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.

19 thoughts on “Is It an Adventure?

  1. I like your attitude! I am shortly embarking on my fifth Camino, rolling four different routes into one for a total of 1,000 kms. Looking forward to your posts – have a Bom Caminho, it’s a lovely walk.

  2. My husband and I are 71. He has “benign essential tremors”, so I totally get your concern! I have 2 new knees and so glad about that! Im amazed you are doing another Camino with your knee in such shape, but you two ARE amazing and this will be an adventure, that’s for sure! Best wishes and looking forward to reading your reports! Buen Camino!!

  3. I didn’t know you have essential tremor! I also inherited it from my mom, and few know how challenging my artwork has become … most especially right now, transferring a pattern to leather! Then, there is the hip that should have been replaced with the other in 2015, which has me accompanied by a cane these days. Your hike would certainly be an adventure for me, especially without your companion and partner, but very exciting and satisfying ! Buen Camino, Peter!

  4. Dear Pete! You inspire me! Thanks for sharing your story with ET. John also has it and copes amazingly well! We are hopeful that you will have a positive outcome to your next adventure. Wonderful to read about your next Viking Ocean cruise, as you know, we love those sea days! Best wishes to you and Christine !

  5. Delicious food for thought:
    – Adventure is individualized and only needs to garner support of the id.
    -Don’t put off for tomorrow what you may not be able to do tomorrow.
    Thank you.

  6. Hey Hiker Man … or should I say Traveling Man… or should I say Cowboy Camping, Dutch Oven Cooking, Rambling man??? I am she that has a knee replacement in my not-so-distant future, so I understand your concern. I am trying to finish hiking the 4K footers in NH on my own “equipment” – we shall see. As I told you – I always hike with some kind of a knee brace. I think my knee behaves better, just knowing it is there. I also carry a heavy duty ziplock for the sole purpose of filling it with ice at the bar and icing my knee down at the end of the day. Re the ET and passing the bread or butter – that megawatt smile you have will carry you through that. You have an army of people behind you – praying and hoping that this stroll from Porto to SdC and beyond goes well. Take us with you – even if it is in your head. You can do this – little by slow – one foot in front of the other. Before you know it you will be greeting your Bride in Barcelona. Rock on my friend – you got this!

    • Liz, your encouragement is real medicine for body and spirit! Thank you so very much. I intend to do my typical travelogue posts, spirit willing. But I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing them as “open letters to Christine”. We shall see how this goes.

  7. Hi-di-ho – It is I – again. We get around quite well in Spain on the Renfe Trains. They are clean, and a pleasant ride…. but something we learned and thought we should share. Should you decide to travel by train buy your ticket a couple of days in advance as the price increases SIGNIFICANTLY if you buy it the day that you want to travel. AND you might consider paying for your backpack (it could be considered luggage) in advance – because – as my kids would say – they “smoke you” on the fee if you wait until you are at the station.

  8. Of course it’s an adventure! My first thought was “anything you attempt that you have not attempted before is an adventure” As you note; additional health changes are an adventure-traveling or not. Having dealt with a meniscus injury I can wish you luck until the surgery relieves the “surprise” attacks of pain. I think you’ll find fellow travelers will be pleased to assist you any time the tremors attack-remember to give them the chance to gift you with assistance! Good Luck, safe travel.

  9. For me at 72, an adventure has to be truly enjoyable and awesomely inspiring. I’ve been a long distance walker (2 Coast to Coast, 1 Cotswold, 1 South Downs Way, 1 Dales Way, several Eastern Sierra hikes, Swiss Alp hiking) and now my dear husband is off doing the Offa Dyke Path, but I decided not to walk this one. I’m in excellent health, thankfully, but I decided walking another long distance wasn’t the adventure I yearn for. He and I do everything together so it was a tough decision to pass on this walk. We’ll learn what’s it’s like to be apart for a month. He’ll hopefully have a terrific adventure, I’ll enjoy our home, grandson, and daily walks in our beautiful Marin Headlands. That’s my adventure!

    • Karen, you and your husband do indeed live adventurous lives! I like your inclusion of an “enjoyable” qualifier. As I look to my coming departure and month-long separation from Christine, it does not “feel” enjoyable. However, past experiences would indicate that it has great potential to be enjoyable. You and your husband sound like our kindred spirits!

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