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...

Timing is everything.


A picture for my sister...here, dids. A toad. I picked him up and he blew up to twice his size and made me yelp! I wasn't expecting that. They usually just pee a little!

There is a woman who was divorced 4 years ago.

She left the town she lived in with her husband and moved back to the little town her 91 year old mother lives in.

"People say I moved here to take care of my mother, but the truth is, I moved here so she could take care of me".

Once a mother, always a mother.

There is a man who is about to leave his wife of 20 years, or rather, they are about to leave each other.

Different ideas, different desires.

Something changed.

There is a woman who has numbered days.

Each month is like an advent calendar, a sewn piece of cloth with little pockets that hold fine chocolates in them.

Each morning she can unravel her little gift and savor it's rich flavor, her countdown to the birth of whatever is next.


It was hard to leave the comforts of Dr. Steve Turner and Roberta's home. They treated us as if we were their own children. On the last evening we went to dinner together at a Mexican Restaurant and later that evening Walter and the Doc played pool and told jokes while I was upstairs writing.

I decided to bring my computer down to the game room where they were and we all laughed and chatted for a while.

Before going up to bed, Dr. Turner opened a door and pulled out a bottle of 120 year old French Brandy. He poured 3 glasses and told us it was a toast called a Tontine. This is an Irish toast borrowed from the French that means the parting of friends, until we meet again.
He also sent us off with two Irish coins. My coin is one cent and it has a chicken on it. Walter's is a 1/2 cent and it has pigs on it. He said he knew better than to give me the one with pigs on it.
"Good thinking", said his wife, Roberta.

The 1/2 cent is actually the luckier of the two, but we combined the powers of our coins so we're both running equally strong on luck.

Walter and Dr. Steve Turner chatting at the kitchen table
We didn't leave as early as we had planned that morning and suffered in the heat. We left around 10am and rode until 9pm. We checked into the motel room at 11:30pm that was donated to us by the Floydada Fire Department called The Bunk House.

The next morning, heading out to Matador.

Walter had driven ahead and picked up some food the restaurant in town called Nielson's had donated to us, but we had to save it for the next day because we had eaten about 3 hours earlier.

Back in Plainview, Angie from the feed store, Gebos, called to offer us anything we needed for Sojourner. We left there with 2 bags of Safechoice, fly spray, and 2 big bottles of Red Cell. Angie, the manager, asked if we were sure we didn't need anything else after all of that!

We said that was more than generous and headed back to the house. Later that afternoon a man named Larry and his son, Lorenzo, came by in their truck with 2 bags of rolled oats in the back.

"You must be the girl going across the country! We've brought you some oats!"

This was Angie's husband's best friend.

The next morning we stopped at the feed store to take a picture in front of the building and Angie had flip flops for me that she had gone out and bought and ankle socks for Walter! My flip flops had broken the other day (I go through them fast) and so I was back to wearing my hot shoes. So, she saved me. I instantly kicked off my shoes and put the flip flops on.

In front of Gebos, obviously before the flip flops.

We rode on in awful heat for another 25 miles or so and then Angie showed up on the road with her husband, Guillermo, and her two kids. They had brought dinner for us and themselves so we all ate together on the side of the road. They also had brought a bucket of fly spray for Soj so we could refill our spray bottle when we ran out and 4 or 5 bottles of spray for us as well!

Soj and I look confused. We didn't photograph well in this one. ;)

Guillermo said he is a country boy and Angie is a city girl. They were out at a ranch one day with an old man who is a friend of Guillermo's. Guillermo said the old man had gone to get something out of the tractor and told Angie to stay right there. Before they knew it Guillermo was off running and Angie didn't know what had happened. The old man had gone to get a snake skin out of the tractor to scare Angie, but he didn't know snakes are one of Guillermo's biggest fears! Talk about a backfire plan! City girls got some guts!

So we had dinner with them and then rode the final 6 miles or so to Floydada. As we trotted down the road, Tom Farris waited for us on the side of the road at the start of town. He led us to his beautiful home and ranch where Soj would stay for the evening.

The next morning we saw him at the little restaurant called Leonard's that we were eating breakfast at. He wanted to buy it for us, but it was already paid for by the Fire Department. We said our goodbye's to Tom and left too late in the morning for Matador.

Leaving Tom's.

We have been in record breaking highs. The hottest has been 104, but this day felt like 1,298,360 degrees even if it was only 100. Sojourner doesn't sweat at the trot, even on very hot days, but he was getting a little moist on this day after only a short while of trotting.

There was no way we could slowly walk through that day (with trotting not being an option) so we went back on the county road to look for a place to rest for a while. We got lucky and found a place where the road had been washed out creating a little Oasis in the middle of nowhere.

It was actually very, very lucky that we found this place (must have been the coins). We cut through farm land and didn't really know if it would meet up with the road again, but as it turned out it got us around where the road had washed out and on the other side.

Can you see Walter camped out behind Soj?
Before finding the Oasis, Soj underwent some of the most serious cow training he's had to face yet. I wrote earlier about his new fear of cows. It's pretty aggravating for me because I am not always fully alert in my saddle on these long days and that little guy will see a cow and bolt on me. I have to compose myself quickly in the saddle and halt his frazzled 500 pound head to a stop.

So...we started with this. These guys were a challenge and there is one in front of every single business in Plainview.
The next cow was a cow with a cop suit painted on it. 7 cops came to us. 3 in a truck, 2 in another truck, and 2 on a golf cart. We were riding in front of a jail.

"We have to come check out anything that is out of the ordinary and this is certainly out of the ordinary."

They were very nice guys. They even took off their cowboy hats to approach me and shake my hand. I decided we would let the cop cow be as to not raise any more suspicion and practice with the real cows up ahead.

Well, what was up ahead was a little advanced for Soj.

Not this. Big crazy looking massive tractors don't faze Soj....
He sees them up there. I have to put his bit on and prepare us both for craziness ahead...

We made a big arch around this whole mess as the cows poured out of the broken down fence. Eventually a rancher came and guided them back in. Thank goodness, because they had caught sight of Soj out in the field and were very curious about him. The rancher had to keep shooing them back onto the road. I felt bad because I could have helped herd them in, but Soj is just not the horse for that job. Maybe one day, but not yet.

We went way out to the right there....

Poor sweet cow.

We ended up only going 13 miles on this super hot day. I was really dragging and I felt bad for Soj. We had gone about 7 miles before our rest and decided we needed to camp instead of pushing it to Matador after another 6 miles. It was getting cooler, but a storm was pulling in as well and we were just too tired.

Walter went to a house and asked about a corral we had passed. We met Wesley Campbell who ended up putting us up in the air conditioned office in his barn for the night and gave Soj a corral as well.

Wesley came back in his giant Transformer, more than meets the eye, and told us he had forgotten to mention that he has an air conditioned office with a bathroom for us.

Can you see little Soj back there on his back? He does full on somersaults when we take that saddle off.

We set our alarm for 4am, hit the snooze when it went off, and got up at 4:30. We had 17 miles to get to Matador where we had another motel room that the town had donated to us and a nice place for Soj at the FFA ranch.

This was a wonderful morning. Walter and I both really enjoyed it. We had more energy, it was cool, and Soj seemed like he was happy to be riding in the morning as well.

We stopped at a rest area about 5 miles into the ride to watch the sun come up and sip on coffee.

The rest of the ride was easy. We were in town before 11am and it didn't feel like we had ridden 17 miles at all. It was starting to get pretty warm once we got to town so I gave Soj a little bath, met with the reporter in town called Carol, and then headed to the motel.
I wanted to get in early because one of our rest days was deleted since we didn't make it the full 31 miles the day before so this was going into our rest day. It worked out perfectly though.

Earlier as we were riding into town a truck pulled up behind me. It was Tom. He drove ahead and arranged for our dinner to be paid for by him that night at Billie Dean's. We ended up having a late lunch there and Tom actually happened to be there having a late lunch as well!

He sat down with us for a moment and we told him we would see him in Frederick on the 19th. It's only fitting since we keep running into him.

"Well, maybe so", he said, "but if I'm not there, make sure to start without me...but maybe."

A wonderful man I know and love lives in Charelston, SC. Actually, a few wonderful men I know and love live there, but this one taught me how to make these dollar rings. I am making one for the waitress at Billie Dean's.

We went back to the motel and slept most of the day. The Sheriff of Matador donated the room to us and I never even got to actually meet him. He had stopped by, but I was already in bed so the next day we left him a note and some sage from Bob on his windshield to thank him.

When we were feeding Soj that evening the Agricultural teacher in town stopped by to say hello. He didn't know the Sheriff had set everything up for us and figured we were just passing through town and found this barn and field for the horse.

This is another example of someone who wasn't coming to ask what our reasons were for being on their land, but just coming with a smile to say hello and see if we needed anything. It seems at times that people come at you with their guns loaded wanting to know what business you have being there, but that has not been the case on this trip and it amazes me and restores my belief in humanity a little more with each experience like this.

He said back in the day it was normal for people to travel by horseback or horse and wagon and find a corral of some sort to leave their horse in. He figured that was what we were doing. We learned that this man, Jim Cooper, had deep roots in Matador, Texas.

His Great Grandmother had traveled to New York from Sweden when she was 15 years old not knowing a soul in America. Jim has letters from her addressed to her home in Sweden.

She eventually migrated over to Denver, CO. where she met Jim's Great Grandfather. They then traveled down to Texas becoming some of the first white people to settle in Matador.

We talked about the incredible courage and capabilities of people back then. I am a strong believer that much of our happiness comes from being outside with the land and using our bodies more. Back then they did just that and the strength and will power of these people amazes me.

It's funny to think about how far we've come, yet how much we've left behind; so much that I believe is the root of what we thrive on. Simple, simple things that are still right here with us yet we oversee them and then wonder why so many of us are depressed or feel as though we're lacking something.

I know life back then was not peaches and cream by any means, but people made massive changes and had the stamina and the endurance to do so.

Sometimes people wonder about Soj and his ability to ride so far, but a horse can do this pretty easily if he's getting the right care. WE can do this pretty easily if we give ourselves the right care.

Sojourner Truth is an incredible woman from whom I took the name Sojourner. Her given name is Isabella Baumfree. She was a slave in the late 17 to early 1800's who underwent losing the man she loved after he was beaten for being with her, was bought and sold time after time enduring beatings and cruelty, and lost her children to slavery who she fought for years to get back. Some of them she never saw again.

She walked around America preaching and fighting for women's rights and anti-slavery and is known for her powerful speech "Ain't I A Woman".

"That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place, and ain't I a woman? ... I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me -- and ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man (when I could get it), and bear the lash as well -- and ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me -- and ain't I woman?"

This is the kind of power that is in all of us that I sometimes feel has been let go of. We have the ability to walk long distances and we have the ability to make changes. With all the damages we have done to this earth it's still right here waiting for us to partner up with it again.

I feel that more than ever when I'm riding. It's just so beautiful and so comfortable to be out with the land. That's what we come from. We are not things and money. We really have no connection what so ever to things. We're as pure and perfect and as strong as this land out here. It's our partner, nature, it's what we're made of and I think we should put ourselves back up at it's level.

12 miles outside of town we stopped at a rest stop to have lunch. These two plaques were there telling some of the Cooper history...
At the FFA barn.
"You wanna talk about this, Soj?"

We said our goodbyes to Jim and headed back to the motel to check in for the evening. We watched Ellen Degeneres on the computer, laughed, and fell asleep.

The plan was to get up really early but this time when the alarm went off at 4am I was definitely not feeling it and shut the phone off. We got up at 8:30 and were riding by around 10:30am.

I wasn't sure we were going to make it the whole 31 miles this day, but the sun stayed behind clouds for the most part which helped with the heat. It was sticky and at times awfully hot, but the other times there was a breeze that I would even go so far as to say was cool (sort of).

We made it the 31 miles to the little town of Paducah, Texas, where I am writing this entry from now. We pulled in to the rodeo grounds where Soj would stay to a group of wonderful people. They gave us a great little bag to use for groceries and some caps.

The Mayor, Gordon Melton, and Lisa Wood.
Sheriff Ricky Lawrence, and Andre. Andre was our Savior today. He has just graduated from highschool and is a Fire Fighter and EMT here in Paducah. He is going to be a Vet. Well, Sojourner was an escape artist today and got out of his pen twice. Both times he lackadaisically made his way down the very middle of the highway toward town. Andre got him back to the arena the second time and the first time he went out after getting a call from a cowboy who had just caught Soj and brought him back to the arena.
We, along with a Police officer, secured the area for the second time and think he's in for the night. We hope.

Lisa Wood, who works for the Chamber, told us to tell the people at the little eatery called The Dixie Mart that dinner was on her. Gordon Melton, the mayor of Paducah, offered us his Veteran's house around the corner from Soj.

Walter in the Dixie Mart. The phone rang. It was for him.

The mayor purchased the little house he was going to put us up in for $2,000 and he is in the process of restoring it. When Veteran's come into town to go hunting, he puts them up here. It's been a great day off for us and well needed. We have pushed our mileage a bit covering 256 miles in two weeks so all of us were well ready for a break.

A big storm just passed but now the sun is out again and Walter and I are trying to decide what to eat for dinner. This has been the question of every day because I am a big veggie eater and there just aren't any veggies to be had. We have decided on soup. Clam Chowder, I think. No, couscous.


She looks at me and laughs and says,
"and oh! we're enjoying each other so!"

I told her that this is exactly what I want to focus on. That so many things can come out of loss that you wouldn't have experienced otherwise. She never would have gone back to live with her mother if this hadn't happened. They wouldn't have had these years together.
Once a daughter, always a daughter.

The man popped up onto the tailgate of his truck and said he would tell me anything I wanted to know.

I wanted to know how you leave a marriage of twenty years behind.
He said they just wanted different things, wanted to live in two different places, but that he was okay with it.

But there was more there. More that I didn't get.

Everyone knows to live each day like it's your last and I suppose all of our days are numbered for who's to say when the first days had ended and the last began?

For her (and for him) it's now or never so it will never be never and it will always be now. I suppose in a way that's a gift and a lesson we should all take in.

She said teaching was the hardest thing to give up, but she teaches still.
Beautifully dressed, she carries the poise and grace that only a woman can and the strength to live even when life takes a turn.

She holds the eye of her watcher and pops another chocolate into her mouth with a smile.
For what is time without humor?

With all its weight and all of its pressure, it is a drop in the bucket, a moment in time, a blink of the eye...all to be cherished and all to be used, no matter what the time limit, no matter what the dream.

And without question, stop for these...time will slow down for these...


  1. Great entry and what beautiful photos! I was at the Western States Horse Expo yesterday looking at the "Arabians" in their stalls...for some reason it made me think of you and Soj covering endless miles, not sweating at the trot...now that is an example of Arabian horse flesh! Oh and you aren't bad yourself ;)

  2. Not sure where you find the energy and commitment to post such a long blog..... but I'm grateful for the writing. I was having dinner next door @ Beth's,(David's godmother), sitting on the back deck with a cool glass of Husch Chardonnay, enjoying the warm evening and we started talking about your ride. One of the things that came to mind was the role modeling you are doing. Not only are we old timers getting a lesson on youthful adventure and perspective but you are establishing a story of your own that will find its way to strengthen and inspire other young women. Your writing gets more descriptive and insightful. Even when the weariness seeps through the cracks, optimism and gratitude is always the foundation. You are my hero, one that is grounded in the world around you. Additionally, you have Wonderwoman biceps that advertise, "I am a strong and resilient woman."

    "Life is changed but never ended" Tombstone 1750, Glendalough Co., Wicklow Ireland. Thought a little good read would pair well with the Irish coins. Oh, those Irish lads..... actually, the carving doesn't state who was buried beneath, so who's to say it's a man!! It's the Irish mothers who made them strong.

    My love to you always. Keep your hat on.


  3. Wow, this is an interesting (to me) coincidence, Linny. I'm from Battle Creek, Michigan. I knew Sojourner Truth had been there from growing up and from a highway named in her honor, and I knew her as a courageous former slave, but I never really knew much more.

    Well, I just now decided to do a little research and discovered that Sojourner Truth lived in Battle Creek for almost 30 years and is buried there. I'm a bit embarrassed to only now be aware of this important history, but better late than never.

    I also discovered that Sojourner Truth lived in a village adjacent to Battle Creek that doesn't exist anymore, but I knew it had to be close to where I lived from its name (Harmonia). That's the name of a road in my old neighborhood. After a bit more research, I determined that I probably didn't live more than two or three miles from where Sojourner truth lived with her family. Pretty cool. I'd like to think that her spirit influenced me.

    If you ever come to Michigan, we can visit her gravesite and seek out the exact location of her home. That would be quite inspirational.

    Back to the rest of the blog post. I love the captions from the animals. It's amazing that you can get them to speak to you that way. What a gift. :)

    Buster and I could have helped round up those cows! He loves to chase them. It's one of his favorite things to do for sure.

    The generosity of the people you meet along the way is so amazing. They just give and give of themselves and their belongings. So uplifting.

    Your thoughts on the importance of our connection to nature and the earth are so astute and powerful. I'm just finishing re-reading James Herriot's "All Creatures Great and Small" (I read the whole series in college almost 30 years ago and am going to read them again now). Like you, he writes with great fondness and wisdom about the richness of a life lived outside (much of the time) in the beautiful countryside, and with the animals.

    Thanks for another great blog post. Travel safe!

  4. OK, I narrowed it down. I lived 3/4 of a mile from where Sojourner Truth did, albeit 100 years later. What an honor. It's a shame that African American history just wasn't as important to us when I was a child. I just don't remember learning anything about this in school.

    Anyway, if you and Walter come visit sometime, we can go to her homesite, visit her grave and a memorial dedicated to her in Battle Creek, swim in the gravel pits where I swam and fished as a kid, and then come back up here (I'm 2.5 hours north now) to ride horses in the Manistee National Forest. We can round up a nice gentle horse for Walter.

    I've been reading more about Sojourner Truth over the last 24 hours. Such an amazing woman. She lived in a time that was so awful for men and women of her heritage, yet Sojourner was determined to maintain her strong spirit and speak for the truth. And she was phenomenally successful in doing it.

    I think you picked a great role model (or one of them anyway) in Sojourner Truth, Linny.

  5. Linny,

    You'll like the quote from Sojourner Truth if you aren't already aware of it. I have become very interested in learning more about her since discovering that we were neighbors, separated by time (a century), but not distance.

    Sojourner became very ill with leg sores late in her life. This quote is from her in the 1870's when she would have been in her mid-70's. I thought you would like it since you named your horse "Sojourner" in her honor.

    "The doctors gave me up, but I got a woman doctor who got me so I could walk, but ... my leg swelled and then I got a horse doctor who took the swelling out. ... And I am fast improving. ... It seems I am like a horse."

  6. I love this post, the comments, Love you guys.Linny tell Soj, Danlin Hollow is waiting with big green fields.

  7. Cool quote! I love it! My mom called me and told me about it today.

    Yeah, this little guys sweating now a bit though. It's HOT. I mean, even the Texans are all complaining about the heat. We have found refuge though, thank goodness.

    Yes, good thing for Irish women. ;) The Irish and the Italian...well, what a nice mix that would make...oh wait... ;)

  8. Of all your posts to date, this one really got to me. It made my eyes water as I reflected upon so much that has transpired in my own life to date. Today is my birthday and Father's Day at the same time. I am on the porch as I write this, quite comfortable. The weather is fine. But, your writing, the spacing between subject changes (and yet the subject does not really change, does it?), all of this piece - simply resonates deeply in my mind, out of the blue, it seems. Perhaps you have touched my soul in all you have written here...

  9. Happy Birthday and Father's Day, Dan. After all, you are half of the whole who made this amazing woman possible. I'm sure you must sit back in awe of the direction and choices all three of your children have made. I'm very grateful for the influence and love that you have given because without your support, I would never have had the opportunity to know your daughters. (ummm, seems to come back to me, me, me..... I trust you know what I'm trying to convey) Their foundation is strong and resilient due to the parenting of you and Wendy. Bask in the glory of life and your contributions to it. They are quite an astounding brood.
    A very happy day to you.