2014 Preparations

1/1/14 1.75 miles on Treasure Key, Bahamas. Here with Frannie, Howells and Bandys at home that belonged to Scotty’s family. Beautiful sunny breezy day. Tripped on sidewalk and fell during walk. Main injury my wounded pride, although bruised upper ribs on right side and unattractive raspberries on right knee reminders I need to lift my feet (stop shuffling, Bill!).

1/13/14 2 miles 41 minutes 13 seconds. Trying to walk early in the morning here in Juno Beach. Nice time to walk. We enjoy doing it then because you feel better all day.

1/21/14 2 miles 42 minutes 28 seconds. Walked alone. Wonderful time to pray. Cooler early morning. Felt good. Dealing with trying to do too much. Made a list yesterday of current commitments. It took a while to even remember them all. It turns out the total is eleven: Caritas IV, Haiti, two homilies (one for young parents Sunday), RCIA, Brown Bag Lunch talk, recordings for my website, Feb. 14th Country Jamboree, Prison visits, Spirit and Truth, Spanish Class, Pope Francis reading, my late Feb./early March mission in CT. Oops…I guess there are twelve. Patience, Bill. (Editor’s comment: I count at least thirteen, and that’s generous. No wonder I want him to slow down!)

2/13/14 2 miles 39 minutes 9 seconds. Sunny, cool and breezy afternoon of a busy day. Good to get back to walking, even if it is the only time I may get to do it for a few days. 12 pounds lost…18 to go. In case anyone wonders why I have not made a weight entry for about seven months, it is because I only enter losses. In other words, when I gain, no entry. Obviously, I lost my way for some time, but I am now back. I know I can’t do the pilgrimage if I do not lose the weight. That’s the advantage of having a dream.

2/26/14 3 miles 69 minutes 5 seconds. Frannie’s birthday. She is off with friends at Mass and breakfast. Sr. Sara is visiting from Albany. A cool morning with a fog like mist. Felt tired after my first go at 3 miles in awhile. I know that will get better.

4/1/14 2 miles 39 minutes 15 seconds. Beautiful low 60s sun rising morning. Great time and weather for walking. Filled with gratitude today, as Caritas IV was a blessed event. Many touched, including me. Frannie’s Mananita a great success. John and the Larsons have come and gone. I miss them. Today, back to work, preparing to leave Friday for the Keys and Fr. Tony’s going away party.

4/10/14 3 miles 67 minutes 52 seconds. High 60’s . North breeze. Sun just starting to come up as I finished. Practiced the Exsultet on my walk.

4/19/14 3 miles 67 minutes 11 seconds. Walked with Frannie after morning prayer at SPOC and Dunkin Donuts. Warm, muggy. Good Holy Week so far. Exsultet tonight.

4/21/14 3 miles 65 minutes 48 seconds. Cooler morning…late 60’s by the time we walked around 11:00. Easter services went beautifully, except for my Exsultet. I started on the wrong note, felt a frog in my throat, and, as a result, murdered the first third of the piece. Janet, always the good teacher, told me she thought it was incredible the way I stuck with it and finished strong. I felt flat and discouraged afterwards. Decided the next morning I just had more work to do. God is not finished with me yet!

4/24/14 3 miles 65 minutes 48 seconds. Started at 5:45 AM. Beautiful cool morning. A pleasure walking as the sun begins to rise. A symbol of hope. Session with inmates at Sago Palm went well yesterday. Presented “What it means to be Catholic.”

4/29/14 3 miles 68 minutes 8 seconds. Started around 7:30 again. Warm, sunny day. 15 pounds lost…15 to go. Time between weight loss now not a matter of my straying. It is just getting harder to lose. Getting back down to weight levels I have not been at for years and years. Finally below what we weighed when we first came to the Waterford in 2007.

5/9/14 2 miles untimed in Johnson City TN. With Michele and Kevin. Megan arrives tomorrow. Visits with Kathy Steinmuller and Dot Magidson went well. Preaching at Michele’s church this weekend, Mother’s Day.

5/22/14 2 miles 53 minutes 9 seconds. Walked after breakfast. Frannie feeling a bit queasy so I was on my own. Used my ‘trekking poles’ for the first time. It occurred to me after my first step that I had no idea of how to use them. So I experimented. Hopefully, I will find some guidance on the Internet before I walk again. Not sure, but I think the poles definitely help with balance and may reduce stress on my legs, particularly my knees.

6/5/14 3 miles 76 minutes 45 seconds. I continue to be amazed by the body’s ability to respond to exercise. When we walked 3 miles for the first time three days ago, my body was dragging the rest of the day. After yesterday’s walk, my body felt tired but I was still comfortable going about all we had to do (primarily shopping in North Conway). One other thing. I am working on my Spanish. After reviewing and organizing the materials I received during my Lenten Spanish class, I started work on a list of common words, verbs, phrases and a verb conjugation summary. I hope to record the first three so I can listen to/practice them while walking. Have also purchased a Spanish/English calendar and it is proving to be a big help, especially because it provides phonetic spelling of the practice sentences. A good way to reinforce what I have been taught about Spanish pronunciation.

6/7/14 Didn’t walk today. Had a hard time getting to sleep, so I took a Melatonin around midnight. As a result, got up feeling a bit off. From there it went downhill. Since this is my normal day to weigh in, I did so expecting I would lose another pound. I have been soooo good when it comes to eating. You can imagine my surprise when the scale informed me I had GAINED three pounds! That’s a four-pound spread, which is about TWO months of being good to shed. I felt like, “what’s the use.” It then occurred to me as I started downstairs for breakfast that both knees hurt, and it felt like I had a bone bruise on the left front of my right foot. That’s after walking 13 miles in the last week, about one day’s walk on the Camino. “What’s the use. I will never be able to do this. Why not accept I have just been dreaming.” Discouraged is almost too weak a word. So, what next? After a fair amount of thought, I think I will do what advised to do when faced with a setback in AA: if your ass falls off, pick it up, and carry it to a meeting. I am not going to give up.

6/9/14 3 miles untimed. Our granddaughter Taylor has arrived and will be staying with us for the summer. She will be working at a local bread bakery. Walked with us this morning. The walk untimed because our daughter Hope called me in the middle of the walk to talk about various things she is dealing with.

6/16/14 4miles 105 minutes 4 seconds. Beautiful sunny late 60’s morning. Walked by myself as Frannie is off to see her sister Anne. Why I am trying to do this pilgrimage has been on my mind lately. May be the product of apprehension, or concern any one of a number of maladies or injuries could doom my plan. Anyways, here is what I have been thinking. When I first came up with this idea, I wrote down my reasons for doing so. Having a dream was number one. I still think this is very important. I have now been working at my walking, struggling to lose weight and dreaming of doing this pilgrimage for over eighteen months. That never would have happened without the DREAM. My second reason was to demonstrate (to whom? not sure) the incredible latent potential in the human being. I still like this idea although I now suspect it may have been a cover for showing people how special I am. The third reason was “spiritual growth.” The longer I work on preparing myself for this trip, the more this idea occupies my mind. Some where in this journal I think I talked about the spiritual potential of this trip and what I would like to accomplish spiritually. I am increasingly certain this pilgrimage will be very good for me. What specifically will come of it is up to God, but I have simplified it in my mind to this desire: increased conscious contact with the Divine. I am not even sure I know specifically what this means but I know that’s what I hope to accomplish. Details left up to God. Father John Powell’s three results of being touched by God (never the same again; life lived more fully, and increased capacity for charity) would be wonderful. So, is God “calling” me to go on this pilgrimage? Answer: who knows? I do feel an attraction to doing so, which I usually associate with God’s will for me. But for some reason, I think of it more God being willing to let me do so if I wish, but it is my choice. Not sure why I feel this way. But it has one nice by-product. It has reduced my anxiety about what may prevent me from going. Because God will not allow anything to prevent me unless it is not his will inspiring me or at least enabling me. And if it is not, if it is just some grand self-deception, then it will be for the best something forces me to end what would obviously be my folly.

6/11/14 Talked with John McGrath this morning. Had a fun time discussing various things we are doing to prepare for our adventure. I think at least half the fun of having a dream is sharing it with someone else. No wonder Jesus sent them off two by two. One thing we did was settle on trip dates. We will leave the US on Monday, August 17, 2015, and fly to Paris. The next day we will take a train to St. Jean, our starting point for the pilgrimage. We will stay in St. Jean two nights, giving us time to get all our documents and whatever else we need. Then, on August 20, 2015, we will begin our pilgrimage. Allowing for 33 days of walking and 6 days of rest, we will arrive in Santiago on Monday, September 28th. On the 29th or 30th, we will take a train back to St. Jean, stay there one night, and then take a train to Paris, arriving on September 30th or October 1st. Our wives will be there to meet us, having arrived the day before and taken hotel rooms for us. We will then revel in Paris of 4-6 nights, before returning to the States. Sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it? Makes it seem almost real! John has to check with Chrissy to see if she is ok with the dates, and then, if she is (Frannie has already agreed), we will begin making reservations in late August.

6/17/14 4 miles 98 minutes 17 seconds. Have no idea why today 7 minutes faster than yesterday. I think my watch may have gone to sleep for a few minutes! Felt surprisingly good for second day in a row doing 4 miles. Could feel it coming up the back of Brown Hill Road. As my legs were complaining, it occurred to me I am in much better shape this year versus last year at this time. In light of my journal entry yesterday, I found the following note from Linda Luizza interesting (Linda is our Webmaster for goodnewstoday.net and has just returned from walking the Camino): It was a phenomenal trip!  I lived, breathed, and walked in the Spirit of God 24/7. 

6/20/14 4 miles 106 minutes 8 seconds. Cool sunny early morning. Frannie walked the first three miles with me. Having a problem losing weight. Have hit a GIGANTIC plateau. Have been so good in what I have eaten (except for my Sunday breaks), and I keep walking, but my weight won’t budge. In fact, I gained two pounds a couple of weeks ago. Horrors….does this mean I am going to have to forego my Sunday break?

6/23/14 4 miles 103 minutes 46 seconds. This time is accurate. Beautiful cool sunny morning. Frannie off to visit Anne for a couple of days. First reading yesterday at Sunday Mass (I was thinking how unattractive the idea of walking four miles the next day would be): “Remember how the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention…to really do this (my words; the actual words were “to keep his commandments..’.) Don’t suppose trying to increase my conscious contact with God takes discomfort and perseverance and, and, and walking when I don’t feel like it??? Something to ponder. Our planned pilgrimage will take 39 days. One more day, and it is 40. Is that significant? Is this preparation part of the pilgrimage? I think it is easier to want something than to make the effort to achieve it. I think it is easier to say “Thy will be done” than to mobilize my own will power to do my part.

6/25/14 4 miles 94 minutes 51 seconds. My actual time. Partially because Frannie was with me I was walking faster than usual. Muggy overcast day. I think there may be a level of consciousness beyond the normal space our minds operate in. Thought of this while walking a couple of days ago. As I walked I started thinking about something important to me at the moment, I can’t even remember what. And all of a sudden I noticed I had covered quite a bit of ground without feeling I had exerted much energy. I also felt more alive and relaxed. A least I think I did. Will have to observe this and think about it some more. I know this capability exists, just from what I have read. I wonder how you develop it. And I also wonder whether there is a level of consciousness that puts one in more direct contact with the Divine. I am sure now the main reason I am going on this pilgrimage is to increase my conscious contact with God. Notice, I did not say, ‘try to increase…”.

8/4/14 6 miles 158 minutes 40 seconds. Overcast, not too warm, but buggy. Walked by myself because Frannie’s Quilt Camp has started. Did better. Good inspiration on a couple of things I have coming up, practiced my Spanish and even a little Exsultet!

8/7/14 6 miles 160 minutes 2 seconds. Felt tired this morning. Very tired.. Didn’t even want to start. But I did, feeling sorry for myself, ignoring the fact it was a beautiful day to walk. When I was walking today I went back to a subject that has been on my mind ever since I started getting serious about doing this pilgrimage: what to bring that adds up to less than 20 lbs. The inspiration while I was walking was to dump the heavier pair of pants and get a pair of rain pants. I could then wear them in inclement weather, over my lighter pants when it was too cool, and I bet they even have an elastic waistband As I turned at the three-mile mark, I realized I didn’t have the energy to climb the back of Brown Hill. But I just kept walking, although it seemed as if I could barely put one foot in front of the other. Finally, I reached the bottom of Brown Hill Road. I started up, murmuring. “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you” in time with my footsteps. Slowly, I moved forward, never looking beyond four feet in front of me….Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you…until, forever later, I reach the top, where the blacktop turns back into dirt road. Now here’s what I think. It didn’t matter I didn’t have the energy to climb that hill. Because WE did. I am looking forward to my nap. Not sure why I am so tired, maybe Quilt Camp, even though I enjoy all Frannie’s friends.

8/11/14 6 miles 207 minutes 7 seconds. Walk with my pilgrim partner John McGrath. Beautiful day. A wonderful time discussing endless details of upcoming pilgrimage. Talked with Linda L. (who did the Camino earlier this year) later in the day. We learned a great deal. Shoes: she recommends mid height (covering ankles to give greater stability) and waterproof. There is very little if any humidity. Perhaps most importantly, she did not carry a bedroll, just a silk sack. There are four levels of accommodations on the Camino: municipal, Catholic Church, private and hotels. The first two are what you hear about. The third Linda compared to our B&Bs. She said they cost 30-35 Euros a night. What they provide is dinner, breakfast (Linda almost never ate as she had already started walking) and most importantly a bed (with sheets and blankets) in a private (for two) or semi-private room (maybe one or two others) and a semi-private bath. She claims she never used the towel she had brought! The way she got these rooms was by reserving the room for the following day early each morning. John wasn’t exactly thrilled by the idea of having to make a phone call each morning but we both agreed that we wanted to stay in the kind of places Linda stayed in. We can buy a cheap phone in France/Spain that we can use to make reservations. The other information I found potentially very important was her almost off hand comment that there is a service that, for a price, will transport backpacks to the next town you will be staying in. The significance of this lies in what might happen to my back. If reliable, this service gives me the option of walking with just a very light daypack if I need to. Clothing: no cotton or fleece products because they do not dry easily. Feet problems: The most common problems on the Camino center around blisters Apparently there is a miracle cure called Compeed (not available in US) that you can get in any pharmacy, which, when combined with moleskin, works wonders on popped blisters. Other health: bring plenty of ibuprofen. A small flashlight is helpful. Not sure about having it in a headlamp. Overall, Linda gushed about her experience and said she can’t wait to go back. Very spiritual, everyone (other pilgrims/ B&B owners) friendly and helpful, food excellent. Lastly (this sounds like heaven), no matter how much you eat, you will lose weight.

8/12/14 no walking. John and I headed to North Conway and a “research investigation” at Eastern Mountain Sports. it was an informative and side-splitting (laughter) adventure. We spent a good deal of time trying on different boots, all meeting Linda’s criteria. I ended up buying a pair made by the same company that makes the lower height model I bought last summer. They are slightly heavier with a significantly firmer sole, but I believe they will serve me well. John came away with a couple of alternatives but will continue his evaluation back home. The highlight in terms of knowledge gained came when we started trying on backpacks. The light bulb moment came when I finally found a pack I was relatively comfortable with and asked the salesperson to put some weight in it. When she put the second eight pound weight in my pack , I thought I was going to fall over. I walked around a bit and, guess what, it still felt like I had a bag of cement on my back. So I walked over and asked John if he would like to try the pack on. He must have guessed something was up from my uncontrollable laughter. Before he even put in on his back he said, “This can’t be twenty pounds!” So we asked the sales person who promptly walked us over a scale, put the pack on it and…we were right, it did not weight twenty pounds. It weighed eighteen! This ended our research trip.

8/13/14 3 miles 76 minutes 13 seconds. Walked with John again in light off again/on again rain. mid 60s. Great walking weather. Here’s what I am going to do about the heavy pack. First, I am going to schedule an appointment with a back doctor in FL to find out if I can even risk carrying the pack. Either way, I will ask for suggested exercises to strengthen my core, in an effort to minimize back problems en route. If he says I can carry the pack. I will buy a pack early next spring and start training, first with light loads and short distances, then building up. Regardless of what he says (I suspect bad news in terms of carrying the pack), I will try and use my Camino blog to verify Linda’s claim there is a service to carry our backpacks from town to town. If there is, we are ok, regardless of what the doctor tells me. John also has an uppity back so walking with just light daypacks might be best for both of us. If the service is unreliable…I guess we will start working on Plan B. Our daughter Liz has scheduled her wedding for October 10, 2015, which put a big hole in our plans for a week in Paris after finishing the Camino. When we told the girls, they were so disappointed we decided we needed to regroup, so just a little while ago, we announced their Christmas present was indeed going to Paris, but only a week earlier, from September 26th – October 3rd. Girls much happier. This means we may have to leave earlier. However, it looks like if we cut down the number of days we take off to rest during the pilgrimage, we will be all right. Something to think about. Finally, before dinner and the last half of “The Way”, we spent some time on the computer working of potential travel arrangements. It looks like we can travel to Paris, and get to Saint Jean the same day we land in Paris.

8/18/14 6 miles 160 minutes 22 seconds. Absolutely gorgeous late summer/early fall day; high 60s/low 70s, the beginning tinges of fall color in the leaves, the rich scent of pine needles as I walked.

8/20/14 8 miles 4 hours 46 seconds (included rest time at end of 4 miles). Still another beautiful day, although a little warmer. After walking the eight miles I feel almost exactly as I had after my first 6 mile walk, 4 mile walk and so on. Maybe a little worse. Very thirsty. The human body is amazing. Especially if you can get it in sync with the spirit. One of the traditions associated with walking the Camino involves carrying a small stone, I assume from your home location. I have been on the lookout for some time and finally found just the right one. I was looking for something round, I guess because of the circle’s association with the Divine. The one I found is sort of round but with a number of rough edges. Just my style.

8/24/14 17 pounds lost, 13 to go. Had a face time conversation with John yesterday afternoon. Good fun. I think one of the most enjoyable parts of a trip is getting ready.

9/11/14 6 miles 2 hours 28 minutes 55 seconds. Cool (62), drizzly day. Today was a good opportunity to try out my new rain pants. Overall, they worked extremely well. Two obvious problems: they keep slipping down, even though I got a size smaller than I usually wear, and you get warm in them, which produces perspiration, which produces wet pants underneath the rain pants.

9/21/14 3 miles (in Florida) 1 hour 2 minutes 45 seconds. Frannie and I walked early this AM and then got coffee and egg sandwiches from Dunkin’.

9/26/14 3 miles 1 hour 7 minutes 26 seconds. Similar time/conditions, except for heavy rainfall about an hour before we walked. Many puddles! Went to see Dr. Golish, a back doctor, yesterday. I liked him and he was encouraging, in an odd sort of way. We will see. Having an MRI this afternoon. Chrissy McGrath sent me the most beautiful card. On the front it reads: ALL KNOW THE WAY BUT FEW ACTUALLY WALK IT. She had included a very encouraging note on the inside. I felt blessed.

10/9/14 3 miles 1 hour 5 minutes 22 seconds. Clear early morning with the promise of another nice day. Seeing the back doctor later this morning. My doctor appointment could not have gone better. Key points made by the doctor: comparing my current MRI with the one from 2007 shows there has been very little change (good news). My back has a number of problems, all of which mean I will experience pain every now and then (known). He does not think another facet block (a procedure to deaden a nerve) will help (good news…I did not want to do another one of these. If and when the pain becomes more persistent and greater, I should come back and he will recommend a good pain management doctor, ok). Because of the number of back problems, I am not a good candidate for any kind of surgery (already known). Perhaps most importantly, on the question of our pilgrimage, he recommends “Carry a backpack as light as possible, even carry no pack periodically, because a heavier pack will increase the chances of something bad happening to your back. This something could force you to abandon your pilgrimage.” Good advice. What I had hoped for. I plan to follow the advice and hope I can convince John (who also has a bad back) to do the same. God is good. I have now passed all the important doctor hurdles (feet, knee and back).

10/10/14 3 miles 1 hour 5 minutes 2 seconds. Another day. Help me, Lord, to never take these days for granted. Frannie has found a wonderful apartment in Paris for us to use after John and I walk the Camino. Claudie and JP are going to join Frannie and Chrissy when they fly over to Paris in late September to meet us.

10/17/14 3 miles 1 hour 6 minutes 50 seconds. Another cool morning. Beautiful. Email from John: Hi Bill Just got the green light from my general doctor. He checked my feet and ankles, examining different angles of ankle rotation.  He told me to get something with good arch support as I have flat feet and I am a pronator. Btw I have been doing foot exercises to strengthen the muscles and increase my flexibility. Also, got a flu shot and interestingly, my doctor did not want to shake hands, but offered a fist bump.  Probably more of that in the future for all of us… Nunc Coepi! Love, John

10/23/14 3 miles 1 hour 5 minutes 25 seconds. Another overcast day but warmer with a fairly distinct breeze from the north. Went to see my internist, Dr. Bonomo, yesterday. She was suitably impressed with our planned pilgrimage. She readily gave me recommendations for a hand (arthritis) and foot (general check up) doctors. She also asked that I see a cardiologist and get a stress test. I didn’t bother telling her the LAST thing I will die from is a heart problem because I decided it couldn’t hurt.

11/6/14 3 miles 1 hour 5 minutes 47 seconds. Walked by myself today. Frannie stumbled and fell yesterday and one of her legs is sore this morning. Today, the McGraths and we will be making our flight reservations to and from Paris. We started discussing the subject about 3 weeks ago, and three Facetimes later we have agreement of dates, airline and fight times. John and I will be flying out of Boston on Air France the evening of Sunday, August 16th. Frannie and Chrissy will take the same flight on Thursday, September 24th, about the time we will be finishing or close to finishing the Camino. On Saturday, October 3rd, we will fly back to Boston and the McGraths will fly back to Chicago. The other big step we are taking this week involves finalizing our arrangements for an apartment in Paris. Frannie will be sending the signed contract today.

11/12/14 3 miles 1 hour 3 minutes 46 seconds. Another bright cool morning. Good walk. 23 pounds lost, 7 to go.

11/13/14 2 miles 41 minutes 27 seconds. Went to see a heart specialist and a hand doctor yesterday. Heart doctor seemed very nice and very competent. Had an EKG and he listened to my heart. Everything seems fine but he agrees that if I am going to make the pilgrimage I should have a stress test and an ultrasound of my heart. Both are scheduled for week after next. The hand doctor was not as encouraging. The problem is the arthritic pain in my two thumbs caused by using the trekking poles. X-rays of my thumbs revealed so much damage caused by arthritis that there is no treatment (like a cortisone shot) that will help. My options are: 1. Have an operation on both hands that will put me out of commission for three months (Nope!) 2. Explore a soft brace for both hands that might help reduce movement of the most painful thumb joint with the only question being whether I can handle the trekking poles with them, or 3) Live with the pain. I am going with #2, and will probably end up with #3. I may try to get a prescription of Celebrex for the trip to reduce the pain somewhat. All in all, a successful trip to doctors. I have now had my feet, knees, back and heart looked at. Once I get done with the heart tests, I will be ready to go.

11/15/14 2 miles 42 minutes 21 seconds. A friend of Frannie’s, Squiggs Palmateer, sent me a book about walking the Camino called “Steps Out of Time, One Woman’s Journey on the Camino.” I am enjoying it immensely because it gives detailed insights about the ups and downs involved in walking the Camino. If I continue to enjoy it this much, I think I will get the book for John for Christmas. As I do my walking each morning, I find myself often reflecting on how my motivations for walking the Camino have changed, or, I guess you could say, expanded. I find myself increasingly attracted to committing my self to whatever it takes to improve my conscious contact with the Divine. I think what I mean by this is an awareness of God’s presence in my life that is so pervasive that it is always present in my conscious mind. Somehow I feel walking the Camino will help. Having our ticket procurement go so smoothly, having the same experience with my doctors’ appointments and, at least, this year, my weight loss, indicates to me that God is willing to let me try. And try I will. I also think I will learn a lot about myself. Although it does not seem that important any more, I believe I will also demonstrate to myself if no one else the incredible potential of the human system to change. And, oh yes, it is always good to have a dream.

11/16/14 26 pounds lost; 4 to go.

11/18/14 2 miles 42 minutes 0 seconds. Today is my 75th birthday. Twenty-five years ago, I learned I had cancer. What a miracle to still be alive! Praise God. I just encountered one of the problems of preparing for the pilgrimage so far in advance. I had been playing with the idea of taking my iPad so I could journal on it, with the capability of uploading it to something in the cloud Frannie could look at. Still not sure I will do it, but when the iPhones were announced, I took my iPad mini into the Apple store and did a speed test comparing it to the iPhone 6+, the larger one. Because I could use my thumbs to enter text (the iPad is too large), the iPhone 6+ was a clear winner, so I decided to buy the larger phone. Subsequent to this decision, I went to the hand doctor and learned my thumbs are hopelessly riddled with arthritis. At the time, I never put two and two together. Until I started practicing entering text with my thumbs yesterday while waiting for Frannie at an auto body shop. Today both thumbs are particularly achy. Such is life.

11/27/14 2 miles 39 minutes 4 seconds. 56 degrees when we started. Quick walk as we wanted coffee/breakfast before going to 9:00 AM Thanksgiving Day Mass, where I will be preaching. I have not walked the past few days for several reasons, the main one being I fainted at last Sunday’s Mass. Near as we could figure out later, it was caused by my continuing to take blood pressure medicine during a 10 day cleanse Frannie and I just finished, then having a good breakfast (the first in eleven days), a half cup of coffee followed by rushing off to sing in the choir. I ended up severely dehydrated, but an overnight stay in the hospital did wonders. Was hydrated for almost 30 hours, got some good rest and had every imaginable test. And so here I am, wiser and feeling only a little foolish. (Editorial: NO more cleanses for either of us!) Since then, the weather and my setting the alarm clock wrong has kept us from walking. Perhaps this is for the best as my doctor has been off my blood pressure meds, to see if I still need them with all the weight I have lost. The answer will be at least one of the two. But we will see. On this Thanksgiving Day I give thanks for all my blessings, those I think of every day and those I take for granted. The other day the following thought occurred to me: maybe my going on this pilgrimage wasn’t my idea to begin with. Maybe God isn’t just letting me go. Maybe it was his idea to begin with. Wouldn’t that be exciting!!

12/13/14 2 miles 39 minutes 38 seconds. Partly sunny, 60 degrees. Have not walked for a week because of cold weather combined with a budding cold. Felt good to get back out. Saw my heart doctor yesterday. My heart is in great shape. If anything it is a little too strong, which increases the possibility of dehydration. Doctor recommended I make sure I focus on staying hydrated during the pilgrimage. Water not enough. Need something with electrolytes. Like Gatorade G2.

12/24/14 Getting ready to go to the prison. Wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve day. Jim Howell and I are going together. Finally finished “Steps Out of Time”, the book about a woman who walked the Camino. Hated to have it end. It gave me an incredible feeling for what it is like to walk the Camino. Just tallied the miles I walked in 2014. 560 miles. Now I just have to figure out how to do that in 33 days.