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...
Mile Marker 209, Route 87 AZ...
My uncle Gary in Phoenix. We had to prove to him with a photo that I have bigger muscles.
Soj is thrilled right now. He is at a ranch eating a lot of grass. There are no other horses there. It's a ranch, but really only a couple of care takers live there and they are working on other projects...like RACE CARS!!!!
I told one of the care takers (Dave) my three dreams as a little girl...
"I always said I would be either a singer, a jockey, or a race car driver".
He said 'Reeeaaallly?? Well come around this way then".
We went to the other side of the barn/garage like structure and there is this super looking car designed to look like an old 60's race car. He unscrewed the top and told me if this was a dream that I should get in. I got in and "whoosh!" all the feeling of doing something I have wanted flooded through me! I could imagine what that car would feel like accelerating. Dave said he'll make the dream come true one day for me. This car accelerates from 0-200 in....shoot, I can't remember...but he said it's like being inside of a bullet. Oh, Walter just told me it's 6 seconds. 0-200 in 6 seconds!! I'm conditioning Soj to get that kind of power...he's getting there. :)
We got to run a lot through the Indian Reservation yesterday.
Soj and I rode bareback and with no bridle or anything the last 2 days because it's so hot and we both loved it. Yesterday we rode through an Indian Reservation. It was beautiful riding through about 11 or 12 miles of fields and orchards that ran along the Rio Verde River. Soj and I cantered and galloped a lot of it. He was feeling it so I let him because I'm always feeling it! I'm ready if he's ready.
The night before that neither Soj nor I got any sleep though. We were camping out and I could hear Soj kind of shuffling around the whole night and it kept me up. I guess that's true love! One can't sleep if the other isn't sleeping, although Soj could still sleep if I wasn't sleeping. Ah well...
We rode about 23 miles and I was pretty tired and hot and sticky and starving when we got into camp. Walter had gone grocery shopping though so we whipped together an Alfredo pasta dinner and even had a little white wine. It was nice. But...I didn't sleep last night much either. Soj was as quiet as a mouse the whole night, but I was so sticky and so hot in the tent that I just couldn't get comfortable. I got up this morning ready to go though so I must have fallen asleep at some point. I made some coffee and eggs and toast for me and the boys and was up on Soj by 9am. Kinda late, I know, but we only had 10 miles to go today.
I had the cops called on me again yesterday. We rode on the side of the highway half of the day yesterday until after dark and people couldn't believe it. Most people are super positive and cheer and wave, but I know when I'm out like that that the cops will probably come. They were so nice though. They were a little surprised and said they had to do a double take, but they were supportive. Pedro and Jeremiah were their names.
It's funny because Pedro stopped us earlier on the highway to see if we were on the highway and then a few hours later 2 cop cars came and I recognized the voice (now it's dark though so I couldn't see) so I said "Pedro??" He said "Yeah! Hey! We got a call that there was a girl and a bunch of kids and a skittish horse on the highway" with a little laugh.
I don't know why someone would say there were kids with us and Soj could have an anvil fall from the sky and land in front of him at this point and I don't think he would spook. The cops said they would be flooded with calls tomorrow as we continued down the highway but that they would be ready for it.
The ride today was gorgeous. I am on the highway all the way to Payson which stinks, but the land surrounding the highway is phenomenally gorgeous. Right now Walter and I are at a Sport's Bar in a town called Fountain Hills. Soj is in a fenced in area at the Whitney Circle Bar ranch with tons of grass to eat. He is delighted, I'm sure.
We are 40 miles from Payson so we'll ride 20 tomorrow and 20 the next. I was going to push it and get to Payson tomorrow, but I think it will be nicer to do it in two days. Especially since we both are running on small amounts of sleep. We will play catch up tonight though.
Walter and I met this cool guy from Brooklyn in the post office and I should have asked him to dinner, but I didn't. He is about to open a bagel shop in this area and before we even got up to the counter I leaned in to Walter and said "he's from New York so he knows bagels". I had overheard him talking to the guy in front of us about his soon to come shop and heard his accent.
As it turned out he was from New York. I asked him if the secret to the dough was in the NY water since nobody can ever really replicate it anywhere else. He said he could make that dough out of toilet water.
As we drove away I told Walter I would have liked to talk with him more and that I almost asked him to come meet up with us later but I didn't. I have had times where I almost didn't spend time with someone new or go out because I felt too tired and I am always glad I went when I do go.
There was a night I had a glass of wine and chatted a while with a couple in Salome, AZ. We were offered a shower by this kind woman, Clare, who I mentioned in earlier blogs, and I almost didn't go because I was painfully tired and sometimes I feel bad using people's showers. She was very warm and sincere with her offer though so I decided to go. Walter and Jordan stayed behind and the whole time I was thinking "Oh I wish they were here!" Clare and Jim were such a wonderful couple and I kept thinking "wow, I almost didn't come here and I never would have had this time with them". I ended up meeting Clare's amazing daughter the next day and having another great afternoon with a group of wonderful women.
So, it's just like that. I told Walter we have to remember even when we are so tired and don't really think we want to talk or whatever the case may be, that this is what we're out here for and saying "no thank you" and walking away could be the biggest mistake of the entire trip. People are like little treasures everywhere. I am blown away by how similar we all are. It's a beautiful thing. I think people are more scared of people than anything else and yet there's really nothing scary. Nothing scary at all.
This is me yesterday trying to see the computer screen in the sun at camp on the side of the road. It was SO hot that day. Walter is in the truck with a shirt over the window to block the sun and Jordan is in his ambulance. I look like a naked little gremlin, but I'm not naked and I'm not a gremlin.
Aunt Betty and Uncle Gary took us out to dinner at this place that has bull riding in Phoenix. It was awesome and I so badly wanted to get on, but my mom said I have to wait until the ride is over. I went over to ask the guy if I could get on and he said I could! I just have to sign a waiver and pay a fee. I had flip flops on though. The guy I asked looked at me like he didn't take me seriously, but I'm getting on that bull one of these days!!!! I'll show 'em yet!