31 days to Celebrate Life Over 50s Lifestyle

Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail

July 17, 2017
Camino Trail

Celebrating Life


During July the theme has been 31 days to focus on YOU and whilst we are only just over half-way I wanted to give you a taste of what to expect in August.  My August theme will be all about Celebrating Life Now!  Not waiting until….BUT celebrating and loving your life NOW!

I will be celebrating my 60th birthday in August and thought it was time for us all to celebrate life, love and friends.

Why wait for a specific event to celebrate?  Just celebrate for 31 days in August.

My guest today is a favourite of you all, Donna Connelly from Retirement Reflections.  Donna has been a guest before and wrote about ‘Building Walking into your Lifestyle’ In that post, Donna explained about how she and her husband were training for the Camino Walk in Spain.

In this post, Donna will be sharing with us Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail.  To celebrate her husband’s birthday.

This is a perfect introduction for my August theme and hope that you will enjoy Donna’s thoughts.

Celebrating Life

Donna writes……

Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail.  To celebrate her husband’s birthday.

Congratulations to Sue on her upcoming 60th birthday! I love how for her birthday she has chosen to focus on celebrating life, being bold and courageous and challenging herself, and her readers, to try new things. I also love that she has invited a group of bloggers to join this theme and share their own stories.

Once again, Sue and I are definitely on the same page.

My husband, Richard, turns 70 this September. For his birthday, Richard and I have decided to take the leap, challenge ourselves and celebrate together by walking 700 km on the Camino Trail in Spain. We both love the Camino and have done two separate eight-day sections previously (you can check out posts on our last Camino experience here).

We had always wanted to walk the full Camino Frances but kept putting it off. Finally, we decided if we didn’t do it now, when would we do it?

Celebrating Life

Ready for his 70th birthday trek!

So, later this week, we fly to Paris, then to Biarritz, then bus to San Sebastian then to Najera, Spain to begin this journey.

Hiking the Camino Trail is a very personal experience.
There is no correct way to do it and no set distance that must be traveled (unless you want an official ‘Compostela Certificate’…then you must walk the last 100km of the trail to Santiago de Compostela…or bike the final 200 km).

Celebrating Life

Here’s our basic plan:

  • Begin walking from Najera, Spain (where we left of last year).
    • Instead of ending at the traditional Santiago de Compostela, we will walk to Finisterre and then on to Muxia(688 km in total…if no missteps or backtracking).
    • Each carry our own backpack (mine is 12 lbs, Richard’s is 17lbs) for the full trek.
    • Stay primarily in auberges (hostels). There’s nothing like sleeping with 40+ new best friends every night!

While champagne and cake may be a more traditional way to celebrate a milestone birthday, here are just a few of the things that we will be gaining/reminding ourselves:

  • The journey outweighs the destination.
    • There is incredible serenity in letting go, savoring each moment and living life more slowly.
    • Richard and I love being surrounded by positive, energetic people of all ages and cultures.
    • We need far fewer material goods than we currently have.
    • The physical and mental health benefits of walking are endless.
    • We can go for an extended time without being attached to our computers and phones. Really, who knew?
    * The Camino Trail is richly steeped in history. For example, for centuries, a Costa da Morte (Finisterre) was believed to be the ‘end of the world’–the place where the sun died and the worlds of the dead and the living became closer. In nearby Muxia, it has been said that the Virgin Marie visited the Apostle Santiago in a stone boat. Once in Muxia, her boat crashed and broke into pieces. Those pieces are believed to be the rocks that surround the Shrine that stands there today. Source

Celebrating Life

What better way to celebrate your birthday than with so many ‘new best friends’! And of course, we will celebrate with champagne and cake with our family and friends once we return. It’s a win-win!

People hike the Camino Trail for a multitude of different personal reasons. Last year, we met an amazing young German woman hiking the full Camino Frances alone. She had recently graduated from high school. For years, her mother had wanted to hike the Camino herself but was always too busy – until she was too old and in poor health. Our young friend did not want that to happen to her. Richard and I do not want that to happen to us either.

We are thrilled (and I’m a little bit nervous) about our upcoming adventure.

What about you? What is something that you have always wanted to do? How will you make that dream become a reality?

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Celebrating Life

Donna Connolly blogs at Retirement Reflections. Please be sure to check out her upcoming Camino adventures on her site.

Meet Donna Connolly

Happiness Revisited

About Me
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  • Reply Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail - Retirement_Reflections July 17, 2017 at 01:07

    […] You can read more about our plans over at Sue’s site. […]

  • Reply From Grammy's Grid - Retirement_Reflections July 17, 2017 at 01:19

    […] From Retirement Reflections: As you can tell from this post, Dee is very warm, funny, open and generous. She is also incredibly supportive of other bloggers. Be sure to check out her website and link parties — you won’t want to miss them! Up next week is Pat, from Retirement Transitions, sharing with us her ’17 things for 2017′. This post will likely cause you to take stock of your own 2017 — it certainly did for me. Finally, for the first time since I began this blog, I will publish two posts in one day…this post and a teaser! At 8:05 a.m., July 16 BC time (1:05 a.m. July 17 in Australia) I will link to a guest post where I have written about my upcoming Camino adventure. I would love for you to join me there! […]

  • Reply Liesbet July 17, 2017 at 02:25

    Richard doesn’t look a day over 50. You both seem to be in good shape – mentally and physically – to finish this trek this summer. Very exciting! Enjoy the journey, both of you. Less is more, especially when you have to carry it all yourselves. 🙂

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 17, 2017 at 07:56

      I thought the same thing Liesbet, Richard and Donna both look great!

    • Reply Donna July 17, 2017 at 08:15

      Thanks, Liesbet – Richard says that he likes you already! That will make it so much easier when you and Mark come to visit, I’ll keep you posted!

  • Reply Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com July 17, 2017 at 06:30

    Hi Donna! How exciting and definitely a spectacular way to celebrate a big birthday. My husband Thom and I talked about doing the Camino but have never taken the plunge…maybe you will inspire us? Have a wonderful experience and I look forward to reading about how it unfolds. (and I LOVE the photos too!) ~Kathy

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 17, 2017 at 07:55

      Hi Kathy, yes I can’t wait to read about Donna and her husband’s adventure! Have a great week!

    • Reply Donna July 17, 2017 at 15:45

      Hi, Kathy – Oooohh, I do hope that Richard and I can inspire you and Thom to do the Camino. There are so many different routes, lengths and ways to do it, there really is no right or wrong. We were inspired by a fellow educator to try the Camino years ago. The moment we set foot on the trail the very first day, it was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT!

  • Reply Ruth Connor July 17, 2017 at 08:04

    Fabulous! Good for you (both) hope you enjoy it and will write about it after. Great blog and thanks to Sue for including it!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 17, 2017 at 08:34

      It is exciting isn’t it Ruth! I’m always happy to share Donna and her writing on Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond. I’m looking forward to reading all about her trip as well. x

    • Reply Donna July 17, 2017 at 15:42

      Hi, Ruth – Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing these kind words. I will have my iPhone with me (for safety reasons of course :D) so hopefully I will be able to do some posting along the way. Stay tuned!

  • Reply Leslie Clingan July 17, 2017 at 21:38

    Incredible and inspirational. And a reminder of what better day than today?

    • Reply Donna July 18, 2017 at 08:32

      Thanks, Leslie – You have summed up Sue’s August theme very nicely…’What better day than today?’ Thank you so much for stopping by. I greatly appreciate it.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 19, 2017 at 07:39

      Donna and her hubby are inspirational Leslie it makes me feel happy seeing people living their dream. xx

  • Reply Leanne | crestingthehill July 18, 2017 at 00:19

    You both look fabulous and fit – but I want to know how on earth you fit all your clothes and toiletries etc for that amount of time into one tiny little backpack??? That is an amazing feat in itself. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures as time goes on – have fun!

    • Reply Donna July 18, 2017 at 08:39

      Thanks, Leanne – You are very kind! Since walking is our prime activity each day, our needs are very simple. We have found that we really do not need too much in the way of extra clothes or toiletries. Also, as we have done sections of the Camino twice before, we have now gathered a small stockpile of ultralight and packable clothing/items. Finally, we take the ‘Noah’s Ark’ approach, that is, no more than two of anything (and only one or none when we can get away with it)!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 19, 2017 at 07:38

      I know Leanne I would need a lesson in packing light! I can’t wait to read Donna’s journey. x

  • Reply Shirley Corder July 18, 2017 at 00:29

    You both look so fit and ready for the long trek. I admit, I share Leanne’s wonder at how you fit so much into one not-so-tiny backpack. I should think it gets heavier as the minutes go by!

    • Reply Donna July 18, 2017 at 08:41

      You are very wise Shirley – It is amazing how heavy just 12 pounds can feel at the end of Day One! As the days go by, and our bodies become more and more fit, it does become lighter again! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I greatly appreciate it.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 19, 2017 at 07:37

      They look great don’t they Shirley and I agree I couldn’t pack that small amount – I need lessons 🙂

  • Reply Dr Sock July 18, 2017 at 06:05

    Donna, I am so impressed that you will be trekking 700 kilometres! And with only 12 pounds of belongings. That is inspirational. And I love the Eleanor Roosevelt quotation– that kind of says it all.


    • Reply Donna July 18, 2017 at 08:30

      Thanks for your kind words and warm wishes, Jude. I greatly appreciate them. It is only recommended to carry 10% of your body weight so I took that recommendation very seriously. And once you’ve done the Camino once….and had to carry your own stuff…your realize how little you truly need!

      • Reply Dr Sock July 19, 2017 at 05:17

        Haha, when I did a backpacking tour of Europe in my 20’s, I carried a 35 pound pack, which was certainly much more than 10% of my weight. (We had a tent, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, a big heavy camera…)


        • Reply Donna July 23, 2017 at 01:14

          Hi, Jude – You and my husband, Richard, are kindred spirits! That exactly what he said to me last year…then he attempted to carry an overweight pack up and down hills foe 8-hour days for over a week. He immediately said that he would never do that again. So far, he has kept his word and is travelling much lighter!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 19, 2017 at 07:36

      Isn’t she an inspiration! I could do with some lessons on packing light that is for sure!

  • Reply Debbie July 18, 2017 at 08:45

    What an amazing journey for you both and a great way to celebrate a milestone birthday. You both look fantastically fit and healthy and I can’t way to hear all about it. One question I have is how long you plan to take for the trek? All the best to you both and thanks for sharing Donna’s journey with us Sue.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 19, 2017 at 07:35

      Isn’t it exciting Debbie! I would love to do this but my husband isn’t as keen as I am. I will live my journey at the moment through reading Donna’s posts. x

  • Reply Donna July 19, 2017 at 00:29

    Hi, Debbie – I love questions about the Camino and our upcoming trek. If we walk 22 kilometers per day, without a day off (and no missteps), we would be finished in 31 days. We have given ourselves 51 days in Europe so that we can better make things up as we go along, and never feel that we need to rush or miss something that we really want to see because of a too-early flight. I look forward to keeping everyone posted on where this adventure leads!

  • Reply Teresa July 19, 2017 at 12:55

    I’m anxiously waiting to hear about your journey! You both look fantastically in shape and ready to take this on. Good luck and have a blast!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 21, 2017 at 07:16

      I’m sure they will have a fabulous time Teresa and like you, I’m lookng forward to reading all about it. have a lovely day xx

    • Reply Donna July 23, 2017 at 01:16

      Thanks, Terry – We have now completed the hardest part, I.e. Getting here! We begin our official walk tomorrow. I will keep you posted.

  • Reply Jennifer July 19, 2017 at 20:42

    A 12 lb backpack? Does that include snacks and water? If so, I’m thoroughly impressed. I couldn’t get my backpack below 20lbs when hiking for a few days in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. And your husband must be lying about his age, there is no way that he’s hitting 70 already!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 21, 2017 at 07:15

      I’ve never done backpacking Jennifer – I’m not sure I could carry one for that long! Donna’s and her husband both look fit and healthy don’t they – great examples to us all. x

    • Reply Donna July 23, 2017 at 01:21

      Hi , Jennifer – I’ve seen Richard’s passport….but he did say that he likes you already!?
      This is our third Camino, so our packs have gotten lighter and lighter each time. The 12
      lbs includes water and granola bars!

      • Reply Jennifer July 23, 2017 at 11:39

        Donna, I am in awe and bow down to you. I cannot believe that your 12-pound pack includes water and snack! You will need to write a post about your pack and everything that you put into it!

        • Reply Donna July 24, 2017 at 03:32

          Thanks, Jennifer – I will definitely post about my pack once I return home. Packing extremely light in the Camino is definitely the way to go!

  • Reply Terri Webster Schrandt July 20, 2017 at 08:17

    You both look fab and will be even younger after all this walking!

    • Reply Donna July 23, 2017 at 01:24

      Thanks, Terri – That would be an amazing bonus!

  • Reply Jan Wild July 20, 2017 at 10:09

    Hmmm 700 kms sounds extraordinary to someone who is working up to 10, 000 steps a day. I just can’t imagine it. We met in France the lovely Meredith Sykes who has completed several Caminos. If you are not aware of her you might enjoy reading about her

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 21, 2017 at 07:12

      It is a long way isn’t it Jan? But what an experience. Thanks for the info about Meredith Sykes. The Camino is on my list but it might be solo as my husband isn’t that keen. Have a great weekend!

    • Reply Donna July 22, 2017 at 17:31

      Hi, Jan – In 2010, when I suggested to my husband that we do the last 200K of The Camino, he said (as lovingly as possible) that I would never make it. Not only did I make it…I was usually quite a bit ahead of him on the trail. It’s amazing what we can accomplish with sheer determination. Thank you for the link to Meredith. I will definitely check her out!

  • Reply Janis July 20, 2017 at 11:50

    I’m so glad that you’ve given yourselves extra time – not that you’ll need it fitness-wise; you both are in great shape – but having options and opportunities for spontaneity makes traveling so special. Blog if you can, but never miss a moment of your journey.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 21, 2017 at 07:09

      Donna and her husband are amazing aren’t they Janis? I can’t wait to see their photos and read about their adventure. x

  • Reply Donna July 22, 2017 at 17:26

    Thanks, Janis – After a 2-day marathon of planes, trains, automobiles, buses and ferries, Richard and I arrived in San Sebastián, Spain last Thursday evening. We spent two blissful days there (including front standing row to a free Pretenders concert)! We are now awaiting our bus to Longrono and then a new bus to Najera where we will begin our journey. I’ll keep you all posted whenever I can find technical (as well as physical and mental) bandwith. Please stay tuned!

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