Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mission Walker

Mission Walker


One cool thing you could do with your spare time is to walk 800 miles from Mission to Mission on El Camino Real right here in Californy-I-ay. If you hurry, you will not be alone because right now, this very minute, that's what Hollywood's own Ilia Carson is doing.

I hosted Ilia (accent on the second syllable, like Maria) through warmshowers dot org Thursday night after she blew in from Santa Cruz to see the Mission San Juan Bautista. She began her pilgrimage a couple of weeks ago up in Sonora at the Mission San Francisco de Solano. When she arrived in San Juan, she had already completed the northern section of some 200+ miles, averaging between 15-20 miles per day. Wonder Walker!

I have always thought it would be fun to bicycle from Mission to Mission and many times I have wondered why there weren't inexpensive hostels (or warmshowers hosts) at or near each one. That seems like something that would catch on with touring cyclists. It appears that a growing number of hikers is taking the challenge every year. Maybe in time my dream of Mission pilgrim hostels will take form.

Meanwhile, Ilia the Wonder Walker is getting it done. After a tour of the Mission SJB, I steered her over to Jardines de San Juan, my local go-to dinner eatery for out of town visitors. I ordered my favorite Baja Tacos; Ilia chose one of their gigundo carne burritos. When the food came, she inhaled that burrito faster than I could say "Has your hiker hunger kicked in yet?" FOOM, it was gone. I had to laugh. There is nothing better than rigorous long distance exercise followed by no-holds-barred consumption of tasty, jaw-gnoshing food. It is a savage pleasure known only to a crazy, privileged few.
Ilia hopes to use this walk as a preparation for a 2016 trek of El Camino del Santiago in Spain. She is already a bright, talented organizer. Completing all or even part of El Camino Real in California will give her yet more confidence and teach the lessons only learned by road experience: flexibility, patience, and the happy holiness of mindless repetitive motion.

After a shower, about a hundred shared stories, a deep cozy slumber on my Mission Farm Campground redneck deck, and a jumbo morning bowl of heart healthy oats and almonds, Ilia the Wonder Walker was on her way up and over the San Juan Bautista de Anza Grade to Salinas (the Salad Bowl of America) and beyond. At last word, she was resting comfortably near the Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, well into the central section of her journey to San Diego. Que mujer!
"No problem. I got this." - Ilia Carson, Wonder Walker 2015
Peace, Love, and Mission Walking,



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