IMG_3058 A pilgrimage selfie somewhere in the desert.

After watching Martin Sheen’s “The Way,” where Sheen’s character backpacks Spain’s famed pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, something crazy Catholic was…unleashed… in me.

My St. Joan of Arc fantasy crossed streams with my inner Spaniard missionary and I wanted to fly across the world on a winged stallion plane wielding my rosary sword passport in order to descend upon every pilgrimage site in Europe with the fire of a thousand tongues of the Holy Spirit behind me.

Then I thought, nah.

I’m an American.

With kids.  So what’s an American mom with a burning desire to make a pilgrimage supposed to do?

Why, an American “camino” of course!  One I'm calling "Camino de Mickey D's."

Okay, not really.  But a kid friendly one that can be driven (again, because American). One that features lots and lots of convenience stores along the way, and drive-thrus, and DVDs I can put on in the car for the rowdy kids, and restrooms (by now the sheer first-worldliness of this post probably has die-hard penitential backpackers rolling their eyes - to which I answer, "You try doing a road trip with four kids ages ranging from ten to one and tell me that isn't penance enough!").

Happily, our American Camino was a success.  In fact, it was awesome like that Lego Movie song (which the kids sang almost the whole friggin' time!).

photo (3) right side up

The route we traveled connects my parish in Santa Clara, California (Our Lady of Peace Shrine) to Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama (aka Mother Angelica and the Poor Clares of EWTN).  And yes, we did tour the actual EWTN which is in Irondale about sixty miles away.

So take a look!  It took  about two weeks but that's only because we visited with family in Texas.

Is this something you'd ever consider doing with your family?  Have another route in mind?

Family friendly, driving route from one Marian Shrine in CA to another in Hanceville, AL Family friendly, driving route from one Marian Shrine in Santa Clara, CA to a shrine Hanceville, AL

Copyright 2014, Marissa Nichols