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...
It's not 50/50, it's 90/10
Payson, AZ is such a beautiful part of the country. Arizona in the Spring is like nowhere else. The flowers with the desert backdrop is breathtakingly beautiful and the air is warm with a gentle cool breeze. Perfect.
I am sitting in the backyard of a beautiful home in the sun right now. The couple who we are staying with, Robbie and John, fed us a nice dinner last night of chicken, asparagus, mushrooms, potatoes, and fresh pineapple. John gave us some great red wine I know well called 2 Buck Chuck. We had a Trader Joe's around the corner in the East Bay and we often had a bottle of 2 Buck Chuck at the house. Apparently it won a taste contest against really expensive wines. I love red and white wine, but to tell you the truth I can't really tell the difference between the fancy ones and the cheaper ones. All I know is if you put wine, good cheese, some roasted garlic, chutney, and a baguette together, I'm in heaven. Whether it be 2 Buck Chuck or million dollar fancy red.
Walter working on sponsorship stuff on Robbie and John's porch
John also made us some Irish coffees before bed which instantly whisked Walter and I back to our time in Ireland. It's funny because just this morning Walter heard from our good friend, Mark, who's farm we lived on in Ireland. I can't wait to see Mark and his family again. Ireland is in my near future for sure.
The ambulance is in the shop getting a new transmission. Robbie and John were kind enough to go fetch the trailer off of the side of the road for us and bring it to their house so the ambulance could be towed to the shop. Right now Walter and I are working on getting some sponsorship to help with some of the expenses of this trip and Robbie and John have taken Jordan out on a sight seeing drive.
The night before last Walter had found what he thought was an abandoned corral, but really it was a group of corrals for the cows that roam free on that land. The land is owned by a family called the McGill's. Soj and I traveled 23 miles and we were to stop at mile marker 233. We walked down the drive at mile marker 233 to see Walter enjoying a Coors Light with two brothers (the McGill brothers) named Travis and Pete. A woman was with them as well called Media.
I introduced myself but then wasn't sure if I should keep on heading up the road since obviously this land belonged to someone. I quietly said to Walter, "Should I head on up the road a bit and look for a place then?"
Travis and Pete overheard and said, "No! There's a corral right there for him and I've already got some alfalfa in there! Good alfalfa too."
Walter said he had stopped to take a picture of the windmill that was next to the corrals and because he stopped to take the photo it stalled him long enough to run into Pete, Travis, and Media as they pulled into the drive. If he hadn't stalled they would have pulled on their property to see a truck full of stuff and would definitely have been confused and probably not thrilled.
They were the nicest guys and Media was helpful in giving us tips on how to get those easy boots off (a little soap). Walter and I both wished we could have spent more time with them, but we left them a note in the morning with a bundle of Bob's sage.
The night before that we were at the Whitney Circle Bar Ranch. John was the name of the owner of that ranch and Dave and Marcos were the care takers. This is the place I talked about earlier that had the cool race car. As I was getting ready to leave John came over with two of his friends (I believe they were there for some sort of business transaction) and one of his friends called Diamantis (Diamond in English) invited us over for some red wine and dinner. What a name, huh? I think if I ever have a son I just might have to call him Diamantis. My Diamond!!!
I hated to have to leave because he is one of those people who shoots his spirit out at you the instant you look at each other. He is from Greece and said he puts a suit on when he needs to, but that he is a gypsy at heart and that he knows he will see us again. Definitely. He definitely will.
I didn't get to say goodbye to Marcos or Dave, but Walter got to see Marcos before he took off. He is another person that instantly welcomes you in right away. When I had first gotten to the Whitney Circle Bar Ranch, Marcos asked if Walter and I would like anything to drink. I told him I was fine because we were going to go find a cafe soon anyway. About 2 minutes later he was there with two fruit drinks for us and then after that he and Dave were getting a bucket and filling it with water for Soj. They offered us their shower and Marcos said "anything, anything you need you take it". He brought me into his rooms and showed me where the lotions were and moved his arms around the room as to say "this is yours".
When Walter said goodbye to Marcos the next morning, Marcos handed him a bunch of drinks for the road. What a guy.
As Soj and I were trekking up the hill yesterday I came across an older couple on the side of the road. They had a big RV with a Jeep Grand Cherokee hooked to the back of it. They were both outside of the RV back by the jeep and the woman looked up with a smile when we rode up next to them.
They said they had seen me a ways back and asked where I was headed. I said Payson and then New Hampshire and they smiled and laughed and said they loved it. I told them I was collecting stories from people across the country and the man said "Well here, I've got a quick story for you then".
He told me his grandson had been in a bad car crash when he was in the eighth grade and was unable to talk for 2 and a half months. Because of this, he would escort his grandson to school, carry his books, and stay with him in class. Now, he had only gone as far as the eighth grade himself and so he was actually now going into 9th grade for the first time as well. When his grandson finished the 9th grade, the Principle wrote out a certificate that said the Grandfather no longer had only an eighth grade education, but a 9th grade education. He said with a laugh that he still has the certificate.
I asked how long they had been married and they answered 55 years. He was now 80 and she was 70 (although you would never guess those ages to look at them). I then asked what makes a marriage work for 55 years and she answered this, "Well, we still love each other and we do a lot of things together. We dance. We used to do square dancing, but now we're in to old cars since dancing is a little difficult for us".
He said, "Yeah, and I'm still training her too. I just showed her how to jack up this car and she did it!"
She showed me her greasy hands and said, "Yeah! I did it! That was the fist time I ever jacked up a car in my life".
They said they had just put 4 brand new tires on that jeep, but they must have hit something on the road because a man drove by beeping his horn and pointing to their jeep behind them. They checked it out and saw the flat and he told her he would show her how to jack up the car.
After thinking a minute the woman interjected, "You know the other thing...it's not 50/50. It's 90/10 one day for him and another day it might be 90/10 for me. Some days are just going to be his days and I just have to say 'okay, this day is for him' and know that I'll get my days too".
I went to shake their hands goodbye and she hesitated for a minute and said, "oh I'm so dirty!" and I assured her that my hands were about as dirty as they could get already. We shook hands and I left them filled with energy from our meeting which was good because Soj and I were about to conquer 12 miles that went up 2,000 feet.
Speaking of getting energy from people, every time one of you tells me to give Soj a kiss for you I really do kiss him for you and it puts a little extra pep in his step. I tell him who the kiss is from and give him a big kiss on the cheek if I'm walking beside him or I lean over and kiss him on the neck for you if I'm riding. He loves them and I love to give them so keep the kisses coming!
Another thing I want to mention are the cops in Arizona. They are the nicest, most helpful, wonderful cops I have ever known. They come to check on me often and one of them, Jimmy, even offered to get the trailer when he got off duty and tow it up to Payson if we needed it towed. Robbie and John ended up getting it for us, but Jimmy even stopped by later to make sure we were okay and that the trailer was back with us. You often hear people say "it takes a certain kind of person to be a cop". Well, in Arizona that statement stands true and the kind of person it takes is kind, helpful, and full of smiles.
Broken ambulance. Huge bummer. Poor Jordan has been trying to fix this thing, but it's looking like it might be the end for our big orange friend.