On May 2nd, 2014, we started our long journey of El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Lourdes, France. There are a number of traditional routes beginning all over Europe, but we have picked the Camino Frances, a 500+ mile hike across southern France and northern Spain.

El Camino is an ancient pilgrimage that ends in Santiago de Compostela, where it is said the remains of St. James the Great are buried. People have been making this pilgrimage since medieval times. And while it started out as a Christian journey, many people of different religions (or even no religion at all) are inspired to make the journey for many reasons.

For us, at its core, it has to do with self-discovery, love, grief, and acceptance. This story isn’t just about us on our present journey, but it is also about our past, future, and the people we hold near and dear. While we are walking El Camino together, our underlying purposes are different.

For that reason we have chosen to write about our individual, unique experiences, and not read what the other one writes, until we are done. We’ve agreed to write vulnerably and honestly, sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly, even if the ugly sucks. And you, as the reader, will be the only one who knows both sides of the story.

A big part of this journey for us is about living purposefully and intentionally, which is why we’ve partnered up with The Passport Party Project to help them raise money to support young girls to get their first passport and go on their first international trip. If you feel inspired by our journey and the work of The Passport Party Project, consider donating here to help us reach our $5,000 goal by October 15th. 100% of the proceeds will be going to them. Read more about us, and why we are hiking El Camino here.

While we finished our Camino on July 9th, you’ll be reading about our journey as it unfolded until October. Each week we’ll be posting and sharing 3-4 new blogs. Then, the week before our wedding, we’ll each read everything the other person wrote.

One thing we learned along the way, is that the Camino begins after the Camino. Buen Camino!

May 2nd, 2014: Today was Day 1… Surreal and Sad

By Eric A Man In Lourdes I can’t help but wonder how much of a circus this place must be during peak tourist season. I’ve been told, that Shannon and I have come to a holy place. A very holy place. I remember hearing the stories as far back as my earliest memories allow me.Continue Reading

May 3rd, 2014: Today was Day 2… Shitty With a Side of Depression

By Eric As One Year Anniversaries Go… Yesterday, well it kind of sucked. It’s all a bit surreal I suppose. By all accounts, one would think I should be having the time of my life. I am in the south of France. The countryside and foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains are gorgeous. The weather isContinue Reading

May 4th, 2014: Today was Day 3… Somber, But Looking On The Bright Side Of Life

By Eric I Think it’s Time… To step outside. To smell the spring in the air. To add a bounce to my step. To live. To honor. To love. To remember. To find closure. The last couple of days have been strangely devastating for me. It’s been a year. An entire year. There was aContinue Reading

May 5th, 2014: Today was Day 4… There’s a real world outside!

By Eric Sometimes Taking Your Own Advice… It’s a good thing- getting out, enjoying life, and experiencing what we are here to experience. Today we prepare for our first day of finally hiking, but first, we relax, explore Lourdes, and enjoy the scenery.             Distance: Hurray!! Tomorrow we start ourContinue Reading

May 6th, 2014: Today was Day 5…Started Hiking, but the Dirt on How it All Went Down Will Come in 4 Days!

By Eric In Homage to the Movie That Started it All… As if placed there just for us- a tiny, off-the-beaten-path cinema, the Cinéma Majestic, with only one movie screen in this town of Lourdes, was playing the movie The Way. The Way, starring Martin Sheen, and the directorial debut of Emilio Estevez, was theContinue Reading

May 7th, 2014: Today was Day 6… EXHAUSTION

By Eric As of today, Shannon and I have experienced our first two days of hiking. I planned to wait until the next post, because I knew I would be extremely exhausted- I was right. I can barely move my body at the moment! I will simply leave this post with one funny foto- thisContinue Reading

May 8th, 2014: Today was Day 7… Reality Is A Son Of A B!$@H

By Eric Reality Bites… And sometimes it bites hard! Shannon and I have been on the road, traveling and working for almost two years. You would think that at this point, we would be pros at what to pack in a pinch, and what to leave behind at all costs. Well, in most cases weContinue Reading

May 9th, 2014: Today was Day 8… Oh the Pain, Oh the Agony

By Eric No Pain, No Gain… Easier Said Than Done I’m a big Elvis Costello fan- I’m an even bigger Shannon Lynberg fan. She’s my fiancé; my future wife; my soul mate; my best friend. But sometimes life is hard, and when it is hard on Shannon, it breaks my heart. We are currently onContinue Reading

May 10th, 2014: Today was Day 9… Take a Breath, ahhhh…

By Eric Whoever Said to Stop to Smell the Roses This was a brilliant person! Today is our 3rd and final work/rest day here in Arudy, France. We originally scheduled this “work” period just 2 days into the start of our hike because of professional obligations. Clearly there were bigger forces at play- forces thatContinue Reading

May 11th, 2014: Today was Day 10… Spectacular….Grueling…SPECTACULAR!

By Eric The Most Amazing But Difficult Day EVER I tend to thrive on challenges that bring the pain. I may not always succeed, but I always push myself mentally and physically until the point of collapse. I have countless stories of crazy adventures such as: driving 60+ hours cross-country non-stop; helping a friend moveContinue Reading

May 12th, 2014: Today was Day 11… And God Rested on the Seventh Day…

By Eric FROM ALL HIS WORK WHICH HE HAD MADE And so… did we. Technically, we began blogging on May 2nd, the one year anniversary of my mom’s death. But we did not begin hiking until May 6th, and that makes today, May 12th, the seventh day, since we began this crazy adventure. And thusContinue Reading

May 13th, 2014: Today was Day 12… A Second Day of Rest

By Eric And a Video’s Interpretation of a Tough Day Two days ago, I wrote about and posted photos in great detail about the wonderfully challenging day our hike was from Arudy, France to Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France. Yesterday, I wrote about our first rest day in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, and I pondered the future of our hike. WillContinue Reading

May 14th, 2014: Today was Day 13… A Day of Adventure, a Day of Miracles?

By Eric After our two days of rest in Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France, we finally hiked again! But… at the end of today, which was a strange, long, and beautiful day, we decided, yet again, to take a rest day tomorrow. Therefore, I will expand on today’s hike, while we rest tomorrow. I will try not toContinue Reading

May 15th, 2014: Today was Day 14… A Day of Rest, a Day of Reckoning…

By Eric Today we have had an amazing day of rest in Musculdy, France. It is a picturesque, rural village in the rolling foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. It’s known for artisan cheeses and wines. And hills. Many, many hills. We are enjoying a hotel with the first bathtub we have had in quite someContinue Reading

May 16th, 2014: Today was Day 15… A Huge Push Forward!

By Eric The Physical and Emotional Push To Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port I realize I have written with mixed levels of enthusiasm in the last few days. Enthusiasm about my expectations of how far Shannon and I will make it on our overall goal of hiking from Lourdes, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. If we even makeContinue Reading

May 17th, 2014: Today was Day 16… Thunderstorms in our horizon?

By Eric We relax today in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France. We are finally at the entrance to the Pyrenees Mountains. Our great assent up those fabled hills will begin in two days. We are finally in a town with resources to replenish and/or replace our hiking gear. In particular, I can finally buy an actual pair ofContinue Reading

May 18th, 2014: Today was Day 17… Tomorrow is the First Day of the Rest of Our Hike

By Eric Today is our last rest and preparation day in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. We have spent the last twelve days hiking and preparing, essentially, for tomorrow: The Pyrenees Mountains. For me, this is otherwise known as the first day of the rest of our lives, ahem, I mean our hike. There are several routes to makeContinue Reading

May 19th, 2014: Today was Day 18… Now this is what I call hiking!

By Eric Hiking El Camino de Santiago- today is the first day I truly feel like we are doing that! I have hiked many mountains and camped all along the way, but I have never before hiked for days straight of endless kilometers of concreted highways. Today confirmed for me what I thought over theContinue Reading

May 20th, 2014: Today was Day 19… Epic! Only Epic Can Describe Today.

By Eric It was easily the most thrilling day of any of our hikes so far. Today we woke up in our refuge in Orisson, high in the mountains of the Pyrenees, and we intended to hike up and over these mountains and down to Roncesvalles, Spain. Today, after almost two amazing weeks hiking thruContinue Reading

May 21th, 2014: Today was Day 20… Epic! Pyrenees Take Deux…

By Eric Hiking the Pyrenees was such an amazing and multifaceted day, that on yesterday’s blog post, I decided to make a much longer than usual video. I kept my writing to a minimum, and I did not post any photos. But without the addition of photos, I would be doing an injustice in depictingContinue Reading

May 2nd, 2014: Today was day 1…..it was partly gloomy.

By Shannon This morning we woke up to rainy, cold, and dreary weather. It perfectly matched the sense of dread hanging over me. I couldn’t quite place the dread. Maybe it had to do with the fact that today is the one year anniversary of Lourdes’ (Eric’s mom) death or that we start the hikeContinue Reading

May 3rd, 2014: Today is day 2… it feels unreal.

By Shannon Yesterday when we were walking to the information center at the Basilica to get our camino credentials, we noticed a sign that said, The Way was playing at the local theater. The sign was in French, but luckily one of the few things I retained from my high school French class was howContinue Reading

May 4th, 2014: Today is day 3… it was amazing.

By Shannon A few weeks ago, Eric told me that he had figured out a way download all the text messages we’ve ever sent each other. And today, he FINALLY gave me the PDF containing every.single.one. of our text messages. Well, almost every text. There’s about eight months missing between October 2009 and July 2010.Continue Reading

May 5th, 2014: Today is day 4….blah

By Shannon It’s the day before we start hiking. I don’t want to go. I’m feeling deep resistance. The only problem, I don’t want to stay in this town anymore. We came to Lourdes, purely because it’s Eric’s Mom’s name, and being a devout Catholic, it was an important place for her. But we neverContinue Reading

May 6th, 2014: Today was day 5…. it was challenging

By Shannon This morning when the alarm went off at 9am, I didn’t want to get up. Staring at the contents of my pack strewed across the floor, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was to stuff everything in. After I grumbling “just five more minutes” a fifth and final time,Continue Reading

May 7th 2014: Today was day 6…….I’m so sore.

By Shannon I stop walking up the hill we’ve been climbing of the last 30 minutes. Eric who is a ahead of me, turns around to check on me. When he sees me struggling, he walks back towards me and asks me what’s wrong. I tell him, “This doesn’t feel right. I don’t think we areContinue Reading

May 8th, 2014: Today is day 7….ouch.

By Shannon My body has never ached as much as it does now. Everything hurts. I don’t want to move and I don’t even think I can. I think my electrolytes are low because no matter how much water I drink, I can’t quench my thirst and as soon as I drink water I haveContinue Reading

May 9th, 2014: Today is day 8…it was eye opening.

By Shannon I don’t want to leave the comfort of our hotel (and wifi) but I know we need to go to the gite. Not only for the sake of our budget, but also for the experience. A lot of pilgrims only stay in gite/alberges but since I need guaranteed wifi and private places toContinue Reading

May 10th 2014: Today was day 9….I’m feeling fatigued.

By Shannon When the alarm goes off at 7:30am, the last thing I want to do is get out of bed. I’m so not a morning person. But we both get up and head downstairs for breakfast and coffee. Father Pierre stamps our credentials and give us step-by-step instructions in English on how to getContinue Reading

May 11th, 2014: Today is Day 10… Rollercoaster of a day

By Shannon I’m finding it difficult to write about everything that happened today. It was such a rollercoaster of a day. We went from waking up in the rain to having to start the hike on a busy road, to sun and peacefulness on quiet pastoral roads and trail. We started out confident, armed withContinue Reading

May 12th 2014: Today was day 11…I can hardly move.

By Shannon When we wake in the morning, my feet still ache. I am grateful for our new plan because there is no way I could walk the same distance today. Eric and I debate over if we are cheating or not, but we decided that this part of the trip between Lourdes and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-PortContinue Reading

May 13th 2014: Today was day 12……it was amazing to relax all day.

By Shannon   Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill was my first CD. My Mom gave it to me as a Christmas present in 1995. She told me I could only listen to it at home, and only when my friends were not around, since it was explicit. I think she must have known how muchContinue Reading

May 14th, 2014: Today was day 13…It was very synchronistic.

By Shannon Before we leave Oloron-Sainte-Marie, we decide to mail the stuff we are sending home plus some heavier electronics that we still need, ahead to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in order to make our packs as light as possible for the next few days. While Eric goes to the post office to ship our box, I sitContinue Reading

May 15th, 2014: Today was day 14….It was a beautiful day for reflection

By Shannon Our friend Haci, who lives in Istanbul reads coffee grounds – you know, kind of like reading tea leaves. I don’t know if this is something that a lot of people know how to do in Turkey, or if it’s just Haci, but last time we were in Istanbul, right before we startedContinue Reading

May 16th 2014: Today was day 15….It was HARD!

By Shannon Our day off in Musculdy was exactly what I needed. I feel ready to take on this final hike to SJPdP (Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port). It’s a beautiful day and I’m feeling like I can do this and today’s hike will be no problem! As we set out, I reflect on the call I had lastContinue Reading

May 17th, 2014: Today was day 16….It was OK.

By Shannon Today was our first full day in SJPdP. Last night we stayed in a really strange hotel where the owner was all up in our business. The room was fine, but the owner definitely gave me the creeps so I’m happy to be going to a different place for the next two nights.Continue Reading

May 18th 2014: Today was day 17….It was nerve racking

By Shannon I wake up with my stomach in knots. I slept alone last night because Eric stayed up late working in the living room of the apartment we’ve rented, and he didn’t want to wake me by coming into bed at 3am. Waking up in the bed alone, but with Eric just in theContinue Reading

May 19th, 2014: Today was Day 18 it was scary, funny, and amazing.

By Shannon I’m standing at the foot of a dirt path leading straight up the side of the mountain. The heat is bearing down. I keep telling myself, “all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other.” Today’s hike is only 9 kilometers, but it’s rumored to be one ofContinue Reading

May 20th, 2014: Today was Day 19. It was rough.

By Shannon We wake up to hard, cold rain. It’s hard to believe that yesterday was sunny and beautiful but we heard how unpredictable the weather in the Pyrenees can be. I’m dreading today’s 19 kilometer hike already. We join everyone else for breakfast in the dining area – it’s french bread, jelly, and coffeeContinue Reading

May 21st, 2014: Today was Day 20. It was storming and adventurous.

By Shannon The alarm goes off at 6:30am. But I’ve been tossing and turning already for an hour. My right hip is so tight and sore that I couldn’t get comfortable all night. Even though I am awake, I don’t want to get out of bed. I can just barely see out the window andContinue Reading