Day 17, March 17, Leaving Hemet, Ca.
Dale – Happy St. Patrick’s day!
Well we are on the road again. We stayed for two days, actually one day and 2 nights with John and Ann Rush. Beautiful, generous, kind, people who are the initiators of “Friends of Peace Pilgrim”. They gave so much and are so selfless in their work to out the message of Peace Pilgrim. We learned a lot from their example. The car was left at their house and we obtained more “Steps” booklets to carry with us and some tunics that say “Walking Coast to Coast for Peace,” “Another Pilgrim for Peace” and more. We are getting close to the desert now and have our faith in the van alone. Just the three of us. (Dale, Tony, and ?). Today we will try and reach Rt. 62 and then tomorrow onto Joshua Tree. There is a mountain off to my right with traces of snow on it. I’m sure we will see more of that up on the road. Camped out near White-Water walked 22 miles.
March 18-19, Sunday - Monday:
We are continuing down the road. Yesterday, we walked along Rt. 62 on our way to Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree. We started off without knowing where we would spend the night. Yet, ended up with some folks from Joshua Tree and had a relaxing sauna and hearty meal. Al & Ann Murdy were the names of the hosts. It was a long hard climb against the wind and lots of uphill walking. At times it was as if you were just walking in one place. We appreciated the beauty of this region with clear skies, good water and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The day before was difficult for all of us and no one had a decent sleep. We are walking to 29 Palms today. You can tell it is a militarized region with many Marine vehicles on the road and many short haircuts on the drivers. I really like this country but I could see what some might be angry at having to stay here in this place against your will like many Marines might be. We have been told that there is a mix of people in this area, from ranchers to liberals to those seeking an alternative lifestyle and those seeking refuge from Southern California urban areas. This area seems to owe its economic life to the Marine base in the area. There is not much else around. today we will have a peace vigil at the main gate of the base. When we arrived at the base we were unsure where to go so we went out to the main gate where a sign was located that said that further trespassing was prohibited. The three walkers and some local people, Terry Burke and his wife, Heidi, and her sister and three children stood. Another person, Ray Kirkham joined us. Ray used to work inside the base and tried to address the problems of waste-water that the base produced. But he had since left that position due in part to his inability to work with a Marine mindset. It was a big step for Ray as he indicated that he knew about 1/3 of the people that were passing us in that spot. Now here he was fully exposed to his neighbor’s regarding where he stood and with people that reflected an unpopular viewpoint than that which his former colleagues have. In talking with him later he indicated the challenge that he faced in making his views known publically. Tonight, we will stay in a cabin at the 29 Palms Inn. There is an actual oasis here! Quite a few people arrived for a potluck especially after such a short notice. Miracles never cease to occur.
Cary – Today we have left civilization behind for a while. Walking through the desert is just about what I expected, hot, still, dry, lots of weeds and creosote bushes in sand! Mountains all around, intense blue sky. We had lunches prepared for us by a friend of Terry & Heidi and we will have dinner delivered to our camp by another! We met both of them at the potluck last night. We have lots of food and water. We will walk as much as we can and maybe bike the rest so that we cover all the territory by human power and still stay on schedule. We are all mellowed out at this time and have lots of long hours ahead and are settling into it. The quiet out here is wonderful, when the traffic stops. There have been more vehicles on the road than we expected. Right now, sitting in the van and listening to the muffled sound of bombs being dropped on the Marine reserve behind the mountains. Thunder with a clear sky. If those mountains could speak, what would they say about what was going on over there and what these three people were doing walking through those the empty desert . What opinion would those mountains have of what they had seen of the human race? We cloak them with radioactivity and strip away what little life still clings to their sides. Would it matter to them? We could leave them alone and the lizards and creosote bushes would keep on surviving. Does it matter to us?
Dale: Out in the desert about 6-8 miles east of Melody Knolls. This is our great step into the desert. Ray Kirkham came out and brought a stew and the sunset was fantastic. This, being the first day of Spring, was a good jumping off towards Arizona. The walk called, “On the Line” started today and I thought of them often today. My prayers are with them.
March 23 – Out in Arizona
Dale: We crossed the desert on the 21st on bicycle. We covered close to 70 miles by pedal power. The wind was at our backs most of the day but it was very hot. Last night was a real nightmare as we had set up camp in a dry wash and Cary and I went to make phone calls. We had dinner on our return and went to bed early. It had been breezy that day but around 12:00 midnight the wind really started to pick up. It was bad enough for me to leave and head for the van and where IA had left Tony to the elements. However, at around 2:30 a.m. Cary got up because she heard metallic sounds and thought that there was something in the tree next to her and found out that it was Tony trying to secure his tent and the wind was now howling. Cary thought the wind must be whipping at about 50 MPH. no one got much sleep. Tony gave up the fight to the wind and the tent collapsed. Even the next day the wind continued to howl but mostly it was at our backs. We walked through the town of Parker and I organized a radio interview at a local country station. The interviewer was very interested and she wanted updates of our travels. The local paper promised to send a photographer but no one showed. Other stations in the area were interested and took information about the walk. Things were going pretty smoothly and I had to make a weekly phone call updates to Doug Rand at the Resource Center for Non-violence, the group that donated the van, “Rusty” for the walk. We called it Rusty because it was red, rusty and sort of sad looking but it was our fond friend. Well, Tony began to get upset and said that those calls only enriched the large phone companies, something that unsettled him on other occasions but I had no patience for that lecture that day and just started up Rusty and caught up to Cary on the bike and switched with her to ride our my anger on the bike. I was still upset because I see that some people criticize one thing and then I see them doing the same type of thing albeit in another form, but it is the exact opposite of what they were just criticizing previously. I see the hypocrisy in their words and I can’t even listen to them. No doubt we will be tested time and time again on what we preach and what we practice.
March 27, Tuesday
Some days later since the last entry.
Back on the road again, apologies to Willie Nelson. Today we are walking to Sun city north of the greater Phoenix area. Since last Saturday, we have been staying at Cary’s house in Scottsdale. It has been very welcoming to relax for the past two days. A quick review: since the 23rd, we continued to Wickenburg on Saturday and on Friday we used the bicycle covering long distances to a point just 8 miles outside of Wickenburg. We found a place to camp on a ranch and talked to a man that worked there and said that it was ok to camp there. Friday evening we had a long discussion about money matters and it got a bit intense with Tony and myself. We resolved to try and pay off Tony’s loan to the walk as soon as possible and to start fresh. Cary indicated that she could pay off the remainder of the debt and that she could be paid back a little at a time. Coming into Wickenburg, we had no contacts, therefore we decided to walk through the town and bike as much as possible to Phoenix. I thought to help matters out I would fast one day, perhaps a bit of dramatic martyrdom of mine.
We spent the night at Cary’s apartment and met her mom Barbara. It was great to take a shower again and be clean again. We talked about her mother’s work in spirituality and had a great night’s rest. On Sunday, March 25, we attended the Tempe Friends Meeting, relaxed and took it easy. I thought about our current situation and attempted into a proper perspective. Talking with Cary’s mom, I gained some insights about myself that were related to the subconscious and the reasons why I might be having some frustrations.
Monday it was back to our travels. A lot of media calls to make, especially to radio stations. We set up a press conference at city hall for 5 p.m. on Wednesday. I have been getting butterflies thinking about this one, which is funny since I am the one that usually deals with the media, possibly because this is the largest city we are entering since Los Angeles. If just a few of the reporters shows up, I think I may be overwhelmed. I will just have to trust in the universe to guide me. I think of Jerry Rubin and how he handled the press when he walked to Diablo Canyon. He said it was not a problem as they were waiting for him to speak and if you know why you are doing this then you just tell them and they will take whatever you say. I will definitely need Tony’s and Cary’s support on this one. But for today it is Sun City and that is what I have to focus on for now. Peace & blessings.
Tuesday, March 27
It was a short day in terms of walking distance and folks came to walk with us from Sun City AZ., close to a dozen. We took up the earth flag for the first time they look great! Close to 30 people showed up for the potluck from Sun City and we showed the film from Helen Caldicott and talked about our journey and other matters. People were very impressed. We received $100 in donations. That brings the grand total $250 from Sun City including previous donations. We have enough money to start paying Tony back the money that we owe him. Tomorrow on to Phoenix.
Wednesday, March 28
it was a long day to enter into the center of Sun City was a bit of a hike to walk into Phoenix as well from Sun City. It was a long hot day with lots of traffic. We had many honks of recognition from people that drove past us. Space we walked up till man who was next to his disabled truck he was staring at us all the way up to his truck. Space he spoke to us and said he heard about us on the radio and he shook both of my hands. I also spoke with a man earlier in the day and asked him directions. Inquired what we were walking about and I told him we were walking across the United States. He agreed we had enough bombs but that the government couldn't be trusted and doubted that we would have any success, however he was open to the appeal of the walk. On this day we walked to the governor's office received a letter from the Gov. To continue to City Hall and pass the part that was called library Park. There were many homeless people in the park. It was an unexpected site to see so many homeless people in that park between the Capitol and City Hall. Space here you see so many people that reflect the conditions of an ill society. We reached City Hall and as usual were unsure of how everything was going to evolve. I was surrounded by several media people and peppered by question until it became a confusing story. It ened with "Channel 5" when the reporter wanted to tape her story. We wanted to go to the Mayor's office however if was closed upon our arrival. We concluded the day by gathering and singing some songs.
Thursday, March 29
Last night we stayed at Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa's house. They produce the journal "The Nuclear Resister." We all contributed with getting their latest publication ready. I slept well and felt full of energy and ready to go the next day. We started out in the downtown area. It was another bright day with clear skies and we set out towards the Motorola plant. I took the first two driving shifts, followed by Cary. We made good time and around 11:15 in the morning Scotty showed up. We stopped at a car dealership and Scotty gave us information about the situation ahead. A salesman from the dealership came walking out and started to ask questions about the walk. He heard about the walk and read about in the paper. He shook Tony's and then my hand. He said that his brother was the editor and publisher of the Chandler newspaper and gave us his card. He said to get in touch with his brother. We continued to Motorola and were joined by Leroy and Scotty. When we arrived, five more people were waiting. The Security personnel came out, led by a no-nonsense man with a stiff and formal attitude wanted a leader to speak to. We started to explain that we didn't have a leader. I walked up to him and started talking with them. We gave them the leaflet and he gave us an explanation on the legalities of our presence. Where it was legal to stand where it was illegal to stand and what we couldn't do. When we gathered in a circle and began the singing peace is flowing like a river, a reporter snapped away with his camera. We maintained our vigil while I gave out leaflets. Some of the locals were surprised that many of the workers were taking leaflets from me. They said in the past, few people would take them but we were somehow communicating with the workers. In my brief encounters I was just able to say we were walking to Moscow for peace. One man replied we've got the cleanup this country first before we can start thinking about the Russians. Another individual stopped and said what a great thing you're doing and shook my hand. This Motorola plant makes proximity fuses and guidance systems for missiles. I felt really good about this vigil. We could tell the media coverage was beginning to have an effect on people. There were lots of honks and people on the street said they heard us on the radio, read about us in the paper, or saw us on the TV. Our first time that we had a TV interview and multiple radio interviews in a specific area. Six newspapers had written stories about our journey including the Phoenix Gazette, the Arizona Republic, the Sun City Newspaper to name a few. One key development was getting a letter of support from the Mayor of Tempe. We stopped at Arizona State University, but being a very conservative student community, there was little interest. As we left the ASU, we encountered a young man on a bike and he was impressed with our message. He was a musician with a group called Little Britain. As we continued on our way, he returned to give a poem. We indicated that we would bring it to Moscow. The day ended with a grand meal and plenty of discussions and laughter about the day, much love and blessings to all.
Saturday, March 31
Another crisp, clear, bright day. We walked close to 27 miles yesterday, all the way to Sacaton, Arizona. A very windy day. Tony walked most of the morning by himself. We left the van and walked together through the city of Chandler. We stopped to talk with an older man and he indicated it wasn't the Germans or the Russians or the Chinese that were the problem, but it was people who didn't stick around and take care of their fellow citizens. He referred to Cain and Abel and if they worked the land together then there wouldn't have been any conflict between them. It's often surprising to hear how we affect people when they see us and what thoughts they want to share with us. This man was trying to relate his knowledge of the Bible and how we can apply those lessons that if people work the land together, we wouldn't have hunger or war. Moving on to the Chandler, Arizona newspaper office, we had our pictures taken by the staff photographer. I walked with Tony out of town, then hitchhiked back to the van and when I returned Tony and I alternated walking the rest of the day. We arrived in Sacaton at 5:15 in the afternoon and found our way to our host's house. We'd met our hosts during our walk that day. Perry and Dorothy, Native Americans, were impressed with our walk and invited us to stay. When a very good feel for them and a good meal with them. Lots of chicken salad, bread and delicious treats. I'd had a big appetite and put away more food than I thought I would. We talked about problems with the Indian reservation. Water is a very big issue here, never enough for fair distribution. We also talked about the problems that the young people face on the reservation and that many of the young people don't have much respect for their culture. We were given dried cactus buds as a symbol of peace for our journey to Russia. These items are usually eaten during special occasions weddings or other family gatherings. After a great meal, I tired quickly and had to get back to the house to rest. I left Tony with Perry and Dorothy and I hit the sack with sleep coming quickly. The next morning Perry and Dorothy came over for breakfast as we were staying with their neighbor. Perry brought a small staff with him that he had created last night. They had two hawk feathers symbolizing the two walkers currently on the journey. The hawk is the traveling spirit and it is good protection for travelers. There were six small bundles, which contained cedar and earth wrapped in cloth. These items came from the Casa Grande ruins which is where Perry's people originated. The first bundle was blue which is for the earth symbolic of our unity and healing. Second bundle, green which stood for the plants and the life that returns again and again. The third bundle is fire signified by its red color, followed by yellow which is the eagle spirit, symbolic of truth and strength. The fifth bundle is white representing the pure spirit in our journey, and the final bundle is black representing the night, the mystery of the universe. The staff came from the arrowroot, later which we understood was found in a lot of the Japanese concentration camps. Perry told us whenever we have obstacles and problems, we need to pray with this small staff for guidance. We received the staff from Perry and Dorothee Jackson and stayed with Marilyn and Fred Walking-Badger.
Monday, April 2
A short journey on this day, walking just about 8 miles away from Casa Grande. During our walk, we had a lot of positive reactions from people on the highway. Lots of waves and honks from cars whizzing by. Our hosts were Jerry and Donna Haas, Jerry is a Methodist minister and treated us to a meal at a local restaurant. Several couples joined us including a a chiropractor, an artist and musician. One woman, the musician was also macrobiotic and had been influenced by Michio Kushi, one of the leaders of the macrobiotic movement. The next day was a rest day and we went to the early church service. We were introduced to the congregation and many people came up to us after the service and wished us well. One man in particular came to me and said that it is not the Russians we have to fear or the Germans or pollution but it is the second coming of Christ. I wasn't sure as to how he meant that statement. I wasn't sure if he thought that we were right or wrong in our journey but again you never know how we're going to make people react. I spent most of the rest of the day organizing my notes and files and wrote some letters. We spent that evening with the locals at a gathering but generally nothing to do with the walk, which was fine with us. In our conversations with the people, we sensed interest in the walk but not a real sense of concern. It was a type of attitude that yes there are problems in the world but a lot of the problems did not pose much of a concern for the group and it was best not to talk about them because they just didn't know enough about these global issues and besides it was out of their hands. We felt we had to bring up the issues but were unsure as to how to do it so after things got cleaned up, I began to talk to one man and he seemed open and listen to what I was saying. Some people left, others were milling around and I just began to talk about the crisis we were facing. Folks sat down and became attentive. However, you could tell that some folks were very uncomfortable with this discussion and it just developed into a discussion between Tony and myself. We try to open it up for further discussion with the group but only Jerry and a few others responded. One man, in the Naval reserves, looked at the floor most of the time. I wasn't sure if he was just uncomfortable or possibly shamed by our attempt at outreach, or maybe just embarrassed. We only hoped that we had planted seeds in their minds and perhaps that's the best we can do. Later, we had a long discussion with Jerry and Donna about what had transpired and shared a lot of our thoughts. They thought that there were some people that were moved but for some it was harder to tell. We have to try and realize that it this is a long-term project that we are all involved with and have to realize that often we are just planting seeds.
April 2-3, 1984 (Barbara Hirshkowotz. writing)
Warm day, bright sunlight in the desert here. Brian Flagg, formally of Sacramento Catholic Worker and friend, met me at the airport. Tucson has an active peace community, taking stands on a variety of issues but not always united in the outlook and approaches to addressing them. We stopped at the peace and Justice Center and talked about their production of the Catonsville 9 that was now playing in their community. Greetings and a super dinner put together by Kizu-Shonin, a Nipponzan Myohoji Monk that lives and works in the Tucson region), were in order. Then it was off to a meeting of the Pairing Project, a project where people pair a city in the Soviet Union with this city in the United States. It was a diverse committed group that evening and were conducting a $25 ticket fundraiser. Somewhat surprising for the cost of the tickets. Kizu takes us on a short morning peace walk and we stopped to greet a Lutheran minister, who speaks fluent Japanese. He will ask his parishioners for messages for us to bring to Moscow. Joining the walk has been smooth, filled with good feelings, the struggle now is to let go of the past and stay open to everything as it unfolds on the road.
Wednesday April 4
Foregone, forlorn, forever, plus a forest today. We walked with Kizu this morning and although it was a short walk I became very tired early. Likely not enough sleep last night. We planned to walk to Davis-Montham Air Force base this afternoon after starting from City Hall. We joined with another group called the "Rainbow Peace Walk to Big Mountain". We only joined with them for a short way. We had started to walk with this group yesterday on the western outskirts of Tucson. It really is quite an amazing region with thousands of the tall Saguaro cactus. They stand tall like beings from another world. It's almost as if they are looking at us noting our progress and in some way acknowledging what we are doing is right and good.
We had lunch at Gates Pass and the view was incredible looking out towards a long stark valley. Kizu fixed us a wonderful dinner and it was a good feeling to be with that very childlike crazy monk. Kizu is often playful and quite child-like, however, when it comes time to make a point he is firm and unshakable. It was a longer walk than we had expected to the Air Force Base and received a lot of visual commentary not always positive but we were interviewed with a radio reporter at the base. The reporter was very good asking excellent and incisive questions. If turns out to be a decent interview, he indicated that he might send it on to NPR in Washington DC. That would be great but… This evening was interesting because one of the people we met disagreed with the way we were approaching the Soviet Union. He was somewhat annoyed when Tony talked about governments and the Soviets as being fascist which is how Tony sees the world. I knew that that was going to come back to him someday but I think Tony speaks from his heart and how he sees the world is in a very emotional and direct response to what he has experienced in his life. Again night has come and it is time to get some more sleep.
Wednesday April 4, (Barbara Hirshkowitz)
Cozy evening in big rambling ranch house at the edge of the desert. Peach sunset in third crescent moon. Long rest, (ha ha). We attended the morning session of the trial that resulted from trespassing charges at the local Air Force Base that stemmed from the Euro-missile test that took place last October 21st at the base. I find the courtroom scene doll and drift in and out of consciousness. Lunch was held at the local women's collective restaurant and bakery, La Concha. There, news of Greenham Commons distraction took place with a woman named Julie who came from the United Kingdom. The afternoon was spent making press calls and writing advance letters to prospective hosts. Then it was over to Casa Maria in time for a birthday celebration. Brian has cooked up vegetable tacos and there is a care birthday cake. Afterwards Lenten services were held at the soup kitchen. On this day, the reflection concerned hunger and feeding the poor and why Christ did not continue to turn stones into food and the thought of a very Zen concept which included the richness of nothingness. A surprise to me encountering such Eastern thought in this Western setting. We said goodbye to Cary Fleck as she was leaving the walk to return to the Phoenix area. Alas, I had hardly met her. Lots of letters in paper cranes made and now sleeping.
Thursday, April 5
We are on our way out and we've made a good number of connections for the road ahead and get a better idea on how folks are doing in other regions. What I'm finding out is people in the cities ahead do not heed the mail sent ahead and really need verbal communication to realize that we are indeed en route and on schedule!