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...

Soj's first swim!!


Ah, water. What a healer you are.

This is the challenge of the ride. That's what we keep telling everyone. This is the time when my own bed and my own home and some really good food and a long bath (days long) and a good book and lots of sleep and coolness sound heart achingly good.

It's good though. I like the challenge in a way. I mean, I hate the challenge at times, of course, because I'm hot, but really it's a good thing and deep down I always know that. Walter and I seem to have fallen into the habit of stepping up to the plate if the other is fading a bit. It helps a lot.

Sometimes I don't know if I should write about this because I don't want to dishearten anyone, but really I'm writing it for the opposite effect. There are times when I just don't want to get up early and I don't want to tack up the horse and my calves are bleeding from the sweat that's rubbed my skin off making it uncomfortable to ride, but there is something satisfying about pushing through it.

This cow came calmly down to see Soj and sent him into a whirlwind. Walter took him back to show him that the cow, like every other millionth cow he's passed, is harmless. All of his cow buddies are looking on from the hill up there. This guy must have been the messenger.

Sometimes you just have to keep your eyes forward and push a little and the reward will be even greater. The other day Walter and I were feeling a little sucked dry of energy so we found a lake. You see, we weren't physically tired because it was a rest day and we slept in but we felt exhausted. We had been complaining to each other about the heat and the challenges of politely molding to a different culture and we were just spiraling into a smog. It was just one of those days. You know those days. They are few and far between out here on this ride, but still, sometimes they come.

We found this lake and we just swam and swam. We would power swim and then back again, and then again, until we were panting in the water. It really helped. I am a big believer that exercise can help pretty much everything and it did. After that we talked in the water and decided we were going to move into turbo mode.

The heat is just never ending. It's doable for a while, but day after day it wears at your soul a bit. It might seem backwards to up the daily miles, but it's what we want to do. I need to feel like I've made it to the East. I need to see coolness or at least promise of it in the near future. We are going to shoot for mostly 30 mile days and just get up even earlier.

Soj looks perfect and doesn't show any signs of distress. He's not too dragged down by the heat, although he does sweat a lot now, but we are very careful to keep him hydrated. We stop 3-4 times a day for grain and the grain is always at the bottom of the water bucket so he keeps plenty of water in him.

If it becomes too much for us then we will back off a bit, but we have set the goal of being out of Missouri by August 10th.

So my point is not that we're hot and tired and out of our element, but that this is a challenge and there is nothing that will make us give up. So if you ever feel like you want to just throw in the towel, don't. Don't give up.

And in fact, right now we are feeling so much better. We are in a cool Motel Room that was donated to us by the Stonebrook Inn and I am sitting on top of a comfortable bed.

Sojourner is eating all the grass his stomach can take in a big beautiful field down the road where he'll stay for the night. We are heading back there soon to have dinner with the Samson's.

George Samson's daughter, Natalie, rode out to meet Soj and I. It was a sight that brought a big smile to my face. Her dad was driving slowly in his truck a little ways in front of her and she was cantering through the field, bareback, behind him. She is going to be a freshman in high school and comes at you with the confidence and grace of a woman.

Horses. The things horses can do for children. It's amazing to me. There is a lot of trust and energy that goes back and forth between you and the horse when you ride and I think it does so much for a person. It hits you inside and fills you. There's just so much power under you and I think it does wonders for confidence. I wish every child could have a horse.

Natalie has already won at least 3 saddles that I saw from rodeo competitions and her younger brother has as well. They help their father round up the cows and vaccinate them and just recently helped him repair about 100 feet of fence. Pretty impressive kids.

George getting a stall ready for Sojourner. Walter told him not to bother, but he insisted and hopped on the tractor. After that they whipped up some food and sweet tea for us.

We are going to go have a cookout with them now and then hopefully be back here and asleep before too late. I am planning to set the alarm for 3am. Tomorrow is a 32 mile ride so we really need to start way before that oh so very hot sun comes.

The other day we came upon a river and I was so surprised at Sojourner! He has never been swimming before and he went right in! I walked him down just to put his feet in to see what he would do and he went right up to his belly so I had to turn him around and take his saddle off. Once I took his saddle off he went all the way in and swam around in little circles!

I was so happy! He is going to be my swimming buddy from now on. I can't wait to get him in a bigger lake or river so we can really swim! He's like a Golden Retriever!!

We met with a reporter and her two sweet girls in Jay, OK yesterday. Look at the little puppy. I need a puppy.


  1. Sorry about some of these photos not getting bigger again. I just can't seem to get a good connection in this part of the country. Hopefully it will get better as we move on! It should....

  2. Is that little Soj who was afraid to cross the stream when you and Cait were getting him ready for the ride. That is so neat, this trip has been quite a journey for him also... next the cows.

  3. "...politely molding to a different culture." You're really going to have to bring that out in the book. I'm sure you have lots of interesting anecdotes.

    Well, I have no doubt that you will make Bath, NH by horseback now. Early on in the ride, I wondered if you might pack it in a few times (which has always been a fine option to me, as you know), but not now. The determination of you two is amazing. And I'm sure Soj is happy with whatever happens as long as he's with you.

    So awesome that Soj went right in the water! Too cool!

    Ride on. We're all thinking of you three.

  4. Darn, you can't see the puppy because the picture won't get big. It's chewing on my foot though. Yeah Tom...I've thought a lot about the book lately....

  5. Linny, take it from a fat old man who has ridden horses in the heat for all my life: 32 miles walking or riding in this heat and humidity is going to take a toll on all three of you. I wish you would reconsider. Once it is cooler, that is a doable goal, but in the MO heat and humidity, I have my doubts. Thinking about ya.

  6. Oh Linny! That made my heart SOOO Happy to see you swimming together!

    Soj's first swim. He was probably thinking, " I don't mind if I do....this feels GREAT....hmmmm....I think I'll go in a little further!".

    Great pictures (as always) Walter! You're such a great photographer!
    I can't wait to see these pics larger (perhaps a coffee table book?) ;)

    Thank you
    Hugs all around!

  7. Your message about not giving up came at an opportune time for me. Having a rough spot, mostly because of my own mental circles, but just got off the phone with my mom who said the same...when you are thinking of giving up..just DON'T! So..thanks for the affirmation here too and keep beating the heat!

  8. Love the pictures of Soj's first swim! And Walter must be really sneaky with the camera! I had no idea he got that shot of us. :)

  9. I agree with Doc Turner. Just remember what happens if you push things like Walter mentioned getting to Frederick on your visit with us...it will take a toll on all three of you. I hope you really DO reconsider your pace.

    Great to see you are close to Missouri though. Just passed through Joplin this morning...

    Cowgirl Up!

  10. Oh good, Bird! Yeah, mental circles can do it. In fact, that might even be the all of it. It's a life-long practice to stay out of those circling heads of ours!!! Goodness knows, I know! :)

    Yeah, Soj is a swimmer. Here I've been wanting a Golden Retriever and I had one all along. A big freckly white one. I am in love with being in the water with the horse. It's relaxing and fun and amazing. If you call him he will paddle over to you...then he doesn't know where to go and paddles right on past, but it's still great. :)

    Doc! First of all, you're not old nor are you fat, you joking worrier. No doubts, have no doubts. :)
    To Megan, too...it's actually been a wonderful decision. We get up very early and get a lot of miles done.
    After being out on the road for this long and haven ridden so many miles you become really in tune with what you can and can't do and what the best decision is for all three of us. When you accomplish that 1,000 mile ride you want to do so badly one day you will learn this, too. There's a lot of molding, changing, experimenting, and really just gut instinct that happens and what may seem like too much to someone on the outside actually isn't. It can be the opposite, too. It might seem like we aren't trekking enough, but it's what we need at the time. As for now, we're feeling good and loving it.
    You must trust in our judgment. ;)

  11. Great shots of a pair of swimmers. By the way, saw Katherine Borger the other day. Cherokee is doing great and has some stable mates. He is the boss of them all, I was told.