|Alex and Sage before the
afternoon rush at Casa Pepa.
Our wet and handwashed clothes hung on a rack just around the corner, next to the entrance of our private room. While the girls sat and conversed with Phil (or, rather, while Alex sat and conversed with Phil...Sage is shy and rarely speaks to anyone other than her friends and family), I shuffled back and forth between the drying clothes and our night's habitacion. Later, Alex told me that Phil was from Australia ("and has the best accent") and that he had asked her to draw him a flying turtle. Alex had begun to oblige, using the watercolor pencils she carries with her everywhere she goes (even now, even back in los Estados Unidos), but we ran out of free time before she could finish. We had a strict bedtime of 8:00pm on the Camino; the secret to the girls' strength and stamina was eleven hours of sleep each night and a ton of food every day.
Phil was there the next morning for breakfast, but he was entering the bar as we were leaving. We waved to him and went on our way.
The next -- and last -- time we saw Phil was on the bus coming back from Fisterra. He had a happy, dreamy, contented look about him, as did most of the peregrinos. We had all just finished long, difficult journeys and we were each sitting in our own personal cloud of euphoria. Phil sat directly behind me and Sage (Alex took her own seat a few rows ahead). I asked him if he was flying out of Santiago that day or the next.
"I have no idea where I'll be tomorrow," he answered. "I might take a train to Portugal, or I might take a cheap flight to Norway. Maybe I'll go to Germany."
The dreamy expression on Phil's face increased as he smiled broadly.
"I've don't have to be back in Australia until July. I think I'll just show up at the train station or airport tomorrow and get the cheapest ticket to Somewhere."
I expressed my admiration for his sense of adventure and my jealousy of his freedom. That's the kind of life I want to have once the girls have left home. I want to spend months of my life traveling, meeting others, exploring the world. I want to show up at the airport one day and buy the cheapest ticket to Somewhere.
|An interesting section of Sweden's Kungsleden.
Image copied from http://kungsleden.net/.
Wanderlust. Freedom. Foreign lands and different cultures. Heaven.
My life right now couldn't be better, and I'm not complaining about my current state of affairs. I'm able to homeschool my children, and my kids' father is a good man who is extremely supportive of all the girls' endeavors. We have a strong, loving family and we're relatively healthy. We're not rich by any means, but we have enough money for the basics (we count pennies during the year so we can afford to travel).
|Hiking trail in Iceland. Image copied from
|Alta Via 1. Image copied from
Hence the fundraising. Every year, we will pick a long-distance trail and hike it for charity. 100% of the money raised will go to the nonprofit organization (and not to us). Just like our 2012-2013 efforts for Global Fund for Women and GirlVentures, Alex and Sage will take large and pivotal roles in the fundraising activities (they worked HARD for our GIRLS ON THE WAY Camino project -- they climbed all night at our Brooklyn Boulders climb-a-thon, they stood outside in the dead of winter at our raffle table, they drew posters, etc. and, of course, they hiked 540 miles). Hugh and I feel Alex and Sage should grow up doing what they love, but they should simultaneously find ways of being useful to others.
|Via Francigena. Image copied from
I recently asked the followers of my Facebook Page to suggest destinations for next year's long-distance adventure. The result was a long list of incredible-looking trails (thanks, folks!). Hugh, the girls, and I have narrowed down the options -- right now, the strong contenders are Iceland (a variety of trails through and around the country), Kungsleden (Sweden, within the Arctic Circle), the Alta Vias (Alps), and the Via Francigena (from the Italian Alps to Rome). I know about the 88 Temples hike in Japan...and that is on our radar for the future. However, for next year, I want to keep the distance between 300 and 500 kilometers so we have the time and money to continue highpointing the USA. In addition to the fundraising hike next year, we want to summit Mt. Whitney in California, Kings Peak in Utah, and perhaps Borah Peak in Idaho.
So...thank you all for your suggestions regarding not only trails, but nonprofit organizations. We'll take another week or so to make a decision, then we'll set our wheels -- or rather, our hiking boots -- in motion.
Phil, wherever you are, I hope you're having a blast. Buen Camino, peregrino.