On March 1st, 2010, my friend Walter and I set off on an adventure with my Arabian horse, Sojourner. I rode Soj across America and Walter drove our little truck (with no trailer). The trip began in Los Angeles, California and successfully ended in Bath, New Hampshire 8 months and 14 days later. It was a 3,700 mile ride.
We rode in celebration of family and as an outreach to those dealing with divorce-related depression.
This ride tells a tale of love in many forms - through the people we meet along the way, our connection with the horse, with the land, and with each other.
As this blog goes on it gets more and more in depth with tons of photos and experiences. Snuggle in with a cup of tea and read this like a book. I have switched the blog around so it reads start to finish so you don't have to read backward (except the first entry).
Here is our story...
AS EASY AS THAT
“People, people who need people
are the luckiest people in the world.
We’re children needing other children
And yet letting our grown up pride hide all the need inside
Acting more like children than children”.
“People” was one of my Grandfather’s favorite songs. I loved to hear him sing. Poppy understood this song. It has a beautiful melody, but those words...
Poppy was a man who would sit and tell you a story and he would also sit and listen to yours for as long as you wanted to talk. That was his gift. He was an example for the rest of the family to learn from. He didn’t have to DO anything, but he taught with every breath he exhaled.
He never once stopped joking. My grandfather was a child through and through with the posture and integrity of a man that led everyone he passed to think he owned the place. He owned the air that surrounded him and he knew it. He felt it and he believed it. It is not a selfish thing or an ego thing, just a calm knowing that you are here for a reason and you are the only you in this world. There has never been one before and will never be one after, not exactly anyway, and inside that is your flame of independence, your power.
Poppy loved fiercely, so fiercely that all of us grew up around him believing we could do anything. There is an Indigo Girls song that says, “the best thing you ever did for me is to help me to take my life less seriously. It’s only life after all”. I love this line. Life is what we have. This is it. Life. But on the other hand our lives are small little drops in a never-ending bucket and there is absolutely nothing we can’t do while we’re here and there is no age we hit that should make us stop trying. Pop knew this. He is a strong Italian man and Lord knows I didn’t agree with him politically and he was no hippie, but he had it, you know? He just had it.
This is our gift as human beings. We have the ability to understand a love that can override even our instinct to survive. There is a trust and loyalty that comes from other animals. They work for us and give us so much-things we couldn’t get from other humans-but when it really comes down to it, it is the human that works to discover the bond and the connection. We don’t produce oxygen for the earth like plants and we don’t have the strength and speed of other animals, but we love and search for love like nothing else.
I am in Joshua Tree, CA now staying with Kelly and James and when I first walked up to Kelly I put my hand out to introduce myself and she gave me a hug and while laughing said “we’re huggers around here!”
That she is. That woman has her arms wrapped around this entire world and I think she’ll hold on and rock it until the day she goes to whatever is next…and I’m sure she’ll walk towards whatever is next with her arms wide open too.
“…and yet letting our grown up pride hide all the need inside acting more like children than children..”
Kelly, like Pop, is a beautiful example of a person who never lost the child in her yet has the grace and knowledge of a woman. Her laugh is uninhibited and her spirit bounces off of every wall in the house and flies out the open doors of her and James’ home. James is the same. These are two people that were meant to be together. As individuals they are a gift to be around and together they could change the world.
There is not a soul out there who could do everything on his or her own, but if there was someone who was able to do everything alone, I think the journey would suffer.
Yesterday Kelly and James handed over one of their horse trailers for Sojourner. Kelly just handed me the pink slip in a manila folder and said with a smile “easy as that!” This trailer came to them from an 87 yr. old woman, who as Kelly said, “finally hung up her spurs”. The trailer retailed for over $9,000 when it was knew and is in fantastic shape. For Kelly and James it is “as easy as that” because they don’t think in terms of money and things. Like Pop, they are teachers. What seems so easy to them is so powerful to the life in this world.
James said he first saw Kelly when he was working up on a hot roof in Florida. She was a friend of a friend and he had heard of her before but he had never seen her. He said he saw this gorgeous woman walk out of the door with 2 beers in one hand and a jug of lemonade in the other wearing a bikini top and Daisy Duke cut-offs and he instantly thought, “I’m in love!”
They have created a warm, inviting place here on their piece of Joshua Tree and Sojourner has been basking in the sun with breaks to eat and drink for the last couple of days. I am actually sitting on the ground in the corral right now as I write this and he is spread out flat right beside me (obviously dreaming about something) with his nostrils breathing heavy by my feet.
Family is everywhere, on every corner, peering out through every eye. A reporter here in Joshua Tree asked me what the best part of this trip has been so far. The bond that we can create with horses is incredible and a whole other story in itself because it would be too much to express in this already long entry, but the people…these people I have met who I need have made this journey more than I ever could have hoped for. When my hand touches these hands outreached to me and we are connected we become the luckiest people in the world, just like the song says.
After Kelly and James donated the horse trailer a woman named Paula came to see Soj. She was here the day before (my mom’s birthday) to massage Soj a bit and check his kidneys. She came back the next day (yesterday) to teach me how to check for soreness and how to help him heal and stretch. She also brought me literature and information on supplements and thoroughly explained them to me. As James put it, she is a wealth of knowledge and she is also generous with her time and shares what she knows.
After telling me about the kind of hay to get and ways to help him gain weight, she told me she was donating a years worth of her hay to Sojourner to help with the ride. She is a farmer and has the finest 4-way organic hay money can buy. It is everything Sojourner needs. After just watching James on his back to rig the back of the ambulance so the trailer can hitch to it and now this massive donation to feed Soj all the way across the country and more, I started to cry. I was overwhelmed. I still am as I write this.
Paula told me Sojourner was a special horse. She agreed that he has an exceptional kindness about him. He’s like the little luck pony. He has always been hard to keep weight on and used to be so scared of things, but his heart and will is enormous and it is so amazing to have something from every single person along this trip to help make this trek a success and keep him healthy and comfortable. This is exactly what I wanted this ride to be about: togetherness, family, connection, challenges, solutions, and in 14 days Sojourner, Walter, me, and now Jordan in his big orange ambulance have seen the way people will come together to help a dream come alive.
Sojourner, the boys, and I are staying here with Kelly and James for a week. Paula called a chiropractor so we are going to have a little work done on Soj on Wednesday to straighten him out a bit. This will also give him time to adjust to the new feed and time to wait for the supplements to come and get those working through his system. We will hit the desert next Monday.