Feb 9, 10, and 11; Walking East From Gila Bend

Dear All,
My trail angel, Linda Buckley, continued to assist me with a safe place to sleep Sunday night, Monday night and Tuesday night! She also dropped me off where I finished my walk the day before every morning and picked me up at the end of each day on I-8. Now you know that I don’t get very far away very fast but step by step the miles pass and after 3 days of walking Linda had to drive 40 miles to pick me up at the end of the day. We had agreed that Tuesday would be the last night I would spend with her. When Linda picked me up on Tuesday afternoon she asked if we could take a roundabout way home and drive through Maricopa.It was a very pleasant drive as we drove along Linda mentioned points of interest like the John Wayne cattle ranch. She also included bits of history of Maricopa and its relationship with the tribal lands around it. She stopped so I could get a small tube of toothpaste and then we shared a meal at Cilantro’s. On the way back to Gila Bend from Maricopa Linda stopped so I could capture some pictures of the stricking sunset.
The beauty of the Sonoran Desert in the winter is breathtaking. A vast expanse of high desert surrounded by mountains all reflecting the colors of the sky like a boundless sea. I feel privileged to walk with intimacy on this sacred land. My commitment to those in need of a bone marrow transplant ever present. Please share with others the great need for diversity on the Be The Match registry and how to join by texting LIFE to 61474.

Feb 6th and 7th, walking into Gila Bend

Dear All, I was lucky to find safe rides out into the desert to my stopping points and back into Gila Bend on Thursday and on Friday morning. On Friday afternoon I finally walked myself into Gila Bend.
Wed, Thursday and Friday nights I was the guest of my trail Angel, Linda. Linda bought some property that has two brick buildings on it. They used to be apartments but she doesn’t think anyone has lived in them since the 70’s. She bought them thinking she could fix them up and create housing for veterans in need. She has been working on the project for two years and still has a long way to go. In the meantime she gives homeless and/or jobless folks a place to stay. I met Linda at The Church at Gila Bend late on Wednesday night and she has allowed me to stay as I walked into Gila Bend. It has been a blessing to know that I have a safe place to lie my head down at night. It isn’t much but it is ample accommodations for me. Linda lets me use her bathroom because the bathroom in my room doesn’t have working fixtures. My room has electricity that is a power cord coming through the window. It is just enough for me to charge my phone at night and to use a small lamp. There is a mattress where I can lay out my sleeping bag.
At night when Linda returns from volunteering at The Church at Gila Bend food bank she has been preparing dinner for both David and I. How lovely and generous she has been.
I continue my walks along Pima Street, east to west in the mornings and west to east in the afternoons. Having arrived in Gila Bend officially my next walk will take me out of Gila Bend and begin my trek to Tucson.

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.

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.

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.

Preparations begin in Winterhaven, CA Jan 22, 2020

Dear All,
I walked from Yuma, AZ to Winterhaven, CA I will be making the same walk in reverse on Friday morning when I begin the Steps To-Marrow walk across the Sonoran Desert.

I stopped by the Yuma City Hall and arranged to make a request to Mayor Douglas Nicholls to propose a Stem Cell/Bone Marrow Donor Awareness Day. I also met with Fire Chief Steve Irr. Chief Irr gave me his card and said that if I need help to call him and he will make sure I get help! He also said that he would share the simple but important message about why and how to join Be The Match by texting LIFE to 61474 with the fire fighters this side of Telegraph Pass.

When I arrived in Winterhaven CA I visited Yuma Regional Medical Center. The administrative folks that I needed to see were in meetings off site but I expect to make headway with them later today. I would like permission to start the walk at the medical center. I’d also like to train someone at the center to show others how to join Be The Match using their cell phone, emphasizing the need for diversity. Lastly I would like to find the right person to be in touch with Aubrie Vargas the amazing Be The Match Community Engagement Representative for this area.

The part of the day that really warmed my heart was my search for a safe place to sleep. I had been trying to to reach the right person at the Quechan Casino and Hotel throughout the day, when I learned that I would not be able to stay the sun was already low in the sky. I looked for the nearest fire station and walked over to the Imperial Valley Fire Dept Station 8. They were really great but not able to help either. I asked if there was an RV Park near where I could pitch my tent. One of the firefighters pointed to a line of palm trees in the distance.

So off I went again further from my starting point for the walk with the sun sinking lower and lower. I arrived at Sans End RV Park to find the office closed. I saw some lights on in the game room. When I walked past the window toward the door I could see they were in the middle of Bible study. I apologized for the interruption and explained my situation. Everyone was so warm and welcoming even though I could tell from their initial facial reactions I was a strange sight to behold, with my enormous backpack, standing on their door step. Not only did they welcome me they allowed me to stay in an empty apartment for the next two days until the beginning of the walk!

Here’s to another good nights sleep safe and sound because of the generosity of others.