Thursday, July 3, 2014

Practice Hike Reviews

June 21: Lost Pines in Bastrop

The Lost Pines Hiking Trail in Bastrop State Park is worth a trip to fully appreciate how thoroughly a fire can destroy a forest. It is a beautiful hike but, since so many of the trees are dead, it is a very different (and sadder) kind of beauty. We hiked for almost exactly 2.5 hours and I would have been pretty miserable trying to do much more than that.
June 29: Purgatory Creek in San Marcos

I loved the Purgatory Creek hike. It's definitely not a challenging hike, but parts of the path had rocks, and it seems important that I practice on any kind of terrain that's not the sidewalks around my apartment, so I appreciated that bit of variety. I'd qualify it as very shady, but you still need sunscreen (and I should qualify that it would be easy for lots of things to seem very shady as compared to the last hike). The trails are well marked, but my impression is that this is part of the city's greenbelt and not a state park, so there are no printed map copies or staff to answer questions. I stayed on the main trail that's 4.1 mile (8.2 round trip) and it only took 3 hours, but there were several extra loops if you wanted to add time or distance.

I parked off of Craddock, which was small and crowded (possibly because of a group meet-up that morning). It seems like there's more parking off of Hunter Road, but since I was hiking alone, I liked hiking towards Hunter because there are quick stops and several shops in that area in case you get halfway there and realize that you need water, snacks, or a ride back to your car.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Words for the Camino de Santiago

My Help is in the Mountain by Nancy Wood
My help is in the mountain
Where I take myself to heal
The earthly wounds
That people give to me.
I find a rock with sun on it
And a stream where the water runs gentle
And the trees which one by one give me company.
So must I stay for a long time
Until I have grown from the rock
And the stream is running through me
And I cannot tell myself from one tall tree.
Then I know that nothing touches me
Nor makes me run away.
My help is in the mountain
That I take away with me.

Metaphor by Eve Merriam
Morning is
a new sheet of paper
for you to write on

Whatever you want to say

all day,
until night
folds it up
and files it away

The bright words and the dark words
are gone
until dawn
and a new day
to write on.

I don't think there is any better worship than wonder. (Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz)

Don't think about what you'll tell people afterward. The time is here and now. 
Make the most of it. (Paulo Coelho in Aleph)

We return laden with treasures that might end up getting buried again, and then we will have to set off once more in search of them. That's what makes life interesting--believing in treasures and miracles.
(Paulo Coelho in Aleph)

It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Camino de Santiago Playlist: TOP 21

I don't plan to listen to much music while I'm hiking, but I'm told that it can be very nice to have, especially when you need some extra motivation for certain miles.

1. Shelter from the Storm by Bob Dylan
2. If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out by Cat Stevens
3. In My Life by The Beatles
4. From the Morning by Nick Drake
5. America by Simon and Garfunkel
6. Piazza, New York Catcher by Belle and Sebastian
7. Nightswimming by REM
8. Prettiest Tree on the Mountain by Ben Sollee
9. The Body Breaks by Devendra Banhart
10. Chinese Translation by M. Ward
11. Who Needs Shelter by Jason Mraz
12. Postcards from Hell by The Wood Brothers
13. These Days by Nico
14. Mexico by Cake
15. Hideaway by Karen O and The Kids
16. Oh, Look What the Sun Did! by Josh Rouse
17. Your Hand in Mine by Explosions in the Sky
18. Something Good This Way Comes by Jakob Dylan
19. Losing Keys by Jack Johnson
20. Strange Things Will Happen by The Radio Dept
21. In an Aeroplane over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

Monday, June 30, 2014

Packing List

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm happy to share, but this blog is pretty much for me. It's sort of like a journal that I've made public in case others are curious AND because in private journals I do a lot more complaining.

I can't tell you how many times I've done a search here to find out some detail of my very own life. Like if I ever actually finished reading The Prophet (still no), if I have a definitive gazpacho recipe (almost), or what I should recommend to a friend to eat in Bratislava (potato dumplings in sheep cheese, obviously).

Continuing in that vein, I will now share my packing list for the Camino de Santiago. Because you never know when I'll need it again, or when one person might type in the *exact* right phrase in the search bar to find out what a 26-year old, US-native needed for 12 days in this section of this particular hike. Or at the very least, what she thought she needed.

This is probably 98% of what I intend to pack into my backpack (Gregory, 40L, extra small) for Spain in a few weeks.

1. Dress and sandals for my friend's wedding. I'll also take a large envelope so I can mail them home after the wedding and carry them on the hike.
2. Hiking shoes (Keen) and hiking sandals. The sandals are for showers, rainy days, and changing into once I'm finished hiking for the day. The purple roll is my rain jacket (Marmot), and below that is a floppy sun hat and extra ziploc bags.
3. My glasses, a rain cover for my backpack in the pouch (REI brand), and a multi-purpose large scarf in case I get cold, I need an extra towel, or I want to go in any churches where I shouldn't be wearing shorts.
4. Face wipes to minimize the amount of liquids I need to carry on. To the right are sunglasses and a combination lock.
5. A cocoon travel sheet (white), wallet (REI), bandana, and toiletries--including, but not limited to:

a) bar of soap (also to minimize liquids)
b) travel contact solution and extra contacts
c) toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
d) sunscreen (will buy more upon arrival)
e) one dose of common first-aid items, like pain relievers, allergy medicine,and band-aids. I can buy more as needed, but it will be handy to have a first dose so I'm not in pain as I navigate the Spanish pharmacy.
f) deodorant

6) Guidebook, passport, notebooks (all sealed in a ziploc) and water bottle (Contigo Autoseal). The guide book is John Brierley's and the notebooks are two super thin moleskines. I thought one would be fine, until I started filling it up with directions, ticket confirmation numbers, and more.
7) Towel
8) Clothespins, safety pins, needle and thread, headphones, phone charger, and adapter. I was going to go totally phone-less until I realized that my phone has an alarm clock, compass, and flashlight all in one handy device. I still plan to limit phone use to those things (plus emergencies and music--more on that later).

The clothes are in the middle and include:
3 hiking shirts
3 pairs of socks
3 pairs of underwear
3 sports bras
2 pairs of hiking pants--one zips off at the knee and the other at mid-calf (I'm not bringing the bottoms for that pair)

The weirdest thing for me NOT to bring is pajamas, but I'm told that I'll want to sleep in my clothes. The only thing I've seen on several recommended lists that I'm ignoring is a pair of ear plus. I'm a sound sleeper and more so when I'm tired.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Interestings

Book: The Interestings was the perfect book for me to pick up last week. I was struggling through Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, which I still intend to finish, but it's something that I need to read when I can pay more attention. The Interestings is well-written and has some fairly dark themes, but was also a fairly easy read, so I could keep up by just reading a little at a time, mostly before bed. What most struck me about this book is the way that the narrators feelings about other characters influenced my feelings. I felt sympathy for characters I would have ordinarily despised, and ambivalent towards characters who would usually be incredibly loveable.

Music: Shelter Song by Temples

Food: This is not the greatest photo ever since I already had it packed for lunch before I remembered to take a picture, but the taste is a million times better than it looks. It's a Spanish chicken and rice dish called "arroz caldoso."Cook chicken (I did about 1.5 pounds of chicken thighs) in olive oil in a big pot. When the chicken is done, add 2 minced cloves of garlic and 2 grated roma tomatoes. Cook a few minutes and add green beans (I did about two handfuls). Mix well, add salt, and then add arborio rice (or something labeled for risotto or paella) and double the amount of water that it should need so the result will be soupy. Cooks in about 20 minutes.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Spinach with Garbanzos

Book: I'm still not sure how it took me this long to read Cold Mountain since both the book and movie were very popular, but I just finished reading the book for the first time (and I have a hold on the movie at the library). The pace of the action in the book is fairly slow, but the descriptions of people and of place are phenomenal, and it is definitely a story that stays with you for several days after you finish it. I really liked it and, although I don't know that it would top my list of personal favorites, it is definitely one that I would recommend to absolutely anyone. There are some books that are good if you don't mind abrupt changes in narration style, or good if you're interested in U.S. politics in the early 1960s, or good if you want to make better food choices, but I feel like Cold Mountain is just good.

Music: Jackson Square by Mason Jennings

Food: Getting out my maps and info on Spain to prepare for my trip made me hungry for Spanish food. I don't actually remember eating this exact dish in Spain, but it's from one of my Spanish cookbooks and I had been meaning to try it for a while. Cook the garbanzos (or open the can) and then heat a small amount of olive oil on the stove. Add a whole clove of garlic, and remove it when it starts to brown. Add the garbanzos with a little turmeric, paprika, and cumin and saute until well coated. Add the spinach. Some of them I've seen are cooked way down, but I wanted more color so I just left the spinach in for a few minutes.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Photos from San Francisco

Book: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood was our book club book for June, and the book that I took on our family trip to San Francisco. The book is told by the narrator looking back on her life, with small sections from present day, and it centers around her and her younger sister. The narrator seemed very focused on taking care of her younger sister, but she was, at best, not helpful and, at worst, very hurtful. We had one of our best discussions about how much the narrator was at fault, and how much of their misfortunes were a result of the society of the time.

Music: San Francisco by Foxygen

Food: Everything we ate was magnificent, but not all was captured in photos. Here's what was:
claude the albino
south end rowing club 
stinson beach, morning
stinson beach, afternoon 
between the beach and the city 
 golden gate bridge

 farmers' market
   farmers' market
 farmers' market

 treasure island flea market

family photo