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January 13, 2015



A Walking Journey
Arles, France to Puente La Reina, Spain

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(from Amazon)
 Barbara V. Anderson's new book, Letters from the Way takes readers on her solo walk that covered 600 miles on the GR 653, from Arles, France to Puente la Reina, Spain. This was not Barbara's first long distance walk and like she did before, she wrote weekly letters to her family. As these letters were shared, she found herself writing to more than fifty friends who then shared the letters with their friends. Photographs by Barbara and others she met along the trail provide a visual accompaniment to her quirky observations. The letters are her musings about fellow pilgrims, vultures and butterflies, the endless rain, lessons to learn, and spiritual questions to answer. Her often humorous and always honest reflections make a good resource for anyone wondering what it would be like to set out on their own very long journey. When asked his impression of the letters, San Francisco's renowned artistic director David Ford commented, ''Barbara Anderson makes it easy to contemplate the hardest thing.''

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Incanto Press (January 2, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1941217052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1941217054
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The book's cover will send such interest into the reader.  The author wrote about her walking journey in France and Spain.  The photos in the book and on the cover are simply wonderful.  Usually I am drawn to the cover of the book and I certainly was drawn to this book.  There are lovely pictures that will warm the heart of scenery, a simple picture of a woman walking which is absolutely beautiful.  The author wrote with simplicity and yet the book held such depth of her travels. At the end of the book there is quite a surprise.   The stampings of Anderson's Creanciale which is somewhat a passport the the Path walkers or pilgrims call it, that is stamped which certifies her travels. In the book is a map  and an explanation of Ms. Anderson's reason for walking and why she chose this certain path.The author has included thirteen weekly letters that kept her friends up to date as to her travels.  The letters sometimes, were about the path she was on, the happiness or the trials and struggles she endures. The letters were on a variety of things.   Sometimes, indeed, personal, but they were easily read and very much enjoyed.  The journey was her way of reflecting on her faith and her beliefs.  Raised a Catholic, she wants to take the time to discover what and why she believes what she does.  A wonderful, simple, yet very deep book that is a book you may want to put on your coffee table for your friends and relatives to skim through or perhaps, ask to take to read.  Wonderful writing and illustrations.

I received a complimentary copy of LETTERS FROM THE WAY from the author Barbara V. Anderson for my view of the book.  No other compensation took place.   

I would give this book 5 LETTERS.
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Barbara V. Anderson
In April 2012, I decided to take a walk, a very long walk. I walked 500 miles on the French GR65, from Le Puy-en-Velay to St-Jean-Pied-au-Port. In Spring 2013, I took another walk. I walked 600 miles on the GR653, from Arles, France to Puente la Reina, Spain.

I didn't know much about long distance walking before I began my first trek. Raised Catholic, I had heard of the Camino de Santiago in Spain and I probably would have walked the Camino but my timing was off. Just when I began making plans, Emilio Estevez released the movie, "The Way", starring his father, Martin Sheen. It seemed everyone who saw the movie decided to walk the Camino from St-Jean-Pied-au-Port to Santiago de Compestela.

I learned about other trails throughout Europe that led to the Camino. Traditionally pilgrims began their journey from their homes - whether those homes were Germany, England or Norway. I discovered Europe had many long distance hiking trails (religious and secular) and is in the process of creating even more as baby boomers reach retirement age.

France has hundreds of trails called Grandes Randonnees. Four of these GRs are considered chemins or pilgrim trails, trails leading to the Camino. The GR65 and the GR653 are two of these routes.  True believers cross Spain walking under the Milky Way on the Camino but I am not a true believer. Or a true Atheist. I'm not any kind of believer. I was attempting to discover what I did believe so it made sense to me to walk the path that lead to The Path. This journey was also a quest.

Since taking those hikes, I have continued to walk in Europe. In 2014, I walked Hadrian's Wall and the West Highland Way in Britain. In 2015, I will take another 600-mile walk in Britain. These are secular walks rather walks connected with the Camino though I plan to take more Camino walks too.

Walking gives me time to be present on this trail on this day in this moment. I do not use electronics when I walk. My only music is the sound of birds, wind and cascading water. I am not looking down at a screen but up at butterflies and billowing clouds. I approach a village watching it grow slowly from a vague silhouette on the distant horizon, to a distinct skyline, to individual buildings and finally the rarely visited village museum, the lace curtains rustling in an open window or the quirky little café in back of the church.

We are so used to darting about a landscape in a car and arriving to five or six destinations in a day, hopping out of the car, checking off the things we are supposed to see, jumping back into the car, the next town, the next check list.  Long-distance walking is a way to magically stretch time, to slow down every moment. So often we overfill time into a whirlwind of activity. Time flies we say, but why do we want it to fly by? I prefer to savor time. A long distance walker takes a week to see what others visit in a day, but what a long distance walker sees, they see, feel, hear and smell.
When I return home after months of walking, my friends who were in the same part of France for only one week ask, "Did you see this, did you see that, did you go here, did you go there?" And I must answer, "No, that was twenty miles off the trail so no, I didn't go there". But then, I don't ask them if they saw the pink roses growing out of the sidewalk near the patisserie, since I know they didn't have time.

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