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...

Leaving Magdalena


This is the cute little dog outside of the cafe we ate at. As we were eating the cook came over and gave me a rose for Mother's Day. It's now drying on the dashboard of the truck. He said "you might not be a mother, but here's a rose for you anyway". So sweet.

So, my video blog attempts were unsuccessful. The first one didn’t have sound and then Walter and I took up a huge part of yesterday trying to figure out why, and then how to recover the original (because I had deleted it, something I never do). Then we decided to just try and edit the videos again and the sound was all crackly.

So I’m taking it as a sign. I’m sticking to writing. Walter and I talked last night before we fell asleep about how we have to make sure we take time to walk around the towns and meet people and what not. A lot of times it’s ride, ride, ride, and then internet all day to try and catch up. We need to work that all out a little better.

We both agreed it can be really relaxing to sit in a café all day, sip on a hot drink, and work, but we have to balance it a little better.

Anyway, it’s 6:45am now and it was painful to get up. I had the alarm set for 5:30. We have a 35 mile ride today.

“I need help”, I said to Walter about a half hour after the alarm went off.

Walter said he would help me stay in bed because it’s too cold out there.

This is not exactly what I needed, but what I wanted.

“No, I need help getting out of bed this morning”.

“I’ll go feed Soj”, he said “stay here”.

“No, no….”

So that went on for a minute and then he shot up and got dressed and passed me sweaters and socks and a hat so I could dress in my sleeping bag (hard to do in a one person bag) and made us some tea.

Now he’s out feeding Soj and I am writing this on Word so he can post it later.

I wanted to be riding by 7 or so… it looks like I will be riding by 8, but that’s okay. We should still be able to get in to Lemitar around 7pm and we are going to spend the day there tomorrow. It sounds like it’s going to be a great stop.

Athena, Maykean, and Catherine really helped us get through one of our hardest nights.

The night before last was so windy. The tent wouldn’t’even stay on the ground unless both of us were in it. Sojourner was pacing and sometimes whinnying out in the night so I didn’t sleep a second. It was cold and the wind was incredibly loud.

We were at the rodeo grounds so things were blowing and clanging all around. I got out in the morning to feed Soj and my side of the tent flew up in the wind. I got the camera to film it, walked backwards, fell over Soj’s water bucket, and my head stopped my fall by landing on the metal fence. I have a huge egg now.

So we went to the only little restaurant/motel in town. I had a bag of ice on my head and was concerned about the wind and poor Soj. There is no cover at the rodeo grounds. Stephen and my mom were calling people from home and we were talking to the locals but we weren’t having a lot of luck. Everyone tried to find us some shelter, but not a lot of people have barns here and really, there just aren’t a lot of people!

Walter just walked back in to the trailer with frozen hands. Soj’s water was ice! Now he’s making some eggs and toast.

So we left the little café and headed back to the rodeo grounds. We first stopped at the feed store right by the rodeo grounds and ran into Catherine again (we had met her when we were riding in the first night). She offered us their trailer. I really needed to lie down. I took a nap for a few hours.

Before that we went out to Soj and made a barrier out of blankets against the fence to block the wind. It actually worked really well. This way Soj had some relief from the wind and his hay would stay on the ground and not blow away.

We went to the trailer and napped a few hours and I felt so much better when I got up. The three women made us dinner with fresh greens.

When you walk into their house you are greeted by colors and art. It’s a lovely place. Catherine and Athena joke that they have already lived a few different lives in their one lifetime and I soon learned why.

They both lived in NYC before coming to this tiny little town. Catherine was (and still is) a photographer. She has been a war photographer and worked on photography assignments that took her to places she wouldn’t have been otherwise, like out to sea with an old fisherman who had been exiled and was worried she was there to arrest him. There is more to that story, but I think I would mess up the facts if I tried to write it. I was so interested, but also so tired when we were talking.

Athena is a drug addiction therapist. She has started her own practice in Socorro and has land between here and there with an old motel on it. They hope to maybe make it into a café one day. Athena said it’s 12 miles East of here and if the winds picked up while we were riding we could always crash there. She said we could even put Sojourner in a room! That would have been a scene!

Athena and Catherine adopted their lovely daughter, Maykean, when she was 16. Maykean came from Northern California and actually, Athena and her family are from the Bay Area. Maykean is about to head to college in Santa Fe and she’s really excited. I was taken back by Maykean’s communication skills. She really looks at you when you talk and she listens well. It’s a rare quality that jumps out at you.

The three women had fantastic stories of their rich lives. Athena’s mother now lives in London. Both of Athena’s Grandparents were killed in a plane explosion when Athena’s mom was in her 20’s. Athena’s mom met her father at Berkeley in CA and they decided to go to Greece to “make babies”. When the marriage started to fail, Athena’s mom handed her dad Athena and said she was going to take a voyage to Africa while he thought about if he wanted to be married or not. In the end it didn’t work out and Athena would go back and forth between her parents either to New York or Africa or wherever the parents were.

Athena is a free spirit who isn’t afraid to leave the life of the village in NY for a town that has basically nothing. She has a sister who was affected differently. She prefers to have her life planned out and know what the next day holds.

“And thank God for it!” Athena says.

The women were all a joy and I wish I had been more alert to catch a few more stories. They had plenty to tell and all three of them were full of light and life.

I have more tales of this little town, but it will have to be continued later because I’ve got to go tack Soj now and get on the road.

More tomorrow…


  1. Wow, you meet the most fascinating people. Athena, Catherine, and Maykean sound like amazing individuals.

    Sorry you hit your head. That must have really hurt. Glad you apparently didn't suffer a concussion.

    Wind is so insidious. It just wears you down. Everything is so much harder and you just want it to stop with the bleepity bleep blowing for awhile.

    Your writing is so wonderful that we don't need the videos. No point in getting aggravated trying to upload videos that won't cooperate. Just get the footage. The documentary filmmaker who turns this into a great movie will want to revisit these places to get more footage anyway.

  2. Linny,
    The wind has been howling here, too but I can easily come back inside the house and watch it sway the tree tops from my cozy kitchen window. It's exhausting to be in it. Don't know how those Dakota and Wyoming folks manage. Guess everyone has to deal with the wind in the spring. Blowing out what remains of winter so summer can get a foothold. For me, the only thing worse than a cold wind is when it's freezing. Makes my nose run just thinking about it.
    How is Soj holding up with the winds? My nightmare story about horses and wind.....1975, I was taking riding lessons in Fort Bragg at Baldhill stables. There's a reason they call it Baldhill. No trees, not even a bush is growing there. So, I'm doing my dressage, posting, etc, round and round the arena on a horse that I'd ridden many many times. It had been rather windy and the horses and riders were all a little frazzled. I got off the horse and was holding its lead when a group of about 4 or 5 woman gather around me and the horse and start talking. One gal starts to joke about the mud on the horse's belly, saying how much brushing I had ahead of me. She touches some of the mud and that horse just went berserk. Before I could turn his head and get him under control, he had bucked and kicked 3 of the women into the air. It all happened in less than a minute. All three women were seriously injured and we are a good 45 minutes to an hour to the hospital. Knowing the ambulance would take that long just to get to us, we put the women on top of old doors and carried them into a van, driving them to the hospital. Once there, one had a fractured thigh, one a broken arm and the third, worst of all, had her liver ruptured. All three recovered but it was unfortunately the last day of the horse's life. The owner had him put down and had an autopsy done to determine what had happened. We never did know. More likely, a bee sting or something. One of the scariest and saddest days of my youth.
    Funny, I haven't thought about that incident for 20 + years. Your little adventure seems to draw out all kinds of past stories as well as new thoughts from me.
    Looking at the google map, it appears you will stay in fairly high altitudes for a while. The satellite images show snow but not sure how long ago the photo was taken. Hope it starts to warm up for you soon.
    Sending lots of warm thoughts your way.

  3. That's such a sad story, Nancy. I hope it didn't put you off of horses forever. It's a shame that the horse had to be euthanized, but I can't tell you that I would have decided differently, and I love all animals and want to give them every opportunity.

    I've seen some horses panic, but never anything remotely as bad as that in terms of injuring bystanders. It is almost as if the poor horse had some sort of neurological damage.

    I sure hope the women recovered both physically and emotionally. Very sad.

    Like you, I'm hoping for some warm weather for the three of them soon. They're in the southwests in May, for Pete's sake. Sheesh.

    Jeni's Birthday today, everyone! I'm friends with her on FB and it popped up. Wish her a happy one!!!!

  4. Happy Birthday Jeni,
    You share the month with another horse lover, no other than our shared and heavily wooed, Linny. Of course, you probably already know that. Must be a good month for strong young women. Especially the ones in N.H. I'll concede a few points to you. But haven't taken off the gloves!
    Tom, yeah, the vet thought it might have been some neurological problem, as well. It was heartbreaking to all of us, including the injured women. We all spent a lot of time at the stables with a variety of horses and this one was one of the best dressage horses there. All three women healed and continued with horses except the one who's liver was damaged. They had to sew a netting device around her liver to keep it together, while it healed. She was in ICU for a long time and decided to hang up her saddle. Can't say I blame her. If I recall, she hadn't been riding very long, so this was a pretty scary situation. For us all. I did keep riding but haven't had horses or ridden since my kids were young. We kept cart ponies while they were growing up but neither of my boys ever got the horse bug. Life got really full of family, gardening, work and all the rest that comes, so I suppose I never really was a horse woman. Still enjoy them and admire their strength and beauty but I'll have to accept they aren't in my blood and just go along for the ride with Linny.

    Hope they haven't been blown off the globe. The suspense is killing me.


  5. Oh my gosh – I’m just catching up on the blog after a few busy days. I can’t believe what I’ve missed- poor Linny, Soj and Walter. Thank goodness you are all so strong and Linny didn't sustain a serious head injury!

    Thank you so much for the Birthday wishes Tom and Nancy. I managed to get a day off work and had a wonderful time with my step-daughter and two of her friends from school. I did notice a few posts back that Linny's birthday is coming up- I feel another connection with her now! Thanks for the points Nancy!

    This seems a fitting place to share my own "nightmare" experience with horses as it still haunts me at times. When my husband first decided to get into horses, we did not have the money to go out and purchase a well trained beginner's horse. We also believe in adopting animals whenver possible, so we headed to a horse rescue and fell in love with a 5 year old PMU rescue gelding. He had been saddled, but not ridden. He was adopted out as a foal, but came back to the rescue as his adopters did not have the time for him. He had a sweet personality and Rich fell in love with him. I explained it would be a long time of working and training him- no instant riding. We both agreed we were willing to take that on.

    Clyde came to our home in the fall- he gained weight and grew more confident with every day at our place. We worked him when we could through the winter and by spring I was succesfully mounting him and calmy walking.

    One day I had him in the cross ties, saddle on, and went to reach for his bridle- he flipped out, reared, broke the cross ties and ran into the barn onto the exposed concrete (we have rubber mats at cross ties). He slipped and fell on the concrete, I ran to him as he got up, calmed him, checked for any injuries- luckily there were none. There was absolutely nothing we could see that set him off- no wind, nothing under the saddle, no spooky things at all. I walked him out of the barn, around the yard and towards the paddock. All the sudden he knocked me down and trampled over the top of me bucking. One of his front feet pinned down one of my arms and his hind feet both came down on my back.

    I've never felt such terror, I couldn't move and was in severe pain. All I could think about was if I had ruptured organs. Rich was right there- caught Clyde and rushed me to the hospital. I had never felt such pain- both to my pride(I had only come off a horse 3 times in my whole life) and body.

    I was fortunate to only have a couple broken ribs and some bad bruising. It took a while to heal but the deeper pain came from trying to see why Clyde did this? I consulted with some professional trainers, my vet and friends and family. I know a horses natural instinct is to run away from humans, and that police horses have to be trained to barge through people for crowd control. I was advised on everything from putting him down to cowboy breaking him. He became continually agressive towards us and the other horses, and I too worried there was something nuerological going on in his head. We couldn't identify any outward causes for his behavior.

    I've had a history of doing well with "problem horses", and if I had been single and a little youger I wouldn't have thought twice about working through this with him. But now I had a husband, and step-daughter to consider. It killed me to admit that we were no longer the right home for Clyde, nor he for us- I wanted to fix things, and I've never been a quitter.

    I just couldn't see putting him down, and was fortunate enough to be able to return him to the rescue. She had a trainer she felt would be willing to work with him. We do not know where he has ended up, and I have a huge hole in my heart from the whole experience.

    We have since gotten Rich a new horse- Sarah is a wonderful match for him. And me, I will never give up my lifelong addiction to horses.

  6. Jeni,
    Thank goodness you weren't more seriously injured. But that was bad enough. Broken ribs are incredibly painful, and can cause much more serious internal injuries.

    Who knows what happened to poor Clyde. But sound judgement HAS TO prevail over heartstrings in a situation like this one. The risk and danger is just too great unless one is a super-experienced trainer. I'm glad that Clyde was able to go back to the rescue, but I applaud you for not deciding to try to keep working with him. I dearly, dearly love all horses, but it doesn't help if we become injured, or too afraid to work with horses.