September 11, 2022.
18 days and counting to my departure for Portugal. This will be my third hike to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, this time on the Portuguese coastal route. If all goes well I will hike from Porto, Portugal, to Santiago and then continue to the Atlantic coastal villages of Finisterre and Muxia before returning to Santiago. Over the course of 35 days I intend to cover about 300 miles on foot.
From Santiago I will travel to Barcelona to meet Christine in early November. Whether I transit Spain to meet her by train, plane, or bus is as yet undecided. From Barcelona we will travel aboard a Viking cruise ship to northern and western Africa, cross the Atlantic, and make ports-of-call in Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
Our homecoming in Kansas City is scheduled for early December.
What, if any of this, is an adventure? What is “an adventure”? These are questions that have been running through my mind recently.
The term “adventure” is often casually thrown around to describe any number of activities. These can include everything from cross-continent travel by bicycle to a weekend outing with the family; from blue-water ocean sailing to kayaking on a small placid lake. So what qualifies anything as “an adventure”?
First of all, there can be no adventure without the participation of the “adventurer”. Adventures are measured in the context of the participant.
Walking to the mailbox is hardly an adventure, unless the person is near 100 years old, with failing balance, and dependent upon the use of a walker. My now deceased father-in-law who very nearly made it to 102, embarked upon an adventure every time he stepped out of his home.
Adventures are things typically out of the ordinary. They present aspects of risk, challenge, and uncertainty.
So, is my forthcoming venture, an “adventure”?
First of all, my travel itinerary is not so unusual for me. What is unusual is that I am proceeding solo, Christine will not be at my side. With the exception of a few short camping trips and 4 Atlantic Ocean sailing passages, we have traveled nearly 50 years together and shared our “adventures” in lockstep.
Second. I’m 70 years old. While I enjoy good health and vigor for my age, I do suffer from some conditions that raise the specter of risk, challenge, and uncertainty. Of course there are the typical age related eye and hearing issues, the morning aches that work out quickly, and balance that is not what it once was. What conjures a measure of anxiety for me are two other conditions.
Since childhood I have exhibited tremors diagnosed as Familial Essential Tremors. “Familial” in that I inherited the condition from my mother, a life-long sufferer, “essential” in that it is idiopathic with no external cause, and “tremor” which describes the uncontrollable shaking that occurs when attempting a task. It is the most common motion disorder known to medicine, with about 10% of the population exhibiting symptoms to some extent. For most people it does not impact daily life. I am not most people.
Over the last decade my “shakes” have become progressively worse. I have difficulty writing. Putting a key in a lock requires two hands, as does holding a cup or glass without spilling. I am confronted hundreds of times each day by the impact ET has upon routine tasks. I have been fortunate that Christine always helps, but she won’t be there to bail me out when I have to carry a plate of food across the room or pass the bread and butter to others sharing my table. Her absence certainly makes the coming trip more “adventurous”.
Last year I tripped one night in the dark while camping. I recovered my balance without falling to the ground, but in the process severely strained my right knee. It has not been the same ever since.
Three weeks ago while doing a 5 mile training hike in Kansas City my knee briefly locked up. I had to call Christine to pick me up. Elevating the leg and applying ice with gentle range of motion exercises brought relief, but residual pain and swelling sent me to an orthopedist. An MRI was conducted with the results, “…a complex radial and horizontal tear… of the medial meniscus… displaced meniscal fragment…”. There was more, but you get the point. I am scheduled for surgery in mid-December.
I have continued my daily training walks of 5-7 miles without further incident, but that one experience three weeks ago gives me pause. Christine will not be a phone call away should I be unable to hike.
Risk, challenge, uncertainty. These things will all be present in ways that are unusual for me. Yes, this is an adventure and I face it by choice. I’ve been asked “Why” to which I reply, “Don’t put off until tomorrow the things you may then find you are unable to do.” I will soon find out if I am unable to do this.
Peace Everyone. Pete
PS. We each share in common the two greatest adventures. One begins with the first breath we take, and the second begins with the last.