"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit nature, and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority."
- E. B. White
Day 202 - Wednesday, January 10, 1996 - The whole camp woke up before sunrise, and came out by the fire to watch the palmettos of ocher and rose light reach out and over the spectacular landscape.
Mojave Sunrise - (Photo by TravelnFotog, courtesy of flckr.com)
Absorbing the view and the flood of morning light, our horizons are expanded without and within. We can gaze down Route 62—the route we are walking—and see far off to the west a stunning vista of the Coxcomb and Pinto mountains on the horizon.
While there is breathtaking beauty off in the distance, just behind the wide place in the road we have claimed for our base camp is a long skunk of ditch brimming with the cast-off crap of civilization: tires, beer bottles, toilet paper, cigarette butts galore, Twinkie wrappers, wrecked cars, used diapers, and a vast assortment of unclassifiable trash. It's filthy and looks like hell.
I am struck by the juxtaposition of exquisite natural beauty with heaps of discarded human waste, evidence that no one respects this place.
Our morning prayer circle included all the people, all the animals, all the plants, and even all the discarded junk. Our instructions are to exclude no one and no thing, to make no judgements of condemnations, but to remember in respect and beauty every facet of the Sacred Hoop as we make our way to the Western Gate.
Our walk stepped along, in continuous groups, for nearly 40 miles today, and we reached a point about nine miles west of the city of Twentynine Palms.
Twentynine Palms is a tumbleweed town that took its name from the 29 palms that once graced the local water hole. City boosters told us that they are becoming "the mural capital of America." With about nine murals completed so far, they have a ways to go to reach that goal.
The city is bounded by a large Marine training base to the north, and to the south by Joshua Tree National Park. The military base is a desert training ground for 25,000 marines. During the 1990 Gulf War, many of the men and women stationed there were sent to serve in the Middle East, and so the town is filled with active and retired military personnel.
|Cholla Cactus in the Mojave Desert.
Jim and Willa Dooley and their friends have been busy setting things up for us. We are going to have a public walk through the city on Friday, and we will make ceremony.
Through connections with friends, Jim and Willa made it possible for us to move our base camp to Bigfoot Lake, about three miles from the center of Twentynine Palms. It's lovely and sunny at this camp, with palm trees galore, and the small, man-made lake available for our rest and relaxation.
In the afternoon, Joe passed a hat around the circle to collect money for Vernon Foster and his family near Phoenix, Arizona. Their home burned down the other night while Tom, Lauren, Charlie, and Stacey were staying there. We are all hard pressed for funds, because our walk has been on the road since June 23, 1995. But we are able to muster over $80 to help out the Foster family.
In the evening Ned, Charlotte Joe, and Ineke hooked up with Tom and Naoko, and they all drove to Los Angeles, to attend a meeting at a Pentecostal Church. They got back to camp in the wee hours. Ned told me that Tom and Naoko stayed behind in Los Angeles. They said they were going to help to set things up in LA so that our walk would be well received in a week or so.
Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 203 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire