Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's Random Picture Time!! - one for you Jen's Mom!

Sometimes I have all these photos that don't necessarily fit into any one story I have..or have been too lazy to write one around it. So..I'm just gonna put a bunch up here with a caption or two so you have some reference to them.

This first one is of Shun and I on his last morning in town. This is a really lousy picture of both of us..and normally I wouldn't even show it to you..I mean, look at Shun's eyes...he's really a very handsome young man. But, what's so funny to me about this photo is that someone on the walk saw it and said...”wow, you guys look just like a Midwestern couple.”
I'm thinking, Midwest of what country?

I took this photo of a gravestone in Butler, OK. I've never seen a misprint on a grave before, and I've been to a lot of cemeteries. This person, if you look closely...blow up the picture by clicking on it...died before they were even born. Quite a feat.

Here's one of the truck crossing into Oklahoma. I just like this shot. The bumper stickers are growing exponentially at this point.

Here's one I took of Jen who begrudgingly posed for it. “Look Mom, I'm eating,” she says. This is for Jen's mom and sis. Thanks so much for all your comments...I really enjoy getting them!

Oh, Aiko. Adore Aiko. Gonna miss her so much. Aiko was the second person I met on the walk, Wade was the first. We had so much fun in conversation, with her straining English and my zero Japanese. She has such a sweet, playful spirit – I hope to see her in Japan one of these days. This was taken the day we drove her to the bus station in Amarillo and ended up putting her on a plane's a long story and I just don't have the strength.

This is Jutta and another one of her and Takweya doing their crazy yoga thing. Jutta is from Germany and is leaving us in about a week. She is lovely, lovely and really funny. She's been with us from the beginning too and I'm gonna miss her a lot. She is hoping to try to come back...but like everything else, it comes down to money. Just so you know, she has a pet name for me...I can't spell it correctly I'm sure, but it sounds like “shleumph” -- it's the German name for smurf.. She calls me a smurf. I tell her that's not really a very endearing name...she insists that it is. I'm dubious.


Hope you enjoyed that...more coming in the future -- I have internet access outside the general store here on main street. Who would've thought? And we'll be here in Canton allllll week - so hope to post more photos soonly.

Waking Up

Here's the latest Walker blog that I sent into the website. Nicer for you...they don't get pictures!

Canton, OK – 15 Miles – Northern Direction

You can wake up at camp Longest Walk in a variety of ways. It depends on what kind of sleeper you are I suppose, or just how you would prefer to come out of sleep world:

You can set you own alarm of course...
You can use the Jun-san alarm clock, which is right now set for about 4:45-5:00am (barring that unfortunate incident in Dumas of course) and use the sound of her prayer drum which signals morning prayers.
You can wait and be unslumbered unceremoniously by Nathan or Mike or another one of our bellicose early risers who simply shout, “WAKE UP!! TIME TO GET UP!! 5:00!!
or...the worse, for the tin can or the spoon on metal pan or some other ungodly instrument...banging outside your tent.

Personally, I prefer to set my alarm for about 30 minutes before we're supposed to wake up – just to give me a moment to collect my thoughts before packing up and moving on and getting into the general craziness of mornings.

However...that's an awfully long lead-in to telling you about a very sweet wake up call we had this morning in Canton, OK...and it was surprisingly witty repertoire for 6am. It mainly took place between Sacred Runner Kid Valence and Walker Kathleen Perillat. I'll write it in play form for you.

Scene: Dark. A dozen tents tightly packed outside of a meeting hall. The yelled call of “Breakfast!! Wake-Up!! had already been shouted no real movement from the campers. The spoon on pan method was then used, with shouting accompanying the banging. Also, to not much use.
(please note that this morning was a little unusual as it wasn't a rest day, but we were staying in the same the same rush to get tents down and packed wasn't an issue and bought folks some extra time)

Enter Kid Valance and his gentle Kentucky voice, full of good humor and general sweetness.

Kid: Breakfast is ready! We've got oatmeal, cereal coffee!!
Kathleen (from inside her tent): Can I have mine in my tent?
Kid: Sure, what'll you have!
Kathleen: Coffee...with cream!
Kid: And what kind of flower would you like in your vase?
Kathleen: A Gerber daisy...a light shade of pink please!
(general laughter and other requests from neighboring tents)
Eggs over easy!
Kid: I gotta tell ya, the caviar is almost finished so you might want to get in here quick.
Kathleen: Can I have a croissant lightly toasted with butter and jam?
French Toast!
Kid: Well, you know it seems I have a captive audience here. Think I'll go get my guitar!
(more laughter)
Kathleen: It'll be better than someone banging a can!
In amazingly few seconds the sound of a strumming guitar can be heard
Kid (playing): You know I just learned this one, it's an old Rolling Stones tune called Memory Hotel....hope you like it.
Patrick from his tent: Coffee!
Kid starts singing one of two tunes he plays for us.

It was definitely the most fun I've had waking up in camp in a long time.

So...on with the day,.
I have to tell you guys that I hadn't walked in a couple of days due to a fun little bout of the stomach jumpies. I won't go into it; it wasn't fun and we'll leave it at that. We're here in Canton for a few days, and were set to do our first of a series of directional walks – to keep in shape and to get miles in, we were going to walk 15 miles to the north today, 15 mile to the south tomorrow...etc.

We started out and all was good...Oklahoma is gorgeous this time of year. Bright green rolling hills, red-winged blackbirds singing in the marshes...out in the pastures cows are grazing and egrets are standing alongside them. I kind of thought I would see an egret on a cow...but then I remembered that wasn't the combination...I think it's actually some kind of smaller bird on top of Africa.. I thought it would've been cool to see anyway and I tried to will it to happen, but then our drums scared all the egrets away so that chance was gone.
And there were horses too...prancing around at our drums and flags...a warm gentle breeze in the was all so...picturesque.
And then Kathleen drove up – the coffee requester from this morning.

Here's another thing – our Japanese contingent is down to 5 right now – from over 35 at the beginning of the Walk. Darned Visas have been running out and we've been losing them at a rapid rate over the last couple of weeks. Today we are losing Shun..whose been with us since San Francisco – Shun has either walked or ran every day of this trip and is one of those guys who always puts a smile on your face. I have never seen him angry or attitudinal in anyway, so we will miss him greatly. He says he will be coming back to join us in June...I look forward to seeing him again.

Anyway, Kathleen was coming to take him into Elk City to catch a bus out to L.A. where he's flying out of. She also came to tell us that the bus, the one that would be picking up the walkers at the end of the day, and which had our lunch on it...was in the middle of repairs and would not be joining us today. Flagrant violation of plans.

So I ended up hopping into the truck with her to go back and pick up the maroon van and our lunches and come back to do support for the walkers. We were figuring that between the RV and the van, we should have enough seats to get everyone back. For me, I wasn't planning to walk the whole day anyway having just gotten over a 3 day bout of intestinal nastiness that I won't describe any further.

So...I did that..packed up the lunches into the maroon van. Hugged Shun goodbye..and headed back to meet up with the walkers where I caught them at their third break, 2 miles from lunch. After the break, Jun-san suggested that I drive the van up to the lunch stop walk back to meet the walkers. She hates to see people just sitting around. So, I did that.

What an odd feeling to be walking alone! It was only for a mile, but it was still a weird feeling. The cool part was that it was so quiet out on that country road that I could hear the drums in the distance, but couldn't see the was comforting really, and soon enough I saw lead flagger Ben pop over the hill, where I jogged up to greet him and walk that same mile back to lunch.

During lunch we were talking about the nice little wake up song we had. Kid was there and he was laughing about it. Jen said, “It sure beats being yelled at!”

Kid said, “hey that's great, I could be known as 'Kid Valence' – better than being yelled at.”

We were also visited by a couple on a motorcycle that stopped by to see what was up, and by three people in a truck. The truck's driver, a Cheyenne named Dave talked with Kid and I for quite awhile. He was curious about where our feathers came from on the AIM Staff, and he talked a lot about appreciating people taking time out of their lives to do something for the right reason. “It's good to see people taking a stand for what they believe in.” He promised us he's come by the community center later to talk more with the walkers. Love those kinds of visits.

We get a lot of folks stopping on the side of the road to ask us questions, what we're up to..who we are. I like it. One guy, a fuel truck driver stopped by just to see what we were doing. I could hear him telling his dispatcher, “Yeah, I'm just gonna check this out and I'll let you know what's going on.” Seems we were quite the scene here in Canton, OK.

He was really nice, his name was Donald – I told him what we were doing, “Well, alright, that's great,” he said.

Afterwards Jun-san said, “you should ask him to come back...bring gas.”

Jun-san – of course, why didn't I think of that? 'Cause I'm not a Buddhist nun, that's why.

Far from it.

So...that was pretty much our day. We did 15 northernly miles. We are going to do a sunrise walk tomorrow – leaving camp at 4:30am and walking just 12 miles to the south. Jun-san says she will make “continental breakfast” for everyone who gets up and finishes the miles.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I want my two hundred dollars!!

If ever there was a time for the movie Paper Moon - tonight was the night. I can't believe I left this movie off my top films list when we were talking about them out at Ghost Ranch a couple weeks ago.

I first saw this movie in the theatre when it came out back in 1973. I was only 7, so I missed much of the bawdier humor, but I've seen it countless times since...and I get most of it now..I think. I still don't quite get that money change con they do...I would've got stuck with that but good.

Anyway, it was the perfect comfort movie for my mood -- here are some of my favorite quotes from the film...and hey...Big G? Wish you were here to watch it with me.

her. name. aint. precious.

we just gotta keep on veering....

i tried to push her out of a window once in Little Rock

want I should chew it for you?

think I'll go upstairs and polish my shoes


So. So. So Sorry. I had to. If for no other reason than to put a smile on my own restless, irritable and discontent mug.

My stomach was the first thing to feel restless and started back in Amarillo. I don't think it had anything to do with fact, after a couple of days I honestly couldn't tell you what it has to do with. We went from the stomach to fatigue to just feeling gross anytime I moved around at all.

So...I stopped moving.

Luckily we had a 100 mile drive from Pampa, Texas to the town of Hammon, Oklahoma this morning. Kathleen was pulling a trailer for the camp, so I hopped in and pretty much didn't move until I made it here to this Motel 6 in Elk City, OK.

I did get out of the truck once to nuke some tea water in the rec center where the walkers were staying and promptly stepped onto a tack in my bare feet. Which hurt.

Then I flopped onto the ground while Kathleen cleaned out the truck so she could let me have it for the night.

Then I arrived here and don't plan on leaving 'til check out time. Sure wish there was some XWP on the tube. But...alas...

I was talking to Carrie on the phone (who will be arriving here in Elk City tomorrow after spending a few days with P.J. back in Amarillo) and was trying to explain what was going on. I don't get sick very often...and it rarely lasts very long, so I usually have to come around to some sort of spiritual bereftness.

It's okay - it'll pass, it always does at some point. I'm glad to be aaway from the group tonight...20 miles or so down the road. I'll return tomorrow and hopefully be in better stead.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Amarillo - Home of the 72-ounce Steak Eating Challenge

Yeah, I know what you're thinking and no...I didn't try to eat 5 pounds of steak. I thought about it for a second, they give ya the meal for free if you can eat it in an hour. I asked Kathleen if she thought I could do it and she said, "well, you shouldn't even try."


I'm gonna walk down to the Big Texan restaurant though just to see pictures of people that did's just right down the street.

No, this picture was taken this's rest day here in Amarillo, and it was really pretty restful. We got to sleep in as late as wanted..I actually got up pretty early and then crashed out again. Everybody seemed wasted..I was camping outside and went into the museum and people were still crashed out well after 8:00am...super rare,

Didn't do too much today. Mostly we waited around for Carrie to show up...which she finally did around 1:30. Yay!!! Oh, soooo good to have her back - here's a little pic of the three of us...

She'll be walking with us tomorrow, which I'm so happy about - heading on to Pampas, Texas - don't know where that is -- don't know how many miles that is...don't know nothing.

Did some laundry and now I'm finishing up my writing for the evening and gonna chill some more.

Wanted to say to the Perillat family that I am so glad to hear that Danny's surgery went well, he was in our prayers all day and we will continue to send prayers and well wishes for a speedy recovery.

Lots of love everyone!

Here's a couple of walk day blogs for ya..

Dumas to Amarillo

There are two things that happened once we crossed over the Texas, well, three if you count the accent differential. First, there was the time change which threw some watch wearers for a loop. Those of us who have cell phones were clued in automatically, but there are a few who wear watches...and if you were on the shuttle bus, you wouldn't have necessarily noticed the sign that said we were now in Central Standard Time.

So at 4:30 in the morning when Larry started banging his tin cup to wake people up I could hear poor Jun Anjusan (who definitely doesn't have a cell phone) say, “Larry it's 3:30am” -- so so sorry...but it was 4:30. It was a little rough on folks, we were all so wired and up later than we should've been, just because 10:00pm felt like 9:00 to us. So..we got it going though and made it to circle and out the door by 7:30.

The second thing that changed for us in Texas was the weather. We've been waking up to frosty, finger freezing cold mornings for over two months now...what a lovely shock to be able to wake up and not have your hands seize up while you're trying to take down your tent.
Many of us walked out the gate in shirt sleeves and shorts...ready for an 18 mile day.

The weather was a trip all day. We started out in dense fog and once we got onto the highway, Larry came back to make sure we had three flaggers stretched well out in front of us to warn traffic that we were on the road.

By our second rest stop the fog lifted a little bit and the wind started up. And then there were dark clouds and then came the lightening and the ripping thunder. It caused one of our Japanese, Ai, to run up and declare the weather was “very scary.”

Thankfully, that didn't last too long and by lunch things mellowed out, other than the harrowing wind...which has been such a constant for us that it wasn't even that big of an issue. However, at our final rest stop we started noticing these pellet sized rain drops and then as we were starting out on our final three miles, the sky opened up and just dumped on us. With the harrowing wind. We were all being whipped around, wetly. Our flag bearers nearly doubled over trying to hold on to their poles. Jun-san's garbage bag thin blue poncho was all over the place (it's a great poncho – it's got duct tape all over it, she's such a Buddhist), causing Maggie, who was drumming behind me to say, “do you think that thing comes with a money back guarantee?”

Everyone was just drenched..and then, about a mile from our finish point, it just stopped. The sun came out and, with the wind (which never, ever seems to stop in this part of the world), we all got kind of blow dried out.

So we finished up, happy to be done, happy to have tackled such an intense weather day and definitely happy to see this big 'ol fancy tour bus pull up to shuttle us the 28 miles or so to our next camp site. The director of the Indian Museum that was putting us up drove the bus himself and the walkers thanked him by promptly, almost in unison, falling comfortably asleep for the ride.

Clayton Lake State Park to Dumas, TX

Kitchen Crew and Trailer Driving

It's been mentioned before how out kitchen crews work, but I'll spell it out briefly for those new to the site. All Walkers are assigned to a crew – usually 5-8 people in a crew. Right now, your duty begin after lunch and continues until lunch is served the following day.
I think (of course) we have a great kitchen crew. Myself, Kathleen, Carrie, Stanley, Ula, Bonita and Yanicut. Can't go wrong really.

Cooking dinner for 70-100 people seems kind of daunting, but it really is just a matter of creativity and working together to make it happen. Last night we had a great time figuring out the meal plan and making it happen. We also had a wonderful donation of Shepherd's Pie by Wilda – which people went nuts over. We also found a couple industrial size cans of beans which we cooked with green chiles. We had some fresh carrots and apples, so we made up a grated carrot and apple salad, adding some canned pears and raisins. What else, we had some grated cheese, Bonita chopped up tomatoes and we had some leftover purple cabbage from lunch. We had a great time making dinner .. there was much laughter and singing – later as we offered a prayer for the meal, Henry reminded us that food prepared with laughter and love should be eaten with the same intention.

Breakfast can be a little tougher, just 'cause we need to be in the kitchen by 4-4:30 am. The most important thing about breakfast is coffee ... of course. We were totally on it, and then a little mishap took place which set us back. As we were pouring the water into the grounds (wait...let me explain about how we make coffee at camp. Since we don't have a percolator or other fancy coffee device...we use a pillowcase as a filter, putting the coffee into that. We then take that and put it into a 5 gallon cambro, which we then pour boiling water over.) So..anyway, as we poured this scalding water into the cambro, filled it up and then too late noticed that someone had left the valve open on the pouring spout, 'causing the water to leak out...essentially ruining our coffee. So, that's how the day ended up being fine, we made a quick new cambro was a little weak, but it was warm and somewhat caffeinated so it worked.

After cleaning up camp, we took the truck with trailer attached, and headed into town to the hardware store to buy some bolts for the trailer and some screws for something they wanted to attach onto the RV – then we met the walkers down the road to serve up lunch.

Afterwards we headed into Dumas, Texas with the trailer to the next camp. It's sometimes fun to jump ahead and see the site and get it ready for when the walkers arrive. This essentially means unloading all of the gear off the trailers and lining it up for the walkers to go through when they get back. Then..we sit back and wait. We got to talk to the runners who had already finished their miles for the day. On our drive to Dumas we noticed how windy it was along this four lane highway .. it seemed like it would have been kind of a gnarly was really gusty and the semis were blazing down the road at 70 miles an hour; but Kid said the run was actually pretty nice. Other runners of the day were Ben, Aiko, Jutta and Shun, who also all seemed to enjoy their 5 or 10 mile stretches. Have I mentioned how much we love our runners?

The walkers arrived to a lovely camp, the weather was balmy and we had a fabulous meal served up by the Japanese kitchen crew. A nice day, overall.

Dumas, Texas

After Kathleen and I finished playing hooky for the morning (kind of, not really) -- after tea and burritos and computer time, etc...we found the walkers and did our lunch duty (well, Kathleen did, I helped P.J. put bolts onto the trailer). And then...we headed across the border and into Texas.

People seem to have this shivering aversion to Texas...I have to say people so far have been nothing but friendly to us. We had a pretty darned good BBQ dinner and then walked around the neighborhoods for awhile, trying to move the dinner around a little bit.

I'm sure there are many good things that have come out of Texas...I know three of my favorite celebrity types came out of here: Molly Ivins, the late, great political writer and humorist.

Lyle Lovett

and, of course...Renee O'Connor.

Yay for Texas for them. Anyone else y'all can think of?

Anyway, we made our way back to camp...watched a stunning sunset atop the passing railroad cars and fell asleep in a city park next to the thruway. It was really pretty okay.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Heading into Texas

Good Morning All -

Kathleen and I are sitting outside the Clayton Chamber of Commerce. For this tiny 1800 person town, the Chamber of Commerce offers a 24 hour WIFI hotspot outside the door - signs advertising that fact all the way through town, so we had to come check it out. They weren't foolin' so here's a little hello to y'all before we head on out.

We'll be in Dumas, Texas tonight. Amarillo tomorrow and we'll be scooting into Oklahoma in a few days.

I'm tired this morning. Went to bed too late last night and had to be up at 3:00 this morning so I could make my kitchen shift. Kathleen and I are still on kitchen crew and will be serving lunch to the walkers in about an hour or so. We are also driving a trailer, which needed some bolts, so we came into town to the hardware store to pick that up. Kathleen made a couple of phone calls. I, surprisingly fell asleep .. even after 3 cups of tea. So...sleepy. I think after we serve lunch we will head out to the next camp, which is about 80 miles away..on the way we can check on our runners who are out there on the road covering all those miles.

One other thing that Clayton has to offer, other than WIFI - super sweet park rangers and generally nice people, is a pretty decent coffee shop. And they were also serving up made to order breakfast burritos.Never seen that in an espresso joint before...and they were So good. Maybe that's why I fell asleep....hmmmmmmm.

Here's a picture from last night, this is P.J. on the left and Sunshine on the right, doing a little jamming during the was a nice moment. I like hearing both of them play together, P.J. gets a nice beat going on the the hand drum and Sunshine has a beautiful voice and plays lovely, loving Sunshiney kind of music. What a nice, nice young man he is. We are blessed to have him with us. And it was nice to see P.J. relax and enjoy the music moment...probably because he's excited that his wife is coming home tomorrow after being gone for about three weeks...yep, our dear, dear friend Carrie (and P.J.'s partner) is coming home tomorrow!!!! So exciting, so looking forward to having our sweet friend back. We've missed her tremendously -- she flies in tomorrow...but it's likely won't see her until Thursday as I'm sure her husband would like a little time with her before she lands back into our fray.

Equally exciting news is that I found out a couple of days ago that I get to represent the Walk at a benefit concert happening in L.A. on May 10th. Why is this so exciting? 'Cause the Indigo Girls are playing this concert. I think gwen told me about that awhile ago and I've been kind of biding my time to ask if I could go. Luckily Tashina was with us for a couple of days and Kathleen pushed me to just ask her in person. So...I did, and she said yes and so there you go. So, Joe...if you are reading this, I mentioned you as well, so try to make that happen so we can be there together aye?

So, we'll be in Tulsa right before the show, I'll be flying out of there for a night or two and then heading back. I don't know what being a rep means at this point..but I'll be available to do whatever. Pretty excited 'bout that.

Okay...we need to get moving so I'm gonna go here. Love you all - sure I'll have some access to the Internet in Amarillo - supposedly there is a lot happening there for us... we shall see. I can't believe it's nearing the end of April already.

Okey doke -- talk to ya later. Keep those comments and emails coming.You can't believe how much joy I get from a little personal email or comment. Brings me home for a second and that's not a bad thing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Park Rangers Mark and Joe save the day!

Last night when we were enjoying afternoon tea, I noticed the right front tire of Kathleen's truck was huge surprise, its had a slow leak and we've been trying to get it fixed for a couple of days.
"Tire's low," I said.
"Yeah, we need to deal with that tomorrow," she said.

'Tomorrow' was a rest day, and we were near enough to a town..on a Monday, so we could likely deal with that tire, and the rear right slow leaker tire as well.
Back to tea and cookies...and cracker jacks.

Later that evening....

"Oh Nikki...guess what?" She says, in her British accent."
"Yes, what is it?" I answer, also Britishly.
"Tire's flat."
"Oh my," I say..."so it is."

"Well," I say, "did you guys ever get that spare filled up with air?"
She looks at me...
"Well, we did...kind of?"

I climb under the truck to check it out.

"Oh Kathleen," I say, from my spot underneath the truck..."Spares gone."
"Yep, gone."

You know, back at Canyon de Chelly P.J. sauntered by the back of the truck and nonchalantly let me know that the spare was dangling from underneath the truck. So it was. We got it back into place and Kathleen and Larry filled the spare up so it would wedge better. Somehow the bracket that holds it in place disappeared, hence, the dangling tire scenario; we thought we had taken care of it.

And apparently, somewhere between here and there, it just fell off.

So, there we were. Flat. No spare. 12 miles from town.

The following morning we got up, P.J. came and helped us take the spare off and we started the process of finding ride into town. Couldn't take the blue van...Wounded was sleeping in it (as opposed to under the bridge); Couldn't take the little blue truck 'cause Henry was sleeping and we couldn't ask him for it. Goody wouldn't take us. Tony and Holly were already gone. Couldn't take the school bus. The R.V. wasn't available because we would've had to wait for everyone to get their shit together for laundry..and on and on and on.

So, Kathleen just said."Fine, I'm walking it into town."

And she grabs it and after we try to carry this thing, we just start rolling it....uphill.
P.J.'s following behind us, going, " guys..wait..would you wait?"

Nah...we were done waiting.

We get it up to the ranger station and she goes inside to ask the guys for a ride into town. They legally couldn't drive us in..but they did have this cool maintenance shop which the head ranger directed Mark and Joe towards to help us out.

And help us they did. God they were great.

Mark, a banker for 25 years who just started his ranger career 2 months ago was sweet as could be; and Joe, former police officer, also new on the job...knew all there was to know about fixing flat tires. So they got the tire on the thingamajig; flattened it, patched it, aired it up and we were on our way.

It was really very cool.

We made them a plate of biscotti, peanut butter cups, ginger snaps and truffles. They let us know that we should drive up and put air in that right rear tire before we headed out. Which we did...cruised into town, got a new tire...and we'll be looking to get a spare when we reach Amarillo on Wednesday.

Good times...good times.

Raton to Clayton State Park, NM

We had the Rocky Mountains at our backs as we made our way out of Raton this morning. We're in that weird little section of the country where we are right near the borders of Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.

It was a cool, sunny morning with only a slight breeze picking up as we headed out of was Sunday morning so there wasn't much happening as we passed the gas stations and fast food joints.

After about a mile and a half we left Raton and saw nothing but miles of pretty flat road, snaking its way towards the Texas border, a few hills breaking up the landscape.

I think it was mile 2 point something that the wind just...started. With a vengeance. I had brought my straw sun hat out of retirement due to the lack of wind, and had to quickly tuck it into my bag as fierce winds were whipping everything into a beautiful frenzy...and that was pretty much the tone for the next 14 miles.

Hmmm... other than the wind, what happened today? Oh..well I learned a cool trick about the little Japanese taikos that I get to frequently use. I've been noticing lately that when I drum, the pitch on the drum is piercingly high. Not so nice a sound when you have to listen to it for 7 hours a day. But this morning, when Jun Anjusan handed me a drum she said, “here, pour water..make better sound.” And she rubbed a little water on the skin and sure enough the tone dropped to a nice warm bass. Because we are in a desert area, it's really affecting the drums. Jun-san said this isn't an issue in Japan where the air stays so moist. So, I spent my breaks doing a little moistening to try to keep the pitch down.

We also got to have Tashina Banks-Moore, her daughter Sierra and friend and singer Star join us on the walk today. Tashina works hard coordinating the Walk on the National level, and so when we get to see her it's a treat. But because she works so hard, she doesn't get a chance to walk with it was wonderful to have her with us today.

At lunch a New Mexico Highway Patrol officer pulled over and Tashina went over to talk to him. Apparently someone called in a 9-1-1 because they were seeing people crossing over the highway. Tashina explained that this was our lunch stop and walkers were heading across the highway to use the bathroom in the R.V. We told him we would knock it off.

Officer Patty then noticed the license plate “LAKOTA” on the car in front of him and asked who was Lakota here. “I am,” said Tashina, "that's my car."

“Well, let me tell you that last year as part of my National Guard service, we went into the Black Hills and cut lumber for the tribe,” he went on to say, “you know I appreciate what you're doing, my Kingdom was taken over in 1888...I'm from Hawaii.”

He also let us know that he liked that we were using so many flaggers and wished us well and went on his way, waving.

Here's a fun picture of Jun Anjusan getting from stretching help from Sammy on our last break. That's Sunshine in the foreground there.

On the way home I got to ride in the van with Wounded driving and Jun Anjusan in the front passenger seat, characters both. While they are both respected elders and spiritual leaders, they are also pretty me. I've mentioned some of Jun-san's antics before.. I don't know Wounded quite as well, but here's a little exchange between the two of them (note that they have known each other for 30 years); this after Jun-san just started throwing water at people in the van and Wounded saying, “Jun-san Foot! Ho Mitakuye Oyasin!!”

I'll give you that this might have just been really funny to Jen and me, who were in the van..part of it has to do with Wounded's voice -- which is kind of a Yosemite Sam kind of to Jun-san's soft, broken English sound. I don't know, I'm writing this for Carrie really, who I think would appreciate it.

Jun-san: “Wounded..I tell Dennis I clean his van.”

Wounded: “Okay”

Jun-san: “Where you sleep tonight. You sleep in van?”

Wounded: “Maybe...maybe I'll set-up my tent. Maybe I'll sleep outside.”

Beat. Beat. Beat.

Jun-san: “Maybe you sleep under bridge.”

Wounded: “Well I'll be sure to let you know Jun-san.”

Cimarron to Raton - Scouting

You know, every morning that we walk we either walk straight out of the facility we are staying at or we get shuttled to a destination and begin our walking day from there. As a walker, it's pretty easy for me to just follow the staffs and stop when our flagger stops us for breaks.

But this isn't just random decision making – our walking and running routes are planned out a day in advance, streets and highways are monitored for any safety concerns and our breaks are planned out in 3-4 mile increments and marked so our lead flagger can pay attention to traffic and not worry about where to pull us over for rest stops.

This all takes a lot of work, and our Route Coordinator, Larry Bringinggood does a great job of planning everything out. Not only does he go ahead and map out the walking route, he also heads to the next town or the next facility to check out where we'll be staying. He meets our local hosts, finds out whether or not food will be available for us, if there are showers available, if camping is allowed, if we'll be staying inside .and what time we need to pack up and leave by in the morning.

Then he heads to camp and reports to the group. He doesn't sleep a lot – and he doesn't get to walk with us very often. Larry is a staff carrier and has participated in Sacred Run events, so I know sometimes he misses being out on the road with us. But he also enjoys scouting ahead as I got to witness first hand by taking a day off of walking and getting to ride with him ahead and scouting out the Raton route.

It was a nice change of pace for me; I missed hanging out with the walkers...but it was cool to do something different.

We set out from Cimarron by 7:30 this morning and caravaned with our trailers to Raton High School. When we got to the facility we were met by Theresa, our local host who let us know where the kitchen was, where the bathrooms and showers were and told us we could set up tents outside if we wanted to. (I am always happy when I get to sleep outside!!)

Then we grabbed our flagging tape and set our odometer at 0.0 at the stop sign right outside of the high school. We headed out 3.5 miles, pulled over and flagged the first rest stop for the walkers. 3.5 miles later we did the same thing. And then 3 miles later we staked out our lunch stop.

We did this again for 6 more miles. We noticed that at the 16 mile mark, the road was too hazardous for an official stop to our day. There was no place for shuttle vehicles to pull over and it was at the bottom of a small blind spot, just under a hill. But just about 3 tenths of a mile up the hill was a Historical Marker, and a parking lot...very cool. Perfect place to end the day. Plenty of room for vehicles, plenty of room to circle up and as a bonus...a beautiful view of the Rockies in the distance.

“Cool,” Larry said, hung the flags and we were done with that route for the day. Larry said they aren't always that easy to map, and after walking for a couple of months now I can believe that. These long stretches of flat highway must be a blessing after negotiating curvy mountain passes and city streets.

Had fun today, different kind of day. I've given a shout out to Larry before, wanted to do it again. And I know he gets help too from Rudy Preston who checks ahead on the Internet for any route problems and deals with the Highway Patrol and any permits we need.

So thank you EVERYONE, for making it so easy for us to just put on our shoes and walk.

Eagle's Nest to Cimarron

They don't make walking days any more beautiful than what we had today. After yesterday's snow we were treated to an absolutely gorgeous sunny walk along Hwy 64, through a canyon and alongside a creek. We don't walk by water very often so it's always a treat.

It was a shorter day for us too – only 15 miles today..and only about 1 of that was uphill, the rest was this easy, switchback downhill that cut through a pine forest...and that creek of course.

We got to a break and a photographer from the local press came over to talk to us. He let us know that this mountain pass was it for us. From here on East it will be flat, flat flat. Good news in one way..kindof a bummer in others. For the challenges the climbs bring us, the mountains are also an incredible source of beauty from which to draw our prayers and strength from. I'll miss them!

Had a nice lunch in front of a cliff wall called the Pallisades...amazing...I'm sure there will be photos up. Dennis was with us, as was Wounded and Henry..all walking with us at various points in the day and they all joined us for lunch which was lovely. There was much singing and general merriment .. I think someone even blew bubbles at some point.

Pretty beautiful, mellow day.

On the shuttle into camp, just a few miles...Sunshine and I discussed our favorite sugar cerals and both agreed that Cap'n Crunch is pretty supreme. We decided to treat ourselves to a box when we get to Amarillo.

One day in Taos

It was a rest day for us in Taos, so we took a slow morning and went and had breakfast at Michael's and then headed to a tree planted ceremony in the center of town. Did a little strolling and trying to find Kathleen's friend, Robert Mirabal's shop (which we did, but it was closed
Afterwards, the community of Taos Pueblo hosted a welcoming lunch for us. I can't post any pictures from that visit because I understand that if anyone took them off my website and then sold them, I could be fined major money.'ll have to wait until I get back. It's a pretty amazing place, the oldest continually habitated community in the country. The adobe house, some multi-storied, have been occupied for over 1000 years.

We then hopped in the truck and scouted out the walking route for the next day (I talk about that in the next blog) and headed out to the Rio Grande Gorge to have a picnic lunch. Unfortunately it was SUPER windy at the gorge and no place for a picnic...

so we headed back to the youth center where we were staying and barricaded ourselves in this little garage cubby to have a lovely meal.

We got caught though and had to come out. Whoops. I backed the truck up and nearly took Kathleen's right side mirror off in the process but no real damage was done. I'm glad she can laugh about these things.

Taos to Eagle's Nest, NM

This was one of those days....and I haven't had many of them. But I gotta tell you that when I woke up at 4:30 and heard the wind outside, looked out the window and saw sand and snow blowing around – went outside and felt that slap up against me I was like...oh man...18 miles in this? It was Arctic.

But after having a quick little whine I settled in to it.

We were talking as we were preparing for our day – getting our cold weather gear together – pumping ourselves up. After stomping around a bit someone usually mentions the Northern Route and how they dealt with cold constantly and how we've really had blessed weather throughout. Then someone mentioned prayer ... today will be a good day for prayer. Of course, any day is a good day to pray...but sometimes, when one is challenged – that is when the call for strength from your ancestors, your Creator, your Goddess...really can help get you through. And we've mentioned this before, but it's worth mentioning again...all the people..hundreds so far at least, that we have met and shook hands with and ate meals with, prayed with...whenever we get tired we look to those faces too. All the people who have greeted us, asked us to walk for them...take up their cause, hear their words, they help push us a little further along, stand taller and remember why we are walking.

So we set out...and you know, it actually was a very pleasant walking day. The snow was kind of was dry, not to sticky...light flurries. It wasn't very cold, even when we stopped for breaks. And the kicker was...the wind stayed mellow for us.

And by lunch time? Sunny skies.

So it wasn't the weather that ailed us after all on this day. But, there were those last 5 miles of hills that worked some folks over, including myself. I was still chugging along at a good stride at mile 16 – but those last 2 plus were a workout. We took our last break a mile and a half before the end and everyone..(except for maybe Jun-san) groaned as we saw this mile long climb we were about to do.

Like I said, it's one of those times when you have to just kick it into gear, your lowest if you have to and just push it on through.

So, we put on our packs, took some swigs of water, some bites of whatever we had and tackled our last mile (mile 18) uphill. It was a beautiful thing.

At the closing circle, Wounded Knee said he was proud of our walking day – and that a couple had pulled over to the side of the road, asking if there was anything we needed. Wounded mentioned that Patrick hadn't had any coffee yet today – and so they went back to their town of Questa (where we were heading through) and the Fire Chief turned over the station house to us for a bit to feed us juice, water, chips and hot dogs!!! Thank you town of Questa!
We were all pretty wiped, but in good spirits as we climbed aboard the Bus and headed towards Eagles Crest...about 40 miles away. Here's Kid Valance to talk about how his portion of the run went for him.

“My start was just before the village of Red River and I got to run along their main street. Then the route cut uphill for four solid miles – topped out at Bobcat Pass. 9,820 feet. Then it was fast downhill for my next 10 miles which was highlighted by a herd of at least 300 elk crossing the road in front of me. It went from blowing flurries to bright sunshine off and on., It was a cool run, a good run a very powerful run.

Thanks Kid and all the runners for crossing that pass. We took the bus up it and gave you all a shout out – I gotta probably went faster than the bus!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

You can thank my aunt Rebecca for this

Rebecca did something for all of us walkers that no one else has had the time or energy for .... she went through our route map and figured out General Delivery Mailing addresses along the way. Yeah! So, I will post them here...but...always check with your walker ; Kathleen or Jen or whoever it make sure that we are actually still going through that town, because the route can (and has) changed at a moments notice. ya go:

Make sure to address mail to: GENERAL DELIVERY - LONGEST WALK/Person's Name

Tues, April 29th -- 202 West Main Street, Canton Oklahoma (the zip fell off of this originally - I have the update and will post it here momentarily)

Thurs-Fri May 8th and 9th: 805 2nd Street, Warner, Oklahoma 74469-9800

Thurs May 22nd -- 701 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70140

Sun-Mo June 8th-9th -- 90 Plaza Lane, Oxford, Alabama 36203-2440

Sun-Thurs June 15-19th -- 33 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina 28802

Mon-Wed June 22-23rd -- 1000 Spring Garden St., Greensboro, North Carolina 27412-0001

Sun-Mon June 29th-30th -- 414 North 25th Street, Richmond, Virginia 23223-9998

Sun-Mon July 6th-7th -- 3046 Delaplane Grade Road, Delaplane, Virginia 20144-9998

Fri-Wed July 11th-16th -- 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 20002-9997

Thanks again Rebecca for figuring that out and getting it to all of us.

I'll try to post some other blogs soon -- have a few new pictures from Taos -- I have internet access at the moment, but I need to eat dinner and do laundry -- so we'll see!!

Much love to you all!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Leaving Santa Fe -- on our way to Taos

Have to admit to feeling weary today - yesterday was exhausting, but successful in it's way. Kathleen and I are leaving the warm, comforting home of Sarah and Annie this morning and after running TWO errands...I think...we will be heading out to join the walkers as they make their way to Taos Pueblo. We'll be there for two nights.

By the way .. Hi Chaela!!!! It was nice to see your comment when I opened up the blog - -I love it when people post comments - - love you much, I was thinking of you yesterday when we visited a home with a big furry cat living there.

Anyway, here's some photos for you well as one for the Perillat's (Hi Theresa and Lizzie and all the other clan)

Here is Delkon's friend attacking me with kisses...

Here are Johnny and Kathleen at Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon oh so many moons ago...

And here is a shot of walkers as we made our way into the Navajo Nation...which also feels like forever ago, but I think it was two weeks.

And I do have mailing addresses -- but they are out in the truck and I don't want to run out there at the moment. Tomorrow is a Rest Day in Taos, so I hope to find a coffee shop somewhere I can post all of that.

Got an email from Sonja that she was driving my truck around Humboldt - made me wistful that I wasn't in it and at the same time happy that it was being loved and in a beautiful place.

Anyhoo...feeling homesick this morning. Got a text message from Sam that she was eating sourdough bread and thinking of me. Mmmm...sourdough. From New Seasons I hope, they make a pretty decent sourdough. I was in a store called Marketplace or something like that yesterday and missing Gwen. Miss trying to track her down at New Seasons and follow her around the store. I drank a Kombucha in her honor.

Anyway, Kathleen's out of the shower which means we are starting to gear up to go. We have to go to Trader Joe's and the post office and I'm pretty sure that's it for today. In all honesty, I could stay here for a week. It was so nice to sleep inside, in a house. We ate pizza for breakfast. That was lovely as well.

Okay, I'm having a hard time signing off today. Miss you all, love you all and I'll talk again with you soon.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Whirlwind Santa Fe

I'm in Santa Fe .. again, but it's been kind of a Tasmanian devil of an experience.

Let me back up a little bit.

Last night, Sunday the 13th – we had a rest day – it was actually a pretty nice rest day. Kathleen, Jutta, Larry and I went to Ojo Caliente – an amazingly beautiful hot springs spa place up in the mountains. We soaked in mineral springs – HOT BATHS – they even had a mud pool which was super fun. Like I mentioned in my brief little post, I gave myself a treat of an hour long massage.

And that's where the rest day ended.

Afterwards we went to do the laundry ritual. But more than that, while our clothes were enjoying their own version of a hot tub, Kathleen and I did our bi-monthly ritual of “Cleaning Out The Truck.” I'll take a picture at some point, but you have to understand that Kathleen did a road trip in this truck and so was living in it since last fall. It's crowded in there in the best of situations. Add the strain of this walk and you have boxes and bags of additional needful items (the medicines box, the food boxes and bags, the tote full of cups, plates and bowls). Then you have the random shit that Kathleen is generous enough to ferry for us. My spare pair of boots, Larry's stick, a bag of somebody else's clothes and bathroom stuff. There was even a didgeridoo and a guitar in there that didn't belong to her. gets full, and I can tell when it's time to clean it out because Kathleen will at some point open up the back and just groan.

The next day she opens up the back and climbs in there and usually hits her head on the top of the shell climbing over something and expresses a few choice phrases. An item usually flys out the back at this point, unceremoniously thudding onto the pavement.

The next day she opens up the back and all you hear is this low, strained cry of, “oh,'s chaos.”

It's time to clean.

It took us an hour and a half.

And when we were done it had some modicum of order. At least now we know where the flashlight is. For now.

So after laundry and the truck rituals, we decided to go out to dinner with her friend Sarah who was visiting up from Santa Fe. We went to this super yummy restaurant in Espanola called El Paragua. One of the things I know about New Mexico other than its exquisite beauty, is that the food here rocks. We happily ate steak tacos and sopapillas and enjoyed each other's company.

And on the way home, the truck, the White Pearl, the vehicle we so lovingly cleaned, chugged to a stop...and died.

Luckily it started up again and begrudgingly drove the last mile of road to reach our camp site.

In the morning, the whirlwind began.

Called Triple A – we didn't have the exact address of the place we were staying. No one knew it, Kathleen's on the phone with AAA saying things like,
it's in this big blue building behind the casino on the highway – no I don't know which highway – can someone find out what highway that is!”

They finally got it, and sent us Vic the tow-truck guy. Vic was awesome and kind and I wish I knew the name of his towing company so I could give him a shout out officially.

As sad as it was that the truck died – what cosmic beauty it is that it died half an hour from Santa Fe where she lived for 12 years, has many lovely friends and a mechanic that she trusts.

We got to town, dropped the truck off – her friend Jo came and picked us up and then we did the following things:

1)picked up stove fuel and a new tent
2)Ate wonderful, wonderful Indian Food (they had organic goat meat)
3)Went to Verizon to deal with Kathleen's phone
4)Bought an adapter at Best Buy
5)Went to A.T.T. to deal with my phone
6)Bought Coffee
7)Went to Kinkos to print pictures for one of the Buddhist monks and make copies of mailing sites for the Walkers that was emailed to me
8)Went to a Health Food Store to stock up on stuff
9)Went to Border's to try to find Dennis' book
10) Got to her friend Sarah's house and collapsed

It took 6 hours.

And at this moment, the truck is done – thanks Gabe at Auto Angel! - we are on our way to pick it up and go to her other friend Sarah K's house (and Annie's) to finish our night. Which for me includes a shower, posting this blog and checking my email and getting my head ready to cruise out tomorrow morning and meet up with the walkers as they make their way from Pilar to Taos Pueblo. Can't wait to get to Taos.

Whirlwind Santa Fe.

Blessed, blessed day.

Here she is repacking the White Pearl with all of our errands stuff after getting it out of the shop.

Here's a Happy Kathleen with a happy new truck, Tucker and her lovely friend Sarah M.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

quick howdy

Just wanted to send a quick hello to all of you -- I am enjoying a super decadent rest day here at Ojo Caliente Hot Springs. I even sprang for a massage. Heavenly.
We are on our way to Taos in the next couple of I'll try to get some new posts and pics up for you soon. Until then, know that I love and miss you guys!
Oh, I'm getting some info on where to send mail - should know in the next couple of days and I'll post that here too.
Big hug to everyone!

Happy Birthday Dennis

I wanted to share a Dennis story with you in honor of his 70-somethinth birthday. I'm not sure how old he is because the number changes pretty frequently. 75 some say, 77...who knows. He's in his seventies, we know that. And he'll still be in his seventies after his birthday this Saturday, April 12th (also Amy Ray's birthday I believe).

When we were at the Desert Rock protest site he told us this story, and I will share it with you to the best of my ability.

“I spent some time in prison, for crimes against the State of South Dakota. And while I was in prison, I would be sitting in my cell – and there was one guard who would always walk by my cell and harass me. He would walk by and use his nightstick and run it across the bars of my cell. He wouldn't do this to any other prisoner, but as soon as he got to my cell, he would take that stick and rattle the bars as he walked by, and then he would stop before he got to the next prisoner.

This went on and I decided to fight back. I would watch out my cell for him to come through. And when he was close to me, I started singing. I would sit on my bunk, and sing the AIM song. And when he finished with striking the bars of my cell and moved on; I would stop singing.

This continued for a month...three months; and finally one day, as he was running his stick along the bars of my cell and I was singing the AIM song, he stopped.

“Banks,” he asked me, “Why do you keep singing. Why are you always singing that song?”

“Because,” I said, “It puts me at ease. It puts me at peace.”

“How can you be at ease, how can you be at peace?” he said. “You're in prison. You are in that cell. I see you in here every day. I get to leave this place. I get to get in my car, and go home, have a nice meal, watch some T.V., talk to my wife. And when I come back to work, you are still here. How can you be at ease with that?”

You know, Jun-san was with me at that prison in South Dakota. She walked across the state and sat outside the prison walls. I could hear her out there. It was winter in South Dakota – bitterly cold. But there she was, drumming and chanting..namu myoho renge kyo. And that put me at ease, and strengthened me. At one point, they invited her to come inside the walls of the prison, and do her prayers from there.

I was released from prison, and about a year later I got a letter from the Warden of the prison, telling me about this and that. And at the end of the letter he told me about this guard, the guard that would rattle the bars to my cell. He told me that this guard hd resigned from his job; and when the warden asked why he said,

“I want to find peace...the kind Dennis Banks has.”

Happy Birthday you old rabble rouser!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pics from New Mexico

Here's some fun pictures from Chaco Rio. We do get to go to some beautiful places.

Here's Wade and Kid playing some blues early one morning.

Here is a picture of Kathleen's new birthday boots – aren't they lovely? This picture is pretty much for the Perrilat's out there – Hi Mom! Kathleen says she loves you!

Here is me in the desert. That's my new hat – yeehaw, eh? Remember those feathers I showed you, the one's I got in Fresno? They are now tucked into the band of this hat and are so far travelling quite nicely up there.

I wish I could express to you how friggin' windy it was at this camp. I thought we had gnarly wind down near Needles, boy was I wrong. Kathleen and I just sat in the truck for about an hour and watched everybody's tents whip around...and eyeing these big, black clouds coming in from the West. We thought it was going to dump on us big time, but we lucked out in that category.

Anyway, it was a truly beautiful couple of days – now I'll tell you the reason why we were here.