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.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Étape 19: Anoye - Pau, 31 kms, Sunny, 22

Rabbit Holes

Last night we enjoyed a really nice evening and Thanksgiving dinner with Danny complete with all the pasta, cheese and sauce we’d carried all day. We were able to purchase a really nice bottle of red wine when we paid our bed fee for less than $5. I love France! After an evening of feasting and chatting we managed a little sleep and were on the road right after breakfast. We said our goodbyes to Danny as he plans to meet a fellow from Pamplona in a couple of days and walk to St Jean Pied de Port then across the Frances, dropping his friend off in Pamplona. A great journey, and just maybe we will connect again if we stay in touch.

As usual we started the day with a nice hill climb which carried us above the valley mist and into the early morning light.

The sunrise was pretty ok today.

One of the things I really enjoy about walking are the holes in the forest. These holes are places that often leave from an open field or a deep wooded area. At home I’m familiar with many of them, but when I walk distance in another place for the first time, it’s always intriguing to see what’s inside, or to be reveled outside the other end. I’ve come to call these ‘rabbit holes’.

My mind is in gear
Down a rabbit hole I go
Mind wandering free

Sometimes all that’s there is the trail,

and other times there might be a small bridge waiting.

But always there’s something that’s unknown as you enter.

The post today is a bit late, but for good reason. Firstly, it was a beautiful day and we lingered from time to time along the path taking photos and enjoying the views. Secondly, we stopped for a very nice lunch at Morlaás because we were hungry and needed a bit of a rest. Refreshed we headed off again.

This seems to be a very prosperous area compared to where we’ve walked so far, the homes are more upscale and better maintained. There is still lots of the beautiful stone work in the old houses. I found us a nice second home:)
It didn’t have a horse, but I found one anyway.

As we approached Pau we decided that it would be a challenging and busy traffic walk to get to our place in town. And no way were we up for a gallop after 31 kms! 

So as we passed the hippodrome where all the horse races and steeplechase are run,

we decided to find a place and call a taxi. This is a bit unusual for us to do, but we felt like we’d basically run the route today. We checked out buses, but about it would take an hour and a half to get to our beds. The decision was therefore pretty easy. Our cab ride arrived and we gathered up our stuff from where we’d been sitting in the front of a sports centre. It sure felt super to sit in comfortable leather seats after a long day on the road. Why don’t we do that more often? In any event, we arrived at our budget Ibis hotel and as we got out of the taxi I realized that I didn’t have my camera. *&#’ went through my mind! The taxi driver looked all over his car, and no camera. Annemarie went in to get our room and I headed back with the taxi to find my camera. I felt pretty stupid, but mistakes are easy to make when you’re tired, and we haven’t had a day off walking in almost 3 weeks. The taxi driver was great and we were soon talking about the purpose of our walk and where we would walk to tomorrow. Eventually we made it back to the pick up point and we both went inside to find my camera sitting on the table where I’d left it. Happy day! I had put my hat over it to protect it as I sometimes do, and when the taxi arrived we hurried to meet it, and I guess I missed taking the camera. Relieved, we drove back to the Ibis and talked rugby and Tour de France. We also stopped at a bank to get some cash and when we arrived at the hotel I passed him about €50 and he looked at me and said, “no charge”. I insisted, but to no available. He told me that he liked what we were doing and he’d enjoyed our talk. One of those special moments we’ve experienced many times on Camino. A simple act of kindness, and consideration. So whoever you are, thank you.

Rabbit Holes: yesterday’s walk was characterized by the bridges, and today’s walk was characterized by rabbit holes...trails that take you into a treed tunnel like section. In the heat they provide welcome shade, but in the wet they can be treacherous. They can be long or short, and when you enter, you never quite know what’s on the other side. Because there were so many of them, it was our inclination to enter them when they appeared, but some were clearly marked with an X meaning we were not to go down that rabbit hole. People with Alzheimer’s and especially their caregivers are sometimes tempted by research rabbit holes. We often hear about new and promising research that may lead to an effective treatment or even a cure. We enter optimistically but on investigation find ourselves disappointed. While there is lots of promising research, as lay people it’s difficult to know where the real promise lies. One of the services that the Alzheimer’s Society provides is to track current research, so that if people hear about some new emerging and promising treatment, they can check with the Society to get a sense of whether it’s something to investigate further or it’s another rabbit hole.

The Pyrenees are closer now as we head directly south from here. Fresh snow up top!


  1. A great story about the kindness of strangers and good for us not to miss out on these pictures. How wonderful to see the Pyrenees looming - maybe you can have a ski up top!

  2. Hi you too! Your stories and experiences are so interesting, and the photos are stunning. As I read through your posts, I see so many parallels to the Alzheimer journey. The unknowns, coping with new realities, managing changes on the fly, enjoying the moments - the kindnesses, the people who come and go, the delights in something new - being prepared for the not so good days, Such important lessons for how to 'do' Alzheimer's well. Be safe, be well!

  3. Hi Geoff and Annemarie: Nice to watch your continuing progress as you get ever closer to the Pyrenees - a great looming rugged mountain mass - and it makes a person wonder where and how the first pilgrims ever found a pass or maybe a "rabbit hole" they could follow to get them through such a challenging barrier. They certainly look higher than they did 4 or 5 days ago!! Really nice that you recovered your camera - it would have been such a great loss at this stage. You may have to rig up some type of a bell on it that goes off when your hat goes from covering your camera to covering your head!!

    Kathy and Bob arrived in Vancouver on schedule yesterday. They had a good flight from Dublin and finished off the day with a very satisfying Thanksgiving dinner before they hit the sack. Hope you have clear skies tomorrow and for the next few days.


  4. I love hearing all the ways the people you are meeting are so supportive of why you walking. It's a good reminder of how many people are touched by this disease. And an important point about research rabbit holes- it can be so overwhelming in any health situation to be your own advocate but not get taken in by all the "research" available now on the internet- thankful for organizations like Alzheimer's Society for doing the sifting and sorting to ensure people are getting good information. Beautiful pictures!!