Fri, Feb 28, A Surprise Ending

Dear All, Oh, what a pleasure it was to stay at the Holiday Inn in Casa Grande. I was up early but took my time getting ready because I had just over 10 miles to walk and my ride couldn’t pick me up until after 5pm. It was all arranged for Aubrie Vargas, an account manager with Be The Match, to pick me up at the Sacaton Rest Area off of the I-10 at the end of the day.
It was a good day to walk, a bit windy but not knocking me off balance. As I neared the I-10 I decided it would be best to cross over the interstate and go up the ramp headed west toward Phoenix (which is really north at the
N. Pinal Ave interchange.) As I get closer and closer to cities then I can’t walk on interstates or freeways. I have to find roads that run parallel. I thought that I was still out far enough into the desert that a 9.9 mile walk along the interstate to the exit for the 587 would work. in the desert there is a nice strip of desert that you can walk and you are not even walking on the immediate shoulder next to the lanes of traffic. It is really quite safe.
As I approached the I-10, and crossed with great caution over the interstate on a bridge with an 8″ shoulder, I saw a Police car sitting on the side of N. Pinal Ave just past the on ramp. I thought better to go talk with the officer rather than have him follow me into the I-10 if I was too close to the city to walk on the interstate. I told the officer who I am and what I am doing. He said I couldn’t walk the I-10 and I couldn’t walk outside the fence because it is Gila River Tribal Lands. I told him I want to be respectful and not walk on the tribal lands without an invitation. That’s when I noticed the ensigna on his car was from the Gila River Tribe and it dawned on me that he was a tribal officer. I was in a bit of a spot. So I asked him if I could get a ride to the Sacaton Rest Area. He helped me arrange a ride with a n officer from the Pinal County Sheriff’s office. He arrived after about 10 minutes. I admit a few times as I was waiting I thought, oh, it won’t hurt for me to just walk up to the rest area. It’s just 2 miles. But I was able to go through the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other debate and follow what my conscience said was the polite behavior for a visitor to do.
The county deputy came and dropped me off at the Sacaton Rest Area where I waited for Aubrie to come and pick me up. Oh, what a joy it was to see Aubrie Vargas York again. She and I worked on drives together on my walk across America from Phoenix all the way through Albuquerque, N.M. And she and her beautiful family were amazing trail angels on the first Step To-Marrow walk. It was a wonderful reunion.

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