Some words at the end of 2007,
a year of change

Hear your call.
Follow your heart.

Kisslegg walkway signs

2007 has been a year of change for us. We started it walking to Rome and are ending it on the central coast of California looking for a new home. In between a lot of things have happened. Here are some highlights. Click on the words to see some pictures. When I finished Petra said that this was supposed to be small. Yes, we had agreed to that. But I got carried away and in the end didn't want to sacrifice many pictures. So enjoy the excess (sort of like a Thanksgiving dinner of pictures).

We are beginning to discover the people and places here in Cayucos and still looking for a place to rent long-term--a tedious process. For now we still live with an Illinois identity. Click here to contact either of us.

We finish our pilgrimage to Rome in February

It was cool but beautiful for walking throughout the last 14 days of our pilgrimage to Rome. We walked from San Gimignano to Rome with a wide range of weather, but never extremely hot as it is in the summer.

Even when the snow that struck just two days after the above picture it was beautiful to walk. We could walk powerfully without sweating--or being cold. It was a joy discovering that walking in winter can be such a pleasure.

You can read about our entire pilgrimage on our Rome Pilgrimage pages

Fasnacht, Germany's answer to Mardi Gras

Fasnacht is the realm of the Narrs, lepricon-like troublemakers. Fasnacht seems to be a winter-long license for shenanigans celebrated with great parades in the last days ending on Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday. This parade was in our little Kisslegg. It was two hours long. Old hat for Petra, this was a wild demonstration for me. We missed it the year before because we were in the U.S. at the time.

The mask of a Narr in the Kisslegg parade.

Spring and summer seminars

Petra held several more seminars this spring and summer. This one was in Singen. Everyone was out for a break when I shot this picture.

This is the centerpiece at the same seminar. You can read more about our seminars at
Pilgrimage begins in the heart or Pilgern beginnt im Herzen.

Our Sunday morning pilgrimage walk during our seminar in Oberdischingen in March.

During Petra's last seminar a couple earlier participants give her a going away cake to thank her for all her encouragement and the gifts they received during their seminar. They baked the delicious marzipan (almond) cake in the shape of a scallop shell, the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Here she cuts it and shares it with everyone there.

We walk almost every day

This was a wonderful year to walk. But this spring picture is not on a walk. It's just a beautiful picture out of our bedroom looking at our landlord's castle.

This tree was on our walk to Wangen, 8.5 miles (14 km) south of us. Kisslegg, as most other German towns has many walkways in their environs. The picture on the sidebar above directs us along five paths at that point and also tells bike riders the direction of the Danube-River-to-Lake-Constance (Danau-Bodensee) bicycle path.

Petra and friend walk out across a field on a Kisslegg walking path. We passed this way often in our daily walks. I walked over 1000 miles (1600 km) again this year.

Marty visits in May

My brother Marty visited us in May, his first trip to Europe. I returned to the Camino de Santiago to walk seven days with him as he began a longer pilgrimage. Here he stands on the Puenta la Reina bridge near where Petra and I met four and a half years ago.

Before that I introduce him to German beer and German and Spanish dinner wine.

Every town has its bronze statues. These Narrs lie on each other on the Wangen market square, south of us. Marty, tell us how this guy with a mask sprayed you.

Petra's final Free Ecological Year seminar

Petra taught weeklong seminars to youth in Germany's Free Ecological Year the last few years. These are some pictures of her last seminar in Husum along the North Sea.

Final visit to Gütersloh

In the middle of August we made our final visit to Petra's mom in Gütersloh and brought her several of our plants. Here the car is full as we race up the Autobahn.

Petra and her mom pose her backyard one last time before we go to the U.S.

We sold our tiger baby

Our "tiger baby" was our Fiat 600. He carried us 37,600 kilometers (17,100 miles) around Europe in the two years and two months we had him. And though he argued with us now and then, he was basically faithful. We were quite sad to see him go. The sale was interesting. We advertised it on the Internet and newspaper. Tens responded to the Internet ad and one to the paper ad. The latter bought tiger on 15 August and let us use it for another two weeks before we left.

Petra emigrates and I repatriate to the U.S.

We turned over our hanging geranium to a friend. It flourished through 2006, the winter of 2006-2007, and this year. We will miss dinkel (spelt in English), the grain that made the wonderful breads that we ate so often. I will no longer see the playful, bronze Narr that stood next to the bakery I visited almost every morning to get that bread. And on 3 September we left behind our house in the garden of Kisslegg's Old Castle.

After treating us to a wonderful breakfast, our last German breakfast, and carting us and all our baggage to the station, Ursula waits with us for the 7:41 train in Kisslegg that morning.

Four trains and a nine-hour flight later we step off the plane at Chicago's O'Hare international airport. Petra sits a bit longer as we wait for Marty to pick us up.

We buy a car and head for California

We arrived 3 September and spent a week finding the "right" car, this Honda Fit (not quite "right" because it was supposed to be red; we like it anyway). We now have a "flying dolphin" to replace our "tiger baby." Marty took a departing picture. We thanked Marty and Jim and Cathy for providing comfortable and friendly resting places the ten days we were there and headed west. [The dolphins are a sculpture at the end of the Cayucos pier.]

We stopped a few nights later along a lakeside in Minnesota. In western South Dakota I had to recover our tent blown tumbling away in a Badlands wind. In the Black Hills Crazy Horse has only emerged as far as his face from the granite. They still have a lot of rock to remove from the mountain. In the last picture Petra drives through the needle's eye on Needle's Drive in the Black Hills.

Still in the Black Hills we pose in front of a few presidents then camp below Bear Butte. The next day we spend a few hours at Devil's Tower, Wyoming where several groups were climbing up the tower's walls.

Next stop, Yellowstone to see some wild- and not-so-wild-life.

Though it was very cold and cloudy with rain we stood out and watched Old Faithful a dozen times. My best picture of the Yellowstone River valley came only after thirty or so earlier attempts. These stuffed bears in a restaurant were only bears we saw. Moving south, we drove around the Teatons.

We were seeing some of the natural wonders of America, all new to Petra. This was one of the many falls along the Columbia River in Oregon, new to me too.

Finally, on 10 October after some 4400 miles (7700 kilometers) of driving here, there, and everywhere around the northern states, we arrived at the northern border of California at this sign speckled with stickers and gum.

We spend a month in Mendocino

On the way to Mendocino we passed through Eureka, "I have found it." And though we didn't find anything particular for ourselves, we photographed this wonderful mural on the theater of performing arts there.

We finally arrived at our initial goal, Mendocino, on the coast a couple hundred miles north of San Francisco. It's in a beautiful setting. It's clear why it was chosen as the set for the TV show Murder She Wrote--a remote seaside town. But it proved a bit too remote and too wet. We stayed a bit more than a month looking for a place to rent. The longer we were there the more we realized it wasn't the place for us. It was damp and cool--almost every house we walked through had some mildew or smelled of it. Our second realization was how far it is from everything else. It took a couple hours driving to a town of any size whether north, south, or east. We walked the sea and looked around the area, camping some of the time. In the end we left and headed south.

We settle on the central coast

On 5 November I walked (Petra drove) across the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog, a symbol for the way we were feeling, a bit in the fog. We felt it was crossing a border to a new existence. It was good for our spirits.

On 13 November we came around a corner down Highway 1. Petra said, "Let's take Business 1." I was thinking the same.

We came into Cayucos on the California's central coast mid-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles--both are about 220 miles (350 kilometers) away. The closest big town in San Luis Obispo, 20 miles (32 kilometers) south.

They built Cayucos on the side of the hills hard on the ocean, much like a lot of Italian towns.

Petra said, "This is the place I want to stay." I concurred. We are here looking for a permanent home to rent.

Main Street is wide and leisurely. The people are laid back, even more than a mid-westerner would expect of Californians. The sun sets brilliantly almost every night. And so many different birds fly over our heads and walk the beach.

Beach? Yes I said beach. The surf's music is loud and always in our ears. The lower left picture is out of the apartment we are renting until the end of December.

One day we walked west. Yes, at this point on the coast is east-west. The waves were wild as Petra walked this secluded beach.

South of us in Morro Bay a 500-foot rock, the guts of an ancient volcano, stands in the bay. I took this from our window on a particularly clear day. Notice the balloon in the middle just into the dark side of the rock half way up.

The sun is setting here in Cayucos on one of the shortest days of 2007. It has been a wonderful year.

We stand in the bright, mid-afternoon sun on the low-tide beach of Cayucos. It's 23 Decembar and 65F (18C) or so. No ice. No snow. It's wonderful. We wish you a wonderful holiday season and the best in 2008 and for the rest of your life. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Copyright © 2007-2012 Mike Metras,