Joined July 2018 Message
  • Jul29

    Mountain moto ride

    July 29, 2019 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 81 °F

    The weather forecast for today was 100F (38C) in Albuquerque, so I took my motorcycle Zippy up to the Jemez mountains to cool off.


    1. Stopped at the Jemez pueblo (Walatowa in their native language) for water. I wanted to park my bike by the red cliffs, but when I tried to put my kickstand down, it was deep red mud, so I took a picture from my seat.

    2. Had a green chile cheeseburger at the old Los Ojos bar in Jemez Springs. Saw this mosaic on the floor there.

    3. The Jemez mountains were formed by an ancient volcano. The crater collapsed into a caldera, which is now a broad expanse of meadow that goes on and on, bordered by aspen and pine forests. While enjoying this view, I got a phone call from my son Nigel reminding me that today is "National Lasagna Day" (really) and to stop and get ricotta cheese on my way home.

    4. While leaning into the twisties, my ADHD tendencies allowed me to spot this large herd of elk out of the corner of my eye! I stopped to get a foto and they spotted me from a distance and fled into the trees.

    5. Rested in the shade on the way back down the mountain.

    6. At the bottom of the mountain, it was really heating up, so I stopped by the Jemez river to remove and soak my tee shirt in the water. With my mesh motorcycle jacket over the top of my wet tee shirt, I was a human swamp cooler all the way home.
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    Moxy Mdz

    Those are great pictures. What camera are you using, your phone?

    Jill Gatwood

    Thanks, Moxy! My photos were taken with my Samsung Galaxy 10 phone.

  • Jul18

    1965, Scotts Valley, California

    July 18, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 90 °F

    I was born in 1954 and lived in Scotts Valley, in the Santa Cruz mountains until 1973, when I moved to Albuquerque to go to the University of New Mexico.

    When I was about 10 years old, I was scrambling around along creek near my elementary school. The creek was choked with brambles of blackberry bushes and nettles and not very accessible (but that didn't slow down a 10 year old). I came upon a large stone outcropping with a series of cylindrical holes on top. Some of these holes still held pestals that would have been used for grinding, presumably by earlier, indigenous people. My mother was the local librarian, so we did a little research and found out that acorns were a staple of the diet of the Ohlone people who inhabited that area many centuries ago. Acorns have bitter tannins, so can't be eaten raw. So the Ohlone people would dry them, grind them, then use fresh water to leach out the tannins. As a young child with a plan to escape into the woods and live off the land, this readily available food source interested me, so I set out to make acorn mush. I cut the acorns in half and left them in the sun to dry. Then I took them to the grinding stone I'd found by the creek and ground them into powder. I soaked, drained, boiled the acorns but, no matter what I did, they stayed too bitter to eat. I guess I didn't leach them right.Read more

    Lindsay Mckay

    Hi Jill I just wondered if these cup marks could have been similar to the ‘cup and ring marks’ that we find in Scotland on exposed rocks and thought to be of prehistoric origin (perhaps 5 thousand years old. ) eg in Carnnaban and the Kilmartin Glen. Lindsay

    Jill Gatwood

    Cool! Do they know what they were for? Did they use them for grinding grain, sharpening tools? 5000 years old is a long time...

  • Jul18

    1981, Oklahoma City

    July 18, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 90 °F

    In the early 1980s, I moved with my then-husband George from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City, where I got a job managing a backpacking store (Backwoods.. I was assistant mgr. in Albuquerque and they asked me to take over the OKC store). We lived there for two years. Was surprised to find that there was awesome rock climbing in Oklahoma.

    There was an old fixture of a place on Lake Overholser, called Pauline's Bait and Tackle Shop. It was a giant barn; part of it was the bait shop and the rest was an old dance hall, since the 1930s. I mean, the real deal. All the decorations from Christmas, 4th of July, Halloween and Easter for many years still hung up, gathering cobwebs between the taxidermy fish, deer, and elk heads on the wall. In the evening, there was a band: this group of elderly men - a couple of em using walkers - who would make their way up onto the stage and then the fiddles, guitars, bass, would fill the place with pounding music you couldn't believe was coming from these old codgers. One was a phenomenal yodeler, too.

    Big greasy cheeseburgers and line dancing. George refused to go, so I went with some of the local yokel young rock climber guys who worked for me (a couple of these guys later put up new routes in Yosemite.. they were that good). I learned how to Oklahoma two-step. I loved that place! If people got out of order, Pauline would slap them with a flyswatter.

    Finally George got a little insecure about me spending so much time with these brawny young Okie guys, I guess. He was very uptight, but he came with me to Pauline's Bait and Tackle Shop.

    So George sat there with a beer and I periodically called guys over, "Hey, Randy! I want to introduce you to my husband, George!" "Jake, I haven't seen you in a while. This here is my husband George." "Oh George, come over here, I want to introduce you to Jimmy..." George was aghast that I seemed to know everybody there.

    The cowboys were actually baffled that I knew them, too. I saw a few of them huddled over by the bar together, glancing over at me. Finally one of them approached us and said, "Excuse me, ma'am, ah don't reckon I recall where Ah know you frum..." That's when I told him I was just reading their names off the back of their belts. (In those days, all the cowboy types had their names stamped on the back of their western belts.)
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  • Jul11

    Oasis Albuquerque July 11, 2019

    July 11, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 93 °F

    Partway through yesterday, I was having some second thoughts. I gave a basic intro. on technique and materials, but only a little bit on design. I think some of them felt like I'd pushed them in a lake and said Sink or Swim. Some frustrated grumbling, others paralysed with indecision about where to start, some scrapping their original complicated designs in favor of Just-Get-This-Done . A lot of muttered self-loathing.

    Once again I wondered if I should have passed out the same design to everybody and had us all do the same thing, step by step, together?

    But again, it came together. Individual, unfettered creativity and resiliency prevailed! Some very nice work.
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  • Day35

    Tierra Encantada

    June 26, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 79 °F

    Back in New Mexico. I have a long story about airport horrors, but I bet you don’t want to hear it.

    Fine, I’ll tell it anyway. This is my blog. You can scroll ahead if you don’t care.
    When I landed in the US, I got in a fight with TSA in Dallas and I almost missed my connecting flight to Albuquerque. They couldn't figure out how to open the cordlock system on my Osprey backpack and I got a little sarcastic, I guess. Things escalated from there. The nerdy woman agent got all passive aggressive on me.

    I think it actually started before that when she overheard me complaining to the person behind me in line that I had to take off my sandals and walk barefoot through security. I commented that, while there has NEVER been a successful terrorist event involving shoes (somebody tried once, but it didn’t work), we are all demeaned, inconvenienced and delayed by this policy. Meanwhile, any violent, mentally ill person can legally carry an ASSAULT WEAPON into a bar in my state. The agent was so pissed off by the time I got there, she tried to take away my Spanish wine, all security wrapped by the DutyFree store in the Madrid Airport. She said “either I will confiscate it, or you need to put it in checked baggage.” Which meant a sky tram and two escalators to the opposite end of the airport. I put the wine in my backpack with no protective packaging and dropped it off. Desk agent gave the wrong gate for my connecting flight, so then I took the sky tram to the wrong terminal and had to run 3/4 mile back to my gate, which was just starting to close.

    People ask, "How was your flight" but Nobody wants to hear these stories, really. Someday I will learn to just say, "Fine" like everybody else.

    I have a couple of other smaller issues I want to explore and debate, such as why so many people walking the Camino wear convertible pants ("Shants" as I call them). The illogicality of those ridiculous pants will be outlined later with bullet points.

    The horrific bills are pouring in for Byron's cardiac care. Insurance is paying for a pittance of it. We are responsible for a sickeningly large percentage of the fees. The torn ligament in my left knee really needs to be repaired, but I can't afford the MRI test to evaluate it for surgery. Etc. Medicare soon! If anyone has suggestions about how to easily acquire EU citizenship, I’m all ears.

    I've got three Mosaic Art classes/workshops set up in late July and August. Those will pay a little for all of this.
    Otherwise, I’m sitting in a hammock under the back awning with a glass of wine, a fluffy chicken in my lap while a summer thunderstorm moves in. so I really can’t complain.
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    Tammi Clancy

    Just found you and this blog from randomly searching all things Camino---and, we live in Taos. You have walked both the Camino Frances and Camino Portugues...would you be able to tell me which you prefer and why? We are heading out April/May 2020. Thank you. Tammi


    Oh, there are advantages to both! One thing to keep in mind is that I think 2020 is a Holy Year so the Frances will be more crowded, especially the last 100 kilometers... email me and we can discuss!

    Jill Gatwood

    Oh wait, i was wrong. Holy year is 2021.

    2 more comments
  • Day31


    June 22, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 86 °F

    I missed recording a few days, including walking into Santiago de Compostella, a couple of days knocking around Santiago where I searched for a small statue of San Roque by day (on account of him being the saint for dogs and - with my background in epidemiology - his association with infectious diseases). It was harder to find Roque than I thought, but in the process, I got to see some parts of Santiago little visited by tourists. Like a back road curandera shop with magic candles, powders and religious relics, etc. I love places like that.

    By night, I lay awake in the hostel, unable to sleep because there was a street busker harpist under my window who played for 5 hours straight without a single break. I’m not making this up. A harp sounds great for about 20 minutes. After that, you start wondering if there’s a store open that sells poison dart guns. And hoping like hell you don't end up going to heaven if it sounds like that.

    Now I'm staying in an Airbnb in Madrid, on the border of an Islamic neighborhood, in a room in an apt. owned by an ebullient guy named Sergio who reminds me of the Italian actor, Roberto Benigni. If I leave my room door open, he rushes in bearing chocolates, with maps, enthusiastic advice about where I should visit next and to be sure I'm okay.

    Sergio says he needs to practice his English, but refuses to speak it at all. While showing me around, he opened a drawer in the bathroom and asked me how to say it in English. I said "drawer," and he tried to say it. I spelled it and that made it worse. He said English is too hard to learn and after that, I tended to agree with him.

    It's hot and humid here, so I set out on foot, looking for a desk fan for my room. I've mentioned these little variety stores in Spain and Portugal called “Bazars de Chino” (and other similar names). They are, I'm not exaggerating, a fourth the size of a 7/11 convenience store and literally every single time, I have found exactly what I'm looking for there, no matter how esoteric. Check out the ambitious sign on this front of this tiny store. And yes, they had the desk fan I was looking for and also a duffle bag I can use to check my walking sticks and some other stuff when I fly home. The fan was on the shelf over bags of potting soil, citrus squeezer tools and a display of packets of googly eyes.

    Next I went to El Prado, one of the top art museums in the world. Mainly I went there because I figured it was air conditioned. It has your Goyas, El Grecos, Velazquez, your Rubens, Raphaels, Bosches, some Rembrandts, etc. Astonishing painting skills but, sadly, mostly religious themes that I think range from monotonous to morbid, so sue me. I focused on the minute, realistic painted details of the costume fabrics. Amazing. You're "not allowed" to take photos, so I did and then I let the security guard tell me I wasn't allowed to do it. And then everybody was happy.

    Today I went for a marathon walk in the heat, through the crowds to Plaza Mayor (practically ruined by large tourist groups and kitchy shops). Back in 1973, I remember sitting at an outdoor café in Plaza Mayor with a big glass of Horchata (I haven’t seen any horchata since I’ve been here), very relaxed with a local vibe. Not anymore. Then I walked around the old city to Plaza Chueca, the heart of the gay neighborhood that is gearing up like mad for Pride next week. (Last time I walked the Camino Frances, I ended up in Madrid for Pride week. I will never get over the fact that a group of 12 muscular guys wearing rainbow butt thongs and angel wings roller-skated by me and I didn’t have my camera with me.)

    Looking at my reflection in shop windows, in my cargo shorts and oversized tee shirt, I realized I resembled a middle aged man in Branson, Missouri. So I stopped in a boutique and bought a brightly colored linen shirt dress, that I looked pretty smart, and wore it out of the store. Now I'm walking around, noticing everybody else is in earth tones and I look like a circus umbrella.

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    Lindsay Mckay

    Last night as I was sleeping..............

    Jill Gatwood

    When I posted this on Facebook, little squares appeared on their faces, asking me to "tag" them. I looked, but apparently these people don't have Facebook profiles.

    Jill Gatwood

    Kill me now.

    4 more comments
  • Day28

    Milladoiro, 8k outside of Santiago

    June 19, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 61 °F

    Milladoiro is a strange town, after walking through so many small villages or cities that evolved slowly from medieval times until now (with narrow cobbled alleys and stone bridges). Instead, Milladoiro looks like it was built all at once with only cost and convenience in mind. Lots of tall apartment buildings and straight plotted wide streets.

    As I neared town, I started looking for available accommodations to get out of the rain. One was called the "Venus Motel" and there was a pink sign that said "Si amor no existe, Hace lo. " I decided to give that one a pass.

    I walked in the rain all day and was so glad I was in sandals instead of shoes. Others squelched by in wet shoes and socks, stepping gingerly around puddles. Me and a Japanese guy who was also in sandals splashed through the mud and then waded through fountains to clean our feet. At the albergue now, everybody elses’ wet shoes, with insoles removed, are propped along a wall (not) drying.

    The albergue is nice, run by a young, very friendly Cuban guy and everything looks new and well-organized. Next door was a boring, pilgrim-catering café with the same usual food. I sat outside and eavesdropped on three pilgrims at the next table, two young men and a woman. One looked Asian, one who I met before I knew was German and I don’t know what the other two were, but I had the feeling they had recently met and what they had in common was Smoking Cigarettes. The only common language they had was something I didn't understand, so I had a hard time keeping up, but kept hearing them say “Chi-Bee-Dee.” Over and over, like little birds. What could that be?? Finally I heard the word “cannabis” and realized they were discussing CBD oil. So I butt in and forced them to speak English, while I held court on all I knew about cannabis derivatives.

    Earlier in the day, I ran into Father John, walking in the rain in his long black robe, which I doubt is quick-dry, tech fabric. He and his small group had earlier walked 5 kilometers off the route to the Herbo Franciscan monastery outside of Padron that offers lodging. They had been really looking forward to staying there. But a bus full of tourists arrived just in front of them and got all the beds, so they were turned away. I said, "So you couldn't even play the ‘Padre Robe’ card?" He said no, they'd already closed the door. Big disappointment and Fr John had been dying to see some Franciscans.

    I bought a big umbrella today at a "China" shop.

    The picture below of the water basin with slanted slats on both sides was built for women to meet and wash clothes. Each village has one. The Japanese guy and I, in shorts and sandals, splashed through it, showing off for the shoes and boots crowd.
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  • Day27


    June 18, 2019 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 66 °F

    I walked from Caldas de Reis to Padron, mainly on a woodland track though meadows, gardens and more eucalyptus, pine, and oak forests. Mostly in the rain... classic Galicia weather. It's lush and green.

    I have a room at Hostal de Flavia, on the 4th floor overlooking Padron. This town was named after the "Pedron" Roman stone, now displayed under the altar in the Igrexa Santiago here. It was this stone, according to legend, that the boat carrying the body of St. James was moored to, before it was transported by oxcart to the site where the Cathedral of Santiago was built. Yep.

    Padron peppers (named after the town) are popular here, served roasted. They say one in ten is hot. "Os pementos de Padron uns pican e outros non." (in the local regional Spanish) They were brought from the New World (New Mexico region?) by the Franciscan monks at the nearby Herbon monastery, where they are still grown. I asked where I could get some seeds to take home, but was told they are only sold on Thursday, market day, in the square, so I missed that.

    Pictures below:
    That statue on the side of a small church is San Rochas. He is portrayed holding open his robe to show a plague sore and there is a dog next him. While he was ill, the dog brought him bread every day and licked his sore to heal him. San Rochas is the saint for people with infectious diseases and for dogs (What they didn't know was that that dog probably carried the fleas that gave him the plague. Oh well).

    The chalkboard sign was outside a "China shop" in Caldas. These tiny shops are found in towns all around Spain and carry a little bit of everything. I found needles and thread there and duct tape (cinta Americana). They are run by Chinese people, who you practically never see anywhere else in Spain. I loved this example of cultural pride and reaching out for connection.
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    Lindsay Mckay

    look at the metaphor’s before you dismiss them. The dog who licked the wound, the belief of men who would row a boat of stone. Lindsay

    Jill Gatwood

    Lindsay, Iappreciate the parables, too.. I'm just being a smart ass!

    Jill Gatwood

    "I teach one word in Chinese each day."


    Some people walked by and took pictures of the church. Others took pictures of these flowers. Nobody else went to the trouble to frame them together ::cough::

  • Day27

    Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

    June 18, 2019 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 64 °F

    Yesterday. I walked with Tricia from Albuquerque for a while. She’s an interesting person; has visited and lived all over the world. Doesn’t live far from me. It was nice, but I talk too much.. I feel the urge to express every thought I have out loud. I point out what I think is beautiful and then explain why it is beautiful, in case the other person with me doesn’t appreciate it the way I do. It’s exhausting for me, not to mention whoever I am walking with. I miss what else is going on around me. I love walking alone.

    More tranquil forest paths and a great waterfall along the way.
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    Karen's Travels

    Look at those green

    Jill Gatwood

    Home winery


    Tricia from Albuquerque totally enjoyed the conversation! I like the mix of walking alone and walking with people, I need the silence but talking with others as well. You have amazing stories! Hope to see you soon.

    Jill Gatwood

    Hey, Tricia!


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