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PictureAuthor & Pilgrim Brandon Wilson

Episode 10 makes me think of that well-worn Chinese proverb - The journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step.

Pilgrim's Tale features a recent conversation with author, travel writer, and pilgrim of great renown, Brandon Wilson.

I first met Brandon through his wife, Cheryl - we shared an office during a stint as producers at Paradise Television on Maui. Occasionally during water cooler conversations, Cheryl would share short stories about some of her travels. But I was never able to get the complete picture.

Fast forward several years and Brandon is now the award-winning author of four fantastic books chronicling their journeys as peaceful pilgrims across Tibet, The Alps, from Europe to Jerusalem and across the African continent.

A champion of deliberative travel, Brandon shares the benefit and joy of slowing the pace by escaping the "cacoon" of a British tour bus and taking a long and winding walk across Africa. We also learn the highs and lows as well as a few tips on what it's like to walk for hundreds and even thousands of miles along well-worn pilgrimage trails such as the famous Camino de Santiago across northern Spain.

The books are excellent and with Episode 10 we get an insightful look at one pilgrim's perspective on things.

Brandon Wilson tells of how his father filled him with a sense of wanderlust during a six-week-long road trip from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles along Route 66 during the early 1960s. As a six-year-old boy stopping off at historical and wacky roadside attractions while staying in classic Americana motels, Brandon was bitten by the travel bug.

College was at UNC in Chapel Hill, followed by a year in NYC and then Seattle before he and Cheryl bought around the world plane tickets to begin checking places off their bucket lists.

Enjoy as Brandon and I discuss their adventures ranging from the euphoria of chiseling away at the fall of the Berlin Wall to their Pilgrimage as the first Western couple to cross Tibet.

It's an amazing account of an inspiring life adventure.

Brandon's Books: Yak Butter Blues, Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps, Along the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace, Dead Men Don’t Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa

Visit Pilgrim' for books, tips, and information on pilgrimage trips.

Books written by Brandon Wilson


PictureArtist Nancy Calef @ her North Beach Studio, 2016
#9 Stepping Stones
From Self-Destruction to Self-Expression

I suppose in its way, this podcast, and blog is like an unplanned road trip as the path reveals itself with each new interview subject.

Nancy Calef was introduced to me by Fanny Renoir, who I interviewed for Episode 6 - The Road to Enlightenment.

Nancy is also a longtime resident of North Beach and lives just around the corner from me, so it was another fortuitous meeting and fun way to get to know another creative neighbor with a unique life story.

I'm feeling incredibly fortunate to be able to have these personal narratives shared with me. To be honest, I saw the Passport Podcast being much more about various aspects of travel from finding cheap airfares to rating backpacks in addition to recording people's travel adventures. But much like an unplanned travel adventure, I am now just going with the flow and happy to see where the path takes me.

In Episode 9, Nancy tells us that she's been looking for the "stepping stones" along the way, and it's provided her with a rich life of creating art, globe-trotting adventures along with a healthy perspective about people and our shared planet.

As you'll hear, it hasn't always been easy, but following her intuition has guided Nancy from a controlling stage mother in Manhattan to a Northern California Ashram to an exhilarating Mexico sailing adventure to a European painting retreat that turned her life in a new direction. But we also learn that much of these adventures were rooted in the fact that fears needed to be faced, and personal struggles confronted. 

A domineering mother led to the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia for much of her teens and early twenties. But facing that void, and emptiness forced Nancy to handle her issues and turn from self-destruction to self-expression, and she learned to take the negative energy and convert it into a positive transformation in the form of her artwork.

Nancy's narrative provides valuable insight and inspiration for anyone contemplating life's questions both big and small. Our interview covers steps along Nancy's path to becoming a full-time artist; the global issues embedded on her canvases, world travel and life in North Beach.

I hope you enjoy Stepping Stones - from self-destruction to self-expression. Please listen, like, share and feel free to leave a comment.

Cheers - Keith B.

Sample Gallery of Nancy's Artwork

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