Booked it Danno!

I am so excited I can hardly contain myself!   If I’m dreaming, please do not pinch me.

I have been thinking about walking the Camino de Santiago for a while now.  But, in my heart, I knew I was way past that stage in my life where I wanted to walk all day and then sleep on the ground or in a hostel with the smelly, partying masses of young folk. Not to mention carrying all my belongings on my back. Don’t get me wrong – I love young people.  I used to be one.  Truly, some of my best friends are young.  And, I still like a good party!   I do not think of myself as old and crotchety, no matter what my kids might tell you.  But, when it comes to SLEEP.  Now that’s a different matter entirely.  Let it be known here that I am not nice (and might even be considered cranky if not downright crotchety) when I don’t get my full eight hours – preferably in comfort and relative silence.  So, I wasn’t sure how to make this particular dream a reality.  It was definitely a conundrum.

I firmly believe that there is always a way and a brilliant solution came to me in the form of an article written by a woman who had completed what I like to call the “relatively civilized, not too hard but still challenging, with support if and when you need it” version of walking the Camino.   Marly Tours was our answer!  This discovery made it all seem do-able.  All we needed was a little time, a moderate amount of money and good walking shoes.  As it turned out, I mentioned our idea to a few friends and now we are a party of six.  Hubs, me, my sis and three women friends.  It’s a big year too – my 65th birthday, my sister’s “something that ends in a zero” birthday, hubs and my 10th anniversary.  Definitely a year worth marking in a big way.  We’ll  walk about 10-12 miles a day at our own pace  and meet up along the way. Then we’ll gather together every evening for wine, dinner and story-telling before bed.  We’ll be a small group of no more than 14 Pilgrims + our Marly “wranglers” who will make sure we don’t get lost, carry our luggage, provide snacks, first aid and sag wagon support if needed.

So… we’re off.  Well not until next September.  Exactly twelve months from this week.    Call me a light weight, call me soft, call me old, but do not call me between September 17 and 24, because I won’t be home.  I’ll be in Spain, crossing one more item off my bucket list – walking at least a small portion of the Camino de Santiago.

Staying in small hotels like this…Sleeping in a comfy bed like this…Walking along roads and paths like this…Now, I just need to find a home exchange so we can stay an extra week to explore the rest of Spain.  I’m working on that too.

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These Shoes were made for walking ~

Yesterday, with the promise of food and drinks to follow, I convinced my hubby to accompany me on a hike in the lovely hills of Forest Park.  What a treasure right in the heart of Portland.  We took the easy route, starting on the Lower Macleay Trail and winding our way up, up and up a little more until we found ourselves on the Wildwood Trail not too far below the Pittock Mansion.  The Wildwood Trail (30 miles long) is just one of many trails that wind through the densely wooded 5,000+ acre park.   We’re definitely fair weather walkers, but I try to walk at least a couple of miles every day.  I prefer walking outside.  Hubby has recently joined the ranks of the treadmill zombies at our local gym.  Getting him to walk outside with me is not a task for the feint of heart. Every evening after dinner I say “I’m going to walk, want to go?”  He says (fully reclined in his chair in front of the TV) “No, but thanks for asking.”  My guy is definitely polite, but until recently he has been Mr. Potato Head’s third cousin – Mr. Couch Potato.  Two or three times a year he surprises me and says “yes”, then off we go.  And, guess what.  He always has the best time and wants to do it again…until the next evening when we’re back to “No, but thanks for asking.”

One of the items on my Really Cool Things to Do While I Still Can List is to take a walking vacation.  One that challenges me, but just enough.  I’ve got nothing to prove.  I just want the experience.  Perhaps something like walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  I have been more than a little intrigued by this idea for several years.  A few months ago I saw The Way, a movie staring Martin Sheen about a father who makes the pilgrimage as a tribute to his son.  It’s funny, heartwarming, life affirming and filled with gorgeous scenery and larger than life characters.  The movie started me thinking again about what it would take and what it would mean to have an experience like this.  Well, first and foremost, I’d have to do a lot more walking on a regular basis.  You don’t just get up one day and start a several hundred mile walk across Spain. Second, question.  Could I convince the recently converted walker, Mr. Couch Potato- Head, that something like this could be fun?  An adventure in fact.  I think, just maybe – if   we didn’t need to do the whole route.  Well, a little walking on the internet and I found the perfect option in an article by Alison Gardner, In the Footsteps of a Thousand Years of Pilgrims.  Basically, Alison took a 7 day walking tour on the Camino de Santiago -not the whole route, but about the last 70 miles or so.  Go at your own pace but with two lovely Spanish tour guides, a little van support for the luggage, stops for lunch and refreshments, and overnights in a small inn or home providing the luxury of a quiet, comfortable night sleep and a hot shower for those aching muscles.   Add in the Plan B of being able to ride in the “sag wagon” if sore legs or blisters get the better of you.  Perfect!  Let’s call it adventure light and I like it.  With a plan like this, I think I can convince my walking buddy that it would be worth stepping out together several times a week.  We’re good with 5 or 6 miles these days, so I’m pretty sure we could get to 10-12 with a little steady effort.

So I got me some cute new walking shoes and I’m ready to roll.  Buen Camino!