Odyssey of the 8th Fire is the true tale
of an epic pilgrimage for the Earth
across North America

by people of all colors and faiths.

  - A creative non-fiction book in online evolution - ◊
© - 2007 by Steven McFadden

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Odyssey of the 8th Fire,
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"The miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine which was, after all, a very small miracle."

- Wendell Berry

Day 201 - Tuesday,  January 9, 1996 –  We remained camped at our peculiar oasis, the junction of routes 62 and 177 in the middle of California's Mojave Desert. Walking during the day in contiguous groups, we covered formidable distances along the arrow-straight desert highways.

Our base camp is dramatic, a spot with stunning long-distance views of the mountains all around, and only a rare car or truck rumbling by. There is nothing out here in the way of human habitation. This location, which began as a makeshift choice, turned out to be a favorite for us because of its natural beauty and blessed silence.

Listening to Joe - Gathered round the campfire in our Mojave Desert base camp, from the left: Tim Burress, Barbie Nicholson, Einar Sunde, Gayle Ford, Joe Soto, Inecke Soto, Sam Dunkley, Pat Three Rivers Nicholson. (Author photo).


Sam Dunkley (Author photo).

Last night Sam Dunkely realized that he needed to replace the clutch on his aging van. He estimated that this would require $100-$150, which we simply do not have, so he offered up tobacco an prayed for help.

Then today as Sam walked through the desert near our camp, far from human habitation, he found at his feet a crisp $100 bill wedged in the sand. Half of it was sticking out, waving at him. He took the bill with thanksgiving, and drove on in to an auto parts shop in Twentynine Palms, where the cost of the replacement parts came to $96.

Einar Sunde drove off this morning toward the town of Desert Center, a former military base, hoping to find wood. Realizing how unlikely success was, since there were no trees anywhere in sight, he stopped to put down tobacco and pray.

Within fifteen minutes, as he said, he was standing in front of one of the biggest piles of wood he'd ever seen, with an open invitation from the owner of the pile to take as much as he could carry in his truck.


I drove ahead with Jacki and scouted out the possibilities for a camp in Twentynine Palms. After poking about, we visited the old burial ground for the Chemhuevi Indians. We put down tobacco there, and blew a little tune on a turtle-shaped ocarina.  As if on cue, a sunbow appeared in the sky. We knew we would find something.

Moments later we drove on down main street and stopped at a shop called Cowboys and Indians. We met proprietors Jim and Willa Dooley, and they were thrilled to hear about the walk. Jim is a Tae Kwan Do karate master, a Vietnam Veteran, and, he says, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Jim called a friend who is a local newspaper reporter, and the friend promised to write up the walk for tomorrow's edition of the Sun Runner News.


When folks in Twentynine Palms speak of their town they boast of clean air and water they have. They are quick to point out that it's nothing like this in the Los Angeles basin, just to the West.  But this day, as the afternoon wore on, the wind picked up a bit and smudgy grey haze blew into and over the town, and shrouded the mountains -- a wind of change.

Sunbow Base Camp - at the intersection of Routes 62 and 177 in the middle of the Mojave Desert, California. (Author photo).


Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 202 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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  With thanksgiving — Steven McFadden


| Author's Note | Dedication | Acknowledgements | Donors
Invocation | Prologue | Contents

Odyssey of the 8th Fire Copyright © 2006-2008 by Steven McFadden