As it turns out we have ventured back into an area known for its wines. I had no idea Illinois had a wine country. Rick and Beverly back in Anna, Illinois, wanted to take us out to taste some of the wines, but Walter and I had to go back to town to get feed and spent the day at the café working on photos and the Mississippi River Crossing blog entry.
Rick and Beverly were such a wonderful stop. We actually went back to spend one more night with them after riding 18 miles. We stopped early because it was 104 degrees and I have no idea what the heat index was. Maybe something like 4,390 degrees. Soj stayed in a great big field at a nice man called John Veech’s house, but we had to go back to Anna to get our GPS system, the SPOT (I lost the last one again on the road while Dennis and I were cantering).
I actually fell asleep at 4pm and didn’t get up again until the next morning so I didn’t get to see them that night, but Walter visited with them a little bit. I can’t believe how long I have been sleeping when given the opportunity! I don’t want to, I want to stay awake and experience things with people, but I think I have some serious sleep catch up to do.
So we are here in wine country and haven’t done any wine tasting, but we did end up getting a bottle of good ol’ Bogle wine last night and made homemade chips and guacamole.
We are in the most wonderful little cabin in Shawnee National Forest and thought we would finally celebrate our half way point and 2,000 mile marks. We never really celebrated either one because I had such awful poison ivy the first time and we slept the whole day of our 2,000 “celebration”.
So thanks to Carol at Lake Glendale Stables who donated 2 nights to us in this lovely little cabin, we finally had a chance to sip on a glass of wine, play cards, watch a movie, and relax.
View from the window on the front porch
If you are ever traveling through this part of the country with a horse this is most definitely the place to stay. There is a swinging bench on the front porch that overlooks a beautiful field where all the horses run and Soj is in a round pen right next to us. It’s just perfect.
view from the upper deck
One of the bedrooms
The horses that go out on trail rides are tied in open stalls in the back there under the house
Tomorrow I am going to ride through the Southern end of The Garden of the Gods which this land buts up against. It will save me about 10 miles to cut through instead of taking the highway and it looks like it is going to be an incredible ride. I’m pretty excited. This will be my first time actually venturing off on a trail. It will be nice for Walter as well because he is going to drive around and park on the other side of the trail so he can meet us in the middle and then we can all ride/walk to the truck together.
Glendale Stables is also right on a small lake that has a zip line so Walter and I are going to take advantage of that today. I have been thinking I should make this blog into a “where to go and where not to go with your horse” forum as well. I guess I kind of mildly do that already, but I would give this place 5 stars!!
It’s a beautiful morning. Walter is making banana honey buckwheat pancakes topped off with strawberries and homemade blackberry syrup that Vicki Durham back in Ava, MO sent us off with. I have just had my first batch and oh my goodness!!
All of this scrumptious food is washed down with my favorite, twig tea. Mmmmmm….
Soj is eating hay washed down with rice bran water right now, happy as a clam. Hey Vicki...if Walter and I have this café one day that we dream about we are going to have to put in some big orders for this blackberry syrup! It is oh so amazing. I think it would be so cool to have little specialty items in the café that we found on this ride.
Walter and I are debating whether to stay around here at the lake and have a day without driving or drive 25 miles or so to the heart of The Garden of the Gods. I am looking at a pamphlet now about the Shawnee National Forest.
Here is a little info. I found interesting that I am going to just copy word for word for you from the Saline County brochure:
The Algonquian word for ‘southern’ is Shawnee, which applied to a group pushed to the south by stronger tribes. They became fierce warriors and highly respected among other eastern tribes who sought their alliance in struggle against other tribes. They never became a larger tribe numbering in the hundreds in their settlements although they were widely dispersed throughout the Midwest. Their hunting prowess and the ability to make salt gave them merchandise for trade.
The tribe recognized early on the dangers that white encroachment would have on their way of life ad their ability to make a living. Because they saw this conflict as an affront to the sacredness of creation and life, they viewed their resistance to it as a holy war. Even early missionaries such as Quakers and Shakers recognized the special spiritual quality of their life and proclaimed their worship akin to theirs.
Their resistance to the white intrusion into their lands was based on protection of their families, their ability to make a living and protection of the sacredness of nature. They fought the British first, then allied with them to fight the Americans. Subsequent treaties exiled them to the west, the first being about 1800 then the largest in 1831 or seven years before the Trail of Tears.
Tecumseh of the Shawnee, the Shawnee Chief, carried a bundle of sticks in his hands as he traveled throughout the Midwest urging tribes to unite in the common cause of resistance to the encroachment of settlers. The metaphor is that you can break one stick but you can’t break the bundle.
There have been some pretty despicable, horrific times in history where egos, greed, and twisted beliefs have tumbled us into emotional wars and wrongful killing and as we all know things continue to tumble like weeds and get tangled into barbed wire fences. We’re here and then we’re gone in a blink of an eye and we can either leave the world a little better or a little worse. Together we can make a massive mess or we can create something absolutely incredible.
Walter and I watched a movie last night called “The Boy In Striped Pyjamas”. It was about the Holocaust. I thought about what a sickening time that was and how most of us now go most of our lives without ever really thinking about it. Such insanity in the world and yet it passed, just as we will, and it’s somewhat forgotten.
I can remember asking my mom as a little girl why I wasn’t crying when I saw starving children on t.v. I knew what I was seeing was real and so horrible and I felt like I should be crying, but I wasn’t. My mom said you can’t cry over everything that is wrong in the world or you would never be able to get out of bed in the morning. The best thing to do is to try to do whatever you can to make it better.
Sometimes I feel, too, that everything is so fast that we don’t take in what is actually happening. It’s like a news reporter who delivers some horrifying news to us in a monotone voice and then is on to the next unrelated, silly story with barely a change of tone, or with a huge change of tone as if what was just said has already been forgotten. It’s all in and then out.
That movie was hard to watch last night. It made me think about how quickly we forget, how quickly we move on if we weren’t directly affected, how quickly we disconnect.
I hope it is clear that I don’t remove myself from these actions. I try my best to stay present and aware of what is going on around me, but I forget history sometimes, I forget to hear the answer sometimes, I forget to think or maybe to allow myself to feel sometimes.
With lights flashing and ads buzzing and the constant fight to be in front and the constant push to get up and get on with it, it’s an easy trap to fall in to. I suppose the only thing to do is to become more and more aware that it’s not our natural state to be like that. I don’t think most of us really want to move that fast and most of like to feel things so why do we live any different?
This brings me around to this ride and the line I draw from it to divorce or other hardships in our lives. Some don’t understand what this ride is about and think I’ve actually been divorced or that I’m grieving and wanted to ride off away from it all, but neither of those is true. It’s about the fact that I feel that we need to be allowed the time to heal and to grieve and to talk it all out. I don’t believe in “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” or “you made your bed now sleep in it”. Sure, you should pick yourself up, but not in the hastiness that that saying alludes to. And your “bed” is the result of many different people and many different experiences. None of us have made our own bed. We all come into this world the same, as innocent children, and our beds were there fully made the second we entered.
Time heals almost everything but time can only work if we give it the minutes and hours and days and maybe months and maybe years that it needs. Every day is a little better and every smile helps. I have learned more than ever on this ride that people are here for us. We all have a desire to help and to heal and to share what we have or what we know. I think that is what gives us the most happiness.
I met a woman on the road yesterday who had such an exuberant amount of energy. I only got a blip of time with her as she slowly drove her jeep full of dogs next to Soj and I.
She said, “It’s like any chick flick. I mean, at the end we want our arms wrapped around someone and we want someone’s arms wrapped around us. That’s it. End of the flick. That’s all we really want.”
She also said maybe we give up too quickly.A reporter asked us the other day, “Well, isn’t there an easier way to accomplish your goal than riding a horse across the country?”
I thought about it a second and said that I couldn’t really imagine any other way that we would be able to dip into this many lives in less than one year. There are at the very least a hundred families already that we are in contact with, that we care about, that we now know. Both Walter and I have traveled a lot and have friends that we consider family from those travels, but never have we been in this many homes and shared this many stories and this many feelings and different ideas in one trip. Never have we seen so much of a country, so thoroughly and slowly, step by Arabian step.
As I’ve said before, Sojourner is like a bulldozer breaking down any walls that might be hard to get through otherwise. This trip of course would not be the same without him. Our whole experience would be entirely different. Aside from the fact that my dream was to be on a horse day in and day out and spend every day outside with the land and challenge myself, he is also the key to opening people. So no, I can’t see a way I could have achieved this goal any other way.
We had some kind of odd things happen over the last couple of days. A woman saw Soj and I on the news, got our numbers from the news station, and called us saying we had her horse. She was pretty easy to convince otherwise thankfully, but there was no question from her in the beginning. It was simply put: “You have my horse”. That’s the second time that has happened. Another woman once came running down the street after us yelling, “STOP!!!!!!” She wanted to know why we had her friend’s horse. She was cool after a minute as well, but goodness, there are a lot of flea-bitten grey Arabians!
I just took about 5 minutes sitting here.
What a time this is.
Walter just brought me another cup of twig tea. The door is open to the porch and Soj is contently having a nap down below. I’m listening to a really pretty song called “Six Feet Under”, by Louis Aguilar. Kind of a bummer title, but it’s pretty. Walter is reading a book on the couch in this lovely little log cabin. There is a sign above the open door that reads, “live well, laugh often, love much”.
Live well, laugh often, love much…. “Okay”.