Thursday Feb, 20, A very needed catch up day.

Dear All, I couldn’t believe it when I reviewed my route I have walked for 11 days straight. My pattern is 4 days on and 1 day doing what I call bone marrow transplant education work. In rerouting myself around the Tohono O’odham Tribal lands I had to push myself a bit to make the schedule work. I also walked two extra days to cut the mileage per day down. That helped me a lot.
So today Stacie and Doug both went off to work. Stacie got out her laptop to help me catch up on some Steps To-Marrow 3 work and I got my laundry done. I even had time to go sit in the shade of her porch, which was delightful!
One thing that happens to me when I walk long distances is I start to feel uncomfortable, cramped when I am indoors for too long. I love the spaciousness of being outside, close to the earth. Earlier in the walk I remembered that feeling from my other two walks but it didn’t start right away but gradually I feel it more and more. I don’t think it is a good thing or a bad thing. I have always felt that it is a very natural human thing to feel. As one of my hosts on my first walk, a doctor, Patrick Sullivan, from Vian, Oklahoma told me, “It is in our nature, our species is the best walkers on the planet.” So for me it is quite natural to walk on the earth everyday, to breathe in the air, feel the sun on my back, to listen to the songs of the birds, and to connect with the vastness of the universe.

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.

Sunday Feb 17, A Safe Haven

Dear All, It is rare when I leave a host family that I have another to pick me up at the end of the day but this is a unique situation. After my walk today Stacie Eichinger will be meeting me at the intersection of N. Casa Grande Hwy and E. Missile Base Road.
Stacie is a fellow walker. She walked across the United States in 2013. She walked from the Pacific Ocean at Ocean City, WA to the Atlantic Ocean at Savannah, Georgia. Stacie walked for Beads of Courage. The Beads of Courage program is designed to help children facing life threatening diseases. Each child is given Beads of Courage for procedures and surgeries, etc involved in the treatment of their illness.”Their Beads of Courage experience begins when each child is first given a length of string and beads that spell out their first name. Then, colorful beads, each representing courage during their treatment experiences are given to the child by their professional health care provider as determined by the Beads of Courage Bead Prescription. As beads are added to their Beads of Courage collection, children and teens can RECORD, TELL, and OWN their stories of courage.”
I got a message from a friend of mine on facebook, in 2013. The message said that a woman was walking across America and she was close to my house. I know how important hosts or trail angels can be to a solo walker so I contacted Stacie that day. When my friend Shayne and I met up with Stacie, she was 8 miles outside of Wilbur, WA crossing the desert. Stacie walked with a cart instead of a backpack. We loaded up her cart and took Stacie back to the Blue House in Deer Park. Stacie had a fever and was feeling achy so she stayed in bed resting and healing for two days before she went back out to the road again. Because Stacie had a safe place to stay she didn’t have to push her heavy cart she could carry her light backpack with just the things that she would need for a day’s walk. Shayne and I took her out to her route in the mornings and then picked her up in the evening. Shayne knows members of the Hutterite community out near Reardon. The Hutterites invited Stacie to spend an evening with them. She had a wonderful time meeting the folks in the Hutterite community. It was a unique and rare opportunity to spend sometime with a fascinating group of people.
We picked Stacie up again in Airway Heights. She walked all of the way through Spokane and Post Falls, Idaho before we dropped her off for the last time and I watched her walking east toward the foothills of the Rocky Mountains pushing her big cart ahead of her with each step.
This time it is Stacie picking me up from my route and being my trail angel! I am anxious to see her again and feeling blessed to have a safe place to sleep tonight!

Sat, Feb 15: Arizona City to Eloy

Dear All, I feel rested, energetic and ready to walk. Yesterday, I got a call from a member of the Casa Grande Daybreak Rotary Club, Ross Feezer. Ross said that he had received an email from the President of his club that talked about the Steps To-Marrow 3 project, it mentioned my needs and contact information in case any of the members would like to help me on my way. Ross offered me a place for the night and to pick me up from my route when I finished for the day. It is a blessing to know that I will have a safe place to sleep for the night. Thank you Ross and his wife, Becky, for that.
You all have heard of the 6 degrees of separation, that proposes that any two individuals on the planet are 6 or fewer acquaintances apart. So here is how Ross and I were connected.
I asked Gary Bowe a rotarian in my club, in Deer Park,WA if he knew any Rotarians from our district who travel down to Arizona for the winter. Gary connected me with Mike Payson a member of the Spokane Valley Rotary Club. Mike and his wife travel to Prescott,AZ each winter and attend the Prescott Frontier Rotary Club, Mike put me in touch with the District Governor for Rotary District 5500, Ellie Patterson. DG Ellie Patterson sent an email to all of the clubs in her District about Steps To-Marrow 3 and my needs for a safe journey through the Sonoran Desert. The president of the Casa Grande Daybreak Rotary Club, Sheila Chavez passed on the email from Ellie to all of her club members and Ross responded.
Ross later told me that he likes to help others when he can. He has projects in Ecuador that he has been actively involved in for over 30 years both individually and through Rotary. He served in Ecuador when he was in the Peace Corps and helping the Ecuadorian people is a mission close to his heart. Then he said, “I can’t do everything but when I see something that needs to be done or someone who needs help in my daily life. I like to do what I can.”
I think this is a pretty common feeling for the average Rotarian. Yes, we do projects together and we raise money for folks in need but in addition to that Rotarians respond to the needs of others as they arise. And I love how Ross framed it. “I can’t do everything but I like to do what I can.”
This giving nature, this desire to help others as we meet the need is part of Ross’s Rotary Story.
This giving nature is part of my Jada’s donor’s story too. He gave his cells to a stranger and saved my precious granddaughter’s life
Take a look inside today if this a need that you can meet. If so text LIFE to 61474 and find out if you are someone’s perfect match!

Fri, Feb 14: Perfectly Imperfect Hearts

Dear All, I decided yesterday that I would not try to find a ride out to I-8 this morning. I do like to walk every step of my route contiguously but getting a ride out to Montgomery Road and then finishing my route 9.6 miles out in the middle of the desert and having to rewalk the remaining 4 miles to I-10 exit 200 just didn’t make sense so I decided to walk my 9.6 miles along a desert nature trail that I could pick up right behind the Love’s Travel Center.
A bit into the walk I spied a little heart rock embedded into the pathway. I studied it and thought, ‘well, it isn’t shaped quite right on the left side. It isn’t perfect’ but it inspired me to begin looking for heart shapes to photograph as I walked along amidst the desert beauty. Being present with the rocks and flora, the dead wood and eroded sand, the heat of the sun and the earthen winter smell of the desert I began to realize it wasn’t perfect hearts I was looking for. No, it was not a matter of searching at all. I was looking at, communing with, surrounded by every day, ordinary perfectly imperfect hearts. The day unfolded so sweetly with each step.
My husband of 23 years left our marriage while baby Jada was fighting for her life against Acute Myeoloid Leukemia. It was a daily life and death struggle. All of us lived not knowing, not knowing if this tiny little baby would live through the day. I dare not speak for the motivations of another but lots of marriages break up when a family is facing this kind of medical crisis. I just never imagined that it would be my marriage. And I can tell you I had some pretty miserable Valentine’s Days in the years that followed. Grief, loneliness, rejection stick out like neon lights on Valentine’s Day. Emerging from this dark grief and heavy sense of lacking slowly steadily, step by step over the years made this peaceful light-hearted communion with the desert on Valentine’s Day all the sweeter.
Make someone’s day sweeter and join the Be The Match registry today! Text LIFE to 61484

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.

Wed Feb 12, Still many miles to I-10 Exit 200 and Arizona City

Dear All, Linda dropped me off this morning on Quail Trail near the Saguaro One RV Park. When I saw it on Google maps I thought perhaps I can stay here for two days as I make my way to the I-8 and I-10 interchange but when I arrived here at the end of the day yesterday I understood that was not going to happen. It is an exit with a hotel that is closed, a gas station that is closed and an old RV Park that is essentially closed. There were a few RV’S and trailers parked around. So with a flexible attitude I decided I would walk approximately 11 miles to the Stanfield exit and try to get a ride to the Arizona City exit.
I was having a pleasant walk even with the weight of the heavier backpack. Now you all must know that I need to pee way out here in the middle of the desert. I generally do not mention it out of my sense of proper decorum, but in this case it pertains to the story of how I got a ride. Have I piqued your interest?
So, I am walking along and nature calls. So I begin scanning the desert for a depression or gully I might be able to hide myself in or a grouping of bushes or the occasional tree. Ah, I was lucky up ahead there was a nice grouping of bushes and small trees perfect for my purpose. Now, when you walk out into the desert to pee you do not want to take off your backpack and lay it down just anywhere. In your haste you might lay it on a cactus, even a small cactus can leave thorns in your pack that will poke you later when you’ve put the pack back on. You also have to be careful of insects that may hitch a ride on your pack and appear out of the blue gnawing on you. So I have taken to finding a clear spot near the shoulder of the road, leaving my pack, hiding myself in the bushes and coming back to retrieve my pack. All seemed to go according to plan but as I swung the pack up over my shoulder out of the corner of my eye I spied a shiny white pickup truck.
A nice young man looked across the front seat at me, a bit incredulous. I found out later he is an explosives expert. He offered me a ride and I accepted immediately even though I had only walked 7.8 of my 11 miles. I can make those miles up in the next couple of days but I had no surity for a ride later.
As we drove the 30 or so miles he explained that his job requires lots of walking in the wilderness because he looks for unexploded bombs and other explosive devices on lands that have been used by the military as training grounds for soldiers. We talked alot about good hiking boots and the differences between his boots and mine. I was also able to share with him how important it is to join the registry and how easy it is to join by texting LIFE to 61474. It turns out that his friend has a brother who was someone’s perfect match. The friend’s brother went to Texas to make his stem cell donation. The young man said he hadn’t joined back then but perhaps this was a message that it was time to join.
As he was dropping me off I told him to be safe in his job. He proudly held up 10 wiggling fingers and with a big smile wished me safe travels.
There is another very long story to tell about not being able to find a safe place to put my tent for the night but the short story is that I ended up paying for a room at the Motel 6. They did give me a discount. I was so happy to have my first shower (I did have sponge baths in-between) in a week and a bed to sleep in!

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.