i go out walkin’….

It’s been less than a year since retirement. Nine months. We did not want to spend the first year getting oriented to our new lifestyle. Reflecting on past careers. Sifting through travel guides. Let ourselves get mired in “analysis paralysis.”

We decided to put a virtual taser to the gonads and shake shit up.

The key question we’ve set out to answer — “how do you travel when you have more time than money?” We’ve been fortunate to cover a lot of miles – we want to change how we go.

Shortly after retiring, we stumbled our first few miles on the Appalachian Trail last August, thinking that backpacking  would be the obvious means to travel on the cheap. What we quickly determined is that we were in no shape to tackle such adventures. At least not right away. i also was reminded how much i despise sleeping on dirt.

Studley’s daughter, Pixie, was very supportive of our pursuit of an adventurous travel habit. We discussed other options – including El Camino de Santiago de Compostela. “From what I have heard, one of the hardest things about doing the Camino is staying sober – they serve a LOT of Spanish wines during the meals there…”

Studley and i exchanged a glance – and a high five. “Drunk walk Spain? Yeah. We can do that…” We started planning our camino. While still chasing other adventures, staying in Turkey for a month, and living our regular lives, El Camino became a quest.

We started training. And by “training” i mean “walking” – because it’s really just a walk. Doing 30 half-marathons back to back, however, will wear down your body, so we have been walking. A lot. We’ve walked in rain. In snow. On the one warm day this season, we walked 12 miles. Has it been enough? Probably not. But here we are, about to get on an airplane.

i’ve got several friends who have taken on this pilgrimage. They have been our primary resource in thinking through what to pack. My cousin (who has walked El Camino twice) did a gear shakedown – we were pretty proud to show her that we’d gotten out packs down to 15 pounds.

Cousin L [pulling a tiny travel mug from Studley’s pack]: Isn’t that adorable. You know, they DO have cups in Spain.


She was brutal, questioning each item. With her help, we further lightened our loads. Base weight of my pack is 10 pounds (4.5 kg). This is a very good start. With water and consumables, i’ll be at about 13 pounds (7 kg).

One of the most challenging aspects has been preparing to be GONE for so long. Bill paying, mail, home maintenance, appointments. All of this must be squared away so we can disappear. Taking my cat to go stay with a friend was difficult. This is also training…

We’ve walked. We’ve packed, repacked, and packed again.  There’s not much more to do but get to the airport. And start walking…

Rain Gear

For decades my “power word” has been “onward”. When i felt mired in the muck of life, or quicksand of toxic relationships, i have grabbed that word as my shield and plowed ahead. Within Camino culture, there is an ancient equivalent – “Ultreia” (old Spanish spelling – “Ultreya”). Rough translation – ‘Onward! Beyond!’


29 thoughts on “i go out walkin’….

    • There is a very small Sony pocket camera. i will be mostly off grid for this trip, and will use the camera, rather than a phone, for pictures. We figure we might check in on our down days (about once a week or so), but it’s my intention to check out. Mostly from the news… Stupid Watergate is making my brain melt on an hourly basis!

    • i recognize my good fortune at being in a place – physically, and financially – to tackle this. Part of our urgency is knowing that a scary diagnosis is increasingly probable as we get older. i feel the clock ticking. ❤

  1. It’s difficult for me to imagine you mired in the muck of life or toxic relationship. You’ve seemed so stable to me for such a long time now. I presume that’s ancient history you’re referring to?

    • Oh, honey… i’ve made some terrible decisions in my life, and not just ancient history. My track record has improved (statistically, if nothing else) as i’ve grown further away from a group of people that thrive on gossip and dramatics (there’s a clue…). Being selective in my friendships has reduced the amount of muck, but it shows up in various forms every now and then.

      When i started this blog, i wasn’t a picture of stability. Had to keep my shit together to some degree because of my children, and my job, but where i had leeway to be unstable, i did so with a good bit of reckless abandon. Wouldn’t change that – but might have bypassed a few connections here or there… including a couple in the blogosphere (not you. i promise!)

  2. You already have everything you ever needed. Anything else – el Camino will provide. Onward! – with love, cousin L

    • Thank you – for everything! It wasn’t just the gear shakedown, it was as much your insight, and sharing your experiences. We’re as ready as ever, and looking forward to starting the walking portion of this journey! ❤

    • Five days in – we’re a bit knackered after the walk over the Pyrnees, but taking a slower couple of days near Pamplona. This is intense… Already have a dozen stories…

    • We have been partaking of the Pilgrim Menu at various hostels and establishments… House wine, no label, has always been stellar! 10 Euro for soup, main, potatoes and 3endless wine. We are drunk walking northern Spain. If we’re not careful…

    • Only 5 days in – not only the physical challenge of walking over mountains, but so much human connection! Everyone here is seeking something… I’ve inadvertently made two women cry by saying something that was just what they needed to hear in that moment. If I get to the end of this – I’ll be writing for a decade!

  3. i go out walking after midnight/ out in the moonlight, just like we used to do/
    i go out walking after midnight, searching for you (and Studley)… keep up the adventures!!!

    • One of my go to songs! This is a trip! We’re just into our second week, have walked over 100 kms, and our feet aren’t shredded. Did enough training, it seems. Loving the slow pace – sangria on the town square in Maize-hole, Spain is awesome!

  4. Glad you have a wee camera with you. I feel utterly naked without one if I’m going anywhere. Fortunately most phones have a pretty good one on them 🙂

    • The wee camera got a workout! I will be sorting photos for weeks! What an intense experience – so much territory covered (literal and figurative). Will try to do a decent job with a distillation, but it will take awhile….

    • Welcome to The Trailer Park! We specialize in midlife management here! Plan that retirement. There’s a big ol’ world out there looking for adventurers!

  5. I’m going to live vicariously through your adventures. I’m solidly in the middle years, and recovering from an injury that postponed my completion of the PCT by a year. I like your style – your writing will help me through til I can get back out there. Onward!

    • Hi Karen – welcome to The Park! PCT is WAY outside my skill set! This little walk was fully supported, and there weren’t any bears! Hope i can keep you entertained as you prepare for your grand adventure!

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