Thursday, August 27, 2009

Camino Books

Training isn't the only preparation for a long distance trek, so besides walking and hiking and enjoying beautiful places in nature, I have been studying and learning about trekking and in particular about the Camino de Sanitago.

Reading and learning are two pleasures that I never seem to get enough of. So the research and reading have been a enjoyable part of my preparation.

Of the many books that I have read, here are two of my favorites.

"Walk In A Relaxed Manner" by Joyce Rupp

Joyce is a nun, spiritual writer and retreat leader. When she turned 60, she walked the Camino de Santiago with Tom Pfeffer, a long time friend and retired priest. The book was born of this journey.

The subtitle and theme is "Life's Lessons From The Camino". Each chapter tells about how she grew from making the pilgrimage.

It is full of spiritual insight and practical advice. I enjoyed her gentle "voice", as she makes observations of the lessons learned on her Camino trip.

A must read for all planning to walk the Camino, as well as for those looking for insights into themselves and life in general.

Of all the Camino books I have read, this one is by far the best.

"I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago" by Hape Kerkeling

Hape Kerkeling is a famous German comedian and actor. At age 36, the self described "pudgy couch potato", set out to walk the Camino de Santiago. This lively and entertaining book chronicles his Pilgrimage.

He is well loved by in Germany for his antics and this is the book that has driven Germans in record numbers to walk the Camino. And I can see why. His stories are humorous and his witty and hilarious accounts of fellow pilgrims are real life.

His Camino experience is interesting and wonderfully told. It is hysterical and yet also spiritual.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY...he dedicated the book to his grandma. That alone makes it a winner for me. He mentions her often in his book. It seems she was a driving force in his life. Anyone who listens to the lessons their grandma offers is OK in my books!!

One of the better Camino books I've read.

Monday, August 24, 2009


On my way to take my training walk, the early morning sun was trying to break through some dark clouds and made such lovely patterns and streams of sunbeams, I had to pull off the road to sit and watch the playful banter of dark and light. This photo is from my Blackberry.

I recently bought a Blackberry. I was told that I will have phone, email and internet service where ever there is cell service, while I am on the Camino in Spain. So there will be no need to look for internet cafes along the way to be able to keep in touch with family back home and also keep updating my blog.

Well, I just started following a blog of a Pilgrim who is walking the Camino right now and is successfully blogging from his Blackberry. I don't know who his cell service provider is, but I am hoping that my provider will come through and provide me with the service they promised.

So this is my first "official" post and photo from the Blackberry. (I say "official" because I did a test post last week and deleted it. But one reader was quick to see it and left a comment).

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kissing Frogs

Preparing for a 500 mile trek across Spain along the Camino de Santiago takes much more than just walking and hiking.

Making sure you have proper foot wear is the first and most important consideration; which I addressed here.

Having the right backpack is also of utmost importance. And, considering that I will be walking between 5 to 8 hours each day, keeping that backpack burden down to a reasonable weight is crucial.

I have spent much time looking over packing lists, backpack recommendations, and other issues about what to carry and what to leave behind.

When I was told that "You don't pick the backpack; the backpack picks you." I didn't take it too seriously. I wanted to keep the weight to a minimum, so I went out and bought the lightest weight ultra-light backpack. I found out quickly that it wasn't working, as my shoulders were aching after walking for only a few hours. So I returned the ultra-light and started researching and learning more about backpacks.

They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. Yeah, well, I found out it's the same type of deal with backpacks, when looking for a perfect match.

I went to the two biggest outdoor outfitter stores in my area. And they really do take it serious when helping find the right backpack for you. I spent hours with the experts trying on backpacks. They not only fit you for the pack. They load it with weights and have you walk around the store for an hour or 2, to make sure it is "Mr. Right".

When properly fitted, the backpack should rest on the hips and put no strain or pressure on the shoulders at all. The burden is carried on the hips, and it becomes effortless, just like carrying a baby on the hip.

Believe me, it wasn't love at first sight. It took me many visits to both outdoor outfitter stores before I found my prince. And when I did, I knew it the minute I put it on.

Meet Mr. Right. The Gregory Jade 35

So, I happily take my training walks carrying 15 to 20 pounds for 5 or 6 hours very comfortably.
And I learned a valuable lesson...listen to the experts.
Happy Trails

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pampering Myself

My Training walks for my up coming pilgrimage on The Camino de Santiago are getting longer. I walked two 6 hour back to back walks this week, along with my every day 1 hour walks.

It just happens that it was two of the hottest and muggiest days we have had so far this year. I was left feeling very tired and had aches and kinks everywhere.

No problem!! I knew just the cure for an achy, tired body. And , I didn't hesitate to indulge after each of my 6 hour walks.

I discovered a long time ago, a simple and enjoyable, self indulging "treatment". It is great after I have pushed to hard, whether it be from long hikes, skiing or my regular yoga practice or just about any time I want to pamper myself.

It's a hot salt and soda aromatherapy bath that I found years ago in the book Ultra-Prevention by Mark Liponis, MD and Mark Hyman, MD.
Add one cup of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) and one half cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to a hot bath. Add 10 drops of essential oil such as lavender, sandalwood or vanilla.
I added a few bubbles and wallah...a heavenly way to relax for 30 minutes while having the added benefits of relaxing your muscles, reducing tension, detoxing your body and sleeping much better.
Magnesium is often called the relaxation or anti-stress mineral because of it's calming effect. It's soothing properties, along with the alkaline-balancing effects of the baking soda, induce restful sleep.
Magnesium is also known to combat acids, toxins, gases and impurities in the body. The hot water draws the toxins out of the body to the skin's surface and the magnesium sulfate absorbs through the skin and helps draw the toxins from the body.
Aromatherapy can induce relaxation hormones in the brain. The bubbles...well..they just add a little luxury.
Add a glass of heart healthy red wine, a few candles and soft music for ambiance and you've got yourself a mini retreat. (And one that costs only pennies at that!!)
I wish you peace, love and laughter

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One Step Closer to The Camino de Santiago

Our Pilgrims' Credentials came in the mail from the American Pilgrims on the CaminoA Credential is sort of a passport. It serves 2 purposes. It identifies you as a Pilgrim, allowing you access to hospitality along the Camino. And when presented with all the proper stamps and dates of the stages of the Camino, it enables the Pilgrim to receive a Compostela certificate in Santiago de Compostela.
Each day the Pilgrim must get the Credential stamped and dated in the albergues, parishes or sometimes in commercial establishments, police stations or other places along the Camino.
Pilgrims who have walked, rode a bicycle or rode horseback and present the dated and stamped Credential, which provides prove that the Pilgrim has completed a stage of the Camino, are offered a bed, washing facilities and sometimes a communal meal. Most albergues or refugios are in monasteries, convents, hostels and some are in privately owned establishments and often times only charge a donation or small fee.Once the Pilgrim arrives to Santiago de Compostela and presents the Credential at the Pilgrim's office, they receive their final stamp and their certificate called a Compostela. The Compostela is the official certificate that vouches for the fact that the Pilgrim has completed their spiritual pilgrimage.Not all Pilgrims make the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela for spiritual reasons. Those that do not make the pilgrimage for spiritual or religious reasons do not receive a Compostela. However they do receive another certificate.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Training-River Walk

The last 2 days I upped my Camino de Santiago training walks to two 5 hours back to back walks. And although the walks are getting longer now, they are never the same and never boring.
This week the tides were low during my early morning walks; so I got to slog along the river bank for a good part of the morning.
The river always makes for an interesting walk, and a little time for playfulness, too. In my opinion adults don't make enough time in their lives for playfulness and that is why some age so fast.
The salty smell of the river, the sloshing in the muck, wet up to my thighs from reeds and sea grass, all make for a delightful morning. I couldn't take the smile off my face.
I thought I was a kid again; stocking a Great Blue Heron. Chasing him along through the tall grasses, trying to get a photo. But alas, he was to quick for this old gal. As soon as I got close enough and got my camera ready he was off and hiding in the next clump of growth. You can barely see him in the photo. I finally gave up and found other things to occupy my senses.

Another thing I love about my river walks is that the landscape is so different and interesting that the hours see to fly by.

It fascinates me how the trees grow; their roots living half their time submerged under river water and then being completely exposed to the air and light for the other half.

I don't know what these lovely bushes are, but they give off a beautiful sweet fragrance and are a joy to look at.

So, with all this fun going on, 5 hours went by in a flash. Tough life I have these days while training for my 500 mile trek across Spain, don't you think??