Travel As Pilgrimage

I've been reflecting lately on what I want this blog to be and what I want it to look like in the future.  I never intended it to be anything but a place where I could write about my travels so my friends and family could follow along.  It all started in 2005 as I was preparing to ride my 1980 Vespa P200 motorscooter on the Scooter Cannonball Run across the United States.  

Blogging was kind of a "new" thing back then and I didn't really know what I was doing.  I had to pick a name for my blog.  I chose the name Renegade Pilgrim for several reasons.  The main reason is it was the "group" name I chose when I decided to attend World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada back in 2002.  The name came to me because I was being a bit of a renegade for not going with the group with the Archdiocese of Portland and because I viewed the trip as a pilgrimage to see Pope John Paul II.  For some reason, the name has continued to stick with me, both as an online persona and the name of this blog.  But a lot of people don't understand it, so I thought I would explain myself a little bit here.

Pilgrimage.  That's a big word with many meanings to different people.  According to the Free Dictionary online, pilgrimage is:

1. A journey to a sacred place or shrine.
2. A long journey or search, especially one of exalted purpose or moral significance.
My first experience of international travel happened in 1995 when I went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage with a group of 50 from Christ the King Catholic Church in Missoula, MT.  I was a college junior who was floundering in school.  I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.  I was active in the Catholic Campus Ministry at Christ the King and had a dynamic pastor in Fr. Jim Hogan.  At the time, Fr. Hogan would lead pilgrimages to the Holy Land every two or three years.  He always made sure there was space for a group of college students to go and the trip was always during Spring Break.

Part of our preparation included learning about what pilgrimage was and wasn't.  I don't remember much (hey it was 15+ years ago!) but one of the things that really stuck with me out of that first international travel experience was that travel can be a sacred journey.  Pilgrimages or sacred journeys can mean different things to different people.  For some people, going to Wrigley Field or Lambeau Field are sacred journeys.  For me, walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain is a sacred journey.  It's different for everyone.

Sometimes, I feel like I travel a little bit differently than other people.  I like to think I am unique!  I'm the kind of person who goes to Rome, Italy to see the Colosseum and the Vatican, but also ends up at the Fire Brigade Museum with my sister because she is a professional firefighter and we know that fire fighting started in ancient Rome.  During that same trip, we also went on the Scavi Tour into the catacombs under St. Peter's Basilica because it sounded interesting and at the time, no one had ever heard of it.  In Barcelona, I skipped the Picasso museum and went to the Chocolate Museum instead.  It was several dollars cheaper and my "ticket" was a chocolate bar!  Yum!  I don't always do the things that tourists are supposed to do.  I guess that's where the renegade part of my name comes out the strongest.  I traveled to Bethlehem on my own and took a day trip to Ramallah.  Why?  Why not!  I have some of the best stories from stepping outside the box and challenging myself to do things I wouldn't normally do.

So, there you have it folks....a little explanation to help you understand where I am coming from.  I really, truly hope to continue this blog and provide a place where I can share my experiences, opinions (I have lots of those!) and travel stories with you.  There is a whole two countries from my 2010 RTW trip that I have yet to blog about.  Stay tuned for stories about Thailand and Japan.