But the best surprise were the Hopewell Indian Mounds dotting the top of the bluff. They were everywhere!

July 25, 2015
by David Ryan
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Stairway Wandering Along the Mississippi River – 2015

Two years ago my dog Petey and I traveled to the Mississippi River area and found several public stairways in Dubuque, Iowa; Redwing, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Stillwater, Minnesota; Alma, Wisconsin; and Galena, Illinois. All of those stairways were described in previous posts in this blog.

Two weeks ago we returned to the Mississippi River area to see if we could find more stairways. We did find some stairways. We also ran into some very hot weather.

Our first stop was the historic river town of Alton, Illinois. Alton was the site of the seventh and final Lincoln-Douglas Debate of 1858. Today the town is within commuting distance to St. Louis and almost every other car had a bumper sticker celebrating the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Alton cemetery has a monument to Elijah P. Lovejoy. He was a Presbyterian minister who ran an anti-slavery newspaper. He was killed by a pro-slavery mob in 1837. Some people consider him to be the first casualty of the Civil War.

The Alton cemetery has a monument to Elijah P. Lovejoy. He was a Presbyterian minister who ran an anti-slavery newspaper. He was killed by a pro-slavery mob in 1837. Some people consider him to be the first casualty of the Civil War.

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June 23, 2015
by David Ryan
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Stairways on the Camino

Having written several posts in this blog and a book about stairways, I planned to keep an eye out for stairways while walking the Camino de Santiago. As it turns out, I saw and walked on stairways from the very beginning to the very end of the Camino. I had no idea that there would be so many of them.

I spotted my first stairway when I stepped out of the van that shuttled me from the Biarritz Airport to St. Jean Pied-de-Port. The stairs were across the street from the Pilgrim Office where many peregrinos (pilgrims) stop to get a pilgrim passport and have their passport stamped before they start walking. (More information about peregrinos and pilgrim passports can be found in the previous blog post.)

These are the stairs across the street from the Pilgrim Office.

These are the stairs across the street from the Pilgrim Office.

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June 12, 2015
by David Ryan
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Life as a Peregrino on the Camino

As the two previous blog posts have shown, there was no shortage of wonderful scenery or amazing “little things” along the Camino de Santiago to fill every moment of my walk. In this post I would like to give you an idea of what it was like to be a Peregrino (pilgrim) on the Camino.

I also want to include some basic information just in case you’re interested in doing the Camino. I know I was very frustrated in my initial research because it was hard to find useful information on what I needed to carry when walking the Camino. Perhaps it was there and I missed it because it was buried in the narrative about all the places I should stay an extra day to check out this and that building.

To begin, even though the Camino came about as a religious pilgrimage, there is no requirement for anyone to be religious or to have a religious intention for their walk. It’s quite acceptable to be just on a walk. Regardless of one’s reason for being on the Camino, it provides an amazing platform for a long walk.

Sustaining a long walk comes down to logistics: places to stay, food, water, and what to carry. And the Camino excels in all of these.

I typically walked through three, four, or more towns a day while on the Camino. Almost every town had at least one low-cost (five to ten euros a night) albergue. Having a low-cost place to stay every night meant that I did not have to carry a tent or a sleeping pad.

The huge albergue in Rocelvalles!

The huge and new albergue in Rocelvalles!

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