My mom took this photo when I must have been about a year old - maybe in October 1941? I love that she wrote "Watch out" on it! Maybe she was urging caution, but I prefer to think the message is to the world - "Watch out! Here he comes!"
Actually I start to walk on Saturday, August 25th, but I leave home on Thursday, flying direct to Dublin (who knew there was a direct flight from Charlotte to Dublin?) and then to Biarritz France where we (me, my grandson and his wife) take a taxi to St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port. We will spend one night there, and on Saturday will walk the Napoleon Route over the Pyrenees. Charlemagne also marched his army through but chose the easier route where they did not have to trek over such steep inclines. On his retreat, his main army was lured into a trap near Roncesvalles , and his main man, Roland (Remember The Song of Roland from high school lit courses?) was killed. The Napoleon Route is said to be the most demanding day of the entire camino because of the steep climbs. But, it also is reputed to offer the most beautiful scenery. I'm hoping the weather is nice so we can go that way.
There are several caminos to Santiago, but the one from St. Jean is the most popular. As a matter of fact, the first travel guide ever written, The Codex Calixtinus, written about 1135 or so with a forged "blessing" from Pope Callixus II who had died in 1124. This manuscript contains tips for pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela, and it remains in the archives of the cathedral there. If you are curious, google the codex....you can read translations and gain an X rated glimpse into the lives of the terrible scamps who made much mischief for the peregrinos.
I figure I have walked over 800 miles since I started training in March. My favorite and best trail shoes have been worn out, but a few weeks ago I started on new ones. I've got plenty of apprehensions about going on such a long walk, and I definitely have a melt down every now and then. But, it was unconscious urging that got me to set this goal, and when I think of that, I relax. Maybe that more intuitive side of me knows best!
This will be my last entry before I leave. This morning I tried working from my ipad mini, and, after a lot of struggle, I discovered there is a blogspot blog. It is not as easy to use as a real computer, and I'm hoping it will work out. If you don't hear from me you will know that it didn't!
I read somewhere that having a focus for reflection on a pilgrimage can be useful. I've decided to make my walk as an expression of gratitude for the many many wonderful things in my life. If you are reading this, you can be certain that you are part of my gre-atitudes! I will be feeling so grateful for your presence in my great adventure!
Over the past several months so many people have encouraged me to take this walk. Thanks to all of you! I look foward to sharing my trip with you along the way and when I return.