According to Wikipedia, a pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.

The Camino Frances is a 490-mile pilgrimage route from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. This Camino route is walked by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year. The Camino starts in France and on the way to Santiago crosses several regions in Northern Spain. For a prepared and experienced hiker, this route takes about 30 days start to finish. I estimate that it will take Jody and me 42 days to complete.

Initially, I was concerned that since both of my knees have been replaced, I might not be able to complete the journey. I shushed the concern by buying and reading Camino Easy: A Guide to the Camino de Santiago for Mature Walkers and Walk In A Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons From The Camino.

I reintroduced myself to the Hennepin County Library system, filled my bag with Camino de Santiago books and a DVD, “The Way.” If you recall, Martin Sheen plays a father headed overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El camion de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself.

On Facebook, I joined Camino de Santiago All Routes and Camigas a Buddy System for Women on the Camino. Through numerous posts per day, I follow others as they hike. I’ve learned how to take care of blisters and whether I should pack a poncho or rain jacket.

Most people hike 15 miles a day and many carry their pack. I’ve decided that we will hike between 10-13 miles a day, take rest days, and send our packs ahead.

I continue to emphasize to Jody (even though she doesn’t ask) that we are going to take our time walking. Our focus will be on enjoying the trek, the outdoors, and the people we meet.

I can barely stop myself from packing my suitcase.

The only problem is we aren’t leaving until September 2024, and we will need our bags before then.

Researching our pilgrimage down to the miles walked per day, daily lodging, and rest days is my joy. I’m lost for hours in the planning. It’s like going on the trip twice.

Crystel is a sophomore at the University of Manoa for the 2022-2023 school year. Our Maui trip in December 2022 to visit is planned, confirmed, and booked. A binder is compiled with information: airline tickets, car rental, lodging, snorkeling, cliff jumping, surf lessons, Cat Sanctuary, Glass Blowing, ATV touring, Whale Watching, Hang Gliding, and of course a Luau.

Not all our trips go as planned. COVID cancelled our three-week trip to Japan and Crystel’s Spanish Immersion Guatemalan Homestay trip. This summer flooding cancelled our trip to Yellowstone. Cancelled trips are shelved but not tossed into the ‘never will happen’ basket.

Two weeks ago Crystel expressed interest in reviving the trip to Guatemala for Spanish learning. She asked me to join her.

Immediately, I started researching Spanish Schools and family homestays. I see possibilities. I could learn Spanish and converse with other pilgrims on the Camino. Jody and Juan could meet up with us towards the end of our month-long stay. Most importantly, I could spend 4 weeks with my daughter.

Now, that would be some pilgrimage.

I hope all goes as planned. For the month of July, 2023, I’ve booked a homestay and language school for us in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. I can barely stop myself from packing!

Why We Read The Books We Do

f306a4206f3db95e9d87a8b4aaf37eb6[1]“Guess what I’m reading,” 12-year old Crystel says.

First, I try the vanilla genres, “Fiction, non-fiction, memoir, science fiction, fantasy?”

She shakes her head no every time.

What else is there?

“Dark Romance,” she says. Her eyes light up.

Oh, my, I think. “Books let you read anything you want,” I say, thinking of Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James and wondering what she IS reading.

I have a 1 ½ hour round trip drive to work thus my book reading has become books on tapes. Jody noticed Fifty Shades in the car. She raised her eyebrows.

“Don’t push Play when the kids are in the car,” I said.

Fifty Shades ended up too spicy. I returned the trilogy to the library. How much flavoring can one take? Jody’s happy if I hold her hand.

12-year old Antonio reads Pokémon from back cover to front. “I like reading different stories about Red the Trainer,” he said.

Recently, he’s been downloading the series onto his IPod to read.

I’ve not read a single page of Pokémon. I don’t enjoy graphic novels. It reminds me of the funnies. In my family of 14, the funnies were prime reading material on Sunday mornings. I avoided any tussling by turning my back on the colorful newspaper that would be shredded by noon.

I don’t read fantasy or science fiction either. Give me the real stuff. Memoir, non-fiction, and fiction based on truth.

One evening, Antonio held up a thick book. “Look what I’m reading,” he said.

The heftiness of the book surprised me. What could hold his interest that long?

He laughed. “It has lots of pictures in it.” He had found Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick in his school library. Not that he went to the libary on his own volition. He needed a book for reading prep.

“Ta dah!” I’m sure he exclaimed after perusing the pages.

I asked if the illustrations reminded him of his own pencil drawings. “Nope,” he said. There goes that elevated thought.

After finishing Wonderstruck he found The Invention of Hugo Cabret by the same author.

Antonio doesn’t know (or care) that the book won the 2008 Caledcott Medal, the first novel to do so.

With 284 pictures within the book’s 526 pages, the book depends as much on its pictures as it does on the words.

Selznick himself has described the book as “not exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things.”

“Guess what page I’m on?” Crystel says in the car, on the couch, in her bedroom, as she makes her way through her dark romance.

“How did you find this book?” I asked her.

“When I was on Utube I clicked a thing on Ellen and Twilight.”

“I learned enough about the characters that when I went to our school library and saw the series, I picked it up. They didn’t have the first book, Twilight but they had New Moon. I read a little from the middle and there were no words that I didn’t know. And this cat is so cute. I’m reading Eclipse now.”

The four Twilight books have consecutively set records as the biggest selling novels for children.

Even so, I’m not interested in reading the series. It’s not my genre.

Is the lesson here that parents can model reading but not the genre?