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...
rainy day, sunny conversation....
(photo by Walter)
This is the old saloon we stayed in. Fred built this place out of old wood he found from various fences and what not. He and Janet have created an incredible place together. There is a cool old stained glass door from the famous Shakey's Pizza Parlor. They have 120 horses on their ranch.
(photo by Walter)
Sundance Ranch, Redlands, CA
It poured today. I was going to give Soj a bath and it started raining so hard so I just brushed him in the rain and sort of fulfilled my desire to clean him off a little. His back is totally better, but I will probably walk him half the day tomorrow. He is still looking lean. I did put apple juice in his water and he drank it all so that's awesome. Well, I think he drank it all. There's a chance the bucket collapsed, but it looked more like he drank it. I only think it could have collapsed because I got excited when I saw it empty and went to fill it up again and it collapsed all over me...so it does have collapsing abilities, that's for sure. I hope I can get his weight up and this peeing problem under control. Nobody worry though. I have my eye closely on him and this horse has my heart in his...hooves, so I won't push it if it looks like he's just not adapting to the stress of the ride. We will take it easy for a while or we will stop if we have to. I don't foresee that happening though. His energy is good and he eats a ton. I think this will just take some getting used to. He is so good through the traffic and the bridges and all the people constantly petting him, but I am sure it's a lot on him and stress can do a lot to a body. His body is like mine, I think. I really show it if I'm stressed. We are out of L.A. now though and slowly getting into the country so it's going to be a nicer ride for him this week and we are not putting on that many miles because we are timing it so we can meet my mama and Stephen in Joshua Tree for my mom's birthday on March 13th. We have to go 25 miles tomorrow, but after that we are doing 15 mile days and we are even taking Tuesday off next week. Easy peasy.
Walter and I started working on videos and pictures today. It takes a lot of time, but I might just put a raw video up here tonight so you can get a taste of what we're doing. I'll just put a little clip of us crossing a bridge. The sunset was really pretty.
We are still at the Sundance Ranch and the people here have been just incredible to us. Walter played poker with Janet's husband, Fred, while I took care of Soj and I was showed an old model T Ford and a bunch of old John Deere Tractors by this lovely gentlemen called Wayne. Wayne loves old cars and tractors. He laughed and said "everything is just nuts and bolts". The tractors were so beautiful and perfect. You could eat off of them. They all run too. The Model T was incredible. My dad put this love of old cars into me when I was a little girl. I kept thinking "Oh! If only he could see this!" He would have loved Wayne and all of his toys. I told Wayne that my dad has an old John Deere in our yard in NH and he lit up. Our old tractor just sits there. If I could blink it to CA by magic I would in a second for Wayne. Maybe I can drive it there. :) The next adventure. In fact, Wayne said he would like to start up his big tractor and go right along with me across the country. He said he could pull a trailer with the tractor so if Soj went lame we could put him in the trailer and just keep on going! I was able to spend the evening with Wayne and his wonderful wife, Kay, who has a laugh that fills you with happiness. They told me how they met when they were just little babies. Wayne remembers Kay from when they were little, but Kay laughed and said "I don't remember!"
Wayne was a rodeo rider. He rode bulls and bronco's. When he asked Kay to marry him she said no. She said she didn't want to worry that the person she marries might not come home to her one night. So Wayne quit the rodeo and told his boys they were going to have to this military thing at some point so..."you wanna just do it now??"
"Alright! Let's do it!" they said and off Wayne and his friends went to the Navy. He told Kay that he wasn't riding in the rodeo anymore so they married 2 years after he left for the Navy. When Wayne came back he started racing Cobra's for Carroll Shelby. Can you believe that?? Man, I would love to do that! Oh MAN! I would love to race a Cobra! Matthew, are you reading this??? Can you believe it?
My friend, Matt, has a 1964 and a half Mustang fastback. Black. Amazing. I was wishing he was there to talk to Wayne. I used to love driving his Mustang around. What a car.
Wayne raced for a while-the whole circuit....he rode in Daytona and everywhere else the big races are until they wanted to relocate him and Wayne didn't want to move so he stopped racing. For a while he drove trucks and started building and flying airplanes. Later on he and his wife started delivering mobile homes together and they said that was just a blast. They have been in all 50 states together. They laughed together telling me the stories of their travels. They said like me they didn't know where they were going, had never been there before and lived out of their suitcases. Always together.
Kay and Wayne have been married 52 years, 53 in August and Wayne says "and she's still my best buddy". Kay is in her chair near him on the couch and she just smiles. Kay says she is the more level one in the relationship and Wayne is always ready to get up and go and try and do and learn anything. He says once he knows how to do something he doesn't have any interest in doing it again because he's got it. He has a "so now what's next!??" attitude. They are both 71...almost 72.
There is so much more to tell, but I will let the videos tell the story once I get them all edited and ready. I think what I'll do is post little bits here and there on this blog and at the end of the ride I'll really take some time and try to put something really nice together. Maybe a documentary of sorts.
I got a voice mail from my sister today. She is at the house in NH right now. This is where the ride is planned to end. She walked all through the fields and by the beaver pond with sweet Sim and my dad. She said my dad showed her where he plans to build the corral for Sojourner. When I picture my dad I picture him out in that field or on a tractor. My dad has always been on a tractor in a field. Man, he and Wayne would love each other! They will have to meet one day.
When I was running away from Kay and Wayne's house in the pouring rain I was smiling the whole back to my place, hopping over all the puddles in my ugg boots that were given to me from Monica in the last town. Sometimes the beauty in people fills me up so much I feel like I could explode. There I was in a person's house who yesterday I didn't know at all and now I know so many stories from their lives. I know their voices and I know how they laugh and I know their loves and I've seen their pictures and know what their house smells like and I can tell when Kay is shy and I know that she hates the rain.
All of a sudden someone I didn't know yesterday tells me they will miss me tomorrow. That, to me, is life. That, to me, is what we're here for and I am forever grateful to them for giving me a bit of time in their precious lives to tell me their stories. This world can be scary and I am always warned by everyone to be careful and I know it's rough and there's bad, but the good is so good and it's worth going out to find. People have such heart. Heart like nothing else in this world. The things we could do....