Wed, Feb 26th, Back Where I Started my journey to Tucson

Dear All, Today was a long trek in strong winds and with many obstacles to overcome. I have been on the road long enough now that my backpack, even with the extra weight of a days’ water, feels like it is part of me. In the beginning of the walk physically and psychologically the backpack felt like an extra weight hanging onto me. Perhaps it seems odd to you but after I have carried the heavy weight of the backpack for so long it feels like it is part of me, like it belongs right there on my back. That doesn’t mean that at the end of a long rough day it isn’t a relief to lower that heavy pack to the ground; it is a comfort to feel the pack resting against the hollow of my back, knowing I have what I need to survive right there.
Well, today was one of those hard days. I started out walking along the outside of the fence on the west side of the I-10. After only a mile I ran into a fence running east and west, perpendicular to my path. I walked almost a 1/2 a mile out of my way before I found a break in the fence. I walked back to the I-10 and up the off ramp to avoid having to add more mileage to my day. Most of the day I was fighting winds strong enough to blow me and my backpack off balance. There was not a clear path on the small strip of desert terrain along the interstate so I had lots of ups and downs through ditches and tos and fros going around things blocking my path. Oh, how happy I was to see the familiar Motel 6 sign raised up high in the sky at exit 200. A hot bath to ease my muscles, a warm meal to fill my belly, a cool drink to refresh my spirit and I dropped off to sleep having extended loving kindness to myself and others.
I hope you will be able to extend loving kindness and text LIFE to 61474 to find out if you are the cure for a patient in need of a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant!

Tues 18th and Wed 19th of Feb. Walking into Tucson.

Dear All,
It has been good to be with Stacie. We’ve been sharing lots of walking stories. Stacie owns her own landscaping company. Working outside in Tucson means you must start early before the heat of the day comes full force. That is especially true in the summer here in Tucson but it is also followed here in the winter. So Stacie has to get up an hour and a half early to get me out to my route and back in time to start working with her crew. That means I have been getting early starts which I like very much.
I like to have quiet walks but I am also committed to spreading the word about the need for diversity on the Be The Match registry which means I have lots of phone calls to make, emails to send and answer if I am going to meet with the folks that can help the Steps To-Marrow 3 walk have a lasting impact
On Tuesday and Wednesday I did a lot of that work during my walk. I am still trying to reach the right person from the Tohono O’odham Nation; working with the 5500 district governor about giving talks at local Rotary Clubs along my route; finding the right person to meet with at Banner University Medical Center when I arrive in Tucson; contacts at University of Arizona; and contacting radio, TV and Newspapers to help us spread the word about how important it is to increase the diversity of the Be The Match registry, how easy it is to join by texting LIFE to 61474 and what it means to be a stem cell or bone marrow donor.
I walked into Tucson on Wednesday afternoon. I stopped by the Flowing Wells Fire Department to talk with them about joining Be The Match by texting LIFE to 61474
and taking an I Stand With Jada photo holding up the digits 61474. They were very accommodating. They shared water and a comfy place to rest. I finished my route at a Circle K about a mile away. Stacie picked me up and when I got to her home I crashed for a 3 hour nap.

Thurs, Feb, 13, The Walk Continues on I-8 toward Arizona City

Dear All, I looked and looked and looked for someone headed west on the I-8 toward Gila Bend that could drop me between mile marker 158 and 159. After an hour and unhappy looks from the boss at the Love’s Travel Center I decided to walk west instead of trying to get a ride out to my stopping point. A new plan for the day. 🙂 After walking 4 Miles a Highway Patrol Officer stopped. I explained my situation and he offered to take a out to mile marker 159. Awesome! I can add a 1/2 mile at the end of the day! How wonderful and amusing. I came up with an alternative plan when the first didn’t unfold like I had hoped and then magically a ride appeared and there I was at my stopping point from the day before.
The rest of the day’s walk was uneventful. I enjoyed the solitude and intimacy of the winter desert.
I arrived at Montgomery Road mid-afternoon. Montgomery Road is a no services exit so I had no idea how long I would have to wait before I even saw my first car let alone got offered a ride. So I settled down to wait sitting on one of the posts supporting the guard rail.
I didn’t wait long. After about 15 minutes a white sudan appeared. I stood and put out my thumb. And she stopped!
Yesterday, I was given a ride by an explosives expert and today I was given a ride by a caregiver on her way back from gently feeding broth to a hospice patient. We had a lovely visit on the way back to the Motel 6.

Saturday Feb. 8, JBF Day in Gila Bend

Dear All, I hope this finds you all well. Today has been empowering, informative and gave me some time to relax.
I started the day getting ready for the Jada Bascom Foundation board meeting. (Side note: If you are interested in serving on the Jada Bascom Foundation board we meet once a month, sometimes every other month, on the phone in a conference call for one hour. It is a great way to serve. We would like to have three more board members. If you are interested in serving please contact Ramona Lyddon, President of the JBF board, monalyddon@yahoo.com ) I was so moved by the energy and commitment of each of the board members at the meeting. The focus of the meeting was supporting me in the 3rd Steps To-Marrow walk and making the most of this opportunity to reach as many people as possible about the need for diversity on the Be The Match registry and getting the simple message “Text LIFE to 61474” spread far and wide. All of the board members stepped up and volunteered to help. Thank you to Ramona Lyddon, President of the JBF board; Nicholas Corbett, Secretary of the board; Karlene Hyer, Treasurer of the board; and Pat Healy,board member and JBF liaison in Arizona. Thank you for your commitment to the Jada Bascom Foundation’s life saving mission to enroll potential bone marrow donors. Thank you for sharing your unique voices, experience and talents.

Wed. Feb 5th, Advancing to Gila Bend

Dear All, Wow! What a day! You never know what you will encounter when you are relying on the generosity of others for your food and housing. The practice of relying on the generosity of others manifests in accepting the answer that is given, for example if someone declines to help me I thank them for listening or for considering my request. It is also a practice of receiving what is given. It is a practice of discernment of what I need and what I want. And it is the practice of sharing the opportunity with others to give. Today was centered around this practice of relying on the generosity of others.
A very good man named Juan gave me a ride from the Dateland Travel Center to Gila Bend. Juan spoke very little English and I speak very little Spanish. But we were able to communicate a lot about ourselves on the ride from Dateland to Gila Bend. Juan was born in the Sonoran Desert on the Mexico side of the border. He and his wife raised 4 great kids 3 boys and 1 daughter…
After Juan and I parted ways I started to look to take care of my immediate needs, first, a restroom. I stopped in at the McDonald’s. After I took my pack off someone hollered to me from across the room, “I saw you on the news.” I went over and she and her husband invited me to sit with them. They had many questions about Jada, bone marrow donation and the Steps To-Marrow 3 walk. They bought lunch for me and we visited for quite a while.
Having used the restroom and had a filling lunch I turned my attention to finding a safe place to sleep for the night. I walked all the way down the main street, Pima Street, going west to east. I stopped at hotels and churches mostly. It was Wed afternoon so no one was at the churches and all of the hotels turned down my request for a room. But the desk clerk at the last hotel told me that the food bank at The Church at Gila Bend opens up after 3. She also said that they will sometimes pay for folks to stay in one of the hotels for the night. So I slung my backpack up over my shoulders again and walked back down Pima Street, this time going east to west.
I was fortunate that The Church at Gila Bend was still open when I got there. A very kind person named Linda phoned the right people and pretty soon I was dropped off at a very run down hotel back to the east again on Pima Street. I hadn’t stopped at this particular hotel on my first trip down Pima Street because it looked a bit seedy. But here I was receiving the gift of one night at the Payless Inn. The desk clerk hidden behind a thick glass shield was used to dealing with Paul from The Church at Gila Bend. He helped me get settled. The room was saturated with the thick lingering odor of cigarette butts. It looked relatively clean and I could take a shower. I took off my boots,put on my sandals, and prepared for a shower. I noticed a bite on my ankle. “Umm, fleas.” I wondered. Following the shower I got bites not only on my ankles but also on my wrists and soon I saw a flea jump across my field of vision after a little baby chomp into my neck. That did it for me. I quickly packed up, locked the door to room 16 crossed the courtyard and slid my key under the thick glass shield at the counter in the office.
“Ok, Jeana, it is dark outside, after 8:00 pm and you have no place to stay. What are you going to do?” The best option that I could see was to walk to one of the all night gas stations. As I headed to the gas stations at the west end of town I noticed that there were folks at The Church at Gila Bend. I stopped by to let them know that though I appreciated the room I was not going to be able to stay there. It turns out that on Wednesday nights they have Bible study. They had finished Bible study and were visiting on their way out. After I explained about the fleas everyone looked around from one to the other not sure what to do next. Then my trail angel Linda spoke up. “Come with me.” She said. She loaded me, my backpack and another guest, David Smith into her 2001 Pathfinder, Nissan and drove me to a building that she is remodeling. There she gave me a mattress and a safe place to sleep for the night.

Monday Feb 3, Dateland out into the desert

Dear All, It is over 50 miles to walk from Dateland to Gila Bend. So I have had to develop strategies to make the walk from Dateland to Gila Bend safely. I decided that I could try to get a ride from Spot Road. I walked a mile past Spot Rd and then back again. Because I needed to get more miles in but I didn’t want to get stuck in-between exits. A couple agreed to pick me up at Spot Road in 1/2 an hour. I waited and waited for 1 hour walking in circles to stay warm, because the temperatures dropped drastically and the winds increased exponentially. I gave up waiting and decided I needed to be proactive if I was going to get a ride back before dark. Kind of hard to be proactive about getting a ride when you are all alone in an isolated area of the desert or so it seemed.

I had seen an RV in the distance. I was nervous that it might be one of those situations in the desert where you see a building in the distance but when you come up on it, it is an old weathered shack with the roof and some of the walls missing…but I took the walk out into the desert to the mystery RV. When I got near I could hear a generator running and saw that it was not a Ghost RV. I knocked on the door and a kind gentleman answered the door. His name is James. James asked me a lot of questions he later told me that was to be sure that I really did need the help.

I didn’t know it but James had a car on the far side of the RV. I said to him you can’t help me because I need a ride back to Dateland and I knew it takes quite a bit of time to get an RV all set up so I felt sure James would not be able to help but maybe he would be able to call someone or help in another way. He laughed and said that he had a vehicle on the other side of the RV and he would be happy to help me get back to Dateland.

On the way back he talked about his love for the solitude of the desert. He said that in the city he doesn’t feel the depth in his prayers that he feels in the desert. He feels the quiet and intimacy with nature brings him closer to God. I could identify with what he was saying because walking in solitude is a meditation for me. I think that is why I can do my long walks because I am not in a hurry or rushing. I am walking quietly, present with my steps, each one. Some folks think to meditate is to be unaware of your surroundings but this is not so. I feel the sun on my back, I see the ant carrying his food back to his nest, I smell the sweet dusty smells of the desert. I ache, I breath, I step.

02/02/2020, World Palindrome Day and Super Bowl Sunday.

Dear Ones, I am sure that you all heard that today is world palindrome day; also obvious is that the date is the same when you read it forwards and backwards. 02/02/2020. I read it is the first Palindrome day in 909 years.

A very nice couple, Jim and Dee Dee, from Copper Mountain RV Park drove me and my pack to the Dateland Travel Center. The kind folks at the travel center agreed to keep my big backpack while I walked today. Jim dropped me one mile from the Mohawk West bound rest area where I had stopped yesterday. It was great to be able to continue walking without the big heavy backpack. My water for the journey is heavy enough! 🙂

I arrived at the Dateland Travel Center and asked if I could put my tent in their RV Park. As with many RV Parks that is not allowed so they suggested a place between the travel center and the beautiful stand of date palms.

Before I could put up my tent I hand washed all of my clothes because I did not have any clean socks left and the first rule for a distance walker is to take good care of your feet and that means clean socks! I laid all of the wet clothes out on some steps and went to set up my tent

The wind was blowing so wildly that it took everything I had to get the tent up. The ground was too hard to put in the tent stakes and that contributed to the difficulty of getting the tent up and stable. I got everything in the tent to weigh it down so it would stop blowing away just as the last bit of light disappeared into the desert darkness.

I gathered up my wet clothes and visited the laundry room at the RV Park. A kind woman gave me quarters for a dryer and after everything was dry, folded and put away I fell into my sleeping bag exhausted with the unrelenting desert winds flapping about the tent long into the night.

Jan 31 and Feb 1, lots of walkin’

Dear All,
On Friday the 31st I walked from Wellton to Tacna on old HWY 80. I had a chance to visit with the Wellton firefighters before I left and share the message about how to join Be The Match by texting LIFE to 61474!
The old hotel in Tacna has been closed for at least 5 years. But there is a RV Park, Copper Mountain, across highway 8. They suggested that I put my tent across the road behind the park. I came up with a new strategy because the walk for Feb 1st is 15 miles. That’s a long way for me to carry all of that weight. The folks at Copper Mountain thought that my tent would be safe all day while I walked. So I left my tent up, packed my small backpack filled it with a lot of water, some trail mix and my change of shoes and walked 14 of the 15 miles. A very nice man picked me up and drove me back to Copper Mountain where I am safe and sound in my tent again.
I will be up early tomorrow to get ready for the walk to Dateland. You all enjoy the Super Bowl. 🙂

Jan 30, Quechan Tribal Council meeting

Dear All,
Pat picked me up at Sans End RV Park at 9:30 am so we would be early for the Quechan Tribal Council. It was a busy morning for them. Lots of people coming and going. I told Pat that I didn’t mind waiting because I didn’t want to feel rushed. He agreed and we sat side by side sometimes chatting sometimes in silence until it was our turn. Pat introduced me when we were before the council. They were very attentive while I described the need for increased enrollment of Native Americans on the Be The Match registry, the process of donation, the ease of joining, and more about the Jada Bascom Foundation and my walk in the Sonoran Desert. They asked good questions and said that they thought that it was a personal decision for tribal members. They said it deserved more discussion and that they would be in touch with me to let me know decisions that are taken. Pat spoke as well he elaborated on my walk and my needs as I crossed the desert as well as helping us to connect with the other local tribes. We both felt really good about the meeting with the Quechan Tribal Council.
Pat then took me to the store to get Clif bars, trail mix and sunscreen and then he took me back to the Microtel Inn and Suites in Wellton. It was sad to say goodbye to Pat Healy. I am grateful for all of his help and his wife, Sarah’s, help to!

Rita Noronha, the general manager,
at Microtel had said to stop by and see if they had a room available for me before I headed out for Tacna on Friday. She did have a room and as I thanked her she proudly said, “Of course, I am a Rotarian.” I told her I am a member of the Deer Park Rotary Club. And both of us brighten a bit from the connection.
We had hoped I would be able to attend her club meeting with the Yuma Crossing Rotary Club but unfortunately it was not to be. Thank you for your generosity Rita! It was great to have a good night’s sleep before moving further out into the wilds of the desert.

Jan 28, Walk from Ligurta Station to Wellton

Dear All, It was a beautiful walk with a very heavy backpack. I did not expect to find any place to get water in-between Ligurta Station and Wellton so I carried extra water. I did run into some farmworkers who let me fill up one of my water bottles from their water dispenser and they shared a delicious apple.
As I was getting ready to enter Wellton I checked to see if there were any hotels and I found one. The Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham. I was surprised and relieved to learn that they would give me a room for the night. I thought it would be worth the extra two mile walk off my route to have a good night’s sleep and a bath after spending the night in my tent. I walked a mile and a gentleman in a golf cart gave me a ride for the final mile to the Microtel. Once there I found it filled with young marines with whom I could share the simple message to text LIFE to 61474 to join Be The Match and become a potential life saving donor.