Category Archives: history

Oh, Paris… What a loss.

My daughter calls with urgency in her voice,“Notre Dame Cathedral is on fire!” I quickly turn the TV on to see the tragic flames as the spire goes down. Immediately, I feel grateful that our trip to hike the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain involved a flight to and from Paris, France. Having a couple of days extra before flying home we decided to hit some of the sights of Paris which included one of the most famous buildings in the world, Notre Dame Cathedral.

The building of the cathedral was completed over the course of 200 years; it was started in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was completed in 1345.

In its history, Notre Dame has endured destruction and subsequent restoration in many periods. However, much of the facade and interior still are true to the original designs. In the 16th century, both the Huguenots and the French king vandalized and changed a lot of the cathedral’s contents. A lot of the features on the cathedral’s exterior were removed because they were considered to be idolatrous, and tombs and stained glass windows were destroyed in the name of modernization. The cathedral was converted into a storage warehouse for food, during the French Revolution, and the heads of many of Notre Dame’s statues were removed.

The Cathedral was at one time in a stage of total disrepair and close to the point of being demolished, but was later saved by Napoleon who himself was crowned Emperor in 1804 inside the Cathedral.

Between 1845 and 1870, a first attempt at restoration took place. A good portion of the previous century’s damage done to the cathedral was repaired, and new additions were built. Most recently, a new restoration program was started in 1991 and has gone on for 20 years with a focus on cleaning up facade’s and sculptures. ~notredamecathedralparis.com

Today’s event has caused quite a step backwards, I’d say…

Below are some of the images I was able to capture during our visit in 2014:

This Notre Dame beggar (Gypsy?) working the line will need to find a new location. Maybe, she’ll try her luck at Sacre Coeur.

Camino Portuguese Day 13: Night Hiking, Mausoleums and the “Squid.”

Saturday, August 18, 2018: Caldas de Reiss to Cruces Inn, Escravitude, Spain|26 K

We bid farewell to the Lotus Palace (Does the name sound like it should be located in Asia?) at 5:25 a.m. hoping to put in a longer day thus reducing the distance tomorrow as we enter Santiago de Compostela. The past few days have been alongside the freeway N-550 so it is assuring to know we are not lost if we occasionally hear the busy traffic.

It’s always fun to visit with young people as we walk and Randy enjoys learning and sharing special handshakes, such as “The Squid,” with some of the young men we meet. Laughter is also shared along with the handshake.

We cross the bridge and enter the city of Padron which is the legendary starting point of St. James’ ministry in Spain and also the subsequent return of his mortal remains following his martyrdom in Jerusalem. We spend some time exploring the church and find it well worth the stop.

Challenge of the day is finding our destination of Cruces Inn (a new albergue) located past Padron and Escravitude, but asking directions and the prominent signs posted here and there lead us right to the door.

We locate the friendly owner in his office, check in to our lower bunks and explore the grounds. Cute, clean albergue rooms with storage units, bathroom/showers in two locations and a storage shed used for pilgrim overflow. Apparently, no kitchen so delicious food is ordered and delivered from town, while beer and wine is always on hand. Highly recommend Albergue Cruces Inn. Plus, we are promised coffee and breakfast in the morning ~ double hooray!!

These days of hiking have flown by… Santiago tomorrow!!

Portuguese Camino Day 12 ~ The race is on.

I find joy in living day to day, not in the future.

August 17, 2018 | 26.5 kilometers | Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis

Apparently, we missed a huge celebration during the night and as we leave our hostel a little after 5 a.m. we find a young man slumped over a table. This larger facility has a security system, so this sleepy young man most likely found himself locked out of the building after partying. Oh well…

The groups of men huddled together near alleyways (especially near the ATM machine) bring our guard up a notch. Leaving town poses to be challenging in the dark, but friendly, young revelers help us out with directions to the river, so we find our way to cross the long bridge. An older gentleman on his early morning walk is also kind enough to give us a detailed city map and directions.

Why the early start? It appears no beds are available to reserve in our destination of Caldas de Reis, so we opt to race for the 50 beds at the Municipal Albergue. Excitement fills the air as we count out backpacks in line and discover we made the cut-off…46, 47, 48! The crowd of fellow pilgrims cheer along with us, Yay, Minnesota! We wait until the 1 p.m. opening and continue to stand in line as each pilgrim is slowly checked in. As we get closer to the building entrance we are able to chat with friends already checked in as they leave to shower at the city pool since the albergue showers are dirty. I overhear others leaving to go to the drug store to purchase bed bug spray. No big deal… at least it’s a bed and we’ll survive. We get within 4 people and discover they only have a total of 42 beds (per small hand written sign in door) and we are turned away.

Luckily, an assertive (Irishman that lives in Italy?) man with excellent Spanish speaking skills takes on the role of advocate for all of us waiting in line. The albergue employees say they can do nothing as there are no beds available in the whole town, so we all must start walking the 10 kilometers to the next town, (Even though it is now mid-afternoon.) Our spokesperson continues to argue and scolds them for not cutting off the line of pilgrims hours earlier to allow time for those of us without beds to walk on. He insists the community must attempt to accommodate this overflow of pilgrims and proceeds to call the police, churches and hospital to no avail. Not one to give up, he continues to plead his (our) case. Like a true Camino miracle, affordable beds a short walk away and just a few Euros more than the public albergue magically become available. Yes, the Camino provides…

Our Camino Angel advocate is still very upset with the municipal albergue and the unprepared, unresponsive community, so he continues walking down the road. I hope he finds a bed. 

This lady also has three beds for us above Bar Caldas. Now that would be a story to tell!!

Camino Portuguese Day 11: Camino Angel in the Night

Thursday, August 16, 2018 | Cesantes to Pontevedra |

19.6 kilometers

Albergue included breakfast for a fee so arrangements had been made for an early start  to try and beat the afternoon heat. The number of pilgrims has increased substantially since Tui, so the odds of scoring  beds, especially bottom bunks, appear to be slim to none in Pontevedra. Thus, we have a reservation at a hostal across the street from the public albergue. No worries today.

A large grocery store is within walking distance so the evening meal consists of lettuce salads and pizza washed down with wine, all consumed in our cozy little room.

Absolutely no available beds to be found in the next destination of Caldas de Reis so it’s early to bed ~ tomorrow will be an epic bed race for the 50 municipal albergue beds listed in the Brierley book.  Can we do it?

Camino Portuguese Day 10 ~ Buen Camino

 Wednesday, August 15, 2018

O Porrino  to Cesantes, Spain

16.1  kilometers

You need special shoes for hiking—and a bit of a special soul as well.”   ~Terri Guillemets

Farm Boys Go to War

Marietta Legion Post #156 in Marietta, Minnesota has chosen to honor these fallen soldiers with commemorative metal displays. While working on the images and designs I couldn’t help but wonder about the anecdotes and stories behind these young farm boys called to duty during WW II.

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Did soldiers from the farm really make better soldiers? I’d like to think so. Farming in our agricultural region along the Minnesota-South Dakota border couldn’t have been easy during the Great Depression that preceded the war. They would become competent carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engine mechanics and general tinkerers. If they didn’t have a part they made their own and jury-rigged items together just to get by. Transfer these skills to military life and the powers that be would have considered them invaluable assets.

28-3171aThese were not the only soldiers from our area to die as a result war. The list above includes all Lac Qui Parle County casualties during WW II. I recognize familiar surnames from the area and wonder about their stories, as well.

Hobo, Tramp or Bum?

“A hobo wanders and works, a tramp wanders and dreams and a bum neither wanders nor works.”  -Anonymous.

hobo“Hobo at the Breakfast Table” by Randy Meyer

Randy recently picked up the paint brush, after a long hiatus, to capture a memory from his childhood:

It was a cold, snowy day in the early 1960s and this gentleman wandered up to the farmyard asking for work in exchange for food and lodging. He seemed somewhat prepared for the weather being dressed in a long, heavy, hooded coat that had seen better days along with big boots that were held together by wrappings of a sort.  Randy’s parents could not afford to hire extra help, but they generously invited the man into their house to eat breakfast. Imagine four little children peeking into the small  kitchen with wide eyes watching this disheveled older gentleman with a monstrous beard and tremendous appetite devour copious amounts of eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast and whatever else was available that morning. After satisfying his hunger, they wished him well as he made his way to the next farm site.

Who was this man… Hobo? Tramp? Bum?

Since the railroad was still running a train route to the towns of Gary, South Dakota and Marietta, Minnesota it is possible that he hitched a ride on the rail and walked farm to farm in search of food, board or money. This would define him as a hobo.

True hobos fully embraced a strong work ethic, bouncing from place to place, looking for short-term jobs to earn their keep, while bums and tramps wanted to bum everything—money, food, or cigarettes.

The very first American hobos were cast-offs from the American Civil War of the 1860s as young men rode the rails to find their fortunes, usually finding menial work or farm labor. The name hobo is believed to be a shortened form of “hoe boy.” The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in the 1930s forced millions of Americans to become migrant laborers riding the rails in search of work.

My mother was born in 1920 and talked about hobos coming to her family’s farm when she was a child. Since threshing and haying were labor intensive processes there were opportunities to be had and her parents or grandparents would occasionally hire a hobo to help, allowing him to sleep in the barn. There were hobo markings along the railroad stop in nearby Smiths Mill, Minnesota that would communicate places in the area to work, sleep, etc. which led the hobos to their farm. These markings were a pictographic Hobo Code understood among the hobo community. Since hobos weren’t typically welcomed (and were often illiterate), messages were left that were easy for hobos to read but looked like random markings to everyone else which maintained an element of secrecy. hobo signs helphobo signs lawhobo signs trouble

hobo-glyphs-code

Whatever happened to the strange breakfast guest depicted in this painting? We’ll never know, but Randy can still see his crazy eyes.

HoboGlyphs:  Secret Transient Symbols & Modern Nomad Codes by Delana

Don’t Call Them Bums:  The Unsung History of America’s Hard-            Working Hoboes by Lisa Hix