho.  The only down side that we saw with our jacket and pants was that - although our packs had self contained rain covers - the water running down the back of our jackets allowed the straps and front side of our packs to get wet.  A properly fitted poncho would not only cover us but the entire pack - straps and all - completely - but would we save on space and weight - probably not. 

Platypus 1.8L Bladder & Tube

One of the best choices we made was to use an internal hydration system rather than to carry bottles of water. We had read on various forums how dificult it was to fill and clean these systems - we had no issues.  We selected the Platypus Big Zip 1.8L system. Early on Arlene noticed a dark spot on her sip tube - a quick cleaning with a very long brush got to the problem and it never returned. Some people felt it was a hassle removing the bladder every day to fill and reconnect the tubing - we left the entire system intact - and using the wide mouth on the bladder - simply unzipped the opening while still in the backpack and poured fresh water out of a large bottle into each bladder and zipped back to close. Never had to remove the bladder during the entire thirty days we walked. Since we were drinking it almost empty each day we merely refilled with fresh water and never worried about washing and cleaning - no issues - no hassle. 
Camino Cross

The remainder of our gear - clothing - toiletries - first aid - camp towel - all worked out well. We have determined that instead of three extra shirts we would only carry two - the undies would stay the same - instead of four pairs of socks we would use three. We would leave the spork at home - we never used it - the extra tips for our poles - we would not carry now that we know they hold up so well - the clothesline - although used twice - we would not bring again.  We also learned that your clothes will not dry quickly unless you stop early in the day and hang them out in direct sun with a breeze.  Most nights we ended up tucking an edge of our clothes under the slats of the bunk bed above us - so  they would dry overnight.  Wool socks do not dry quickly - so we used safety pins to attach  them to our pack and let air dry while walking - eight hours in the breeze allows them to dry completely. We never had to pin undies to our packs as they are the only items that were always dry by the next morning or before. The technical shirts - shorts were not only light weight but very comfortable to wear and fairly quick drying. Instead of bringing a pair of shorts to sleep in we would either sleep in our undies or the shorts we would wear the next day. Everyhing was orgainzed into stuff sacks - color coded so we knew what was in each sack - green: rain gear - red: puffy - orange:toiletries & miscellaneous items and meds - white waterproof compression sack: clothes - blue: sleep sack. All the sacks were about the same size so we put the sleep sack in first - the clothes next - the muscellaneous next - then the puffy and finally the rain gear on top. The first aid kit went in Dale's pack since his was larger. In addition on top of everythig we carried oranges - apples - bananas - for quick retreival.  As mentioned above the only item we might replace would be the rain pants and jacket for a poncho - otherwise everything ended up being just what we needed. 

If you are planning your own Camino and would like to discuss this with us please send an email to either Dale at  or Arlene at

Buen Camino
Dale & Arlene