My ‘bucket list’ includes a dream of walking the “Camino de Santiago”, an ancient pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago, Spain. The trip, also known as the Compostela (field of stars), begins in many places but all routes end in the great cathedral said to be the resting place of St. James, or ‘Santiago’ in Spanish.
I will not make it to Santiago this year. My dollars, energy, and emotion have been spent on surgery, Germany, Italy, freshmen, gaining new friends, and losing old friends. The well is dry this year and needs time to replenish. I always knew 2010 would not be the year.
Out of idle curiosity I wondered how long it would take me to actually walk the 495 miles I plan to walk one day. The books all say about 33-35 days; the very devout make sure it takes 33 days, one for each year of the life of Jesus. This assumes one is walking the French route which is the one I plan to do. I decided to walk the distance anyway. This is what I discovered about walking a ‘camino’ in Kimball, NE while trying to maintain a full-time job.
I started with a 30 minute, 1.5 mile walk one morning late in August. I walked with my wife and my dogs on the regular morning trip around a nearby park. Twenty-eight weeks later I finished. The walks included a few miles in Colorado, Germany, and Italy but the rest were done in Kimball. Aside from the morning walk ritual, the miles were done on a treadmill staring at a blank white wall about 3 feet in front of me.
My best day was 9.5 miles and my best week was 34.65 miles. The only week I did not walk at least once was the week I spent in the hospital. The worst walk was just 2 miles long but it was the week I came home from the hospital when I thought I was stronger than I was and almost did not make it home from the park! The best miles were the ones I walked with family and friends in Germany and Italy.
My students cheered me on and one wanted to take a picture when I finished. I would have looked different, I lost about 50 miles somewhere along the way. I hope I don’t find it anytime soon.
I did not want to finish on a treadmill looking at a wall. I maneuvered things so that the final walk of this particular pilgrimage found me walking in the morning with my beloved wife and almost as well-loved dogs. The cathedral in Santiago can wait for me to arrive for another year. I finished this journey where all journeys should end, at home with the one I love.