So I was mistaken about Paul’s pack. It’s a Talon 44…fruedian slip as I wanted a Temptest, but it is just silly to buy a new pack when I have a perfectly good and light-weight one I can use, besides the Temptest does not come in Medium/Large. I like the Mantra 36L, but I think it’s volume may be too small, so I’ll stick with my Exos 58. Seeing as we will be mostly sleeping in hostels/Albergues, or hotels (when the collective snoring of the masses get too much and we need some good sleep), we don’t need sleeping pads or a sleeping bag. We are however each taking a silk bag liner and a 40 degree rated down quilt (from Jacks R’ Better – the Shenandoah quilt with footbed ties). We are told the bedding, to include blankets should be clean, the operative word being clean, but would prefer not to give potential bed-bugs the opportunity to join us on our trek. If we get bitten by insects, I would prefer them to be the standard mosquito, even though they carry a plethra of diseases. We will have rain gear, lightweight long johns (whose top will double as insulation), and one change of clothes (of the lightweight “nicey” kind) in the event our pilgrim’s dress code (and/or smell) is unaaceptable at one of the many resturants or cafes we may treat ourselves along the way. We will also use those clothes whilst playing “tourist” in France and Portugal. We’ll have a change of socks, underwear, a headlamp for those early mornings, and a GoLite umbrella, which will be new for us. As far as electronics, I plan to have my iPad, but may jetison it in favor of just using my phone on “airplane” mode with a European SIM card. I will make that final decision once I weigh my fully loaded pack in two weeks. We will bring a piece fo Tyvek and our sit pads for picinic lunch stops. We obvisously will need our US passports and some Euros to start with. We expect to spend 20-50 Euros a day (for the both of us), and expect to need somewhere between 1000-2500 Euro for our entire trek. We have prepaid our hotels in France and for the rental car we will use there as well. We will however need to have access to cash, as most of the Albergues only deal in cash, so retrieving money from our accounts back home will be a necessity. Luckily our bank has already switched to the cards (both ATM and credit cards) with chips in them, so we’ve got that covered. Our banker also had a great recommendation, which is to create a “travel account”. This way if we lose our ATM card, or we get “hacked” we don’t get completely fleeced of all our cash and available credit. Considering that we expect Mr. Murphy of “Murphy’s Law” to accompany us on this adventure, we, naturally, should be prepared. We will put a decent amount into that account and transfer via WiFi (pronounced WeeFee in Europe) when we need access to more cash. One thing we looked for was the lowest exchange rate we could get using a “domestic” card overseas. Turns out that there is no conversion rate charged when using an American Express card for purchases. We applied for one through our bank, and just recently recieved it. As it is , our bank will only charge us $5 per ATM transaction, which if we pull out in excess of 300 Euro will equal around a 1% exchange rate, which I dare say is pretty good. Ideally we will not spend in excess of $2500 once we get over there. Our airfare, and hotel and rental car for the first 4 days has cost us around $4000. Needless to say this is a not trip that is without significant cost(s), but then the PCT wasn’t cheap either.
We have purchased a plug-in Euro compatible chargey thingy (and yes that is its’ technical term, as far as I am concerned). The best part is that it doubles as a surge protector and has two USB ports. This way we only have to bring two cords, a micro USB and a lighting cord. We will be carrying our 12,000 AHm charger to help “speed” things up a bit and so that we will not have to be “married” to an outlet that often. There are those who feel the need to “lecture” us on the importance of “disconnecting” whilst on this trek (to include the guide book) in order to more fully embrace the “spiritual” connection that a trek of this distance and significance (as a recognized pilgramage) affords. We nod and smile, all the while thinking, ‘this is not our first rodeo.’
Things we still have yet to iron out, include whether we want to get an overseas option through Verizon with our phones, and setting up our bill-pay. Our son will be house sitting, and will keep our dog company, so at least he (the dog) will not be so pushed out of shape that we are gone for another long spell.
But first before we head out, my son and I are on a mini-adventure to Alaska to fish with my dad and Jill. Paul gets to stay home and hold down the fort. With any luck we will slay a plethura of salmon and halibut to fill our freezer…and our neighbor’s freezer for that matter. As always, they have graciously offered to “store” our fish for us… in the event we don’t have enough room of course (and frankly even if we do)…they are such givers.
Off to Alaska…(isn’t there a song about that?)