Camino de Santiago update, hiking and more!

Happy New Year everybody! Well, I have to admit I have been a bit of a slacker recently with regard to my weekly posts, but the holidays have a tendency to get quite busy around these parts. It was great to spend additional time with our family and we had loads of fun in Colorado’s great outdoors.

On the Camino de Santiago news front, we were surprised on New Year’s Eve day to receive our official “Credencial del Peregrino” from the American Pilgrim on the Camino organization. This is the official pilgrim’s passport, stamped every day as you progress from village to village along your route. The passport opens up “accordion style” to create 14 pages. As a peregrino, you are required to obtain one stamp per day, usually at your refugio or albergues. On the last 100 Km, pilgrims are required to have two stamps added per day. Here is what our newly arrived passports looks like:

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Here is what a completed page of passport stamps looks like:

20140102-095046.jpg Once you arrive in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, you check in at the office and present your passport to the staff. They are closely scrutinized and questions are asked about your journey. If approved, you are issued your “Compostela.” The Compostela is completed in Latin and is your “certificate of accomplishment” given only to pilgrims who have completing the Way of Saint James.

In any event, the receipt of our Camino passports signal the time is nearing for our big journey. To that end, we have been working on completing our trip planning for Europe. First things first…Before leaving, we will mail off our Camino packs with all of our hiking gear to our great Italian relatives in Genoa. We will leave the states with our travel bags and fly into Rome toward the end of Feburary. After a few days in Rome we are off to Sicily for a week. We then travel across the Straits of Messina to southern Italy. We have allotted just over a week to explore Italy’s southern regions and Adriatic coastal towns. Then, we spend a week with relatives in Liguria. At this point, we will transition to our Camino hiking packs and ship our travel bags back home. After Genoa, we head up to France. We will spend a week exploring Paris, Amiens, and the Normandy coast. A few train rides later, we will be in Saint Jean Pied de Port, FR – where we will begin the Camino de Santiago. Since we are starting the Camino early in spring, we have scheduled 45 days to complete it. It usually takes around 32-34 days, but we wanted to be safe. After completing the pilgrimage we will be off to Madrid where we have friends who promise to provide a grand tour of the city. We head back home to the USA in mid May.

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In the meantime, Sandy and I continue to hike. We know that we can now hike 12+ miles per day at our altitude, so our goal is to stay in hiking shape without pushing ourselves too hard. We know the Camino will be a major challenge, but are looking forward to all of the lifelong experience it will bring to us. Yesterday we, acting in our role as State Park Volunteers, lead a 7+ mile “First Day Colorado” hike up the Mason Creek Trail in Staunton State Park. We hosted four hearty hikers who braved the 20 degree temperatures to hike a trail with 1,300+ foot elevation gain to 9,344′ elevation. The trail was 85% snow packed with a powdery snow which made the 7.5 miles seem like a lot more. It felt like walking on a beach (at nearly 10,000′ elevation). Just wondering here out loud if there is such a beach??? All in all, we met new friends, had a great time and REALLY REALLY looked forward to our Starbucks caffe lattes afterwards.

20140102-092505.jpgWhile on the hike I had the opportunity to try out a new app I loaded into my Samsung Galaxy G4. It is called “Back Country Navigator and it is amazing. Here is a link to their website: http://backcountrynavigator.com
I copied a couple of their screenshot photos to show the amount of data the app provides and the great quality of topo maps available.

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Finally, I thought I would show off another retirement project we have been working on. This is our ’55 Chevy 3600 pickup truck which we call “Towmater.” We found it several months ago in a state of disrepair in the small town of Salida, CO. It was used as a tow truck for the local garage for years. The tow apparatus is a hand crank system from the 1920’s. We fell in love with it as did our grandchildren. It is now running and our son-in-law Alex (who lucky for us is a master mechanic) is helping out with the little things that go wrong on a nearly 60 year old motor vehicle. Always busy here on the ranch!

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That’s all for now and Buen Camino everyone!

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Filed under Mark & Sandy's Camino 2014

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