La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

If you wish to receive email notifications when we blog, just enter your email address where indicated on the right side of this page.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Camino for Alzheimer Awareness - A Journey

What's It All About?

About two years ago at the age of 62, Geoff's sister Kathy was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, just one of over 70,000 people currently diagnosed with all types of dementia in British Columbia.  Journeying with her through this experience, we have learned more about this condition, and have educated ourselves through conversations with friends and families affected by Alzheimer's, and the excellent courses provided by the Alzheimer Society of B.C.  Through this process, we have tried to better understand the experiences and challenges of those living with dementia, including their supporters who are of course key players along this journey.

While we were beginning to feel somewhat prepared to provide better support to our family and Kathy's husband Bob, we wanted to do something more tangible to help. As a volunteer with the Alzheimer Society of B.C., Annemarie learned about the Climb for Alzheimer’s, a fundraising event under the Society’s Anything for Alzheimer’s program, and we began to consider what this type of involvement might look like for us.

Being experienced distance walkers, we see some parallels between the Alzheimer's journey and our planned Camino. We have purposely chosen a longer distance in an effort to reflect on and perhaps replicate the much longer and arduous journey experienced by those impacted by Alzheimers and their caregivers. Like them, we expect many challenges to emerge as our journey unfolds. We know there will be good days and bad days. Given neither of us are fluent in French or Spanish, we expect challenges making ourselves understood and finding the right words; a common problem for those living with Alzheimer's. From time to time we may even feel a little disoriented and outside our comfort zone. Also we know that trying to stay present and appreciate the special moments may occasionally prove difficult, especially as unexpected trials arise. All of these examples are challenges commonly experienced by people living with Alzheimer's. We expect many other parallels will emerge as we progress on this journey and we will be sharing them in our blog as we find them. 

Although we will train and prepare to the best of our abilities, when we set off on this Camino we will find comfort in the support of our team at home, and from words of encouragement and support from those who choose to follow our blog. 

We will be updating this page over the coming months as we prepare for our Camino. Once we actually begin the walking portion of our Camino For Alzheimer Awareness on World Alzheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 we will post our impressions and photos daily.  Ongoing updates are at the bottom of this page.

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

February 14: We travelled to Vancouver to meet with Theresa who coordinates the Anything For Alzheimer's program for the Alzheimer Society to discuss our event. Lots to do!

February 17: While in Vancouver we discussed our Camino plans with Kathy and Bob who responded very positively. As a result, we are hopeful that early in our Camino they will both be able to join us in France. Kathy has expressed a sincere desire to walk a portion of each stage with us for up to a week. This would be amazing!

February 19: Flights booked to Montpellier! No going back now:)

February 21: Meeting with the Canadian Company of Pilgrims to request permission to put our blog on their website and a link on their Facebook Group page closer to departure. Good suggestions for other ways to increase our profile.

February 22: Attended the high profile Breakfast To Remember at the Empress as guests of the local office of the Alzheimer Society. Two high profile speakers, Jack Knox of the Times Colonist and Bob Lenarduzi, GM, Vancouver Whitecaps eloquently presented their family dementia stories.

March 24: We attended the annual day long gathering of the Victoria's Chapter, Canadian Company of Pilgrims where there were some great presentations and lots of opportunity to share experiences. Mary, who heads up the local chapter kindly arranged a table for us to inform participants about our up-coming fall camino. Lots of interest and good discussions! Very grateful for this opportunity. Thanks Mary!

April 18: Kathy and Bob are coming on Camino with us! They will meet us in Castres on Sept 26th and Kathy will walk part days with us to Toulouse. When we return in late May from walking in Sicily, Malta and Ireland we will firm up plans and book a couple more air tickets for them. Great development!

May 28: We have just returned from an amazing walk across central Sicily with onward travels through Malta and NW Ireland. Lots of good experiences and time to reflect on our upcoming Camino this fall. While we were away the Canadian Co. of Pilgrims kindly contacted us to write a piece for their upcoming newsletter about the Camino For Alzheimer Awareness. This will help continue our efforts to get the message out. Donations have continued to come in and many thanks to those who have elected to contribute ahead of our Camino...gee, I guess we really have to go! Time now to get things organized for Kathy and Bob to join us as the next 3 months will fly past.

June 21: First day of Summer! We begin our walk 3 months from today. Lots still to do and we know the time is going to fly past. Looking to finalize flights for Kathy and Bob.

June 23: This blog has received over 1,000 views since we rolled it out back in February. Not a bad start:) It's all about getting the word out and increasing awareness!!

June 24: Geoff's cousin Gord and his wife Karen were in recently in contact with us about their plans to walk in NE Spain this fall and asked if we could join them for a couple of days. We explained that due to our Camino For Alzheimers Awareness project that we weren't available. However, they accepted our invitation to join us with Kathy and Bob at Castres for several days of walking towards Toulouse. Looks like this part of the Camino is going to be busy and lots of fun!

July 2: Flights and accommodations for Kathy and Bob are booked! One step closer:)

July 17: We fly out to France in just 2 months! Where has the time gone? This weekend we will start walking again with the Canadian Company of Pilgrim's annual 20 km St. James Day walk. This is an event where newbies walk with experienced camino types in small groups and have the opportunity to ask all their questions about the various routes, what to expect and gear options. Always a good turn out of about 70-80 folks and there is a lake side picnic afterwards. We've not walked very much since our crossing of Sicily in April so this should be interesting!

July 19: Most unfortunately due to a personal situation Gord and Karen will be unable to join us in France. Know that we are presently thinking about you and we will be in touch as we walk. We know you'll be with us in spirit and of course you can be there virtually as well:)

July 28: Hey, check out our Instagram and FaceBook links on the right side of our blog. We are posting photos from our training walks. We would be delighted if you decided to follow us on these two social media platforms! Quite a few of you already are:)

July 30: Committed donations so far have almost reached $5000!!! Wow! Our heartfelt thanks to those folks who have so far supported our efforts to raise Alzheimer's awareness...brilliant! The encouragement we receive almost daily is wonderful and helps to motivate us as we physically and mentally prepare ourselves for the road ahead. Annemarie and I are very touched by your support and generosity.

July 31: Kathy has joined us this week for some training walks and of course the three of us are having endless fun getting excited about September:)

August 7: Hamilton Orthotic Services where we get our feet looked after so well kindly agreed to support our Camino! Their logo with a hyper-link to their website is on the right side of our blog.

August 9: Our pinnies and event t-shirts are finished and I've posted photos on our Instagram page for viewing:)

August 14: We will arrive in France in just 4 weeks!!

August 22: Training has been difficult with all the smoke from the many fires raging in BC. I guess that we will be better prepared for just about anything when we arrive! Just 3 weeks left until we depart.


  1. All looks good.
    Now just have to train!!

    1. That's the easy part:) I'll have you cracking the whip in the gym!

  2. Hey Geoff and Annemarie,

    What a wonderful project. I'll be following your journey!


  3. Hi you two extraordinary people! Good on ya!!! Will be following you and my wishes for a safe and joyful journey. Barb (Fairhall) 😙😙

    1. Hi Barb, you lovely person! I was thinking about you the other day and wondering what you've been up to, and what adventures you've decided on this year?! Thanks so much for your support! It will be nice knowing that you are following along, perched vicariously on our shoulders:) We will stay in touch. xoxo

  4. Better get out there and toughen up those pinkies.
    Looking forward to following all the adventures

  5. So excited to follow your journey. Good luck with the last bit of training before the real thing.

    Looking forward to your posts! Buen Camino!!!!!

    1. Meriel, thanks for your support! We hope that you will feel like posting from time to time as we progress. I'm sure that your insights on Alzheimer's will be well received.