Homer's Travels: A Few Things On My Mind

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Few Things On My Mind

It's mid April and I've been battling writer's block for nearly two months now.  Things have happened.  Ice fishing.  A trip to Galena, IL. Crane watching. Curling.  We haven't lacked for things to do but I can't shake the feeling that I haven't been doing enough - a probable side affect of the very active summer of 2011.

This feeling has translated into not writing very much.  I've filled some of the space with pictures but they came with few words.  Oh, I've had several ideas for posts but, usually, after ten minutes the ideas seem stale and not worth writing about.  In the old days of Homer's Travels I would often post about the trivial and I was just fine with that but now I ... now I seem to think my words have to be meaningful and moving and profound.  That's not me.  I am rarely meaningful, moving, and profound.

I do have ideas.  As I've done my bi-weekly walks my mind has wandered.  The themes, all travel related:

  • My 2011 Camino, reliving just about every mile I walked.  I've thought about posting more about my Camino but, frankly, I've already written enough about it and, lately, I've written about it even when I haven't been writing about it.  The Camino infused itself into every facet of my life but that doesn't mean it should dominate Homer's Travels.

  • Our China-Tibet-Nepal-India trip only two months away.  Despite it being so close, I really don't have much to write about.  We're in the process of getting our visas with help of the AAA travel agent.  We've learned the Chinese are sticklers for detail and the Indians prefer blue ink to black ink meaning we've had to sign the visa paperwork twice ... hopefully we won't have to sign it again.

    I'm also waiting for prescriptions for malaria medication (fort the India portion of the trip) and antibiotics (for the bathroom portion of the trip).  The travel medical center was supposed to call them in to our pharmacy but it's been a week and nothing has showed up yet so I'll have to figure out what the deal is.

    After we return will be a whole different story.  I'm hoping to get twenty to thirty posts, along with corresponding pictures, from this month long trip in south Asia.

  • My 2013 Camino, planning-anticipating-planning some more.  I actually put a preliminary itinerary together last November.  I did this despite the fact that it was almost two years away at the time.  Chances are I will have to redo the itinerary as albergues open and close and not all albergues are open in September and October when I'll be going back.

    I've even been trolling the travel sites looking at airline prices ... a year and a half before I'm actually traveling and at least a whole six months before I could actually make reservations.  I keep having to pull myself back from the ledge.

    The latest thing has been monitoring the Camino de Santiago Forum for useful information ... and sharing, hopefully, useful information.  It seems there are a lot of people out there as obsessed with the Camino as I seem to be.

    I've thought about posting about the plans but it's just way ... way ... too soon and I imagine that the few readers I have are sick of all the Camino talk.  With that in mind I have told myself that I won't post about the planning until 2013.  At least I'll try not to post about the planning until then.

  • RAGBRAI, wondering if my knee will heal enough for me to ever do it.  I intend to start riding my bike when I return from our China trip.  I'll start out slow.  Probably ride with a knee brace just like I do on my long walks.  We'll see if the custom orthotics and the physical therapy have done/are doing their job or not.

    I've decided to postpone any attempt at RAGBRAI until after my 2013 Camino.  I'm a little afraid of messing up my leg again only a couple months before going back on the Camino.  This means RAGBRAI would be in 2014 or 2015 at the earliest.

  • And then there is something that's been niggling me in the back of the head ever since I got back from the Camino.  I want to do the Appalachian Trail (AT).  I've thought about this for awhile actually and never took the idea seriously but the way I see myself has changed.

    When I was planning my 2011 Camino I was most concerned that I wouldn't make it past day three.  I left home convinced that I would give up shortly after starting and I would come home humiliated and ashamed.  That couldn't be further from the truth.  I had some tough days.  Quite a few actually.  But I made it and I came back proud of my accomplishment.

    So now I'm thinking of the Appalachian Trail and the thought of not making the 2,184 miles (3,515 km) just isn't crossing my mind.  The AT is only four and a quarter Caminos.  I estimate it should take me five to six months to do.  And you know what?  It doesn't feel daunting.  It's a wonderful feeling actually.  A feeling of self-confidence I've rarely felt.

    I've set a goal of my fifty-fifth birthday (2018) for doing the AT.  I have a few things to learn first.  Camping is one.  Never camped in my life.  I'll have to rethink my whole packing strategy.  The Camino emphasizes less weight but the AT is a whole other animal.  You have to carry enough food and water for extended periods.  You have to carry food preparation stuff.  You need a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad.   Basically, everything an albergue provides on the Camino has to be in your pack.  Oh yeah ... and you have to poop in the woods.  Never done it.  Whoopee.

    So I have six years to learn quite a bit.  There are a a few interesting places within a couple hours drive to camp in.  Colorado is only a day's drive away and there's lots of cool places there for camping.  I look forward to camping under the stars.  
So I've got a few things on my mind.  Surprisingly - for me anyway - all of these things have a physical aspect to them.  It's surprising since I have spent most of my life avoiding things with physical aspects, notably sports.  I have always considered myself more cerebral ... nerdy.  It's kind of sad that it's taken me this long to figure this out, that I enjoy hiking and trekking.  But, as the old saying goes, better late than never.


  1. I've struggled with the idea of what to post lately as well! It sounds like you are in between massive adventures and in that prep stage. But between this and all the push ups and exercising you're doing, you've been BUSY!

    I'm glad you've discovered you like hiking. The AT is a major accomplishment, but I think you can handle it. And you're still fairly young so you can enjoy hiking for decades still. :)

    Oh and I'm not sick of hearing about the Camino. I still think you should take all your writing into a book and get it published. Then I can buy a copy.

    1. Miss McC: I have been busy but thinks just don't feel blog-worthy.

      Thanks for the AT vote of confidence. Not sure about the decades of hiking but I am going to try my best.

  2. While reading through a series of blogs about the Camino de Santiago I came across yours. Just saw your post here about going in Sept of 2013 and I'm planning that myself! I also realized that if you've hiked the Indian Cave State Park, that you're not likely far from me, i'm just across the River a bit in St Joseph Missouri. Maybe we'll cross paths out there some day.

    1. Allen, I live near Omaha, NE. I make it down to Indian Cave a few times a year to hike. Will this be your first Camino? We should set up a meeting and compare notes.

    2. Indeed I was going to beg you for a lunch date to talk about it sometime before this next summer. I've been trying to work out a day to get my niece and her little girl up to Omaha for a visit to the zoo and thought I'd try for then. Yes it'll be my first camino but i've done quite a bit of walking in the past 12 years, having only bought a car 4 months ago now. I average 10-12 miles a day now, but unfortunately i'm having a bit of plantar facitis (sp?) in my feet now. I'm working around it and don't think it'll be a problem by the time I get to head for Spain next year.

    3. Allen, no begging necessary. I won't be available until I get back from our vacation (Sometime after July 25th or so) but after that i would be glad to meet up with you either in Omaha or somewhere halfway between St Joe and Omaha.

      When I did the Camino I averaged 14.5 miles a day. Since you're already doing 10-12 it shouldn't be much of a problem. The one unknown is walking that much with a pack - it adds a bit of extra stress on the joints.

      I suggest you send me an email (my address in is the right margin of my blog). When I get back from vacation and I'm over my jet lag I can shoot you an email and we can set up a meeting.

    4. Yeah the pack part is what i'm starting to train myself to now since I see that as my only concern, though a small one. When walking the 4 miles to work for 10 years, I usually had a 10-15 pound backpack of books and snacks for my shift anyway so now it's a matter of wearing in the pack i'm going to use, or wearing myself into using it...:) I'll definitely drop you an email when you get back, no rush or hurry though we've still got more than a year.

    5. Allen, in the mean time, if you haven't already, you should visit the Camino Forum (http://www.caminodesantiago.me) A lot of good information there.

    6. lol, i think i'm signed up on about a dozen of them, that one is one of my favorite though. :)