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Today I'm working on a section about a character who needs to get from one village to another (a distance of about 45 miles) as quickly as possible. Google says it would take about 16 hours to walk from Tempe to Casa Grande. A messenger accustomed to running the whole distance could possibly do it in 8 hours.
So if this walking character needs to get from the Temple of Lightning to the Temple of Mist before the Outlander chief hears bad news from someone else, the messenger has to be delayed or prevented from starting at all. And will there be time for this character to stop anywhere on the way?
To answer that, I have to go back to something I haven't looked at for a while: Omar Turney's 1929 map of Hohokam canals.
But this is only the Salt River valley. She has to walk all the way down to the Gila River valley, 35 miles farther south beyond the edge of the map.
I have to resist the temptation to get caught up in the map . . . though I cannot help but imagine the many other stories there are still to be told about the people who built these hundreds of miles of canals. How did they manage to not merely survive but thrive in this desert valley with only stone tools and their own ingenuity?
I had my mother teach me to read when I was four, and I've never stopped. Now I can play with words all day long... it's the best job in the world.