The Day/Trip is Almost Here!

I am just days away from leaving on my grand adventure. Excitement is coursing through me almost constantly. I have been feeling the stress too. I have to get my classes done and graded before I leave, and I have to go through everything to make sure that I have done or packed what is needed. But, I have seen my last doctor, 2/3 of my classes are graded, and I think I have finally found the right shoes.

Just days after my last post, I trimmed my bushes so that they wouldn’t be a massive mess when I returned. That night and the next few days, I couldn’t pick up anything. I finally went to the doctor because I didn’t want to have something that needed immediate attention to wait until I returned from Spain. It turns out that I have tennis elbow and must wear a wrist brace. That seems odd, but the weight bearing in my hand is what is aggravating my elbow. I also met my new general doctor. She is excited about what my trip will do for my health. She was the last person, who could have told me not to go and I might have listened. There are no medical barriers for the trip. But to be sure, I bought health/travel insurance.

I have also been having difficulties with shoes. I have been wearing Altra for several years. They seem to be the only all day on my feet shoes that I can wear. However, as expected, the company changed their design, again. I started looking for shoes in April. I have gone through six pairs that never really seemed to fit right. Each pair I took out on a trail with a fully packed backpack. Each pair had something wrong with them. Yesterday, I went back to REI and actually talked quite a while with someone who has hiked the Camino French Way. She got me multiple pairs of shoes to try on. None of them were going to cut it for one reason or another. Then she talked me into trying on a larger pair. Guess what, that worked. I am a little fearful that when they mash down a bit, they will become loose, but for the beginning, they will work. I have resigned to the fact that I will have to buy shoes along the way. I have considered buying a second pair and packing them, but I don’t want that weight. Also, I might find the best pair ever in Spain.

I have packed and repacked my backpack. It is the right size and full of what I am taking plus extra. With a liter of water, it weighs 18 pounds. I am happy with the weight and believe that it won’t go over 20 pounds on the trail if I mail home any extra things I get along the way. This weekend, I will cull the extras out of my pack.

I have downloaded a few books to my kindle, updated my RoadId, and deposited the last of my hoarded cash to my new separate debit account. Now I actually have more than I had budgeted. I still need to put my bank app on my phone and get my watch to the correct time zone. It also is supposed to give me storm warnings, so I will learn about that. I have purchased an international cel plan for the days that I am out of the country. There is not much left for me to do except to get to the airport with my passport.

My 20 time project is complete as of today; however, I am not done blogging. There will be one last post of what is packed. Then, I will take the next 6-8 weeks off, and I will be back with a report and pictures of my trip.

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Checking In Again

I thought that it was about time that I checked in health wise. I have been holding back because of all of the things I have been learning and doing to get ready for my trip. But I received some news today that I wanted to talk about and I have been wanting to fill you in on some of the things I am dealing with and will have to pay attention to on the hike.

Several weeks ago I had to get an MRI for my shoulder. I had been dealing with pain in my shoulder for almost a year. In December, I finally decided to go to a physical therapist. My regular doctor suggested the visit thinking that maybe I had some scar tissue that was irritated. The physical therapist thought that I had an impinged rotator cuff. She gave me great exercises that seemed to be helping me. For a while at least. Then I started loosing movement and pain waking me at night. So I finally broke down and went to an orthopedist; after x-rays and an MRI, it was determined that I have torn cartilage and frozen shoulder. I was given stretches to do daily and a cortisone injection. Today, however, I received a phone call from my doctor. It turns out that they also noticed a problem with my lymph nodes that were found in my MRI. So now I have to see another doctor before I leave on my trip.

On top of all of this, I still have all of the pain that I originally went to the physical therapist, chiropractor, and masseuse on a regular basis a few years ago. I have back pain from arthritis (chronic pain). This used to be taken care of through movement and therapies. I could avoid pain killers if I kept a regular regimen of exercise and treatment. I also have a tightening of tendons, so I have to stretch daily. For my backpacking trip, I am planning on bringing by pain medicine just in case. But, I also plan on doing morning and evening stretches. I think that the hiking will take the place of the exercises that I do now. I won’t be working with bands, but I will be moving a lot and lifting my backpack. I also plan on using pools and hot tubs when available.

Most hostels will have foot basins available to soak our feet. This is good for everyone because the abuse our feet take is tremendous. I will have to be careful to take advantage of this too because I have neromas which is nerve damage and scar tissue building in my feet. Stretching is good for this too.

I have many medical issues to deal with, but nothing will stop me from taking this trip. I have full encouragement from all of my doctors including my cardiologist. Actions just have to be taken to ensure that I don’t cause myself additional issues.

Thanks for reading this. I just needed to express these concerns.

Snowy Stillwaters

It has been overcast for several days now, and I have been missing the sun shining on the cold dessert landscape.  But this afternoon, driving over to town, I saw the Stillwaters shining in their snowy glory.  The sky was gray and overcast, but there was a break big enough to cast light directly onto the peaks.  They were covered in the snow from our recent storms and shining.  Such a cheerful sight.  I love the snow covered Stillwaters; the snow shows off the texture of the mountains.  We don’t have mellow smooth rolling mountains out here in the west. We have wicked, rough peaks like rows of saw teeth or sharks teeth.  They sometimes resemble broken teeth too.  They are jagged and beautiful, something to look at.

The snow represents the new life that will come in the spring; a frozen life source that is desperately needed in the desert.  Without the shining snow, the day looks gloomy, but without the snow, the flowers won’t be able to bloom either.  Without the snow the springs, creeks, and ponds will dry up.

It is also a metaphor of our life too.  The snow gives a glimpse of the ragged harshness of our lives.  They are the days that don’t go our way or the times when life pulls the rug out from under our feet. But it also helps us remember that those days are brief.  They will melt into the larger span of life.  They will be insignificant in the bigger picture.  But those days will also shape who we are.  Without trial, we won’t learn.  Without trial we don’t appreciate what goes well. Without trial life remains the same. The snow covered mountain peaks are all this and more.

They sooth my sole when the sun shines on the snow letting me know another season has come and the spring will be beautiful because of the frozen glory.  When snow has come or the gloomy days pass with precipitation, I turn my gaze to the mountains for the affirmation of the change of seasons and the promise of water to come.  Brighter days are the promise to come out of the gloom.  I am thankful to live in such a place where the sun shines the majority of the year, and I know that soon it will be out to bring me new adventures.  To see the snow into the spring at the tops of the highest peaks is a wondrous sight.

I have been in a bad habit of cutting myself down; usually only seeing my bad traits. This negative self talk is not healthy, and so, I have tried to change that about myself. I try to smile at myself in my mirror in the mornings and be grateful. But that has nothing to do with looking at the positives of myself. This prompt is helpful in that. I have to take a look at myself and see what I like. Today, I am proud of my perseverance. Even though much of what I set out to do gets waylaid by my sidetracked mind, I do find ways to get back and finish. It might take me longer than expected to finish something, but it will get finished. I am proud to be a loyal friend. It takes a lot for me to turn on someone. Once we are friends, I am there for you and will not turn my back on you. I will not dump a friend for a newer one who comes along. I will try to find ways to fit everyone into my life and stand up for those who need it. I am proud that I can see things on the brighter side. I am usually positive and upbeat even when a lot of things seem to be going wrong. I will be miserable for a short time, then bounce back and find my happiness and the light in the world.

I Jumped Over A Snake

The day swiftly slipped into dusk as I made my way down the trail to my waiting car. Audible played Midnight Library on my earbud. In the background I could hear crickets. Ahead of me a dusty brown diamond head raised from the side of the trail. Being in mid-step, I could not detour. I tried to fly instead. Quickly my step turned into a leap as I flapped my arms all while screaming. I did not have contact with the snake.

It seams like every spring I have some kind of encounter with wildlife that I don’t particularly want to see. This is most often in the form of a snake. You would think that I would be more observant. And, I thought I was being safe. I watch the trail, especially this one in fear of tripping, so I should see the snake ahead of me, but I always miss them until I am practically on top of them. I am too focused on the trail right in front of me. I need to scan the area ahead and around as well.

Because of this I refreshed myself on what I should do if I actually get bit. I need to move away from the snake as calmly as I can, call 911, and if necessary keep walking, not running, toward my car or the road. The adrenaline and faster heartbeat is what moves the poison at a faster speed. So staying as calm as possible is what will help the most until help can be provided.

After this meeting with the snake, I watched much better scanning the brush and rocks in and around the trail. And because of this, I saw a little red and white snake slithering off trail into a pile of rocks. This is a much better encounter.

Plans Were Going Smoothly

It is amazing how nicely our plans were developing. We have our passports, booked our flights, and reserved our rooms. We were talking about our packing lists and other online things we needed to be sure to do. We even considered the things we would leave at home and buy once we were on the trail. It was all smooth sailing for us.

Then I received the text from my daughter. The airlines we booked to get to Paris canceled our flight. They offered us one to get there the day after we were planning to arrive. This would not work for us because we would have to rearrange two weeks of bookings that took us over two hours to make. So the search began again.

We were afraid that the rates would have increased quite a bit from what we paid. We were also afraid that we would have to change entry locations. However, after some research, my daughter was able to find us a flight that would only cost $179 more than previously planned. This new airlines did charge us for the ticket and then for the seats though. It is interesting what we are learning about air travel in this day and age.

We now have an extra day at the beginning of our trip and will be touring Paris together. We will have to determine what we want to see there.

We Reserved Rooms

When talking about the trip, we decided that we wanted to plan as we went, only booking rooms the day before if we could. However, with the growing popularity of the Camino and the restrictions from Covid, we had heard that it would be best to reserve rooms at least in the cities and at the main starting points. So, that is what we did. We booked rooms for the first two weeks and the last one of our trip. Already there were places booked and some with limited space available.

We will be checking availability for the rest of our trip later on. We are hoping that we can leave the booking for when we are actually on the hike. This way we will be more flexible with when and where we stop.

In booking our rooms, we discovered that the prices are rising. We had been hearing that beds and rooms run from 10-20 Euros. However, much of what we encountered was about 30-40 Euros. Knowing this is helping up with our budgeting process. We are aware that if the room rates are increasing, everything else will be too.

Making the reservations has really shown us how much of our time we will be hiking. There won’t be many days to be sightseeing on either end of the trip. Since we had both been to Paris before, we didn’t feel the need to stay there long, so we planned for us to take the train to St Jean the very next day. Following that we will have our first day on the trail. We will take a short first day since it will be climbing for the entire section. On the other end of the trip, we will have a day to visit Santiago and a day at the ocean. That is, of course, if we keep to our schedule.

Exercising While Traveling

Recently I went on a work trip for a conference. I had hoped to exercise at the hotel’s gym while I was there, but I also knew that I don’t like to miss out on things. I packed my leggings, t-shirt, and shoes so I wouldn’t have that as an excuse. I kept preparing myself for working out in a gym which I don’t normally do.

The flight over took all day. We met at our school’s parking lot at 3:30 am and drove in to the local airport an hour away. The first flight was two and a half hours with a five hour layover before getting on the next flight for six hours.

My exercise that day was walking from the parking lot to our gate, walking around the airport during our layover, and getting to the bus. I was sore from all the confined sitting of the day. Getting ready for bed, I mentioned to my roommate that I might want to get up and exercise before breakfast and starting the conference. Then I looked at the check-in time and decided that I needed the sleep more. No exercising took place that day unless we want to count walking from meeting room to the next and the two block walk to dinner and back. I hurt everywhere and I was struggling staying awake in the meetings.

The following morning, I got up at 5 am, despite staying up until 2am talking with my roommate, and went down to the next floor to the gym. They had treadmills, ellipticals, weights, and various other equipment. I stepped onto the elliptical and found my rhythm. It was fantastic. Soon I forgot how early it was and just went for it. I forgot to bring my music or audio book, so I just thought to myself and peered down into the building across the road.

I felt much better the rest of the day. We even went out and walked around the streets for an hour before our next meeting. Though the flight on the following day was another long one, I felt much better sitting in the confining seats. I am going to have to be sure to exercise more often when I travel.

Fears

We have our tickets; the trip is real. Now the fears are setting in. They are just as real.

The fear of not being prepared is first and foremost. I am out of shape and I know it. Every day, I have great plans that seem to get waylaid for work or weather reasons. I am, as I have said before, a fair-weather hiker. However, with the end in sight, I need to get over that. I have found that if the plans aren’t overly specific, I will get something done. So, I will keep pursuing fitness and keep increasing my duration and stamina.

Another fear is that we might not be able to get into France or Spain because we didn’t do something correctly or that we don’t have a compelling enough reason to enter. We will continue to research and take everything step by step. Currently the question is whether or not we need to get a visa for the three countries that our trail will take us to.

As we move closer to the trip, we will work on each of our problems and milestones. This is one time fear will not stop us. We have a goal, a destination, and a determination. Between the two of us we can do this.