Day 2 in Paris

Yesterday was a tired blur. I slept so much, my uncle had to wake me up at 11 this morning. Granted, I woke up quite a few times but still. I DEFINITELY needed sleep and probably could have slept all day since I’m still feeling exhausted from the 2 days of no sleep.

For me, I’m finding beauty in the quiet moments and simple things. Like breakfast – I’d forgotten how delicious the simple bread/cheese/cucumber and/or tomato sandwiches are. No matter how many times I’d make them in LA, they didn’t taste the same. Maybe it’s the bread or the cheese. In Europe, I think both are just better quality. And the coffee! Oh my, just that alone is much  better than most coffees I get in LA.


๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿปmy delicious and simple breakfast. YUM!

I was skeptical of the whole Paris hype, to be completely honest. You hear people raving about the city and it just feels like everyone is jumping on some sort of “Paris is cool” bandwagon. But just walking through the streets with my uncle, his wife and my adorable little cousin today, I couldn’t help but be caught up in the energy of this beautiful city. 

There is something powerfully raw in its history and in its architecture and it enchants with its hustle and bustle with quiet corners and streets full of book kiosks and artists. Many of the stores and restaurants look like some sort of film set and, many times, it just feels surreal. 


๐Ÿ‘†๐ŸปAbsolutely loving the buildings๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿป

There’s too much to see here, I’ve already accepted that I’m not going to even see 1/30th of what this city has to offer. I do want to see the catacombs (bit worried about my claustrophobia but think I can power through it for the experience) and Jim Morrison’s grave (my dead man crush for life). Saw the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and some other landmarks from the outside but, if I have any time, definitely want to explore them longer.

๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿปsome sights from today and museum๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป


I’m here in Paris at a pivotal moment in history. The voting is wrapping up and we will find out in 4 hours who’s won. There’s an anticipatory electric energy you can feel amongst the people. Having just been in the US for their election, It feels very similar although you see Le Pen posters scrawled on with words like “Paris will never accept you” and others with her face ripped off. 

In other non city related news: I’m a bit worried about my foot. It had swollen up yesterday from the flight and, having walked around a bit today in my shoes that were quite tight with my fat feet, the bunyon on the right foot is now aching quite badly. Hopefully the swelling subsides (elevating feet as I write this) and it won’t be an issue on the Camino. Fingers and toesies crossed! ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

Paris

Just got here. Headed out first thing soon enough (my aunt keeps telling me to stop spreading my real time whereabouts so this is me trying to be cryptic so that all my many stalkers won’t be able to find me ๐Ÿ˜œ. She has a point though – better safe than sorry and it’s nice to know someone cares). 

Booked my first alburgue since I’ll arrive later in the day to St Jean Pied de Port and it’d be too late to start the trek (since I want to see where I’m going and pick up my Pilgrim passport).

I have realized – and this dawned on me before but was affirmed by some quiet time with uncle and his family today – that I need to slow down. I can’t handle mellow time around people, even family, AT ALL. It makes me super uncomfortable and I feel the need to keep moving (mentally and/or physically) no matter what. I think this is a direct result of my unusual upbringing where I was basically left homeless after being discarded and having to be on survival mode and high alert constantly. 

To be fair, being in survival mode was useful for decades (the high alert and activity) as it kept me from being in too much mental pain and kept me distracted while also not allowing me to be on the streets as a bum. But I’ve realized that it no longer serves a purpose and I am spiritually exhausted and depleted of any energy. 
So my first lesson from this trip- and I haven’t actually even stepped foot on the Camino yet – is to start being mindful and slowing the fuck down.

Holy shit, this trip is going to be life changing if I can learn just how to do that alone. 

2 Days left until Camino trip!

I don’t have anything packed, think I have some sort of an infection since it feels like I’m fighting off sickness,  I’m exhausted and supposed to see people before I go, buy some last minute shit and still weigh gear and tweak it out.

Looks like I’m going to bring only one additional (lightweight) outfit for my trip which means for France, Finland and Corfu, I’m going to be in only 1 of 2 outfits which is different than the PCT since, there, id just be in the backcountry so couldn’t give two shits how stinky or stylish I was. Hahahaha

To be honest, I’ve been super depressed especially since a friend recently committed suicide and just one bad thing after another seems to just happen since to compound the tragic news. I don’t even really want to go but I know doing the Camino will be good for my soul. At this moment though, I doubt it’ll hit me until I’m taking my first couple of steps on the Camino or get my pilgrim passport. 

A little worried that this disassociated feeling will stay with me abroad and that I won’t feel the magic that will undoubtedly be all around me. If I don’t get any healing from this trip, I’m truly scared that my depression will get the better of me and that I’ll give up trying to live in this crazy world. Because if shocking your mind awake with new beautiful landscapes and meeting new people doesn’t do it, what will?

But one day at a time. Today, doctor and REI last minute shopping and starting of packing.

I was told that bringing a tent on the Camino is not necessary… and I do enjoy cowboy camping so thinking of leaving my tent. Can anyone vouch for this? It’s only slightly over 1 lb so still debating whether to bring it or not…

Random Musings

I feel like anyone with a bunion is like 70+ years old but apparently I have one and it’s pretty painful. I have health insurance which would cover it but recovery is supposed to be a bitch and will take around a year. I can’t afford to not do anything for another year. I think I’ll go certifiably crazy and be institutionalized for massive stir-craziness.

I have several ideas as to my Euro-trip plans (which, just before, I’ll be doing the Trans Catalina Trail with some good friends for a shakedown backpacking/hiking trip) which I’ll just spout off here. If anyone has any ideas as to activities or people/places to see at any stage of my proposed itinerary, feel free to message me or comment! I love that, in this social media age, finding amazing (and cheap) places to stay, etc, is just a little bit of networking away.

So, I’ll fly into Paris, see uncle and fam and maybe tourist it up for a couple of days before catching the train and doing the Camino pilgrimage. From there, I’m thinking I’ll fly into Corfu, stay there for a few weeks and then fly to Helsinki and stay there for a few weeks and then fly back to LA, get my shit and my van and drive up to Yellowstone for a seasonal job in beginning of August (I got a job at Yellowstone!) to save up some money and gather my thoughts as to what I’ll be doing after that.

It’s a pretty packed itinerary. I’m now having issues with my car, have to change a flight (which is becoming an issue as they won’t refund or change dates without a huge $400 fee. Might be cheaper to just get a new flight altogether and then hope the original flight, which was to fly from Helsinki to LAX in September, gets cancelled and I get a refund then. That’s happened to me once before) and money is leaking out of my savings left and right but this has to be done.

Looking into possibly working in Corfu to pay for a room whilst also exploring but they require a whole season of work which I can’t afford to do. We shall see though. I did ask if I can just work to stay for 3 weeks and am waiting for a response.

These are at least all good problems, in the sense that I wasn’t decapitated or something more serious and that it’s for a trip that’s bound to be once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just need to put my head down and work and NOT go out to eat or buy additional things other than for the trip itself.

 

Camino de Santiago 2017!!!

It’s happening.

It’s finally fuckin’ happening. I can’t wrap my head around it. But flights are booked. I’m set to leave May 9th to Paris from LA. Then September 15th, I’ll fly from Helsinki, Finland back to LA.

I will see my uncle (who I haven’t seen in FOREVER) and his beautiful family in Paris and then take the train to St. Jean Pied de Port via Bayonne to start the walk.

I’M SO EXCITED!

Other than booking the flights, I have done nearly zero prep. I refuse to read people’s blogs and personal books about it. I want my experience to be untainted by others’ experiences. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great they document it and share their knowledge but I’m an empath so any negativity or zealous excitement about any of it ย kind of starts the setting of expectations for the trip, for myself and my goals based on the data I receive from others. Soooooo, in a nutshell, I’m only going to read some best-selling pilgrim books with trail data/maps and the hostel situation and that’s about it. For me, it’s about trying to have as much of an organic experience as possible.

I also need to start doing some Spanish classes or Rosetta Stone it up. Don’t get me wrong, I live in LA so familiar with basic Spanish but that’s very little and I wouldn’t dare try to speak it so want to get on that.

I have a friend – who I met on the train after hiking at Grand Canyon and roadtripping last year – ย who may meet up to do the last 100km (minimum requirement for the Compostela certificate). That’ll be a trip if we meet up. I love ย just meeting people while travelling that you just click with and then end up having adventures together later in random places. I’ll just need to figure out my mileage and when I’ll be where (roughly) to make that work.

After that, it’s wandering around Europe and somehow making my way up to Finland to see the rest of the family there and reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen in about 5 years, since I lived there for a bit.

Here’s the wikipedia with the history ofย Santiago de Compostela which is where I’ll end up unless I plan on going a bit further. My itinerary, other than the walk, is pretty much up in the air – the way I like it. I can’t plan things too much since life has a tendency to take those plans and shit on them.

Some people complain about this walk… that it’s not like any of the Triple Crown trails (Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail). To them, I say: Duh! It’s not. It’s completely different. You can’t compare them side by side fairly. For me, it’s a spiritual walk… I don’t really know what it is that I want out of it but, at the same time, I don’t want anything out of it – if that makes sense… I don’t have expectations but also expect to be changed somehow.

Hopefully my foot doesn’t fail me like it did on the PCT. Fingers and toesies crossed.

 

 

 

Howdy, my lovely readers!

I can’t believe I left that last depressing blog post about depression as my last post without an update!

SO much has been happening, guys. SOOOOO much. I don’t even know where to begin – I was stuck in NC for a while, with no car and no wifi (so couldn’t even do my remote accounting work). I thought I was getting a loan but that fell through. My friend who I was staying with somehow found a flight deal from Atlanta to LA for $100. Seemed unreal, turned out totally legit. Flew back to LA, stayed with old roommate for almost a month until he got a job in Germany and had to move family into the house. I also found a full time job on top of part time one.

I found a place through Craigslist. A seemingly quirky lady with a pirate themed pool in the back. That sealed the deal for me. Who DOESN’T like a pirate themed pool area!?! haha.

I gave her money early upon her request so I can get the room. Moved in, didn’t get the paperwork signed because her printer was either wonky one day or out of ink the next and she refused to send it to me at work. Long story short, she totally screwed me over. Ended up being a raging alcoholic with bipolar tendencies. She took my deposit and made the place a living hell to live in. So much so that within 2 weeks, I was already working out getting a van to live out of. At first, I thought it was just me. I mean, it’s not possible to meet TWO living psychos in a 6 month period. At that point, you should look within, I would think were someone else telling me these crazy stories I’ve experienced. But, TRUUUUST ME, it was her. Cops were called on her by some other prospective tenants for same shit. Another tenant while I was there left for the same reason.

It really brought up some bullying shit I experienced at the boarding school I used to be at. I had totally forgotten the details but the anxiety triggered them since it was so similar. I was placed in the “popular” dorm when I moved to the school. Of course, being a book nerd, they didn’t want me there and requested their more popular friends. The teachers refused to place me elsewhere so they took it out on me. Think “Bad Girls Club” but with older 12-13 yr olds picking on a 10 year old. They’d put my shit outside, yell and tease me constantly and even once got someone with a ton of lice in their head to roll around on my bed so I wouldn’t sleep there. I’d always sleep with one eye open with a pounding heart, worried they’d cut my hair or move my shit while I slept. That was the time I pissed in my bed too. Never did it before or after that period. Oh, good ol’ days! Weird how memories are so buried until a similar feeling, scent or views bring them out again.

Aaaaanywayyyyyssss… I digress. The good that came from all that recent apartment nonsense was that I DID find a Toyota Sienna minivan, custom fit with a mattress, stove and a faucet. All self sufficient – no hook ups needed. It took walking through hell and high water and being flogged for my bad credit but I finally figured out how to get it and actually got it. YAYYYYY!!!

That means, NO more living paycheck to paycheck. I can pay people back AND save for the Camino de Santiago next year amongst other adventures. SO stoked.

I like to compartmentalize so will be recording my version of van life on a different blog on WordPress: http://www.forthewanderers.com . Please feel free to visit me there.

I’d like to keep this blog specifically for my hiking endeavors.

Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia in a week!

WOW!!! What a week!

Where to start? I pulled up my big girl panties up and realized I had to be the bigger person in this awkward job situation so I told the wife/owner lady that I could sense that she hadn’t taken a liking to me and, since she was the owner, I didn’t want to make her feel obligated to keep me and that it obviously wasn’t a good fit but that I could stay for a bit longer if she needed and didn’t want to put her out since she had guests. She insisted she didn’t hate me all the while telling me how “cocky” I was and how she could tell, from the moment she picked me up from the airport (after making me stay there overnight since they couldn’t be bothered to pick me up when I arrived the night before), that I wasn’t going to last.

I tried to keep my cool but when she insisted that she wasn’t even going to pay me since I didn’t have the Social Security Card on me, I told her, again, that if I could only show her the I-9 form. She then blew up and started yelling at me, telling me how disrespectful I am and how I should be apologizing to her and the cook.

I’d been in the middle of cleaning one of the guest rooms and she just yelled “Get in the truck! You’re leaving NOW!”. I asked her if I could have an hour or two to figure out the logistics. She said no and told me she was just going to drop me off in some small town with not even a train that could get me to a friend’s house in Virginia.

She followed me to the room in the barn I was staying at. When I told her that I didn’t need to be watched while packing, she said “I’m going to make sure you don’t go in the other rooms and steal their stuff”. WHAT?!? I just shrugged. I was so over this petty and completely unnecessary drama. She rushed me out, saying I had 20 minutes or I could walk to town – which is FAR away and I’d have no cell service until I got out of the mountains.

I got all my stuff packed, while using breathing techniques so I wouldn’t start bawling. I’ve never been treated like this. Ever. Even at the boarding school that I went to school at (where the principal had been a drill sergeant and yelled at us constantly, made us do push-ups for talking back, march for hours and do obstacle courses, etc).

We then went to switch over to the van from her truck. She came back with some cash in her hand and, after having flashed it at me, said “I’ll give you some cash instead so we can have this over with but, first, you need to sign this piece of paper stating that you received the cash and quit of your own accord”. I agreed. It’s what I would’ve done too, were I giving cash to someone. So I signed the piece of paper and instead of giving me the money, she pocketed the cash saying she wasn’t going to give it to me. So, I grabbed the piece of paper I signed that was sitting on the dashboard in between us and pointed out that then the paper was not true. She launched herself over the middle console and pinned me against the passenger seat, scratching at my hands and arms, trying to get the piece of paper in my hand. I told her to get off me and couldn’t believe she was doing it. She said she’d tell everyone that I slapped her.

Feeling numb with shock, I turned on my recorder and got her to admit she was full of shit about me touching her and got some of her threatening me some more. She finally agreed to give me the money. I just took the money and put it in my pocket when she says “You didn’t even count it! You’re a fuckin idiot!” and laughs. I told her it’s because I tend to trust people.

She knew, by that time, I was recording her, so she shut up for the rest of the van ride. It was probably THE most awkward 1 1/2 hrs EVERRRRRR. Seriously weird.

She then just dropped me off at the Greyhound station in Asheville, NC. By that time, I’d been able to have cell service and an Instagram friend in North Carolina told me she would drive down and pick me up.

I still can’t believe that all happened and that someone I’d NEVER met would be such an angel. She seriously saved me and immediately took me on a hike which cheered me up tremendously. I stayed with her, her beautiful daughter and their wolf – yes, a 100% wolf ย who ate my flip flops and trail runners ๐Ÿ˜- for a few days and we went exploring. It was like we’d known each other for forever.

My friend in Virginia, another beautiful woman, told me I could stay with her so I got a ticket out of Toccoa, Georgia to Charlottesville, VA and my IG friend drove the few hours to get me there. It was a tiny, unmanned Amtrak station. I’ve taken the train plenty of times and have never had issues with my luggage but when I went to board the train, the train conductor lady told me I couldn’t come on. She seemed to hate me on site – don’t know if it’s my faux-hawk/short hair or what – and refused any solution I proposed. I tried to appeal to her compassion and explained I knew nobody there and had been driven hours and hours by someone in NC to get me there. She didn’t give a shit and told me the only solution was if I left one of my pieces of luggage there. I told her that’s not a solution at all since it was an unmanned station and it’s my entire life’s belongings. She then told the train engineer/driver person to go and off they went.

The nearest bus station was 75 miles away. No Uber or Lyft in the area either and couldn’t find a proper taxi but finally found something on google. A man by the name of Greg told me that he normally doesn’t work at that hour – it was around 11pm by then – but he didn’t want me stranded so would come pick me up. No buses or trains were leaving until late the next day so decided to get a hotel.

All I wanted was a glass of wine after all this craziness and, come to find out, you can’t buy any alcohol after 11pm in the town. WHATTTTT???? I think I was the most upset by this. lol. I JUST WANT A GLASS OF FUCKIN WINE!!!! ONE GLASS!!!! or a bottle… ๐Ÿ™‚

After some sleep, I just decided to just get my ass in gear and stop obsessing about the recent events. Greg, the sweetheart taxi guy, drove me to Anderson, South Carolina. I just hung out around there all day and then took the bus to Virginia.

I haven’t been on a Greyhound since I was 18. Many interesting characters and stories I heard while going there but that’s neither here or there.

Soooooooooo, long story short, I’m now in Lexington, Virginia. Looking for more jobs and trying to decide what to do.

Alls I got to say is: that was one CRAZY ASS WEEK!!!

Now, here are some pics:

ย Some old outside movie theatre in North Carolina! Crazy. The old projector is there hidden somewhere

Just proof of scratches. I’ve had worse injuries but took the pics to cover my own butt. ๐Ÿ–•๐Ÿป


Teaching friend’s kid to selfie. Because it’s an important skill ๐Ÿ˜œ

ย Being a paparazzo to my friend’s kid.


Behind the scenes Instagram shots. Catching mom getting shots of daughter. Why do I have such a weird fascination with taking pictures of people taking pictures? Lol. It was awesome hanging out with my IG friend since we both understood that every moment could turn into photo-worthy shots if angled and positioned correctly. Basically, every day was a photo shoot. Hahaha


Got to step foot on to the Appalachian Trail!!!!!! Yay! ๐Ÿ–•๐Ÿป


Excited about the fall colors!


Tallulah Gorge, GA


Toccoa, GA ๐Ÿ–•๐Ÿป


Virginia ๐Ÿ–•๐Ÿป


Creepy houses in Lexington, VA


Doing what I love: hiking! And with some unruly ass hair. Don’t judge ๐Ÿ˜‚


Random raper van in the middle of nowhere. Creeeeeepy and I love it!

More pics on my Instagram. โค๏ธ