The First Day Of School

Holy crap yes, that day is finally here,

The brand new start to a whole new school year.

Lessons and meetings plus excuses galore,

Mind numbing students who stare at the floor.

You’ll do what we want, you’ll do what we say,

Put them in groups or pairs every day.

Higher level questioning on things they don’t get,

Forget those state tests, you don’t have to fret.

So enjoy these last moments, and then just jump in the fray,

Watch the stupidity but stay out of the way.

It’s no doubt you will live, It’s no doubt you will thrive,

Just keep your sanity and stay fully alive.

So as you sit there tomorrow, eyes covered in glaze,

Remember that summer is in 187 short days.

 

The First Ride Back

“Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind you  have to convince.”

-Anonymous

After 65 days of no form of aerobic exercise, I was finally given permission by my surgeon and physical therapist to start riding the stationary bike again. Up until June 28th I had either hiked or rode my stationary bike no less than 6 days per week for the past three years. Of course I had regularly exercised prior to that, but not at the distances that I had been able to work up to.

When I decided to ride bike today I really didn’t know what to expect. How long should I ride? How much resistance should I put on the bike? And the biggest question, How much is it going to hurt?

So I climbed on the bike with just a little bit of hesitation and set my stopwatch for 15 minutes. I took a deep breath, put the resistance on two and started pedaling.  Starting pretty slowly, I was surprised that I didn’t feel any pain. Of course the doctor and the PT had told me that since it is not a weight bearing exercise it probably wouldn’t hurt, but what do they know?

One minute passed, then five, and at the fifteen minute mark, the alarm sounded. Since I didn’t feel any pain, I decided to go for another fifteen minutes. When that fifteen minutes ended I was even more shocked to find that I still wasn’t in any pain.

I will admit that as I climbed off of the bike and began stretching, I felt a great sense of relief.

I’ll count this first workout on the road to recovery a success!

 

 

Camino de Santiago

camino

A couple of days ago I wrote that after careful consideration, a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail was not going to happen. After consulting with my doctor, the fact that something could happen during a thru hike related to being dehydrated and my kidneys was too much to ignore. Also, if I were to get injured on the trail, I’m not confident that I would be able to either get out under my own power or be able to contact someone for help. This latest incident really made me think!

So what am I to do? A couple of years ago two of my colleagues completed a portion of the Santiago de Compostela. As I sat in my usual spot earlier this summer waiting and waiting for my ankle to heal, I thought about that and began researching what it would take to hike the entire Camino Frances.

What is the Santiago de Compostela you might ask? (taken from Wikipedia)

“The Camino de Santiago “Pilgrimage of Compostela”; known in English as the Way of Saint James among other names, is a network of pilgrims’ ways serving pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts and organized tour groups.”

Although there are many different routes to get to Santiago, “The commonly agreed-upon route for El Camino de Santiago (a.k.a. the Way of St. James) begins at Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, and travels 500 miles through four of Spain’s 15 regions, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.” This is the route that I intend to take.

Because so many people choose to hike, walk or bike the Camino, it has actually become a livelihood for the poeple living there and as a result has been broken up into 32 stages. Although the distance of each of the stages are similar, the difficulty can range from really difficult to really easy. It all depends on the day. They say you should allow for a total of 35 days to hike the Camino Frances, but some take longer, some shorter. There are so many towns and villages along the way so that if you decide that you want to go longer one day or cut a day short, it’s all up to you.

This is the main reason I have chosen to hike the Camino Frances. The fact that being isolated along the Camino is next to impossible, water is plentiful and places to stay are in abundance makes this an ideal place to spend a month or two right after I retire. You can even add on mileage at the end to add a hundred or so miles to your trek!

So the dream for now to thru hike the AT is gone. That’s ok. The large amount of other places to experience what it offers can be found elsewhere and I think that I have found it.

Has anyone reading this hiked any part of the Camino de Santiago?  Is anyone planning to do so? Let me know. 

 

 

Disconnect

shhhh

In his essay about silence, noted explorer, author and publisher Erling Kagge notes three things-1) The basic state in our brain is one of chaos, 2) An abundance of activities leaves us with a feeling of experiential poverty and 3) We are living in the age of noise.

Why does he say this? Think about it. What do we do every day? We wake up and what is the first thing we do? We look at our phones. We check e-mails, texts and phone messages. We get to work and do the same. After work we repeat the process and it never seems like we get off of the electronic devices crazy train.

One of the things I learned while I was in the hospital a couple of months ago was that nothing happened to me when I couldn’t use my cell phone or ipad (to face time). The world didn’t end, I didn’t cease to exist or go crazy. I just did what I did when I was a kid, I read books. Honestly, I didn’t care that i couldn’t access my phone.

Imagine this-six days of quiet. Not total silence (I was in a hospital), but I did not have the usual distractions that we are all forced to endure every day. I will admit that it was nice. My mind became uncluttered and I didn’t find myself checking the phone or ipad for messages, notification and e-mails.

My idea is a simple one. Take one day a week and disconnect. It’s not that difficult. As a matter fact, it’s really quite nice. I did it and survived.

Does anyone out there do anything to disconnect on a daily basis? I would love to read some of your thoughts.

One Small Slip For Man…

slippery when wet_edited

I have mentioned in previous posts that the one thing the last two months has given me is a chance to think. And since I have been doing a lot of thinking, I find it kind of funny how one small and seemingly insignificant event can change plans, goals etc. For the longest time I have wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. My original plan was to retire and then soon after that start the trail on Springer Mountain in Georgia. That has changed just a wee bit since the end of June.

As I leaned against the slab of rock in Harriman waiting for the park rangers to carry me out, I knew that I was in for some time off from hiking. What I didn’t know at the time was the extent of how dehydrated I was and how that could possibly have an effect on future hiking. The ankle I can deal with. The surgery repaired it and the PT will help me get back on the trail.

The dehydration thing is a whole other story. After spending four days getting bags and bags of fluids pumped into me, I also knew that I was going to have to make some changes in regards to a thru hike.

After much deliberation, I don’t think that a thru hike is possible. Why you might ask? Even though the AT crosses many roads and you do have access to towns, the amount of time that you can be isolated in the woods is somewhat daunting. If something happens or access to water is limited, that could spell trouble.

Am I making to much of this? I don’t think so. At my tender age of 53, I have developed a healthy respect for staying alive. Watching videos of folks who have vlogged their thru hikes, although water is plentiful at times, at others it can be scarce. My doctor has said that I can not afford to have another episode of dehydration like this one.

So what to do? With all of the time to think and ponder that I have had, I believe that I have found a suitable alternative. One that makes me happy and one that makes my family happy (and less worried!)

Stay tuned!