Life is one big journey, filled with hundreds of little journeys, all of which define who we are along the way - it's not always about the end you know.
Part of me has been looking forward to this trip so much, but part of me is quite frankly petrified, maybe petrified is not the right word, but what I mean is I'm a little scared. Scared that the cute little hound I'm journeying to collect isn't going to be anything like Cass, scared because I have no idea what to expect, scared that maybe this is too soon, or maybe I'm just scared like most people, scared of the unknown.
Whatever it is, I'm glad I've got time in these mountains to figure it out. The journey down through France is quite boring, it's flat, it's mostly straight and most of the time you spend counting down the miles on the sat-nav. However it's odd, because many places are familiar, and they are all familiar because of Cass. I seem to have built up a mental map of mine and Doodle's road trips down here which we have done many times, and this map is a map of Doodle moments, which are actually much more interesting than my moments. I remember the time me Doodle and Dom slept in the back of the car on our way down this way, just South of La Rochelle. Doodle decided she needed to stretch out, so I spent the night scrunched up in the corner more concerned that Cass was comfy than me - it's a good feeling. I remember the service station just South of Bordeaux, where Cass sat beside me in the sun while I fed the sparrows bit's of sandwich. And I remember the many places in between, where Cass will forever be. It's almost like Cass haunts these places, but then "haunt" is not the right word, Cass is just still everywhere that she ever was - and that's cool. we all leave a trail, where ever we go, it's neither good nor bad, but it just is. Little pieces of us, become little pieces of the places we have been, and little pieces of us stick to the people we meet - so make them happy pieces full of love.
As soon as you get near the Spanish border, the land changes. The vast flatness gives way to rolling hills, these hills are quickly consumed by more dramatic hills - little mountains. It's not just the landscape that changes, the roads seem to match the landscape better, it must be a Spanish thing. No matter how built up a place is in this part of Spain, there is always a little piece of wilderness nearby. Maybe these people shaped by the land find it hard to totally give it up to the modern world, and the place is better for it - it still has magic. The roads cut through the landscape like they have always been part of it, tunnels magic their way through the mazes of valleys and forests. Ancient churches stand and command the land they survey, proud of the part that they have had in the building of this country.
And then you get it, the first true sight of those amazing mountains, with snow. That land that is Spain, the second most mountainous country in Europe, rushes down to meet the Atlantic from it's dizzying heights.It's going so fast that it is still to carry this off smoothly, but it weaves a tapestry of valleys and beaches, forests and cliffs straight into the sea -but it is just as it should be. This is a land of Kings, Kings of Navarre.
As the mercury hits 20 degrees I begin to weave my way inland, I break away from the Atlantic coast and head South into the heartlands. Everywhere is green, really green, not just normal green, but very green (you know what I mean - green) - Spring is in full flow. Fields are filled with flowers, rivers are swelled with the melt water from the snow many miles away.
We (that's me and Cass, she's still there somewhere) journey on, up from sea level to over 5000ft in just 30 minutes, winding through narrow gorges on the way to Potes. Once there we continue up to the border of Cantabria and Castile y Leon - San Glorio. For the past few years a fierce battle has been raging on San Glorio, some people want to build a ski resort there. A Ski resort that will cut through one of the most important wildlife corridors in these mountains - once again money over nature. Thankfully it looks like this plan is futile.
San Glorio used to be home to a pack of wolves 7/8 strong, until they were gunned down on two days last year illegally by hunters, hatred still runs deep in these parts. Wolves brought me here, and wolves will continue to do so, as long as they still roam these lands. Our souls need a wilderness, somewhere that brings us back to where we are from. Somewhere that we belong, somewhere that among all this chatter we still are who we always were.