Olympic National Park

Recently we took my Mom over to Olympic National Park. Ironically, there is no place as beautiful as the rain forest on a sunny day! The air is fresh, the old growth forests are magnificent, and it is quite magical. That is what you get when the rain is measured in feet, not inches, per year. The beaches are pristine and undeveloped because all the way from the Straights of Juan de Fuca almost to Grays Harbor the coast is either Native land or part of the Olympic National Park. What a treasure we have right here in our back yard. The photo is of a 12″ X 16″ oil painting that I did of the amazing “Split Rock” a couple of miles hike up Rialto Beach. I feel a series of paintings coming from this rich imagery. www.marciashaver.com

Split Rock at Rialto Beach



“Awakenings” is another oil painting in my Lopez Island series. I was standing in almost exactly the same place as the inspiration for “Estuary”. However, it was a different time of day and I was looking the other direction. There is so much beauty to see from the same vantage point every single time we experience it. www.theartistsjourney.com




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“Estuary” is an oil painting in a series which I have been recently working on centered around the imagery on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington state.  The still waters at the base of Fisherman’s Harbor  reflects the sky. This is one of many quiet moments spent walking the islands or floating aboard my boat in the islands which I have enjoyed for so many years.



White Villages

In the south of Spain there are many exquisite perched white villages. My husband has a fear of heights, and as we looked far up into the sky at one such village, he said, “You have to be kidding! Who would build a town on a cliff like that? It makes me sick just thinking about getting there.” I replied, “That is where we are staying tonight.” 

After climbing to the village along a two way road that is barely wide enough for one cart, we watched the sun set over the mountains toward Portugal. The mountains layered seemingly infinitely in shades of violet, and clinging to the highest point the village of Casares was bathed in golden and pink light. 

I spent quite a bit of time reliving this fantasy scene in my studio as I completed this oil painting. It is 24″ X 42″ and has taken on a life of its own in my memory.


Banos de Montemayor to Calzada de Bejar

It was raining as I wound my way out of this steep little town on narrow cobbled streets. At the top of the village the original paving stones of the original Roman road are still perfectly in place, and they lead you over the mountain top. It is quite a feeling to walk over the mountain pass on a 2000 year old road. The views of the green valley, shrouded in mists, were breathtaking. The land is terraced with stone walls to gain extra farm land.
Once at the summit, the road wound quietly down to the river on stone-walled paths. The landscape is very green and damp, with a profusion of ferns, moss, and purple wisteria.  There were sections of rocky peaks above, with huge boulders scattered among the cows. The valley is lined by beautiful trees and dotted with stone cottages. Rainbows danced across the hills when the sun emerged. it was quiet except for the rushing of the river and the singing of the birds.
The river is named the Rio Cuerpo de Hombre, or the “River of the Body of Man”. I wonder if the tributaries are named “The head of Man”, “The arm of Man”, “The leg of Man”, etc. to make up the whole “Body of Man”!
Just as I was pushing up a steep hill, I was feeling lonely. I wished I had someone to share this experience with, and I thought of the prayer:
I said to the angel,who stood at the portal of the new year,’Give me a light so I can safely walk to the uncertainty.” He looked at me and replied, “Just go out into the darkness and put your hand in the hand of God! This is better than a thousand lights, and safer than a known way.”
Just then a Camino moment of magic occurred. I looked up, and walking toward me was my Spanish friend Taqui! We hugged and laughed. I was so happy to see a friendly face. He had received my email just this morning telling him approximately where I would be walking for the next few days. He immediately drove to Calzada de Bejar and started walking toward me.  It was perfect timing because we met just 10 minutes from the village.
At the Albergue I paid for my spot because I had reserved it. I told them to let someone else have my place who needed a bed, as I was going with Taqui. There was an excited conversation in French, Spanish, and English as we explained to the Hospitalero and the other Pilgrims who I was and how Taqui and I met.  On my first Camino, Taqui was a Hospitalero (volunteer host) at the St. Francis of Assissi Pilgrims Hostal in Tosantos. Taqui and Jose Luis created a warm and loving environment, and as a result, it was a spiritual turning point for me. I always regretted not being able to tell Taqui and Jose Luis what important work they were doing, and how it changed lives. Two years later, through a series of emails resulting from my book, I found that Taqui’s lady lives only a few hours from me in the Seattle, Washington. Taqui and Robbie came to my house in January, only a few months ago, and we began a new kind of  friendship.  Once we are Pilgrims, we become part of a global community who share a very powerful common experience. The world seems like a much smaller and better place, full of friends with good intentions. This seems more like a miracle than a coincidence to me!

Distance from Banos de Montemayor to Calzada de Bejar= 7.5  Miles /12 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 12.68 Miles / 20.5  Kilometers

Accommodations= Private Albergue Alba Soraya, 28 places, 8 Euro. This is a friendly, nice Albergue, located just where you need it after finishing the climb out of the valley. They serve very good food upon request.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

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Aldeanueva del Camino to Banos de Montemayor

The 4  Spanish Pilgrims, being young, flexible and in love had slept in 2 small beds. We awakened to much sleepy complaining and groaning. However, when I told them we had watched the soccer game until midnight, I had their rapt attention. They were instantly awake. Hearing that the score was  Real Madrid 1 /  Barcelona 0, all pain was forgotten. An impromptu fiesta erupted with singing and dancing around the room. I was clapping my hands Flamingo style and laughing at their passionate enthusiasm. What a wonderful way to wake up. Oh, to be that young again!

It was raining so hard that the track was a muddy river. Benny and I chose to walk 10 kilometers along the main road until we reached the town of Banos de Montemayor. The Albergue Turistico was full at 9:30 in the morning, before it was even open, because people had reserved spaces. Benny tried to persuade me to walk on another 12 kilometers but I was intent on having a short day walking with time for the spa. I checked into the very last hotel room in town at the very sweet Hotel Eloy located directly across from the Roman Balneario, or spa. Yeah!

This has been a spa town since Roman times and sits nestled in the lovely mountains. The spa is right where the original baths were situated. From the pools you can look into the original baths, separated from the Romans by only a sheet of glass and 2000 years. The high barrel-vaulted chamber in which the pools sit are constructed of stone in the style of old. The pools are separated by a platform with marble sculptures on them, beautiful reproductions of the originals. Soft music played as the bubble jets massaged my tired back and feet. The small waterfall spilling off of the sculpture splashed soothingly. The only thing missing was the slaves with the massage oil.

Just as we were getting really relaxed our “treatment circuit” began. We had an aroma therapy rain shower, then immersed ourselves in authentic Roman individual marble bathtubs. These filled with hot thermal mineral water and a dash of soothing scent. Here we soaked for 20 minutes. After another rain shower we spent 20 minutes in a hot, steamy sauna with mosaic tiled chairs. One more aromatic rain shower, and we moved to the temperate steam room filled with eucalyptus mists for another 20 minutes. Lights on the ceiling changed colors with the music, forming the constellations. I hated to leave that room, but a hot tiled lounge chair and a refreshing bottle of mineral water awaited us. Ahhhhh. I was barely awake enough to notice that the ceilings were a series of crossing vaults in old brick. It made a beautiful texture and pattern statement, partnered with the intricate wall mosaics of Roman Gods and intertwining designs.

After 30 minutes we returned to the pools, but the attendants would only allow us to bathe in the cold pool because they wanted us to lower our core body temperature. I did not want my temperature lowered, thank you! As soon as the Pool Police left we made a run for the hot pool. When we were eventually discovered, we pretended not to understand and squeezed out another few minutes while he went in search of someone who spoke English. Finally we were ejected, so that was the end of a very lovely and relaxing couple of hours in another world.

As soon as we returned to my hotel, Benny put his pack on and headed for the next town. I will miss his interesting company and intellectual conversation. He is a kind man, and very perceptive. I feel like I have known him far longer than 2 days. After he left, I tucked into the very nice little library in a comfy leather chair for the afternoon.

The Senora made me cafe con leche and let me use her computer to catch up on email.The storm raged ferociously outside, and the power was off and on. I was content to be snug in this lovely, friendly little hotel.

Distance from   Aldeanueva del Camino to Banos de Montemayor= 7  Miles /11.5 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 7.75 Miles / 12.5  Kilometers

Accommodations= Hotel Eloy  http://www.hoteleloy.com . This was a great little hotel right across the street from the Termes Romana.  40 Euro for 1 person in a double room, breakfast included. They arranged a spa package for me and were very friendly and helpful. There is an Albergue Turistico in town, 12 places, 12 Euro including breakfast, but it was full.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

Please help others find this blog by Liking me on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/ArtistsJourney Tell your friends!

Olivia de Plascencia to Aldeanueva del Camino

When I seat out this morning it was dark. The rain-swept across the land in waves, then would lighten and the sun would illuminate the rich greens of this hill country. The Sierra de Gredos Mountains are close. Cloaked in mists, they peeked through at intervals to lend a beautiful blue backdrop. By afternoon the clouds had disappeared completely. It seems odd to go walking in the dark, driving rain. However, that is the mind-set that you develop on the Camino. You just walk, regardless of the conditions or your physical state. It is a timeless rhythm which allows you to smell the earth, hear even the faintest echoes of nature, touch the elements, and experience the journey very intimately. What a joy it is to step softly through the universe.

I reached the Roman town of  Caparra in a driving rainstorm. Pablo, a young  Spanish cyclist,  huddled pathetically under the huge arch without rain gear. He looked so forlorn that I gave him a hug. We talked in broken Spanish / English. I could not help but think of all those who have passed through this arch, the Arco de Caparra, since its construction in the second century. It is in perfect condition, standing alone in the middle of nowhere. The vaulting on the ceiling is beautiful, joining the entrances from four sides. There is a major excavation site of this roman town that once served the traffic on the Via Pecuria from Sevilla to Astorga. The original paving is still very much in evidence. We wondered what treasures the excavation will uncover in the future. Finally, we determined that the rain was not going to let up any time in the near future, so we said our good byes.  I saw Pablo disappear with mud flying up his back as his bike skidded and struggled with the sticky goo. (Image of Arco de Caparra in the sunshine courtesy of Karl Martin Nagle)

I forded swollen streams and passed through some truly magnificent scenery. In many low-lying areas where water accumulates large blocks of granite  are placed as stepping-stones. One stream had taken out a road, and there was no telling how deep the water was. I climbed on top of the stone fence bordering the road. Those old stone fences are not meant to be walked on. I ended up sort of crawling along on my hands and knees, hoping that I would not slip off and become entangled in and shredded by the adjacent barbed wire. I did get one gash on my hand. Thank goodness for current tetanus shots!

Toward the end of the day I met up with Benny, a Danish man I had met and talked to in the last few days. We had a picnic as the sun came out, and continued on farm roads together  the rest of the way into town. We walked through pastures in the foothills of the mountains in sparkling sunshine. Rainbows formed over the hills and it was quite magical.

The town of Aldeanueva del Camino has many balconies which overhang the tiny streets. Some flowers are already peeking through the pretty iron railings. The houses seem to tilt in a bit as the streets wind up and down the hillside.

Tonight Benny and I had dinner in one of the local bars. Around 8:30 there was great shuffling of tables, more chairs were set up theater style, and at least 1/2 of the village crammed into the small space. The TV sprang to life for the Barcelona / Real Madrid futbol game playoffs! It was so much fun to share the excitement of the game with the people of Aldeanueva del Camino. I love  how they congregate and share the experience and not sit home alone in their isolated space. It was like actually being at the game live, only on a smaller scale. Once we safely determined the team that the locals supported, we screamed, cheered, and jumped out of our seats like everyone else. What a great game, and a great way to spend the evening in this small Spanish town.

Distance from  Olivia de Plascencia to Aldeanueva del Camino= 20  Miles / 33 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 21 Miles / 34  Kilometers

Accommodations= Municipal Albergue in a small yellow house, 10 places, donation.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

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Galisteo to Olivia de Plascencia

It was dark and overcast as I crossed the lovely 14th century medieval bridge out of Galisteo. At the first round about I detoured down a lane, through a cow pasture, under the freeway and finally back to the secondary road. Farmers kept pointing me down the road so I walked on pavement for 8 miles, all the way to Carcabosco. I learned a new phrase today: a la carretera, or on the paved road. Ouch!

I had reached Carcabosco by 9:30 in the morning. I thought, “I can do this long stretch if I really want to.” So off I went, finding at least 8 yellow arrows within 10 feet when I had not seen one for miles. The track climbed steeply and there were fantastic views of the green, rolling hills and the surrounding towns. The way was lined with stone fences. The fences and huge boulders that punctuate the land, covered in green moss. It seemed like a micro-climate because it was very moist and green in the hilltop oak forests. Many brooks and ponds sparkled brightly in the pastures. It was an enchanting landscape filled with the sound of cow bells and coo coo birds. I was totally alone on one of the most remote stretches of the Camino, feeling unburdened, lighter and happy. I had visions of meeting someone on a beautiful horse who needed a riding partner to Santiago. Even though it rained very hard it was beautiful. I sheltered under trees and waited for the rain squalls to pass, then marched on. The mists hung in the trees, lifting and settling back in to make the countryside soft and soothing.

After many kilometers I hit the main road again and learned that the Albergue was 6 kilometers further on pavement with cars blasting past and little shoulder to walk on. When I finally reached the Albergue my friend Kess, the Dutch Pilgrim, answered the door! There was only one place left, because people are booking ahead. The Pilgrims have increased during Holy Week because the Spanish people have the week off  work and many are walking. One place was enough for me. It’s another miracle, because I could not have walked on.

I had walked over 20 miles in the rain, by myself, over mountains and main roads. I felt very tired and my feet hurt like the devil, but I also felt very proud of myself.

Distance from Galisteo to Olivia de Plascencia= 20.03  Miles / 32.5 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 21.17  Miles / 34  Kilometers

Accommodations= Albergue Turistico, about 20 places, 15 Euro including breakfast. The Senora cooked a good communal meal for a small additional fee.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

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Grimaldo to Galisteo

The morning was cool with 30 mile per hour head winds. It was a perfect long-sleeved shirt day for walking through open, beautiful countryside.  I am climbing toward the Meseta, the high plain that dominates central Spain. The mountains seem far in the distance but are becoming clearer each day. I am climbing through a pass, where there are still oak trees, cattle, sheep, and beautiful horses prancing down the roads. The wheat dances in the wind and shimmers in the sunshine. Shaggy goats with long, twisted  horns frolicked in the meadows and the  storks were abundant. They circled gracefully over head and searched for food in the fields.The walled  city of Galisteo looked magical from afar.

The walls encircling the old town are 35 feet tall, made of stone and brick. They were built in the 800’s and 900’s by the Almohads as fortifications. I asked some boys playing soccer if it was possible to walk along the top of the walls. They enthusiastically directed me down an alley and behind the church, assuring me that this is how they always climbed to the top. Why do I listen to 10-year-old boys? The steps were about 16 inch rises, very old, tilted, and crumbling. They had holes worn in them from centuries of footprints, and weeds sprouted in the cracks. Naturally, there was no railing. It was clumsy climbing in my zapatos plastico (plastic shoes). About 1/2 way up, unable to turn back, I dropped to my knees and crawled the rest of the way. Once on top the winds were fierce, gusting to gale force. The storks were most perturbed that I was eyeball to eyeball with them as they snuggled into their nests. However, the view was fantastic! It was soon obvious that boys will be boys, because I was on the wrong side of a security fence that designated the safely restored area of walkway. There was a hole in the re-bar, probably made by my guides. I squirmed through the hole to a much more civilized area of sound footing and protective hand rails.  There was still a disconcerting and pronounced lean to the walls, but I do not think they will fall down today. It was a great walk along the battlements, looking out over the rolling hills and surrounding mountains.

Distance from  Grimaldo to Galisteo = 13.2  Miles / 21 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 15.77 Miles / 25  Kilometers

Accommodations= New Municipal Albergue, 10 or 12 places, kitchen,very clean. 5 Euro. There is also a private Albergue El Trillo, 10 places, 6 Euro.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

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