Happy Ten Year Anniversary Slacker Pilgrim Guide!

On November 1, 2012, I took a deep breath and clicked publish for the Slacker Pilgrim Guide on Amazon, Smashwords, and a bunch of other ebook publishers.

I had written plays, screenplays, blogs, and stories. I knew I could not control how others would receive it or if anyone would get it. I just wanted to put my Camino story out there and whatever will be will be.

While walking the Camino, I had found a strange courage and a way of doing what felt right. With the book, I trusted that courage and discovered a whole new way of connecting with fellow pilgrims. I am still in awe that my little guide has resonated with so many people. Yes, walking the Camino can be humorous.

Ten years later, I continue to be both a slacker pilgrim and a racing pilgrim. In the Slacker Pilgrim Guide, slacker pilgrim walks slowly and takes it all in while racing pilgrim walks quickly to get there quick quick quick! Because they both end up in the same place every night, they have long chats and become friends. I believe we all have a bit of the slacker pilgrim and the racing pilgrim in us.

I haven’t done a long walk since 2014, but I have jumped on sailboats and discovered a slow way of voyaging on the water as well as a way to be quick and fast. I enjoy the slow leisurely pace of a cruising sailboat as well as the intense focus of a racing sailboat.

I am ten years older and can feel myself slowing down a bit. Perimenopause is no joke. However, I remain determined to put one foot in front of the other over the next ridge and through the next town.

In honor of the ten-year anniversary, I came up with some merchandise using the Slacker Pilgrim and Racing Pilgrim characters in the book. On any day, you can be a Slacker Pilgrim or a Racing Pilgrim and wear it with pride. Because I still like the black clothes, you can get them in basic black. There are stickers too. You can find the link here.

In the meantime, trust the love and keep walking.

Sunshine Jen

The Fun of Boredom

On Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles there is a movie theatre called The Landmark. I used to go there a lot before the pandemic. The multiplex showed art house films along with mainstream fare and Oscar bait.

The Landmark used to be attached to a mall by a pedestrian bridge, but the mall was closed and is now being converted into tech company offices. There also used to be a giant Barnes and Noble book store right next to the movie theatre, but that moved out and was replaced by a high end furniture store which closed pre-pandemic.

I liked going to the Landmark. Their ticket prices were cheaper than the Arclight. The seats were comfortable. Everyone who worked there was super friendly. I could get a cup of hot tea and a hot dog at the concession stand. If I was early, I could hang out in their bar which had some comfortable lounge couches.

I can’t remember the last movie I saw in the Landmark. Sometimes, I would be super excited about seeing a new film. Sometimes, I didn’t care what I saw. I just wanted to see a movie in a dark theatre filled with strangers. I prefer going to movies by myself. I’ve been let down too many times by close friends who like to comment on the movie while it is playing. I don’t mind laughter or gasps or the occasional HOLY SMOKE! Please, I don’t want to hear an actor’s resume while the movie is playing.

The Landmark like other movie theatres is currently closed due to the pandemic. Even though I have access to tons of movies and TV shows to watch at home, it’s just not the same as going to a movie in the theatre. The tea tastes different. The floor isn’t sticky. I hope the Landmark makes it through this okay.

Since the pandemic started, many worse things than a movie theatre closing have happened to me and to others. If you have experienced a loss of any kind, I am deeply sorry. As for me, I am still mentally and emotionally sorting through my own loss, but I get up every morning and stand on my feet. I make a cup of tea. I keep going. I have realized that loss and grief will take time. Fortunately, now, I have a lot of time.

I’ve also been thinking about boredom. During this current pandemic, I’ve had a few moments of boredom. Okay, I’m bored, I thought. Then I chuckled. Instead of feeling bad about my boredom. I’m actually feeling okay about it. While it’s nice to have few distractions, I don’t want distraction all the time. I just want to enjoy whatever the current moment brings. Sure it’s kind of boring, but that’s the fun and challenge of it.

When did it become not okay to be bored? I remember boring car rides as a kid (they were really boring, we were in the Midwest of the United States). My brothers and I learned to deal with it and not fight all the time. I learned to just sit and look out the window at the dirty snow on the ground. It was what it was. I started to imagine things. I pictured a world without snow. I wondered if I could go somewhere without snow. I started to dream.

In the car, we didn’t have the distraction of DVDs and video. DVDs hadn’t been invented yet, and a VHS tape machine was too clunky for car rides. I couldn’t read books because I got car sick. I did have a Walkman permanently attached to my ears, so my views of snow had an 80s pop soundtrack.

I first realized that boredom was okay when I walked across Spain. The Camino does not pass through beautiful epiphany-filled landscape all the time. Some miles are little boring. Since there was no instant gratification except the occasional café con leche, I developed a patience that wasn’t just virtuous. It was enjoyable. All these years later, I still remember some of the boring bits. They were part of the experience too.   

I’ve also done some distance sailing. It might sound glamorous—sailing off into the sunset. However, sailing takes time, and there are a lot of days when you are just looking at water. At first it might seem boring, but then I noticed that the water is constantly changing. Sometimes I spotted a sea turtle or a pod of dolphins. Still, water every day can be a bit maddening, but the mind slows down. It becomes pleasant. We’ll get to where we’re going eventually.

So it’s okay to be bored. I think my mind needs some of the down time anyway. Too much distraction becomes background noise and boring too. So I enjoy the boredom. It’s fun.  

Finally, it amuses me that I write about the noise of distraction, but it turns out that I’ve just written a distraction. Bon Appetit!

What’s Jen Up To These Days?

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged on this site or simply blogged anywhere. I haven’t been feeling the call of the blog.

In July, I thought about doing a piece about Wonder Woman after the movie came out. I would talk about how I dressed up as Wonder Woman on Halloween in first grade. My bullet proof bracelets were aluminum foil, and my lasso of truth was some yellow plastic chord. I would talk about watching the Lynda Carter show and reading a book of Wonder Woman comics. I even changed clothes while spinning in a circle. Not the most efficient way to change clothes. I would talk about the new movie and how she doesn’t stop when all the guys say no. She doesn’t stop. She’s Wonder Woman.

Then Jen’s brain fizzled. It was sail boat racing season, and Jen’s brain was on boats, boats, boats. What’s Jen up to these days? Jen’s racing sailboats in Southern California.

I have been racing boats for a few years. With each year, the boats got bigger. Then, through a series of strange circumstances, I found myself on a fifty-two foot beast of a boat. Light hull. Big loaded sails. It was a little bit crazy, but I liked it.

Then I met the pedestal grinder. When you watch big boats and you see guys (it’s usually guys) riding bicycles with their hands, they’re grinding power into the winches in order to trim sails or raise sails.  I used to box, so I could move my hands quickly. I went back to the gym to get the power into my arms. I started grinding, and I liked it.

Recently, Ken, a photographer, came on the boat. He helped me grind the first half of the race. Then he pulled out his camera and took some awesome pics. When I saw them, I was a little shocked. Whoah. I look fierce. But I’m loving what I’m doing.


Check out Ken’s photos on his site. They’re awesome.

Baja Ha-Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha


You might be reading this blog because you are interested in doing the Baja Ha-Ha and you googled, and here you are. Welcome.

The Baja Ha-Ha is a cruiser rally primarily for sailboats (but powerboats are welcome). It begins in San Diego, USA and ends in Cabo San Luis, Mexico about 750 miles away. It happens in October/November, and you can find the official site for the Baja Ha-Ha here.

I crewed on my friend Greg’s 49 foot Jeanneau for the Baja Ha-Ha October – November 2015. In addition to Greg and myself, there were four additional crew members. Because the boat had three cabins and three heads (bathrooms), we had some space—sorta.

After saying yes to Greg and signing a waiver in which I acknowledge that I could die (we all will eventually), I hauled my gear and myself onto the boat in Marina del Rey. We cut the dock lines and off we went. We first sailed to Catalina Island, then we did an overnight run to Ensenada, Mexico.

Greg started the Baja Ha-Ha in Ensenada and not San Diego along with about a dozen other boats. As an experienced Baja Ha-Ha-er, he felt it was easier to make Ensenada his first port of call and clear customs and immigration there instead of in Cabo with a hundred other boats. With the help of the marina staff, we were able to get that business done quickly. Then, we could have fun on the Baja Ha-Ha.

The first run of the Baja Ha-Ha to Turtle Bay took two days and two nights with the crew taking watch shifts. We sailed a bit and motored a bit. We arrived in the morning then spent three nights in Turtle Bay. There was a softball game one day and a beach party.

Anchoring in Turtle Bay

The second run was from Turtle Bay to Bahia Santa Maria, then we were in the anchorage for three nights for a raft up party and a music party.

Anchorage at Bahia Santa Maria

The third and final run was from Bahia Santa Maria to Cabo. Again, Greg’s experience came into play. He had a reservation not in Cabo, but in the marina at San Jose del Cabo just down the road. We hired a car to go to a party at Squid Roe (a bar), a beach party, and an awards party. Yep, there are a lot of parties in the Baja Ha-Ha.

Lots of boats on near Cabo

If you do the Baja Ha-Ha, you will go to a lot of parties. You will also sail a lot. You could spend days without internet and a shower. There’s also the potential for sea sickness, boats breaking, and the beer supply running out. Just remember, you must eat and drink, you must sleep, and you must pee.

So is the Baja Ha-Ha worth doing? The last night on the run into Cabo, there were big rollers and the wind was shifty. I was tired and several hours from my pillow. I was in yesterday’s clothes. I looked at the waves and the stars and I thought, yeah, this is good, I love this. I sailed 900 miles (140 from Marina del Rey plus the 750 plus the extra to San Jose del Cabo), and I still love it.