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...
(photo by Walter, Concho, AZ )
...am I riding?
I spoke with a journalist here in St. John’s, AZ this morning, and he asked where this whole idea all came from. He said there is a comfort level that most people live in and that it is not normal, really, to break that. We go to grammar school, many of us go to college or get a job, we buy a house, a car...we kind of have a general map drawn out for us from when we are born of where to go. We are even given a name to answer to.
We live. We die.
I guess that’s just it. We live. We die.
There is an Ani Difranco line that says, "I was blessed with a birth and a death, and I guess I just want some say in between."
I don’t know where desires come from. Does anyone? We all have our individual thoughts, dreams, desires, views, goals, ideas, etc. that just come and form like a painting on canvas. Strokes and time and strokes and time to make a picture.
This ride is something I felt when I was little. I wasn’t influenced yet and didn’t know what was cool or wasn’t cool, I just wanted to ride. I have always looked out the window and watched a horse and I have always loved the land. It’s funny because it’s a mix of wanting to be with this one animal for miles and miles and really study him and know him, alone and quiet with the earth, but another part of it, and equally as strong, are the stories gathered from the people along the way.
I have never desired an escape or to run away. I have had a beautiful upbringing and I have a beautiful family. This ride isn’t about my escape from my tortured life after my parents divorce. That’s not it at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
The divorce was so incredibly hard to go through, but my focus is not on the sadness it caused and this ride is not a search for answers. It’s more of a desire to express what I believe to be the most fulfilling part of life, each other. By this I mean our stories, our families, our heartaches and our cured hearts, our desires to connect, our reasons for being here.
The amazing part of the whole divorce is that it was indeed the hardest time in my and probably my siblings and parents life to date, but we got through it. It’s not that I am upset and sad and want to get away and want an answer and there’s got to be more and there’s got to be more and there’s got to be more. That’s just not what I feel inside at all. This isn’t about escape, it’s about appreciation, challenge, desires, people, changes, laughter, love, family, unknowing, dreams, power, and the simple fact that we live and we die and there is a whole lot to do in between and the options are endless and there is no time limit or age limit or one way or stopping point.
It’s about the power that is in family (blood or not, people) that gives you the strength to never give up and it’s about the power of a dream and the importance of following it. Where does it all come from? What is the goal? I don’t really know. A little note didn’t come attached to my dream to sing, my dream to ride, my dream to live the way I live to explain why these things pop into my head. They just came and I followed.
I don’t think my way is the way and everyone should go jump on a horse (although it’s a pretty awesome time), but I do think there needs to be a return to the land, a return to using more of what our bodies have to offer, and a return to evening conversations around the kitchen table after dinner.
It’s really hard for me to put this all into words. I don’t always feel that I’m able to verbally express myself exactly the way I mean. For me, this just feels right. There is something between Soj and I. Walter too. There is a connection that comes from being with each other day in and day out and from depending on one another. We physically exhaust ourselves, but we eat well and breathe fresh air, we’re outside all the time, morning and night, and are both far stronger than when we started.
It’s a lot of work. I’m up very early to feed Soj so he has time to eat before I tack up. Tacking up is a task in itself because his legs have to be wrapped with sheep’s wool so the boots don’t rub, his hooves picked and sometimes filed a bit, then this whole process happens in reverse at the end of the day. I walk a good deal of the day beside Soj (not because it makes any difference to him, but because I like to be down by him and my legs get just as tired in the saddle), sometimes it’s really cold, sometimes it’s really hot, there are dangers and annoyances and we ride into camp or our hosts house sleepy, but really content. Everyday we meet someone amazing and see land, plants, flowers, sunsets and sunrises, bugs, snakes and animals we never would have seen otherwise.
Walter has an equally heavy work load mapping out the road ahead, setting up lunch for me and Soj, filling up water buckets over and over again, setting up the tent and the highline for Soj while I untack, feed, and cook dinner. He is documenting every day through photographs, he packs and unpacks the truck constantly, drives ahead to meet the people we are staying with before Soj and I get there....on and on, etc. etc.
We try to take one day off twice a week. On our days off I update this blog, edit pictures and videos, and work on leather orders. Walter spends the entire day editing pictures and helps me cut the leather hides. We do any grocery shopping we need to do, hand wash our clothes (unless we are hosted and have a washer), clean out the truck, and mail out orders.
I’m working harder probably than I ever have, but it feels amazing and I love every minute. It is hard for me to truly get across the feeling of having Soj with us every second. Walter feels it too. Sojourner is part of everything and he is so connected and calm with us now that he kind of just goes with the flow with whatever is going on so it’s never too stressful to make sure he’s comfortable. If we’re there, he’s okay…and I guess the same goes for us…because he’s there, we’re okay.
There’s not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to a lot of the things we do as humans. I mean, none of it makes a whole lot of sense, but there’s a constant theme of family and love and I really think it’s what we all care most about. I just want to get a little piece of that from people all over this country and put it all together.
It seems to me, that at the heart of every person is someone else.