Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

courtesy Microsoft clip art

courtesy Microsoft clip art

I’ve been feeling a bit unmotivated lately.  Nothing’s “wrong.”  Life is good, in fact.   Well, except for the preponderance of weeds in the garden, but that’s for another post.

What’s been missing is having a goal. To be more specific, a travel goal.   Planning and training for my 2013 Camino consumed the better part of two years.  Rehabbing my foot and applying what I learned on my Camino took me through summer of 2014.   It’s now the end of summer 2015,  and I’m healthy and ready for a new adventure.

So where to go?  A few worthy suggestions have come across my Facebook feed over the past few months.  They include:

  • Norway.  A pilgrimage in Norway — in summer — sounds delicious!  And not because I’m a huge “Frozen” fan,  I promise!   I confess to having had little interest in, or knowledge about, this country until a hiking friend posted the information about pilgrimages.  Now I wanna go!  Beauty everywhere!  This is definitely on my bucket list.
  • Southern Colorado and the Camino de Crestone.  A Camino in the US?  Apparently so!  This 8-day journey features short walks  in an area of the country where I haven’t yet visited.  From the linked website: ” Amid some of Colorado’s greatest beauty, the little mountain town of Crestone is a magnet of spiritual presences.  Within walking distance of this small international village are stupas and zendos, ashrams, a Carmelite monastery,  Buddhist retreats and centers for sacred dance and voice, not to mention medicine wheels, sweat lodges and the labyrinth of Chartres in its exact dimensions.”    Bliss!  Here’s hoping this enterprise continues for years to come so that I can take advantage.
  • The European Peace Walk.  A long-distance walk through six countries:  Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy.    Be still my heart!   The website says this takes 24 days, with stages around 25Km per day.   This is definitely one of my “one day, maybe” trips.  Right now, however, I am currently reluctant to leave my dog for that long a time. She did not enjoy sleep-away camp while I was gone visiting family this summer.

In addition to the ones listed above, several other places have caught my fancy:  Scotland!  Montana!  Perhaps another Camino in Spain or Portugal!

All sound tempting, but for right now, I have settled on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Wales.   I will only be walking part of the path, from St. David’s to St. Dogmaels, with a side trip to the Preseli Hills and the stones.  Departure date: mid-May 2016.  Time away from Meghan the dog, who will have her own personal pet sitter in her own house with her own crate and her own back yard and all her favorite toys: two weeks max.

So Wales, it is!  Now it’s time to dust off the hiking poles, buy a new pair of boots and get moving.


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I’m outside San Juan de Ortega, Spain, which I think is about 350 miles away from my destination of Santiago de Compostela.

My friend S. and I are making great progress, and should have plenty of time to walk to Finisterre and Muxia.

Here’s a few more photos from my Camino. Keep in mind most photos are on my camera.


Me, being a tourist on front of the pilgrim statue at Alto de Perdon.


I should have posed in front of the dog!


In Navarra.


Also in Navarra, probably on way to Los Arcos. I wish I knew what those pink bushes are, and whether I could grow them in North Carolina.


On the way to Navarette. This day was by far the hardest for me. The path was mostly pavement, my pack hurt for the first (and hopefully only!) time, and my feet were killing me. Mama said there’d be days like this…


Church of the Assumption at Navarette. Quite ornate!

Again, having trouble posting, so that’s it for now. Hope all is well in your world. Mine is amazing!

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I’m posting a very few photos from the Camino. As noted before, 99.99 percent of my photos are on my camera and I’m unable to put them on my phone, which I’m using to post this.


The photo above was from the second day, on the way to Zubiri. Note the snow on the mountains. It actually sleeted some the first night in Roncesvalles.

My friend S. and I were late getting going that morning, so we luckily missed the downpouring of rain. Not so luckily, we also missed a chance at a room in a pension or hotel. We did manage to snag two of the last spaces in a private albergue. Some folks we met later in the week had to walk to the next town, where there were also no rooms. They then had to catch a taxi to Pamplona in order to have a place to sleep!

To be honest, I had a huge fear of albergues since I have such a hard time sleeping. I’m also pretty congested and was told I snored. Sorry, everyone!

So now S., who is fluent in Spanish, is calling ahead to book us each rooms in pensions. Some of them are just a little more than the cost of private albergues, and I don’t have to worry about keeping anyone awake at night.


I took the photo above on the trek from Zubiri to Pamplona. Slop, slop, slop through mud for the first few days.


We stayed two nights in Pamplona so we could see some of the sites. The photo above is of a building near the hotel where we stayed. I took it so I wouldn’t get lost! So many little streets and plazas!

WordPress is not letting me upload any more photos. We’re currently walking through rolling hills of beautiful farmland. I had soil envy for days! But then I went around a bend in the trail and the soil turned to clay. Not so envious now since that’s what I’m working with at home.

The wildflowers are beautiful. Fields of canola with its yellow flowers. Red poppies. Purples and pinks and whites everywhere. Olive trees. Grape vines.

A few notes: I had been journaling on the Notes app on my phone, since I don’t always have internet access and that app would work, regardless. But then, a few days ago, most of my notes disappeared. There’s a few from the time in Paris, but everything else has gone to the great note-eater in the sky. I guess I didn’t need to remember exactly what happened those days!

Generally, the first part of the walk was a lot harder than I anticipated. Some of that may have been due to my training on hills, not mountains. A good part was due to the muddy path, some of which was fairly eroded. If anyone plans to do this walk, I’d advise train, train, train!!!

I’m glad I walked for months with my pack, and for the last month with it at its current weight of about 20 pounds.

The people both on and off the trail have been very friendly. There’s a trusting and open heartedness here that I want to carry home with me.

I had been told that one of the main ways to create friendships is by staying in the albergues. That may be true, but one can still make friends on the trail, in the bars and cafes and restaurants, snd even in the pensiones. There’s a group of people I’ve seen about every day, and we always have a quick chat. We’re about to do some detours, so those folks will end up ahead of us. But, there’ll be new people to meet.

On another note, I have had trouble eating. Wait, let me rephrase that … I have had trouble eating what I would consider a healthy diet for me— vegan with lots of veggies. There’s plenty to eat, believe me! I’ve always had access to salad, and tonight even had a delicious bowl of vegan white beans. But I’ve also had a lot of white bread and dairy. I actually do best when I buy salad fixings, canned beans or canned veggies at the supermercados rather than trying to eat out. But part of this trip is about accepting who I am, regardless of what I look like, and letting go of things beyond my control, so I am vowing to do the best I can and not obsess over my weight or food choices.

I have also had some powerful spiritual experiences, but that’s for another time. Siesta is over, so it’s time to stock up at the supermercado!

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A week from today, I’ll begin walking the Camino de Santago de Compostela, an ancient pilgrimage trail in Spain. I’m flying out Wednesday, then arriving in St. Jean Pied a Port on Friday. I’ll take another day to acclimate, then begin the 500-mile journey on Sunday, April 28.

The photo above is a card with a drawing of the Camino shell, signed by my co-workers, all wishing me well on my adventure. As much as I was ready to leave the job, I’ll definitely miss all the wonderful people with whom I worked!

The backpack has been packed, the house readied for MamaNell’s imminent arrival, and the garden weeded (though it will be a mess by the time I get back). All I have left to do was look over my Camino guidebook. There are several out there, but I chose the one written by John Brierley.

In the beginning chapters, he talks about what to take with you and how to prepare physically. Then he talks about the spiritual preparation. On page 38, he states:

While pilgrimage can be a way of breaking through resistances (releasing blocks and realizing insights as to what prevents us from being all that we are) it is wise to start off with a relatively balanced state of mind. If you feel you need psychotherapy, counselling or other help, seek it. It will be disturbing enough when previously dearly held belief systems start to break down. A mental and emotional checkup might be useful, even necessary, before you start embarking on an inner quest.

Oops! Too late for me to make an appointment with a counsellor!

To be honest, though, I am at a transition point in my life, and awhile ago, I talked with a shaman about ways for me to best use the trail’s energy. So hopefully that advice will do the trick!

Going back to the guidebook, Brierley lists a set of questions to ponder both before and after the journey. The questions have to do with life purpose and identifying what might be holding one back (if one is indeed feeling held back).

I won’t put my all my answers here. But basically, what’s holding me back is fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of screwing up so royally that I can never recover financially. Fear of repeating the past, fear of creating a new future, fear of being noticed, fear of being ignored. Fear of following my heart, fear of staying put. Fear of risk. Fear of change. Fear…fear…fear!

Funny that all this thinking about fear reminded me of something the shaman told me: rather than focusing on a life without fear, I might contemplate diving right into life, following my heart and living boldly.

So I’m hoping my time on the Camino will help me make friends with my fears in such a way that they no longer rule my life.

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I, like Socks the cat (pictured above), have absolutely no motivation.  I blame it on the heat of the summer.  Normally around this time, I’d be taking a vacation and sitting on the beach.  But since I’m not doing that this year, I’m instead sitting in my house, looking at all the things that need to be done — and not doing them.

It’s interesting giving yourself permission to not do.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no workaholic.  But I do tend to work seven days a week doing something or other.

…There’s my garden that needs massive amounts of work (please ignore the weeds in the pathways, disregard the bean plants that need composting, and oh yeah, quit reminding me that it’s about time to start the fall garden!).

…There’s the fortunate problem of canning/cooking/preserving the produce from my garden.

…There’s the small side business I was attempting to develop (though is now on hold while I train for the Camino).

…There’s my house that hasn’t seen a clean window in two years (disclaimer: I do clean the inside of the windows, I’m just too lazy to do the outside).

…There’s my dog that requires a lot of attention (bless her puppy heart).

…There’s the ferals (Socks is one) that need trapping/spaying/neutering/immunizing and socializing.

So I have plenty to do, but what do you find me doing these last few weeks of July?  Well, I am still canning/cooking/preserving, but other than that, I’m taking a break from my home work.  I’ve got a stack of books from the library, there’s a DVD from Netflix coming in the mail, and a nice cool spot on my couch to sit and enjoy a watermelon smoothie.

I tell myself that all those ongoing garden/house/pet projects will be there in a few weeks, when my motivation comes back. So, since I’m not having an official vacation this year, I’m allowing myself to be lazy at home.   After all, those windows aren’t going anywhere!

How are you spending these hot summer days?

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I finally got to test out my new backpack this past weekend while hiking near Blowing Rock, NC.  I arrived early enough on Friday to get in a short hike.  So the first place I visited was a sweet little trail in the middle of town called the Glen Burney Trail:

This trail featured a nice descent, walking past three waterfalls.   The one below is the Glen Burney falls:

It rained on the way back up, so I had the opportunity to use my nice new pack cover.  Worth every penny, it kept everything nice and dry!

The next day, I headed out to the Tanawha Trail and hiked from Rough Ridge parking area to the Linn Cove Viaduct visitor center and back.

The mountain laurels were starting to bloom:

As were the rhododendron:

It felt magical walking through the bushes, totally surrounded by foliage:


I stopped every few feet to take pictures of the views:

And because I love rocks, I have lots of photos that include rocks, like this one:

and this one:


I got to marvel at this tree’s will to live:

Finally, after four hours of walking on stony paths like this:

I headed out to easier pathways: the carriage trails at the Moses Cone Craft Center:


I love big, old houses, so as I walked, I spent a little time imagining what it would have been like to live in a house like this, with views like these:

Saturday’s total mileage was about 9 miles, which was shorter than I thought I would do, but the Tanawha Trail was a bit challenging due to the recent rain and my discovery that I really needed some new hiking boots.  Plus I have this annoying habit of stopping and taking photos constantly.  And stopping to bask in the sun on a nice large rock.

Anyway, I got in another six miles on the carriage trails on Sunday before heading home.  All in all a good weekend for using the pack and the poles.

And my pack has a name!  Don’t know that I’m ready to share it quite yet, but it’s a Native American name for a mountain that’s fairly close to my house.

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image courtesy of Amazon

I am now telling anybody who will listen about my upcoming walk on the Camino de Santiago, partly because it’s only a year out now, and partly because I am just so excited that I have to share.  The parking officer by my building knows, the lady I pass on the East Campus trail knows, and my coworkers down the hall know.

When I told coworker G. about my plans, he asked if I had heard about “Wild,” the best-selling memoir by Cheryl Strayed, who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail without any training or previous backpacking experience.

I don’t follow best-seller lists, so I hadn’t heard about “Wild.” But I literally ran to the library to check out a copy. The Camino is not a wilderness experience, but I figured there might be something in this book for me.

Here are some of the things I had affirmed for me after reading the book:

1. Training is a really good thing, especially for those of us who are pushing 50 years old.

2. Taking practice hikes with the pack is also a good idea. Heck, just knowing whether or not you can actually lift a full pack onto your back is a good idea.

3. Properly fitted shoes are very important. So is having enough water.

4. People will be there to help you, if you open yourself up to that experience.

5. You can do things you might not think possible.

Other things I realized:  I am pretty attached to showers and to being able to put on a relatively clean set of clothing at the end of the day. I may have misread, but it seemed that Strayed only had one set of clothes available at a time. I’ll be switching between two, maybe three, outfits, so washing clothes will always be an option.

I also want to know that I have access to money if I need it.  Strayed ran out of money at several points during her trip, and that sounded more scary to me than her wilderness experiences.  Though I do have to say that ice-covered snow is never a good thing to deal with, whether you’re hiking the PCT or walking your dogs around the corner.

Another thing I must admit is that, at heart, I’m a bit of a chicken.

Wait, who am I kidding?  I’m the entire flock of chickens! 

I do love day hiking, but at this stage of my life, I would not feel safe spending the night in the wilderness by myself. Luckily, Strayed only had one scary experience with an unsavory character, and she was able to extricate herself from the situation.

Lastly, I love that Strayed named her pack.  I think naming the pack is a grand idea!   Strayed’s pack was called “Monster,” which fit with her experiences with the overly heavy piece of equipment.  However, I want my pack to have a name that implies adventure, security, joy and lightheartedness.  Any suggestions?

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