I am all about anything that simplifies, lightens or reduces the size of my travel load. This explains why I am so nosy about what our students carry overseas.
“What does that do?” I ask, as I come up the trail behind a middle-aged woman. I eye a widget dangling from a ‘biner on her backpack.
“Wham-O’s new particle levitator.”
Fwooooooooot, I whistle. “It looks so different! I didn’t think they could compact it any more.”
“Sure thing. It has all features of last year’s model, except in a smaller case with fewer toggles, a longer battery life, and a little light that blinks like this.”
She makes the little light blink. We watch, mesmerized. I had read about the new model, but hadn't seen it.
“Does it work? I mean, can it actually levitate stuff?”
“Absolutely. Remember little Jimmy? I levitated him right off that ridge about an hour ago.”
(and so on and so forth.)
The point I’m trying to make here is that you can read the reviews and watch the YouTubes, but there is nothing quite like seeing gear at work in the field. And it is even better when others have slapped down the necessary coin so you can just watch.
This year's experience of the Jesus Trail was no different. Just when I thought I had my travel kit figured out (see the link here for my status a few years ago), my world got rocked.
Two items became must-haves for me.
The first was a clothesline.
And I know what you’re thinking: a clothesline?
For years I have carried a couple of meters of of wee-tiny rope in my kit. I loop it up in a ring and attach wooden clothes pins to it. Properly packed, it has the look of a throwing star used by ninjas to impale wooden boards and people and stuff. Unwound, the rope can be tied to light fixtures and sprinkler system escutcheons and used for hanging wet laundry all over the room. I was so down with this part.
But along came my friend Doug. He had a different approach. He carried six feet of braided nylon clothesline that is super-light and stretchy. Here’s a picture. Be envious.
The advantage of this clothesline is that no clothespins are needed. Think of the weight saved! Simply slip the corner of your wet shirt or underwear (remember to take them off first!) between the braids. The tension of the nylon strands exerts such a death-grip on the fabric that gale force winds cannot pry them apart. Other than leaving oddly placed nipples on your clothes when done, it works as advertised.
Notice #1: I just received my new clothesline in the mail and I am super excited. It has velcro loops on the ends for easy attachment to trees or doorknobs. I read about versions with plastic cups that stick to walls but the consensus seemed to be that the cups don’t support much weight and eventually fail. So I skipped them.
I plan to still carry a little rope with me in case I need more length, but as of this moment I can’t wait to wash my laundry in the sink again. I’m tingly with excitement thinking about next month’s trip.
Here’s a link to the clothesline I bought in case you are interested. I’ll let you know how it works. You let me know if you get one.
The second item that became a must-have for me was a pair of slippers. Obviously, some backstory is needed.
Realize that Galilee in January is really muddy. I walked across it twice, once without clients (to be sure of the trail) and once with clients. As you can imagine, there were times when I found myself wading through streams. I had some good boots--great boots actually--but they never really dried out. And because I am so thrifty about saving weight, I didn’t bring another pair of shoes.
Consequently, I found myself scraping/washing off the mud and wearing wet shoes at the end of every day (which, in hostel-living terms, means you must slip them back on in order to tiptoe down the hall to go to the bathroom). I became very tired of cold wet feet because folks my age tiptoe down the hall a lot in the night.
Then along came my friend Josanne. She had yoga slippers! They packed small and light; they were more like socks than shoes. However, they had a plastic sole that provided some measure of protection for tender feets.
Josanne was so stylish and nimble and dry in her yoga shoes. She glided into the hotel cafeteria like a ninja looking to throw stars. I, on the other hand, tromped around the dessert table in my wet boots: squish, squeesh, squish. In that moment I knew I had go shopping.
Notice #2. I just received my yoga shoes in the mail (from here) and am super excited. Look how thin they are! I can’t wait to glide up to the baklava table sportin' these babes. I should be able to really kick some fit.
They should also work well on the trans-Atlantic flight. I’ll let you know next month when I do it again.
In the meantime, I need to go practice some yoga. And press out the odd nipple here and there.