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...
Highway 61 visited.
Stephen said I have gone on three different highways now that have songs written about them. Hwy 66, The Carefree Highway, and Highway 61. High time I write my own!!
I had the coldest ride ever riding to St. John's. The wind was strong and blown from a snowbank. It was like ice cutting through with no trees to block it. We rode 25 miles in wind, rain, and at times, snow.
The day before that we rode 18 miles from Snowflake to a spot where we camped. We didn't know where to sleep that night. Finally we came across a gate in the barbed wire fence and went in. We found a place in some bushy trees where we were pretty hidden from the road. Soj behaved wonderfully. It was super windy, but he was calm and once dinner was over he quietly slept through the night.
April, 24. 7:38am
It's the next morning now. We are getting a bit of a late start, but that's okay. We'll be in New Mexico tonight! The border is about 20 miles from here. We are going to ride about 30, I think. We turned Soj out last night in the wind and he galloped and bucked all over the place. I loved watching him. Then he would bolt back to us and say hi and take off again.
This morning as we were driving out to come here Soj was eating his hay and the sweetest cat (it's Kay's cat and he sits like a little King) was sitting there right next to him. He had walked a good 150 feet to walk from Kay's to go sit by Soj.
It was COLD though. I quickly untacked Soj and started making dinner. We had bought some red wine so I sauteed mushrooms and onions in the wine and then added a Vodka sauce and penne pasta. We had the leftover wine to drink and finished it all off with some chocolates. We read "A Farewell To Arms" until we drifted to sleep.
I woke up to a very awake, ready to eat, very curious about the snow, Sojourner. He was a little shaky, not because he was cold, but because I think that was probably the first time in his whole life he had ever had snow fall from the sky onto him. I heard it was going to be cold, but when I stepped out of the tent and saw everything coated with a beautiful, fresh coat of snow I gasped and said, "Walter! It snowed and it's so beautiful!"
It was too, it was gorgeous. The sun was shining making the snow sparkle and it was fairly warm. Soj settled down once hay was put in front of him and seemed to forget about the unfamiliar white stuff all around him.
The snow forced us to clean everything out because a lot of stuff got wet, so that was good. There was water at the bottom of most of the bins so Walter took everything out and wiped it all down. It needed to be done anyway.
We had breakfast and set off to ride 25 miles to St. John's. It was freezing. Sometimes it felt as cold as when I used to ski in NH. We used to have to get up early in the morning to train and I would freeze out there and to tell you the truth, because of the wind, it felt nearly the same.
It started to snow on us and Soj kept knocking his head around trying to get each drop of snow that fell off of him. It was cute and funny, but a little annoying after a while. I mean, it was mostly cute, but you know...not the smoothest ride with that big hard head knocking all over the place.
There was a point where I had to go to the bathroom so badly I was about to have an anxiety attack! Earlier in the day the road was so long I could see a mile ahead and a mile behind so I just went right on the side, but later on the road started to bend too often to be safe and there were absolutely no trees or bushes! I sent Walter a text saying "have to pee so badly, I need you", but it took a while for him to get it and 20 minutes later I was starting to spasm! I even felt a little nauseous. I got off Soj (painfully) and crossed the street to go behind a little bush. I didn't care. Just then Walter came around the corner and quickly pulled over by me. Phew. That was the worst.
We had another 6 miles after that and I was so cold and ready to be done. Once I got back on and was no longer feeling like the world was going to end because I had to go to the bathroom so badly, the rest of the ride was okay.
Walter parked the truck at the fairgrounds and ran to us to meet us a mile away from our destination. We walked in to meet a woman names Kay who manages the grounds. Kay is 69 and has been at the fairgrounds/Equestrian Center for about 4 years now.
I asked her if it would be alright if we camped by Soj on the property and with a wink she said she thought she could work something out. She kindly put us up in a warm RV trailer and we had access to a hot shower and a working stove! It was great to be able to cook everything at once. I made Chile Relleno, rice, and homemade chips with salsa. We treated ourselves to some rootbeer and made a brownie sundae too. I am planning tonight's dinner while I write this in my head right now because I'm starving!!
Tomorrow we take off on a long dirt road South of the Zuni Indian Reservation. We are headed towards Quemado, then Pie Town, and on to Bernardo, NM. We'll be in New Mexico tomorrow (but I am going to post this in the morning so by the time you read this it's actually today that we will be in New Mexico).
We are going to be away from any civilization for about 2 days (63 miles) until we hit Quemado. Apparently there is nothing in Quemado, but at least we can get water there.
I probably won't be able to post a decent entry for a little while because I think it's going to be a good week or so before we have internet. I kinda wish we were going to be in towns because I feel like I have a little bug...not so right on the inside, but it'll be fine. I'll just really bundle up.
Right now it's 35 degrees and the winds are close to 50mph. I hope it's not going to be like this tomorrow! Oh man, that will stink! I guess it's all part of the adventure though...
Right now though I am in the warm trailer and Soj has been turned out and brought back and is now eating his dinner. We went out and got another brownie to make another warm brownie sundae with so I think I am going to take my last shower for a long while, get in to bed really early, and eat it. Maybe we can even watch a movie! Yeah, that's what we'll do....
April, 24. 7:38am
We are getting a bit of a late start this morning, but that's okay. It's still windy this morning, but not as bad and it's not as cold. We are going to be in New Mexico tonight!! We are only about 20 miles from the air now. I think we will ride 30 today. We are going to kick it up a notch for the next week, I think. We'll try to average 30 miles a day. There's just nothing around so we might as well ride and get through it.
As we were driving out we looked at Soj eating his hay in his stall and Kay's sweet cat was over there sitting next to him. I love the way animals do that. He was just calmly sitting there. He's a very stately cat...long haired and sits with perfect posture blinking slowly. Soj is such a lover of other animals. I don't think I've met an animal that horse doesn't want to be near. He even warmed up to that iron Elk from a few entries ago after about 8 minutes. Then he wanted to stay with it!
I should get on the road....it's going to be cold tonight. The earlier we get in the better...
Me and Kay talking about another woman who rode through there called Bernice Ende.
breakfast in the snow