Carroll and I can be together for hours and never say a word, just comfortable in each other’s company. But we were driving in the car and I was talking with Carroll the other day, as we often do. I said that I was very glad that we had met and connected all those years ago and she agreed. Then she said that if it hadn’t been for my washing out as a pilot in the Air Force we never would have met. I disagreed and pointed out that, when I was sent from Portage la Prairie to Toronto to be tested for motion sickness, I met her on the first morning that I was there. So, pass or fail we had met and the chain of events was put into motion that led us to this place 52 years later.
Then I thought about it and said that if I had passed the test I would have gone back to Portage and to flying T33s, but that I would likely have not been selected for high performance aircraft. I added that I would not have minded that, since the high performance stuff didn’t appeal all that much to me. She thought about that for a few moments, then said; “I don’t agree with you. The tactical helicopter flying that you did in the army was very high performance, it’s just that the aircraft that you flew wasn’t. Low level flying is very demanding and you loved it. I knew that when I met you. One reason that I was first attracted to you was that you seemed to be a risk-taker … and I wanted something or someone to challenge me as well. And you have done that all these years.” Then she continued; “I also think that you were drawn to the riskier stuff that demanded a lot of you both physically and mentally. And I also think that that is part of what attracted you to the Camino de Santiago and why you are going back this spring for another go. At any age, it is a demanding challenge. At your age, I think that the challenge is a large part of the reason why you are doing this again. And writing another book is an equally risky challenge. You want to see if you are up to it.”
When I thought about it I could see right away that she was correct. A large part of the reason that I am going again is to see if I can do it. I expect to have lots of adventures, meet lots of fascinating people and see wonderful sights. But the underlying reason is the mental and physical challenge of the walk itself. I do want to see if I am up to it. I will know in just over four months. I leave here on the 13th of April for Paris, then by train to Le Puy en Velay. By the end of May, for better or for worse I will be done, I hope in Pamplona.