Packing 101

“How much does all this weigh?” I ask myself as I put on my backpack with most of the items in it. Stepping on the bathroom scale and doing some quick math, I can see it registers 14 pounds. The goal was 13. “Well, I could wear some of the clothes – that would help.” I reconsider carrying items such as my yoga mat, the headlamp for reading, and the new set of watercolor pencils and sharpener.

Barb received the multi-plug extension which would have let us share an outlet to charge two phones and two Ipads. Handy….a need, not a want, she thought. How much did that weigh? Two whole pounds!? Almost 20% of the total weight she should carry, for just one extension cord! Not possible. It’s on its way back to Amazon.

We’re already having to make hard decisions. What is worth carrying? What can be left behind? How basic can we get and still have what we need? These are the questions whose answers will play out along the Way.

– Judi

Five More Sleeps: Last-Minute Thoughts and Camino Lingo

Departure day is quickly approaching. Just five days remain until Judi and I start our journey! Both of us have been furiously busy – Judi was in California last weekend for her daughter’s wedding;  I’ve been in Maine and visiting with my mum and my sister Peggy and her husband (who are here from Florida).

Today I’m in Candia, meeting some folks for lunch, picking up Euros from the bank, and rechecking my packing list. To restart at square one, this morning I emptied my fully packed backpack and re-examined the contents.  How did twelve shirts get in there? What on earth was I thinking? No wonder the backpack weighed sixteen pounds, instead of something less than thirteen.  I must remember, “To walk far, carry less.”

Last-minute quandaries:

  • Do I bring pajamas?
  • I hate hats….do I bring a hat?
  • What if my fountain pen leaks in the pressurized cabin of the plane?
  • What if my pack doesn’t fit in the overhead bin?

After the trip is over, I’m sure I will laugh at my fretting over such inconsequential things.

Albergue –  basic overnight facilities with dormitory-type sleeping arrangements, usually bunkbeds; synonyms: hostel, refugio.

Compostela – Literally, field of stars, the Milky Way. Also, a document in Latin which each pilgrim can earn by walking at least the last 100 kilometers or biking the last 200 kilometers of the Camino.

Credential – a small document (see picture above) in which the pilgrim authenticates his or her progress by obtaining stamps (sellos) along the way.

Yellow scallop shells and blazes – Markers to show the way to travel.

Finally, and most important, the phrase Buen Camino, which is the universal greeting along the way: “Have a good walk!”

Thank you, dear friends, for all of your positive wishes. We love you, and buen camino, wherever you go.

– Barb

Getting Ready

We compiled our lists of necessities based on good advice from the books we had read. We won’t have to carry tents, sleeping bags, or cooking utensils so that will certainly lighten our load. Peregrinos (pilgrims) typically stay in albergues, rustic shelters with bunkbeds in large shared rooms. And the Camino travels through small villages, farmland, and cities, so we will be able to shop and pack what food we need for the day.



Guidebooks suggest carrying only 10% of your body weight, pack included. That means we can include only clothes, rain gear, tiny or inflatable pillows, a journal, camera, books, technology (Ipads and cell phones), and personal toiletries.

A comfortable backpack is a basic necessity and the hardest purchase to make.  The pack must rest on the hips to support the weight of its contents, and choosing just the right one requires trying on pack after pack and making multiple adjustments. Another difficult decision is walking shoes or boots that can handle cobblestone, gravel, and hot city asphalt streets. The right choice is critical. For clothing we have to plan for the heat of day and the cool, possibly cold, of the night. To accommodate the ranges of temperature, we will be bringing clothing we can layer. The Eastern Mountain Sports stores in Concord  and Manchester were our biggest suppliers of these necessities. Their knowledgeable and helpful staff counseled us well and made difficult decisions seem easier.

Books are heavy, so each one would have to be chosen with acute discretion. A Pilgrim Guide to the Camino de Santiago by John Brierley is a must for both of us, plus a slim volume of carefully selected verses from A Course in Miracles for Judi. A borrowed IPAD mini for Judi and a borrowed Ipad for Barb will provide us with access to email, maps, and a built-in camera. We’ll both carry refurbished Iphones, and Judi will bring her regular digital camera as a backup. (Huge thanks go to Barb’s son Chuck for his generosity and expertise with all tech issues.)

Today we’re about a week and a half from the start of the trip, and Judi will be off to California tomorrow to attend her daughter’s wedding. She’s spent a summer chock full of adventures to begin her retirement. So packing and unpacking are progressing apace, and the excitement level is escalating for your two peregrinas who are eager to be their way!

About Us – Judi and Barb

Judi –

Who Am I?

That’s a very large question! I like to think that I am an ever-awakening spiritual being, capable of loving more and judging less – curious about the world around me. I’m earnestly trying to apply these concepts more every day.

But if I had to put it in limited material, temporary terms, or descriptors in time and space, it might look something like this:
• Native of Escanaba, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula (UP – Yooper).
• Formal education from Grand Valley State College – BS in Arts & Media (It is where I discovered photography!)
• Married my husband Jim (now an insatiable researcher of Candia history!) in 1979

• Two grown children – Nate (architect in Detroit with wife Mariwyn), Jesse (Santa Rosa, CA with wife Laurie and grandkids –Oscar and Juliette)
• Transferred from Grand Haven, MI to Merrimack, NH in 1982 with Jim’s Gardner-Denver job. So began our love affair with NH! Kayaking, enjoying the outdoors, making great friends.
• At 40 it became obvious to me I wanted to be a teacher so I went to Rivier College, Nashua, to earn my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.
• Joined the Moore School family and Candia community in 1994. Taught Chapter 1 Reading/Math, 6th grade Science/LA/Social Studies. Then created the Minds in Motion program (Enrichment/Challenge for all students), which became my fulfilling career position for the last 23 years.
• Retired in June from teaching. Continued on as a student of life long learning…


Barb –

Whatever you can do, or dream you can; begin it.
Boldness has genius power and magic in it.          

  – Goethe

My 92-year-old mother introduces me this way, “Barbara is my daughter who runs marathons,” or “This is my number 1 daughter,” meaning oldest, not favorite. (My sweet Mum loves all of her daughters very much.)

But how would I introduce myself? I’d say I am a person who makes decisions and sticks to them…teacher and reading specialist for 35 years, runner and vegetarian for 40 years, resident of Candia for 45 years, and wife for 49 years. I’m retired now and savoring all the benefits of ample time to read, run, and enjoy my husband and family.

I’m nearly seventy and still love the same things I did when I was eleven: reading books, sunny days outside, and sweets. I’m a joyful and appreciative daughter, sister to Bett and Peg, wife to Dick, mom to Meagan and Chuck, mother-in-law to Vasu and Kelly, and grandmother to Jaitin, Anjali, and Rory. How lucky can one person be?

Judi and I taught together in Candia, and she has been my treasured friend for many years. I’m blessed to have her accompany me on this trip, which will be a true test of perseverance for both of us as peregrinas, pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, following in the footprints of hundreds of thousands and making our spiritual journeys.


The “Why”

Judi –

Why I’m Making This Pilgrimage

Let’s just say it was Barb’s idea!

For several years, Barb talked about this thing called the Camino De Santiago. A Pilgrimage walk in Spain on ancient Roman trade routes. An opportunity to walk and discover new spiritual insights and meet people – discuss philosophies and ideologies.

My traveling excursions up to this point tended to be nature oriented – jungles in Belize, sea turtles in Costa Rica, gray whales with an Earthwatch Expedition in Baja CA assisting scientists

But the moment Barb said she was willing to go it alone – that’s when I decided to climb on board. Heck – I like to walk. I’ve never been to Europe. Those seemed like reasons enough to join her. This could be fun!

Suddenly my sense of travel DID include people, foreign culture and an opportunity to explore.

In the words of Cat Stevens
“ …so much left to know, and I’m on the road to find out!”

Barb –

Let’s Call It an Obsession

Have you ever been totally captivated by a book or movie? So captivated that it borders on obsession? I became obsessed with the movie The Way about four years ago. I’m not a movie buff like Judi is, but I’ve watched this one countless times, memorizing dialogue, dissecting the plot, and being enthralled by the scenery.

In The Way, the main character, Tom, played by Martin Sheen, has chosen a safe life of work as an ophthalmologist, of golfing with his friends, and of the lonely life of a widower. His adult son, however, has tired of books and study, quits his Ph.D. program in anthropology, and sets off to live a life in the wide world, walking the Way of Saint James, the Camino de Santiago in Spain. On his first day, though, he is caught in a sudden storm and dies along the route. Tom flies to Spain to claim the son’s remains. In an uncommonly spontaneous move, Tom sets off with the son’s backpack, gear, and cremated remains to make the pilgrimage himself and to understand his son. Through the nearly 500-mile journey, Tom undergoes an enormous transformation. He becomes more trusting, open, centered, daring, self-confident, and strong.

The lure of personal transformation motivates me to make my own pilgrimage along the Way of Saint James. So now, just before I turn 70 years old, I’m off on my quest.