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...

Locked with a key...

9/6/10


Saying goodbye at The Robinson's Farm




Mr. Robinson has honey bees in his barn so he can collect honey for his wife. She suffers with asthma and the honey from these bees helps.



The night before we left Larry took us up to the highest point on his property to see the view. It was gorgeous.

We were greeted by a lot of friendly townspeople as we headed out of Irvington.



...and were given this gift from a man having a road side sale. I love it so much. It will hang in my leather shop when I get home.


Even these little guys ran along side to see Soj off. The donkey and Soj got a little too curious and decided to touch noses. I probably shouldn't have let them, but the fence seemed low enough. On of them touched the electric wire and both the horse and the donkey went flying backwards. The donkey stood still in the field for quite some time trying to figure out what happened.


We’ve earned our rest today, that’s for sure. Soj and I rode on the worst and most dangerous road we have been on yet. There was no shoulder on this windy, fast road. Walter was behind us going up the side of the mountain with his flashers on which helped a lot. When he wasn’t behind us he was ahead stressing and waiting for us come into sight.



We met Chico here on the road. He's from Cuba. He had just gotten out of jail yesterday for growing pot. He was a sweetheart of a man. Walter stopped at their house before Soj and I got there to ask if there were any other possible roads. There weren't. First Chico thought Walter was a cop, but when he realized he wasn't he brought Walter inside to find "his lady". She came out and he said, "Here's a man".
"Hi man." she said in good humor...
When Soj and I got there he ran down to the corn field in a full sprint to get Soj some corn. Walter and I both smiled as we watched him.

Soj tripped and stumbled as we picked our way through these narrow, rocky ditches


It was definitely one of the nicest weather days in a long time though. It was so beautiful! We stopped for lunch at the top of a hill and played a little basketball. We bought a basketball at the store the other day so we can play whenever we come across a hoop. Walter knows all of these fancy dribbles that I’m practicing but as of now when I try the ball goes rolling away.

We had some of Larry's honey...
...on some of this incredible homemade wheat bread that we got at an Amish bakery in Irvington.


Today Walter and I watched the ball in slow motion as it bounced down the hill into the road toward the oncoming truck. The truck came up, hit it square on, and sent it flying in a massive arch far up the road. The guy’s arm on the passenger side window didn’t even move from it’s resting position…unfazed. We stood there frozen and Walter said, “Cool.” (watching, watching, watching) and then, “I’ll get it!” and he was off down the road.

After lunch we had 12 more miles of awful shoulder-less road. It was really pretty, but really unsafe, too. I was running on pretty low fuel. We camped out at a great campground the night before. The people who ran it were so nice and it was right on the river. We met some guys who live next to the campground who brought us over some wood and a ring as well. Everyone was super friendly, but the dog…


We had a fire and made a dinner and went to bed soon after it got dark. The thing is, the campground is right by a drag race ring that was so incredibly loud. Then a dog that was confused by Soj started barking (yet again) around 1am. I waited and waited but the dog never stopped and the motors never stopped. I started to get pretty aggravated so I took my sleeping bag and got in the truck after mumbling frustrations to Walter. I just sat there listening to everything looking through the windshield. Every little blood cell in me was boiling! Not ten minutes later the dog barks got farther apart and I could tell he was settling down. I went back to the tent and eventually fell asleep, sort of.

The morning was lovely though and very quiet. I love mornings at a campsite.


After tacking up Soj we said goodbye to the guys we met the night before and started out for a 20 mile ride.


The ride may have been rough, but what a place we’ve pulled into to stay for a day and a half! Soj has a turnout next to a couple of others horses to keep him company. Walter and I gave him a nice bath and wrapped his legs with some liniment underneath. He’s all prepped for a nice day off.

Hmm. Bullitt Lick.




***

I began writing the words above last night at the Thompson place where we’re staying. This morning Walter and I are sitting in a coffee shop called “Day’s” in Louisville, Kentucky. I love this city! It’s full of coffee shops, bookstores and music stores, big beautiful old churches, commons, health food stores, and little boutiques. People are riding around the little streets on bikes and sitting outside cafes with little espresso cups watching their children play with dogs tied to chairs.

I do wish more things were open. It’s a beautiful sunny day today. The air is pretty much exactly like San Francisco air on a sunny summer day. We are in the back of the cafĂ© where the lighting is a bit dim so we can edit photos easier, but soon we will enjoy the sun while exploring the city to see what else it has to offer.

I was listening to a program this morning as we drove here about connectedness and how modern technology can pull us away from one another and reality. It can make us overlook incredible things in nature to look at a screen of some sort. The woman hosting the show, Dianne Rehm, mentioned that her husband won’t use a computer and still uses Encyclopedia Britannica to look things up. The guest , William Powers, said there is a deeper knowledge gained from reading a book, but that there are things on the computer that an Encyclopedia might not be able to offer. His point is that it’s good to have both, but there has to be a balance.

It made me think about the country versus the city. I would prefer to reside in the country, but I wouldn’t want to be too far from a city. Both of them have things to offer and although I love the quietness, beauty, and ability to work with the land that the country offers, I love the books, music, theater, dance, museums, and spirit of the city. Like anything, one is not better than the other (well, I suppose I would give country the edge, a whole chunk even), but both have so much to offer.

Powers told a story about a day he was out in his little boat and he dropped his cell phone in the water. He was able to retrieve it, but it was dead by then. He said at first he was mad at himself but then he felt exhilarated by the freedom of it. He then thought about it and realized it had been years since he had given himself total freedom from the electronic world.

So many people say they “just need a break” or “just need to get away”. It’s something we all need to remember is always possible. There is never anything binding us to these ways or any specific routine you’ve put yourself into. Of course there are responsibilities that need to be cared for with dollar bills, but that doesn’t mean time can’t be allowed for yourself.

Dianne Rehm said she cherishes the small amount of time when she reads a book before bed. She said it feels “so rich” and that it’s her favorite time of the day. These little moments are what we all love. I think it’s simply because it’s ours. It’s the same reason I think dreams and following them are so important, because they’re ours. So much of what we have and do is told to us or set up for us, but not a dream and not that little time in bed with a book.

A beautiful thing happened the other day. Three young boys were riding their bikes in town. It was on a little block. The whole scene looked like something out of “The Wonder Years”. As Soj and I passed them one of the boys asked if he could pet the horse. They all laid down their bikes on the side of the road except the boy who spoke to me. His bike was half in the road.

“Don’t leave your bike in the road”, the older of the three said in a sweet, brotherly way.

“Where are you riding from?” the youngest asked me as the older boy moved his bike out of the road.

They all listened as I told him we’ve come from Los Angeles.

“All the way!?” he said

I was amazed at how intently they all listened as I spoke to them. Their eyes were on me with no future question already stored in their heads, just listening to the answer.

We talked for about three minutes or so and then said goodbye.

“Thanks a lot!” the oldest boy said, “sorry to have stopped you!”

My words came out a little chopped because I was a bit taken aback by their courtesy.

“No! You’re…you’re welcome…I was happy to!”, I said.

The three hopped back on their bikes and pedaled in the opposite direction from the way Soj and I were headed. About one minute later, there was the one who had first spoken to me pedaling along beside Soj and I.

“You’re the kind of person who inspires me…to do dreams and stuff”.

I never even told him this had been a dream of mine. I only told then where we had come from and where we were headed. Again, I was taken aback.

“Thank you”, I said.

“You’re welcome. Good luck!”

And that was it. He made a U-turn on his bike in the road and pedaled back fast to catch up with the other boys.

My eyes started to water. What he said was so beautiful, but the fact that he felt the need to come and tell me really choked me up. He felt something and he knew if he told me it would make me feel good. It was such a kind act done solely to put a smile on my face. He just wanted to let me know.

I thought about times when I had been too shy or feared that I might embarrass someone if I told them a compliment or how they made me feel so I kept it to myself. This little boy reminded me that you should always speak if you have something kind to say. It’s so easy to close off those emotions and tuck them away somewhere even though all they would bring out is love. But then again, what scares most all of us more than love?

He wasn’t scared though. He pedaled up to me with confidence and something to say. Whatever restrictions lived years can put on us had not yet hit this 13-year-old boy. Maybe he’s one others will look at with awe because years will never have that effect on him.

It has to be remembered that even if it seems to make someone uncomfortable when you say something nice to them, that person takes it with them and it settles in a place they lock with a key, in a hope chest of beautiful things.


9 comments:

  1. Yikes, that road would not have been pleasant. What a trooper Soj is for trekking calmly along.

    Even though I understand that a lot of people don't know much about horses, I still hate it when they go zooming by a person on horseback. Or any animal, for that matter. Just slow down a little.

    I'll be that young man went to bed thinking of his own great dreams. No doubt, you have inspired at least several people along the way in that manner. Maybe a lot more. How exciting!

    In my last position before I lost my job due to a reorganization, we were expected to be connected and responding during nearly 100% of our waking hours. I didn't realize just how much it weighed me down until I got out from underneath it and had some time to think! Balance is key for sure.

    Hey, I noticed something about you that I hadn't seen in a long time - jeans!!!! Long pants. Yay! Cooler weather, finally.

    Ride On!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh thanks Tom, that would be cool if Walter and Soj and I have been of some sort of inspiration to some people, but really the thing that was coolest was that he felt the need to say that to me. It really struck me and made me think about how many times I have wanted to say something nice and didn't because I was shy. He just had something, that boy. He was pretty awesome...if anything I was the one inspired.

    ReplyDelete
  3. OHhhhh, long pants and a long sleeved shirt girl! Exciting stuff!! I am waiting for my first comfy layers here too, finally there is no 90 degrees in the forecast so it may just be coming! Fall is the BEST.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Linny... Hubby & i have followed you since you came through Parker Arizona. You probly don't remember the couple outside the Radio Station saying "Yay!"..as it was clear you were pretty tired, still getting your "SeaLegs" under you so close to the beginning of your voyage across the land. i wanted to come speak to you...but you were expected inside for an interview so we got in the car and drove off listening to you & feeling inspired. How Awesome You, Soj & Walter are. And Look at how many people have joyfully opened their lives and homes to you. We follow you every day..and say "YaY!"

    Though my journey is very much different than yours, i count you as one of the inspirations for sharing my reawakening to life and learning to dare to dream again.

    Don't even question the imprint you've made on the landscape you have traveled, the hearts that have connected with you during this epic journey through America's Heartland. We Thank You for helping us focus on the things that matter and call out as you ride on..........

    "YAY!"

    ReplyDelete
  5. So proud of you Linny to recognize these things. I know that people sometimes can wear one person out especially if they are shy or introverted. That is a great "A-HA" moment for both of you...

    Ride on!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Linny,
    Feel free to delete this if you wish. I won't be offended as it's outside of the positive message of your adventure, albeit absolutely related to our responsibility for respecting our relationship with the animals.

    The horrible people from Ringling Brothers will be in Manchester, NH from 9/30-10/3 at the Verizon Wireless Arena. I know you won't be there, but perhaps you have friends who would want to make up a sign and protest the plight of the elephants and big cats.

    There just isn't any way to provide decent quality of life to circus animals. I've researched this very thoroughly. It's nothing like the Lippizan horses (who enjoy their work and are perfectly content).

    And the God-awful training techniques they use are only "isolated" because they got caught on undercover video. No person who truly cares about animals would condone those brutal actions.

    Anyway, please don't hesitate to delete if you are uncomfortable. We're friend and I won't be offended. I brought this to your blog and it's OK if you delete.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good Morning Linny,
    Have some leisure time to sip a cup of Joe and savor your words. You always manage to slip in a thoughtful and encouraging statement, or two, or three...

    I doubt that you are cognisant of the full impact that your journey has made on numerous people along the way. I often shake my head and wonder how that big ole' heart of yours fits in that itsy bitsy body. There can't possibly be room for all those other organs used for breathing, digesting and other non-mentionables. You just make me grin from ear to ear.

    O.K., enough about you.... that photo of you and Soj on the narrow, busy road, pushed up against the cliff side was a complete deja vu. (minus all the punctuation that English lacks) Take away the other side of the road and put in a 3000 foot drop, (maybe a slight exaggeration) add a little lightning, torrential rain, whipping wind, sodden backpack and I'm back on the Camino in Spain. Oh, for the good old days..... You've certainly endured many more months of personal enlightenment than I ever will but we all suffer along with you!! Fortunately, for me, from the comfort of my computer chair. Ah, but the joy of sharing your adventure is immeasurable. Always little tid bits of connection and observation to remind us of the importance of each individual.

    Tommy, I can almost feel your pain and outrage regarding the circus. Couldn't agree more. I never took my children to the circus (except once in Mexico and that was enough to bring horror to us all... big mistake. In hindsight, maybe not, because my sons are both such animal lovers themselves and retain big, tender hearts. It gave us an opportunity to talk about the inhumane treatment of animals. Even roosters.)

    Well, enough rambling. It's an interesting connection this blog has. Reading your entries is like hearing your voice and writing back is as close to a conversation that I can have with you, until I get to see you face to face. In some ways, it's similar to what it must have been like pre-phone, when letter writing was an art, and the postman came twice a day. Writing also gives you a moment to pause and formulate your thoughts before blurting them out. Of additional benefit, is spell-check. Don't want to appear uncouth, uncultured, indecorous or a just an ignorant troglodyte.

    Off to the weddings... love you whole heartedly.

    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just got back from Agway; having them set aside cedar posts enough to put the paddock in Bath back on its feet, so to speak. Today is one of those days where it is sprinkling outside if you look out one door and you can see blue sky mingling with the clouds if you look out another. Temp is holding at 60. Reading your words in this entry has the same affect on me as your singing, and you know what that is...

    ReplyDelete