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...

6 months down, 2 to 3 to go...


"I'm going to really miss this place", I thought as the two deer ate bits of my muffin causing the goats, dogs, and kitten to curiously mosey over as well.
Henry's oldest brother, Trino, came around the corner and my jaw dropped. I had talked to him the night before on the phone and was unable to hold back my tears because I didn't realize I wasn't going to see him again. For the last nearly 2 years we would all gather around a fire and talk and laugh and ride, but I had to finish some last minute leather orders and so I didn't get to the ranch until late the night before. Trino had already headed out by then and was 2 hours away at his home.

"Just don't go. Why are you going? Just stay", he said over the phone.

"Oh, I've got to go now, Trino! I'd be upset if I didn't go, but I thought I would at least get to say goodbye to you!"

As he came around the corner of the arena the next morning I sat up making all of the animals scurry a little over toward Walter and ran to him.

Sojourner is furry, has little muscle, he's thin, and how on earth am I ever going to get him in that trailer? I told Henry it was going to be quite a task.

"Oh nonono, sweetie, he'll go in", he would say.

It was a task though. We had to put the pony in the other side of the two horse straight loader trailer so Soj could see that it wasn't a dangerous place. It was a fight, but eventually he went in.

Then we couldn't get the pony out.

That was a feat as well.

I'm not pulling at him to come in!! This is a shot just as he's lunging back away from me into the street so I was holding on for dear life. Seconds later I'm in the street walking toward him though. It looks so bad, but it's such a funny picture so I had to put it up. Soj doesn't like trailers. He didn't like a lot of things back then-it was a big scary unknown world to him...back then....
Soj...skinny, still pretty timid, and me about to ride away from all I knew and so many that I love so dearly. Both of us were still so green as far as what it takes to embark on such an adventure. There was a lot that was going to be learned in our future. I even almost forgot his bridle! We were all loaded and ready to go and then my brain stopped. It had been running like a slot machine, the check list in my head buzzing by over and over and then, "ching ching ching STOP!" The bridle!

Walter slept nearly the entire drive down to Los Angeles. He had left Yosemite the night before and got in from his 7 hour bus/train/BART ride to our place in the Bay really late. I had been up all night as well finishing the leather orders I would have my mom later mail out and then couldn't sleep from thinking about all I needed to remember for the next day...and all that might happen...and oh my gosh...

I watched the trailer in front of my truck with Soj in it the whole time thinking, "This is it. There he is right there in front of me and there's Walter right there next to me and we're going to L.A. This is really happening."

Step by step we walked away from the Coast of California early the next morning. The night before had been full of tears again as I said goodbye to Henry and his daughter, Becky. Henry had become my family over the last couple of years. He taught me integrity and a sort of grace in a way I hadn't yet experienced before knowing him. The thought of not seeing him every morning, afternoon, and night broke my heart.

Walter had just learned to drive our standard truck the night before. While I soaked in the last moments with Henry and Becky he was off perusing the L.A. suburb. When none of us were looking he went out into the truck and drove and stalled and drove and stalled until he figured it out. Now, the next day, he was driving it through the city streets of L.A. and I was plodding along down the sidewalks of Foothill Blvd. What a trio. Green as Spring grass, all underweight, all about to be really achey, but ready. Walter stalled out beside us, Soj jumped away from every yellow painted curb, and my feet that were sentimentally in my Poppy's cowboy boots were ready to fall off.

Cleaning my Poppy's cowboy boots early that first morning, February 28th.

Our first day was a nearly 15 hour ride. We were stopped constantly.

"26 miles down", I thought at the end of it, "3,475 or so left to go."

That was 6 months ago today. We have now ridden 2,485 miles non-stop for half a year and 1.7% of our lives. I have been riding a horse all day nearly every day for half a year! Holy Moly. That's strange to think about!

Tractor Trailer trucks usually don't pull over because that's an awful lot of weight to stop, but today this man was able to halt that massive hunk of metal over onto the shoulder of Route 60. He waited in the open doorway of his 18-wheeler and looked down behind him to see if cars were coming. A few whizzed by and then he hopped down and sprinted across the highway toward Soj and I on the other side.

"You the girl I read about in the paper!?"

"Yeah!" I said back returning his smile.

He shoved a $20 bill in my hand and said, "I've got to tell you....you're doing real good!" He gave Soj a pat and looked back up at me in the saddle.

His hand formed a fist and he punched it into the air. "Do what you love!"

He was gone as fast as he appeared. Seconds after he came toward me he was back in his truck driving away with a big wave and a smile. I was filled up with energy, filled up with the kind of light that can only come from another person. I gave Soj a pat and smiled thinking about how many people have said that to me and how many people have smiled and laughed and even some cried at the sight of this incredible horse.

When I left 6 months ago I didn't know what I was getting into. Slowly I walked with so many miles ahead and so few behind me. It was just Walter, me, and Soj and our main agenda was "keep heading East".

"Well, we're just gonna walk and keep on walking, that's all. We'll just keep on walking."

Now Walter and I are in the spare bedroom of the Hamilton Residence. Sojourner is in a giant field eating grass. He had great energy today even though it was pretty hot. Joe and Marybell Hamilton took us to Subway to fill our empty stomachs and then took us to their house where we are now comfortably lying on a King size bed in a cool room.

Joe suggested we take their bicycles and cycle down to the water with their dog, Maggie. Walter and I think this is a wonderful idea so we'll probably get a little fresh air and some exercise later once it starts to cool off a little.

This morning we said goodbye to Bonnie Bittel, Judy, and Kenny. They all gave us the most wonderful, relaxing visit. We had an entire home to ourselves and Soj had an absolutely beautiful barn to stay in. This morning Judy gave him a betadine and oatmeal bath. The betadine helps with any itching or little sores he might have from all of the bug bites and the oatmeal soothes the skin.

Walter and I were just finishing up a cup of coffee as energizer Judy brushed Soj in the field below. This is a photo taken from the porch of the house we were staying in.

Judy packed us buckets full of things like vet wrap, betadine, Cowboy magic stuff (horse hair product stuff), cotton, fly spray, and more.

Soj having breakfast in the Bittel barn. Bonnie is leaning against the desk and Kenny and Judy are checking out the Mexican saddle Henry gave to me.

Judy spent all morning spiffing up Soj so when she saw him after he finished his breakfast she was over there in a jiffy wiping that rice bran face clean. Soj pretty much always has a rice bran face. He's that baby that always has food on its face.

"Will he come to you if you whistle?", Kenny asked.
"Well, he'll usually come if I say "come", I said.
When I said "come" Soj turned and headed at a fast walk right toward me. He steps on his rope every few steps, but figures it out and continues walking forward. (That's why we let him loose all the time because he can't go that far-he steps on his rope and gets caught up!)
"What a good boy", I thought as he neared us...

Ah, but that last step on the rope got him all in a tizzy and he zoomed right by us! Catch-the-pony-if-you-can began....

...but Walter caught him...

6 months ago I thought I would be walking Soj down our driveway in Bath, NH right about now, but here we are in Louisport, Kentucky, in a family's house of whom we only met a couple of hours ago. Joe just came in and leaned against the doorway of the bedroom telling me stories of this old house, stories of his horse, stories of his days.

"Whatd'ya want for dinner?" he just asked.
"Ah, let's just get a pizza. Walter and I will go out and pick it up."

I can hear Joe and Walter talking in the living room now and his little daughter just came in here with her hairless rat to show it to me.

It's as if we've known them for years...I'm just hanging out in here totally relaxed in a bed with the door open to the rest of the house and Walter is spread out on their living room floor with his computer. Everyone is laughing and joking and telling stories. It's a pretty amazing thing. Maybe by the end of this trip I will be able to actually capture and portray the awesomeness of it.
It's taken longer than I thought with still 1,100 miles left to go, but I don't think I'm ready to say goodbye to this ride yet anyway because goodness gracious... what a ride it's been...

Soj on the first day of the ride...
Soj now. Picture taken earlier today.


  1. Wow, that picture of Soj from day one compared to him now is incredible. He's just ripped!!!! The photo a few blog posts ago of you lunging him really shows his musculature.

    I'll admit that I was quite skeptical at the beginning of the ride. You probably don't remember, but we corresponded a bit just a few days before you left about your saddle, saddle pad, and Easyboots. I could tell that you didn't have much experience with some things (not a criticism, I don't either) and I've also followed a lot of long rides and found that many/most don't go to completion.

    I remember posting fairly often all the way into Arizona and reminding you that there was no shame in calling it good.

    But by the time you got to Oklahoma, I knew that it was "NH or Bust" as long as Soj stayed healthy.

    There is one aspect of the journey that didn't end up occuring, but intrigued me when it looked likely. What were you going to do when Walter returned to Yosemite? Maybe keep that as a surprise for the book. You're just going to have to write the book, Linny. :)

    I'm sure you would agree that having Walter join you (even before you two became an "item" :)) made a huge, huge, huge, huge, etc., difference. I can't imagine making a long ride alone. Dealing with those challenges alone would be disheartening.

    Thanks for inviting us to join you three!!!

  2. Wow, Soj is definitely looking like a fierce little soldier these days! Its funny that you posted those photos and thoughts, this morning I was looking at before and after of my Foxtrotter, Tango. Now he hasn't had near the total mind-body transformation Soj has (and btw I remember him as a total butterball fat boy at Ricochet, haha!), but when I bought Tango in March he was definitely underweight, coat was fairly poor, and his chest was bald! He does have very sensitive skin and the gal I bought him from thought it was due to bug bites. Anyhow she was a great and kind horse trainer and raised Tango well, just became hard up for money and knew she needed to sell him to keep his quality of life up. SO. I was looking at him today, the big, glossy, 1200 beast that he is...wow, he came a long way in 5 months! And after our week out at the ocean, he has had a big week of learning experiences, could maybe even compare a few notes with Soj. :) It is so wonderful to learn and grow with our horses and be able to look back on how things were and realize how well we have done to get to where we are now!