Tuesday, Feb 25th, On the Road to Casa Grande

Dear All, I was sad to say goodbye to Stacie this morning. What a beautiful time we had together. I told her it was my turn now to host her again. So whether she is walking or just traveling through eastern Washington I would love for her to stop by and visit me in Deer Park. We took a photo together with Picacho Peak in the background.
I felt drawn to Picacho Peak, by its unusual formation and its towering presence, as I passed it on my way down to Tucson and now again as I pass it on my way to Casa Grande. I Googled Picacho Peak to learn a bit more about it and here’s what I found on Wikipedia, ‘…Though appearing to be the remnant of a volcanic neck, it is now believed to be a tilted and eroded piece of rock overlain by a lava flow. The place name is redundant: “picacho” means “peak” in Spanish.’ Peak Peak, I like that.
I walked most of the day on a frontage road on the east side of the I-10. I hoped that I would be able to find a safe place to pitch my tent somewhere near Eloy for the night. About a mile and a half before the turn east to Eloy I saw a sign for Picacho KOA Campground. The KOA was on the west side of the I-10. I was on the east side. did a quick search to find the best walking route over the interstate to the KOA. Google maps showed me a route that would take me 5 miles north up over the highway and back down 5 miles to the KOA. Ouch! 10 extra miles to reach a campground that was just a mile up the road. I decided I would look for a way under the barbwire fence running along the I-10. You can walk for miles and not find a way through the barbwire but I was lucky and soon found a spot where the top two strands of wire were missing. It was easy for me to step right over. Next I had to wait for a break in the traffic and run across 4 lanes of traffic, down and back up the median, and then run across the south bound lanes of traffic. I assure you that I was extremely cautious. My next challenge was to find a way under, over or through the barbwire fence on the west side of the highway. Luck was with me again. This time there was a gap at the bottom of the fence large enough for me to shimmy under.
The folks at the KOA were wonderful. They gave me a great spot for my tent. The wind was very strong as it had been all day. With the help of some children camping at the KOA I was able to get the tent up. The kids each held down a corner while I drove the stakes into the ground. Then they each took a turn pounding a stake into the ground. When we had the tent up I thanked them and praised them for their willingness to help me when I was in need.
Each of the children (I am guessing that they were between the ages of 5 and 7.) came to me later and expressed how it felt to be able to help me. The little girl said she felt good inside knowing that she helped me to put up my tent and she knew I couldn’t have done it without her help. The oldest boy smiled big and said he would help me again if I needed it. And the youngest little boy shyly said he learned that he was strong enough to hammer in the stake all by himself. They were very sweet exchanges.
You see part of the joy of relying on the generosity of others is the opportunity it gives to folks to be a part of the success of the Steps To-Marrow 3 journey. Yes, I am walking every day but I could not successfully complete the journey without the help of others who share water, food, a safe place to sleep or help me put up my tent on a very windy afternoon.

Monday 27th, Walking over the pass to Ligurta Station

Dear All, It was wonderful to have a good nights sleep at the Comfort Inn thanks to the generosity of Mary Ellen. I started my approximately 10 mile walk over the lower pass below Telegraph Pass to Ligurta Station with excitement. The pass isn’t that high but I was looking forward to to the challenge. After about 6 miles I was low on water as I expected. There were two choices for me to go to looking for water. There was a parking lot with folks hiking the Telegraph Pass trail and there was the border patrol checkpoint station. I thought it made sense to stop by the border patrol for two reasons first to ask for water and second to be sure they knew who I was and what I was doing, like a courtesy stop. After introducing myself I discovered it was a good thing I had decided to go to the border patrol checkpoint station. They had been watching my progress across the highway and would have sent someone to check on me if I had not stopped on my own.
They were quite concerned about me and my intention of walking across the desert. They asked me to wait to talk to an officer from the highway patrol. The officer politely told me that I could not walk on the highway over the pass but that he would take me the 4 miles to Ligurta Station.
Ligurta Station has a general store and RV Park and it is closed on Mondays. I was able to talk to some folks who suggested that I set my tent up across the street. I was able to charge my phone in a covered picnic area and a dear man named Frank shared a Salmon fillet with me for dinner.