The last time I wrote a letter to a soldier was in 1970. The soldier's name was Bill Vogt and he was stationed in Okinawa during the Vietnam war. My sister, Nancy, had dated him for a minute, and I had met him once. I was just Nancy 's little kid sister, but Bill corresponded with me while he was in the Army and in a place I had barely heard of. I like to think that receiving my letters made Bill's tour of duty a little more pleasant, and I remember how excited I was to receive letters from him.

Well, I've decided it's time to once again write a letter to a soldier. I went online and found several organizations that connect ordinary citizens with deployed soldiers, mainly in Afghanistan and Iraq . I submitted my application for the adoption of two of them, and I'm now waiting to see if I am accepted. I'm not sure what the criteria for approval consists of, since I didn't have to supply any information beyond my address and name. I did have to agree that I would be willing to send two care packages a month, as well as cards, letters and emails. This I can do, and do so gladly. I only wish I had thought to do it sooner.

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Her name was Sage, and she was a dog. I'm not sure of her breed, but she was white with some orange speckles and she had the most intelligent eyes. One of her favorite things in life was to get a person to play fetch with her, whether it was a ball or a stick she had the person fetching. Her main place in life was beside her person, Eddie Miller. You would meet the two of them going down the street, Sage sitting on her side of the vehicle, looking at the world through her dog eyes. And sometimes you would see the pickup parked at the curb, no Eddie in sight but Sage still sitting there, waiting for his return.

Sage had a mission in life that often took her out of the pickup and around town. She couldn't send care packages or write letters, but Sage was wonderful at adopting people. She instinctively knew who needed her, and most days she would follow a route that took her to their houses for a visit. The first person I knew she adopted was Mr. Sizemore. He and his wife lived across from the nursing home, and Sage would stop by daily to play ball with her newfound friend. When he died and Mrs. Sizemore moved across town, Sage showed up at her door one day, and Mrs. Sizemore then became one of Sage's main “adoptees”.

Sadly, Sage died last week. The same heart that took her from house to house, the heart that cared about the lonely and the souls who needed a wag of her tail, just quit beating. I like to think that like us, dogs have a mission in life, too. And Sage definitely fulfilled hers, for she lit up the lives of so many folks as she followed her heart's path about town.

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Guess what? I finally made it to Tucumcari , NM . I'm embarrassed to say it took me many months to (virtually) walk the 160 miles between here and there, but at least I accomplished a goal I had set for myself. I was going to “hole up” for the winter at an old Route 66 icon, the Blue Swallow Motel, but I've decided to head on out for the next town - Santa Rosa. It's only 56 miles away, and surely I'll make the city limits before the end of winter - if I remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other, just a-toddling on down the road!