Adventures in France-Land, the wrap-up

Au Revoir Paris.  Au Revoir France.

You’ve seen the towns, you’ve seen the walks, you’ve seen the eats and sleeps.  Now here’s what we’d change and what we’d keep the same.

1.  The backpacks – A+

The Go Ruck packs were invaluable, we were a little nervous since these packs are not specific for hiking but rest assured they did everything we needed to and more.  Also, we feel they have a longer life and additional uses beyond the typical hikers pack.  My husband was carrying one the entire time we were in the city and we’ve both used them as overnighters since our return.  My “Echo” size was perfect, I could not have carried the larger (and therefore) heavier one.  The smaller size forced me to take less and that was critical to walking with ease.

2.  The Blundstones – A+

Two adults, two children, 100 or so miles, not one blister among the four of us, enough said.  But I want to say more, these boots were in rain, mud, pavement, tall grass, rocky inclines, slipp-y descents….I can’t imagine another shoe out performing or out styling this one!

3.  The Patagonia undershirts – A

These things feel better than silk on your skin.  I also think they reduced chaffing from backpacks and repetitious movements.  They washed and dried easily.  The only mark against this awesome shirt is my white one turned an unappealing color after a few days of major sweat.  In the future I’d probably just get black so this isn’t an issue.

4.  The ExOfficio undies – A, B

My girl/boy shorts get an A, they were supremely comfy, washed, dried easily, no wedgies.  If only they could also be cute, but perhaps I’m dreaming.

The men’s boxer short get a B, they ended up stretching a little and feeling bulky under my clothes.  They’ve been great under skirts and things since our return but I wouldn’t pack them again for this kind of trip.

5.  The clothes – A

I wouldn’t change a thing for this particular trip.  That said, if we took another walking trip, we would figure out a way to do “walking clothes” and “city clothes” but not try to mix and match again.  This is tough to articulate because while it was nice to arrive in a town after walking all day and not look like we just left a campsite, it would be easier/lighter if we were wearing light camping-esque attire.  No room for vanity on the walking trip and honestly it’d be nice to get a break from it anyhow!

6.  Air b’n’n – A+

What a perfect way to stay in a city.  We had a fabulous experience with Air b’n’b.  The only thing I’d do differently is ask a few more questions upfront about noise levels during the night!

7.  The toiletries – A+

It’s great how little you need in this category: sunscreen, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, comb.  However I also had 2 “morale boosters” tucked away and they gave me a little lift when neccessary. Tata Harper makes a small “jet-set” pack and I packed the nutrient complex and aromatic therapy “perfume”.  These things together were smaller than my pinkie finger and did wonders for my mental game.

8.  The Book – A+

I should say – I love my Kindle, but on a trip like this I loved the comfort of a real book.  No waiting for the “electronics OK” when on the airplane, no worrying about a conversion power cord.  I ended up reading “Maurice” by E.M Forester.  Perfectly intriguing and interesting but I could put it down whenever needed, meaning I didn’t get obsessed like I do with all things “Twilight-y”.  I didn’t want another story taking me out of my own adventure.

OVERALL – A+

I sort of want to make a crack about packing your sense of humor and sense of adventure and that’s all you truly need.  But honestly this trip far exceed our expectations.  Most of the greatness came from the challenges of the trip, my kids learned how to wait patiently instead of begrudgingly, they learned how to be a bit uncomfortable, they learned to be grateful for things like water.  I learned to embrace the peace of the journey instead of the excitement of the destination – it wasn’t about getting there, it was about walking, together.  Yup, the whole trip was like a huge glob of glue connecting us, making us stronger.  Will we do it again?  Absolutely.

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Show me what you’re walkin’ with 2

Me and my backpack

Me and my backpack

Photo courtesy of my daughter, thank you little lady.  My Goruck “Echo” backpack, as you can see, is SMALL, the fact that it comes no where near my derriere (notice the french) highlights this beautifully, but if you want actual measurements, here you go.

image via goruck.com

image via goruck.com

Unlike my shoes, the backpack needed serious breaking in.  Built in the USA, Go Ruck packs are patterned after military gear, translation, it’s tough, further translation, it almost caused shoulder blisters the first time I took it on a practice walk.  However, now that the pack is embracing my shape better than my Birkenstocks ever did, it feels like a second skin.  It sits very high on the back, placing the weight on my upper shoulders which is far more comfy than my lower back or hips.

So, what will I be taking in my back pack?  For our 17 day trip that will include time in Paris as well as 10 mile/day hikes through Normandy, here’s what’s going in my “turtle shell”:

Toilet tree bag:  4 toothbrushes, Tom’s cinnamint toothpaste, Soapwalla deodorant, Dr. Bronner’s lavendar soap,  John Masters Organic sunscreen, California Baby sunscreen stick, Fresh Soy Shampoo, Pureology Hydrate conditioner, Mineral Fusion mascara, lip gloss, band-aids. (everything no larger than the airline appointed 3 oz)

Gray Greatest Pants in the Universe – and yes, in my opinion these are the greatest I’ve ever tried (my husband is also responsible for me falling in love with his, I mean these pants)

Patagonia undershirt (white)

Black sweater

Smartwools (2 pair)

PJs – black leggings, black l/s shirt

Exofficio undies – why mens underwear trumps ladies so completely is beyond me, but these things are magical

Berlitz French travel companion (thank you Janet)

Book – TBD

Phone/Camera

Spry Cinnamon gum (aka bribes for my children when a rebellion seems imminent)

Water bottle

Mesh draw string bag (to carry outside pack in case “laundry” is not yet dry when we start walking)

Bandana

That’s it……oh, maybe a small hairbrush for the little lady who took the first picture.  To date, the purchases for the trip include: shoes (4 pairs), backpacks (2), Patagonia undershirts, Exofficio undies and a LARGE map of Northwestern France. Other foreseeable purchases may include, the aforementioned travel hairbrush and a book for pleasure reading.  I’ll be so happy if we can keep that as our total tally for new items!

Next time – what I’m flying in for the trip.  No promises but I’ll try for some photos.  And then you will have, in probably far too much detail, what I’ll have available while traveling.