Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday, August 22nd: Feeling a bit overwhelmed

Its been a tough week in this preparation process: lots of obstacles, many of my own making.  First of all, I got the worst blister I have had since the beginning (which I could have prevented had I been more attuned to what was happening with my foot) which made one evening walk home (for about 1 & 1/2 hours) a real torture.  But it has also meant that I have had to back off walking for several days & then only did a comparatively short walk yesterday because it was still tender & I really need it to heal fully.  But it certainly reminded me of how easily the trip can get screwed up by a small injury & how crucial it is to STOP immediately & tend to any hot spots on one's feet. 

(anyone completely uninterested in technology might want to skip this part) The next obstacle might have been expected as well: that dealing with new technology always takes about 30x the time anticipated.  I am loving my new iPad, but it turns out that my camera does not work with the "camera connection kit" provided by Apple because it uses a compact flash card which is not an SD card & doesn't fit the converter.  In addition, I have a comparatively old DSLR (Canon 20D) and it does not allow for downloading photos by cable directly from the camera.  So, to put it simply, I FREAKED OUT!!!  I went to the photo shop & they provided me with a card reader that could be connected to the Apple kit, but that did not work because it "takes too much power" and there is only one power outlet on the iPad.  I would still be able to take my camera, but would have nowhere to either store or view my photos (& would need a bunch more memory cards) & THIS WAS THE WHOLE REASON I BOUGHT THE IPAD!!!  not feeling too good, making panicky calls to Apple and to my brother who just returned from europe using his iPad, but no help was available.  I then I discovered that the "gigavu" hard-drive that I have used in the past to store photos when I travel will no longer work with my current operating system.  shit.  finally i tried using my "backup" camera (most basic Canon DSLR, the Rebel) and THANK GOD IT WORKED!  This is exactly why I am so edgy about packing & getting all my equipment ready weeks in advance--something always fails to work as expected & I don't want to be halfway across the world with all my electronics, but discover that I am missing the adapter (for example).  So, my preferred way to handle this would be to take my usual (and much loved) camera & then bring the Rebel just for downloading images.  But that leads me to my next difficulty: TOO MUCH STUFF!

When I put all the stuff I intended to take in my pack, it simply weighs too much--closer to 20 lbs than the 15 lbs I had conceded to myself I would take as opposed to the recommended 12 lbs (are there people who can really take all they need for 3 weeks including backpack & sleeping bag and stay under 12 pounds?!).  So over the next week I am going to weigh EVERYTHING and decide what I can do without (and I am not taking much, but clearly need to take even less).  Turns out 15 lbs is very little, especially if one wants to take any electronic stuff.  But I would prefer to leave clothing & food behind rather than my camera.  So, I have a bunch of decisions to make.  I thought about not showering, but....  I can see why they say that the pack one carries on this trip represents the material possessions that weigh one down in life.  I am now off to REI to check with them how my backpack, filled to the brim, fits so that I don't encounter preventable problems in that arena.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday. August 17th - Ready to Go!!

I am ready to go!  Not "ready" as in "strong enough to do the walk" or "packed & prepared", but "ready" as in "get me out of this heat!".  I don't know what I was thinking when I told people that my plan was that, by August, I would be walking 8 to 10 miles regularly with my backpack!!  According to, its a cool 97 degrees (down from an earlier 102) but feels like 100 and its after 7pm.  Last night I had a nearly euphoric walk in the rain for 2 &1/2 hours, but tonight I simply cannot do it.  The one thing I have definitely learned in the process of getting prepared for this 200 mile walk is that (like all home projects), its a bigger and more time-consuming undertaking than it originally appeared.  The good news is that I am reasonably confident that I will not need to be airlifted out by helicopter (which might have occurred had I not taken this as seriously as I have done), but I am not sure about my readiness to walk 20 kms day after day.  Amongst the other things I have learned while preparing for this walk across Spain are the following: (1) blisters are inevitable: that's why they make bandaids! (2) Texas in August is not the ideal time to train for long-distance walking (duh!!) (3) the most important pieces of equipment are good shoes (definitely worth having spent the money to buy my THIRD pair to finally get it right) and a fully loaded iPod; (4) that I live just on the edge of quite the upscale neighborhood which I had never seen due to the incline of the streets; (5) peanut butter & jelly and mixed berry & yogurt smoothies are nearly perfect foods; (6) there is no such thing as being fully prepared--that I just need to accept that the unexpected will happen; (7) sex and food are great, but few things compare to the pure joy of soaking your feet after a long, hot walk up & down hills; and (8) walking in the rain at sunset is about as good as it gets.

I am anxiously awaiting my arrival in Madrid and onto Astorga, hoping that I am "ready enough".

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Getting closer day by day

It's 100 degrees outside & I am preparing to walk this evening with my fully packed mochila (backpack) either on the hills of my neighborhood or down by the lake & either makes me feel like I must be losing my mind. I don't even want to go collect my mail--it's just simply too damn hot. Actually at this moment, my main interest is to determine whether this new app will let me post via my iPad and add photos (which this far I have not been able to do). So, I am going to try to attach a photo of somewhere in Spain & see what happens.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.

Location: Austin, Texas

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Wow. This is my first post from my new iPad. Now if I can only figure out how to upload photos, I will be set (at least as far as technology can take me)for my trip to Spain.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Increasing the intensity

This is the first week that I have tried walking WITH my backpack & (not surprisingly) its harder than walking without one. But the good news is that only my legs were more tired--no back or neck discomfort, telling me that I have chosen what looks to be a good backpack for me. My goal is now to be walking five times per week for the remainder of the month (& then I will be off to SPAIN), with at least two of those with the load I plan to be carrying. I have been entertaining myself during the uphill walks by imitating the current NPR segment on "Road Warrior Music" where they interview people who travel for their jobs about what music they use to keep up their spirits, etc. So I have been constructing (in my head for now) my Camino Prep Playlist & thus far I would add the following: Jerry Jeff Walker's"L.A. Freeway"; Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin' Away; Lucinda Williams "Sweet Old World" and Robert Earl Keen's "Feelin' Good Again". On my reading list currently is Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Lessons from the Camino by Joyce Rupp, a nun who walked the entire Camino when she was 60 years old and writes about the personal obstacles she encountered. Only one month to go.