Preparation for the Trip

Lord Help Me!!!

I will be so glad when I step into the car that is reserved to pick me up and take me to Jacksonville Airport, August 13, 2021. Then this preparation for the trip will be over.

Preparation for this trip has become exhausting. I have never gone anywhere without a big suitcase filled with coordinated outfits, shoes, every imaginable personal care items, electronics, my snacks. “Everything but the kitchen sink.”

First of all, I made a decision to go on this trip, only if my ankle (which I broke in three places 2 years ago) could endure at least 10 miles a day. Here is an x-ray of the pins they had to put in my three ankle bones that I broke riding my bike on the black ice on the boardwalk in Ocean City NJ. I was in a wheelchair for over two months.

All these plates & screws are still in my ankle

First dilemma: I needed to find a hiking shoe that did not touch my ankle bone, because the irritation would cause me excruciating pain. So I figured if that would work, then I would pursue this idea of walking 500 miles. I went to the hiking experts in Jacksonville, Florida, REI and explained my situation. Guess what, the shoe salesman hikes all over the world and he introduced me to what he and many other people wear, a running shoe, which is light and durable. I told him I thought hiking boots were better and he said no. These are lighter and they breathe and they are supportive. I asked for an ortho insert to be put in and guess what, I tried it out and no blisters and no ankle pain. Of course, I got the best socks. With a hike that long, only the best will do. They had to be Merino wool. I personally never liked wool. I had an attitude, a bias, towards wool. I guess because the wool I was introduced to years ago was scratchy and most annoying. Why do I need wool, I inquired? The answer was because wool breathes. And you want your feet to breathe so you do not get blisters. I thought I was the only one that needed to breathe and now they are telling me my feet need to breathe. Well, I decided to give it a try. Running Shoes size 8 (one half size bigger so my toes do not touch the end of the shoe) and Merino wool, no show socks (do not want a tan line above my ankle). Ok, I cannot eliminate my ego that much. I still want my tan line to look good. I went on my trial 10 walk down the beach along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline. Hallelujah, it worked!!! Who knew that the right shoes and socks were so important. Shoes (check) socks (check). Balega socks and Altra LonePeak 5 running shoes- Size 8wide w/ ortho insert

Next was the backpack (simple you say, guess again) : “the bigger the backpack, the more you can put into it, the heavier it gets”. I was advised to go to REI in Jacksonville, FL again and have them fit me with a backpack. What!!! I can only think of two times I was custom fitted: a bra and a wedding dress. Fitted for a backpack. It must be important!!! How important, I was about to find out. They measured me and recommended a backpack which I decided to get it and try it out. I put everything in that I thought I would need for the trip and my God, it was over 20 lbs. I boldly tried it out. My shoulders and back could not take all that weight. Having the best backpack or not, there had be something else that needed adjusted. First of all, I needed to assess the situation. Oh, I got it. I have little or no fat on my shoulders. I was handicapped. Maybe being 70 years young has something to do with that. What was I to do? Bulk up my muscles on my shoulders? I don’t think so. Ok my creative imaginative side started to surface. Buy a sewing machine and pad the shoulders!!! I had to buy waterproof fabric (scuba fabric). I tried that. Many, many days later, it seemed to work well, however, the backpack had pockets on either side with zippers and every time I swung my arms, I had to hold my arms out away from the pockets. Are there no engineers out there that try out their products before they put it to press? What do engineers do when they design? This is common sense!!! So, after all this work, out goes this backpack. I am not going to swing my arms out to my side for 500 miles. So I tried another backpack and that did not work. After many weeks of looking and of trial and error and the sewing machine smoking, I said to myself, “Enough is enough”, ” I will make a backpack. Really, are you kidding me!!! I have no clue how to make a backpack. Well, since I was given the idea to make one and because the other backpacks did not meet my needs, I will try it. So I went to Hobby Lobby, of all places and started looking for inspiration. Soft straps were a top priority, so with that in mind, I noticed two soft fabric, black duffle bags with zippers and long handles made out of the soft water resistance fabric. I bought both of them and went home and slept on it. You see, when I sleep on an idea and start fresh the next day, my creativity seems to flow. God please help me!!! A miracle happened. Each day, I added another part to the backpack and I finally got a backpack that seems to work. One problem, it had no structure, so I had gotten these bendable things, looks like bungie cord and molded it around inside the backpack to give it structure. I sewed that inside. Bingo, that took care of that. Now I have structure and it is bendable. If it starts to hurt or rub, I can mold it. It is nice because it keeps the shape bendable. I now have pockets on either side for water bottles, which I insulated, so my water does not start boiling from the summer outdoor heat combined with my own body heat. I needed fresh, cold, clean water, which is easily accessible on my walk. The two insulated pockets on either side do just that. I then took a zippered pouch and sewed that on the back for miscellaneous items needed for my hike. Items such as a cute little roll of doggie poop bags, in case nature calls along the trail. Put my hand inside the bag and scoop up the poop, along with the dirty toilet paper that I proudly ripped off my itsy-bitsy little roll of toilet paper and tie it securely until I find a garbage can. Because so many pilgrims walk this way, I will follow the rules and dispose of my waste appropriately. I also have packed a lightweight tennis skirt to put over my shorts, to use when I have to take a leak. This way I am not exposed to uninvited onlookers who may suddenly appear over the horizon. OK, now since that is out of the way, I needed easy accessible pockets on the back of my backpack for my snacks, honey straws and nuts. Yes I said nuts!!! and dried fruit!!! I researched that Spain has excellent dried cured meats. I have pictures of each kind on my cellphone, so if I do not know how to say it in Spanish, I can point to the picture and tell them I want this. I also have two pockets for miscellaneous food. I sewed a pocket under the flaps for Shoes to keep outside the backpack to keep the backpack from getting dirty. I have a special pocket for sealed letters with prayers in them, sent to me, by people who want me to take with me and burn at the end of the journey. I then decorated the backpack. Two butterflies, of course with bling, which was Sylvia (my sponsor’s) favorite symbol of transformation. I am a product of transformation, so that is one of my favorite symbols. Then I picked an angel, with bling of course. Everything is better when it sparkles. “Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle” . I ordered Camino patches and sewed them on and ordered ribbons with all the names of the towns on them. I will attach some metals (sacred heart of Jesus and the Holy Spirit) and a little cowgirl hat charm with the AA symbol. My backpack is now functional for the walk and I am having fun personalized it. I am now getting attached to my backpack. I guess I will have to give it a name. I think I will call it Perci (French for Percy) for perseverance, which I will need a lot of, to complete this long pilgrimage. I did it. I sometimes amaze myself. I start out with an idea and keep persevering until the idea comes to fruition. Now another challenge, what to put into the backpack.

I will stop writing now, and will pick up again later, on the dilemma of what to take on my journey… Don’t miss the next post on that….

Lone Peak 5 Running Shoes with Ofit Ortho inserts (1/2 size bigger than your normal size
Balenga Merino Wool No show socks
Backpack I made

Published by Esther Mae

Happy, Joyous and Free. Enjoying life and retirement. Oct 5, 202, I completed the FEl Camino de Santiago de Frances, over 550 miles, beginning August 15, 2021 in St-Jean-Pied-De-Port, France and ending in Santiago and walked through the Holy Door. I am 70 year young. Read about some of my adventures. I have a close relationship with my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Spiritual growth and enlightenment are my priorities in life. Please jump on the spiritual soul train with me as I walk and try to practice a spiritual way of life. Esther Mae

One thought on “Preparation for the Trip

  1. Love the Bling and all the learnings in getting ready. You are a good story writer. Surrounding you with love for the journey


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