Debbie Miller Marschke
I am a California girl born in 1963, in San Gabriel, just blocks from
the historic Mission. My first camping memory was at age 5. I was
in Baja California with my Grandparents, surrounded by friendly
locals who made the best homemade tortillas for us. I remember
this well because I got my thumb slammed in Granddad’s
International door and fainted. I saw stars! My Grandparents, Jim
& Renee Miller, were “old school” true adventurers. I was
fortunate that they took me along on their rock-hounding treks,
archeological digs, and Baja trips here in the Southwest. Waking
up in the morning and punching our way out of our tent that
had been blown down in a sandstorm was quite normal!
When I reached high school age, my interest in camping waned
and was exchanged for friends and boys. There was so much
drama during those years that I didn’t miss camping much.
Once I graduated from Cal Poly Pomona University with a
degree in business, I felt the pang and call of the desert once
more. My Grandparents had retired to Northern California, so I had to strike out on my own. I rediscovered
the familiar places where I had camped in my youth. It took about 15 years of weekend trekking for me to
finally find a place that my Grandparents didn’t know about!
My experiences got richer as I fed my insatiable appetite. I joined Sierra Club and became a hiking
leader in the San Bernardino Mountains. Then, around 1998, I was helping a family friend locate a family
homestead near Ludlow, California at the Chase-Bagdad Mine site. I met Dennis Casebier and it wasn’t
long before I was dialed in to the Friends of the Mojave Road at Goffs. I developed some terrific
friendships there, and my adventures blossomed. I honed my off-road 4x4 skills, and started backpacking.
After a few years I “graduated” to become one of Casebier’s Rendezvous trip leaders, a volunteer job I
immediately loved. As with many associations, members cross over into other clubs; my friends at Goffs
introduced me to Bill Mann, his awesome educational trips at Zzyzx Desert Studies Center, and the Desert
Explorers Club. In fact, I was leading a trip in 2002 when I met my husband, Steve Marschke, at the
Bagdad Café (of all places!) in Newberry Springs on old Route 66. We married September 10, 2006.
Steve is an active desert volunteer as well, so marriage doubled our complicated schedule of projects
About ten years ago, I resolved that I would not save anything for “when I retire”. I gave up on career-
building. I want to do as much as I can right now, as soon as the opportunity knocks. I have witnessed
too many disappointed couples who retire and suddenly are faced with unchangeable circumstances
that break their banked dreams. Besides, I have an unwritten list of things I want to see or do someday; I
am constantly adding more items to that list than I check off, so it is a “working list”.
I am a claims investigator for a leading church insurance carrier, and I work at home in Torrance, CA. I
cram as much business and housework as possible into my weekdays so I can take the weekends off,
which we do regularly. Steve and I both chose not to have any children, but we continue to strive to
make meaningful contributions to our wonderful lands as conservationists and patriots to ensure that
future generations will have the same opportunities we have.