“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi
To do something unique or daring sometimes requires being labeled—weird. That’s certainly happened to Laurie and I in our preparations to hike the Camino de Santiago across Spain.
We’re big believers in trying to replicate real conditions during training. That means wearing our full sized backpacks and trail gear during our training hikes. When we train in urban environments, we sometimes get odd reactions.
Last month we were on a training hike in Tacoma and stopped into a branch of our bank to get euros for our trip. A supervisor met us almost at the door. She acted like she was afraid that we were there to panhandle from customers who had just made a withdrawal or wanted to enquire about a mortgage on a tent we wanted to pitch in a city park. When we explained our purpose she was professional, but about as frosty as a beer mug just pulled from the freezer.
Last week we did a two day, 30 mile hike from our home to the city center on Vashon Island. The island is a quiet place that likes to brag they have the lowest crime rate in King County, the most populated county in the state of Washington. They only have two cops on duty at a time.
On the second day we were hiking home along the main road on the island. I noticed a woman walking her dog turn off onto a side road ahead of us. When we drew parallel I saw she was standing about 50 yards up the road watching us. The dog however, ignored us.
Fifteen minutes later one of the two sheriffs on duty pulled up on the shoulder of the road just across from us. I glanced over and gave a friendly wave. He turned around and headed back the way he came. I suspect the woman called in two suspicious characters. He either recognized us as the couple across the Mexican restaurant from him the night before (not a lot of restaurants open Monday nights on the island) or figured from our appearance that we were harmless—not homicidal.
But we most stood out as “weird” last May when we hiked the Sonoma valley. Over a period of four days we hiked 50+ miles. Our training took us to a series of hotels and B&Bs (with stops at a few wineries) along quiet Sonoma country roads. But our experience reminded me of the line in the song that says, “Nobody walks in LA.” People bike Sonoma, they drive it, but they don’t walk it.
During our trek we were stopped several times by cyclists who wanted to know what we were doing. When we checked into our hotel or B&B for the night we’d be told where to park our bikes or cars—even after explaining that we’d hiked in. People were incredulous that we were actually hiking Sonoma.
But the best one was on day three when we stopped at a tasting room. The woman in charge of the tasting got us settled into a nice private area on the patio—away from most other customers. After we explained what we were doing and she figured out we were normal she fessed up. The day before she had seen us hiking and had almost called her mother to say, “Lock your doors, Mom. There are strangers in the valley.”
You can call us weird, but sometimes that’s what it takes to be prepared to do something unique.
TRAVEL UPDATE: We left Seattle on April 3 and arrived in Paris on the 4th. We’ll spend a few days here acclimating. On Thursday we take a train to Saint Jean Pied de Port in the French Pyrenees. On Friday we start our hike across Spain. Take a look at the Camino page on our site to see what that’s all about.
Miss our friends and family, but are excited about this new chapter in our lives.