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.

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.

Tuesday, Feb 4, Deeper into the Sonoran Desert

Dear All,
It was cold last night! But I stayed nice and warm tucked down in my sleeping bag. I didn’t want to crawl out into the cold but I did. After an hour of getting ready I began the search for a ride to where my route ended the day before.
It took me a while so I got a bit of a late start but two ladies out for a day trip agreed to take me east on I-8. Both of them come down each winter from the north one lady was from Ontario, Canada the other from Wenatchee from my home state of Washington.
Before I left Dateland I arranged for a ride back to Dateland at the end of the day with Luis and Robyn. After 12 miles Robyn called and said that they were ready to pick me up. I walked another 1/2 mile and there they were. It was great timing because a cold wind was blowing and temperatures were dropping.
You wouldn’t think that I would run into many people to talk to about joining Be The Match out in the middle of the desert but I do! Lots of folks have seen the KYMA news story about the third Steps To-Marrow walk and they honk as they go by; I have a sign on my backpack that says Save A Life, Text LIFE to 61474; and I talk to folks at gas stations, rest areas, every where that I can. The internet is a great tool but good old face to face communication and connection is my cup of tea.

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.

Day One Steps To-Marrow 3

Dear All, The first day of the walk was a day that brought the unexpected.
I started the Third Steps To-Marrow walk at Yuma City Fire Department, Station 1. Channel 11 News KYMA was present to conduct interviews. Pat Healy and his wife Sarah were also there. The firefighters that weren’t out on calls also came out to see me off.
I will post the web address for the news footage as soon as we get it.
After walking for a couple of hours I stopped by a Dairy Queen to see if I could get some thing to eat. I didn’t realize this particular Dairy Queen just served ice cream. I thanked the woman helping me and said I better have something more substantial. She was moved by Jada’s story and said that I should stop by Arby’s down the road. She called ahead so they would feed me when I got there. I found out later that her name was Kim. She and the employees at Arby’s took good care of me.
Sarah Healy met me at Arby’s and walked a couple of hours with me.
I enjoyed having her with me on the first day of the walk. When Sarah headed back I had about 4 miles to the Cocopah Casino where I planned to end the walk for the day.
I had called the Cocopah Casino the day before to see if I could put up my tent with their RV’s. The gentleman that I spoke with thought it would be okay and told me to ask for a floor manager when I arrived.
Sadly, that didn’t work out for me so with my thumb out I was picked up by a kind young man who took me to the San Luis Fire Station. Unfortunately, after I had settled down for the night the firefighters were asked to take me to the Crossroads Mission back in Yuma. So at 9 pm I repacked my gear and back to Yuma I went.
I was pretty tired when I finally laid down on the mat that was provided to me by the mission