“Why did your parents let you go?” is a question many people have voiced, concerned that an attractive young girl is crossing the country by herself. “People asked my Dad that question,” said Margaret Wright; “he said he didn’t know he had an option.”
Wright grew up in Princeton, N.J., a couple of miles from the university she is attending. She is taking a year off to pursue her idea for using the grant money she received. She is to record and create books of poems from interviews with the people she has met. She gave us an example from her memory, although she said it is difficult to pick out one from all the “amazing, incredible” stories she has heard. “There was a woman who had not seen her son for 30 years. They lived far apart, but they kept in close touch by phone. Then she had a big health event. Unknown to her, her son got in touch with her doctor. The doctor told him she would need help for awhile. Then one day her son just showed up at her door. ‘You need to stay with me awhile,’ he said.”
She has been working hard to become fluent in Spanish. In high school, she was an exchange student in Peru for two weeks. She spent a semester in Cuba; Obama visited while she was there, but she didn’t get to see him. A friend of hers supposedly did see Obama, though she doubts he saw Obama as closely as he said he did.
Wright has traveled about 1,500 miles, starting in September (from Delaware). Her sister walked with her for about 400 miles. Her father walked with her from St. Louis for a distance, when he had time off. Her mother calls her every day, or she calls her mother. But no, she does not travel with a blog and internet attached. She is just recording, transcribing, and making poems.
She typically walks about 15 miles a day. She is not averse to taking a ride when she needs one. She has stayed with people a few days, but mostly stays in motels. She always phones ahead and knows when and where she will stop. When she can’t find a motel, she calls a church and asks to lay her bedroll at the church. If this fails, she camps. She camped at John Martin Reservoir. She took a couple of months off in Kansas City, when it got too cold to enjoy walking.
People often mistake her cart for a baby carriage and think she is running away from home, baby and all. Policemen have stopped her three times, inquiring about the baby. The baby is actually a bed roll, a tent, food for three days, two extra pairs of shoes, and a ukelele. A ukelele? She loves music, and a guitar is too big. She plays her ukelele and sings on the road just for fun.
She has always loved music and has been in a couple of musicals in high school, one of which was “Bye, Bye Birdie.” “I don’t have a solo voice,” she said, “but I enjoy acting and singing in the chorus.” Some of the plays she has acted in are Strindberg’s “A Dream Play” (adapted for school performance), “A Servant of Two Masters,” which was fun because of the masking (she played the servant-messenger), “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
A thing that bothers her, besides too many cars, is hearing gunshots. Growing up in a quiet college town, not in a rural setting, she was unaccustomed to the number of gunshots she would hear as she took the back roads to stay away from traffic. She thought John Martin Reservoir was spectacular, but missed Bent’s Old Fort by taking the canal road. When she met Judy Hensley walking her dog on the canal road, she got another chance at BOF. Hensley took her to the fort that day (Thursday) and arranged a special tour of the Kiva with Jeremy Manyik, also. Hensley took her to see “The Odd Couple” on Thursday night. Wright did interviews for her book on Friday. One of them was at a new restaurant serving pizza.
Wright enjoyed her walk to Fowler, stopping in Rocky Ford. On Monday, Hensley was worrying that Wright planned to walk up the road to Monarch Pass, which goes through a very narrow canyon. She suggested using the abandoned railroad line instead of the road, since the road is narrow and up against the canyon wall. All of us will be anxious until this adventuresome young woman gets to Los Angeles, her destination!