Mike Sciales walked from Boise to Moscow
to attend daughter's graduation
By David Johnson
Lewiston Morning Tribune
MOSCOW Thousands of parents will be traveling to Moscow
this week to attend commencement ceremonies Saturday at the
University of Idaho. Most will come by car, some by plane
and a few by bus.
Mike Sciales, 50, walked all the way from Boise
to witness the graduation of his 25-year-old daughter, Kate
Johnston, from UI's College of Law.
"I arrived here Sunday afternoon," Sciales said
after spending 18 days in a brand new pair of walking shoes
covering 300 miles.
"You're goofy," is what Sciales says his wife,
Laurie Sciales, told him. Nonetheless, she agreed to drop
him off on the outskirts of Boise. "And I was off to
Horseshoe Bend. By the time I got there, I realized I'd made
That was less than 20 miles into the trek. But the recently
retired U.S. Air Force judge advocate general, who himself
graduated from law school at UI in 1987, said he slept the
night and climbed out of his little tent the next morning
with renewed determination.
"I wanted to tie it (the walk) in with Kate's graduation
and celebrating my retirement." He carried a 40-pound
back pack, ate in restaurants and spent three nights in motels
when, as he explains, the "body funk" demanded showering.
As his beard grew and his appearance became more scruffy and
questionable, he developed a preemptive introduction for those
"Ladies, I'm not a wino or a vagrant. I carry Visa."
He encountered only one menacing dog ("I bluffed him
off."), enjoyed mostly cool weather, learned that "Kings
Thrones" porta-potties are indeed strategically located,
and found people are almost without exception accepting
especially those who seemed to identify with his circumstances.
"What I learned was that people in old vehicles who
look like they don't have much going on will stop and offer
Early in the walk, Sciales found an American flag in the
ditch after it apparently blew off a car. Being a military
man who doesn't hesitate to say he's proud to have served,
he dusted the flag off, mounted it on his pack and left it
unfurled for the duration of his journey.
Sciales, who returned with his family last year after serving
in Kuwait in the Air Force's Office of Military Cooperation,
said he read newspapers while eating breakfast in restaurants
and was right around McCall when he first started learning
about the alleged abuses of prisoners in Iraq. As an attorney,
said Sciales, he thinks the cases should be prosecuted and
guilty parties punished regardless of rank or where the evidence
He said the prisoners deserve to be treated with the respect
afforded all prisoners in a war zone.
But as someone who's worked the legal ranks of the military
and spent time in the Middle East, Sciales said the American
public needs to know that the prisoners now being called victims
are most likely "very, very evil people" who themselves
have dolled out much worse "brutality and savagry."
His own opinions on current events aside, Sciales said he
found it fascinating to walk alone with his thoughts during
the day, camp at night and then catch up with world events
the next morning. "I've been reading the Tribune for
a long way, since about Riggins. I've been reading all the
big news, including the commissioners going after each other
in Idaho County."
The real Idaho, said Sciales, comes alive every morning in
coffee shops where the news breaks, people talk and the beauty
of the countryside seems to buffer all that's unsavory about
the world. "Idahoans are some of the most gracious people
in the world," said Sciales. "And the state varies
so much from south to north. I think we have the most beautiful
Aside from his natural inclination to engage people in conversation,
Sciales said the real keys to his successful arrival in Moscow
were his "Dr. Scholl's inserts ... and get the arch supports."
He admits he took a couple of rides in cars for a few miles
along the more treacherous stretches of highway between Boise
and Moscow. But he's spending the next few days prior to graduation
walking around town and adjacent locales making up the miles.
"Just so I can say I really did the 300."
His daughter, who's been working as a legal intern at the
Ada County prosecutor's office in Boise, will be driving up
Friday for commencement. Sciales said his wife and younger
daughter, 15-year-old Maggie Sciales, will be accompanying
"Both my daughters think it's great," Sciales said
of his adventure.