Dear Britton.

I am in Arkansas camping for the next three weeks. The first two weeks I am solo. Grandmother will be joining me for the last week. I hope to use this time to do some mountain hiking in preparation for what we will encounter in Spain. I also find that the solitary time puts me better in touch with my thoughts.

The view from Magazine Mountain, the highest point in Arkansas.

It occurred to me that I should try to reflect on our coming Camino as I might have when I was 15 years old. Perhaps then I can better anticipate your excitement… and more importantly, your anxieties.

The world of a 15-year-old consists almost entirely of school, friends, extracurricular activities, and family. The world of a 72-year-old is immensely broader.

The Camino is a walking meditation. During the periods of silence our thoughts are necessarily drawn in different directions. Mine will likely find focus on where I am and where I have been on life’s journey. You may find your thoughts drawn to where you are and what the future may hold for you.

It occurs to me that my 15-year-old self might have been concerned about what I would miss during the coming summer. No summer job, no time with friends, no time with my siblings, and of course, no time with mom. I recently heard this referred to as FOMO, the fear of missing out.

Switching to my 72-year-old brain I ask you to take what I say as a matter of faith: If you were to spend this summer in Kansas City it would be just another summer, hardly distinguishable from any other. However, our weeks together on the Camino de Santiago, hiking 525 miles across Spain, may forge indelible shared memories that we will both hold dear in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

Peace Britton. Love, Grandpa.

Bursting with enthusiasm upon our return from Spain in 2013, Christine and I were passionate to spread the message of the Camino in Kansas City. We founded the local group that would formally become the Kansas City Chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino (KCAPOC). As time and other responsibilities redirected our focus we withdrew from active participation in the group.

Fast forward to March and we received an invitation for Britton and me to be recognized for our coming hike across Spain and to participate in the KCAPOC monthly Pilgrim’s Hike.

On March 9th we joined members of the group for a Pilgrim’s Blessing and Shell Ceremony. Along with 13 other “pilgrims” who would be walking at various times this year to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, we received scallop shells, a group blessing, and the good wishes of the larger membership. This shell is the symbol of a pilgrim on the Camino.

Britton and I are joined by Doctor Doug for the group recital of the Pilgrim’s Blessing.

Britton receives his Camino scallop shell, the symbol of a Pilgrim on the Camino, from Maggie.

Britton and I stand recognized along with 13 other Pilgrims who will be walking the Camino at various times this year.

KCAPOC has grown! There are now more than 200 active members, nearly 40 of which assembled on the cold Saturday morning for the hike in the woods of Overland Park, Kansas.

Nearly 40 Kansas City area pilgrims gather for a blessing, shell ceremony, and hike in Johnson County Kansas.

Christine and I are joined in reunion by dear friends Maggie and her husband, Dr Doug. We first met Maggie on the Camino in 2013.

This was grandson Britton’s first experience being embraced by the kinship of Camino Pilgrimage. It is just the beginning.

Peace Everyone! Pete


In 2022 my posts to this site from the Portuguese Camino took the form of open letters home. These were well received and provided me with a natural, conversational, way to communicate that hinted at the relationship that Christine and I share. I was writing to her, yet aware of the larger audience. A side benefit for me was that I felt her presence as I penned each word. It was a relief from the shadow of being alone.

This coming June my 15-year-old grandson Britton and I will depart for 6 weeks in France and Spain. Life and fate willing, we will be hiking the 500+ mile “French Route” of the Camino de Santiago. This will be the longest time that I have spent away from Christine and the longest spent with any of our grandchildren. It will be the longest that he has spent apart from his mother and siblings. Britton is one of three surviving quadruplets. He has been with brother Simon and sister Delaney 7 months longer than he has taking breath in life. (Their births came very early, and they were very tiny.) Think about it. There is also his 6-year-old sister, Lennon, who will certainly feel his absence.

I have no doubt that he is up to the physical challenges. Britton is nearly 6 feet tall and is a muscular 190 pounds. However, the trials for both of us go beyond the physical requirements of walking many miles, day after day. We are separated by 58 years and 2 generations. He must learn and adjust to my peculiarities and I to his.

It is my hope that Britton might contribute an occasional paragraph to his grandmother and mother, giving insight to his own unique perspectives. However, recalling the focuses of my own teenage years I will not hold my breath.

Peace Everyone. Pete


Written December 30, 2023, at Alma, Colorado.

A good friend recommended a book to me, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel” by Rolf Potts. Those who know me might well imagine that the title, particularly the extension, would catch my interest. It is short at 204 pages, has been in print since 2004 and is an international bestseller with multiple translations, over 30 printings, and more than 300,000 copies sold. I bought it.

Vagabonding is loosely defined as wandering from place to place without a permanent home and often without a regular means of support. It is travel without destination. The journey is the purpose. Technically speaking I do not qualify as a “vagabond”. I have a home, and my past working life and disciplined saving has provided me with a means of support. Nevertheless, Potts presents a philosophy of opening oneself to change by engaging with new people and new places. He rejects “vacations” as being brief forays that do little to give insight into the lives of others. With me he preaches to the choir.

I am fortunate that for nearly 20 years I have been able to take the time to engage in travel that has allowed me to meet and come to know many wonderful people and places. In the last 5 years we have added 4 cruises to our travel experiences. These have taken us to places we previously only dreamed of, Cape Horn and the Panama Canal being two of them. I dearly enjoyed the friendships made aboard and the sights seen, but I also experienced a sense of hollowness. What was missing was the time to really engage with the local people and diverse cultures. The passengers were like me in origin, socio-economics, and life experiences. It was the ships’ crews that really drew my interest and curiosity. They represented men and women from over 40 nations and a score of different faith traditions. When time allowed they were willing, and even eager, to share their “stories” with me. A woman from South Africa who once thought she was the “wrong color” to find a position shipboard, is now an officer in Guest Services. Various housekeeping staff, servers, entertainers, and lecturers… from the Philippines, Nicaragua, Bali, Bermuda, Norway, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Peru, Vietnam, Korea, Mexico, Kosovo, Canada, and many other places, provided me with the opportunities to vicariously embrace life seen through other eyes.

We need not travel long or far to engage with others and drink in the wonder of humanity. The spirit of vagabonding resists tribalism, rejects prejudice, and encourages us to intentionally reach out and engage with those who are different from us, be they across the street or across an ocean.

There is a quote from the book that stopped me short and gave me pause, its origins are unknown but there is suspicion that it is either ancient Talmudic or Buddhist:

We Don’t See Things As They Are, We See Them As We Are.

In this coming New Year be open to expanding who you are.

Peace Everyone. Pete

Written November 23, 2023, at Kansas City, Missouri.

In 2013 most of our grandchildren were barely beyond being toddlers.

The grandchildren in 2013 (including 2 visitors), each wearing the Camino shell I had made for them. Christine displays our Camino guidebook.

One was not yet a “twinkle in our daughter’s eye”.

The grandchildren today, including Lennon, the “twinkle in our daughter’s eye”.

Christine and I were consumed with preparations for walking the Camino de Santiago, over 800 kilometers from southern France, across the Pyrenees Mountains and west across Spain.

Our enthusiasm brought curiosity from the “grands” such that we often needed to explain the adventure in terms that they might understand. “Spain is on the other side of the world.” “Wow!” they would exclaim. “Grandma and I are going to walk so far that it is like walking from your house to St. Louis or Springfield and then back!” They had been on drives to both cities and in their little minds knew that it was VERY far. There were gape-mouthed expressions, eyes wide with awe, and more “Wows!”.

On our first night in Barcelona Christine thought of another way to impress upon them the grandness of what was ahead for us. Using her cell phone, she called each household for a video chat with the “little people”. Directing her phone out of our upper floor room to the evening panorama of Barcelona, she explained that we were so far away that while it was daytime in Kansas City it was nighttime where we were. The images held their attention and wonder.

4-year-old Britton, one of the three surviving quadruplets, broke the silence. Seeing the rush of evening traffic and the street below us he exclaimed, “Grandma! They have CARS in Spain!” “Yes Britton, just like in Kansas City.” “Then why are you WALKING across Spain?!!”

Delaney, Britton, and Simon. The red lips are from Easter candy.

From the mouths of babes…

Yesterday, now 15-year-old Britton, a muscular high school freshman nearing 6 feet tall and who plays football and wrestles, eagerly anticipated the day’s mail.

Minutes after the mail arrived Britton sent me a text message and picture with the captions, “Yay!!!” and “My hair looks so bad!”. His passport had arrived!

Britton, Simon, and Delaney today along with their little sister Lennon.

Next June, life and health willing, an odd couple will join thousands of other making the 800+ kilometer trek across Spain. One age 72, in the evening of life, and one 15 with life’s lottery still spinning its wheel. One searching for his future through the telescope of imagination and the other reflecting upon his past through the bifocals of what cannot be changed. One with the experience of three prior Caminos, and one brimming with the excitement of tackling his first. Who is the teacher and who is the student?… well, that depends. What is certain is that there will be marvels each day for both of them, but only one person will have to polish the tarnish of years from his child-like wonder.

I will observe that there are still cars in Spain. “So Britton, why are YOU walking across Spain?!!”

Life comes full circle.

Peace Everyone. Pete

P.S. For those who have walked at least the last 100 km in a continuous journey to Santiago a reward awaits at the Pilgrim’s Reception Office. First, one must produce evidence that they have completed the requirements of the journey. This is done in the form of a Pilgrim’s Credential (“Credencial del Peregrino”) upon which the stamps from lodgings, restaurants, churches, etc. are acquired each day to prove the journey.

Second, the trekker/pilgrim (“Peregrino”) gives their reason for undertaking the journey. If for religious or spiritual reasons they are awarded the “Compostela”, suitable for framing.

If, however, the journey was undertaken for some other reason such as health, pursuing a physical challenge, or just checking off an item on one’s “bucket list”, then the award is in the form of a “Certificate of Distance”, also suitable for framing.

Thus, the question, “Why have you walked across Spain?”, is actually asked of and answered by each of the thousands of pilgrims arriving in Santiago each year.