Saturday, March 30, 2013

Passport/Medical ID...Just Another Step

       Well, I finally got my goods together to renew my passport. After moving all of my junk, I decided that it was a good time to do the dirty deed. It might seem like there is time to wait, but I had a bad experience last time I got my passport. Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we???

[Flashback music begins. Travel 10 years into the past. The fuzzy memory picture comes into view] 
     I was trying to prepare for my trip to Scotland that was only a few months down the road and I needed to get a passport. I had never been anywhere besides Canada, and at that time you did not have to have a passport to cross the border. Being excited, I got everything together and mailed it off. With only a few weeks to spare, my lovely little blue book came in the mail. I looked it over real good and noticed something strange. They spelled my name wrong!!!! What in the world?!?! They had my application AND my birth certificate, and they still screwed it up. Way to go government! To fix this awful error, I had to pay for expedited services with overnight shipping, pray that it returned on time. The passport came back with only days to spare. You would think that they would make a new one. Oh no, they made an amendment in the back. 

[Come back to the present music with a clear picture] 
     I vowed never to make that mistake again! So here we are a year away getting my passport renewed. So lets see if they "lovely" government can get my name right this time. If not, I know at least I have time to send it back in without having to worry. At least I know that my picture will be ten times better.

       On a different note, there was a news article about how parents are making their children wear these allergy warning t-shirts, and an idea came into my head. I began to think that if something were to happen to me, someone might need to know that I am allergic to gluten/wheat! The search began for an allergy bracelet that did not cost an arm and a leg while being "cute". Gold was struck when I stumbled upon Hope Paige. It's a place that sells every kind of medical ID possible.
This one allows you to size it to fit your wrist. I only had to cut off a little piece for mine to fit perfectly!
     So just in case your are going to travel the Camino and have a medical issue, you might want to think about getting a medical ID. She has many different colors in this particular style and the engraving is FREE! You can't get any better than that.

**Disclaimer: I was not paid for review of this item, but I loved it so much that I just wanted to share ;)

    No hiking trip this weekend. I trade it for an afternoon of yard work. That counts right??? I had to push the lawn mower up hill most of time, so I am going to count it as training. This did give me time to read that many of the churches in Spain have special services for pilgrims. The priest prays and blesses the pilgrims. Also, the pilgrims get a chance to take the sacraments. This makes me very excited!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

7 Miles of Breaking in the Boots

         As you know, I told you that I ordered my Keen boots some time ago. OH MY WORD, they fit like a glove!! Ordering a size and a half was a great idea. Keen boots tend to run a 1/2 size small. Since my normal size is 7 1/2, I knew that meant a size 8 in the boots. Well, thinking that I need room for my socks and swelling, I thought that ordering a size 8 1/2 would allow for that. I was WRONG. I reordered them in a size 9. This gave me a true whole size bigger--this was a perfect idea. When trying them on with my liner and hiking socks, there was plenty of room on the sides and my toe area for swelling. If I need to, I can always were another pair of socks to take up some of the extra room, and take off the extra pair of socks when I needed the extra room due to swelling.

Please ignore the pasty white legs. I'm sorry that I have blinded you all with that sight...just focus on the boots please.
       I tried them out on the trails this weekend. These trails are perfect since there are many areas of rough terrain in the mountains of Alabama. They worked perfectly!! No problems at all. My feet stayed draw from the socks. There were no "hot spots" (place where a shoe might rub). The rocky terrain was no match for my boots.

      What makes it great is having my friend Candy tag along. I think we both decided that we have a LONG way to go before we are ready. Ha ha ha. Boy did we have some fun on those trails. This was our biggest adventure yet, 7 miles! There was some discussion about things we need to do for our trip, observation of nature, and there was some praying involved. There is never a dull moment when hiking with my friend. Every time I tripped over my feet she laughed, and at one point said that she would hurt me. Now she did try to convince me that the trees were squeaking when the sounds of critters came from the trees. There is no way a tree sounds like a critter. I believe Candy thought that she was a bear when she was using one of the wooden marking posts as a back scratcher. What am I going to do with her??

    These 7 miles taught use a lot about ourselves though. We are WAY out of shape! I don't know about her, but my feet were ready for a break when we got done. Those dogs were barking as my grandfather would say. A lot of toughening of feet needs to be done before we take on the Camino. The particular trail that we were on is 15 miles. We have committed to going early in the morning and hiking the whole thing and see how  long it takes. I'm just glad that trail circles the park. That way I don't have to turn around and hiking ANOTHER 15 miles! Who would want to do that?!?!? 

     This pilgrimage may be a year away, but it's like I can't be prepared enough. My favorite things to read about is how the Camino has shaped and changed others. This is exciting to me. Going to another country, disconnecting myself from all things that distract, look upon God's creation, and spend many hours of constant prayer is something that I can't be more excited about. Candy and I were even talking about what we were expecting from the Camino. My one hope is that when I come home, I am forever changed in Christ. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I have found a new way to expand my audience and make new blogging friends using Bloglovin'. You can follow me, just click here :)

Google Reader is going to be going away VERY SOON! This is a great way to replace your Google Reader. It allows you to import your subscriptions from Google Reader into Bloglovin'. Also, you can follow other people's blogs from Bloglovin'!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Socks, Liners, and Trekking Poles

        First, I have to say that my hiking adventure was rough! I need that I was going to be sore when my hiking partner decided that we should climb up the side of a mountain. Don't ask me why I didn't object. Maybe I didn't want to taunted for being a woose. I don't know, but up the mountain I went. It was a REAL workout!! If I can keep that up then I know that I will be ready! Alabama has enough mountains to climb. Ha ha ha.

      My socks and sock liners came! YAY! I can't wait to try these out with my boots that will be here tomorrow! I got Smart Wool socks and liners.

     From all the reading that I have done, this seemed like the best choice. At first I wasn't sure about getting the liners; however, after reading about different people's experiences with and without liners, I quickly changed my mind. What is the purpose of a liner? Well, it's to cut down on the friction that comes from the sock rubbing against you foot.

Just FYI about Keen boot sizes and using socks:
      I was a little concerned about have too much room with having a whole size bigger when I ordered my boots, but I found a great solution which seems to be agreed upon by many. You can wear an extra pair of socks to help with the sizing issue then as you are walking the Camino you can take off the extra pair when/if your feet swell. I am thinking that this solution will work great, but as thick as my socks are, I may not have to resort to that. I bought an extra pair just in case though. I always have to be prepared.

       I am still waiting for my trekking pole to come. Hopefully it will be here soon. After a long search for the best option, I came across the collaspable poles. Now trying to find one that doesn't weigh a lot was a little tricky. There was one that I saw that looked pretty sturdy but it shipped weighing 3 pounds!! I can only carry so much people! This one ships weighing only 1 pound, so that leads me to believe that it's less than that because the weight of the box and backing materials. Maybe I'm wrong....we'll see.

      My thinking was that I could put it in my pack when I am flying without having to check it in. Since I know they will not let me on a plane with a giant stick. Number one it won't fit in that stupid overheard compartment, but number two, I just might use it as a weapon on that morron that likes to kick your seat for the entire flight. What is everyone's thinking about this?? Is a collapsable pole a good idea???

A side note:
   I think that I officially tired my friends on the topic of the Camino. They no longer listen to my preparation stories. How sad. I guess that means that I will just have to continue to tell myself how excited I am even if the trip is about a year away.

Monday, March 11, 2013

God's Plan

Oh, how I want God to do amazing things for me on this trip! This is just more than a long walk; it's a journey to become what God wants me to become. In everyday life, it's hard to get away from the hussle and bussle of  life. People are always demanding things, we're plugged into the internet all the time, watching t.v, listening to music, etc. There comes to a place that we are too busy even to listen to Christ. We are not able to hear what He wants us to do next, where He wants use to go, or even what He wants us to say.

This life isn't about ourselves, but it's about pleasing God--glorifying Him. Through this trip, I hope that I am able to disconnect myself from everything around me and spend those 35 days getting to know Jesus the way He intended for me to know Him. Our church has been studying a Catechism, which will continue until the end of the year, but several of the questions just came into my mine. "How and why did God create man?" just one of the questions. The answer is "God created male and female in His own image to know him, to love him, to glorify him, and to live with him. It is only right that we who were created by God should live to his glory". This is what I am supposed to be doing! This is what I want to do! This question spins into other questions about how to glorify God and how to live out his commandments. 

There are so many things that I want God to accomplish in my life during this time, but I know that He has a goal for my life during this time. While I know that I have a little over a year before I embark on this pilgrimage, there is always time for God to prepare me for His great work in my life. Constantly praying that God prepares my heart, makes me ready to listen and obey everything while I'm gone. Nothing will be accomplished with out obedience. Nothing can get me more ready than prayer, prayer, and more prayer. I'm so grateful for a church family that is lifting Candy and I in prayer to make sure the His goal is reached.

I want to glorify Him while I'm gone. I want to please Him while I'm gone. I want to be a light to the world while I'm gone. This trip was organized by God and I will never forget that. There is such an anticipation of what Christ is going to do that I am just over come by excitement...I want to go NOW! 

We never know what they next step is in our journey towards the new heavens and earth, but I do know that I want to be open to whatever God has for me on the Camino.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Packing List Overload and Getting Trained

Have I mentioned that I am a big list maker?? Well, I am. One day, I organized all the information that I read and created sticky notes on my computer. Each one is a list in a category of everything that I need to buy. As you can tell there are few things that I have been able to mark off. Just looking at this list is giving me anxiety even though I KNOW that I have time to get it all.

Training is the next big task that I have to tackle. Being a teacher AND in graduate school, it seems like I am never able to go hiking. A schedule will have to made ASAP in order for me to have an idea how much I am going to be able to do. Luckily I live in Alabama, so there are plenty of mountains and hills for me to train with. There are several state parks too. One specifically has a 15 mile trail!! YAY!! The goal is to be able to walk this trail several time in a week with my pack at full weight.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Search for the Best Footwear

I have been searching and searching online for the best possible footwear for this journey. Well, I have come to the conclusion that it really depends on the person. How is this supposed to help??? No one wants blisters, shoes falling apart, broken ankles, or anything of the sort....what is a girl supposed to do. This meant that I was on my own.

This might seem a little crazy, but it has taken me about 5 months to finally break down and buy a part of walking sandals and boots. I did not know that it was going to be so hard to make a final decision. After the decision was made to buy my boots and sandals by Keen, there was the "Which ones do I get?" question over and over. Countless sites have gotten hundreds of hits probably just from me going back over and over again trying to make up my mind. Ha ha ha.

Since my class had gotten me a gift card for this trip, I thought that I should use it at some point. This was the purchase for my Keen sandals. These will mostly be worn after I get done walking for the day and want to go sight seeing. This will give my feet a chance to breath, which could be pretty important.

My boots were another matter. I went to one site and bought the Keen Targhee II. Needless to say I did NOT buy the right size, so back they went. After about a month of searching, I found these Keen Gypsum boots on sale. I nabbed them up and hopefully they will be the right size. They are supposed to be more sturdy than the Targhee. Gypsum boots also have a shock absorber to help with any rough terrain.
Enough about boots and such. There is a woman in my church that is an amazing lady. She has been such a huge supporter of me and this trip. There is no telling how much is has been praying about this trip and what God has been showing her. Actually, I don't even want to know because it could be a little scary. Any way, she was sweet enough to give Candy and I a clam shell with a hole drilled in them for use to attach them on our packs. 

It's hanging from my rear view mirror, this way I can always be reminded of the journey that I will be going on--spiritually speaking. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

How it all got started

I have never heard of The Way of St. James until I was listening to my brother and uncle talk about wanting to go. Well, it wasn't too long after that that I saw the movie "The Way". This movie really showed a spiritual of various people. It peeked my interest, so I began look into this pilgrimage. A few hours on the internet and I was hooked--really wanting to go.

It wasn't too long before I was able to find the path that I wanted to take, the amount of time that I needed to be out of the country, and a friend to go with me. At first I was wondering about how I would be able to prepare for such a journey.

  • What do I need to take?
  • How long would I be gone?
  • Is there any special equipment that I will need?
  • How much is this going to cost?
  • Is it safe?
  • Where would I sleep and eat (I am allergic to gluten)?
  • How would I get there? What is the best way to get there?
  • How much Spanish would I really have to now?
  • How long is this pilgrimage?
  • How far do I have to walk everyday?

Those anxieties were quickly put to rest when I found an amazing online community of pilgrims--past, present, and future ones--called Camino de Santiago de Compostela. This place has been wonderful. Any question that I have either has been answered or can be quickly answered by the thousands of people ready to reply to my questions. I have spent many hours search the boards trying to find out exactly what I need to take in order to make sure that will have everything possible. Walking/Hiking from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago is a little scary.

My mind was put to rest, as well as my mother's and a few of my friends, when a good friend from church decided that she wanted to go too. Now the trip was for real--no backing out. My mother even made sure that I was trapped into this trip by telling everyone at church about what I was planning on doing. Dirty dog! Just kidding. Candy (my friend) and I have been in constant contact, sharing ideas and tips that we have found to help make our trip a lot easier.

The next step was trying to find out when we were going to make this happen. I needed to make sure that I was finished with graduate school and I was out of work for the summer. This set the date for May 2014! YAY!!!

I am grateful that there are people the know about this journey in order for them to pray about it. God does very special things for people on this pilgrimage and I don't want it to be any different for Candy and I. Therefore, I have committed myself to pray about this--pray that God do something so that I am never the same, my relationship with Him is forever changed, I have a deeper love for Him, and able to see the world and people the way He does. This is one of the things that makes me the most excited--what God is going to do. There is no way that I want to travel hundreds of miles and not come back changed!