WhiteCrow Walking

My solo walk across America began in Maine. I walked for nearly 3 years carrying a backpack and facing countless dangers, as well as met wonderful people I could have never made it without. From bullets to bears I moved through mountains of snow and across burning desert country. The end result will be a book, and the fruition of a childhood dream. This is a blog from the field with rough stories about my steps along the way.

31 March 2007

Making Sand


Walking in from CO. and three days of snow laced with biting wind, I feel as though I have fallen into a furnace. Heat? This warmth, I know from past summer, is nothing. I buy a fresh bottle of white vinegar to cool my feet and the smell of sweat, and pack up all the food I can preserve in the growing heat to last me to Moab, Utah, just under sixty miles up the road, a road that divides my new world into of a palette of sand tones and rock that snubs gravity with boulders stacked to the sky in arches that makes me hold my spine just to admire them.

The road getting here has been a long chain of climbing up mountainsides that never let me walk down. Climbing, and more climbing, that pay off in fields of trees and the smell of Vermont in the spring coming up from the damp earth. Leaving Farmington, NM was the first time that anyone turned out to walk the journey with me. Very Forrest Gump. I had been on the local radio stations for several days talking to the Navajo Nation, as well as the people off the reservation on the f.m dial. When the morning came to leave I had a warm croud of smiling people to walk into the early morning air with. It was a walk first well worth waiting for that lasted hours longer than I thought it would... and still, it was still hard to watch them drive away. Cars and trucks traveling past throughout the day honked their support, and it was good humor for me to watch my new companions (that lasted half the day), huff and puff up a nice little mountain that twenty months of walking allowed me to overlook.
It was the Navajo people that came out in force to bring me water when road offered nothing, and after I was held sick huddled under the road for three days and nights, returning finally to the above world drained of water and all the heart energy I usually carry. Day after day a smiling family I never met before brought me staples from their world, even KFC, and talked of their lives in hogans without electricity or conventional stoves, took pictures, gave me arrowheads for protection, and tied blue stones around my neck. I was given many of their names to carry so that I had to write them down or lose them as I have so many things not tied down. Some faces that found me on the side of the road appeared disappointed that my skin was not red enough, or that I did not fill some mental image they carried of a mountain of a man that braves thousands of miles of danger without flinching. I flinch.
Most people that saw me smiled warmly, and that was enough. A blind Navajo elder ordered her family to take her granddaughter to find me when she heard me on the radio. She held my hands through the open car window as she cried when her granddaughters found me. She told me about the darkness of her own youth as she rubbed the back of my hands and pushed her words into my blood through my skin. She gave me two quarters and two pennies I found no way not to take, and I listened to her for many days after she drove away, and even dreampt we spoke in Navajo together and laughed until I woke up over a joke she told me. I woke up only knowing that we laughed.
Before I began this walk everything I held as self sacred was placed on the words of my father, a father that wasn't. We all need to belong, to be somebody, anybody. An inner structure has been rebuilding in me over these miles though. A grand side effect of the walk has been the building up of stone within me that does not worry about the motar of blood being from one people over another, or the type of knives my grandfathers wore when they went off to war. I have watched alot of fringe fall away from the sleeve of my coat no longer with concern. I have walked nearly six thousand miles because I said long ago that I would. Reguardless of where I come from, and what I have walked through, I am becoming real. I am coming home inside. I am coming home to someone that I have never been.

15 March 2007

People of The Water

Yesterday was a blur of faces that I will hear in my head as I walk far into the growing heat of the sun. We don't wake up and plan to fall in love. We are running with our head down, or as in my case walking fast with a heavy load, and we trip with all of our perfect plans skidding before us in colored pieces of paper that no longer mean anything. After hours on the radio doing the morning show with Dana Childs on 95.9 Quick, and talking with George Werito on the Navajo station KNDZ 960 am I am off to speak at some of the local schools. I do not know that I will not come back whole, something that was once inside me will now trail behind...trying to catch up, but slowed by constantly looking back.
When I walk into the classroom of the Farmington Boys and Girls Club I see no relation, young men and women just stepping on the bridge that leads to being an adult, still carrying the face of a child in their hand, or arms crossed against the world that has already bruised them. I start to talk about where I came from and the memory I have of bones that have healed. Arms uncross. I am in all their faces, as they step into mine, testing the flooring for a trip wire with their questions. We talk about seeds planted inside us, inside them, fetal, husk unchallenged, arms-legs kicking and punching to nowhere. I water with words and love that I am just a man, no halo, no sword, no line of full blood honor that explains why I run the race. I come from broken pieces, shards of words that held like devil thorn, pains that now far under my skin. We are related. A tall fire burns in the center of us all as we sit with our brown, red, and white faces staring into the flames of the past, the future. What is dormant under our skin that our home fire is unable to see. What worth is packed in our small faces now so tight ready to punch out in defense? Everthing is rising in me, in them. We are all knees on a bed staring at a map of our futures with fingers tracing out hope.
I do not come bringing apples, or seeds. I have only words. "The seed is inside you I say," eyes unblinking. I have never said more.
When I leave I am given hugs I still feel when I am not breathing.

14 March 2007

Paints His Face Red

The radio show moved through the morning with an easy feeling. The phone rang over and over again with words of support, and one phone call came in from dark soul that thought I was running a scam. Even after all these miles it is hard to let things that have no value fall. I turn her words over and over-- something bad I just had to understand. I know my heart is too much Indian for some. I know I am too white for others. When I began the walk I needed the words my father spoke so log ago. Rasied through alcohol, abuse, divorce, I needed something brillant to tie my feathers to. How I would love to write that my father's words have been set on the earth and I have walked away. I have walked so very far, but still I reach into my shirt at 43 years old and listen to my father tell me that I come from a good place, tell me that this journey of walking among the people matters.

13 March 2007

Smile For The Camera

Not used often, my mouth stutters and bumps our words like the motor of an old car that is rarely driven. I stare at the television camera and hope that I make sense in this crossover from thinking to talking. Five minutes after the interview I find something stuck to my face, and remember to laugh at myself.
From a television interview with Valorie at channel 12 I wander down to KNDN radio, The Indian Station. With smiles and warmth I am talking with George Werito on live radio. George goes from Navajo to english throughout our imprompto talk over the air waves. He has a kind and easy way of moving from questions to casual conversation so that the mic melts away from in front of us. What has become 'same old' to me -- living the walk day after day, suddenly becomes magical and interesting again as I hear it coming back to my ears, and see it reflected through the eyes of George Werito. My plan was to rush past Farmington to head into the land of sand and too much sun--too little water. The walk is still teaching me that my plans are written on water and change with the tide. I listen to George talking in his native tongue with my name falling in amongst the words. Some of the greatest things that I have been given on this journey do not fit in my pockets yet I will carry them for the rest of my life.
I am brought to the Farmington library by Dana, morning show host from KWYK radio. This is far from just a standard library of dusty books on towering shelves. The glass panels found throughout the libray are sandblasted with traditional as well as historic native art the afternoon light wanders through. The rich red stone floors are marked to show where the sun will fall during the winter and summer solstice from the windows high above. The building is a piece of art and I want to explore around rather than sit in and write.
In the morning I'll be on the radio morning-show with Dana as a co-host for four hours, and then after hours of treasured visits come to a close I'll top off with five gallons of water before I head off toward Moab some 2oo-250 miles away, miles of desert sand and uncertainty, over the same course that the character I am endlessly compared to, Forest Gump, stopped running and went home. Bye Forest.
Basecamp Betty has come, shared laughs and great food and headed north again with most of my winter gear. It was great to see my good friend and talk about silly things only old friends can talk about without concern over boring any ears. Already I have a growing of things I'll need shipped to Moab, Utah. I guess my water colors have again made the list. Clocks have changed with only the night now causing a freeze. For a little while I will put my sweater on my head so I can sleep through the night. Soon I will miss these cold slumbers down by the creek behind where the scrub thorn grows. The sun is watching, and, as if taking the cue, summer is trickling in. Already I buy cheese ...and worry.

04 March 2007

Walking A Dream

Minutes are passing. A shower calls, a razor promises, still I have to share one last thing before I am again on the red road on to the Navajo reservation. Nearly a week ago I was coming out of the Rocky Mountains after yet another white out. I spent too much in a diner for breakfast, but I was days into being hungry and had debts to pay. When I walked back outside into the Chama cool mountain air I saw the hot air balloons filling with air down in the back lot. ........................................many pictures later, two days of flying Viking's hot air balloon under Wedgewood skies, and a whole new family of dear friends.....well, food for the book.
It wasn't until everyone was getting ready to pull away and say parting words that I remembered taking a hot air balloon across America was my original dream that I had as a child. The walk is rewarding me for following a child's dream. I bet I have too many pics of a little boy grinning foolishly from a hot air balloon with the Rockies blowing far off behind him.

Rocky Mountain High

Less than fifty miles keep me from Farmington, N.M., and caring for the extreme need to re-supply food, water, as well as fix my stove that blew its motor just as I got into the Rocky Mountains and over several feet of new snow that fell over a week ago--maybe two....days have over-lapped, blurred, lost meaning, until I only know that I am walking up mountains that never go down. I just walk thinking of meals at tables, clean people in colorful clothing smelling like soap, and the hum of warm wine sipped from thin glasses. Leaning over a roadkill elk, I remove the twin ivories and drop them in my pocket to drill and tie to Osa's knife when it gets dark and I recline in my hide behind cedar and stone. I have lost touch with 2007 and find myself in 1880. I eat spruce grouse when jerky runs low, washing blood off my hands with snow wondering if my high school guidance counselor foresaw this coming. I am sleeping with snow to wake up with water and I have forgotten that it should matter.

The Apache people sought me out as I traveled through their sculpted mountains, and bedded down beside their horses, and snow-bound wild elk a quarter field away. I had been told ghost stories about the blacks before I came to pass through inner cities at night and been offered their help. I had been told evils to be had by the Mexicans that worried me until I slept in the fields where the illegals sought their rest, and we shared quarters for coffee. Weeks ago I was told that the Apaches would rob me blind and stumble drunk out from behind every tree intent on doing me harm. These are not the people I have found. The Apache, like so many other peoples I have passed though,with my heart bound up with warning, have been a kindness I would do well to aspire to. Day after day their cars pulled to the side of Rt. 64 to offer me a ride, hand me a few dollars toward my walk from a truck of smiling braids, eagle feathers waving from the rear-view, and shake my hand as if I really mattered. When I arrived in the Jicarilla Apache Mts. I was only in town for a half an hour before a bronze elder under a blaze orange cap took me out for a bowl of potato and beef soup, fry bread, speaking softly of payote roads he has walked. Storm after winter storm bound me in my tent, hands holding my map with numb fingers until I could sleep again and dream of warmth I used to know. When I could take to the road again, another reservation car would find me , once with a kind elderly Apache woman holding out a bag of jerky for my trail, and a sack of mixed nuts and dried fruit she drove out just to deliver to me some thirty to fifty miles one way.
As I came out of a fenced sage field with my water jugs filled with rusty water from a winter windmill no cattle use, a pick-up slides to a halt beside me. I shrug another nip of worry. Another woe to deal with. "Just filling my water jugs. I was all out and there's nothing but snow. It's hard to melt snow with snow. I tied the wire just as I found it." My face is worn down, every feature is pulled by the wind and bitten past red.
The native man driving smiles over what I assume is his family,"This land, it belongs to everyone. This is Apache land." He smiles. Giving my card, I tell my story. The man has used Peter's book with his students and understands the gist of my journey. Soon the truckload of passengers is trying to give me everything they can for my walk. With a quick good-bye the truck sails off. I think the driver was afraid I would be given the truck soon. Taking a swig of the dirt-red water that tasted like a mix of stone and the dust on my teeth, I squint after the truck with my new book of Lifesavers candy in hand wondering if grandmothers everywhere are issued these books of candy to hand out to people everywhere that need a smile.