Oversharing about overspending & belt tightening & why Andrea’s question has me writing this to begin with

I’ve been accused of oversharing, but then I always remember my friend who shared a photo of her naughty bits on twitter to make a point. Why do I mention that? Well, I suppose I do say things online that others wouldn’t.

And when I do so, it sometimes makes the people I love cringe. That moment I’m sure they read what I’ve posted and they think to themselves: Why does he have to talk about that? Is nothing sacred? Don’t we have a private sphere anymore?

I heard a podcast earlier this year in which there were parents discussing how much they shared of their children’s lives online. What kind of photos were acceptable and essentially where each parent’s parameters lay, which made me glad I didn’t have to concern myself with such things.

I’ve got enough trouble worrying about my own online presence without having to try figuring out someone else’s. Teaching a young person how to navigate the web? Gives me night sweats just thinking about it. Uggh…

So, here goes.

Andrea (aGirlfromMontrose), who’s a friend from high school you’re going to hear me talking about more, because I love her blog, asked me a question.

I promised her an answer in blog form, so here goes.

Oh, another thing before I forget: I’ve resolved to use this site more as a tool for a few things.

Recently, WordPress asked me if I wanted to keep up with the blogging lark. Well, actually they were more crafty, which I respect. They said: Your site’s being renewed. You needn’t do anything. We’ve got it taken care of.

But being the overthinking sod that I am, I considered just pulling the plug on the whole damned thing. Starting from scratch with something more conventional.

Lahikmajoe is a terrible name for a brand. It regularly baffles people when they first see it. How’s it even pronounced? Where does it come from? Why should I read something or follow links to such a site?

So there’s that…

Let me go back to the story with Andrea, though. It’s a narrative that’s easily followed.

She saw me jet off to Kraków and take the train to Venice a few weeks later. Then I was in Spain on the Camino showing my mother my favourite spots in northern Spain, as well as exploring Madrid for the first time.

There was Easter in a big Ferienhaus (a group of us rented a whole house) up in the Austrian Alps and photos of Asians taking photos of each other (& of my dogs #EllaandLouis) while we spent a day in Hallstadt.

There was essentially some sort of trip every few weeks, and when we finally ended up on holiday in Italy this summer, Andrea had had enough.

In comments on some post, she demanded: What do you do exactly? How can you afford all this travel? I want that life. What do I need to do to get to motor round like that and see all that stuff?

Well, here comes the oversharing:

I can’t. There’s been too much outflow and not enough income. I’ve overspent on travel this year, and now it’s time to do some belt tightening and get back to fiscal basics.

The funny thing is, though, I’ve got it under control, because while my freelance work often dries up in summer, it turns out autumn is regularly quite busy.

There’ll be a period around Christmas until Epiphany, when I can’t work anyway, so I’m already planning a trip stateside. I’ve not been to Vermont since college, when a couple of Deadheads and I drove from Albany to Burlington on a whim, but there might be Yuletide in the Northeast Kingdom (a place whose name I’ve always thought was rather magical). Then if things go as planned New Year’s in New Orleans and time with my people in coastal Texas.

That bastard Hurricane Harvey, who devastated the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana last week, has made me uncharacteristically homesick, which is a feeling I nearly never experience, so pardon me if this blog becomes a bit Texas-flavoured in the coming weeks.

I promised Andrea a blogpost explaining what I do, so here it is. I overshare. I tell people online what online marketers insist you shouldn’t. I tell my readers too much and it’s both cathartic and a little daft.

Because I’ve thrown in for another year on WordPress, I’m going to get my money’s worth. I’m going to use my blog the way I used to do my teablog:

People who drink tea used to read my blog about the brown liqueur, the leafy goodness. The drink that fuels my adventures since I gave up on John Barleycorn years ago. Yet the astounding thing was how many people who didn’t even drink tea told me they loved my blog.

Just the writing. Whether they even drank it or not. Some regular readers even insisted they couldn’t stand the stuff (I never trusted those people — just seems suspect to me). For now on, there’s going to be regular content hereabouts, but this time with an editorial calendar and a better eye on my audience. Most importantly there’s also going to be a goal.

I want this place to be where people come for something whimsical. A bit of the ridiculous in an otherwise serious and grown up life. Again, that’s why even non tea drinkers read my earlier site. It was certainly about tea, but barely.

Some days it was about what was pissing me off, but most of the time it was my inspiration. Whatever caught my fancy. Whatever bliss I was tapping into, as Joseph Campbell was talking about.

The thing that made me want to leap out of bed in the morning? The thing that made me want to do it again and again? I want more of that in my life. I’m assuming you do too.

On a side note, I quit watching or reading the news while in Spain. American news, in particular, just had me anxious. I realised that the more attention I gave Trump and the whole “he said she said” nonsense of the two party system over there, the more irritable I was getting.

Walking along the trail on the Camino de Santiago in the Rioja region of Spain, I reminded myself:

None of that really matters in my day to day life. I take voting seriously, and I’ll do my civic duty when it’s time to do so.

But watch another debate like we seemed to all be doing in 2016? Life’s too short for that shit. There’s too much living going on around, as I hear Lyle Lovett’s voice singing in my memory.

Be good to one another, will you? I’m trying.

third day on the Camino & a return to where I started last year…back to the future, because I’ll definitely be here again


This bridge means a lot to me, and it’ll take some explaining for it to make sense. 

Arrived here in Logroño last year to begin my journey. Meeting all the pilgrims with their injuries that day, I felt like such an imposter calling myself a pilgrim already. Little did I know – everyone walks his own Camino. Where you start is immaterial. Just start. 

Then I looked back over this bridge from the other side and could only imagine what the path from Pamplona to here was like. Now that I’ve gone back and done that exact stretch, I found myself looking on this bridge with a sense of accomplishment. 


The day before, I’d walked through Villamayor de Monjardín, which is nearly as pretty a village as this flower. Needed to keep moving, but I could’ve enjoyed a siesta there. Next time. 


As you’ve probably gathered if you’ve either followed my travels here, or know anything about the Camino de Santiago, these markers are found all along The Way. Even in my hikes back in the Bavarian Alps, you sometimes see these signs for Der Jakobsweg, which always make me long to get back on the Camino


The morning ‘magic hour‘ is beautiful enough to make you want to leap out of your bunk in the albergue. There’s no such thing as sleeping in when you’re a pilgrim, but it’s moments like this that make early mornings so worthwhile. 


Think this was from my first day, when I was coming out of Pamplona, but I can’t remember. What I do remember is the sweet, delicious smell of these guys. I’m sure those of you who know flowers can tell me what these are. Anyone?

Definitely from day one, coming down off the Alto del Perdón – no idea the significance of this wooden statue in Obanos, but I loved the juxtaposition of east and west. 


In case you needed any encouragement: Don’t  stop walking!


And not too much looking back, either. This is from the bridge in Puenta la Reina glancing from whence I came. Not much time for reflection about the road behind me while focused on the path ahead, but I liked this shot. It’s been well received elsewhere. Hope you like!

Don’t stop walking with or without knowing exactly where you’re going to sleep…or what you’re going to sleep on

There’s this exhilarating moment when you arrive at the albergue after the day’s walk, and you drop your things. This is where you know you’re going to spend the rest of your day and your evening, yet there’s a good chance you’re so tired that you’ll sleep through most of one or the other. 

Suddenly you’re faced with a most pressing dilemma: do you take a shower or first lie down for a short while? That short while can become a long one if you aren’t careful. Once you’ve convinced yourself you’ll feel so much better if you clean up right away, then you remember, ‘Oh, wait! I need to clean my clothes, as well.

In a weird state of singular focus where simple tasks take most, if not all, of what’s left of your depleted energy. Sometimes the decision is made for you in the event that there’s not a shower available when you arrive. If you’ve arrived at the same time as a lot of other pilgrims, getting into the shower first can be an issue. 

Remember, in that state of ‘I just want to refresh myself and lie down‘, every moment seems to count. However, now that I say that, there’s an eerie sense of acceptance that tends to overcome you when you’re that tired. 

‘There’s no shower? Ok, then I’ll just go hand wash my clothes…wait, you say now there’s no one in the showers anymore? Wonderful. Then I’ll go there now.

It was just these sorts of simple decisions I was making when I dropped my pack on my bunk in a room full of twenty or so other pilgrims. As I started pulling my things out, I realised, ‘Wait, where’s my sleeping bag?

No wonder I’d inexplicably had more space in my pack that morning. In a split second I replayed my early morning, remembered stuffing my bedding deep inside its cover, but I must’ve left it sitting next to my bed back in last night’s albergue. Damn! 

What was I going to do?

Luckily, the place I’d just arrived had sheets on their beds, which can be quite a luxury under the best of circumstances when you’ve been in your sleeping bag night after night for weeks on end. In this case, having sheets was fortuitous beyond description. 

This reminds me of something you hear again from pilgrims: 

The Camino provides…’ in that moment of hopelessness, where you simply don’t know what to do next…in exactly that seemingly hopeless situation, something or somebody magically shows up with an answer. 

Or you do without that thing that even a few moments ago seemed essential. In this case, I didn’t even need to go without. I was going to be sleeping in regal comfort on these sheets — real sheets with a pillow and everything. 

Called the woman at the previous night’s albergue and she assured me she’d not only seen my sleeping bag, but she’d decided she would go ahead and wash it. This she a) didn’t have to do – that was undeniably kind, but b) a very clean sleeping bag 30+ km behind me wasn’t going to do me much good. 

Thankfully, there’s a cottage industry of services along the Camino to carry one’s bags when a pilgrim has been injured. Or even to carry pilgrims to hospitals or the nearest town if the injury is serious enough that it needs medical attention. 

She asked me where I’d be the next night and assured me she could send it along via one of these services, but all I needed to do was call the number she gave me and arrange it with them. 

Ok, got it. 

Called the number and what he said was such a tremendous relief. Yes, he could take my bedding from last night’s to tomorrow’s place, but it’d set me back a cool €10. That’s roughly how much you pay per night to stay in one of the albergues, so one might think that’s pretty steep, but trust me…as a pilgrim, you need a sleeping bag. 

It was sheer good fortune that I had sheets at this place. There was no telling how things would be at the next place, but I didn’t want to risk it. 

How would I get the money to him, though? I’m not actually *at* the next place, where he’ll be dropping it off. Here’s where the story gets good, from my perspective: 

This courier would be coming through this place where I was staying tonight, but he wouldn’t be here till sometime mid morning. That’s exactly when I’d be out walking, so? What to do? How would we make this work? 

Simple, he assured me. I should give the woman where I was staying that night the money. She put it in an envelope for him, which he’d pick up as he swung by in the course of his day. 

And I’d keep walking, which was the whole point to begin with. Don’t. Stop. Walking. No matter what. 

a lapsed Quaker walking…I’m relatively sure you’ll get what I’m trying to say at some point


Ok, I told you about the dog I met the first day and how I was missing my dogs, so there’s that. The whole dog thing. I’ve even started Dog Spotting pretty obsessively, which is something I always did, yet now I’m taking photos and adding whimsical captions and/or stories. We’ll see what comes of that. 

I deliberated for some time about whether I wanted to go into more detail about walking the Camino de Santiago, and once I’ve gotten over the whole ‘imposter syndrome‘ thing, I think I’ve got some ideas about how I can present it. 

Here’s what I’ve decided: assuming you’ve come here to hear my take on things and you know I’ve been walking on and off across northern Spain the last few years, you just have to expect that at some point I’m going to rattle on about the pilgrimage. 

Now first of all, I can imagine some of you saying, ‘I don’t give a damn about some ridiculous pilgrimage. It’s the 21st century and anyone worth his or her salt, at this point, is either atheist or at the bare minimum agnostic, so why stumble along some ancient path with a bunch of other dogooders?’

For one thing, I’ll get to my affiliation and perspective on all of that in a moment, but I’ll quickly point out that what’s now called The French Way (Camino Francés) is actually a pre Christian pilgrimage, or whatever those heathens called such a thing before they had the word ‘pilgrimage‘. 

It’s something I read at the airport last year, while waiting for my flight home. Starting somewhere in modern day Italy, or perhaps in what we used to call Yugoslavia, there was a path cut across northern Italy, the south of France, the Pyrenees (including St. Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles in the foothills), Pamplona and ultimately Santiago

Who cares? Why are you even still reading at this point?

My reasoning is that because you’ve never been on the Camino and likely wouldn’t make such a journey, this is the ultimate travel writing opportunity. I’ll try giving you a feel for walking this thing, while fully aware that you might never entertain the idea of doing so yourself. You’ll go about your daily life and every once in a while, if I’ve done my job right, you sigh and think to yourself, ‘All that’s well and good for that kind of person…’ or perhaps even, ‘Maybe someday…’

If I can give you an impression of taking the pilgrimage without even leaving your armchair, then I’ve done something worthwhile. Let me be your Bilbo Baggins, and taking that analogy to its logical conclusion, go ahead and ask yourself, ‘Who’s his Smog?

Or better yet: 

What Ring is he holding onto and might he eventually hurl into the smoldering abyss?’

Good questions and I’ll get to them in due time. As for my above mentioned affiliation, I’m not walking the Camino for religious reasons. Not per se, anyway. That’s not to say I’m an unbeliever. Far from it. 

Not a Roman Catholic, though. Although I’m in awe of the Church and the beauty that it’s either inspired or sponsored, there’s no part of me that wants to walk to Rome or Canterbury or any such preposterous locale. If that’s your thing, more power to you. Just not for me. 

We humans need labels, so I’ll just put this out there, and you can categorise me as you see fit. I’m a kind of a lapsed Quaker…walking The Way trying to get a better understanding of why we keep doing all of this. 

One of my favourite bumper stickers I saw in Austin years back was:

Don’t believe everything you think.’

I like to think I’ve taken that one to heart. Oh, and if you’re a pilgrim or once we’re and are reading this thinking, ‘What an imposter!‘, just keep walking. I’m relatively sure you’ll get what I’m trying to say at some point. 

Back to the Future…Camino style


Remember these shoes from last year? I walked a whole week on the Camino, and bombarded my feed with photos and waxed philosophic about what it all meant and laughed at myself at the preposterousness of my thinking I even had a clue. 

Most people take a month to six weeks to walk the whole Way of St. James. Others take longer, or do it in smaller chunks. But they eventually do it. Somehow. 

The way I’m doing it seems to be rather convoluted and I’ll briefly tell you why: the whole time I was walking into little Spanish villages and their monasteries and/or churches last year, I kept saying to myself, ‘I wish my mom could see this. Wish she could experience what this whole thing is like.’

My friend Nathan even mentioned having biked the route with his mother, and I thought, ‘That cheating bastard…you can’t be a pilgrim on a brand new shiny bicycle.’ 

I’m here to tell you I was wrong. I’ve slowly come round to the philosophy that however you transverse the damned thing is really your business. 

I’m going to show a bit of it to my mom. She can’t walk it, but she’ll come along with me, and we’ll see some of those things I wanted to share with her last year. If there’s time, I might even take her to Santiago

That’s not cool, though. Right? You can’t just go to the end of a pilgrimage without having made the pilgrimage? Sure you can, and we just might. 

Here’s what I intend to do: write about it. Before during and after. I met people last year who’d fantasized about going on the Camino de Santiago for decades. They finally made their way and fulfilled a longtime dream. 

My friend Casey made noises about joining me someday, so I’m going to extend this invitation to her and anyone else who’s so inclined. 

First of all, join one of the groups of pilgrims – there’s a private Facebook group just for women that I’ve heard is quite extraordinary. 

Secondly, read about their experiences, watch that Martin Sheen movie or one of the many documentaries about the Camino, or talk to me. Leave a comment below if you want to hear my take on this. Anything, really. 
Finally, like last year, it’s pretty much all I’ll be talking about the next few weeks. If nothing else, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the photos. 

exactly because it’s so dreadfully painful that one has to drop it

last day for me on the Camino

So vividly I remember this last day walking on the Camino. Knowing I’d soon be saying goodbye to the simplicity of a normal day there. Getting up before the sun, pulling on my boots & hoisting my pack before trudging out along The Way.

Bidding farewell to all of it had as deep an impact on me as actually being there to begin with. Knowing I was only going to be at it a single week meant it was always in the back of my head that I had to savour it as much as I possibly could.

Makes me think of other times I’ve had to let go of something meaningful to me. Moments when I’ve known a situation wasn’t good for my well-being, but I so desperately wanted to hold onto it anyway.

One of the illusions of maturity is that when you’re older, you’ll somehow gain wisdom. The fallacy of this is that just because you experienced a setback, or a complete failure even, that  wisdom doesn’t automatically result from the situation. One can be faced with the most obvious life lessons and continue to respond to it all in the same old predetermined manner.

Breaking out of that pattern seems to take a certain amount of persistence. I will NOT keep responding to adversity by banging my head against this wall.

Yet that’s how so many of us approach sick and twisted circumstances. I know that if I just stick with this at all costs, then this time it’ll magically turn out differently.

Nope. Just stop it. Quit. Give up the illusion.

I so enjoy the metaphor of each of us carrying round a huge rock. It’s individual in it’s size and density – some folks just don’t have any use for carrying a small boulder, but they are the exception.

If you were to fully let go of that rock that’s weighing you down, what’d you even have left? My personality is so steeped in holding onto that rock.

It’s my rock, after all. My entire persona is this rock, and I find myself hunched over it quietly insisting that I could never let it go.

Mine,’ I whisper pleadingly. It’s exactly because it’s so dreadfully painful that one has to drop it. ‘Not yours,’ a voice responds. No idea whose voice that was, but the message was unmistakeable. Drop it.

Drop the rock. You might think you could always go pick it up again, but why would you even want to? Just drop the damned thing.

try to encapsulate the Camino in a few short moments of chit chat

a pilgrim daydreaming of the comfort of his armchair
 Not sure where I heard it, but it’s been said that you have a short window of opportunity in which people want to hear about your holidays. 

After ‘How was your break? You were in Spain weren’t you?‘, there’s a few moments where you can share generally, before the conversation moves on to what’s been going on in your absence. Or the news of the day or whatever you might normally talk about. 

Of course close friends might be different, and if you had some earth-shattering news to tell, people might perk up and give you a bit more leeway. However, when I think about what I was doing last week, and I try to encapsulate that in a few short moments of chit chat, I find myself sputtering out banalities. 

It was great,’ I reply. ‘Yes, Spain. Northern Spain – flew into Bilbao and then walked along the Camino de Santiago for a week. 

‘No, I didn’t do the whole thing. That’d take six weeks or so, and I just didn’t have that kind of time.’

Then back to daily life. That’s just how it is. To be expected, even. Life moves on. 

The thing is: I do have this blog and this is as good a place as any to leave my impressions from my limited time on the Camino. It wasn’t easy blogging while actually there, so I took photos and wrote down impressions as I was going. Fully intending to keep talking about it long after I returned. 

The photo above is a pilgrim imagining the comfort of home, which made me smile as I saw it while lugging my pack. That night as I was icing my swollen foot and uploading that photo, I was already quite aware that I was going to miss the simplicity of the Camino upon returning to the day to day. 

I walked around my adopted hometown today, as Munich came to life with the bustle of locals and tourists alike. Someone in Spain told me about his having walked the Jakobsweg, which is what the Germans call this pilgrimage – it’s German for the Way of St. James  – from somewhere in the former Yugoslavia. That’s purportedly the ancient way, from what he said. 

There’s a route that goes through the Bavarian Alps, as well. I’m already imagining taking a week sometime and following the way markers toward the French border. Maybe I’ll even take my dogs and see how manageable it is to find a place to stay along the way where they’d also be welcome. 

In the meantime, I’m looking at photos that remind me of some of my better moments following The Way and I’m doing my best to bring the best of that Spirit to my daily life here back at home. 

Here’s one of the only photos I have of me while I was out there: