Camino Santiago –  The Story of Camino Dog

This is Caminio Dog.  On Day 16 he joined our party for a bit of a walk on the Camino.

We first saw him when we stopped for breakfast at a happy little unexpected place just outside of Cacabelos. It was a small building advertising Strawberry Pancakes for breakfast – how could we walk by such an offer? 

It turned out to be run by one man who made the pancakes (crepes) fresh right in front of us in his little kitchen.

The pancakes were delicious. It was sitting here, enjoying our freshly cooked breakfast, that I first saw Camino Dog.  A few cyclists went by the path that passed by the open door in front of our table, and running after them looking very pleased with his life, was a large German Sheppard.  It was such a surprise I laughed as he ran by.

Later that day as we stopped for an early lunch I once again spied Camino Dog. This time without the cyclists, instead just wandering around the town sniffing here and there and seemingly enjoying himself.  

Then, as we were walking out of town we ran into Camino Dog again, only this time he decided to walk with us.

At first I was pretty amused, but when he didn’t turn around at the edge of town and instead continued to walk with us along the busy road I began to worry a bit. Surely he had a home he had to get to.  He didn’t have a collar, but looked to be well cared for with a shiny coat and seeminly well fed.

He continued to walk with us for the next 4km.  Which normally wouldn’t be too long for me to worry about, but this section of the Camino was all roadside walking and it was very sunny and hot out at this point.  We were walking along a river and every once in awhile Camino Dog would stop and try to find a way down to the water – he was obviously thirsty and hot at this point and we were still 3km out from the next town.

When I was training my dog Anna for our long distance hiking trips one of the things she learned was to drink from a wide mouthed water bottle. She knows the word “thirsty” and if she is, she’ll come over and drink from either the bottle or from the lid as I pour water in.  So knowing that a dog is totally capable of doing it, I tried to get Camino Dog to drink from my spare water bottle. No go. He seemed actually nervous every time I’d bring the water out and would walk away from me, so I stopped trying. But he was obviously overheating and needed water.

At this point other Pilgrims were passing us and looking at us oddly for having this giant dog that was clearly overheating out on the road with us.  We tried to explain, but they just walked on by. One Pilgrim, however, slowed his pace and helped us find an entryway that the dog could use to get to the river.

Camino Dog found his way down and drank a bit, then ran back up to continue is curious Camino adventure. I managed to get him into the river a couple more times before we reached our next town. At this point we sat for a break and a cold drink of our own, and Camino Dog walked on.

I was a little worried, since at this point he seemed to be pretty far from home. But maybe he was returning home. I don’t know.  We continued on our journey to our end city of the day, Trabadelo.  And lo and behold who do you think was there chilling under a table with a new group of Pilgrims? Camino Dog. 

We ended up running into him once more near the top of O’Cebreiro in Laguna. He was resting with another group, and then took off with them when they got back on their bikes.  I’ve been keeping an eye out, but I haven’t seen him since. I have no idea where he lives or what he’s doing, but he seems to be enjoying himself on his little canine Camino adventure.

Camino Santiago – Day 15, aka The Day I Melted

Today was hot. I think they said the high was 150 and the country was catching on fire. 

Or it could have been a high of 99°F, which is too hot for me to be walking across mountains and vineyards and dry dusty paths with a heavy pack on my back.

Our day started out alright, being that we started walking before the sun was properly up and in the sky.  We were all rather sore from the climb down the mountain so our spirits weren’t the best, but we were still walking and forging onwards.

We came to Ponferrada in good time, but I must admit I wasn’t too impressed with the city. It did have a castle, which was really really cool to see up close and personal. It’s my first proper castle – acheivement unlocked!

Sadly we were too early for the castle to be open for tours, but I was happy just being able to walk by and see it first hand.

A view of the castle on our way out of the city.

We didn’t stick around the city too long, both because we still had a long ways to go and because we knew it was supposed to get very hot and stay hot. 
And boy were they right. When the sun was up the heat kicked in something fierce. Rebecca is a desert queen and thrives on heat, but I am from the cold northlands and start to melt pretty quickly in the heat. It was not a great day for me.

We ended up taking a two hour lunch break and I still felt like I was melting. We had a mere 5km to go, so I geared up and followed my party onwards. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty miserable.

The last stretch would have been a beautiful hike with gorgeous vistas if it were maybe 10 degrees cooler. As it was I was shuffling along cursing the grape vineyards for not producing any shade. And okay, I was also shuffling along and being amazed at the views occasionally.

Hot vineyards offering me no shade from the sun, but oh that view

Rebecca walking along the Camino through vineyards and mountains

When we finally came to some shade I put my pack down and told the others to leave me behind, this was my home now. I will sit on this bench in the shade and wave to the other pilgrims. 

A place for weary pilgrims to rest.

Rebecca ignored my theatrics and suggested I cool my bandana in the nearby stream, which I immediately did.

Getting my Buff wet in the very cold and refreshing stream

If it were deep enough I might have dunked my whole head, as it was I used my Buff/bandana to cool off

It was another hike in more heat from there, but I did eventually make it to the city of Cacabelos, where I am now. 

Cacabelos, Spain

It was not the best of days, and sadly tomorrow is not supposed to be any cooler. But the heatwave should break Tuesday night I think was the latest forecast. So there is hope! I just keep telling myself that I walked across the Mojave, I can handle Spain in July.

When you get right down to it, there’s nothing to do about it but keep trekking onwards to Santiago. Which is exactly what we’ll do in the morning. 

Camino Santiago – Mountain Climbers are We

Hello from Molinaseca, Spain!  It’s been awhile since I’ve had the opportunity to update the blog here. The only tech I brought with me on this adventure was my phone and the little bluetooth keyboard to type with.  And I’ve gotta say my phone has been letting me down. It’s pretty common to find places with WiFi (passwords for paying customers, of course) but for some reason my phone has not been very cooperative with the internet at large. Basically it allows me to connect to Instagram and that’s about it. No Facebook, no WordPress, no email, nothing but Instagram. Very weird. But tonight we have a solid connection and so I am taking advantage of it!

Since last writing (way back on Day 7) we have officially left the meseta and are firmly in the mountains. 

The rolling hills and forests begin. No longer the flat lands and wheat fields of the meseta!

We’ve been going up and out of the meseta since we left the big city of Leon 5 days ago, but starting yesterday it was no longer a gradual incline and instead a serious upward hike. Days 13 and 14 on the Camino de Santiago consisted of some legit mountain climbing.

Yesterday it was more of a slow and steady slog up until the very end of the day, which was when the real mountain climbing kicked in.  The path was winding and hot and full of rocks, which would be a pattern for the day to come. It was hard work.  For me, it was also a lot of fun. 

The path up the mountain. And this was a good section! So many rocks.

Okay, so I could have done with a little less rocks littering the entire path, but still. The climb up is hard hot work, but I like it. It’s a steady climb and I feel a concrete sense of accomplishment when I get to the top and can look back and see how far I’ve come. And the views are a definite reward.

The view from our albergue in Foncebadon.

We spent the night in Foncebadon, which was mostly ruins of a once thriving village until the Camino gained in popularity and people began to rebuild.  The village is now an interesting mix of a few albergues, reclaimed buildings such as the church, and old ruins.

Today, Day 14 for those keeping track, we woke early to continue our climb up the mountain. Our first big stop of the day was the Cruz de Ferro. It’s one of the more popular stops along this section of the Camino Frances. The tradition is that you bring a rock from home and place it at the base of the cross to symbolize leaving your burdens behind.

Placing my rock from Maine at the base of the Cruz de Ferro

Then it was off and down the mountain. Or so we thought. Little did we know that first we would go down a bit, then up, and up, and up some more.  The path was very nice, with a mix of shaded bits and very pretty views, but it was a lot more work than any of our party had thought was ahead of us that day. We were prepared for the down, but for some reason more up didn’t enter our minds.

Some highlights of the day included stopping to meet Tomas, the last of the Knights Templar, and wandering through the mountains with old ruins of villages. 

Then came the down. As much as I appreciate the challenge of an uphill hike, I dread the downhill path. It is killer on my sad knees, and it’s just plain boring hard work. I do not like the downs. And boy were these some crazy hard downward paths.

Rebecca and Joanne navigate the rocky path downwards

I don’t have many pictures of the downhill hike because I was too busy concentrating on not losing my footing, or having my knees give out, or not rolling down the mountain to my death… (Only a slight exagerration.)

The path drops off right at the edge where the yellow grass is. Pictures really don’t do it justice.

After a lifetime and what felt like the hottest afternoon in history, we finally made it (mostly) down the mountain to our current town of Molinaseca. 


This town is very charming and has a damned up area in the river where you can swim. If we had the time I’d spend days here just swimming and wandering around, but alas we are on a schedule. So tomorrow it’s off early to Ponferrada and beyond!

Week One Survived on the Camino de Santiago!

​Hola from Calzadilla De Los Hermanillo! We have officially finished week one on the Camino de Santiago. Go team!

At this point in our adventure I think we’ve worked out a pretty good routine. Of course we’re on the meseta right now which means long flat days of walking, things might change when we reach the mountains…

The meseta. Not a mountain in site. Also not in sight, shade.

But for now we’ve found what works. And we’ve all been very good about communicating when we need breaks, or doubts in the planned path, etc.  This is my first team adventure, and trekking with group is very different than when it’s just me and Anna.

The routine:

We wake up not-so-bright and early at around 5am to get our packs on and walking by 6 or 6:30.  Partly because we have been staying in albergues (Americans, think public hostels) and when the other peregrinos wake up and start getting ready, we all wake up and start getting ready.  People generally try and be as quiet as they can, but there’s only so little noise you can make when getting gear together in an open room with 50 other people. On the bright side, this means I never have to worry about setting my alarm!

Our albergue in Boadilla. (We chose the loft section)

Once we’re ready, we head out and start walking. This usually means before the sun is up and the heat hits. Which is the whole point of getting out early – to get as many miles in before the sun is up and baking.  Joanne and I do not do so well with the baking. Rebecca, I think, seems to come alive in the heat but she’s been very accomidating to her two New England bred companions.

After walking for a couple of hours we stop in a town and have breakfast. This usually includes either a croissant or a bocadillo (egg, potato, and sometimes cheese, on french bread), and always includes the precious cafe con leche. We sit and relax and eat for about an hour, then it’s back on the road. 

Our typical pilgrim breakfast

After breakfast we walk for a couple more hours, at least, and either take a break on the side of the trail in a bit of shade (if we can find any) or if we reach another town we’ll stop for a cold soda and maybe some fruit or snacks we’ve packed.  This break tends to be short – just a breather, then it’s back on the trail.

Sometimes we luck out and have both shade and picnic tables for our break.

Usually we plan it out so it’s just another couple of hours to our end destination. Which means we stroll into town around 2pm (or 14:00), which is plenty of time to make sure the local albergue still has enough beds open.  We drop our packs on our beds, shower, and relax until dinner time.

Then we sleep, wake up, and do it all over again. 

There are still a few quirks to work out – like how we tend to skip lunch and then curse ourselves later in the day when nothing is open and we have to wait until later to get dinner.  Minor stuff…

But honestly it’s going really well. We’ve all found our strides and every day we seem to be making better time and getting well into the groove of the Camino.  I think Joanne and Rebecca are nervous about the upcoming mountains, but I have complete confidence we’ll be fine. I might be singing a different tune by the end of next week, but we’ll see.

Buen Camino!

Day 2 on the Camino Santiago – Hornillos to Castrojeriz

It seems crazy to me that it’s only day 2. I feel like it’s been longer.

Today started not-so-bright and early. The sun wasn’t even up yet when we woke and began the shuffling process of getting ourselves and our packs ready for the day. Which is unfortunate since there was a group that we have taken to calling the Young and Drunk who kept everyone else up with their loud shenanigans. 

Which I realize makes me sound like a scrooge, but there are Quiet Hours that start at 10pm and dammit I need my sleep! It felt like people were being loud all night long. That and coming and going into the room, making noise, and leaving the door open which let all the light in (which was right on my face since my bunk was next to the door).

And then someone’s alarm went off far too early (and far too loud…twice) for me.  It was not a very good night of rest is all I’m saying. Though I will say we got on the road a full hour ahead of our schedule and it was pretty good to get out and get going. 

We ended up leaving Hernillos a little before 6:30am and reached our breakfast destination of Hornitas by 9:18am – ahead of schedule! We had another delicious breakfast of bocadillos (we have come to a consensus that that is what they are called) and cafe con leche.  

Breakfast is definitely my favorite time of day on the Camino so far. It’s a lot of work before a meal, but it’s something to look forward to during those first few miles and so far it’s been the my favorite menu item of my meals. Which is saying something because the food has been wonderful on this trip. 

Honestly, for me, the food was one of the bigger worries. I was afraid finding vegetarian options would prove difficult, but that hasn’t been the case so far.  I’m just hoping these first few days prove to be the trend for the rest of the walk. 

After breakfast it was time to get back on the trail. Our guide books and research had told us that the morning would be all flat walking, with only one big incline the second half of the day. Let me tell you, the first half of the day was NOT flat. In fact the info had it backwards in that the first half of our day felt like nothing but giant hills, which thankfully was not what the second half was like.  I won’t say it was flat exactly, but it was a far cry from the first half of the day.

We ended the day in Castrojeriz a little past 1pm and ended up spending a bit more than normal for private rooms with their own bathrooms attached. After last night we all felt like we needed a good night’s sleep.

After settling our gear we decided to walk across town and find what the map told us was a supermarket and an ATM. The map was not exactly helpful on exact locations of these destinations and so we ended up walking around during some of the hottest part of the day for 5 km. Not our best move. But we did eventually find a small marketplace and an available ATM! By the time we made it back to El Manzano, our home for the night, we were all a little overheated, hungry, and grumpy. So pizza was ordered at the bar. That pizza was devoured in record time.

One thing we’ve all discovered is that by the end of our walking we’re not really hungry, but can’t wait for our bodies to signal for hunger and just need to re-fuel no matter what. 

The day definitely had it’s ups and downs but overall we are still going strong and spirits are high. And I am still loving all of the history, architecture, and general everything of Spain.

Day One on the Camino

I am sitting in an alburgue in Hornillos, Spain after a long, hot, dusty day of hiking and I’m feeling pretty good.  

Our first night in Spain was spent in a hotel in Burgos. The plan was to get a hotel the first night so we’d be well rested for the start of the long journey on the Camino.  It was a good decision. After a dinner out and exploring the city a bit we got a good night’s sleep and left Burgos today around 7:30 in the morning. Sadly the Cathedral was closed so no stamp for our Pilgrim’s Passport from our starting poiny of Burgos. But the weather was nice, my pack felt good, and otherwise it was a good start to the first day on the trail. 

Obligatory Pilgrims shoes with the symbol of the Camino shot.

The weather in the morning was sunny and blue skies with a slight breeze. Perfect weather for hiking. 
We passed by so many old buildings and picturesque scenes. It really started to sink in that, holy shit I’m in Spain! Achievement unlocked – first overseas adventure!

Around 10am we stopped to have a late breakfast/early lunch in Taradojos. I had a croissant with butter and jam, the most deicious coffee, and split a vegetarian bocadillo (possibly…there is some question on the name of what we ate) with Rebecca. It was perfect. 
After eating and resting for a bit it was back on the road.  The skies were dark and we heard a roll or two of thunder, but we were lucky and our path skirted the storm.

After a giant hill that just about killed my knees, we made it to our destination for the day.  We were lucky again and managed to get some of the last beds in a very nice alburgue here. We were able to take showers, wash our sweaty and dusty clothes, and now we’re just resting and waiting for dinner (which the alburgue provides for an additional minimal fee).
I was a little worried as the last big walk I did I pushed my gear, not carried it on my back.  But after walking 13 miles I have to say I’m feeling pretty good. Sore, obviously, but not as sore as I was afraid I’d be. We’ll see if that all changes in the morning, but as of right now I’m feeling very optimistic about this adventure.

(I have more, but even these pictures were a pain to upload so there might not be as many, if any, on posts in the future. If you want more pics, my Instagram is a good place to find them.)

Equipment List: Camino de Santiago


I only noticed when I collected it all together for this picture, but I have a color theme going on. Everything matches! 100% unplanned.

Here is the final gear list for El Camino de Santiago.  When I return I plan to revisit this list and write about what worked, what didn’t, and if I’d add or remove anything.  But for now, here it is.

Rain Cover
Hiking Shoes
2 Water Bottles
Water Purification Tablets
Sleeping Sack

– 2 Pairs of Shorts
– 2 T-Shirts (one hiking, one sleepwear)
– 1 Tank Top
– 1 Pair Yoga Pants (sleepwear)
– 1 Light Fleece Jacket
– 3 Pairs of Underwear
– 3 Pairs of Socks
– 2 Bras
– 1 Bandana

– Quick-dry Adventure Towel
– Toothbrush & Toothpaste
– Facewash
– Shampoo
– Contacts + Solution
– Glasses
– Earplugs
– Sunblock

– Cell Phone & Charger
– Bluetooth Travel Keyboard*
– Headphones
– Camera
– Fitbit & Charger

– Journal & Pen
– Knee Brace
– Wallet & Passport

A few hair ties and barrettes, a keychain flashlight, and that’s it. Let me know what you think – if you think I’m forgetting anything essential, what worked for you if you’ve walked the Camino, or what you would leave behind. Buen Camino!

*I know the keyboard is a real non-essential item. However, I want to blog and keep an electronic journal and I really dislike typing on a tiny phone keyboard for extended writing. I am okay with this.

Countdown to El Camino de Santiago

Only one day left before we leave for Spain! Crunch time. The plan, for me, is to leave for Rhode Island tomorrow morning and visit with some family, then hop on a bus Saturday to ride into Boston to meet up with my fellow walkers, Rebecca and Joanne. And then it’s a long flight, a not so long train ride, a good night’s sleep and we’re off and walking!

If you follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram you might have noticed something missing from my latest gear picture:

Old Blue, as I've been calling it.

Old Blue, as I’ve been calling it.


Sadly, on my last practice trek Old Blue sprung a leak. I knew that there was fraying on the ‘corners’ of the pack (most likely caused by taking it in and out of the stroller repeatedly on my walk across America), but upon closer inspection I noticed that those frayed areas had gone through and evolved into actual holes. Enter a new last minute addition to my gear list – a new pack!

packIt’s not something I planned for, and it meant sacrificing some other planned purchases, but I do so enjoy shiny new adventure gear. I’ve spent the last day packing and repacking this thing, trying to whittle down the weight. I’ll post a final gear list in a separate post, but my final weight as of right now is just under 15lbs. My goal was a max limit of 15lbs so I’m still meeting that self imposed limit, but I was hoping for a bit less than that honestly.

We’ll see how it fares when I’m actually off and walking.

If you’d like to read about her packing list or a more detailed post about our planned route (which I realize I haven’t really talked about at all), head on over to Rebecca’s site: From Wanderland

Gearing up for the Camino de Santiago

It’s been awhile since my last announcement and the big trip to Spain is coming up fast now!  Only a couple of more weeks and I’ll be off. I am brimming with excitement to get back out there and on another walk.

These past few months have been spent going on hikes and long walks with Anna to get back into walking shape, and slowly collecting what gear I’ll need.

Honestly it’s been good motivation to get out and explore the Richmond area. I’ve explored quite a few local parks and hiking trails that I might have otherwise put off going to. Weather permitting, I’ve been taking Anna on at least one good hike per weekend.

Anna waiting for me to catch up on our Saturday morning hike.

Anna waiting for me to catch up on our Saturday morning hike.

As for gear….  A lot of the gear I used on both my Erie Canal walk and my walk across America I either already had or bought used. Which means five additional years down the road and I’ve really worn everything out.  So I’ve been slowly collecting new gear. Thankfully while this is a long walk I won’t actually need all that much.  Not all of this is new, but here’s what I’ve gathered so far:

– Backpack*
– Hiking Shoes
– Sleep Sack
– Pillowcase
– Flashlight
– Towel
– Water Bottle x2
– Knee Brace
– Solar Charger
– Plug Converter/Adapter
– First Aid Kit

– Hiking Socks x3
– Hiking Shorts x2
– Long Pants x1
– Tank Top
– T-Shirt
– Long-Sleeved Shirt
– Bra
– Underwear
– Swimsuit
– Bandana

Personal Items
– Phone & Charger
– Journal & Pen

And then of course Toiletries and other odds and ends like sunscreen, lip balm, etc.

What I still need to gather:
– Water Filter/Treatment
– Rain Jacket
– Rain Cover
– Travel Wallet
– Earplugs
– Camera
– Sandals
– Random stuff like dry shampoo, clothes pins, etc

I will of course update with a final gear list before I leave.  Hopefully I should have everything by next weekend.

*I really really wanted a new pack. Mostly because I love camping/backpacking gear and would love to collect them all. And it’s been awhile since I bought a pack. However it’s not in the budget and while it’s quite a bit larger than what I need, I do actually have a perfectly serviceable pack:

Old Blue, as I've been calling it.

Old Blue, as I’ve been calling it.

It’s a little stretched out and faded now, but Old Blue here has been with me for every adventure so far. On my back along the 400+/- miles along the Erie Canal and pushed along in a stroller for the 4000+/- miles across America.  It might be bigger, bulkier, and heavier than what I need, but it’ll join me for at least one more adventure across Spain.

She liiiiiiives! Exciting news after a long break.

Well folks, it’s been awhile. (I prefer not to think how long of a while.) But I’ve got exciting news! A new walking adventure is in the works. It’s been in the planning stages for over a year now, and I didn’t want to say anything until it could be confirmed, but that time has come:

flightThe tickets are booked! Coming this July I will be traveling to Spain along with two other brave adventurers to walk the Camino de Santiago! For those unfamiliar with the Camino, it is essentially a 500 mile walk across Spain. It will be my first venture overseas, and I am beyond excited.

There is a lot to do between now and then. More planning, getting in shape, gathering gear, brushing off the dust and clearing out the cobwebs on this site…

More to come as plans progress!