Monday, September 21, 2015

Keeping the Camino Spirit

Is really hard for me in day to day life. No matter how much I try it is so easy to get bogged down with stuff, and caught up in minutiae of life. I always feel better when I spend more time in nature and walking, and I have been doing neither of those things. I feel I have been focusing more on the negative than then positive of late and I need to change that. And of course, today I am faced with quite the rainstorm here in the southwest. So I don't walk. If I was actually on Camino I am sure I would have sucked it up and carried on and it would have been OK. I am not so I didn't. I regret that. Things always seem better when walking.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pilgrim film Review: Pilgrimages of Europe- Santiago de Compestela

This past week or so has flown by, and it has been humid. I am not really used to humidity so it has been fairly hard for me. And it drives scorpions into my house, I am up to six killed in my house, and one at work.  Needless to say, I really haven't been on any interesting walks or purchased anything Camino-ish.   On to some thoughts on the film.

I streamed this courtesy of Amazon Prime but it appears to also be available for DVD purchase as well. Its about 30 mins. I found it as fascinating as it was dated. But that what was great about it. Especially the soundtrack. I find 1980's soundtracks amusing.  It really was quite the contrast to a modern day Camino. Most of the pilgrims they interviewed mentioned how alone with their thoughts they were and in the shots there was nary another pilgrim to be seen. And even more alarming, they wore jeans! Just like in the movie The Way.  (though on a side note I did meet a very fast walking pilgrim who swore by wearing jeans, giving more weight to the argument to do whatever works for you). The narrator did say that in Spain there was only one way to Santiago- the Frances route, which of course there are numerous. Based on the small sample size of pilgrims in the documentary I would say they had larger backpacks. They also used camping stoves, which I think would get tiring after a bit, but then again a hot drink when every you wanted one would be nice. I like to think I recognized some of the places, as I would nod an think to myself "Yes I too sat at the table next to the path for a break." I believe it mentioned that 8,000 people a year received a compestela, compared to the 250000 + now.  It was interesting to compare how some things changed a lot and others were surprisingly familiar.  I would  recommend this just to see how much the Way has grown.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A new Fanny Pack

It has been really hot this past week in Arizona. It is also the time of year that I feel summer should be over. Time for Fall! I didn't go on nearly as many walks as I like to. Hopefully the super hot hot heat is at an end. I did go on a nice walk about sunset.  I saw my first live Rattlesnake of the year, and boy did I regret not wearing my proper hiking boots instead of Teva Sandals. I saw him before I was close to it and clearly the path was big enough for both of us, but at least with boots I think a wee bit of protection could be had. Do they make rattlesnake proof shoes? 
A very nice sunset, and even though the walk was fairy short it was nice. hopefully I will be able to do some more this week. 

I came across a herd of javelinas, I was away a bit so they are a bit blurry 

Here is my new fanny pack. i found it at a thirt store for $2. It looks unuased or at least not used in the desert, as there was nary a bit of dirt in it. Its a bit heavy but fits my kindle and other things I like to have at hand on camino. I really should weigh it.  I keep hoping they will come back in style, ah to relive the nineties. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bad days

I woke up yesterday on Sunday and my inner Gremlin had taken over. I was in a grumpy mood. I am not sure why. It was Sunday and literally the only thing on my to do list was my weekly long-ish walk.  Sometimes its easy to identify why a bad mood strikes,  and others like yesterday just happen. I had debated going on my door but in the end, thought I really wouldn't be in a better mood sitting on my couch so I my as well go out. It was surprisingly hot and sunny for 6 am, and nary a cloud in the sky.  I had been spoiled by all of the cloudy days this summer so this not great.  Not 1/2 mile from my door I was bit by a dog. It was one of those little ratty fast kind, that had got out of his yard. I had my trekking poles and tried to put it between me and the little evil thing next to my right leg on the side he was coming up to me on.  (This is what I have read what to do if you surprise a rattlesnake in the hopes it will strike your pole and not your shin) Well the little thing just did a football move, and bit me on me left leg right on the tendon. (which puts doubt into me regarding tricking a snake) I felt like a really hard pinch, and barely broke the skin.The thing bit me  and turned tail to run down the road so I couldn't retaliate even if I wanted to.   I almost turned back.  A couple of miles later  my generic camelbak, kept giving me fits. Somehow the hose kept getting semi detached not enough to leak but enough to stop water. I had to stop and fix it every so often. It has worked fine before this. I had plenty of time to think in the very hot and dusty and shadeless path I had erroneously picked for that day. Did I intuitively know what I was going to be in for on my walk so my mood adjusted accordingly,  or did my bad mood attract the somewhat unpleasant things? In the end I decided that it wasn't important. I just need to focus on continuing on to reach my goal. The walk didn't miraculously cure my ill spirit, but it did give me the sense of accomplishment.  And I woke up today in fine spirits, glad of having done my walk and also glad that the pet owner was responsible enough to have had the little beast get his shots.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Learning Spanish

I was pretty down that I wasn't able to go on Camino this year. But I did make a list of silver linings of good things I could do in the meantime, and be grateful that I have ever been able to go at all. One of the items was to learn Spanish.

I have been listening to these for awhile and highly recommend them. The best thing is I find them easy to stick with as I am able to do them while doing something else - folding laundry, walking etc. I started at the very beginning as I think my college Spanish was too long ago.  I am surprised how much I have learned.

Since it is just digital and not written I was also looking for a way to increase my reading ability. I found a copy of Tom Sawyer in Spanish but it was way above my pay grade. 

Luckily I found the following books at our library sale.
Kids books in both English and Spanish!

Here is a page on one side is the Spanish and the other is the english. Way better than trying to learn by using the google translate button on things!

This one has the story twice, once in each language. I am now keeping my eye out for more!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pilgrim Book Review: A Million Steps by Koontz

I was quite happy to have been able to get this when Amazon had it on sale for quite cheap in e book form. When I first saw it, the font reminded of well known Author Dean Koontz, but it is not written by him. It is by Kurt Koontz who is a 40 something American who walked the Camino in October 2012.  (The same year I walked my first Camino) I really enjoyed this book. So much so that I read it much to quickly. I am planning on re-reading it shortly.  He did a very fine job writing about the practical journey as well as his emotional one.  He touched quite a bit on the subject of being non -judgmental both of himself and others as well, which helped him meet people and have experiences he may not have otherwise.  A good lesson to emulate in my own life. He seemed to have had such joy on his Camino. It is very helpful in showcasing the day to day of a being a pilgrim. Especially how you seem to run into the same people over and over, even when you are sure you said your last goodbye. Iloved that he not only named his walking stick, but was very attached to it.  It was neat to read descriptions of both places I had been, and those that I have yet to see.  He also included pictures-  of other pilgrims he met along the way, buildings, scenery.  So far it is my favorite book that I have read on the pilgrimage, and would highly recommend it.

Monday, August 3, 2015

New Kit: Socks!

Is there anything better than getting a package in the mail? Normally its just bills and all that jazz so to get something you want is a real treat. A sure sign of a long distance walker/trekker/peregrino is a fascination with socks I think. I am not sure if I have a funny gait, but I tend to get blisters on the bottom of my left foot I guess it would be called the ball. I am much too lazy to go with the whole two sock system, that's twice the laundry in the Albergue. So I have been on a search for new socks. I was looking for Coolmax socks, with extra padding and lo an behold found just what I was looking for at my guilty pleasure Sierra trading post. They were on a good discount, as it says comestic 2nd but I didn't see anything wrong with them. They wore great on my weekend long walk of 14k.  Though I think if I kept going I may have developed a hot spot, but that could be do to the fact I haven't walked that far in quite a while.  I love when

Also got a strip of duct tape! Can't go anywhere without it and it was like 70 cents. 
Where I walked on Sunday Another weirdly cool cloudy day. 

Sunflowers are out

As are falcons

It was sunny for like 15 minutes but I was able to get this hummingbird

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Keep on Walking

I really wasn't having the best of days, and decided to walk home from work.  I was treated to the following view. Its Monsoon season here, so it wasn't too hot and one of those weird sunshiny yet rainy days and it lifted my mood. It reminded me of the following quote I came across once on a pilgrim forum. 

"Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pilgrim Book Review: The Best Way by Bill Walker

I like reading about other peoples experience on the Camino, and guessing by the sheer number of books available, I am not alone. Or mabye  just a lot of many people like to write about the Camino. Hmmm Maybe I should wirte one. Thanks to e books I don't believe it is hard as it once was to get published. Of course that would mean that I would actually need to write in the journal I like to take around with me.  Another problem altogether.  Any way on to the book.

This is the third book I have read by Bill Walker, the other two being about the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails.  I liked both of those books quite a bit more than this one. In those he seemed to have more charm and humbleness in his tone. Gone was that. I felt he was a bit proud of himself in this memoir and a bit judgmental as well.  There is one place in the book, he gives out to a female pilgrim for not walking with his group but going off for younger better looking guys and what a great chance she missed, and went on to go as far as comparing her choice of companions, as being lazy somehow getting to comparisons with Hitler ?! Mean while all the time he seems a bit obessed with younger women. That was the worst part of the book to me. He has some good history throughout as well.

He is a good writer and the book isn't terrible. its available as both an E book and in print.  He does have a some untranslated Spanish throught out the book, I guess to remind you he is in Spain and can speak Spanish. I would recommend his other two books  before this one.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Happy St James Day!

St James was this past Saturday. One day I would love to visit Santiago for the celebrations, but really crowds that large are hard for me to take.   I recently had decided to try and keep up  Camino habits in my day to day life and went on a couple of walks, only about 12k each as it really gets pretty hot quiet quickly. I really want to toughen up my feet, as the only niggle injury I have had on camino is a couple of blisters. So it was hot which was hard, but also good to really work on my choice of footwear/ sock combination. This time of year I like to stick to roads, as I am terrifed of snakes that can be lurking under bushes. Luckily I live near some roads that I never see traffic on.  I also made a version of Santiago Cake for my family and I took a photo, but it looked terrible  in the picture.  I can easily see why there are jobs such as a food stylists.

I love this catherdral. I wish I was there, but its fun to look at old photos. THis was from Late May 2014. I am hoping that when I return, the much needed repairs will be finished, so the scaffolding can come down.

It is a nice wide road, easy to see rattlers. Though, I have only seen one dead one this whole summer. 

I love the desert. Its easy to see where the water runs during monsoons, as it will be a darker green.  
Some Night Shade Silverleaf are still hanging on.

As are the desert Marigold, its a bit late for them too. 

Turkey buzzard doing his thng. 

ugh, obligatory selfie. I really like to wear long sleeves with the added Uv protection, so I don't have to mess with sunblock as much. i am sporting my camino buff, which I love.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


I just love backpacks! and next to shoes, probably the biggest expense and most important peice of Camino Kit.  They are arranged from Biggest to littlest from Left-Right.  34 L Deuter,  30 L High Sierra, 24 Mountain Hardwear Wandra, 22 L Camelbak, and 22 L Gregory. All have hydration ports, and the three largerst came with rain covers. (i hate rain  Ponchos with a passion so I need the rain cover) The smallest two I use as day packs. The bright yellow one is great for the AZ desert as it came with a 3L hydration pack, most of the hiking I do where I live there is no water to be found.

 I have used the Black High Sierra on the Camino Francis from SJPP to Santiago, and the Gray Wandra on the Via de La Plata from Seville to Santiago.  I felt the High Sierra was to heavy for its volume, it didn't have enough pockets, nor a sleeping bag compartment, and it also didn't seem to take the wear and tear of a camino all that well really. The straps are pretty worn. If I can bear to part with it, I think I shall give it to my nephew for boy scouts.   I was really pleased with the wandra, I just needed a bit more space. It was like doing a puzzle to get everything in, and there was no space for food and extra bits, which was needed on some of the long stretches of the Via de La Plata.  I think they also made it in a 28L which would have been  perfect, but I wasn't able to ever find it.

I was on the look out for a new pack when I came across the Dueter Futura Pro for a great price at It looks like it has gone back up in price, but they will probably have sales again. It is a little more volume then I really needed but the weight of the pack was fine, I think it is 3 lb 6 oz and has tons of space. It looks so much bigger than the rest as it packed right now (I am always packed/packing for Camino  ;). It also has the frame where the backpack is away from your back to try and keep you cool. So far I love it though I haven't yet put it thru its paces fully. I have high hopes this will be the one for the next few years.  It came with a yellow flower, I suppose to signify it was a women's pack, and I left it.

One caveat is there is no pouches on the hip belt, which means I will have the fun of finding a new waist  pack. I had to throw away the last one as it fell apart, but what do you expect for $6? It did make it to Santiago with the help of Duct tape.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Vanity thy name is woman

Each and every item a person carries has passed through a test on whether or not it is worth it to be carried on your back for over how ever long your Camino will last. The first couple of Albergues always have take em/leave em  places. In fact I bet you could probably bring an empty backpack and fill it with enough stuff on the tables to get you to Santiago.  On my first Camino, I left a handbag, pair of shoes, and a heavy scarf. One thing I didn't leave was my makeup. I'm a vain soul. I probably only used it every 5th day or so, but I found it nice and comforting to have when in larger cities. I suppose it is a bit of a crutch. I don't take very much - mascara,  one eye shadow, one eye liner, coverup. for my lips I just use the same Burt's bees as I do everyday on the camino. Many pilgrims don't take any at all and I first I felt a teeny bit ashamed for some reason. Granted its not a necessity, its definitely in the luxury column of things I take. But I believe in being whatever sort of pilgrim you want to be whether its wearing a reproduction medieval garment or mascara. I have decided to own who I am at this time in my life- a Make up wearer. Maybe some day in the future I will be comfortable enough in my own skin I won't need it, but I'm not going to rush or make myself feel bad about it. There are plenty of other things I already worry about. together these item wiegh not too much, but it is fun to feel dressed up in the cities. I know "its not a fashion show" but its a nice change of pace as it were to get spiffed up a bit and days of dust and sweat.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Blogging is harder than walking across Spain

So It has been a year since I went on my last Camino, Via de La Plata From Seville to Santiago. and I have never even blogged it.  I loved it and am itching to do another. Its funny because I used to never want to go back to the same country while traveling but keep crossing them off the list as it were. But now I seem to be addicted to Spain. I was planning to go again this September but Life happened and now I am planning on next year, I think still in Sept. My previous other two Camino's where in May-ish and I think I would like to experience another season.  While I am/was a bit sad I was delaying my next Camino it will give me time to get in better shape, lose the ever present lbs, and really work hard on my Spanish, and maybe even blog about it some. I shall endevour to blog at  least once a week, to keep focused on a far oft goal.