Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ok, heres where we stand.

Arrived: safe and sound and growing like a granddaughter.  So this means it's safe for me to run away for a bit.  Only so I can hurry back.  She is drop dead beautiful, but then again, she is "my" grandbaby so of course she is!!  Sheesh...sound like all grandparents everywhere don't I!

I'm watching you!

In just over a week, 10 days and a wake up, I leave.  Found a very reasonable flight to Madrid.  Had cheaper two weeks back (but no grandbaby in sight yet).  Also found much more expensive at the beginning of the between $150 and 200 more!  Airlines!  I don't normally gamble, but when pricing flights, it feels like I'm rolling dice.  Glad to have found the slightly cheaper as the diff will cover the cost of getting from Madrid to St. Jean Pied du Port (SJPP) and part of the cost of the return from Santiago to Madrid.

Speaking of the travel to and from Madrid, I'm beginning to feel like the John Candy movie, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and in this case we get to include busses!  My flight gets in too late to grab the train to Pamplona, so it's looking like the autobus is the way to Pamplona...then another bus to Roncesvalles and taxi (!) to SJPP on the French side of the border.  For the return, I'm looking into the sleeper train from Santiago de Componstella (SDC).  On that end it will save another night somewhere and get me to Madrid with plenty of time to spare for the return flight.

Just spent the last 40 minutes reassuring my hubby that I'm not falling off the map!  Showing him other peoples blogs and photos as well as maps of the various routes.  Ray you are ever the reluctant pilgrim, even the reluctant stay at home pilgrim!!  Too funny.

Well, gotta get my butt moving, as I've got a raft load of things to do...I've got house guests for the last three days before I leave!  Such is life.  It'll probably help with the nerves, having to be busy taking care of others right before hand. And then I'm off for a bit!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Taking the Scenic Route

I can breathe now.  She's here!  And if I do say so, she really is beautiful  Probably the prettiest baby I've ever seen ('cept my own!!)  Now I need to find a way to pry my self away from her.  If I hurry...and hurry back, she won't notice.  My other theory is I'll have wonderful tales to tell her too.

There have been moments when I wonder what I have to offer a granddaughter.  Her Mommas side certainly has the girly part down pat.  They're not wimps but they could do a princess proud!  Out shopping recently, the day I found the solid lotion, I also found a small independent book store.  The Bookery had the perfect answer to my dilema.  It's titled,  Do Princesses wear hiking boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle.  It was done for her own daughter, Annie.  The title line is the first question in the book, the answer being, "when they take the scenic route."  So, I guess this Omi's job will be showing how to take the scenic route.

Anna my love I promise you hiking boots! Pink if you like.

Happy Feet

In my continuing efforts to keep my feet as happy as possible, I check out the foot care isle in every grocery and drug store or pharmacy I wander into.  Somethings help and others, while good in theory just don't pan out.

Two items I've happened upon that seem to work for me and my particular peculiar feet are Injinji socks, made to go with those Vibram shoeless shoes.  I've now got three pairs.  One white mid calf, which were the first ones, bought during the winter to wear under wool hiking socks.  Now I've also got a two pairs of ankle high ones in lovely shades.  Lovely shades conducive to hand washing along the Camino.  Gray and a sort of army greenish color!  Truly hideous but totally practical.

The other item (which I mentioned a few days ago) that I've been playing around with is a pair of small silicone inserts.  They are meant to wedge between the toes of folks with hammer toes and bunions and the like.  For me, by pushing the metatarsal bones apart, there is less pressure..therfore less pain.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Practical stuff for fellow Pilgrims

To say I spend time on the computer...starring at other blogs and forums related to Pilgrimage, is a little like saying alcoholics think about drinking morning, noon and night.  I think I might need a group where I can stand in the room, wearing my jeans long, in an effort to cover my hiking shoes.  Where I can say (sans translation)  "Hola, mi llamo Karin, soy Perigrina".  Without having to launch into a dissertation on what is a pilgrimage.  Or an explanation of who is St. James.  Or a graphic lesson on where Santiago de Compostella lies in Spain, done using my right hand made into a fist (purely illustrative purposes mind you, not to punch someone, perish the thought).

Ahh well, it's probably my itchiness that is making me so cranky.  So, focus, Karin, Focus!

So, in my efforts to prep, for the day my granddaughter releases me, I keep shopping, weighing and selecting gear.  Working out a bit more and trying to test the feet.  The new Keens didn't get a good try today because of torrential downpours (on the off chance I have to return them!)

On the practical side of things I have made some excellent discoveries, many courtesy of the Camino Forums I frequent.  Things like solid shampoos and conditioners.  There are even solid "lotions" and they're terrific.  Why?  Well they can be physically lighter than their liquid options, and when flying from the US with all the TSA restrictions, easier to transport.

In my quest for these items, I've also stumbled to options that were complete failures.  Here in the US there is an excellent brand of natural products called Burt's Bees.  They have a form of baby shampoo in a solid bar, so I thought great.  Till I tried it.  As someone who has mucked out a few stalls in my time, I know where of I speak when I say this, my hair felt like the straw before the stall gets mucked out!  Gross and disgusting.  I tried it more than once, thinking perhaps I didn't rinse enough.  So, should you think of trying this one type of solid shampoo, all I can say is don't.

The search went on.  I was now fairly skittish regarding raves about solid type hair products.  I decided to persevere  and tried a company with world wide retail and online sales.  Lush.  Luck would have it there was a brand new store in one of the local shopping malls.  So I wandered in and opted for one called Godiva.  I've only one complaint.  It's a tad to fragrant.  Some how the smell of jasmine and pilger pong just doesn't seem to strike the right cord for me. To say nothing of those who can't tolerate scents.  So Godiva will remain at home.  On to "Ultrashine" with nearly no fragrance and terrific lather ability.  At two ounces its a great replacement for about 3 bottles of shampoo (or so they tell me!).  It lathers well enough I think to be used for all of me in addition to the hair.  So double duty, which for backpacking purposes, I think is perfect, as is the solid conditioner called Jungle.  It also really works!  Lush can be found on line at .

Lush didn't seem to carry a solid form of lotion.  So the search continued and as luck would have it a small local shop in Mt. Holly, called  Jersey Made, had some.  Unfortunately the list of ingredients is near impossible to photograph, but they're as follows: coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil and scent.  The scent is truly imperceptible. (At least to me!)   They had a sample in the store and I have to say it seems to work very nicely.   The brand was called Green Cow Studios.  The stores website is: .  They're currently located at 33 White St., Mill Race Village, Mount Holly, NJ 08060 Ph. 609-914-1536.

So bit by bit things are falling into place.  If only a certain little miss would decide to come out of her hiding place!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Still waiting in the wings!

So this doesn't look to be her day yet!  SHE is happy and content where she is.  Apparently she's pretty smart.  Warm. Cozy. Feed.  Clothing totally optional.  Why would she want to come out here.  'Cept maybe to meet the rest of us.  Those voices that have been chatting to her thru the walls of her lovely cozy home.  

In the mean while, yes I am still plotting and planning to mosey on over to Espana, leaving the new love of my life (not like she's gonna really notice...yet!)  That process of planning, plotting and oh so importantly, purchasing stuffs for the pilgrimage goes on.  Today I didn't get to hike but I did stumble to another blog, a year old now.  In it the had this gem:

The Beatitudes of the Pilgrim 

Blessed are you pilgrim, if your discover that the "Camino" opens your eyes to what is not seen.
Blessed are you pilgrim, if what concerns you most is not to arrive, as to arrive with others.
Blessed are you pilgrim, when you contemplate the "Camino" and you discover it is full of names and dawns.
Blessed are you pilgrim, because you have discovered that the authentic "Camino" begins when it is completed.
Blessed are you pilgrim, if your backpack is empting of things and your heart does not know where to hang up so many feelings and emotions.
Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that one step back to help another is more valuable then a hundred forward without seeing what is at your side.
Blessed are you pilgrim, when you don't have words to give thanks for everything that surprises you at every twist and turn of the Way.
Blessed are you pilgrim, if you search for the truth and make of the "Camino"  a life and of your life a "way", in search of the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Blessed are you pilgrim, if on the way you meet yourself and gift yourself with time, without rushing, so as not to disregard the image in your heart.
Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that the "Camino" holds a lot of silence; and the silence of prayer; and the prayer of meeting with the Father who is waiting for you. 

Love Glenn and Fr. Thom

My thanks to them for sharing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Amico Island

Ok just a quick one here!  Did 4+ miles at Amico Island.  This was the site of my very first walks post kidney surgery.  It's located along the Delaware River and is a real gem, hidden away behind a semi industrial area.  There are areas for fishing, benches with lovely views, picnic tables and a well maintained parking and service area.

The main or real trails are nice and level, hence the choice for post surg. strolling.  There are however some secondary trails that will disappear soon into the growths of wild weed bamboo.  I'm glad I went early enough in the year to find them.

My only real complaint of the camera died just as I came upon a perfect view of Philadelphia, directly down river!  It would have made the best picture...if I'd remembered to check my battery charge.  Next time.

This was also a trial run of hiking in warmer weather with my Merrell boots.  It was a complete failure!  I can honestly say however, they made wonderful ballast in my daypack.  I had my suspicions because of a slight taper in the boot and the feet swelling more in the heat (it was 85F) that there would be a problem.  I'm able to use them in the winter only now.  So out came the Keen mesh summer shoes.

By night fall I'd made another trip to REI and purchased yet another pair of Keens.  These are sturdier than the ones I used last time, but essentially the same model.  My old ones have one of those slide ties...which quite frankly refuses to stay in place anymore, resulting in an almost slipper like fit...not too supportive.  Sigh!  So I'll be test walking the new ones around the house for a bit.  I'll also be returning the Keen boots that chaffed me everywhere on my foot.  Even with swelling I don't think they'll work on the Camino.  The potential for blistering is simply too much.   I really wanna find a store that sells feet!  New ones, perfect for hiking.  But then that would be to easy!  So, it's three pairs of Keens in the house at the moment!  Only one can come to Spain with me.  Wonder who's gonna win out!

In my continued efforts to manage my foot issues, I'm also trying a soft silicone insert between the second and third toes.  They are apparently designed for people with bunions and the like.  They do seem to help, but I can't keep them in walking all day.

So here are a couple of pics from a lovely afternoon.

This was the site of many a happy day sailing!

Thru the birches!
Peeling bark!

Staircase to heaven?? How about just a lovely view!


Ok, silly me.  I decided to celebrate with a new template for my blog!! Something fresh and with a more Spanish flavor to it.  Some folks go shopping for new hats or handbags.  Me, I'm happy with hiking boots and a new looking blog!

Today might be a good day!

A good day to be born!  A few real contractions, a centimeter or two in position, I say let the games begin! My heart is literally pounding..and I'm only the grandmom!  Today really is a glorious sunny warm day, a perfect day to arrive on.  Her Papa still went to work this morning, Mama was/is still fast asleep, enjoying her last solo night!

For me, this also means I can finally actually plan my departure for Spain!  It almost breaks my heart to think of leaving her, but I don't think that will get easier over time.  I can also see shadows of other things on the horizon that could prevent future Caminos, or at least keep them to very short durations.  I can feel potential storm clouds rumbling just beyond the horizon.  Right now there is this window, bright and open.  There is a fresh clean breeze blowing thru it, inviting me outside to "play".  If I don't heed it I feel like I may wind up inside for another long long winter, before another window opens.  It's take something like 12 or more years for this one to happen.

So this morning it's off for a couple of miles, with my phone in my pocket!  Thinking wearing the running shoes might not be a bad idea.  Just in case!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Strange silences

Yeah I've been pretty damn quiet of late.  That usually doesn't bode well.  Usually means I'm churning internally and I don't mean the tummy!  This time is/has been no different.   And as usual I find that by gets better.  When will I learn!

The right foot really hasn't been happy, I've gotten two rounds of cortisone shots deep between the metatarsals.  The last round ended up bruising my bones to boot.  So the thought of walking hundreds of miles just seemed so out there.  Finally I opened my mouth and talked to others.  And started walking again.  So, today I can see it actually happening.   Getting PMs from fellow Camino addicts who have similar foot issues really helped.  To know that while it may hurt me a tad more than those with "normal" feet, it is doable.  Ask me again though after the last round on April 19th!! Just kidding.

So today I put new inserts into my old camino shoes (Keen's) pulled on new, short Injinji Socks (nice gray color that should do well on the Camino!) and went off to walk.  There is a new county park only 3 miles from the house (unfortunately not via roads you want to walk on!).  I find this park is especially great for a sea level person to get a good hill work out.  For as flat as my neighborhood is, this park, Crystal Lake, has great little rollers.  They're steep enough to leave you almost breathless and frequent enough to make it well worth the drive.

Todays walk boosted my moral immeasurably.  Besides simply finding the discomfort manageable, the sun shine and the warmth were enough to cheer up anyone.

Marshy area, skunk cabbage starting to pop.

Maple's in bloom.

I believe this one is winter wheat.

Forsythia, my spring time favorite!

Tiny wildflowers in the most amazing shades of purples and blues.

Last years robins nest. No one home this year.

I believe this is a woodbine blossom...have to check it out.

I need to remember the necklace I wear 24/7.  A silver scallop shell and a small silver piece with the word, Breathe!  Just breathe.  One step at a time.