Wwoofing It

Hey there folks,

So this voyage has taken a bit of a delightful detour, if you will, for I’ve committed myself to Wwoofing in France for the next two weeks.

What in blazes is Wwoofing,” you might ask aloud to no one in particular, to which I would reply (to no one in particular), “Why, tis a veritable hoot and a half of a volunteer organization I tell you!” So sit back, get on your dungarees, and prepare to be engulfed in my Camino Detour.

Continue reading “Wwoofing It”

Walking the Wicklow Way

Hey there folks,

As promised, a complete write-up of the Wicklow Way with a full bit of information and tips should you find yourself on the east side of the Emerald Isle. This is a long post so, uh, deal wid it.

The Trail Itself

Marlay Park

According to my guidebook, the trail takes about 5 to 7 days in either direction and runs approximately 132km. I began in Marlay Park, Dublin, and hit Clonegal (official start/end town) by the middle of the sixth day, averaging about 25km a day give or take. The longest I walked in one day was 32km and the shortest was 20km. This makes the Wicklow Way a decent way to spend a week of vacation without being too concerned about time. It also forms part of the E8 Walking Trails throughout Europe, bleeding into the South Leinster Way which takes you further southwest into Ireland.

If you begin in Dublin proper, prepare yourself for you immediately begin hiking upwards on mostly forested trails and rocky paths. You begin at sea level and before you know it, you’re almost 600m in the air. It doesn’t sound like much, especially to my American readers, but this is in the course of a single day – the constant ascending and descending in the first few days are taxing. Especially if you’re a fatbody like me who hasn’t hiked proper in several years. Continue reading “Walking the Wicklow Way”

A Country Made of Rain

Hey there folks,

The Gathering of Pilgrims has come to a rousing conclusion with many a tearful farewell and promises to keep in touch. This blog will hopefully allow me to maintain some connections because I am actually pretty terrible at writing emails reliably. Letters, however, are another story and I can (and will) write those on the reg for some special Roses. Maybe even call once in a while too.

Well, I’ve been in lovely Ireland for approximately three hours now and the rain has yet to stop. Oh sure, it might slow down for a bit, maybe even suspend itself mid-drop to give the illusion of stopping, but this lovely country is either blessed or cursed by the machinations of the Rain God(s). Through the constant gray mist and perpetual showers, I have seen some rather green (and soaked) fields and interesting (yet soaked) architecture. Just on my block (Quay Street), I can see the steeples of at least four churches. And we’re talkin’ steeples here, mind, not the jibber jabber us Americans are used to – these are churches! 

I’ve shacked up in the Four Courts Hostel now for the next two nights: one to recover from jet lag and excessive airplane travel and one to play tourist in the city of Dublin itself. After all, I want to look inside all of those steeples I can glimpse here and there through the downpour. It’s a lovely city, Dublin, and I really do look forward to exploring it, camera in tow, Guinness on draft.

Now then, I need to sleep and recuperate. I am a very tired monkey, after all. Cheers for now.

And So It Begins

After a final night of schmoozing and drinking with the family, I boarded my first plane at approximately 6AM to begin the next chapter in my wandering lifestyle. My heart was heavy for I was leaving a great many things behind me – the sort of things a man doesn’t want to let go of – but my journey had to begin with this first step.

Two flights and a train ride later, here I am in Illinois at the Our Lady of the Snows chapel, ready to begin some hospitalero training courtesy of the American Pilgrims on the Camino. Already I’ve met a smattering of delightful folks I’m eager to spend the week with – seems like plenty of stories to be heard and shared. It has been a hell of a day and I’m quite an exhausted monkey, but I felt the need to share my thoughts (and packing list) before I became too embroiled in the week’s upcoming events.

Without further ado, let us go over The Packing List.

11 pounds of things I probably don’t need

The bag pictured to the left holds all of my gear for the next few months (excluding the things I’ll be wearing day-to-day). It’s a nice bag, an REI model in the M/L range my brother was kind enough to let me borrow. The rain cover was a bit dull so I spruced it up with a positive message: To the ends of the Earth. Because, really, this bag is going places.

In all, I am carrying the following and justifying them thusly:

  • 2 Pairs of Clothing (Shirts, socks, pant/short combo, and drawers)
  • 1 Rain Coat (ponchos are too heavy and cumbersome; this pulls double duty in colder temperatures)
  • 1 Hippie Blanket (a silly sheet you find at Ren Faires you can fold into various articles of clothing; versatile, lightweight, and fits any occasion)
  • Hiking Boots and Jesus Sandals (walk hard, play hard)
  • 1 Hat and Bandanna (they go on my head)
  • 1 Microfiber Towel (lightweight, dries fast, doubles as an extra blanket)
  • 1 ASUS T100 2-in-1 Tablet (the better to blog with)
  • 1 Fujifilm XP80 Camera (to inundate you with photos; also impervious to much of Nature’s wrath)
  • 2 leather-bound journals (one to keep track of personal thoughts and reflections, the other to document Camino itself and her nuances)
  • Toiletries (duh)
  • 1 Fanny Pack (replete with cash, passports, paper, and exclusive Euro vibes)
  • 1 Canteen (you put water in it)

And that’s it. Everything, excluding the water, comes out to approximately 11 pounds. A good rule of thumb for long distance hiking is to carry about 10% of your weight max. Me being a fatass, that number would be closer to 17 pounds; however, my being a badass ensures this number is far lower and easier to carry. Trust me – you don’t need most things you think you might need when you’re out and about. As my brother said, “Ounces equal poundses.” You have to carry every last ounce so be mindful of that when packing.

After months of planning and prepping, hell, it is difficult to believe the day has finally arrived. Will some days suck? Absolutely. Will my fatbody protest in impotent rage? Of course. Will the experience be worth it? Damn right.

Now then, I am off to find some grub that isn’t coffee, shave my pathetic neckbeard, and hopefully get myself a nap. Until next time, comrades.

Oh and here’s the cutest picture you’ll see today:

Great Oma with her nephew.
Great Oma with her nephew.