Approaching our next departure, we have begun considering what it is. People with whom we have spoken have usually referred to our previous outings as “Trips”, “Vacations”, and “Journeys”. Often the word “adventure” is thrown in as well.
Driving back from New Mexico we took time to discuss and deconstruct those descriptions. We concluded the following:
• A Trip is any travel that takes one from point “A” to point “B” without regard to distance or purpose. It is the barest transport of a body from here to there. Purpose is irrelevant as is the quality of the experience.
• A Vacation is a departure from the routine of one’s life. It may or may not involve travel, such as a “staycation”. It evinces an intention to temporarily detour from one’s duties without shirking one’s responsibilities.
• A Journey conjures up the image of travel that is of an extended duration. “Journey” has the character of uniqueness relative to one’s prior experiences. It is self-directed, assumed as a personal responsibility, and not left into the hands of another. “Journey” can result in a redirection of one’s life and perhaps the lives of others.
Our travels these last 3 years have rarely just been trips. Going to the grocery store is a trip. Traveling to visit my mother in Illinois is a trip. But once our trailer is in tow it becomes something more than a trip. I look in the rearview mirror and see only the white fiberglass of “Rigel”, the SUV accelerates with a grudging reluctance, but my spirits soar… Not a Trip.
In the last 3 years we have covered over 60,000 miles with our trailer, “Rigel”. We have camped in 49 States, 8 Canadian Provinces, and the Yukon Territory. This has been our reality and not a departure from the routine of our life… Not a Vacation.
In 3 weeks we depart for our next outing. This one extends for 3 months, crosses the Atlantic Ocean by ship, sees us visiting up to 23 nations and territories, and includes approximately 350 miles of travel by foot. Very little has been planned in advance as many of our decisions about destinations will be made on a day-by-day basis. Everything that we need will be carried on our backs with Christine’s pack weighing about 16 pounds and mine about 18 pounds. Extended? You bet! Unique? Check! Self-directed? To be sure! Is there a potential to redirect the course of our lives and to impact the lives of others? Hopefully! So, it must be a “Journey”? Yes, but there is more.
In 2013 we walked the 525 miles of the French route of the Camino de Santiago to Santiago Spain. From Medieval times this has been one of the 3 great pilgrimages in Christendom. For me the Camino began as an item to be checked off of my “bucket list”. I was oblivious to the notion of “Pilgrimage”. However, ignorance of gravity does not prevent one from “falling” to its effects. After a few days walking I became captive to the spiritual qualities of the Camino. I now understand that “Pilgrimage” is an intentional journey to a spiritual place during which the pilgrim is open to being changed within. “Life changing” is an overused and underappreciated term. However, it accurately describes our experience in 2013. Among the eyes reading this are those of many who live around the world and who became our lifetime friends when we met walking the road to Santiago.
Our upcoming Journey includes the aspect of Pilgrimage. We are again walking to Santiago but this time we begin the walk in Porto, Portugal. It is difficult to avoid developing expectations for 2018 from our experiences in 2013. Expectations are the garden from which disappointments are harvested, and that may be the single greatest challenge for me on this coming Journey/Pilgrimage.
Peace Everyone! Pete