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...

The Giver


"How are you?" I ask squishing up my face because I know how hot it is in that truck. And boring.

"No, how are you?", he asks back.

I was fine. It's hot, but I'm riding and thinking a lot which helps to pass the time and I just wait to see the white truck up in the distance. He'll see me coming from down the road and I'll see the driver's side door swing open, water jug ready in hand.

"What do you need? Here's some water. It's so hot. It's too hot."

Walter won't put the air conditioning on in the truck because he says it isn't fair. He drives up 2 or 3 miles and waits. For 156 days now he has driven the truck up 2 to 3 miles and waited for Sojourner and I to approach.

I can remember hot summer days as a little girl when I would have to wait in the car while one of my parents ran in somewhere for something and I hated it. I don't think there are many things much worse than waiting in a hot car on a hot day...all day. Yesterday we started the ride just as the sun was coming up and we ended the ride just as the sun was setting.

We have been in this heat for so very long now. The sun roasted me like a rotisserie chicken yesterday, sauntering slowly through the sky as it circled my body. First cooking my right side, then my front, my left side, and then my back. Ne'er a cloud to block it's fury.

You said it, sign.

But I have this little girl dream in me that keeps me going. The dreamer, I suppose.

But he...he is the giver.

This wasn't his dream. This wasn't his goal or his passion. He had never even been on a horse but maybe once as a child. And this ride is not one ounce easier for me than it is for him. And in fact, I never ever talk on the phone, he does. He does all of the talking, planning, navigating, packs, cooks, cleans, massages me, walks and walks in the same heat we are in, sits hours upon hours in a ridiculously hot truck, loves Soj, and all the while always makes me laugh.

When I feel like I am just at the very end of my strength I can daydream back to watching that imaginary horse outside of the car window and tell myself, "You're doing it now. Keep going."

Walter doesn't have that dream to keep him going through these slow, hot days that seem to never end. What he has is a heart that never waivers and the will of a lion. He has taught me as much on this trip as anything or anyone else has. He has taught me what it is to truly give of yourself.
Soj deep sea diving for his grain at the bottom.

We didn't end up finding a camp stove at the outlet store. It was still more money than I wanted to spend so we just bought some gas for Walter's tiny little pocket rocket cooker. I still wanted a camp stove, but we figured we would look around at thrift stores when we come across them and see if we could find a better deal. Maybe we would get lucky.

"Did you ever find a camp stove?" a man called out of his truck window as he drove by.

"No!", I yelled back from the side of the road, "we just bought some gas."

"Well, I have a stove here for you."

Walter and I looked at each other and smiled in disbelief as the man pulled his truck in behind us.

The man was named Jeff. We had met him and his wife, Mariah, on the road the day before riding into Ozark. They said it wasn't all that often that you see a girl walking down that street with a horse so they came over to see what was going on.

Mariah said she had always wanted to ride across the country on a horse and told us all of the best places to go in town from swimming to food. We told the couple the arena we were planing on staying at that night and when we went back to the arena later in the evening to feed Soj they were there working out one of their horses.

We were actually heading to the arena to bring Soj around the corner to Patty and Bobby's house where we ended up staying and taking a rest day. There was a rodeo sort of thing going on at the arena so Patty invited us to stay with them instead. We ended up playing cards with her and her daughter and just had the most wonderful visit...

Sunday dinner with the Shillings.

So, we were going to get Soj to bring him over to Patty and Bobby's and ran into Mariah and Jeff again. They had picked us a couple of Tupperware containers absolutely packed full of cherry tomatoes and blackberries. I was so happy (I ate tons of them yesterday). We visited with them for a minute, admired Mariah's beautiful horse, and then said our goodbyes....until yesterday morning.

There was Jeff with a dual burner cook stove and to go with it he bought 2 gas canisters and 2 lighters. It all happened so quickly. One second he was there on the side of the road asking from his truck window if we found a cook stove (and I don't even remember when I mentioned that we were trying to find a cook stove!), then he was standing there with one in hand outstretched to us, and then just like that he was gone with a big smile and a wave, wishing us safe travels.

In the quick interaction he had mentioned that both Mariah's parents had died and that it was their camp stove. I didn't have time to ask what happened or anything, but Mariah, if you're reading this, I can't thank you both enough. I am sure your parents cooked many a wonderful meal on that stove and we will be sure to keep that going! We will think of you all every time we use it and always be reminded of the kindness and generosity that is in this world thanks to people like you. Thank you so much to you both. You are the essence of this ride and you are the spirit behind every smile.

It was just what Walter and I needed, too. We were sitting on the side of the road giving Soj a little grass break and I was sipping on gas station coffee. It was maybe around 8:30 in the morning and I was very tired. Walter had gone to get me a coffee because I was desperate for anything to wake me up a little bit. So the tail gate was down and we were sitting on it talking about how tired we were and just how hard this has all been the last 6 weeks or so battling the constant heat. Then Jeff came along and put the fire back in our step. Sometimes that's all it takes, a kind soul to come lift you up and get you back on the road.

When we got to our next stop here at Vicki and Tom Durham's house in Ava we were greeted by a man from the Lion's club holding a big bag with dinner in it. We were down at the barn with Soj at that time. We thanked him and found more presents up at the house from the Chamber of Commerce. I felt pretty overwhelmed. In fact, it nearly knocked me to my knees. Walter and I just couldn't believe it. They left us baskets full of tons of fresh picked garden veggies and fruit, different kinds of drinks, Burt's Bees chap sticks, water jugs, SUNSCREEN!!, an Ava Bears t-shirt, and these cards...oh, these cards....

Tom and Vicki had also prepared a delicious dinner and cake for dessert which we scarfed down with hot tea. We are taking a rest day with them today. This has been a big week riding 150 miles. The days we ride are so long that it allows for more rest days which has actually worked out really well for us because we have more time to visit a bit. On the ride days, whether it be 20 or 35 miles, I'm tired and pretty much go to sleep, but this allows for more play time and we're still conquering lots of miles.

A man in town who is part of the Missouri Foxtrotter Club called Dale came to take us to the Drug Store in town. You won't believe the prices on the menu!!

Dale is showing Walter some trail options for us...
This double scoop ice cream cone was 10 cents!!
After our 30 cent snack which consisted of 3 ice creams and one cup of coffee we went to see Dale's foxtrotters. Foxtrotters have an interesting gate where they can trot with their back legs and walk with their front.

So I sit here now content with a cup of hot coffee (yeah, I've been drinking it a little more lately, but still only a few times a week) and I am thinking about what a gift this has all been.

I had a dream a long time ago and I never let it go. Why? Why does a little girl want to get on a horse and ride across the country? I don't know, but I wanted it. I wanted it at 5 years old and now I'm in it. But the most amazing part has not been the actual dream, it's been the people that made it possible.

You don't have to ride your horse across America to see the love and generosity that is available here and that's the most beautiful part. It's here for all of us at every second, no matter what we're doing.

I've learned that the best gift to give the giver is to let them give and take forward the wholeness they have left you with. Sometimes a desire to be polite will cause you to shake your head and decline a persons generosity, but there is no feeling that is more contagious and filling than receiving a selfless gift, aside from perhaps giving it.

Sojourner is a portal into people's hearts. He tramples through whatever barriers we humans build around ourselves to protect us from one another. I suppose that is the gift from the animal to us, to put us at ease, to teach us to trust because they so fully put every ounce of their trust into us.

And they forgive. They don't hold onto old memories that keep them from moving forward. They drop them and sometimes it may take a little while, but their desire is always to trust, to believe again in their human friends even if once they were wronged. There is no ego and there is no grudge. If fear is placed in them they will try with all of their might to let it go if you ask them to.

Sometimes it can feel like so many of us are behind closed curtains with our guns drawn, but it's just not the case. People trust and love to give and are here for every single one of us at almost every corner, on almost every doorstep, and for as long as I live, no matter what calamity I may come across or stones may be thrown at my bones I will never be convinced otherwise. Not after this experience. There is just so much good out here.

Walter, Soj, and I have been given so much from food to time to money to stories to smiles to beds to even just room on the road so we can safely pass and a friendly wave. In return I try to tell this story as best I can that shows that life is worth living, not for any magical reasons or grand purposes, but because we have an incredible ability to give to one another, to express love.

Sojourner's swimmin' shoes.

And to the givers of this world, thank you. A girl can dream and dream until her heart explodes but without the help of a giver, it will always be a sparkling dream in the distance, something looked at but never lived. But you make things possible and you will always fill this world with what it needs most...Hope.

Thank you, my Scalt.


  1. What you're doing (meaning you three!) and the people who've gathered to lift you up make me believe. Believe, I should say, with a capital 'B'.
    You are something special, girl :)


  2. Oh big didew. You found yourself a real prize. I wish I was with you two, drinking coffee and trekking miles. The cherry tomatoes are in full bloom here, too. Actually, I bent over to pick a tomato and put my face into a tomato stake today. Pain? Yes. Bloody little triangle of gums between two front teeth? You bet. But I keep going because of my dream. The dream that I had as a little girl to get slammed in the face with poles, no matter how much I feel like stopping.

    Didew, I'm very proud to be your little didew. And Watew, I will see you in turt on tunday. Sojourner, don't be lulled into thinking cows are safe. I've heard stories. I love you three so much.

  3. Linny, hermano cuatro is one in a million and he is crazy about you. Don't let him get away!

  4. Oh my Linny. You're welcome, but really, thank YOU. You give me hope, and the understanding that anything is possible.

    I'm continually amazed by your determination and hard work. Putting in 12 hours a day on the road, and then countless hours working on the blog and editing photos seems just too hard. Yet you continue on, with a smile on your face and the ability to bring your social "A" game at every place we stop, even when your physical energy might be more at a D-. I got a D- once in Atmospheric Physics and it made me feel sick. I can only imagine what a D- in Physical Energy must feel like.

    Your perseverance and courage gives me the energy to provide the support that you need. There is no one in this world that I am more proud of, and I can say that with total confidence even being 4 months your junior. I have so much respect for you. It was a given that I would fully support and accompany you from start to finish. You're my best friend.

    There is, of course, so much more to say. I'm gonna say it to yo' face.

  5. Only one in a million Doc?? The US currently has 309,899,656 people (current estimate). I guess there are at least 309.899656 of me that can whoop up on you at 9 ball!

  6. I love you guys! Truly :) Thanks for making me cry and smile! Sometimes at the same time! Hugs

  7. Walter is an amazing man, that's for sure. There are precious, precious few of is caliber around.

    You totally cracked me up with your "dream" to get sticks in the face!!!!!!!

    Look at those care packages! It has been truly amazing to see the generosity of people on this journey.

    Ride on! Cooler weather is just around the corner now.

  8. Doc... I need to meet you... We seem to be on the same page. Again, Linny, I agree with him. Walter... your essence of the giver shines through in everything that you do. Your relationship, if it feels like breathing with and each other effortlessly....don't ever let that escape you.

    This is long folks..so bear with me..I hope that it resonates with you three. Before I begin though…Ask Dale if he knows Bill Corley and Dyan Westvang of Foxtrotter Fame (Baby, our Golden Palimino is a Foxtrotter, you know).

    And now...the rest of my story. My father and previous husband died in the same week three years ago this week. Both funerals were on the same day: August 8th. My relationship with Blaine and my dad was ancient, connected and deep. Both were givers like Walter...and me,,,like you --- was always being the little girl who dreamed a dream of horses riding throughout the country, singing my way through life (but I could never strap a piano to my horse) and living a life of Freedom. Blaine and my dad grounded me in so many ways. Walter, I see you grounding Linny that way...and Linny, I see you encouraging Walter to dream alittle dream with her.

    Two freak accidents took those two who I loved the most with all my heart away in just a blink of an eye. I was just getting used to Blaine being gone ...and then three days later...my dad. Three days after both their funerals, I survived a breast cancer scare and them unemployment after that ….60 days after unemployment, I lost my most trusted Long Rider Horse…who took me on my first long ride in California in 2006.

    I bring the rest of my story up because all my life I have been the giver…and to be on the receiving end of that is nothing short of amazing. Then to have that taken away… what would be next with the passing of the love of my life, my dad, my health, my job and then my one and only horse who created that path into people’s hearts. I thought I was done in for good!

    Along comes “hope”…my ever needed friend in that time of need. I always carried Hope with me. Ironically, my Facebook picture is a rock with HOPE on it that I carry on all my Long Rides…and I hadn’t even read your Blog yet!

    But Hope this time had a name….. I never thought that I could experience the explosion of joy in this hope that I have always had in this capacity. This time Hope was ALSO a giver in the true sense of grounding, giving, dreaming a little dream and then some.

    Hope and Giving both had a name…and his name is Mark. He is the giver, I am the dreamer. He is the one who waited in un-air conditioned cars for me, drove me and my horse 500 miles or more to come get me when our dream paused, ended, stopped and started. Recall the card on my refrigerator for a moment, which says, “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will still land among the stars”…. But with you three….I know you will make the moon! I also think (and hope) that you will find this song perfect for the rest of your journey.


  9. woooo Foxtrotters rule! That is what my beloved Tango is and he is the most fun, character-filled, beautiful, SMOOTH horse I have ever owned.
    So good to read about you supporting each other..that is really the best thing in life, doing something you love and sharing it with someone you love and feeling utter faith and belief in one another.

  10. M. You broke my heart! Ouch! That is so much for one to go through and still have hope! You're AMAZING! :) Thanks for posting your story.

    Love and hugs all around!

  11. This blog entry and the comments that follow are so fully alive with the very soul of humanity that I have no words at this time to add. I will say to remember what it says on one of those cars: "All roads lead to success, even the detours." It might be argued that it can be especially the detours that lead you to success beyond reaching the original goal that had put you on the road in the first place. And, by the way, I want to go to that diner!!!!

  12. I see lots of typos in my posting. Grrr...

  13. And syntax errors. Double Grrrr...

  14. Sorry you experienced so much hardship in such a short period of time, Meg. That's a lifetime's worth of sadness, for sure. Yet you are cheerful! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Hi All, your kinds words are heartfelt. Thank you! I am more blessed and wouldn't change a thing through those losses -- the joy received because of the sadness I have walked through cannot possible be measured with words.

    However, I was hoping it would have the opposite effect to inspire hope as this blog is not about my hardships at all or even me what so ever. >smile<

    My comment supports Linny's assertions about hope: about the amazing resilience of humanity amidst the struffle (my imaginary word for a cross between struggle and strife) of life. Hardship & loss is what you make of it.

    Sadness is only a moment and faith is hope for things unseen.

    The nature of love is so strong and endless that we have no way to fathom its complete capacity and the fullness of it given to us by intelligent design.

    Like tipping an object toward the light -- the light is refracted and comes out the other side (as we do) - like a rainbow pouring its amazing color all over us.

    May those rainbows -- pour all over each and every one of you in this small blog community and show up frequently on the roads of America as you three continue your way to New Hampshire.

  16. Linny and Walter,
    I think, a few people in this world have a special connection, a kind of knowing, unspoken, somehow you just know who needs to give and who needs to receive at a given time. It doesn't take allot of talk, or allot of compromise because on some deeper level you just know, who's to be the giver and who needs to be receiver. Like in the poem the Flight of the Geese, one will flap their wings in the lead to provide the uplift so to make the journey for the other easier, when one tires the other seems to know, and moves into formation to take the lead.
    It seems that you have this natural happening that brings contentment to both the Giver and the receiver. Some how you understand who's needs at a given time is greater, and your able to quietly move into your place, and when you tire..... you feel the updraft pulling you along as your partner moves ahead to take the lead.

  17. Hey flock! You lost a goose. Come on Mama. Linny? Walter? Come find little goose.

  18. Didew!!!??? Didew!!??? I fly and fly and flap around corners, whipping through canyons and over fields, skimming the top of the water, squaking and squailing and spinning and swooping. DIDEW??? Where is little goose??!!

    I smell you though, dids. We're getting closer. Mama goose is getting farther, though. We have to go get mama goose. Otherwise all of our little wings will tire and we just can't let that happen.

    That made me eyes water, mama. Thank you.

    Bird, I'm getting a foxtrotter. I mean, it's not lined up, but I want one!!! A palomino.

    Allison, You make ME believe with your big talented self!!! Man oh man, I can't wait to get one of your pieces!!!

  19. Typos, Pops? I don't see any typos. You word things so absolutely perfectly all the time. It wouldn't matter if there were typos. Although...I know what you mean, which I get from you, I'm sure...I hate when I make typos. :)

    Megan, I'm glad you feel so refreshed with Mark. What a difficult time that must have been.

    Yeah, Doc and Tom. He's pretty super fantastic. Doc-Walter is on you about that one in a million thing though...you better go grab your pool stick.

    And thanks, Darcy. :) Laughing and crying...hopefully laughing so hard you cry! ;) Oh man! I LOVE laughing so hard I cry!!!!!!

  20. Walter, to think you are proud of defeating an elderly overweight man with an artificial knee at a physiacally demanding contact sport like nine ball is amazing. Back in the day, youngster...You come back and better bring your A game! LOL! The more I plunk the better I bray or somethin like that...As to your uniqueness: one in a million is but a metaphor for your priceless rarity as a human being. I misspoke and should have said ONE IN THE WORLD, cause Cuatro, there aint but one of ya! LOL. Word of warning: if you the Linster do comeback through, you may be forcefully detained until adoption papers are filed. We miss, brother Cuatro and Lady Linney. Soj, you're welcome back any time too.

  21. So beautiful and wonderful- having a precious person and knowing what a gift it is- on both accords. Love is... so many things. My parents used to clip that comic when it pertained to something in our lives and post it on the fridge. It was my dad's way(a man who didn't communicate well) of "talking" to my mom. They are celbrating thier 30th anniversary this month -and your trip, travels and family make me feel this is the appropriate moment to celebrate them! And all enduring realtionships, regardless of their defenitions or expectations.
    Ride on and keep living and loving!!!

    P.S. The winds blew in some cool air here today! I had to put on socks and a sweat shirt! I have a few extra blankets that will fit Soj if you need when you get to the North Country! Can't wait to see (meet) you!

  22. It was cool here in Michigan this evening too, Jeni. Like really cool. There is no question that the scales have tipped toward fall and another summer is on the wane. I do love fall so much. A glorious season.

    To me, the entire essence of the transition from summer to fall is captured most beautifully and poignantly by Bob Seger with just four words from "Night Moves"

    "...With autumn closing in..."

    Ride On!

  23. This post is helping me breath calmer tonight. I forget about giving spirits in the bowels of a fog shrouded city...I'll keep my eyes peeled tomorrow.
    Maybe I'll smile at someone first, spare some change, calm my ego and take a vacation.
    You're super, all you Kenneys. Walter too, probs, and Soj has a cute butt to boot.
    Good luck with your trip, warrior. Best, Joanna

  24. A gal on a horse forum that I run told me about your adventure and provided the link to your blog. She heard about you via a Missouri Fox Trotter group. I went back to your February entries and have spent the last two days reading all your entries. This definitely needs to be a BOOK, it already reads like one! Thank you for sharing, Kathy Baker Follow Your Bliss Farm Midway TN

  25. Hey Kathy.... welcome to the Linny Addiction Club. I'm just getting caught up after a few days of abstinence, myself. She's like a potato chip; can't just eat one and you secretly want to eat the whole bag, all by yourself.

    Linny, I know how much you and Caiti miss each other. Your relationship is what most sisters wish they had. Thru your combined efforts, you have established a loving and supportive bond that is a joy to behold. Where ever you may be, your hearts are certainly together.

    Observing how you and Walter have developed a heart connection has certainly added to the plot. Through your photos and entries, we have all been on a vicarious journey along your many trails, trials and tribulations. Umm, maybe that could be the title to one of your songs?

    Your reflection on the act of being a giver is quite poignant. Often, as women, we are expected or encouraged to be the givers and it can be quite difficult to be on the receiving end. I'm not sure if it's a biological or cultural aspect, probably a bit of each. Frankly, I think it's much easier to give than to receive. It takes a fair amount of grace to accept the intentions given by someone, without a sense of reciprocation. Learning how to swing back and forth, with an open heart, is a gift. I, too, have discovered how much is deprived from a person when you deny them the ability to reach out and do something for you. Especially when it comes from a place of deep love, such as Walter's. I just looked up "giver" in the dictionary and came away with a new insight;
    Giver: noun; capacity to bend or alter in shape under pressure.
    verb; bestow love, affection or other emotional support.

    I'd say the noun and verb are intertwined and are like mirror images, reflecting each back to the other. At some point the images just keep repeating until you can't determine where the beginning or ending points are.

    O.K., better end this before I start to sound pompous and pretentious. Maybe it's too late. Ah well, what's a lazy Sunday afternoon for?

    Love you as always.


  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Hay Linny,

    Love it! Its just been a dream of mine to ride from CA to CO, and here you go across country! Fantastic!

    I have a friend that has ridden his bike across country and the eastern sea board and is now again doing the west coast. http://ryanvanduzer.com/

    I tell you this as he started with blogspot and has now moved on to other tools besides just a blog and twitter. He now blogs, tweets, and uploads video content and has a map to show where he is at.

    I think your partners should look into it as it will help people connect to where you are and what you write as well as how far you go in a day. The addition of video really helps the reader connect further to what your experiencing.

    These added features can draw in even more readers to what your doing and thus gain greater sponsorship potential too.

    Hope this information is helpful and stay in the saddle.

    Have a blessed ride!

  28. Hey Kathy! Thanks!! Walter and I are probably going to work on a book when we get back. This trip has just been too incredible with the amazing people we've met to not share it with as many people as possible. I just can't believe the trust, generosity, and openness that is still out here. It's overwhelming.

    I'm so happy to hear that you read all of the entries! I absolutely love the name of your farm, too. ;)

    Play-thanks for the tips!
    Make sure you do that ride from CA-CO...I don't think I could ever really express what an experience it is-in so many different ways.

    And Nancy, my Mendo Mama...
    You could never sound pompous. Your writing is always so incredibly beautiful. I always smile when there is a comment from you and look forward to going to read it.

    I love that you looked up the definition of "giver". I was telling Walter that if/when we do write a book we will have to incorporate some of your comments and thoughts...
    Love you

  29. Thanks, Joanna. I just saw your beautiful comment. Yeah, Soj does have a cutie little bottom...massive bottom, whatever. I'm going to steal that little sister who just got a little bigger today when I get home to NH and we will come say hello to you in that foggy city. I do miss ol' CA.