Friday, February 29, 2008

Moving out

Well -- we leave La Paz tomorrow morning and go straight to Tehachapi - and then we hit the Mojave.
Apparently we are a little behind schedule so we are going to pick up about 10 days worth of time by using our runners to help us get across the desert -- probably doing 50-100 mile days in a stretch.
It works like this - one guy takes on maybe 10 miles, another woman will do 15 -- they leap frog each other to cover the distance.
I'm not sure how much we'll be walking ourselves to help out - but we're going to be covering some land.
Anyway - it' been lovely being able to catch up a little bit -- I'm sorry the blogs aren't my literary best - but if I fussed too much with that you wouldn't get anything out of me. So, enjoy the pretty pictures.
Supposedly our media truck arrives tomorrow and with it, better constant internet access. We shall see.
Know that I love you guys - I think of you ALL the time, and carry you with me in my heart every day.
Much love;


Si Se Puede!

Here's a photo of Cesar's library.

He went to work in the fields with his family as a child and only completed school to the eighth grade. He self-educated himself by reading. His favorite teacher was Ghandi and many of his methods of non-violence comes from those teachings.

There was a story told about him - that as a young man - maybe 10 or so, his father lost his house because he couldn't pay the taxes on it. They left Arizona and migrated to California to become migrant workers. Because they weren't very experienced, they had a hard time at first, losing jobs to more experienced people. One day they were trying to pick peas - but they kept showing up too late to get a basket for picking. Even if they got there before dawn - other people had beaten them too it. So Cesar told his mother, "I'm going to stay here all night and wait for the truck to get here and get us two baskets so we can work tomorrow." His mother said no - too dangerous -- but Cesar did it anyhow - stayed at the farm all night and met the truck early in the morning and was able to get the baskets for work. His family remembers him learning the ways of the migrant workers and was always able to keep them in work - that he was always deeply driven.
His brother tells the story of when they were young, married men. Picking apricots in San Jose. Working 10 -12 hour days for very little money - trying to raise and feed their families. As they were in the fields, Cesar began talking about their plight and began to muse;
"Someone has to do something to help all of these poor families earn a decent living."

Thank you so much.

La Paz

This is a giant picture of Bobby Kennedy and Cesar sharing mass after his first fast. We watched a video here at the center that talked about the relationship the Kennedy family and the Chavez family have to this day. That the two men shared a common vision - and despite the vast differences in their backgrounds, they shared a dedication that was mutually appreciated.

Here is the fountain that flows beside Cesar's grave. It might be a little hard to see these carvings - but I'm told it was designed to represent all the peoples of the world. It's an amazing piece of art. Early this morning the monks invited us to come to a 6am prayer session at the gravesite. And so here in this space we chanted namu myoho ren ge kyo, Bonnie sang a peace song, a couple of our Native friends offered prayers and Kenaida, one of the Japanese monks, did us up a southern spiritual (you should hear him sing "swing lo, sweet chariot").

climbing "Cesar's Mountain"

This morning some of us took a hike up the hill behind La Paz to see the place where Cesar Chavez would go in the morning to meditate, do yoga and have some time to himself before his work day began. A man named Danny, who worked alongside Cesar for many years took us up there.

This little rock setting was a favorite spot of his to sit. There was a little clear patch of grass nearby that he would walk around as well. Danny said that this is the first time they've allowed a group to come up here as it's considered hallowed ground to family and friends of La Paz. He said that he knew we would understand the significance of this place and honor it as such.
This Japanese man in the middle has been learning Native songs, and to honor Danny and his son (who also walked up with us) - they sang a couple of songs for them. While they were finishing up the second song, I decided to walk down on my own. The morning was just warming up, the sky was clear and blue and suddenly I was struck with tears as I realized where I was and whose path I was walking in. I was so thankful at that moment for people like Chavez who were inspired to devote their lives for others.

I found myself coming out of the footpath onto the road at the same time as Chavez' grandson Fernando was walking down as well. We walked back to La Paz together and talked about the Walk and what it means for people when we come through towns. For him, he remembered as a small child how much community there was here - it was a much more bustling place - so he likes when the groups come through. He said our Walk is giving a lot of hope and energy to every place we visit. I told him the feeling was mutual. He's a lovely young man, I wanted to take his picture but it wasn't the right time. We were told a story yesterday about Fernando.
They bring a lot of youth groups here to La Paz - kids that need a little extra direction. One day two of the youths were fighting and Fernando stepped between them and stopped the fight, using the non-violence techniques he's grown up on (he's still a very young guy..maybe in his early twenties) - he told them that "we don't even play fight here" - and he was able to talk these guys down. Can you imagine growing up with that much awareness?
It's amazing being here in this place. When I met up at lunch with the folks I climbed the mountain with they told me that after they finished singing all of their songs, a Red-Tailed Hawk came down and flew right above them, gliding in the wind, checking them out.

Uncle Dennis

The terms "uncle" and "auntie" are honorifics in Native tradition - it's a way of respectfully referring to your elders - no matter if your blood related or I'm using it here.
I have a lot of respect for this man. It's hard not to respect someone who's given his life to his work. He's also a pretty funny guy - he's Anishinabe,and he's also Minnesotan; so he's got that beautiful folksy quality that makes people from that state somehow magically wonderful. The man knows how to work a crowd that's for sure. It's the perfect blend of corny humor to loosen us up..and then before you know it you're in the middle of a deeply impassioned speech about using your life to serve the greater good. He got off on a tangent this morning about language:
"you know...I don't use the f-word --I don't even use it in joking around. Language can be hurtful and violent -- and language that is that way is not welcome here. And I will tell you...that if you want to use that kind of language, if you want to go up to the top of that mountain over there and use the f-word - go ahead, but you will be standing alone! If you want to go up to the top of that mountain and yell that you want to make positive change in the world - people will climb up there to join you!"
He stops...this is after about 15 minutes of talking about language and unity...he turns to Henry an says, "I got carried away again didn't I?" He laughs, and then the phone rings and he looks at it, "Hey it's the L.A. Times! And you too L.A. Times!! Whatever it was I said!"

He just told us another story about when he was on the run from the FBI.
"Nine years I was on the run - I even stayed here with Cesar for a couple of days and he welcomed me warmly. After 9 years of running across the country - they never caught me - I turned myself in. In South Dakota I surrendered to the law and went to jail. Before I was released I needed to find a job. So I applied to be a drug and alcohol counselor. I also applied to be a cross-country running coach. And on that application it asked what kind of experience I had. I told them I had run across the country for 9 years from the FBI and they never caught me! And they gave me the job!"

laurie huerta

I wanted to write a little about Laurie - she's been visiting us on and off over the last week. I haven't gotten to sit and talk with her, but I have been able to greet her often and I just really like her energy. She is the daughter of Dolores Huerta who worked closely with Chavez over the years. Dolores is still alive and continues to do the work she and Chavez started.
Laurie often stopped by during our lunch breaks to tell us stories. On this day she was telling us (and that's a japanese interpreter with her) that the road we just walked was the same road that the Okies walked during the depression - starving and looking for work. She told us this entire valley was filled with the spirits of farm workers, of the Chinese laborers that were brought in to build the railroad tracks - that Steinbeck, Woody Guthrie and Dorothy Day travelled these roads as well.
She also told us this story, which moved all of us..including tears; and she's probably told it several times! It goes like this:

"Cesar's work brought about the Agricultural Farm Workers Act. It gave basic human rights to the farm workers, things like making sure they had water in the fields to drink, a decent wage, a place to use the bathroom. So this act passed and Cesar knew that many of these workers would never know about it. So he went on a 1000 mile march all up and down California telling these workers of their new rights. By the time he got to Sacramento to the Capitol Steps he had maybe 25-30,000 people marching with him to celebrate. And for many people, that would've been it - their work would've been done.
The next morning I had to get up very early and drive back home to take care of something for my children. So here I am driving down HWY 99 - 4:30a.m. - it's still dark outside - and walking by the side of the road is Cesar - and he has maybe 5 people with him - on his way to the next farm.
Never forget what you are doing here when you are on this journey - remember who has come before you and keep that in your hearts."


We recently spent 4 nights at a CHP Firing Range in Bakersfield, California. Other than it was nice not to have to break camp every day, then energy of this place was bleak, man.
See that little sand berm in the distance? It surrounded our camp on three sides. If you climbed up it you had an incredibly great view of the surrounding valleys and the foothills. Unfortunately the surrounding valley was filled with active oil drilling machines. And the sand berm itself was basically built out of lead shell casings from all of the rifles and guns.
Creepy. a weird way, a lot of healing took place here because a lot of stuff came to a head at this camp. A lot of the young non-native people had been feeling put upon and disrespected and vice-versa. The Native people were feeling like they weren't taking this Walk seriously.
So there were a lot of hurt feelings, but we finally started talking about it in small groups. Some with Native elders, some without. Eventually we started talking to each other and began getting somewhere.
We also had an incredible violent incident happen out here. One of our Walkers had an episode around his mental health. It happened late at night and the people that walked into it became scared and called the police who came out and were incredibly brutal in their dealing with this guy. It was horrific to hear about, and I'm not going to go into the details. We caught it on video though - and lawyers have been retained.
But, due to the seriousness of this incident we also started talking as a group as to how we want to handle folks who are coming in who may be having difficulty with their mental health. This young man will not be the last one.
So last night we ha our first non-violence training and will be continuing them as a group for the rest of our time. It will give people a chance to talk about their fears, and give those who have experience with this kind of thing try to help. I'm sorry this had to happen to this person, but there is good to counter it.
Jun-san reminded us that our society is sick, and to remember that we are all the police. A lot of folks are still mulling that one over.

since we're talking about the monks

You know, we're losing two of our monks this morning. They have monk business elsewhere.
These guys are really fun to have with us - they bring such grace to our days - and a lot of laughter

Some of the funniest people I know are deeply spiritual people. Folks who have dedicated their lives to missions of peace and love seem to have the lightest hearts, even though they are constantly in front of the darkest sides of human nature.
This guy on the right, he's going to be remaining, and he's just the coolest dude. He is Makino Shonin from Japan. I haven't been able to speak to him much due to the language barrier - but we've exchanged this and that. I watch him a lot though because he cracks me up.
Yesterday he was challenging some of the young Japan people to arm wrestling matches and winning. e's incredibly strong and trucks along up at the front of the line at a brisker pace than I can keep up with on some days. On this day - we were having a short break and it was really hot. I think Jun-san started the water seems like something she would do. That's why these guys are laughing.
And here's Bonnie in pre-throw - I couldn't quite capture the full-on throw, so you'll have to imagine it.
Oh, Makino also one morning jogged up on one of the students and body slammed into here. For fun.
Gotta love it.

gilberto the monk

I love this guy. This is Gilberto - he's a monk with an order out of Bainbrige Island, Washington an spends a lot of time on the road; travelling to peace actions and the like. He's one of those people who loves people deeply and is so wonderfully accessible. He grew up in the projects and told me that he heard a radical priest speak back in the day and he knew he had found his calling to become a travelling monk. After a time and raising a family, that's what he's become.
When we are walking he's the guy that is constantly running across the street or into people's yards to talk to folks - I've never seen anybody feel uncomfortable or wary in his presence.
I warmed to him immediately and he's been a great source of comfort these past weeks. He's actually leaving today to attend a non-violence conference in Santa Barbara - we may see him again, we may not.
Like any good monk he speaks a good parable. Here's one of my favorites that he told me after I asked him what I can tell people who were having a tough time after a particularly nasty incident here in the camp:
"There once was a Rabbi of a small village - this is way back in the day - maybe 70 C.E. The Romans had burned down the Temple and all of the people were angry and deeply disturbed. They came to this man and asked him - what can we do, how can we get retribution?
The Rabbi simply answered, "We can be witnesses."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

hot day

We've been cruising around Bakersfield the last four days and experienced our first hot days of walking. It hasn't been unbearable - only in the upper 70's - but it's definitely been a shift for us. We move up into the mountains soon so we'll be slipping back into the chilly stuff. I'm definitely enjoying the pace of our days.

new friends

Emmett Eastman is a 76 year old powerhouse. That is his Colonial name, by the way. He is from the Dakota Nation, but he is also a descendant of Charles Eastman...yeah, the Kodak guy. He met Dennis Banks back in the 70's and went on the original walk in 1978. Since then he has been to 22 countries on Sacred Runs, bringing messages of peace and wellness for the world. He tells me about honoring the 7 directions..east, west, north, south, Father Sky and Mother Earth and the 7th one..the one he says we forget about ..the soul. He treats his body as a temple, which is why he an still walk alongside us -- up at the front of the group, for 16 miles at a stretch. He prefers to run actually and says it's much easier on the body. He participates with our runners when we need to link a lot of miles together. Emmett doesn't drink, smoke or do drugs, "I don't even use aspirin." He's such a beautiful man - I look forward to getting to know him better.

This is Jun-san and Bonnie. June-san is a Japanese nun who has also been all over the world with her Buddhist order (which I can't remember right now -- sorry!). She's walked thousands of miles, chanting and drumming for peace. She was also on the original walk and her and Dennis have become good friends. Dennis tells the story of how she spend night after night in 20 degree weather, chanting for him outside the jail he was incarcerated in during a peace action.
Bonnie is from Australia and has been on peace walks with Jun-san here in the States as well as Australia. She's told me a couple of funny stories about Jun-san and here's one of them:

During a peace walk in Australia, there was a guy I guess streaking around that country and making the news frequently. One night while the peace walk was camping, three guys from outside the camp came streaking through, the middle of the night and started yelling and banging on Jun-san's tent. She got up and saw these three naked drunks guys and said, in typical Jun-san fashion, "oh, namu myoho renge kyo! You look cold, would you like some tea?" And then preceded to go over to Bonnie's tent and bang on it, "Bonnie-san, Bonnie-san..there's naked men out here, come see!" And Bonnie was telling me, "And I'm's the middle of the night, I don't want to see that you evil woman!"

Bonnie's leaving on Monday to go home. Sad. She's fun.

Here is Larry, Kathleen and Carrie. They are frequent lunch companions. It's so nice to have people to eat lunch with -- it hasn't taken that long to find folks to hang with..but it's nice to have your regulars, y'know?


I was given a beautiful gift last week. One of the men I met in Fresno is part of a Wellbriety group. Their work helps incarcerated men find their ways into the rooms of recovery after they are released. We had a really nice conversation and in the end he gave me a gift of these feathers. They are Red-Tailed Hawk feathers that he has been carrying for a long time. He asked if I would take them and carry them across the country - remembering all of my brothers and sisters in recovery. I have them on a eucalyptus tree limb that I carry as a staff. The wood came from a tree on the land where the feathers were given to me. I was pretty overwhelmed by the gift. Receiving feathers is a great honor - I carry them proudly when I walk with them.


You know (oh...hi, by the's been awhile hasn't it?) - one of the many cool things about being on this journey is all of the music that I have been introduced to. In every town we visit, we are usually greeted by representatives of the local tribe and very often they sing a song for us. This is Six Bears. He was singing to us while we were visiting the home of Cindy and Bear Alexander (the place where I got to have a jacuzzi). He had a beautiful voice and was very passionate in sharing his songs.

Sometimes the songs involve the drum. This is a crappy picture of some of the drummers. I love hearing the drummers - the voices sound to me like they are coming straight out of the earth. I've heard that the drum represents the heartbeat. I'm sure it has other meanings as well. I've learned that every nation, every tribe has their own songs. They can be welcoming songs, honoring songs, bear songs, tree songs. I don't know the language, but I can feel the love in these songs. All of these people are keeping their ancient songs alive, as well as writing new ones. One of our elders said the other night that all of our ancestors had the drum and the voice..and for the most part, many of us had lost that part of our world. These folks are continuing to keep theirs alive...I can't tell you how honored I am to witness it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

a few pics

these pictures are pretty random - but I'm trying to get done quickly at this point, 'cause we are getting ready to leave this site. I might be able to get on later today -- we'll see.

Anyway - this top picture is a typical "circle" - before every meal, during every rest stop, we 'circle' up and offer prayers and thanks. This is always done by one of our elders. This tall man in the middle is Emmett - I love listening to him pray to the four directions. I find him very beautiful. He is a Sacred runner and has found it has been much more difficult to walk instead of run! I hear that a lot - that it is physically harder to walk long distance than run it. He's amazing though.

This is the Sikh High Holy Man who we got blessed by at the Temple in Stockton.

Here is one of our other elders, Wounded Knee, he is always reminding us that we are on a spiritual journey and to remember to ask our ancestors for strength and guidance. I love to hear him speak.

a typical view

If you want to know what my day looks like in general....this is pretty much it. I like to walk next to the Japanese taiko drummers - I love hearing the rhythm and it helps keep me moving. They also chant a prayer while they're drumming - so I like to hang with the monks.

I actually got to do a day of drumming a couple of days ago - it's a really beautiful way of walking - your mind goes to different places and needs to get reeled back into a different place in your body. I actually really like praying to the rhythm of the drum - so I was grateful for that experience. I hope to come across one to carry somewhere along the way. I have found so far that things come to you when you need if I'm meant to carry one, I will.

Hello from Fresno, California!

I know - you guys are thinking...Fresno? But, this has been one of the best spots I have stayed so far! We are always gifted with so much generosity along the way - and last night as we were eating our meal (prepared for us by members of the Love Song Community Center) - a man came by and said that a friend of his was offering up her lodge for the women and the men to have a sweat the following day. He said that any women that wanted to come up and camp on her property were welcome to do so. Surprisingly, only myself and fellow walker, Kathleen chose to go - too bad for everyone else! When we got here, Cindy offered us beds and hot showers. We declined the beds, prefering to camp out under the red light of the lunar eclipse - and then she said, "would you girls be intrested in getting into the jacuzzi?"


I have never had a better hot tub in my entire life. If you don't think you would miss a hot bath - try not having one for three weeks - we have barely had hot showers (usually once every couple of days if we are lucky...and they are not always hot) -let alone getting to soak in a big, beautiful jacuzzi..with jets. Can I just say...I don't even have words.

At about 5am we got up and helped get the fire going for the women's lodge. At around 7am a group of women from walk showed up and we went into the lodge to pray and sing and offer thanks. I have done sweat lodges in Portland - but I've never heard the songs sung in Native tongues -and we get to hear songs from many different nations as we travel. We also got to hear songs from our Japanese walkers as well as Celtic tune. Very beautiful. So many people are in gratitude to us for this Walk we are taking. I am so grateful that I get to be here to experience all of this. It's amazing. Every time we receive gifts or warm wishes - it helps me to think about those people and who I'm walking for when it gets to be mile know?
Anyway -- I'm gonna send some pictures along. I don't have much time yet on this you all!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

the Sikh Temple in Stockton

For some frustrating reason, I can't post any pictures right now. Too bad - I got a couple of cool ones from our night at the Sikh Temple. This Temple was built in 1914 and is now a California Historical Landmark. I didn't know this, but there have been Sikh people in CA since about 1865.
These folks were incredibly hospitable to our massive circus of people - they made us an incredible meal and let us lay our sleeping bags all over the floor of their (very comfortable) dining area. We were also able to set up tents within the outer walls of the property (which I did) - and they put our elders up in the many rooms they also have.
I was actually sick that night so I wasn't able to hear the talk about the Sikh religion, so I'll have to fill you in on that later, but one of the things I heard is that at this temple (and at all Sikh sites) there is a flag that is never brought down - it's called the God Flag and its a signal to people that if you need food or shelter, you can go there and be taken care of. I have a picture of it. You can't see it right now.
In the morning we were received by their High Holy Man and we were offered prayers. The Tribal Elders then offered American Indian prayers, and the Buddhist Elders offered prayers in Japanese. It's hard to forget you are on a spiritual journey when you are in circle and in prayer at least three times a day, and many times in different languages and in different settings. It's all such a gift.
Hope to get those pictures to you soon.


I don't know how many of you have been to Alcatraz - but those of you who have can attest to the eerieness of the desolate, crumbling former prison known for its fairly brutal treatment of its prisoners. I can tell you that the creepiness factor increases tenfold when you are standing on it at 6:00 in the morning.
But I felt creeped out for just a moment - it was hard to feel anything but overwhelmed and mesmerized when you are surrounded by upwards of 600 people who are drumming, singing, hugging and laughing. A megaphone, held mostly by Dennis Banks would sound pretty regularly, trying to get things going and stay on schedule - the first thing was to get a fire going. ("Hey...let's get that fire going!") Suddenly a couple of guys were talking to park rangers about getting wood - I overheard the rangers talking to one another over their mics ("did somebody remember to get the wood?") - You know - the fact that we were even there was pretty cool - I don't know hardly ANY of the history between AIM and Alcatraz except for that back in the 70's several members swam up to the island and occupied it for about 19 months. So..somewhere along the way some negotiations must have taken place for ceremonies to occur with such cooperation (which is frustrating when you consider that Alcatraz Island was a ceremonial place for probably thousands of years - that they should even have to negotiate their way to ceremony is offensive).

In fact, I've learned that until 1976 - most Native American traditional ceremonies were illegal. Deeply sacred traditional dances such as the Sundance were outlawed. The American Indian Movement fought to get their traditional ceremonies out of the hands of the government. Imagine if someone came into church one Sunday and said - "you can no longer perform the sacrament. You can no longer light the menorrah" -- that's what was done to the hundreds of nations here.
The Sundance and other ceremonies are back in practice today - but I don't know how many more still need legal guidance.
To me, learning this makes the singing and drumming that I'm listening to so much more powerful; and I am so grateful to be a part of all this. That's all on that. Except to say that this is the kind of stuff I was never taught in grade school.

hello everyone!!

We have a rest day today and are in Merced, CA -- while the BBQ is being prepared a few of us skedaddled to find some Internet access - I won't be here too long, but I wanted to post some pictures for you and give you a little heads up about a couple of things.

The first is: I wanted to let you guys know that even though I have my phone with me, it isn't always easy to find a charger. Sometimes we camp where there is electricity and sometimes not. And even if their is power, we have to give firsts to the cooks, the organizers and support vehicles and if the walkers (about 100 of us) can fit an hour in to suck some juice, then that's how it goes. So...needless to say I don't do a lot of chatting on the phone and pretty much keep it off during the day. Also...I'm usually in bed by 8:00-9:00 -- our days just got pushed up a little, we eat at 6:00am and need to be packed up and ready to go by 7:00 at the I'm generally up around 4:30. So my window for actually talking on the phone is a little small! So, if I'm not calling you back right away..please know I love you! Leaving a message is ALWAYS appreciated as I like to listen to them before I go to bed!!!

Two: It looks like general delivery is the way to go to get stuff to me. The best way to do that is to go to the website and look at our route itinerary to see where we have rest days (make sure they happen during the week, and not on a Sunday if you are going to do General Delivery!) - also, look to see if we are in certain towns for a couple of days. Sometimes, this isn't always posted - but I know we will be in Bakersfield for four nights at the same place and getting shuttled each day to walk sites - when I hear about stuff like this, I'll let you all know.

Okay -- I'm gonna send you some pictures now!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

as fine a day as there ever was

It felt like spring in San Francisco today - unseasonably warm. And despite how odd that is here in early February, it sure felt nice to stroll around and enjoy the sights in the comfort of a t-shirt and rolled up pants. Look at this view from Pier 39 on the Wharf.

I took that picture later in the day. In the morning I met up with my brother Shane for breakfast and a walk on Ocean Beach (that's the Cliff House in the background). He is holding his new puppy - Nicki Belle (yes, I gave him shit about the name). The pup is sporting a cast from a hairline fracture - she'll be fine, but we sure got a lot of attention regarding the "awww" factor of such a cute puppy with such a sad little injury.

Shane dropped me off downtown so I could deal with my iPOD at the MAC store (no luck, long story). From there I walked over to Chinatown, thru North Beach and up and over Telegraph Hill where I caught site of the famous parrots flying overhead. They moved too fast for me to photograph and I couldn't find them roosting anywhere so you'll just have to take my word for it.
These guys however were quite easy to capture.
I can't remember offhand the complete story, but my memory dictates that after the '89 earthquake - the sea lions just decided to move onto these mooring docks at Pier 39. Much debate ensued between biologists and the boaters who were docking here. The biologists and conservationists won, so the boats had to move out and these guys have been here ever since. They are now a pretty steady tourist attraction and very fun to watch. No, seriously.

Afterwards I headed down the street to Boudin's bakery to grab a 1/2 pound sourdough round. This picture is for Gwen. She finds the way I eat sourdough amusing. It's really the only way to eat it. Boudin has been using the same sourdough starter since 1849 - the story goes that in the midst of the 1906 earthquake a family member made sure to save the starter before the bakery burned down in the ensuing fires. Lucky for us. Mmmmm, sourdough.

Finished my festival of food with Crab Cippiono at Fisherman's Grotto #9 - My father and Liz graciously came up from the Easy Bay to treat me to my "last" meal - and what a meal! This is finger food. Crab, shrimp and mussels - served in the shell - in a thick tomato sauce. You have to use your hands, hence the bib. We all had the same dish and our server commented on how little mess we actually made. Pros, we are.

Finished the night accompanying Danny and Susi out to dinner (I ate hardly anything..I couldn't manage much after all that) and now I am getting ready to retire. Jake is coming by around 8am to pick me up and take me up to DQ University where my journey officially begins. Don't know what my internet access will be like, so I may not be able to blog as often as we are all used to. I'll do my best.
Glad to know you're all there - we'll talk soon!

Friday, February 8, 2008

welcoming dinner at intertribal friendship house

I don't know what's going on these last couple of days - but guys, I can't stop eating. Maybe it's that I'm not smoking, maybe I've got all this nervous energy..maybe, like a hibernating bear I'm storing up for lean times ahead..I don't know - but I feel like quite the porketta.

And on that note, let me tell you about the welcoming dinner I attended tonight over in Oakland. There was quite the spread and I sampled a goodly portion of all offerings.

But, in non-food news. I got there a little early and met a few of my fellow walkers. There was definitely an array of folks.. I met Wade first - he seems great - he's been on the road for awhile, a self-described 'hermit' type who is nonetheless very outgoing and eager to be of service to his new clan. Seemingly laid back I think he'll be one of those "it's all good" people, without being flaky or insincere in that belief. I liked him immediately.
I also met one of the other bloggers, she came from Florida and is eager to get underway. She's been picking up bits and pieces of info from the organizers. She found out that we will be starting our days at 5:00am with a ceremony and then beginning our walk at 5:30. It's a good thing I'm an early riser.
Antonio flew in this afternoon and showed up (that's him with his registration form) just after I did. Antonio's awesome, he's always got a smile and is a pretty easy going guy.

The dinner opened up with drums, chanting and blessings for the walkers. When I got home tonight Susi said I smelled like a campfire - it was all the sage that was being smudged everywhere - what a great scent to be covered in - and I'm sure it will help mask the myriad of odors we walkers will be generating after about 3 days on the road!

I helped out a little in the kitchen and met 3 women from Japan and 1 woman from Australia. They'll be walking for 90 days (the limit on their Visas). So I feel like in a short span of time I've already met some very cool folk.
There were at least a couple hundred people at this dinner..many were locals who were there in support..I couldn't tell how many walkers had shown up. I'll be going up to DQ University near Davis on Sunday and will get a better idea of how many walkers we'll be starting out with. There were a few people I met tonight who are just walking for a couple/three days at the outset and then will be leaving the group. It seems a truer number will settle in after about a week.

Anyway -- hey, a couple of people recognized me from my "Voices" intro (thanks Sam, for commenting BTW) -- which was a little odd. I really hope we can get some more people up there - it's weird being the sole rep for "voices" at this point.

In other news: Still haven't smoked (but wanted to BADLY at that dinner, what with all the social awkwardness - thanks for listening Joan!) and I got the official word from Curve Magazine that I can use their name to solicit stories on the that's very cool. And I'll be getting right on that.
I'm pretty tired - but happy that I'm close to starting this whole thing. Tomorrow is my last day in town. I think food will be involved.

Love ya!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

gung hay fat choy!!

Year of the Rat people - Year of the Rat!!

It was a lovely morning here in San Franciso. I started out with a little journaling on Susi's back porch - it was actually warm and sunny enough for just a t-shirt - then I heard splashing noises and there were these little finches bathing - I couldn't quite capture the splashing, but if you look closely you can see water droplets.

I hooked up with Jake in the afternoon and headed to Chinatown for a taste of Chinese New Year. The streets were buzzing and everything smelled like incense and gunpowder - doorways were littered with the debris of exploded firecrackers. Jake hadn't spent a lot of time in this part of town so we had a good time checking out the herbal shops and the markets. The butcher shops and the bakeries were packed, many with lines heading out into the street. All around us people were bustling with their pink plastic bags of New Year purchases - in pretty much every bag you could see the oranges people will place on their altars.

I know I've talked about this before, but...I do love this City - I do - it's so fun. I'm sure I'm having these heartfelt moments because I don't have to live here 24/7 - but boy do I enjoy spending time in the middle of it on these visits.
I mean, I was walking through this nice quiet neighborhood by Susi's house this morning and I smelled this lovely incense and I look over and there was an elderly Chinese couple creating a beautiful altar in their garage. That's how I clued in to the New Year thing and kind of focused my day from having Mission Burritos to hitting Chinatown - and I loved that I had such vibrant choices from which to spend my day.

So, Jake and I were standing on the street corner, listening to this old man playing the Erhu and heard drumming coming from down the street. We followed the rhythm to a small kung-fu studio where a posse of brightly costumed young men were jumping around practicing their moves for their Dragon Lion presentation later that afternoon. They let us watch them and one of the guys came out and asked if we wanted to see the Lion head and wear the costume. "Yes!" we both said.
So, here's me with the Lion head - he got into the costume as well and showed us how to move the mouth around- Yay for San Francisco!

So, we had a lovely afternoon - and now I'm hanging with Sus - and BTW - I've gone 48 hours at this point without smoking. It's uncomfortable. Not horrible. It's okay.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

my day in Eureka

Here are my dear friends Nym and Jaca, and their ultra-sweet dog Merry.
Wow, we've been blessed with a beautiful, warm day here along the coast. Yay for sunshine!
I started the morning cruising "downtown" (where even at 10:30am things were snoozeably quiet) and went to Los Bagels for a little snack. I lived just down the street from here for probably 3 years - maybe 4?

We headed to the Samoa beach around noon - check this out. You know, other than I hate that this car is rotting into the sand - I always get a little satisfaction when cars get stuck on the beach. Cars don't belong on beaches. Sadly, this one will probably be here for awhile.'s kind of a cool picture - in an eerie, not-cool kind of way. You know what I'm saying?

Me, playing.

Yep, and here's me hugging Oscar goodbye. See ya later ya old warhorse! Thanks so much for getting me down here safe and sound. Have fun with "Leopard", your new farm truck buddy - don't get in too much trouble out there! I'll sure miss you! (But...honestly, I won't miss driving for awhile!)