Rocky Paths

On June 9 our walk takes us to the top of a mountain, Mare de Deu del Mont where we spend the night in simple hotel that had been a monastery. The next day we hike down the other side of the mountain to Besalu.

A word about rocky paths is in order. After several days of hiking mountain trails Joann said she didn’t realize how rocky the Pyrenees are. I replied that if the Intuits have 200 words for snow, then the Catalonians must have 200 words for rocky paths. Here are some of my favorites.

Steep trail with loose rocks, ploughed by wild boars. This looks like a tilling machine had gone down the trail and turned over the dirt and rocks, making everything in the trail loose dirt and rocks.

Then there are the rocks that roll around under your feet, the steep, slick limestone slabs with a sprinkling of oak leaves and pine needles to challenge your confidence in secure footing. Fist size rocks, ankle high rocks, rock falls with knee high boulders. The list could go on.

Many of the trails we walked are little used, little maintained and  sometimes subject to erosion.

At several places on our walks we saw branches that had been cut, presumably to clear the trail for walkers, but the cut branches are usually left in the middle of the trail. Initially I would pick these up and cast them aside, and then I had the revelation that perhaps erosion control is more important than personal convenience. Perhaps the branches are left to help control erosion.

 The walk up the mountain was easier than we had expected. Even so we logged 11.2 miles  (17.5km) with close to 3000 feet of elevation gain. It was 6:30 pm when we reached to hotel, overcast and starting to rain lightly.

June 10 we start down the mountain to Besalu. Another long day, neither of us are very fast going down hill with aching knees. Joann had thoughts of taking the taxi down with our baggage, but we persevered and took our time. Near the top of the mountain we were hiking through lovely pine forests with lush grass and wildflowers. By mid-day the pine forest had given way to the oaks of the lower elevations.

At 4 pm we reached the little town of Beuda. We were hoping to buy a snack here. In this part of the world business close after the lunch hour and remain closed to 6 pm or so. Nothing is open, and there isn’t much here to begin with. We see a couple of people leaving a restaurant, so we step inside, The manager takes pitty on us, and we have coke and fruit salad.  There is also an ancient church here, Church Sant Feliu de Beuda first documented in 1004.

It’s 7:35 pm when we reach Casa Marsial, our accommodations for the night. We logged 12.7 miles (19.2 km). Even so, after dinner, I have to explore the bridge which was well lit and looked like an invitation for some nighttime photography.

Sagrada Familia

May 29. 9:00 AM. We’re in line for the tour of Sagrada Familia. We purchased tickets months ahead of time and I did some research to figure out what would be the best time to photograph the project. Photographing the whole building is a challenge. This is a work in progress with construction cranes towering over the structure. In looking at photos in tourist information I can only assume that some effort went into removing the construction cranes and other construction infrastructure in Photoshop.

The Nativity facade faces east, which where we found ourselves for the start of the tour and the best light is morning. The Passion facade faces west, which is best photographed in the afternoon.

Construction of The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família began in 1882 under the guidance of Antoni Gaudí. The goal is to complete the construction by 2026, the one hundredth anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

Security to get into the tour is on par with airport security. No knives, liquids, and such. Backpacks go through an x-ray machine, and you walk through a scanner. My knee brace set off an alert and I was pulled aside. Staff was very courteous.

After picking up our interpretive handsets and putting our day pack in a locker we took the elevator up the tower and climbed back down a never ending spiral of stairs with occasional impressive views of the city below.

Inside the basilica one needs to keep in mind that this is a working Church and some sense of reverence is required. Here the genius of Gaudi’s design becomes apparent. The columns of multicolored stone rise up like trees and branch into smaller supporting limbs. Gaudi referred to this as the forest. Gaudi’s inspiration in the architecture of nature and natural forms and his devotion to his faith become apparent wherever you look. A stunning example of Gaudi’s architecture. And even with the construction there are so many interesting details to photograph that there is no shortage of subject matter for the camera.

Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator. – Anoni Gaudi

Being Still

Clouds and Reflection on Tomales Bay

We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.

from Earth, Fire and Water W.B. Yeats

I found this quote on the back of a business card that an associate handed me last week. It seems appropriate for the season.

Basilica of St. Joseph

If you are interested in architecture or you are looking for something to do in downtown San Jose, then a visit to Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is the thing to do. The cathedral is listed as a California Historical Landmark and as well as the National Register of Historic Places.

Dome of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph

I arrived on a Thursday afternoon and found very few visitors, which made it easy to capture photos of the architecture with out people.

The first church on this location was called San Jose de Guadalupe built in 1803. Earthquakes and fires took their toll of the original and several successive buildings. The existing structure was consecrated in 1877. In 1985 following a major renovation it was elevated to the status of cathedral and made a minor basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1997. The church is open to the public with no fee, although you may want to pay attention to the events happening at the church since it is an operating church with worship services and other events.

Tree Song

Trees and lake. Ireland
Trees at Muckross Lake. Killarney National Park. Ireland

I saw a tree by the riverside
One day as I walked along,
Straight as an arrow and pointing to the sky growing tall and strong
How do you grow so tall and strong I said to the riverside tree,
This is the song that my tree friend sang to me.

I’ve got roots growing down to the water,
I’ve got leaves growing up to the sunshine and the fruit that I bear is a sign of life in me,
I am shade from the hot summer sundown,
I am nest for the birds of the heaven,
I’m becoming what the Lord of trees has meant me to be. — Ken Medema

I heard this song during Sunday morning worship service. Sung by our children’s choir, the Cherub Choir. With the words and the young voices, I found this song particularly soothing amidst the tensions and conflict of our social discourse. It helped bring me back to my own spiritual roots.