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...

Finally fall!!

10/10/10




We had to ride on the interstate for 10 miles yesterday. It wasn't bad at all though. In fact, we had a sweet little interaction with a gopher on the side of the road.

Sojourner and I were maneuvering through the town of Altoona, PA when I saw Walter at the light up ahead with his blinker on to pull over into an empty parking lot. Soj and I cut up the hill and met him there. He told me the road was even worse up ahead and he thought we should just get up on the Interstate.



Altoona is not a walker or biker friendly town. It is very busy, sort of like the business area of Manchester, NH and there are no sidewalks or cross walks. In fact, there are little signs with a walking man on it with a big red X through him. We haven't come across a town like this yet where being outside of your car is not recommended near roads.


We have been up on I-10 and I-25, but there were less guard rails so I could zip down the median and we were only I-10 for a short amount of time. The thing is, I don't really know if it's allowed. We debated calling the cops to give them a heads up, but then if they said "No" we wouldn't be able to go up there...well, then where would we go?


So we decided to just do it. It ended up being a nice ride. We had a 35 mile day and it flew by. The weather was absolutely perfect and Walter's mom and stepfather, Stephen, were driving down so we were both excited. Sojourner was absolutely incredible. I guess he's just in magnificent shape now because he is really moving. We moved at 8 miles an hour for quite a while and ended the day early.


The fact that we are getting close to New York is starting to really hit us now. I look at Soj and get a little choked up all the time now in the evenings while I watch him eat. I just can't believe it. I can remember being in California thinking about what it would feel like to look at him in an Eastern state and know he brought me all the way there. I'm in awe of him and really can't believe we're here.

I rode him every single day for a year and a half before we headed out on this ride and I would day dream and day dream about what it was all going to be like. I actually had a person come up to me and say (a cool guy who I really like, but he said...), "You're not going to make it. It's too far". Point blank. Just like that. I joked a little with him and told him I would send him a post card.

And people look at us cross-eyed all the time which is as to be expected, but here Soj is and here we are and we're so close now. I think I might crumble when we hit NH. I am so proud of Soj and I am so overwhelmed by Walter's heart and to have made it, to get there...I'll thank every person we've met along the way and all of you following this blog who offer us support and encouragement for as long as I live for helping to make this possible.

And Sojourner...oh what a horse. I can't wait to get him a buddy!

Right now Walter and I are enjoying a nice morning in The Hampton Inn. Walter's parents got a couple of rooms for all of us for last night and tonight. Today we are just going to play around. We plan to shop a little, hike a little, eat, laugh, maybe hit some garage sales...

Beware of continental breakfasts in hotels. Goodness gracious. People turn into something different. They become starving and impatient and the cheap muffins and little box cereals have never looked so good and must be had, must be had, must be had at this instant, this very instant, please move! This very instant!!

One woman really, really, really wanted the milk I was about to pour for myself. She stood so close to me intently watching everywhere my hands went. Finally she couldn't wait any longer (I was having trouble figuring out how to get the cereal out of the big plastic holder) so she said "excuse me" and nuzzled herself in between me and the milk!! It was really weird! Walter had a similar experience, too, with his waffles. Finally the lady near him got impatient and asked if she could just help him.

It was so interesting to watch! What is it that happens at a continental breakfast? Something about it makes people really uncomfortable and a little jittery and impatient. People bonk into each other and stuff.

Well anyway, we are back up in the room with our tea and cereal now. I should probably head downstairs though because Walter just told me his parents are up. It looks like it's going to be another beautiful day....time to get outside!

We are just coming into beautiful fall colors. Oh how I love this time of year!

9 comments:

  1. Why do people say things like that? "You are not going to make it, it's too far." The worse part is the fact that polite people have no recourse, because what we really want to say in return is "How do you know we are not going to make it? Jackass!?!?" and what we usually say is something more like "We'll see." No offense to your friend or anything. Glad you are getting closer to the ocean where the sun rises instead of sets. You are an inspiration to us all.

    When you arrive, you have to keep blogging or I will need to seek medication and therapy for my withdrawal symptoms. :)

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  2. Oh man, I just let out a huge laughing snort. My wife said "What?" I had to read her the continental breakfast story verbatim!

    As you may have heard me mention before, I was immersed in a career in Corporate America for over 20 years. I could fill a book with those stories.

    One time I was downtown Manhattan having breakfast with a colleague. I looked over my bill and they had left something off that I ate. I owed the restaurant for the bagel or whatever it was and I wanted to pay for it. So I got in line with these incredibly impatient people waiting at the register.

    Well, first it took me awhile to get the person at the register to understand that I was trying to give more money because I owed it to them. Then when the people I was holding up realized that I was there to pay for food I could have gotten for free, I think they were about to throw me in the Hudson River! I was thinking "Hey, I'm trying to do the right thing here.", but I don't think they wanted to hear it.

    Funny, funny story, Linny. Have a wonderful day with Walter's folks!

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  3. It's the sugar. It bends the mind and changes a person's chemistry. A perfectly normal, polite, person will morph into a jittery junky when confronted by white flour and endless amount of hidden sweets, such as sugar cane, dextrose, fructose, maltose, sorghum, turbinado, sucrose, glucose and all the other crystalline carbohydrates. They can't help it. Eat the banana instead. Apple Pie would be o.k., as long as it has a topping of ice cream. All the food groups in one bite. Best breakfast ever.
    Love you much
    Nancy

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  4. The fact that Sojourner can calmly and confidently carry you through fully developed areas such as Altoona is nothing short of amazing. I'm sure that non-horse people can understand, but it almost seems to me that a person needs to have ridden a fair bit to fully understand what that says about the relationship between a rider and his/her horse.

    I can't imagine that emotions that you will experience when you ride into Danlin Hollow. Assuming you continue this blog, it will be interesting to read about how you go about transitioning into a new lifestyle for you and Sojourner. I predict that there will be a fair bit of camping with him in the future. Maybe with Walter riding as well!

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  5. I just discovered your blog tonight, and I must say, I'm in awe! What you are doing is really amazing. I think I have a lot in common with you, which is why I've enjoyed reading about your journey so much.
    I also grew up near Altoona, so it was really funny seeing those pictures and knowing exactly where you were!
    I wish I'd have discovered you sooner, as I could have helped you with your desire to meet with an Amish family if you wanted to trek a little further north into PA. We have Amish neighbors at our farm who take care of my horses throughout the week. Oh well, I'm sure you will have a chance as you go through Eastern PA!
    Stay safe and give Sojourner a pat from me!

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  6. What you and Walter and Soj have done truly is amazing, as someone has noted above. You will have to have many things to do once here so that you don't fall into a "post project" funk. What you are doing will not be easily topped anytime soon.

    I loved the little film with the horse rolling and at the end of the clip, he gives a little snort. Yeah! You tell 'em, Soj!

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  7. It was absolutely great meeting the three of you yesterday when you arrived at Kirsten's! and to find out we were both music majors at the same school in NH... unbelievable. Hope you had a nice ride in Scotia today. I tried out a new (to me) rail trail over towards Altoona today - nice. You'll have to come back next year and ride some of the wonderful trails we have in this area. Best wishes on the rest of your journey and for the winter in NH.
    Patty

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  8. Tom-I'll have to keep the blog going, I think. There are a lot of things to write about as we settle in to the post ride life. I can't believe we are almost home. I just can't believe it.

    Jamie-I wish you found us sooner, too! Altoona was crazy on a horse!! There was pretty much nowhere to go. We had to get up on the highway. It was a really, really nice ride after that though. (And we enjoyed the TJ Maxx there when Walter's mom and stepfather came to visit) :)

    Nancy-I will stick to bananas. :) Miss you!!!!!!!!!!!

    Rideasmorgan-Walter and I keep saying that we know we are close to home now because we met a Plymouth alum. The ride on Scotia was awesome-thanks so much for the tip. We would love to come back!!

    Daddy-we'll all have to keep one another from developing the winter blues. Lots of music, food, leather, riding, and laughs!! That'll do it. :) And future plans... :)

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  9. Oh man, SAZCorp! That made me laugh!!

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