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    • Day 6


      Yesterday in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

      Just wrapped up our picturesque walk from Roncesvalles to Zubiri—much easier on the legs today! 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♀️ Settled into our spectacular accommodation for the night and already 2 Estrella beers deep. Here's to more stunning views and smooth trails ahead! 👣Read more

    • Day 6

      Fast and Zubirious

      March 28 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 5 °C

      Nicole found BLANKETS last night so I am starting today both well fed and reasonably rested which, turns out, makes a huge difference. I wrapped myself up then slotted myself into my sleeping bag, like a Beef Wellington if the bacon was a blanket and the pastry was a sleeping bag, and you squint.

      Off I go to Pamplona! I said, and got 50m down the road, did the speed trap (because I am at my core, a silly billy) then realised I forgot my bread and went back. I like to think anyone watching thought that was my whole day. Out, SPRINT, job done, in.
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    • Day 8

      Rocesvalles to Zubiri

      June 21, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

      Today was test of our endurance. The mountains of the Pyrenees in our last two days were hard but we were starting with fresh legs. Today I started sore and it was a long 22 km hike through the foothills on what the boys dubbed the spine of the Pyrenees. Some kind of seismic uplift created a sideways shale spine of rocks which was our trail. I didn’t get a good picture of it but it was brutal on the feet. I just yearned for flat ground. Twenty two km isn’t easy but it’s even harder balancing on spikey rocks. But we did it and the waters of Zubiri was a great reward in the shadow of a 12th c. bridge. Our hostel is clean and new and has laundry with free soap so we couldn’t pass that chance up. The little yard has a clothesline for us to use.

      We kept leap-frogging with people we knew on the trail the whole way here. The first part of the hike was beautiful going through woods (one of the areas has a sign that said that it was called “witches woods” because 9 witches were burned at the stake there! Spooky!!!), little farm towns and playing with the cats who greeted us knowing that pilgrims often bring food and head rubs. Daniel was in Heaven. We bought lunch at a Mercado and I carried a grande baguette a few hours (it kept rubbing into low pine tree branches on the trail but don’t tell my people- what they don’t know won’t hurt them). We ate it at an outdoor restaurant with a few other familiar faces from the trail.

      Dinner was the ONLY restaurant in Zubiri but thankfully we got there before the crowd and got a table. We told the next wave of people (again- friends from the trail) to drink lots of beer because it was going to be a long wait. We ate off the pilgrim’s menu but thankfully we had some choices. I had paella and flan. The wine was a mere 2 euros a glass. Since we are early, Jon and the boys are playing cribbage in our little backyard with astroturf. (Btw, we keep running into a Korean mom and son who cook their food wherever they land! Tonight they are also in our albergue. They are carrying carrots and rice in their packs. Impressive!)
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    • Day 8

      End of roncessvalles to zubiri

      June 21, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

      I keep forgetting to start recording at the beginning of our hike. Oh well. This one is from tuesday, when we (most of us) were feeling pretty good. For a time, Ollie carried my pack and daniel carried two - his and Ollie’s — to try to help me overcome some feet and blister problems (and just keep up in general). Bless them.Read more

    • Day 6

      Somewhere we crossed a border…

      April 14 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 77 °F

      Somewhere in the long journey over the Pyrenees, we crossed into Spain. It was so lovely lovely to see the horses with their bells on many hillsides, and walk into Roncesvalles.

      Our accommodation for the evening is housed in a renovated monastery. By the time we got there it was hot! 🥵

      We had sunscreened our tender fish belly skin but it did not escape the reddening by radiation.

      Gladly for us the evening air cooled and sent breezes through the open windows. And the stone of the building insulated beautifully. The whole place was clean and efficient and easily housed a very large group of people. I enjoyed the communal dinner with other pilgrims. Who knew that I would have a chance to practice Japanese with one pilgrim traveling alone and looking a bit bewildered?

      Over and over I felt so grateful for the amazing weather, the ancient mountains with sweeping sky, and the thousand year old trail to guide us. And for Paul’s dedication to planning and getting on this Camino.
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    • Day 7

      Welcome back to the city = Pamplona

      April 15 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 50 °F

      What makes the Camino special are the people we meet. Today we met Teresa from South Carolina. Teresa is a grandmother who felt called to travel the Camino. She arrived very late to the end of the first long long stage. She did not arrive until after 9 p.m., no more dinner was left. She did not give up other pilgrims shared with her, the next day sore and tired. She took her time one step at a time. It gave me pause to remember that people are good and that with patience and grace you can complete anything. Today we arrived in Pamplona. We had a wonderful Basque meal and played with the animals. Tomorrow we take a train for 4.5 hours to Astorga.Read more

    • Day 6

      Day 3 Zubiri

      April 13 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

      Went to the Pilgrim Mass at Roncesvalles Monastery last night and the Cardinal giving the service blessed us, hope it helps.🤗
      Walking is not always pretty and so far it's usually not easy. 22km took us 6 hours jncl 2 small breaks. Mainly very rocky forest paths that I think are more dangerous then yesterday's death path 😟 Gotta be careful as it's so easy to sprain an ankle. Let's hope tomorrow is flatter! G OnwardsRead more

    • Day 6

      Hiking into the clouds- Orrison

      June 19, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

      We left our sweet little pension in St Jean and headed into the Pyrenees this morning. Wait- let me talk about the pension before I forget. Last night I went to sleep listening to the laughter and murmurs of the bar down the street and happy pilgrims about to begin their journey. I woke this morning to the sounds of pilgrims on their way down the street and at 7am when I set my alarm, the church bell drowned out my artificial ring tone- calling everyone in. Soon sounds of singing drifted down the street into our window. It was lovely.

      Last night was hot… remember… 108 degrees yesterday?! And Jon and I only had a window. The boys slept in the attic and had an air conditioner and when I went up to wake them up their room was actually chilly!!! At least THEY had a good night’s sleep.

      The heat wave broke today and although it is still very very humid, the temperature was suitable and an answer to my prayers. We left at 9am and the breezes from the mountains kept us moving higher. I could NOT have done today’s hike with yesterday’s temperatures. The Way provided.

      We are staying the night in an ancient shepherd’s house in an alburgue. There is a community meal tonight and we ordered sandwiches for our lunch tomorrow. I made all of these plans months ago at Christmas so it has been hard for me to remember what I planned which has been fun because it’s like a surprise for me!

      The community meal felt like a scene from an old epic poem. We all sat and ate as a community at the hearth of a large stone fireplace and everyone introduced themselves and explained why they were there. The conversation was really cool-listening to stories of people from all over. I sat by a young 20’s German kid who quit his job as an engineer for Mercedes’ Benz to live on a commune and teach yoga. The dinner was chicken soup and veggies with a basque cake. I was starving and it was delicious. Even Daniel ate his veggies!

      Oh also huge shout out to Jon for Fathers Day. I am grateful that he is willing to follow me on this crazy adventure! (And we really do make a good travel team- ask us to clean out the garage together and that’s a different story.)

      It didn’t rain today. Will the weatherman be wrong again tomorrow?!
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    • Day 7

      Orrison to Roncesvalles

      June 20, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

      There were no storms or rain today in the Pyrenees as the weatherman predicted but we did walk through the clouds.

      Breakfast was a small pilgrims breakfast of bread and jam. I think the boys had hoped for more. But we grabbed our sandwiches for lunch and took off up the mountain following the yellow arrows. Most of us were prepared with waterproof backpack covers but Jon sent his pack ahead with a courier because he was worried about his backpack getting soaked. He went with nostalgia when he chose his backpack because it’s the pack he had carried through Europe many times. He didn’t have a cover for his as a result like the rest of us. He enjoyed a pack-free hike today as a result.

      We climbed and climbed into the clouds- only seeing sunshine at the very top before heading back down on the other side. My hair and raincoat were soaked but everything else stayed dry. Along the way we could hear the baaa’s of sheep and mooo’s of cows and especially the eerie sounds of the low ringing from the bells they wore around their necks. We could only see them when they were very close because the fog was so thick but we knew they were around us.

      They trail was tough but as we climbed higher and higher there were safety stops for shelter in storms or for calling for help. I think many people have died en route (we saw a few memorials) and this is a modern solution. Wells for water are plentiful too. There was even a food truck in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. It was on our map and a true landmark on the trail. We bought a mid morning granola bar from him and used his WC (a rock behind the truck) and got another stamp and felt refreshed for a few more hours of hiking.

      We made it to the old monastery in Roncesvalles by 1:30 and reunited with many of our Orisson friends. The alburgue is very old (end of 12th century) practical and clean. Extremely efficient. No shoes inside at all! We sleep in cubbies of 4 bunks in huge rooms. Each room holds 100 people. I used my Z-quill to sleep last night and it worked great so I think I’m going that route again tonight to drown out the snorers.

      We had a snack on the patio of fried food and beer while we waited for the room to open at 2pm and now await the evening meal by showering and taking an afternoon siesta. (We are in Spain by the way now.)

      Dinner was a 3 course meal (The hungry pilgrims were very pleased except for the poor vegetarian at our table). Again we sat with some fun Americans we roomed with last night in Orisson (one is a middle school math teacher) and a fun German woman we met in Orisson. I’ll be sad to lose them when we pass them up in Pamplona.

      Speaking of… I have heard rumors of fires driving pilgrims off the road near Pamplona. That could be the next obstacle.
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    • Day 5

      Roncesvalles to Zubiri - part two

      March 27 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 7 °C

      Today's path is almost all off the road, which is good because I'd started to wave to cars that gave me space yesterday and clearly I was losing my edge. The mud got a bit annoying, but you can't have everything. As a result, there were long stretches of the day without an interaction (like a passing car) which made me *feel* more alone than yesterday.

      From my conversations so far, it's clear that medical motives are behind many journeys. A lot of what I hear is that they had a stroke (two at my table of eight last night) or other serious scare, and are walking with eyes freshly widened to life, in triumph and celebration of their opportunity to have a bit more of it.

      There's lots I want to reflect on and resolve on this trip, but also the need to balance that with being present for the experience. I think if I'm not careful it'll turn into my rot days at home, where I manage to completely inhabit the grey between productivity and relaxation, not doing either properly and feeling guilt about failure on two fronts.

      Yesterday I was completely mentally present on the walk. It was challenging, I had to pay attention, it was uncomfortable and beautiful and new. Maybe because today was less difficult, I found myself in my head for long stretches, asking myself questions I think I will only know the answers to once I've been doing this for a lot longer. I'm trying to show myself grace and not rush. Today is my third day of leave for Christ's sake. You probably can't get enlightened in a long weekend.

      To distract myself, I started thinking about how, at work, we could make the process of network variations more efficient (its going to need a LEAN workshop) and that was so boring that it forced me out of my mind and back into my body. While I was there I had a look around and realised steak was still on the agenda, which is interesting because I was - not consciously but in practice - reasonably vegetarian at home. We discussed at dinner there might be something about the experience that's sending us all a bit primal, and by extension, protein oriented. Perhaps tomorrow I'll kill a wild boar with my bare hands.

      Slugs: 1, at 9.54am
      Cats seen: 4
      Cats pat: 1
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