Sunday, February 12, 2017

A PILGRIM REUNION

If you followed me when I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain then you already know about Camino Family.  Pilgrims walking along the Camino quickly become connected to one another in a bond many non pilgrims have trouble understanding.  For me, I have maintained that bond with many of those who I walked with and we continue to stay in touch to this day.  Two pilgrims that fit in this category are Len From Canada and Alex from Brazil, who I walked with and spent many evenings at the table talking about our lives and families.  I guess you could say we became close.  In the Fall of 2015 I managed to visit Len at his home in Winnipeg and him left with an open invitation for he and his wife Janet to visit Cathie and I in San Diego.  Well, they took us up on our offer and made plans for a 10 day visit.  They said they wanted to see us, but at -20 degrees Fahrenheit in their hometown, they may have had other reasons.

With Len and Janet's plans locked in, I dropped Alex a line and asked if he would like to make a surprise visit.  Turns out Alex's job in Brazil would be taking him to Juarez, Mexico at the same time of Len's visit and plans were laid to surprise Len.  I should tell you that in Spain, Len and Alex walked everyday together and were like brothers.

THE THREE AMIGOS IN SANTIAGO

So when the day arrived, Cathie and I picked up Len and Janet at the airport about noon. I made up a story for Len about how I had to pick up friends at the U.S. side of the Tijuana Airport asking him to go with me to help locate my "friends".  Upon arrival at the airport, I told Len I could not leave the car unattended and would he go inside and tell my friends I was at the curb.  With the description I provided he went to look for them, but instead Alex came up behind him and asked him if he was looking for Yellow Arrows. Boy, was he surprised.

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The next day we did the San Diego tourist thing.  A drive out to Cabrillo National Monument to see the National Cemetery, the lighthouse and of course the view.

THE THREE AMIGOS



No visit for someone from Winnipeg would be complete without a walk on the beach, so we next headed Pacific Beach for a walk in the sand and some local color.  You locals will know what I mean.  We also walked out to the end of Crystal Pier, which with a high surf warning in effect was shaking enough to freak out Janet, who made a hasty retreat.


Len is a craft beer aficionado, so we paid a visit to Amplified Ale Works for a pilgrims lunch and some liquid refreshment.  From the looks of Len's smile, the establishment met with his approval.  You will notice that everyone is wearing sunglasses, something Len and Janet do in Winnipeg only to prevent snow blindness.  They did express some surprise that our car didn't have snow tires.


I had told our guests that I wouldn't be taking them sailing, but rather we would be attending a boat event.  At the appointed time we arrived at VIP Paints, for our boat event.  You see, this is a place where you, along with others, follow along with an instructor artist and paint the same picture.  As it turns our on this night, the subject was a sail boat.  So with paint brush in hand we were off in an effort to paint our masterpieces.  It didn't hurt that this was also a BYOB event, one way to get the creative juices flowing.  

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Not too bad if I don't say so myself.

What trip to San Diego would be complete without a tour of the USS Midway.  So the next day with me acting as tour guide, we arrived on the pier .  As a volunteer on the Midway, I can bring my guests on board one hour before the museum opens and explore areas of the ship that are off limits to most guests.  We managed to squeeze in Damage Control, machine rooms, the Marine Detachment and several other off limit areas in addition to all of the public tour route in our 5 hours on board.  We did manage to get our exercise for the day.

JANET WITH THE SHOOTER

The next day we said good-by to Alex as he had to return to work.  I am hopeful that this visit with Alex won't be the last.  Perhaps Brazil will be in our future travel plans.

For the next 4 days and 3 nights, we rented THIS vacation rental in Borrego Springs. Although Len and Janet had been in the desert before with visits to Las Vegas and Phoenix, it was now time to show them the real desert.  After settling in, we took a drive out to Fonts Point for an overview of the badlands.


Over the four days in Borrego, we managed to give our guests a great overview of our desert.  We took a hike up Palm Canyon taking a break in the shade of the palm oasis.


Made a stop at Seventeen Palms to sign the register in the prospector's mailbox.


And the visit wouldn't be complete without seeing the Pumpkin Patch


We spent the better part of the next day exploring Fish Creek, Split Mountain and Sandstone Canyon.




Get off the car kids

Of course the desert has it's own variety of wildlife.  We saw plenty of the usual lizards, doves and the more common critters, but no tour on Gassaway's Adventures would be complete without some of the more exotic desert residents.  We were greeted by this hawk upon our arrival at out condo.


Len and I narrowly missed stepping on this fine specimen of a Rattlesnake


We managed to see a small group of the elusive Big Horn Sheep


And of course the Desert Serpent.


We shared many happy hours on the patio


And of course the beautiful sunrises


We were sad when it was time to return our visitors to the airport, but we know we will see Len and Janet again.  I believe that Cathie made a new friend in Janet and it was great for me to reconnect with both Alex and Len.  Such is Camino Family.