Monday, March 31, 2008

Sleeping Pad News

The news's gone. Way gone. My bruder asked me what kind of pad it was - thinking he might send me a new one (that's soooo sweet!). So, I report that while my nice, lightweight Thermarest is history (bugger-all); Kathleen has lent me an extra one that she had (which I think is actually her sister's - thanks Lizzie!).
So, I can use that one for now....but hey Matt, I may hit you up for a replacement when I get to Boston! And thanks so much for the offer.
Okay - have to sign off for the moment - it's shower time. There is one shower here for women - and there's about, oh --- 40 of us; so, I need to go claim my spot in line before it gets too late.
Just for a report - it's been 4 days since we've had showers and we've been walking through literal windstorms for the last 3 days (today was an easier day) - so we are all covered with a nice, thick layer of fine desert sand.
Maybe more than you wanted to know?
Talk to you soon.

In the Middle of Beautiful Nowhere

Hello everyone -it's been awhile hasn't it? I am in Greasewood, Arizona - at the Greasewood Chapter House in the Navajo Nation -one of 110 Chapter houses in this largest Indian nation in the country. We have been so welcomed - it's been really quite amazing.
And you know, I wish I had pictures to show you, but I dropped my camera in the soft dust of the Grand Canyon (and no...not ALL the way down the Grand Canyon) and so it's crapped out. I tried using that canned air stuff and actually made it worse. So. I am going to have to exchange it at some point (I have insurance for it) - but I just found out we are NOT going through Alburquerque - so, I'm not sure when I'll hit the next big town where a Best Buy would be. I may just purchase another one - but I hate to do that. Anyway, I'm taking pictures with my phone, but don't have the cable yet to download photos. So...long story'll have to wait to see photos of where I'm at.
Imagine the desert - vast, vast plains of sand and red rock.
Imagine the darkest sky you can see before the moon rises and then slather it with millions of brilliant stars.
Pull up the sense of the deepest silence you can fathom and then place yourself in the middle of that.
That's where I'm at.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

hello from Flagstaff Library!

Just a brief howdy while I'm checking email here at the library. Kathleen and I rejoined the group yesterday - it was so nice to see everyone!
We got to watch the walkers come in and circle up outside the Flagstaff City Hall. After a nearly two hour press conference we headed to our camp spot for the night - an elementary school near town. I slept in a hallway. Well, we all slept in the hallways.
It was the first night I slept inside (motels not counting) - I hated it - but we aren't allowed to camp outside here in Flagstaff (anti-camping ordinance - blast those homeless people anyway for wanting to sleep!). We found a relatively dark and quiet hallway, but it was by the showers - so it was busy until probably midnight.
Oh, and in my absence my sleeping pad went missing; so, good thing the floor was carpeted and I had my wool blanket to sleep on. It was fine know the Japanese people sleep on pretty much nothing - like this little thin piece of something that might as well be tinfoil. My friend Aiko told me that "this is normal for sleeping for Japanese people." So...I just pretended I was Japanese for the night and all was well.
I'll be joining them it looks like, for a 3 day trip up to Big Mountain with the Dine Tribe. The tribe has invited all of the Japanese people up to learn about what's going on for them; and Jun-san invited I think I'll head out. It might be good to take some time away anyhow...I haven't decided fully yet..but if you don't hear from me for a few days..that's why.
Okay - need to go run some errands - have a meeting at noon and then I'm driving out to Sedona with Kathleen to say farewell to our good friend Joe who is taking some time off the walk.
Talk to y'all soon!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

hey, how about that - we're out of Williams!

Well my friends, we have moved our clan up and out of the El Rancho. I still haven't joined up with the group as I'm in need of one quiet evening to myself; so I'm at a motel in Flagstaff in my own little room. I refuse to say the name of the motel because the owners have been so bizarre and paranoid that I don't want to give them one inkling of advertising.
Kathleen is in the room next door - still recovering - she's doing a little better but is still struggling with this bout. Carrie and P.J. have returned to the Walkers and I'll be joining them tomorrow afternoon it looks like.
We are in Flagstaff for a week - a series of events; such as a panel discussion and benefit concert are slated to take place while we're here. Many of our walkers are going to be taking some time away to recuperate as there are others who are sick and in need of some relaxation. Dennis let people know this morning that now would be a good time to get well before we push on.
Flagstaff looks like a pretty sweet little town and we'll be bunking fairly close to the amenities , such as the library (!!!) - so I should remain fairly close to internet-world to stay in touch with y'all.
Thanks everyone for the well wishes - I'm sure we'll all be back up and walking strong soonly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

look familiar?

Well, we had a moment when we thought Kathleen and P.J. were on the upswing, but they both had a little backslide; so we are remaining here. Good news for Jen though in that she was feeling well enough to rejoin the group (hello Jen's sister and Mom); and so I drove her out to meet the walkers this afternoon. I hope you enjoyed the White Buffalo Ceremony!
It was good to see the Walkers for a minute - everyone seems in good stead. Looks like we'll join them on Friday in Flagstaff at the latest. We just want to make sure these two are all better before jumping into the fray.
So far Carrie and I remain flu-free and we intend to remain that way.

Intro to Dennis Banks Documentary

Found this cruising around - talks a little about Dennis' history with AIM. The opening and closing song is Dennis singing the American Indian Movement theme song - which moves me everytime I hear it. And I hear it a lot!

Dennis Banks and Henry Dominguez

This has got Henry (one of our Elders on the Walk, and a really sweet, sweet soul) introducing Dennis at a fundraiser back in February.I think you get a good sense of these guys in this short piece.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Video

This is a short and kind of surreal little number from maybe 3 weeks ago? It's funny to see what we look like out there on the road.

Here's a Video From Michael Rumble

Walker Wade Rumble's Dad visits us frequently and takes a lot of photos and videos. I was cruising YouTube tonight and found his work. I have asked his permission to post these and he has allowed me to do so. Thank you Michael! You can find more of his videos my searching YouTube under CayucosWaves - I'll be posting more here as well.
Hope you enjoy them. This first one features two of my very favorite people on this walk, Kid Valence and Emmett Eastman.

the longest stall

Well, the girls and P.J. are all doing much better tonight. Kathleen's appetite for sweets is back and she's laughing again -- both good signs. However, we just got a call from one of our organizers, Larry, that 6 more people are looking to check into rooms at this motel due to illness.
Poor puppies us!

It does look like we will be rejoining our family tomorrow though - and that's a good thing. Please send good thoughts for the rest of our group who are battling this nasty bug. And special prayers for our Elder Henry please!
The El Rancho has been very kind to us these past three nights - I want to thank Maureen for her hospitality and sweetness to our odd little bunch. I don't know when I'll next have such easy access to the web - but we'll be spending a lot of time in Flagstaff so it shouldn't be too tough.
Talk to you guys soon!

To Jen's Sister

Yep - that's her. She's doing okay, she has plenty of everything, including a comfortable bed to rest in. She says, "Tell my sister I love her, I'm doing fine and...don't tell Mom."

Okey doke?

I'm here in this motel room; trying the best I can to help my friends Kathleen and Jen get better while they battle some vile flu bug that's going around. Carrie is upstairs with her husband, P.J. who has also been afflicted.
I'm actually feeling okay - a little run-down, but no worse. The walk moves about 10 miles further away from us today as we creep towards Flagstaff (which is only about 35 miles from here). We'll be spending a week there; visiting sacred sites, meeting with members of the community. I hear there's a benefit concert scheduled - we will be walking a little bit - what we call a "four-directions walk." That means we'll walk 5 miles towards the east and 5 miles back one day; 5 miles towards the west the next day, etc.
From there we head on out towards New Mexico. I gotta tell you, I'm eager to get away from the West and ready to get back into a daily walk routine - it's coming, I'm getting many lessons in patience these days.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Havasupai Falls - best Campground. Ever.

I don't know how I've never heard about Havasupai Falls - or the Supai Tribe that lives in the canyon - so it all kind of took me by surprise to come strolling into this little town.
Unfortunately, despite my not wanting to be sick in the canyon..I was. I started taking antibiotics for my bronchitis; which really did nothing but make me feel ill and lethargic. I have since stopped taking them - but I didn't get to do too much with the group while we were there and I missed all of the cultural activities. So, all I know about the Havasupai at this point is that their name means People of the Blue Green Waters.
I spent the entire day on Saturday in this location, overlooking Mooney Falls. This was actually our campsite for the night. Unbelievable. Kathleen's brother-in-law was visiting and staked this spot out for us -- amazing isn't it? Unfortunately, my camera got dusted out so I have no actual picture of Mooney Falls, so you will have to take my word for the spectacularness of it. If I was able to hike down to the bottom I, I could have walked six miles downriver to the Colorado. But..I didn't. Next time.

Getting all of us down there was quite the feat in itself. The tribe actually uses helicopters as well as horses to ferry people and cargo down there. god we have a lot of crap. And we didn't even bring ALL of our gear with us. Kathleen and I elected to share a tent, but in the end it got lost in the shuffle of baggage at 5:00 that morning, so we slept out - which was totally fine. What wasn't fine was that her sister and nephew's sleeping bags also got the two guys, her brother Johnny and brother-in-law Fritz elected to sleep without bags and had quite the cold night. It all got sorted out eventually.
The campground itself was 2 miles away from the village - so that lended itself to a series of communication issues that kind of marred our stay, but I kept coming back to ...but we're at the bottom of the Grand Canyon!
We hiked out on Sunday..and it surprisingly only took us 4 hours. We were trucking. We hiked out as a full group though which usually keeps our pace brisk. I was lucky enough to be able to drum the whole walk, which keeps me focused. By the time we reached the top we had actually beaten the helicopters in which the Elders were arriving on. And it was snowing which was unexpected. I'm learning to just go with that stuff though. Some days are better than others.

hiking down into the Canyon

There's not too much to say about getting to spend the day hiking in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. You know, I've been to the Grand Canyon before...but way on the other side and nearly twenty years ago- so this was virtually a new experience for me.

We definitely took our time getting down there. We weren't in any hurry - besides, if we were rushing, would we have noticed this sweet little heart cactus?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

quick town run - lengthy little note

We are on the Hualapai Reservation just a short distance from the Grand Canyon – where we should be heading in the next couple of days.
There is no cell coverage out here and only very limited internet access – something that will become more frequent as we head through the reservations in the desert - so be prepared for that sort of communication blackout if you're trying to get a hold of me.
Myself, Kathleen and Carrie actually are taking the day away from the group to come into Kingman to hit the medical clinic. Our driver Joe had the same persistant cough that we have all had and he went in to find that he has bronchitis and early stage pneumonia. This freaked us out, so we're all getting checked out and will go on antibiotics if necessary – so we're missing out on a bus trip to the Colorado – know...if I have bronchitis, I'd rather take care of it now before it makes me miss out on more than a day, you know? Besides, I don't want to be sick in the Grand Canyon!

It's been yet another series of learning moments to be here. I'm writing this in the truck on the way into Kingman, so I don't know how well I'm gonna do telling you all about it. My world is pretty surreal at the moment – we're in Kathleen's truck (that just arrived a couple of days ago). I'm on the far right, Carrie's in the middle and Kathleen is driving. She has a Ford 1992 Ford F150 so it's plenty roomy. It's a fun truck; there are TONS of bumper stickers on it, pictures everywhere here in the cab – doodads – even Christmas lights. We're driving off the res and the highway is a straight line for miles, the desert and flattop mountains stretched out on either side. We are listening to the soundtrack of Into The Wild by Eddie Vedder.
It feels like we've been family for years.
The Hualapai (the word means People of the Tall Pines) creation story has them in the mountains of this region since “time immemmorial”. In the 1870's the U.S. Cavalary came. The history goes that they came across a family gathering fruits and grasses in the mountain valley. They immediately killed everyone save for one small girl who survived and ran up the mountain to warn the rest of the tribe. This started the Hualapai Wars where all of the Chiefs and warriors were rounded up and either killed or sent to Alcatraz as criminals. Men, women and children were systematically murdered. Out of thousands of tribal members, less than 200 were left alive and taken to an internment camp here just outside of Kingman where they were then force marched out here to the reservation. Many died in the prison and on the march here – it's amazing there are any descendants left at all. Loretta Jackson, who told us this reminded us that they were mountain people; they were not accustomed to the climate of the desert and many died as a result of the lack of acclimation.

To be told this before dawn on a cold, windy morning with about 20 Hualapai tribal members there was profound and heartbreaking. Every tribe we go through has stories like this, though I had never heard one told with such brutal candor. There was an Elder there that sang us a song and blessed our journey. His name is Emmett Bender and he's in his 90's. This means that he was born around 1915 maybe? The forced march happened in 1874, so this means he was born only 40 years or so after all this happened ... his grandfather was one of the survivors of this, his father even possibly. I remember hearing about the miners invading the Karuk and Yurok tribes of Northern Californina – told these stories by Elders as if they had just happened...and really...they did, in the grand scheme of time. When you take a people that have lived in one place for thousands of years..and then all of sudden, their entire way of life abrubtly altered...forever. You can feel the passion in the voices of the people telling us how important it is to retain their culture, their language...that so many Native stories are being lost forever. I can't tell you how many people cry when they talk to us and tell us these things. And then there's other side to. Let me tell you about a young man who talked in our circle after coming from the site of where the internment camp was.

The camp was set at the site of the sacred spring. A beautiful little desert oasis spot. They probably put the camp there for practical reasons, but for the Natives, this had always been a place to commune with their spirit world.

This man told us that even though he knew it was a place of deep sadness, he “can't help feeling like...I don't know...sunshine.” He started to choke up. “I feel like I'm home here, the res is not my home...this place is. I love being here, my family would bring me here when I was young and it's been a while since I've been back.”

Later, I thanked him for speaking. His friend was giving him shit, “aww, he doesn't know what he's talking about!” I told him I appreciated him speaking from the heart.

I later talked to that other guy and was telling him that even though it was hard for me to hear those stories – I was glad to, because I have never heard them growing up. He nodded. “You know, the Indians are the only people still controlled by the government. We don't leave the res because we love it here..we don't leave the res because it's the only land we have and we don't want to lose that too. That's why I'm walking with you guys today – for the American Indian Movement and the work they've done. Without them we would have lost even the reservations – we would have nothing.”

I gotta tell you, that as a non-Native – it can be uncomfortable hearing this, but it's okay that it's uncomfortable. I talked with (our) Emmett about it later and told him that I don't know enough about my lineage, but there are branches of my family that have been here since the 1700's and so could have been perpertrators of these crimes, but I didn't know what to do with that now.

He said, “but at least you have awareness of that. And with that, you can ask for forgiveness and that guilt that may be in the back of your mind and your spirit, will disappear.”

Earlier, at the sacred site the Elder Emmett from the Hualapai met us there. I was driving a support vehicle so I was one of the last ones there. He motioned me over and had me come close to him – he doesn't speak very loudly. “When you go in (and he motioned upwards), you say,'Grandfather' (and then he bent down a little and motioned his hands around his legs and knees) make this water be healing and make my legs strong for my journey.” I asked him to repeat the gestures and the words a couple of times so I got it. And I did what he asked and then went towards the spot where there were still crumbling walls as evidence of the former prison. I said a prayer and offered tobacco and was grateful for the moment and for his generosity in sharing his blessing with me.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Here's a few little somethings

Hey guys -- because we are still having trouble with the technical side of our media support; I've decided to post my portion of the "Voices" section here on this web site. Some of this will be a little redundant. I write these every day when I get back to camp. They are just little anecdotal tidbits about the walking day. Hope you enjoy them. Oh - and for some reason, while I can post text, I am having difficulty posting pictures from this internet connection. I hope to add photos at some point.
We're off to ... somewhere. Talk to y'all soon. Oh, I just eavesdropped that we are heading to Valentine, AZ.

Bullhead City to Kingman - March 9th

Boy were we a focused lot today as we walked nearly 12 miles uphill to get over the pass and head into Kingman. We made pretty good time and walked steady as we headed up the grade for the first 6 hours of our day.
During our lunch break (which was a wonderful meal of tabbouleh salad and hummus!), Walker and DQ University student Andrea Murillo kept a positive attitude as we prepared for our last 2 ½ mile climb up the grade: “I feel that if we can get through the first 3 (legs) of the day, than we can get through to the end no problem. We got this today.” Walker Cailin added, “it's not that bad – it's all just good really.”

At our rest stop as we crossed the pass, Walker Marek from Poland spoke words straight from his heart in the circle: “You know that this mountain range at over 4000 feet is higher than the highest mountains in my country. We were told that we would cross 18 mountain ranges during our journey and this is the reality. We can change to world. We can change me and we can change each other. We can do this and we will do this!”

Thank you Marek for those beautiful and inspiring words.

So, with over 50 of us completing the day we were shuttled into the American Legion Hall just outside of Kingman where Felipe, Jeff and the kitchen crew had a wonderful meal already prepared for us. We love you guys!!!! Tomorrow it's simply on to the next walking ]day!!!

Avi Casino to Bullhead City

What a lovely walk we all had today. After a good rest, the walkers, nearly 70 of us, took the back road out of town and through Nevada ending up at a camp by the Colorado here in Bullhead City. Lucky, lucky us!!
We had new Walkers arrive today as well as a young day walker named Jasper who came to visit his Aunt Kathleen Longwalker. Jasper is 11 and seemed to enjoy his time very much on the walk – completing all 14 plus miles with ease!
“It's fun!,” he said. “My favorite part of the walk is C.J.! C.J. of course is our 4-legged who travels on the road with us and Jasper got to walk with him for a little while this morning.
“I like being able to walk really far with a lot of people,” he continued, “I've never walked this far before. Sometimes my family goes to Chinatown in San Francisco and we walk a lot then, but I've never walked 14 miles at a time before.” He also was able to get his cast signed by Larry Bringinggood and later by Dennis Banks which he thought was pretty cool.
Thank for joining us today Jasper an we hope to see you again down the road!
We also were visited again by Willy (Willy) Fragosa who joined our circle at our third break and let us know that he felt we were walking beautifully today, unified. At the end of the ay he had this to say:
“One of the things I love about walking is the possiblity of community – but not just any type – it's the possibility of community that's ancient. Just as our ancestors did so many years ago – all is one for a common goal, which is what we have here. The goal is no less than Mother Earth's Spirit – and it's not the human beings we have to pray for – it's the holistic creation for the 7th generation – we want them to smile and be happy for what we did today and what we are doing. We have to remember that whatever we do today we have to think about the 7th generation. And I want to end by saying to any children that may be reading this – that we may never get to meet you but we care about and love you. This is for you. Every step is a prayer.”
Thank you Willy Willy for putting today's walk into such loving intention.

Needles to Avi Casino

Today we made up the 16 miles that we got shuttled yesterday from our parade site. It was a good, strong walk – there were about 40 of us. Our Elders were in meetings with the Fort Mohave Tribe so we were led by Bonita Leonard and Jun-san today. Bonita gave a good talk at the beginning of our day, thanking the walkers for being there and reminding us that we were on a spiritual journey and to remember why we were walking.
And Jun-san – well, she kept us moving.
The weather was pretty warm...but you know, we wouldn't have really known it 'cause it was pretty darn windy. I always have to give it to the staff carriers on these super windy days – I carried a flag for only about 3 miles and that was challenging – I can't imagine carrying the Eagle Staff in that kind of wind! We find our strength though, and whenever i find myself getting tired i look to the Eagle Staff and send prayers to the staff carriers and am able to take my power from them.
It also helped that we had an amazing lunch hosted by the Aha Macav Cultural Center – Indian Tacos! We all ate to our little hearts content and then fell out all over the grass and slumbered for a bit. We did wake though to hear Preservation Director Joe Scerato give us a presenation about the Fort Mohave Tribe; and were then treated to singing by Joe and Larry. Thanks to everyone for your gracious hospitality!
We did our last five miles in one shot – which is actually pretty rare for us, but we wanted to get the miles done and get home out of the wind. We had an escort from the tribal police who directed us to a nice little path down by the Colorado River – which was a lovely way to finish out our day.

Entry to Needles

Wednesday, March 5th

We had a very short walk today because we had covered so many miles yesterday – but it was quite the two mile trek!
We left the city park campground (which was a good thing because we would've completely blown away if we had stayed any longer – the wind was epic!) and walked down to the Fort Mohave Indian Reservation Elementary School.
When we first arrived at our circle we were greeted by Tribal singer Larry who sang a few beautiful songs for us accompanied by young women dancers.
We continued our walk and were met by the local marching band (!!) before we had a grand circle and were introduced to the Fort Mohave Tribal Chairman Timothy Williams and Vice-Chair Shan Lewis. We felt so honored, the reception was incredibly warm.
Dennis said a few words and then we all gathered to sing the Longest Walk 2 song and the American Indian Movement song followed by a dance by our very own Wayne!
Short walk – big day!

tehachapi to lone fir

Sunday – March 2nd

Today was.....interesting. We got up very early in the morning, had breakfast and got cleaned up and out of the Methodist Church in plenty of time for them to get ready for services. We also had a lot of miles to cover while we are trying to work our way the heck out of California as quickly as possible. This means our runners were put to the test and had to cover nearly 90 miles between the 6-8 of them. Bless those runners!!
Us walkers, meanwhile were shuttled in busses, vans and cars those 80 plus miles so we could pick up the remaining miles. I've heard that we walked 18 miles. Then I heard it was 21 plus. Then someone told me it was really closer to 30. I'm gonna go with 21 plus – 'cause it felt like that – we were out there for a long time putting the miles down with nearly 50 walkers. We finished strong though – cruising right into the Lone Wolf RV Park at right about 5:00. We got a late start because of the drive, so we didn't hit the pavement until 10:00 – but we got 'er done.
There are two things I remember the most about this walk. One of them was the constant wind that challenged all of the walkers especially our staff carriers!). The other thing was the wind. It was windy. (It was also really tough on our runners). So, yeah, it was blustery – not too cold really – but it was coming across the desert floor and whipping up a decent scene for everyone. So – that was what we had to contend with.
There was a fun little moment – we were walking through the city and came by a mall signboard that was showing all of the featured shops. One of the signs simply said “SUSHI” in big block letters an caight the attention of Jun-san. She kept pointing at the sign, smiling and nodding her head. We were waiting for the light to change, and when it did she started banging the drum and walking towards the direction of the mall. She came back – but she seemed a little reluctant.
We arrived at the RV Park to yet more wonderful hospitality. An amazing meal served out and hot showers available. Folks turned in early.

Here's what Walker Maggie had to say about yesterday's walk:
I woke up around 4am and wished I could just turn the heater on and sleep in but I crawled out of my tent and meditated with the buddhist monks. At the morning circle we were honored to have Morning Star and her family back with us! We hastily loaded our vans and caravaned out of the Sierras towards Joshua Tree. The wind was STRONG today and while we were on the hwy I watched as wind blew a pot off the top of our van. It was some kind of like a giant wok and it looked to me like a big metal basket. It landed right side up and we were able to stop our vecheles before hitting it. We all pulled over and tied down out gear. At the rest stop later the win was blowing so hard you had to fight it and cover your eyes or walk backwards. We were transported to Apple Valley and it wasn't quite what I expected. There weren't any apples. It was a really spotty place for pedistians. Roads starting and ending in random places signs saying “flooded” cars buzzing by trains, wind turbines, prisions, a water treatment plant, trains and then the choas of the actual town. Sometimes we didn't know where to walk and other times we had our own fancy sidewalk painted to mimic a road. We were excited to see a kid on the walk again Morning Star's daughter walked a bit of it with us. It was windy all day and we were pretty beat when we pulled into camp but we very blessed by the kindness of Rosemary and Ken our hosts at the Lone Wolf RV park. They fixed a fancy meal for us and wouldn't even let us help them clean up afterwards! It was such a hectict day that at the end up it I was just happy we were all still alive.

La Paz to Tehachapi

We walked out of La Paz right around 8am – filing past Cesar Chavez' gravesite on our way out – some offered tobacco and prayers as we went past. We were a little sorry to leave such a beautfiful place; the energy of La Paz and the generosity of the family and friends who lived there was great comfort to all of us. Paul Chavez told us that his father used La Paz to rejuvenate, relax and enjoy his family – resting for the work ahead. He said that he hoped we also felt energized after our stay to continue on with our work..they were all wonderfully sweet and we were honored by their generosity.
The morning walkers were definitely rested as we heaed easily up the mountain grade on our way to Tehachapi about 11 miles away. The weather was cool, with a good deal of fog hugging the mountain sides. By the time we reached the top of the pass and our second break before we went through town – the wind started and the temperature dropped, making for a pretty cold little stroll. Many of us had dressed way down because we had been so hot over the past couple of days – whoops on that one. Big mistake.
Antonio was driving a support vehicle and offered sweatshirts and hoodies to people who needed them.
We made it to the Methodist Church in Tehachapi by noon and had a lovely lunch of sandwiches, salad and bread. At the circle following lunch, Dennis announced that because that we were going to knock off another 5 miles after lunch. Many people had stayed back to help at camp, so he reqyuested that all those who were able bodied (we have some sick and njured folk among us) should be out in the afternoon.
So – I think we had 48 for the afternoon walk – the staffs were carried by Max and Emmett among others – and I have to say that it wasn't too long into the walk that we realized we were having to jog to keep up with them! Emmett is one of our elders and a runner, so he ha a very quick stride – and Max is one of our younger walkers so he has all kinds of energy. After having to run to catch up with them for the 5th or 6th time, Jun-San ran up to the front an told them to slow down!! Eventually, they did and we were able to catch our breath!
But, we finished out the day with just over 16 miles under our belt. A fine day of walking!
Oh – an in the very good news file – Takashi surprised us by coming back home to us! He was met with many hale hearties – we are soooo glad he is bak with us -Thank you Carol for bringing him!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

no pictures - just info

Hey guys - we are camping outside an American Legion Hall here. It's about 7:30 and I am soooo ready for bed! I have been fighting a little bug (pretty darn successfully I might add), but it wipes me out. I've decided that I will take my leadership from the Japanese and unless I am deathly ill, I continue to walk - it seems to help. I just drink lots of water with my Grapefruit Seed Extract in it, eat lots of fruit and try to get good rest and I haven't been totally wiped out yet.
But, we did 12 miles uphill today and that was pretty trying. It took my body about 3 hours it seemed like just to get the muscles used to the new stride. It also seems like, oddly, the lead group moves faster when we are climbing, so I had to do quite a bit of jogging to keep up.
I always try to stay up front - the energy is stronger behind the Eagle Staff and the drummers - there is much less chatter and more focused prayer and intention, so it seems to just carry us through. So, by the time we reached the summit - like 5 hours into our day, I had been trucking along pretty good. From there it was just 2.5 miles downhill and to the end of our day.
Probably the highlight of my day was getting to talk to Aiko for a little while. She's from Japan an speaks just enough broken English that we can have pretty good conversations - and she's really very funny. We had a fun talk about Winnie the Pooh, which she just read a couple of years ago translated into Japanese. We had less success with me trying to explain the Cat in the Hat...which she had never heard of. How do you describe Thing 1 and Thing 2?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

hey I'm back in wireless world for a second

Joe had to run into town and i grabbed a ride 'cause I knew he was going to a place with wireless. I just wanted to put up a couple more pics for you guys. This is a shot of a little desert spring love that shined for us yesterday while we were being shown some of the sacred sights of the Southern Mojave People.

This picture flat cracks me up. This is a lunch-time scene. Now, we don't normally fall-out like this during our lunch breaks - we generally only travel about 9-10 miles before lunch and have gotten strong enough that we still have plenty of energy to actually, you know, converse with one another. However, on this day we were taken to the Avi Macav (Mohave for The River) Cultural Center and fed a lunch of Indian Tacos - which is basically tacos with frybread. So good. So filling. Many of us had more than one - and one really is PLENTY. And..well, here is the result.
Even C.J. got droopy!

Friday, March 7, 2008

more random shots

Here's another couple of photos – a couple just sat down next to me and started talking about the walk – the old man thought I was a guy – I have never gotten that – I so don't look like a boy! Maybe it's the clothes. Or the fact that he can't see very well. Or maybe i look like a guy.
anyway, i lost track of the photos I am showing you.
I think one is of me and Carrie – who definitely looks like a girl - we are crammed in the RV travelling about two hours to our next destination (the runners got to make up that distance!). Luckily, we were in the RV where we had all the snacks AND a bathroom. Sometimes when we are told to load up we have no idea how long we will be in the car and we are crammed pretty tightly – we were hauling all of the garbage we had picked up alongside the road as well as a bunch of donations – so it was pretty tight quarters, but we were listening to Marvin Gaye so it was all okay. And we had a bathroom, have I mentioned that?
This second one is of me and Joe Spado – one of our amazing support drivers. Joe drives a 12 passenger van and he also hauls all of our stuff on his trailer. He is also a great guy for being willing to run walkers into town for shower runs, laundry, post office stops, grocery stops, etc. He's pretty easy going and I for one really appreciate all of his help! He also has a blog on Blogger and right at the moment I can't remember the address – I know his wife is checking this blog, so maybe she can leave the blog address in the comment section????
Joe is a Vietnam Vet and a member of Veterans for Peace – he's got a lot of good stuff to say and always speaks from his heart. Whenever we are getting shuttled, I do my best to get into his Van for the haul – he wasn't available for the two hour drive, hence the RV – but that was okay because of the snacks...and the bathroom.
Okay, that's enough.....I'm still sitting in the casino lobby so I better vacate before I get rousted – or get my gender further confused by dazed gamblers.
Love you all sooo much – hope to blog again soon.


Here are a few random photos – this first one is of Mikano Shonin – our elder monk – this was taken at a rest stop.
This second one is of a woman from the Fort Mohave Indian Reservation. We were visited by many members of the Tribe last night as they came to honor us with songs and dancing. The songs of this region are so beautiful. They use gourd rattles instead of drums, so it's a softer sound, and the melodies are just sweet.
This third one shows Dennis and Bonita Leonard on his right – who is from the Warm Springs Res in Oregon and is the President of the Portland AIM chapter. I will write more about her at some point – I think she is going to be quite the leader some day, and is already getting started. When Dennis talks about turning leadership over to the youth, this is who he is talking about.
Anyway, they are singing the AIM theme song. It's a song we sing a lot, but it was only last night that I learned where it came from. I didn't catch all the details, but this is what I grasped.
Back in the early 70's a young man named Raymond _____ was beaten to death by local police. The investigation came back saying he “died of exposure.” But the local tribe knew differently and hired their own pathologist from St. Paul, MN. They exhumed the body and that investigation found that Raymond had indeed been tortured and murdered.
When they were reburying his body (Dennis was there) – a young Cheyenne man began singing this song – and AIM adopted it as their theme song. I wish I had the time and know how to download it for you so you can hear it. It's a beautiful song, and I'm so glad I know the meaning behind what I'm singing – it's now so much more powerful.


Okay, I have no pictures at this time to share with you because I am writing you from a casino lobby and I just don't have the gumption or patience to download anything at this particular moment. It's insane in here.
We have been on the border of Arizona, California and Nevada for the past two days. Where we are staying is on one side of the Colorado (in Arizona) – and the Elders are staying at the casino across the river in Nevada.
It's an hour time difference in Nevada – so there has been all this confusion with people making plans and then trying to translate times – you wouldn't think it would be that confusing, but it is – mainly because everyone uses cell phones as time pieces now and they keep jumping back and forth. One guy finally pulled out a WATCH – to keep track of what time it is where the walkers are – and we are trying to keep to that.
It's kind of fun. And kind of...can't wait til we get out of here.
Supposedly we hit the Grand Canyon next week and we will be able to camp down at the bottom.


Dennis was following our walking today as he has been for the last several days. He walks with us when he can – but organizing this beast takes a lot of his time so we don't get to spen d a lot of time with him out on the trail (although I can tell you that I've walked next to and in back of him on a couple of occasions, and I can only hope to move that fast when I'm 75).
We were joined today at our lunch stop by a Council of Grandmothers from Landers, CA. One of the women walked with us in the morning – and a few others met us at the rest stop. They couldn't have been sweeter.
We were supposed to have stayed there one night, at their land, but our crazy schedule didn't allow for it anymore (boo-hoo!).
Anyway, Dennis told us a couple of stories during lunch. I'll tell them for you here. One is an old folk tale; the other a true story (who knows, they're probably both true).

A young boy was visiting his ailing grandfather. The old man was very frail, very fragile. He had lived a long, long time and was coming near the end of his life on this Earth. The boy had always loved listening to his grandfather tell stories of the old days – and learned many things from those long talks by the fire.
As the boy arrived at his grandfather's house he saw that he was sitting in a chair by the fire. “Boy,” the grandfather called out in a soft voice, “please fnd me a blanket – I've gotten cold here by the fire and I have no blanket here to warm me.”
The boy searched the house, but could find nothing to cover the old man, who had recently given all his possessions away in the custom of his people when a life is near ended. The boy then went to the barn and found an old, worn horse blanket. He took the blanket and cut it in half – and went to the old man to cover him.
Upon returning home, the boy's father asked what he had in his hand and the young one told him about his grandfather needing to keep warm,
“Son, you should have given your elder the entire blanket.”
“But Father, then what will I have to cover you?”

Dennis said, “This is an old story we have told each other for 1000 years to understand respect and honoring for ones elders and I tell it here now in front of this council of Grandmothers in appreciation to them. Here's another one – and this is a true story that happened down in Apache country many years ago:”

The government wanted to build houses on the Apache reservation. They were apartment kind of houses, all stuffed together. The Apache, having lived free in the wide open space of their land – didn't want such houses built for them and told the government so. They were built anyway and the Apache people were told that this is where they now must live.
The Medicine Man was very troubled and so he went up to the mountains to pray. He sat in the sacred circle and he prayed very deeply for a long time. He fell asleep – and then he heard a voice saying to him, “what are you doing here?”
The medicine man opened his eyes and saw that a snake had slithered into the circle.
The elder talked to the snake and told him the story of the government buildiings.
The snake said, “you're people have always honored our ways, we will help you.”
The medicine man began to pray again. And again he fell asleep and was woken by a voice saying, “what are you doing here?”
This time, when he opened his eyes, he saw that a mouse had creeped into the circle.
“Brother Mouse,” the man began and told him the story of the housing that was being forced upon his people.”
The Mouse replied, “your people have always been good to us and honored our ways, we will help you.”
Soon, there was a Grand Opening of the Apache Housing Project. Dignitaries were there, including Hubert Humphrey, the Vice President. While the ribbon was being cut and the dignitaries led into the houses, the Apache people stayed away – not wanting to be part of the ceremony.
Suddenly, a woman screamed, and then a man yelled out, and another! In each of the houses that were being viewed, snakes and mice were found inside the new apartment buildings.
To this day, no one has ever lived in that housing project – they sit there – ugly and unused. I tell this story to remind you that when we respect all living things, when we honor them..when we ask our Creator for help and when we are sincere – we will be helped. I also tell this story for you who are on this walk as we head into the desert. We honor all living things – so if you are scared of snakes and scorpions – remember to honor their ways and let them be – and they will let you be – do not hurt them in any fashion – that is our belief and we expect you to honor that.

Thanks Dennis.

motown morning

The quiet of 5am in the desert is something everyone should get to experience. I almost took a picture of what I popped out of my tent to, but it wouldn't have done it justice.
The moon blazed an ivory crescent, though the entire face was still visible in shadow. It was floating there in a dark ink blue sky – just cresting over our surrounding small mountains. The sky above was still covered in starlight without any surrounding city lights to dim them.
Everything was so still and then I heard the slow beating of the monk's drums as they started their morning prayer chants.
Nothing else to say to that.

But then..about an hour later the bus started rocking out motown and and as I was walking up to get my tea I saw Jun-san gettin' down to the funky beats, dancing with Wounded and Henry, the other Elders.
I was standing by the fire and Jun-san came up and stood next to me. Everyone was still kind of moving to the music. She turned to me and said in her Japanese accent, “This is music for strip clubs in Japan.”
What was that?
She started talking to Wako – our translator, in Japanese and I watched as Wako's eyes got wide and then she actally took a step back as if she's been pushed.
“Okay, you are not going to believe what Jun-san just told me.” And Jun-san is just kind of bopping along, “She said, she used to be a dancer in the strip clubs in Tokyo.”
Jun-san turned to me and said, “It no big thing. You take off cloth, one at time and just dance.” And then the Temptations came on and she was off again.

Joshua tree

I forget just how much I love the desert until I'm back in it again. We are in Joshua Tree – we weren't able to stayat the National Park (too expensive) – but we are at a beautiful facility just outside of town with plenty of open space and even some glacier moraine to play around on.
Today was my weekly “stay back” day – I choose one day a week – when I'm on kitchen duty most likely – to not join the walkers, but instead help tear down camp and set up in the next spot. There are usually half a dozen of us that do this and it's actually a pretty nice way to spend the day without feeling like a slacker for not walking.
The other benefit is that you get to pick your tent site first! So Kathleen, Carrie, Larry and I set up our little village at the far corner of the campground. This place was cool in that each spot had a picnic table and individual fire pit – a rarity! We also found out that there was laundry on site – another rare event. So us girls threw all our stuff in together were sooo happy for fresh clean clothes.
We don't have a whole wardrobe with us obviously, and so our little stash of socks and shirts get pretty manky pretty fast, especially when you're walking 16-20 miles a day – and laundry really only gets to happen about once a week – so – it's one of those things you forget about until you don't always have it at your disposal (like Burgerville).
Here's a picture of the “stuff scene.” We haul everyone's gear from town to town – it's amazing really. I'm trying to get down to one bag just 'cause I think this much stuff is ridculous – some people have like 3 bags and it just feels excessive to me. soon as we hit a little warmer weather I'm going to be dumping a bunch of items. Soon, with that warmer weather thing I think,
Here's a picture of our cook bus as well. The guys, Felipe and Jeff, the guys that make all this happen are amazing and awesome. I wanted to throw pictures up of them too – but it will have to be in another blog – I can only put so many pictures up at a time.
Anyway – onto the next thing!