The Camino has a way of forming friendships that can run very deep, very fast.
And I’ve discovered that you don’t even need to meet these friends in Spain or Portugal or France. You can meet them online.
Through this blog I’ve made some wonderful friends. And now on this current work trip to the US, I’m getting to meet some of them face to face.
Earlier this week I finally got to meet Michael and Kathryn Schlesinger. Michael writes under the name Rambler59. I’d always thought that meant he was a rambler – a nomad – and he was either born in 1959, or he was 59 years old.
Turns out his pride and joy – apart from his wife and family – is a glorious old 1959 Rambler station wagon.
Jennifer and I had a gap in our schedule so I contacted them – they live down at Newport Beach – and were free to meet at short notice, so we drove down.
Wonderful people – and they had the Camino “shine” which was apparent immediately upon meeting them. (What is it with this Camino shine? How come I don’t have it? Maybe it’s because I drink too much Coke Zero…)
Michael and Kathy treated us to a fabulous afternoon – they took us out onto Newport Harbour on a little electric boat – we had Proseco and nibblies – and we chatted incessantly.
Then they took us to The Wedge – a very famous surfing beach which has the most insane wave for belly-boarders.
Then later we went out to a cool Mexican restaurant for dinner.
The evening concluded with me corralling their large screen computer, going on YouTube, and playing them parts of the Aussie Rules Grand Final, in which of course the Sydney Swans won.
They’d never seen anything like Aussie Rules footy before. It was a little confusing for them. I guess it is an odd code of football. But for me, it was a triumphant way to finish the evening, although I did hear Jennifer muttering in the background… “Bill, I thought you promised me that if you walked the Camino, I’d never have to apologise for you again.”
We drove away from the Schlesinger’s house feeling like we were leaving old friends behind. The bond that the Camino forms, even across cyberspace, is palpably strong.
Then yesterday we drove out to Palm Springs to meet up with Steve and his former wife Jill. Steve had flown in from Houston specifically to introduce us to Jill who, like me, is more beautiful in the flesh than in photos.
Jill is a stunningly beautiful woman in every way – and she’s whip smart. So smart I began to wonder why she’d ever married Steve… (Steve, maaaaaate)… but once again, on meeting her I felt like I’d known her for years, because of this blog, and because I’d followed her adventures on her blog when she and Steve walked the Camino together last year, trying to figure out if they should stay together or not.
We then went to a very cool old styled hotel and had drinks around the pool. It was happy hour and we dutifully got happy. Jill told me this was where Sinatra and the Rat Pack used to hang out in the 50s and 60s.
They then took me on a tour of Palm Springs and showed me some extraordinary houses, owned by the rich and famous. Then we had a great dinner together and I discovered “misters.” Not misters as in misters and missuses – but tiny jets of water spray that make the desert air less dry.
Again we talked and talked – and Jill has indicated she wants to join us on the Assisi tour next year – which would be amazing.
Steve won’t come. He hates walking. And also, it might rain… and I can’t guarantee sunshine every day in Italy. My weather powers only reside on the Camino.
If I can now step to one side and make the observation here that in the several hours I was with them yesterday, they were cuddling each other and cooing and picking the parsley out of each others teeth and carrying on like damn teenagers. And they’ve just divorced.
I told them they’re the poster couple for those aspiring to an amicable divorce. Steve says he has no expectations – he takes each day as it comes – and he’s learnt that you never know what the future holds…
Personally I would not be surprised if one day they get back together again, but hey, I’m a romantic. They do make a beautiful couple though.
This photo below doesn’t do them justice. They are far more beautiful in the flesh than in photos… like me.
From Palm Springs Jennifer and I make our way north up into Washington State, where we’ll meet up with Lynda Lozner and her husband Dale.
Lynda has been active on this blog almost from the start – and I’m very excited to meet her and Dale. We’re going to have dinner at the Twin Peaks diner. And have a damn good cup of coffee and some cherry pie.
How cool is that?!
Back on terra firma and catching up with your travels. It is SO great to meet — through you– the beautiful smiling faces behind our fellow blog posters. Wow, Michael and Kathryn, LOVE your car. So glad to hear that you got to see Steve again, and meet Jill. I agree they are an adorable couple, married, or not.
I was thinking about you and Steve yesterday while on a glacier tour (coincidently two on board were women from Australia whom I promptly determined did not know my Aussie friends Bill and Jen). Anyway I digress: I thought you and/or Steve would be able to take some awesome wildlife and glacier photos despite the overcast grey skies, fog, and droves of rain. Alas, I am not you or Steve! What beauty I saw. The Surprise Glacier calved while we were there! Saw a Minkse whale, Dall’s porpoises, seals, bald eagles, and my favorite, hundreds of sea otters. I wanted a photo of those otters so bad, I was seeking your help hoping for a response by osmosis! LOL
Followed my GPS to land in the small town of Whittier, AK. Population just over 200. Even the locals tell me tourists never stay here. It was the right choice for me. Before following your blog, I would never have trusted my instincts to stay for four nights in a place where tourists usually come for a day trip. Thanks, mate! I am meeting the glacier tour guides for beer at the local hangout tonight after they get off work. Never mind that I am dangerously close to 60, and if I am lucky, they are at least old enough to drink legally! Continued good wishes to you and Jen on the remainder of your trip! Cyber hugs! Julie
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Dear Julie – wow, sounds like an amazing trip! no photos at all? wish I’d been there to record it for you!! Bill
Oh no, Bill, I got some beautiful photos. Just could not figure out how to hit the moving targets! I need some wildlife instruction! Travel safe!
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Hey, Julie, didn’t you know that these days the 60ies is at least the 40ies??!! In about a month I become of pensionable age (ie 65 here in Aussieland, or at least currently, as the government is changing that upwards towards 70) and have no intention of behaving as if I am! So you go girl and enjoy the fun nights with some local Alaskans. Having visited there about 10 years ago I know they can be a LOT of fun!! 🙂
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Great being in California to introduce Jill to you. What a great time we are having with you and Jen. Thanks for including is on your trip. And you are right. Who knows what the future holds. Jill and I are poster guys for the right way to be divorced. She remains my best friend. For us, matrimony was not replaced with acrimony. Just gives us both a chance to grow individually.
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Steve, I love that “matrimony not replaced by acrimony.” My ex is one of my best friends, too. And his second wife is my BFF. Did not know her while my ex and I were married. She is my bonus friend from Doug’s marriage.
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So, Bill, if you were interested enough to – again – embarrass Jennifer, insisting on watching the Swannies, did you then also catch the Blues trashing Qld? I claim I single-handedly ensured that win, as I did not watch the game. Works every time!! “)
Hey Britta, I saw that NSW finally won. You know I support Qld in state of origin – not that I follow NRL, I only watch state of origin for the biff… but Qld is my state of origin, hence my allegiance.
Also, just to set the record straight, I didn’t embarrass Jennifer. She was as enthralled as I was at seeing the Swanies smash it in the grand final – I’m sure. How could she not be? :).
Again, so great to have spent time with you and Jenifer and I appreciate so much how you filled us in on the investment opportunities for the PGS film. I think Jill and I may be the first of the PGS family to commit to investing in the film, but hopefully not the last. Anytime we can combine friendship and business it is a win/win situation. We both believe in you and what you are doing and your business model really looks attractive, and your track record spells success. Thanks for giving us this unsolicited opportunity. I know that was not on your mind when you came to Palm Springs to meet Jill, until we brought it up. The look on your face yesterday at breakfast when we told you we wanted to be your first investors was priceless. Now, go make that movie and let’s all get rich.
Your busy, Stevve
Oops. Should be “your buddy Steve”
Steve, mate – yes you’re absolutely right. You could have bowled me over! But I’m thrilled. Thank you – and thank you Jill too. I DO believe in the film, and what it’s saying – and I’m busting to get started, because I think the world needs it! Again you two, my thanks. Bill
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Wow is all I can say! I have finally met the Great and wonderful OZ, er, I mean, Bill and his special wife, Jennifer. Truthfully speaking, its been 6 months since my last confession on WordPress as I decided to stop following the Blog until I got my Single Sea Legs back. Well, she’s BACK and up and running again! In the meantime I am hoping all of my Camino Bros and Sisters are well. I am doing well, working hard here in the desert but also having fun dancing whenever I can to keep my spirit soaring. Its going to be a long, hot summer, but unlike the rest of the world, we had a long hot winter, so I really can’t complain much.
Like Bill said Steve and I are very close and happy and incredibly supportive of one another. Life is short and I am a believer of “never say never”. So who knows, Steve and I could be re-coupled in the future. But for now, we are one another’s best friend, looking out for the others best interests without judgement. Steve is even helping me with online Dating as he is current and active on Match.com! It’s been 24 years that I was last single having gone from one relationship to another without one day off with 3 different people! Steve has not been single for 51 years with 3 different people, so we both figure its about time to be single and see what the world has to offer us now!
I think the biggest surprise for me regarding Bill, is the sound of his voice. I had imagined that he would have a very loud voice with a very strong Australian accent. Instead he has a very soft, gentle voice and manner. But, of course I have never sat with him during a Swans game either and wonder if he might be more like my civilized Italian relatives who are soft spoken until they watch Soccer games and instead end up practically bashing in each other’s heads with wild hand gestures and screaming voices!
As for our time together, it was superb! The drinks we shared late in the afternoon on Thursday was especially enjoyable and it was if we had sat together for years just chatting and acting like old friends. How nice is that? And, how can you not love a guy who drinks “sparkling wine?” And the fact that it just happened to be from Australia made even more special. It wasn’t until a few hours later that I met the Lovely Jen. I sat across from her with our Mr.’s at our sides and (as Bill said) the Misters above when I finally felt that my Camino was complete! Not sure how many of you remember that I left my Camino half way through due to plantar fasciitis only to really discover that my Camino is in my own back yard. So having the Bennett’s here in my neck of the woods just made everything come full circle.
As Steve wrote, we are both so excited to be investing in the PGS movie and of course know that it will be a huge success ( at least that is what my Intuition is telling me LOL) It’s thrilling to be in on the ground floor of a project that so resonates with my own belief system. Here’s to Bill, Jennifer and all of us who are behind him in getting the word out there.
And here’s to all of you. It’s great to be back.
Sending love your way.
Dear Jill – it’s so wonderful to have you back!
And my goodness, if we’re telling of fist impressions, bloody hell you looked incredible! How could you be the age you are??? My only regret of that time is that we didm;t get to talk more – but Jen and I will come back to PS, and so we’ll have more of a chance to talk then. You have such a well considered view of the world, and your place in it. I’d love to talk to you more about a whole range of things.
And hey, thank you too for coming on board PGS. That was totally unexpected, but a lovely surprise – so a big hug to you and Steve!
I’ll let you know when we’ll be swinging back your way, but probably in about a week. So see you soon!!
Who would’ve thought that just by reading a post by a guy on the Camino that was having trouble with his feet would turn into a face to face a year later. I am so excited to meet Bill and Jen after all these posts!.
That pie and coffee is about 24 hours away…..
Awe Lynda. As you know i have already met him, both in Portugal and then Palm Springs. He’s not so much. I just don’t want you to be disappointed. Ha Ha.
Dont make his head bigger than it is. 🙂
I disagree with you Steve! Tee Hee I just spoke with him for the first time. He has an Australian accent!!!! A little hard for me to understand over the phone but I do think both Bill and Jen are going to be great! His head looks just right, Steve! Going to watch “The Nugget” tonight and see if we can pick out his daughter and boys plus Jen. Anxiously awaiting their arrival.
Lynda – Steve’s right. I’m not that much chop. Jennifer is the interesting one!!
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A fabulous evening with you and Dale Lynda – and can’t wait for tomorrow! Bill
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