Camino and Hiking Events in January 2019

I hope this finds you well and ringing in the new year in the best possible ways, enjoying it with the people you love, wherever you may be. I’m publishing this early because for those in the Bay Area, there’s a great hike you can take on New Year’s Day in Oakland. I couldn’t think of a better way to start a new year, and get some Camino training in! Also, just a quick reminder to have your 12 lucky grapes ready for midnight so you can celebrate the way Spaniards do on New Year’s Eve.  For each strike of the bell, eating a green grape is said bring good luck every month of the coming year.

12 Grapes

12 Grapes for good luck (credit: aleteia.org/)

The tradition of “la uva de la suerte” dates back to 1909 when the prolific harvest of grapes in the Alicante region of Spain let some vineyard owners widely distribute the fruit to fellow townsmen. Are you feeling lucky?


Free Hiking Tour on New Year’s Day
Tuesday, January 1, 2019, 9 am
Dimond District in Oakland, CA

Free Hiking Tour led by Stan Dodson

Free Hiking Tour led by Stan Dodson

Join a great hike from Oakland’s Dimond District up to Joaquin Miller Park. Primarily an uphill route, this beautiful hike will go through Oakland’s Dimond Canyon and Joaquin Miller Park, and will finish at the top of the ridge at the Chabot Space & Science Center. Hikers may choose to catch an earlier bus at mile 4, though the hiking tour leaders will complete the 6-mile hike.
New Year’s Day at 9:00 am Details

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Letting Go: A Lesson from the Camino

Note: This is the full version of the article published in the December 2018 newsletter for American Pilgrims on the Camino (See “Letting Go” on page 7 of La Concha).

While there are many lessons that the Camino has provided, the greatest one for me has been to let go, both literally and figuratively. I am filled with gratitude for the lessons.

First, the literal letting go of stuff. After my first Camino, I had the urge to purge my closets. I realized that if I could survive with just a few items in a backpack, I really didn’t need all these clothes, some of which hadn’t been worn in years. I hadn’t noticed that I accumulated an embarrassing amount of stuff over 20 years of living in the same house. During the “Great Purge of 2016,”  I divvied up piles and offered them to my workmates, consignment shops and Goodwill. It felt good to know that someone can use stuff I didn’t need. The reward of having less made my choices easier. Whew! I vowed to not buy more and continue the purge on an ongoing basis.

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Happy Holidays & Buen Camino!

May you keep this day sacred and find peace in your hearts throughout the year.

Camino-Inspired Gift Ideas 2018

Greetings! It’s the time of year to share a selection of Camino-inspired gifts for the holidays.  I try to find gifts created within the last year, or that have not been featured on my previous posts.  This is an ode to the Camino creatives tribe, which I mentioned in a previous post. These are pilgrims who have been so inspired by their experience on the Camino that they have turned their creative ideas and hobbies into films, books, artwork, crafts,  jewelry, and more. I always enjoy hearing their stories and sharing their labors of love.  I am super excited because I just received the new patches for 2019, which are pictured at the end of this post.  Browse the gifts for the pilgrims on your list, and perhaps pick something out for yourself! You’ve been a good pilgrim all year, haven’t you? If not, I won’t tell St. Nick, or St. James.  😉

Buen Camino Calendar 2019

A desktop calendar for 2019 with pictures taken on the Camino Francés and quotes for contemplation each month. $12

Buen Camino Calendar

This is a new offering from the lovely couple from Mt. Shasta, California who made the Buen Camino board game. Get 20% off your order from Buen Camino Shop when you spend $15 or more. Code XMAS2018 Discount applied at checkout. This calendar will sell out soon. Continue reading

Camino and Hiking Events in December 2018

Greetings amigos! I hope you are enjoying the holiday festivities.

In case you missed it, one of the challenges of walking the Camino is the re-entry into our everyday life at the conclusion of our pilgrimage. If you would like to see a presentation on the topic from our recent Welcome Home event, I filmed it and added the accompanying workbook to this post, Returning Home: The Journey Continues. 

Below are some upcoming hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area, and an announcement about PBS airings of the beloved documentary Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.

Holiday Walk from Rockridge BART in Oakland
Saturday, December 8, 2 – 5:30 PM

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Returning Home: The Journey Continues

On November 10, 2018, the Northern California chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino held its annual Pilgrim Welcome Home Event in Oakland. We had a great turnout of 84 people, and everyone enjoyed celebrating our returning pilgrims, hospitaleros, and volunteers.

Our chapter committee likes to have a Camino presentation at these events, which also includes a potluck and sharing of Camino stories. This year, we wanted to present something different. Everyone talks about preparing for the Camino, but what is said about returning home? Re-entry can be a challenge, but nobody prepares for it.  What happens if you have a strong case of the PCBs (Post-Camino Blues)? Our Board liaison, Emilio Escudero to the rescue!

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Finding Community Among Tribes of Pilgrims

Note: This is the full version of the article published in the September 2018 newsletter for American Pilgrims on the Camino (See page 14: La Concha).

I was a little nervous when I attended my first Camino chapter event in the spring of 2015. That was when the idea of walking the Camino was daunting, yet surprisingly appealing. Out of my comfort zone, I drove through a tunnel and suburbs to get to a church where the Northern California chapter’s annual shell blessing ceremony was to place.  I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I would be the only newbie, and the activities would be overtly religious. To my surprise, there were a few of us Camino “virgins” there, and nobody preached! But just in case it were to start feeling like a cult, I picked a table by the door.

After lunch, there were presentations and Q & A's about the Camino

My first Camino event on March 28, 2015

The food spread in the potluck brunch was outstanding. Wine, of course, helped break the ice, and there was plenty of it. I learned quickly that pilgrims like to party! After the potluck came the shell blessing and the sharing of stories. These stories were inspiring to me. That was my initiation into the NorCal tribe of pilgrims, and I was hooked.

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Camino and Hiking Events in November 2018

Greetings from sunny Oakland, and happy November! Below is lineup of upcoming Camino-related events and hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area. You will also find a sneak preview of NorCal Chapter T-shirts that I’ve been working on. And for those who might enjoy some different ways to alleviate stress, check out my November Yoga & Wellness Tribe Newsletter. As always, our chapter kicks off each month with the Lake Merritt walk on the first Saturday. Experienced and virgin pilgrims are always welcome.

Lake Merritt Walk, October 6, 2018

Lake Merritt Walk, October 6, 2018

Lake Merritt Walk
Saturday, November 3, 2018 10:30 AM

Join our walk that takes place on the first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. We meet at the Pergola (aka “The Columns”) on the east side of Oakland’s Lake Merritt at 10:30 AM and start walking by 10:45 AM. It’s a level, 3.3-mile walk around the lake that takes about an hour. Whether you’re a newbie or Camino veteran, everyone is welcome. Bring your questions, answers and pilgrim spirit!

Directions: Take BART to the Lake Merritt or 19th Street Oakland station and navigate your way to the Pergola.

If you drive, make sure to give yourself enough time to find parking, as there are many activities on Saturday mornings in the Lake Merritt area. FYI: There is a small fee lot at the corner of Euclid and Grand Avenues that is close to the Pergola.

RSVP not required, but if you’re on the NorCal Facebook group, join event.

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Pilgrims Share How They Pack for the Camino

I am delighted to feature another post by the vivacious red-headed wanderluster from the UK, Sheree Hooker, author of Winging the World blog.  She was one of 21 pilgrims interviewed about packing for the Camino by the Packing Goods website. You might remember Sheree from her guest post last month, Camino Reflections by an Awkward British Wanderluster. Read her tips below, one of which I disagree with (can you guess which one?). But this is a lesson about choice of gear—what works for some pilgrims, doesn’t necessarily work for others. When a pilgrim is planning what to pack for their first Camino, the options and advice can be overwhelming. In the end, it’s up to each pilgrim to decide what he or she will pack. Still, it’s good to take a sneak peak into the backpacks of other pilgrims!

How I packed for the Camino
By Sheree Hooker

Sheree at a Santiago entrance sign

Sheree at a Santiago entrance sign

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Camino and Hiking Events in October 2018

Happy autumn! Below is lineup of upcoming Camino-related events and hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area. You will also find a sneak preview of NorCal Chapter T-shirts that I’ve been working on. And for those who might enjoy some different ways to alleviate stress, check out my October Yoga & Wellness Tribe Newsletter.

World Premiere Screening of Old Survivor
Tuesday, October 9th
Chabot Space & Science Center

One of my favorite Bay Area non-profits, Oakland Trails, has just completed their second documentary, Old Survivor, about the wonder and resilience of Oakland’s redwoods. In the 1850’s, fueled by the California Gold Rush, an ancient redwood forest was drastically logged to help build San Francisco. Yet one old tree was left behind.

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