Finding Community Among Tribes of Pilgrims

Note: This is the full version of the article published in the latest 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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Yoga & Wellness Tribe Newsletter September 2018

I’m sharing my new wellness newsletter with my Camino tribe. Even though it features a lot of events in the SF Bay Area, I include a few freebies that people can enjoy anywhere in the world, such as the Happiness Calendar and online course. Even I can’t believe the SF Hostel is offering a free overnight stay and intercultural workshop with a world-renowned speaker and author.

Take a look: Yoga & Wellness Tribe Newsletter September 2018

Let me know what you think. If you dig it, subcribe now to receive the wellness newsletter each month.

Cheers,
Laurie

Camino Reflections by an Awkward British Wanderluster

I’m happy to feature a guest post by fellow travel blogger Sheree, who recently walked the Camino Francés with her partner Tim.  The self-proclaimed “awkward British wanderluster” writes, “I don’t really know where I’m going, but that’s never stopped me before.”  I can definitely relate to being awkward and having a serious case of wanderlust! It’s an interesting take on the pilgrimage, and even more evidence that the Camino provides.

Camino Reflections
By Sheree

When my boyfriend Tim first told me that he wanted to walk the French Way of the Camino de Santiago, I wasn’t really all that surprised. Eight years before this declaration, he had suffered a spinal cord injury during a motorcycle accident and had been told he would never walk again. Luckily, after several months he took his first steps (for the second time) and began a new chapter in his life.

When Tim asked me to partner him on his Camino journey, I instantly agreed. At the time, I knew only the bare bones of what the Camino was about but as I thought that the decision would probably never come to fruition, I thought very little about accepting the invite. After a few months, it became evident that Tim was serious about undertaking the journey.

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Camino and Hiking Events in September 2018

Below is lineup of upcoming Camino-related events and hikes for September 2018 in the San Francisco Bay Area.  But first, I would like to announce my new Wellness Tribe Newsletter, launched in September.  See first issue here. There are so many amazing events and resources to share, so this newsletter will feature wellness-focused topics, including:

  • workshops and retreats led by my favorite yoga teachers
  • free online courses, summits, and meditations
  • mindful practices for stress relief
  • yoga stretches for pilgrims
  • interesting tidbits I learn about in my continuing education
  • books that I recommend
  • fun events in the Bay Area
  • my upcoming classes (also listed at thecaminoprovides.com/yoga/)

The newsletter frequency will be no more than once per month. I take your privacy seriously, and never sell or share email addresses. You can opt out at any time by following the link at the bottom of each newsletter email. Subscribe now. 

Okay, here’s the lineup for September!

Lake Merritt Walk
Saturday, September 1, 10:30 AM to 12 PM

Join us on this 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 and start walking by 10:45. 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! Below is a video of our last walk on August 4th.

Directions: Take BART to the Lake Merritt or 19th Street Oakland station and navigate your way to the Pergola.
Service Modification for Labor Day Weekend 9/1 – 9/3: For those coming from SF on BART, train service will stop at West Oakland with free AC Transit bus bridge to 19th Street. See the BART alert for details.

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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Camino and Hiking Events in August 2018

Buen día, amigos. Local Camino events provide some great training hikes and learning opportunities, plus the camaraderie of being on the Camino, right here at home. Below is lineup of Camino-related events and hikes for August 2018 in the San Francisco Bay Area and slightly beyond.

Lake Merritt Walk
Saturday, August 4, 10:30 am

Join us on this 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!

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Celebrating Saint James Day

The Apostle James, the reason for the Camino pilgrimage, is celebrated throughout the world on July 25th, his designated saint’s day.  In Santiago de Compostela, Saint James is honored in a spectacular way on July 24th, with fireworks and a multimedia show in the Praza do Obradoiro. Below are some photos of this year’s show, courtesy of Robert Anderson, pilgrim from South Africa.

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Check out this mesmerizing video:

Robert and Darren Combrink are currently walking to Finisterre to complete their epic Camino and fundraiser for Walking For Life.  Bravo guys! Buen Camino!

Meanwhile, closer to home

All over America, pilgrims celebrate St. James Day in different ways. Bay Area pilgrims started on Saturday, July 21st with an urban Camino in San Francisco. The 12-mile trek began near Ocean Beach and continued through the Sunset neighborhood on Santiago Street, up to Mt. Davidson (SF’s highest peak), through the Mission district to St. James church for a mass and pilgrim blessing. We ended the day with tapas, paella, and sangria at at Spanish restaurant. Here’s the video created with MapMyHike and Relive Apps:

For those who missed it, you can follow our footsteps and do this walk any time. And this coming weekend is when he church is actually celebrating Saint James Day!
July 28, noon – 3 pm meditation stations.
July 29, 10:30 mass, followed by BBQ.  Here’s a snapshot of the bulletin announcement.

Saint James Catholic Church is located at: Guerrero St & 23rd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Feast of Saint James Day Potluck & Blessing

On Wednesday, July 25th, our NorCal APOC chapter hosted a Feast of St. James Potluck at Corpus Christi church in Piedmont, with a presentation about Saint James and a blessing for departing pilgrims. I wanted to have a special event in the East Bay, and my parish was the perfect place to have it. The church is located on Saint James Drive, after all!

Double click on photos below to see larger version and read captions.

The Camino Provides Patch Special: 7 for $25

I decided to extend a special deal on patches through July 31.
St. James Day flash sale: Buy 7 patches for just $25 and get free shipping!

It is fun to give patches to friends and pilgrims on the Camino or back at home as a way to commemorate their Caminos. See all patches at Etsy.com/shop/caminoprovides. 
UPDATE: If you missed out on this special, it will be offered again next July for St. James Day. The best deal now is the Buy 12, get 3 free, mix and match, free stickers.

Message from American Pilgrims on the Camino

Below you will find a message from the APOC Board of Directors:

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Camino and Hiking Events in July 2018

Happy summer! Below is lineup of Camino-related events and hikes for July 2018 in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am excited about these events because as a recent returnee of the Camino, local events provide some of the pilgrim camaraderie and experience of being on the Camino, right here at home. Plus, there are three unique ways to celebrate St. James Day in Northern California. He’s the reason for the pilgrimage, after all!

Lake Merritt Walk
Saturday, July 7, 10:30 am

Join us on this 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!

Continue reading