On the one hand:
REI has knowledgeable service-oriented staff, an incredible return policy, and quality products. They encourage you to try stuff out. They’ll discuss the finer points of the benefit of a poncho vs. a pack cover for 10 minutes without batting an eye. The same person can walk you around the store and answer various questions. I love this.
On the other hand:
Sometimes, an employee will drop a comment that stops you in your self-doubting tracks. Like this little gem: “You don’t have much time to prepare. I mean, some people who train for the PCT (a 2500 mile U.S. north-south wilderness trail) train for an entire year before they do it.”
I stopped at REI on the way home from the Portland Airport. Perhaps I have Josh’s little come-to-jesus comment to thank for some motivation and a good jolt. I have exactly 80 days to prepare for the Camino and so far I’ve joined a gym and walked laps around the house. That’s not gonna cut it.
He was actually just telling me why a sturdier hiking boot would be better than a cushy running shoe, but still. It was a wake-up call.
The other thing I’m thankful for? The sales gal who helped me try on the pack I think I want. REI has pillows and 20lb beanbags you can stuff into a pack to try out how it really feels when it’s full. She encouraged me to walk around the store with the “loaded” pack, so I did.
It was a revelation. 20 pounds is a *hell* of a lot of weight! Given what I planned on bringing, that’s my current pack weight exactly.
Let me tell you: 20 pounds is not gonna fly. I’m going to have to re-assess my packing list because of it. There’s no way I’m lugging that much weight 500 miles.
I just had a funny image: can you imagine carrying a Thanksgiving turkey for 47 days? That’s how much sense it makes!