On Saturday, I did a twelve mile walk down in Orange County with Southern California Chapter of the American Friends of the Camino. Gosh that's a long name. Their web page is here.
Now Gentle Reader, you might be thinking: wait Jen, I thought you hated walking groups. Last week, you totally riffed on a walking group you came upon in Malibu.
Yes, Gentle Reader, I am human and allowed to be self-contradictory. Besides, this group was a group of folks who had either walked the Camino in Spain or were thinking of walking the Camino in Spain. One of my favorite things to do is talk about the Camino, so I wanted to go and hang with folks who thought walking over 500 miles was a cool thing to do.
Besides, I got to tramp around the OC which is a vast suburban jungle between Los Angeles and San Diego to me. I have driven through parts of the OC without stopping. What would it be like to stop and walk around? What was there to see in the OC?
So Saturday morning, I amtraked down to San Juan Capistrano to meet the group. I sat on the morning train with a Cub Scout troop and watched the houses go by as I ate a muffin. I didn't have to worry about traffic or directions or parking. I was hoping for a chill-out twelve miles.
I met the rest of the group at the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. The Mission was right next to the train station, so it was easy to find. It was also Mariachi day at the Mission, so musicians in bright costumes were walking by.
We took half the cars over to a church called Santiago de Compostela, a Catholic Church in Lake Forrest where we started our walk. There was a funeral happening, so we didn't go into the church and congregated quietly outside on the patio next to a fountain with a Galician cross.
After taking the all important pictures, we started walking. The weather was sunny and warm with a nice ocean breeze hitting us. We walked mostly on sidewalks baking in the So Cal sun. I tried to walk on tree lawns whenever I could, and we got the occasional trail.
Our first rest stop was an Albertsons Supermarket. As I looked at the big beige building and the big cars in the lot, I realized I was a long way from Spain. Oh America, you are just so big. Please don't hit me with your great big cars.
As we walked, I got to talk with other folks in the group. I would walk and talk with someone, then I'd walk and talk with someone else. I shared memories and stories with folks who had done the Camino. I heard about preparations from folks who were planning their Camino. In all this walking and talking, I felt a little like I was back on the Camino again (only I didn't have my big red pack), and that was a very good feeling. Who would've thought I'd feel that way in Orange County?
When we arrived back in San Juan Capistrano, everyone in the group of nineteen had walked the whole way, and no one was complaining. Some folks walked fast. Some folks walked slow. Some folks hadn't been sure that they could walk twelve miles. Everyone made it. Yay Team!
A group of us went to a local restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner; then I had to catch my train back to LA. As I sat back in my seat, I realized that I was kind of tired and took a nap all the way to LA. There was a bike racing team on the train back, so I wasn't the only sweaty person on Amtrak.
On the Orange County Camino, I got to chatting with Rosie who has a great blog. She also wrote about the Orange County walk. You can check out her blog here.