Big news!!!! We are now East of the Mississippi!!!!
I can't tell you how awesome it felt to cross that bridge. We are in Illinois now and in a week we will be in Kentucky. This is cool because Kentucky borders Virginia which touches the Atlantic Ocean!! Oh man, that just made my stomach feel sparkly.
Sojourner is doing well. I was a bit concerned before because he just felt so slow under me. I didn't know if his legs were sore or something. As it turns out I think it's just the heat that is making him a little lethargic. We got him to our next stop in Anna, Illinois and I ran him around a bit. He even picked up a gallop, jumped a little stream, and tossed his head around with a couple little excited hops. I watched his legs carefully as he ran all over the place back and forth and back and forth with the other horses and he looks pretty strong.
That was a huge relief. He didn't feel necessarily like he was in pain under me, but I worry if any little thing feels different. We just need fall is all!!! It's really hot again today. We have a rest day but the heat is going to climb even more tomorrow and the next day (of course). I feel better though because fall is coming and Soj is healthy and we're healthy so there's just a little more weather to muscle through and then we can enjoy hot cider and grey hoodies!! I love grey hoodies.
We are now staying with Rick and Beverly Tweedy who have been incredibly hospitable.
The truck is getting another rest. Beverly insisted that we take her car back to Cape Girardeau to pick up Soj's food from Kent Feeds and Manna Pro at the TSC store instead of taking our truck. Last night they provided a huge feast for us. The food came from a well known place called 17th Street Bar and Grill. It was excellent. The Tweedy's have a beautiful home and have insisted that we treat it like it's ours.
Right now we are at a great little cafe in downtown Cape Girardeau called Cup 'N' Cork. Tonight we are having dinner with Beverly and Rick and we will have an early start tomorrow to Vienna, Illinois. It's a 25 mile ride.
Now as for Ozark, the pup....
He has found a home with a 12 year old girl back in Van Buren. Walter and I miss his company, but the girl is very happy to have him.
As Soj and I were walking through Cape Girardeau to head to the bridge we passed a day care center. A couple of the kids ran to the fence to get a better look at Soj so we stopped for a while to visit with them.
Sojourner is incredible with children. I have seen it time and time again on this trip. When we are with children he puts his head down close to them and stays very, very still no matter how many little hands are all over him. It makes my eyes water when I see this because it's like he knows they're little and that he has to be careful. To see the magic in a child's face when they are with the horse and the gentleness of Soj with them is a pretty overwhelming thing to watch. Walter got some really beautiful pictures of them all...
Before heading to Cape Giardeau we were in Jackson with Elaine and Lanny. I had written about her baking downstairs all evening and this was the result the next morning!! We still have so much bread and it is so delicious!!
Sojourner was over at the Buck and Spain Ranch. They are a very friendly, clean facility in Jackson and gave Soj a great place to stay. We had 7 miles to ride that morning to get to the Mississippi river.
Walter and I were pretty psyched to cross the Mississippi that day. It really feels like we're getting there now!
We were planning on riding all the way to Anna this day, but we were stopped a lot of people in town which put us in the heat of the day with still 25 miles to go after the bridge. Instead we cut the day in half because a nice man called Bill Davis offered a place for Soj and for us as well.
It ended up being a wonderful stop. He put us up in his Hunting Club which was pretty fancy. We had the place to ourselves and it was like having our own house for a night! We thought we were going to be camping that night and then he swooped in and saved us from a hot night!
The next day (yesterday) we rode to Anna. We stopped at the feed store in town for a couple photos...
...and then rode on to Rick and Beverly's. Rick was waiting when we got there and helped us tuck Soj in for the night (after a good run through the field).
Then we met with a reporter...
...and had a wonderful evening with friends and family of Rick and Beverly's later that evening. One of the guys there showed us his "fighting bulls" after much persuasion from Rick. He flexes his shoulders and it makes the deer look like they're knocking antlers.
TJ then put his shirt down and laughed after a woman at the table said, "Only in Illinois".
Speaking of only in Illinois, we should only be in Illinois for another 4 or 5 days and then we are in Kentucky, which as I wrote earlier, touches Virginia...which touches the other ocean. We're not riding straight to the Atlantic from here, but it's cool to be so close. We will head North in Kentucky into West Virginia and keep going North from there to home.
Oh, home. Home and my Daddy. I love the ride and I know I will miss it with an aching in my heart when it's over, but it will be so amazing to see Soj step foot on that land that grass stained my feet as a little girl.
Until then we have so many people still to meet and miles to cover!! On we go...
But one last thing...
To those of you interested in horse history, the Arabian Horse Association contacted me and asked if I would like them to do a little research on Soj's family tree. I am going to copy and paste an email from there here. It was so interesting for me to learn about Soj's sire! As it turns out he is the baby of the litter (a litter of 129!). Here's the email...
Hi Linny, Hope your journey is going well! Soj is very Polish. Which sort of makes sense that he's working well for you on your journey--the endurance riders of our community often like to ride the Polish Arabians, I'm guessing for their heartiness (I can't claim to be an expert on that one). Soj's sire's (dad's) name is Ortalion and was bred by the Janow Podlaski State Stud Farm, which essentially means he was bred by the Polish government. Governments usually had their state studs for the purpose of breeding their best stock for future generations and for work and war and stuff. The Janow Podlaski State Stud is very well respected. American breeders can work their as part of their overall education, for instance. So Ortalion was registered in Poland and imported to the states in 1988. Ortalion lived at Ventura Farms in California and was a pretty darn successful stallion who had lots-o-babies, 129 to be exact and Soj was his very last. All the other horses on Ortalion's side were registered Polish Arabians... Let me look into his dam's (mom's) side and get back to you. I'm not really that good at reading pedigrees (there is a story behind every one!) so this is a good exercise for me, but it takes a little time for me to do the digging :)
Oh...and one other cool thing...
We went to the Barnes and Noble in town to see if the Special Edition Issue of Arabian Horse World was out and it is!