Five years ago, this week, my wife and I began walking in preparation to walk the Camino de Santiago. Most people consider the Camino de Santiago a pilgrimage. It was a part pilgrimage of sorts, but more of a journey of thanksgiving for full recovery from cancer. We chose to walk the Camino Frances – the Camino starting in France.

My wife was in the middle of months of chemotherapy the year before. It started with surgeries in the early part of the year followed by radiation towards the end of the year. By year’s end, that treatment ordeal was completed. She faced follow-up doctors’ visits for the next five years. She has been given a clean bill of health every year since.

Our church had a summer movie program. We watched several movies with many of our friends that summer. One movie that caught out attention in 2016 was The Way with Martin Sheen. It piqued our attention. Walking the Camino de Santiago was something we both felt was in our power to do.

July 3rd is our wedding anniversary. We have done seven or eight honeymoons over the decades. I believe that 2016 was our eighth one. We decided to start in Violet, Texas where we got married (on a Wednesday night) and relive the original honeymoon journey through Rockport, Texas, and then on to San Antonio for the 1968 HemisFair.

We talked about the movie, The Way, as we drove from city to city. We had never heard of the Camino de Santiago. Yet around 300,000 people walk it annually. My wife did not like (and still does not like) the idea of sharing a bedroom with multiple strangers. She eventually said that if she could be guaranteed a private room with a private bath nightly, she would walk the Camino de Santiago.

We walked at least five days a week in late July 2015. After a couple of weeks, we went to a local store and got fitted for proper walking shoes and socks. Our walks continued for the rest of that summer and into the fall. Our original goal was one hour a day of walking. It grew to two hours and then a few days beyond that.

The risk of getting wet from a passing rain shower was persistent on many days. We carried umbrellas to counter that risk – and, had to use them on more than one occasion. One day, we were walking and heard the thunder and realized that without umbrellas we would get drenched before returning to the car.

One of our walking paths goes by Walmart. We strode in just before the raindrops hit around us. I bought a couple of new umbrellas and a half-hour later we were on the trail again.

The walking program expanded to carrying backpacks for a few months loaded with weights. Our packs weighed 15-18 pounds by the time we began our journey in St. Jean Pied de Port, France – the starting point for the Camino Frances.

Walking is a healthy endeavor. For those who do not like exercising at home or at the gym, it is something to consider. Walking outside in the fresh air and sunshine improves many aspects of our lives.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


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