Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Balance WW1069BR

This year, I'm going to try another New Balance Shoe.
It is the New Balance WW1069BR Trail Walking Shoe.
This rugged shoe features a split suede and breathable mesh upper with GORE-TEX protection. The padded footbed lends lasting underfoot support; the combination of C-CAP® and ABZORB® midsole cushioning, along with a long-wear drag tip delivers underfoot support. Rollbar® technology minimizes rear foot movement for an optimal ride. The AT Tread outsole of the New Balance 1069 GTX® hiker combines both trail and running rubber lug designs for on- and off-road performance.

Type: Motion Control

Weight: 336 grams (11.9 oz)

This is an outdoor-ready walking shoe featuring a waterproof GORE-TEX® upper, underfoot cushioning and a supportive fit.

When your walk takes you off road, as most of the Camino Santiago is, shoe is ready. 

For wet Galician conditions, this shoe features a waterproof GORE-TEX® upper. 

For unforgiving ground, such as the stretch into Roncesvalles, the 1069 provides cushioning with C-CAP® and ABZORB® technology. 

And when things get rocky, such as the stretch coming down Alto Perdon, the ROLLBAR® technology helps keep feet stable using a system of TPU posts.

Features also include the following:

· 10 mm drop: due to variances created during the development and manufacturing processes, all references to 10 mm drop are approximate

· Debris-free construction eliminates waste, preserving raw materials and providing an environmentally preferred manufacturing solution· Rich eyerow hardwareT

* * *

I like the looks of this shoe.
It looks sturdy, and I love the WOL-01 Shoe Last it is built upon.
It has a deep toe box and wide front combined with a narrow heel.
This combination works very well for Camino Walking.

Prices I've seen range from $139 to $169.
But don't balk.
You get what you pay for and on the Camino, your shoes are your primary investment.
Take care of your feet, and your Camino will be successful.

Let me know how these work for you!

Buen Camino!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

St. James Scallop

Last night, I was asked to attend the 
"Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago" Documentary 
which was showing in Portland, Oregon and to do a short Q&A afterwards.
I took Annette along and we watched the movie,
then passed out some cards
and answered a few questions.
I was surprised at the number of people in the audience 
who had already WALKED the Camino!

I'm going again tonight,
taking Joe.
People really didn't have too many questions,
but I was actually stumped by one question,
which I'm embarrassed to say
I did not know the answer to.
That is, "What is the symbolism of the Scallop Shell?"

I knew it was a symbol for St. James
but I didn't know why.
I knew you can pick up those scallops 
on many of the beaches.
I also know they're VERY good eating!

But there's much, much more to the story.

(I did know the scallop was a metaphor for the Camino,
but just had a brain-fart when the lady asked the question
and felt pretty stupid 5 minutes later.
You know… 
the moment when you slap your forehead and say,
"Oh, DUH!"
The grooves in the shell all represent the various roads to Santiago,
arriving at the Tomb of St. James. )

There are two versions of story about the origin of the shell. 
According to Spanish legends, 
St. James had spent time preaching the gospel in Spain, 
but returned to Judaea upon seeing a vision 
of the Virgin Mary on the bank of the Ebro River. 

Version 1:
 After James's death, 
his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula
 to be buried in what is now Santiago. 
Off the coast of Spain, a heavy storm hit the ship, 
and the body was lost to the ocean. 
After some time, however, 
it washed ashore undamaged, 
covered in scallops.

Version 2: 
After James's death 
his body was mysteriously transported by a crewless ship
 back to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. 
As the ship approached land, 
a wedding was taking place on shore. 
The young groom was on horseback, 
and on seeing the ship approaching,
 his horse got spooked, 
and horse and rider plunged into the sea. 
Through miraculous intervention, 
the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, 
covered in seashells.

I don't know where I've been for the past 8 years 
or why I never heard this story. 
Perhaps I've heard it and just didn't pay attention.

My friend Joe, who has a Jesuit eduction,
says these are fairly recent legends.
He says the scallop is a symbol of having walked the Camino Santiago,
just as the key is the symbol of having walked to Rome
or a bottle of water is a symbol of having been at Lourdes.
He says each pilgrimage has its own symbol.

But there you have it!
And now I know!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Camino Lessons in Minimalism

One lesson I learned from the Camino was just how few possessions it takes to make a person happy.

Walking for 6 weeks
with nothing but what you can carry on your back 
makes you aware of the difference between "wants" and "needs." 

 Wearing the same skirt every day for 6 weeks 
reminds you that appearances are deceiving
 - that instead of looking at what a person is wearing, 
we should be looking into their eyes and into their hearts.

I read on a minimalist website today that anything we get rid of, 
we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes 
from our current location. 

That is pretty eye-opening. 
Think about it. 
Look around the room and make a list of all the things you are keeping "just in case." 
 How much space do those things take up? 
How much energy to maintain them?
 If they were gone, would you really miss them? 

If you had to replace each item because you TRULY needed it, 
what would it cost you? 
 Almost always it's under $20. 
Almost always it would take less than 20 minutes.
 This theory likely works 99% of the time for 99% of all items and 99% of all people. 

The advantages have begun to outweigh the fear for me.

I live in a house that was built in the 1940s. 
I have a VERY small closet, by modern standards. 
I was having difficulty seeing my clothes 
and getting them in and out of the closet, 
they were jammed in so tightly. 
 So one day last week, in frustration, 
I did the deed.

I took out each and every item. 

First I asked, "Have I worn this in the past year?" 
 If not, it went away.

I asked, "Does this still fit me?" 
 Many items were too small, and I've been waiting "just in case" I lose weight. 
 I faced the fact that I've gone through menopause, t
hat genetically, women in my family tend to put on a few extra pounds after menopause, 
and I wasn't ever going to be 18 again. 
 Those items went away also.

I asked, "Do I NEED three pair of black jeans?" 
 Extra items went away.

I don't really like giving things to Goodwill. 
I feel they get items free, 
then charge way too much money for those items. 
Goodwill is supposed to be for poor people
 - but even I can hardly afford to shop there anymore. 
So I just put all my give-away items on clothes hangers 
and hung them out on the tree in my front yard. 
 They quickly disappeared, taken by people who needed them.

Children's rooms today can be absolutely overwhelming! 
 When I was a kid, I had a small collection of toys.
 One of my granddaughters can't even walk into her bedroom. 
It makes me sad to see. 
What must her MIND look like if her environment is so cluttered? 
How can she sleep well?
How can she even know what the hell is IN there?

About once each year, I go over and help her shovel it out,
but good habits take practice 
and I'm not there every day to enforce de-cluttering.

I'm planning on continuing the purge in my own house.
 I did it a few years back when I first was diagnosed with MCS 
and had to live in my car for a time. 
But over the years, I've accumulated more and more 'stuff."

Getting rid of these items cleared my mind, freed up space, 
and took a lot of weight off my shoulders. It's feeling better and better.

Have you walked the Camino? 
If so, you know what I'm talking about. 
You know how to live with only enough possessions to make up 10% of your body weight. 
Maybe it's time to ask yourself, 
"What are you holding on to just in case?"

Buen Camino!

Monday, September 08, 2014

"The Weight of Your Pack is the Sum of Your Fears!"

I just read this awesome quote on Melinda Harrigan's Facebook page 
and it really hit home
 because it is TRUE!

Think about it.
What do you put into your pack?
Things you "might need just in case!"

And often "just in case" never happens,
and you're left lugging around
many pounds more than needed.

How about just tossing your fears to the wind and packing light?
Anything you discover you need on the trail, you can buy on the trail.
I promise!

Here's a sample packing list for someone who isn't too afraid:

Pack in your Backpack:
  1. Sleeping bag. Yes, unless you're sleeping in private rooms, you will need a sleeping bag, especially if you're going in Spring or Autumn. In summer, you can get away with nothing but a sleep sack (silk is lightweight and tiny).
  2. Travel Towel. You can buy expensive towels, but I love terrycloth and so I use an old threadbare terrycloth dish towel that really soaks up water. It's so think it easily dries in a couple of hours.
  3. A half or quarter shampoo bar. Use this for hair and body.
  4. A half or quarter bar of Fels Naptha or other cold-water-handwashing-clothes soap.
  5. Toothbrush and travel toothpaste
  6. One pair of leggings
  7. One short sleeved teeshirt (preferably merino wool)
  8. One long-sleeved merino wool or silk tee
  9. One longjohn bottom, merino wool or silk
  10. Two pairs of hiking socks - I like SmartWool
  11. One pair flip-flops or Croc knockoffs
  12. One ALTUS poncho or other featherweight rain gear
  13. One wide brimmed hat, or if you prefer, a stick umbrella (buy a sturdy one there for under 10 euros) The umbrella is awesome for both rain and sun.
  14. One merino wool beanie
  15. Two pair of underpants
  16. One extra bra 
  17. Tiny Journal and pen
  18. Two bandaids
  19. Two alcohol wipes
  20. Sharp knife - buy one in Spain
  21. Lightweight windbreaker
  22. Featherweight fleece shirt
  23. A 1-gallon ziplock bag to carry passport/money to shower
Wear on Your Body
  1. Macabi Skirt or Hiking Pants
  2. Underpants
  3. Bra
  4. Short sleeved teeshirt
  5. Socks
  6. Shoes - whatever is comfortable. Do NOT buy new boots, your feet will be like hamburger. ONLY wear boots if you are used to wearing boots and if they are well-broken-in.  I wear New Balance Running shoes and have every year for many years. I take buy them 1.5 sizes too large, take out the inserts, and add Motion Control Inserts for extra cushion and support.
  7. Moneybelt or money pouch. NEVER NEVER NEVER leave your passport and/or cash in your backpack. Carry it on your person at ALL times, even to the toilet or shower
  8. Small changepurse for "today's" cash
  9. One 8 ounce water bottle to be refilled at fountains along the route… easy peasy if you're walking the Camino Frances.
  10. Women: A hankerchief in a ziplock bag to be used for urinating and to be washed each night with your clothing,.
* * * 

That's it.
Anything else you need, literally, can be purchased when you need it.
Everyone on the Camino will have first aid supplies.
Everyone on the Camino will have a phone.
Everyone on the Camino will have an iPad or electronic tablet
Think about disconnecting for 6 weeks and really enjoying the freedom.
You can call your folks at locatorios in the large cities
like Burgos, Leon, Pamplona.
Or borrow someone's tablet to send an email.

What do you think? 
Am I missing anything?
Can you do this?

Or are your fears adding pounds?

Buen Camino!