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El Mirage, AZ 85335

Monday, May 16, 2011

Walking Home Stories

  Last weekend I had the opportunity to join Laura Milken's on a small stretch of road while on her 2000 mile journey to walk home from Tucson to Michigan .  I learned about Laura's journey from my dear friend Debra.  Thank you Debra.  Debra's daughter Hannah also joined us on the trip.  The trip   took some careful coordinating and timing to make possible, due to Laura's walking schedule.  A couple weeks prior we had various communication with Laura via  phone, email, Face book etc.....we had learned the dates and locations that Laura would be closest to our homes.  Debra thought that it would be a great idea if we were to meet up with Laura as she approached Globe, as I was working on a photographic project of the Toastmaster Cafe it seemed appropriate.  We both agreed that we would camp as close to Globe as possible since there were no actual campgrounds in Globe, Roosevelt lake, 25 miles away was the best choice.  Laura had planned to meet up with some friends from Tucson around the same time.  These friends would be driving a motor home and help support her during her first week.  The motor home provided a way for Laura to discard some of her heavier gear, as well as be joined with a walking companion for two 15 mile days.  We learned that Laura would be staying just outside of Globe the night before we would arrive.  We determined that we would meet up with her at the lake to spend the night, drive into Globe in the morning and continue where she left off the day before.  We arrived at the Windy Hill Campground  around 7:30pm, met Laura and her Tucson friends at the campsite.  We set up our tent, grilled some turkey burgers on the Coleman stove and shared stories by the campfire till late in the evening.  Our tent slept three comfortably, however, we did not get the best nights sleep.  Looking back I thought we might as well have stayed up and gazed at the heavens instead of rolling around in the tent all night.  At one point I got up, nature was calling, and exited the tent.  As I made my way to the restroom I looked up into the sky.  The Milky Way was staring back at me in all of its glory, its milky appearance stretched across the sky, horizon to horizon.  What a beautiful sight, I wanted to share my discovery with the girls, in hopes that they would take a look, however I did not bother them fearing that they needed as much sleep as possible.   We could see the Milky Way through the mesh ceiling in our tent, although the view was not quite the same as outside, we made due.  We must have managed to get some sleep, since Hannah accused us the next morning of snoring .....I do not recall doing so.  We were awakened at dawn by the sounds associated with lakeside camping;  a speed boat and an owl being the most dominant.  We were also greeted by small birds perched in the tree just above our tent.  We got up made breakfast, consisting of fried bacon which possibly awoke the others, due to the sound and the smell. Eggs, granola, yogurt, fruit, coffee and juice rounded off the mornings feast.  We all ate, had good conversation and shared photos via I-phone.  We tossed the Frisbee around as we packed up our gear and broke down the tent.  We left the campground headed back to Globe, created a shuttle by dropping off the car in Old Town Globe.  We jumped in the motor home and headed to where Laura had left off prior.  I knew that it would not take long to get to the drop off and enjoyed friendly conversation while Abba songs played in the background.  The motor home came to a stop and we all collected our gear and spilled out of the vehicle onto the gravel beside the hwy.  We all said our goodbyes took some pictures and proceeded to walk down the hwy.

 We followed Laura, walked alongside her and talked about different things for the next 6 miles.  We all took turns doing this.  I also ran ahead, climbed up on hills beside the hwy, ran across to the other side, in order to document the journey from different perspectives.  The images are available on my flickr page.  On another note, I wore the wrong shoes (worn out Chuck Taylor's), and my feet were killing me after about 3 miles.  The black asphalt was hot and unforgiving.  This gave me perspective.  I knew that Laura had just completed 1/20th of her journey (100 miles), and that she had a long way to go.  I thought to myself that you have to buy a special kind of person to attempt this sort of thing.  I am so glad I got to meet Laura and be part of her adventure.  Perhaps someday I could do something like this. I have always wanted to hike the PCT.  Some day!.......You can also check out The PCT Hikers Handbook for more information and advice from an experienced distance hiker.  Ray Jardine has hiked the PCT in its entirety three times.  Ok, back to our trip.......We made our way into town, stopped in front of the Toastmaster for a photo opportunity.

We walked by a church, which provided Laura with a motel room for the night, had some lunch, found the car, said our goodbyes wished Laura good luck and headed home.  I am glad Debra and I were able to be a part of this journey and the time we spent together was special.   It meant a lot to all of us, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity.  Laura is an inspiration......... Please check out Laura's website, watch live video feed, and read her blog as she makes her way home.

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