Paris – the final pack for the Camino

Arriving back in Paris after a two-day visit to Northern France to see some friends, it is time to get serious for the final pack. We will be sending a bag on to Santiago de Compostela with our smart clothes, so we will only have the bare essentials for the backpacks we’ll take on the Camino de Santiago (French route).

Camino pack

We repacked several times, weighing the packs each time, only to find them still too heavy, so we repacked again.

See here for my packing video made before we departed from Australia.

With the third re-pack it is uncomfortably apparent that my DSLR camera is just too heavy – it weighs almost 1.5kg in its bag. So it’s hard decision time. Reluctantly, I have to admit that my 10kg backpack is right on the limit – and that is without water – or the camera! So, with the decision made, I packed the camera in the send-on bag and resolved to work on my iPhone camera skills.

With that decision made, and the packs as light as we could manage, it was time to get some sleep – to be ready for an early check-out and a short walk to the Montparnasse railway station.

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INDEX – If you wish to follow our journey from the beginning, or jump in to any of the Camino posts,
here is a link to the index page – which can also be found in the navigation bar at the top of this blog

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Western Australian Border

Borders

Borders are interesting places – they mark a transition – in this case from the State of South Australia to the State of Western Australia. It is a transition of both space and time. Yes, Central Australia has its own timezone – our third time-zone since leaving home. So we are travelling in both space and time 🙂

Unlike many national borders in Europe, there are no mountain ranges or rivers to mark the change. And while no passport is required, there is a quarantine inspection post or checkpoint where your vehicle will be inspected for fresh fruit and vegetables. This is to ensure that parasites and plant diseases are not spread to different agricultural regions within Australia. So it is a biosecurity border and no less important than those borders that require a passport for entry.

Quarantine checkpoint

Quarantine checkpoint

Border Village Motel

This is a place for us to pause, refuel both car and body and to rest for the night at the motel. The Border Village is pretty special because of the sky. The sunset is spectacular, but the real treat comes later.

Sunset at WA Border Village

Sunset at WA Border Village

The motel is clean, modern, comfortable and reasonably priced. The cabins are placed in duplexes arranged in a circle and there is an inter-faith travellers’ chapel in case you think this may be a God-forsaken place…

Travellers chapel WA Border Village

Travellers chapel WA Border Village

The roadhouse has a bar and restaurant where we had an excellent meal while watching the Australian election count – quite surreal in these desert surroundings!

The Milky Way

The real treat was to come in the evening when the full majesty of the night sky emerged. There are actually just as many stars above a city, but relative light levels mean that we rarely glimpse the night sky with such clarity. The sky was clear over the WA Border and it was time to get the camera out. Using the car roof as a tripod and time delay for the trigger and the lens on its widest setting I set out in the chill evening to capture an imperfect image of the Milky Way.

Milky Way galaxy

 

Milky Way galaxy

This sight truly deserves the epithets ‘awesome’ and ‘sublime’.

Against this backdrop, it seems that in the morning we went from the sublime to the ridiculous as we took in the full scale of the ‘big’ kangaroo, named Rooie II which stands about 5metres tall and holds a vegemite jar (formerly painted as a beer can in times past).

The Big Kangaroo

And of course the sign to everywhere…

sign to everywhere

It is a reminder that no matter how far we roam, we are always a measurable distance from home; and that we are a rather special and fragile species on a small rock within a vast universe.



Trekking pole tripod – camera mount

Travel with a tripod? Planning for a long trek on foot, it is important to pack and travel as light as possible. But does that mean you have to compromise on recording the experience? I pondered that when considering alternatives to a camera tripod. For the Camino de Santiago de Compostela I will be taking my DSLR camera because I anticipate some unique sights – perhaps in low light, or long exposures. For this, I would normally take a lightweight tripod. But walking is serious business, and weight is a serious issue.

After some online searching, it came down to either a really small low tripod or finding a convenient rock or wall or post. But, being a bit of a tinkerer I also checked out Thingiverse.com and, sure enough, there was a design for a trekking pole camera mount. What a great concept! Of course, my wife and I will be walking with trekking poles for stability and to keep weight off our knees – which means we have four between us.

I considered making something like that from wood – fairly straightforward – but if you know someone with a 3D printer – or happen to have recently acquired a hobby-level one then it’s time to put the machine to work and make something more useful than a plastic unicorn…

It took a couple of tries, but the finished mount came out light and strong

Trekking pole camera mount

Trekking pole camera mount

I added a 1/4 inch x 1/2 inch bolt to mount the tripod ball head

Trekking pole camera mount

Trekking pole camera mount

And then it was time to test the full assembly with the upturned trekking poles – and it is very stable! I have no hesitation in trusting the weight of the camera to this setup:

Trekking pole camera mount

Trekking pole camera mount

For the addition of a few grams I now have a very workable alternative to lugging a tripod. The key thing here is that sometimes it’s worth taking a fresh look at what you already have to find creative solutions:-)