ON THE WAY TO THE WAY

August 27, 2017Leaving San Antonio

BOOK: The Places In Between by Rory Stewart – because I just can’t seem to get enough information about walking!

SONG:  NOT “Make It Rain”

THOUGHT: There are times when you can have too much time to plan.

With all the time I have had to think about this trip, I have pretty much gone over the top…..I have imagined way too many possibilities for catastrophe and disaster. I have considered dilemmas that may never arise and that is not all that creative in the long run. I do have a theory that if you imagine something catastrophic it has less likelihood of happening, since the surprise element has been removed…what is the good of catastrophe, if there is already a plan in place for dealing with it?

And speaking of catastrophes, the hurricane put some serious hurt on the TX gulf and Houston is still under serious threat with the projections of ongoing rain through the next several days. For most of us, the preparedness has been exceptional – the planning process has been thorough and careful. San Antonio has served as a point of evacuation. It is a city with a good soul – the willingness to help is part of the culture and the humans here.

Then there is this Camino thing.  

On Sept 3, 1961, I left Bakersfield, CA with 4 friends. We were taking a trip to Europe. $5/da for 3 months. I knew there was a Europe, but my knowledge of any particulars was scanty, to say the least. I was beginning what would become my travel addiction. I had no capacity for imagining catastrophe. I was pretty much in the moment. 

 This time I leave with lots of travel experience under my belt…but most of it in the company of co-workers or Peter or a few friends. The responsibilities and projections for what we would do was a shared set of plans and projections.  

This is different. I am the sole director and participant. That fact has been, on occasion, especially in this past month, unnerving. I have found that I am, at times, not that easy to work with or to please. I have read extensively in preparation, but I realize now that there can be a point of too much information gathering. You can milk the life out of something by questioning and carefully considering what you imagine will be the the sequence of events in your experience. In my impatience and scattered emotional “moments” Peter has been tiptoeing through the minefield very artfully. He has tried so very hard to find the perfect response to my scatter-shot. He has been an admirable man and a very sweet friend, husband and partner.

Now I am out here wandering thru O’Hare Airport. My gate hasn’t been posted yet, so I will hang out here in the main concourse. I will have time to walk…always practicing…just in case I forget how…

And I am feeling way too light. I kissed my little Patagonia pack stuffed full of boots, poles and all the carefully selected sox, underpants, layers…It came in at 17 lbs with my boots inside. The family next to me in line had 8 suitcases topping the scales at #390. He not only had to pay the fees for too many bags, but 2 got an overcharge of $250 each. But he and his wife were moving to a new country…Not traveling for 50days.  

The straps on my pack were tied up carefully, but they all just looked so vulnerable and naked. They would not let me carry it on because of the hiking poles…so now I am holding out faith (the thinnest little thread of hope) that it will be spit out in Bordeaux, closed and intact.

I have never traveled so light! My tech bag has a 4×6″ collapsible keyboard and my phone is my only camera and communication source. It weighs just a hair over a pound all crunched into its little sandwich sized plastic bag. I have intermittent panic attacks believing that I have left something really important behind. I have grown up to be a complete weeny based on this level of doubt and uncertainty. I hope I grow out of it in the course of this little travel effort. We shall most certainly see.

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Wardrobe for The Camino

August 10, 2017 Time is closing in…Departure on Aug 26th

Book: A Million Steps by Kurt Koontz. Story of a pilgrim’s journey

Song: I’m Too Sexy for My Zip Ons

Thought for the Day:  Enough preparation…let’s get going!

Here is the photo shoot for the over all wardrobe choices I have selected – all of them have had some practice in reality and it seems that I might be ready.

PHOTO 1

A. Hiking sticks. They actually make a difference in stability and momentum. I had to take a YouTube lesson on how to really use them effectively.

B. Rain pullover. It is not quite as tight as it looks…it was hitched up under my pack a little. Made to cover the pack as well as my body and does a nice job. I have shoe gaiters which are down the list to keep rain out of my boots.
C. General foot ensemble, broken down in picture #2
Not lettered in this pic, but essential – Zip On Pants – 2 pair allowed

PHOTO 2
Foot gear close up:

SOCK focus: Socks have taken on a new meaning in this trip planning. There is no ‘just take some socks!’ The most important are

A. Silk Liner Socks which provide a close to the foot sock that reduces the friction from the outer sock. It is the blister prevention layer and it is silk
B. The Thousand Mile Socks are the color layer here. They are a new brand that are quite the production with support going on every which way in the weave. For me the standard of luxury comes in a lovely little pair of Thurlos that are beige and unlovely to look at, but feel like silk pillows on my feet.
C. Gaiters are a modified form of rain gear to replace full leg covers. They keep rain from pouring into the top of your boots. The alternative, which is lighter, is to use plastic bags and wrap them around the top of the boots. This is not always reported to be so successful.
D. Vasque boots, lovingly broken in and as bliss-ish as a pair of boots can be

PHOTO 3
A. Patagonia 35Liter pack, top fill. Holds a camel back for water and is 14.8# with water. There is not a lot of selection in what goes into this baby – the wardrobe is pared down to really basic selections. Everything is weighed before it gets in.
B. Weightless coffee cup which may or may not make the cut. It looks like something I would probably lose early on.
C. Scarf for sweat. The Colombia Hat with air vents (not pictured) that Tony gave me in CT will be the go-to head cover. It has a soft brim and vents and while we walk always west, this will reduce the intensity of the sun on the head and neck. There is an Arctic scarf as well…wet it and walk.

PHOTO 4:
Accessorizing

Ever the step that moves one from dull and boring into the realm of fashionista – the ability to accessorize is essential. In this case, the accessories have definite practical application, but they can be used with  sort of a flair. The limit in this case is however, HUGE…there is no bling in Camino packing is the real bottom line. Bling has weight.

A. Mini waist pack holds $$$, phone/camera, sacred mementos and music player. Note nice spread of color!
B. Scarf for sweaty head wrap in the day becomes a bit-of-bling and swing in the evening at Pilgrim supper. Sweat wicking short sleeve shirt. Long sleeved ones as well. Wicking-wear is the key descriptor.
C. Sort of muscle mass resulting from training pretty diligently at the gym (not an accessory, but I am proud of it!)
D. Skirt for evening wear or church wear…respectful-of-dress-code item. Skirt always lets air circulate more freely. Can be worn with leggings and socks for chilly nights.
E. Injinji toe socks are really pretty cool and serve as liner socks. Gretchen recommends that they not be worn for the dressing up portion of the day…
F. Tevas. Actual hiking shoes for the level walking times. Need to wear socks with them however for walking. On one 3 hour walk without socks I got 4 blisters.

Adding to the pack weight is the medical bag with several blister treatments when prevention fails. There are teindas and clinics all along in the villages where supplies can be gotten and large amounts of stuff carried can be kept at a minimum. Blister management is a widely discussed issue. Not photographed here.

My electronics are limited to a tiny little keyboard that syncs with my phone. Since it is an iPhone 7 the camera should do a proper job…especially since this is not a photo journey.

Carrying this pack for 5 hours was not awful. I would love to carry less, but I can shed non-essential items as I go along. I will have a single season sleeping bag and a silk liner which is said to repel bedbugs. Not a significant problem however per reports of other travelers. My towel dries you before you even get it to your body. The inflatable pillow seems to work and it is so light it barely counts.