It is raining outside…

Still cloudy, the day after the big rain storm. PIc by Felipe

Dear Caminoheads,


Thank you for your patience this week. I have a screen time overload… please know I have some messages from some of you that I will catch up with during this weekend, but still I did want to come to write a couple lines.  One of the recurring thoughts I have is related to the concept of time, and what is that time does to us (other than aging us)… in Spanish there is this line that says “El tiempo todo lo cura” (Time heals everything), but the Spanish people have another version of that, that says “El tiempo lo único que cura es el Jamón” (Time only “curates” the jam). I must say I am supportive of the latest version: I don’t think time heals everything, I just believe that as time passes, we get involved into a new routine and we take the risk of forgetting, we lost track of things, we get busy with something else that is already in our plates… it feels like competition: one thing leaves and space for another is made, and we just move on… but that is not how we are designed to function… The healthy thing is to make space, take the time to grieve and miss Phil…


This afternoon was the end of a very dark grey day. I closed my work computer at a reasonable time (yet late), get some “mate” and just did nothing other than listening to the rain outside that had just started. And then my phone alert for an email went off… and… this is what I got in an email sent by one of Phil’s best friends:


Reforming Oneself

It has been raining again. I have been indoors, meditating on the shortcomings of life.
I wish there were more kindly persons in the world. Our competitive life develops selfishness and unkindness.I am determined to do something about it. I cannot hope to convert many persons. To convert one person, I shall do well.
I will begin with the person I know best – myself.
When it rains and one is much indoors one is likely to meditate on the shortcomings of life.
Let me think – how shall I make myself kind, gentle considerate?
I do believe it has stopped raining.
I can go out now. I’ll go and shoot on the archery range.
I’ll not bother to reform myself today. Perhaps tomorrow – if it is raining, and I must stay indoors, and meditate on the shortcomings of life.

Synergically connected loves,


Smoke Signals

Firewood in for the year. Tilling for corn next. Let’s get started!
(photo P Volker)

Dear all,

Apologies for not being able to come here as often as Phil trained us to during this past week, but life in this spot of the South Cone has been busy. Sort of like cutting and stocking the firewood for the year.


In the field I work in, once in a while, the combination of amazing factors align…  science wins, efforts win, patience is rewarded,  investments are returned, and the result is a treatment that everybody is expecting, praying for, waiting for, hoping for. But this has another side… there is a huge amount of work, lots to be done around the clock, in different timezones, in different languages, all in compliance with every single one of the international organisms that regulate this activity, tracking down information that so many people have been collecting for years…


Something like that has kept me busy this past week; but like when you graduate, the reward comes with so much stamina that we have done what was required… now, however, I feel like I need to catch up the sleep of a week!


Rewarding loves,





Shaping up Phil’s Remembrance

My rosary.
(photo P Volker)


Dear Caminoheads,

Our Catherine sent me a lovely note yesterday, saying “she was thinking it would be helpful to let blog followers know how plans are shaping up for Phil’s remembrance.” 

Saturday October 30, 2021

10:30 AM – Rosary at St. John Vianney Catholic Church on Vashon, followed by

11:00 AM – Mass of Christian Burial, followed by graveside interment at Vashon Cemetery


There will be some sort of reception & celebration of Phil’s life following the graveside interment. The exact time and place have yet to be determined. 



This is all for today.

Love you all.


The quietness ~ by our BC Ryck

Phil and Ryck; selfie by Ryck

Ryck’s grandpa and Ryck; pict provided by Ryck.


“It’s the quietness that hits you the hardest”. That’s what my Grandfather told me after my Grandmother died in 2005. They were married 50 yrs. I said, “How you doing, Gramp?, what’s the part that you struggle with the most?” I asked him.




Many of you here have known Phil much longer than I have. To me, Phil represented another version of my Grandfather, Richard, who died in 2009 from the same disease as Phil. They both had the same mannerisms. The same humbleness, salt of the earth approach to things, a personal touch, a genuine interest in people, asked entirely more questions about you than they ever talked about themselves.


When I met Phil for the first time at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, it was as if I saw my own flesh and blood relative walk into the room. He was in almost every conceivable way a direct representation to me of what my Grandfather was. The same energy. There are a few of us in this world that really understand the human connection. Few of us can bring so many people together or help so many others. Few of us never complain of our circumstance.


Phil looked at me the same exact way my Grandfather did when we talked. Directly into my eyes with a hint of delight as to what was going to come out next. It was then followed up with several questions, just to emphasize the intent on Phil really hearing you. For the last 4 years, when I would post on Facebook, Phil would “like” it or comment on the majority of them. I loved to look at his little profile picture and see the green light indicating he was logged on. I loved his posts on Facebook. I loved everything he posted. Every picture. Every saying. All of it. It was all relevant to me. When Phil made a Caminoheads post, my notifications would “ping”! It made me happy.


I had a Great Uncle once, Larry. I never met him. When my own father died, Great Uncle Larry started sending me letters. He reached out to me from California in a nursing home via letters. We became great pen pals for 16 years. One day, the letters stopped coming. I got a call from my other Grandfather in California, he said, “Ryck, my brother Larry died”. I was devastated. In those letters were checks of various sizes of money. Slowly over 16 years he gave away sums of it to relatives. It was always when we needed it the most. But you know, in the end, I didn’t care about that money, it turned out that it was the letters themselves that I cared about. When the pen pal was gone, my heart broke. When my Grandpa died and I could no longer hear his voice, my heart broke….when Phil Volker died this week, and no longer will I see his comments on my Facebook posts or hear his voice while walking with him as he puts his hand on my shoulder, this will also break my heart….but how lucky are we all, if for just one time in our life, we get to be in the presents of the Phil Volker’s of the world. We should be so lucky. It is now the quietness that my Grandfather told me about. That’s the hard part.



Written by Ryck; just posted by Cris on behalf of Ryck.

Caminoheads ?????

Kelly photo. Could be important clue.

Kelly photo. Could be an important clue.


Dear Caminoheads,

Here is one more post of the “Caminoheads Saga”. As said, I am NOT reading ahead, just the post I have been reposting,  but somehow, what I mentioned yesterday about Ryck’s post, today makes sense… … …  and what about the picture…? and the caption…? Sort of like The Boss left all this sorted out very tidy… don’t you think?

Key loves,




October 16, 2014 – Caminoheads ?????

This is turning into my favorite time of day.  It is barely light out and I am on my second cup of coffee, the dog is fed and flames are dancing in the wood stove.  My iPad is at 68% charge and I get to talk with you!  And I have a lot to talk about today.  Firstly, I AM going to finish my defination of Caminoheads.  And secondly, I am going to introduce you to Cherry, my buddy and she has a surprise for you.  So, stay tuned.


According to my good friend Ivette, when you are looking at an artist’s painting and you see an area of the canvas that the artist has reworked and is obviously struggled with that is the point of growth, I think that she called it.  It is the place where growth is happening and has the most potential for breakthrough.  The artist has most things figured out but frowns over this spot but really it is the most exciting when you can think about it right.  It is the spot where a lot of energy is being focused and  it has high potential. And we all have spots, moments or areas were we struggle, rework or fret about, yes?


OK, thanks.  And this defination seems like that for me.  There is something important about it that will clarify things or focus things.  It is something similar to creating a mission statement, perhaps.  Anyway back to it.

How’s this:

Caminohead – a person with the state of mind that makes a walk of their life following the possibilities that the Camino de Santiago teaches.


Wow, I’ve just spent a lot of time working and reworking that here but that looks pretty darn good for now.  Let’s let it rest for a while.


OK, next, and I am really excited about this, I would like to unveil a new feature.  Every Friday we will have a quality post from a guest writer from around the world.  This will be called TGIF for Thank God It’s Friday.  It is the celebration of the end of the work week and maybe more importantly a place for some fresh ideas and rememberances from some serious  Caminoheads.  Serious meaning  that they are generally very joyful and exuberant.  See how it works?


So tomorrow if everything goes well, we will hear from Cherry from Australia.  Although she is currently on the road involved in a huge fact finding mission in Eastern Europe, I  think.  She is hard to keep up with!  Anyway, she is going to talk with you about something important that she learned on the Camino.


OK, love, Felipe.



Felipé and Kelly in Spain.
(photo unknown)


Dear Caminoheads,

Ohhhh Friday!!!!!!!!!!!! I am doing a happy dance while my pajamas are coming to me!!!!


I had a post from Ryck, our BC, sitting in my inbox (which I haven’t read, but my heart says it will be awesome) to post today, as today is Friday and the BCs usually post on Fridays; but I went back to Oct2014, and Phil continues to talk to us,… about us,… the Caminoheads, and I found myself in the dilemma of what to do… and because I know Ryck, I have the feeling that Ryck would agree with me if I continue to post the “Caminoheads?” saga and post his post right after.


Like many of you, these posts from Phil are so timely and so so soooooooo needed these days.


Caminoheads Love,



October 15, 2014 – Caminoheads????
The Caminohead is not necessary a veteran of walking part or all of the Camino.  The Caminohead is someone that, as the Pilgrim Beatitudes talked about, learns about how to make their life a walk, metaphysically speaking.  So, being a Caminohead really is a state of mind, a path, a way to think about and navigate through this world, this life wherever he is physically.

And there is no denying that the ultimate way or The Way is following the path that Jesus has taught us.  That is the twelve-hundred-year-old draw to that trail.  That is the reason why the whole thing is so saturated with the Holy Spirit’s magic dust.  You can’t go ten feet on the Camino without some getting on you.   And the pilgrim walking next to you is dusted with it.  And then a whole group of you walking together gets covered with it and it starts working on you and them.  And the whole trail is covered with it.  If you could see it, it probably is drifted up like snow in places as the wind blows it.

Wow, that was fun.  And I promised you that we would finish this up today  Oh, well.  OK, tomorrow then.  Love you dusty characters, Phil.


The same window with the stain glass that Phil captured in 2014 from the inside, was captured by William, our Canadian BC. Pict by William


Dear Caminoheads,


I am just amazed, as some of you commented too, of the timing of all these posts from Phil from 2014 at this very same time… I miss him -which is strange, considering we live 6800 miles away and we only met in person twice, but technology and mainly words, make the miracle of the multiplication of love… Anyway, coming back to the timing of these posts, -and using some “fit-for-purpose” Jesuit spirituality, that that says that God speaks to us through our desires, I think that Phil would love us to have pretty clear in mind what to be a Pilgrim and Caminoheads is, and this is why these posts are coming up these days… he had written them as a message in a bottle for us to open at this very same time…


Missing love ones, loves.



October 14, 2014 – Caminoheads???
Good morning or whatever time it is there where your body happens to be at the moment.  

Back to our pursuit of a definition of Caminohead.  Let’s review:  a Caminohead is an individual that is a hiker at one end of the spectrum and a pilgrim on the other.   And additionally he/she is someone who is interested in what the Camino de Santiago means, offers, facilitates.  And further this is not an exclusive group.  everyone is welcome that comes with a willingness to open themselves up to possibilities.  Yes?

You know what, my Camino calls and have to close for now but we are making good progress and things are becoming more clear.  And more clear is good.  Love! Phil.


Rose window along the trail. (Phil posted this pict on October 13, 2014)


Dear Caminoheads,

How timely is that 7 years ago, Phil was reflecting on what “we were”…? I certainly cannot imagine a better moment to revisit that very definition of a Caminoheads that at this time…

Yesterday I asked you to “think”, and all the “kuddos” go to Barbara… go to the comments, she really nailed the “thinking” assignment… (Barbara, Congrats!!! You made me laugh!!!)

Before leaving with Phil’s words of wisdom, I want to say one more time that I do read all the comments. I am just in a very (VERY) busy moment at work and life in general, and have not found the moment to organize my routine to reply. But please know that Phil reminded me just recently, “that attending to the comments was an act of hospitality”, and I promise I will find the time to do so.


Now, off to the “meat”… I already miss Phil so much…


October 13, 2014 – Caminoheads??

Hi.  What if we continue on with what we were talking about yesterday.  And as Kelly would  say, “Let’s review.”  I don’t know how many times he used this on me as I am  a slow learner apparently.   So, I was telling you the genesis of the name Caminoheads and how that got started.

I am going to jump ahead and go for the jugular on this and say, at the farthest reaches of my thinking, that a Caminohead is someone that has a longing for God and has been attracted to the Camino because of it.

And look,  in between those two ends we can conveniently fit all sorts of folks with all sorts of ideas, thoughts and motivations.  The last thing that we need is an exclusive club, right?  This has to be a club where the readers come together and learn from each other, support each other and celebrate each other.

Well, we made vast progress.   Maybe we can gather a few more ideas and then tomorrow boil this down to something workable.  I have a walking date in a few minutes and need to go for now.  How about tomorrow?  Love, Phil.

What the heck is a Caminohead anyway? 

Surprisingly, there are too many bottles of water… Hummmmmm

Dear Caminoheads,


Who are we?

Phil thought about that exactly today, 7 years ago:

Enjoy, but mostly think…




October 12, 2014 – Caminoheads?
What the heck is a Caminohead anyway?  Good question, let’s work on that.  Maybe I need to back up and give you a little history of my thinking.   Within the last year I heard a quote in Spanish that went, “The Camino is a drug, it will hook you.”  And that entered my thinking and started roaming around.

Then one day about six months ago, back before Spain,  I needed a name for this blog and a few things came together to gel and form Caminoheads.  One obviously is the druggy sort of connection.  There are potheads and all sorts of heads, so why not …  The other component, you are going to laugh at this one, is cheese.  There is a brand of string cheese (mozzarella) that we started buying to put in the kids lunches when they were in school. 


There is a little Cheesehead guy on the wrapper that looks like he is the more energetic brother of the GoDaddy guy.  He’s got a crazy smile and crazy string cheese hair.  So the addictive notion of the Camino combined in my right brain with this guy and the result was, well, you guessed it.

I think that we could continue this thread tomorrow.  I want to try and hammer out a definition of Caminohead but for now the  sun is out and maybe I could get some tractoring in.  Thanks for being here.  You guys are the bestest, love, Phil.

Buen Camino, Phil!

Dear Caminoheads,


“One of the loneliest places in the world to be is at a death bed where the one who is departing is haunted by regret for their unlived life.” These are words from John O’Donohue.


Phil said (one more time) just two days ago that “we should be afraid of not living here and now, but not afraid of death”. If there is something we can all confirm if that Phil has been on exactly the opposite farthest away side of that “loneliest place” that John mentions: Phil spent his days surrounded by his loved ones, by his old friends, his childhood friends, his new friends, his archery students, his clients, his nurses and doctors, his neighbors, his readers, in fact, every single stranger who crossed his path in person, virtually, through the movie, through his words in this blog,  soon in his book. Just hours ago, he was surrounded by more than 100 people at the same time -95 zoom spot connected, but in many spots there were more than 1 person- and as we said, from all over the world and age ranges. Who manages to do that had not lived his/her life to the fullest?


Phil used it all. And in the ways he wanted: in his ranch, in his tent, as a Civil War General, having walked his Camino until just a few days before today, having eaten a full crop of corn. Having celebrated one more anniversary with “His Rebecca, the love of his life”, aware of his family expanding with a new baby arriving, undoubtedly very proud of knowing his son would soon be a father himself,  reading public words from his beloved daughter, celebrating his life at The Oasis with all his fingernails-heart-mind-soul, sheltered by those friends who were “his rocks”, being a hospitalero and a pilgrim every day, fed by tapas and wine, and not before experiencing the miracle of the multiplication of the steak and potatoes.


And these are only the things I am aware of, just by walking by his side, but we all know there were so many more, many we had glimpses to, many we suspect, many he kept by his loved ones…


I have wondered all the day: should I be sad instead of joyful? Can the void and the sorrow that Phil has left in my heart co-exist with joy? And I realize it is perfectly fine. The joy is the sign I am celebrating Phil’s life, that his body life ended in the terms he wanted, in the ways he wanted. Can we ask for something more knowing since we are born that death is a part of life?


John O’Donohue wrote: “If my own death were to occur tomorrow, what would be the peaks of my existence? The faces of my beloved, and of others I love and those who loved me. The dark valleys of devastation; mountains; the ocean, the numinous music of words; the endless festival of the senses; the excitement and beauty of woman; the joy of music; memories of hard but satisfying days of work on the bog, in the meadows, building walls; conversations that still sing in the mind; the harp cello of the Irish language; the Eucharist, and the celebration of the body in love; being listened to when words were frail and suffering was sore; the return of the swallows to the shed; my uncle’s companionship; my father’s mystical sense; and my mother’s love and trust in my being.”


All of us who walked by Phil for “whatever brief of a span”, may recognize in this paragraph many of the “peaks of the existence” of Phil; because his generosity made him share many of those with us. And probably we can bring in mind others:  “Camino”, “Patch of corn”, “Vashon”, “Ranch”, “Walking”, “Tapas”, “Working the wood”, “Birdfeeders”, “Pilgrims”, “Friendship”, “Hospitality”…


What a life! What a privilege to have walked with you, Phil! Buen Camino!!!