Fog City Boy #1

Fog City Boy on the Camino Portugués

San Francisco, California – March 18, 2014

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you will return to it follow my progress on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (Portugués)!

I depart San Francisco on Friday, March 28th. I will fly to London and then on to Lisbon. The total travel time will be about 34 hours. I have a room reserved in a small pension in Lisbon, near the river and in the historic district. I will spend three nights and two days there, recovering from jet lag (aka transmeridian travel). And then on March 32nd (I have been cautioned not to tell people I am starting a 400 mile hike on April 1st), I’ll be off.

The Camino is a pilgrimage that many thousands of people from all over the world have made. There are many routes with waymarkers in stone, or simply painted yellow arrows, starting in different locations, but all ending in exactly the same place: The plaza in front of the Cathedral de Santiago in Santiago, Spain.

Most peregrinos (pilgrims) walk the Camino Francés, usually starting in St. Jean Pied de Port in southwest France, as did our daughter, Elizabeth, in May, 2010. That route is 500 miles. She did it in 35 days. I am planning to do my 400 mile pilgrimage in 45 days, more or less. (Elizabeth is somewhat younger than I.) I will stay in the albergues (pilgrim hostels) where they are available and in inexpensive lodging when not. I’m packing two changes of clothes (one on my back, the other in the pack), three sets of underwear, four pairs of socks, two pairs of shoes (one to walk in and one to walk about in after arriving at the day’s destination) and assorted other impedimenta – all of which will be useful, but all of which weigh something. I will do my laundry nightly in a sink wherever I am staying – usually washing with shampoo. It will dry overnight. My pack and contents will weigh no more than 17 pounds – 10 percent of my body weight.

Peregrinos undertake the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) for differing reasons. Many do so for religious reasons. The Camino de Santiago is often thought to be the most important pilgrimage in the Roman Catholic communion. Others undertake it for other spiritual reasons. And many do it for the sightseeing it offers.

My motivations are a mixture of the latter two reasons. I enjoyed riding my motorcycle through Spain and Portugal some 48 years ago and wanted to go back and see more of those countries again. But there are other reasons, reasons that are related to an athletic, physical, and spiritual journey I have experienced over the last seven plus years. Without too much elaboration, suffice it to say that upon returning to my native San Francisco from Washington, D.C. in 2004, I discovered that I had gained an uncomfortable number of pounds and I decided to do something about it. I got into a program that was quite holistic, involving strenuous but enjoyable exercise based on an athletic training model, combined with nutritional counseling and behavior modification counseling.

I am pleased to report that in 11 months I lost over 10 percent of my bodyweight (net of increased musculature) and have kept it off. But there is another aspect to the program as I and others experienced it. There was a philosophical element, indeed a spiritual element, with which our trainer imbued us. And that spiritual element will be an important part of my Camino.

Our trainer’s name was Jim. He’s not with us here on earth now. But there is good reason to believe that he is in heaven – training the angels and the cherubs to ride celestial double centuries and row 2Ks and marathon rows on the erg – the indoor rowing machine. (My friend Bob would dispute the latter report. He believes that ergs only exist in the other place, where they were invented to train the boatmen who rowed the unfortunates across the River Styx. But no matter.) Jim will be with me on my Camino.

You can learn more about the Camino de Santiago by searching on that name on your search engine of choice. You will get many thousands of hits. Martin Sheen made a very good movie about the Camino called “The Way.” I commend it to you. A good and funny book about the Camino is “I’m Off Then” by Hape Kerkeling. Also, there is a recent and good documentary showing in theatres from time to time called “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.”

As I write this, I am 10 days from getting on the big bird and heading off to the Camino. I’ll post again on March 28th before I head to SFO. Hope to see you here! If you wish, you can toggle on and my posts will be sent directly to your email when I click on “publish.”

With that, I’m off.

Knute Michael

Fog City Boy showing off his backpack stance!

15 thoughts on “Fog City Boy #1”

  1. Good luck, this is already good reading as I recuperate from hip replacement last week. I will image being there in spirit as I read your blog.

  2. Good luck with this big adventure for an almost 70s guy. Yeah, I’ll be there soon so you can’t fool me, classmate! I’d poop out after the first 2 blocks. I look forward to hearing about your adventures. I’ve been to Lisbon and some parts of Spain, but the easy way, by bus or car.

  3. Knute – much success. Will look forward to following your journey and the things you will see and the people you will meet.


  4. KMM – God speed [and no faster] – delighted to learn of this adventure, if I was not pre-occupied studying for my final final examinations I would be there with you [with shell on]…Jack Hitt’s, Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain, is my favorite contemporary pilgrim’s progress account – not quite P.J. O’Rouke but close enough… looking forward to your transformation.

  5. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for letting me hitch an e-ride on your hike. I’ll be cheering (jeering as necessary) you along.

  6. Hey Mike,

    I’d say smooth sailing and a following sea but that’s not appropriate in your case. Have a safe walk-about as they say down under. I’ll be following your blog.

    Be safe,


  7. What a beautiful way to start your blog. With all the changes going on with Club One a few of us last week were talking about Jim. What you have written says it all. Mike, you are such an inspiration, a couple of us want to follow in your steps at some point and walk the Camino.

  8. Safe journeys and happy trails, cuz. May you have many wondrous thoughts run through your head along your pathway. Some day, i hope to join you on a walk about. Much love.

  9. This first post is a wonderful read and I cannot wait for future installments, especially once you are on the Camino. It has been such a joy to be your friend and share your PMAX triumphs. There is a reason that Jim called you The Legend. He is smiling and he is proud. Go forth my friend and carry us in your heart as you embark on this new adventure.

  10. You continue to be an inspiration Mike! I’m looking forward to following you on your journey and can’t wait to see you again in NC. Peace!!

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