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...

Let's all get a little dirty


We ran into the most wonderful little cafe back in Bellefonte, PA called "Cafe on the Park". We stopped in to grab a muffin because it was a cold day and we decided we would have a muffin/tea break. Well, we ended up staying an hour. Soj was fed tons and tons of carrots and apples and watched over us through the window...

I remember watching a fashion lady on the Today Show or something like that talk about soaps and shampoos. She said that we all tend to over-wash ourselves because we scrub with soap over our entire bodies and we shampoo our hair all the way down to the ends. Her point was that we are striping off our natural oils, but what caught me was that she said just plain water would offer us all of the cleansing we need because most of us don’t really get all that dirty. If we are covered in dirt, then yeah, use the soap, but most of us don’t need it.

What I took away from that interview was, “Man oh man, we all need to get a little dirtier.”

We are at a farm now in Jersey Shore, PA and I bet Rick uses soap all over his entire body (rightfully so) at the end of every day. At 4am every morning he is up and out with the cows and says he loves it.

“Work isn’t work when you really love what you’re doing. I can’t wait to get out here in the morning”, he says to us with a grin.

My aunt MaryLou most definitely has earned the right to bathe fully with as much soap as her big heart desires as well. She came to visit Walter, the Sojer, and I this weekend and took a bit of a spill into an old cow manure ditch. There are grates in the ground that you have to be careful walking over because if you step wrong and go in you are entering a deep, dark, smelly hole of liquid poo.

Lou is okay, but she has quite a bruise and a limp. Other than that little spill we had a nice visit with her and will probably see her and my Uncle Phil again in about a month when we get to Bath!

Laughter is barreling up the farmhouse stairs right now into the bedroom Walter and I have been given for the next 2 evenings. The daily 4 o’clock coffee hour is just wrapping up and it sounds like one of the little kids did something very funny on her way out. All of the adults are laughing and a little girl’s voice is squeaking and laughing along with them.

I just had a nice bath and Walter is next to me with a pile of National Geographic’s and a magazine called “The Successful Farmer”.

Sojourner is out with (you won’t believe it) a herd of baby Holsteins. I was so excited when the farmer I had just met said, “Well, he can have a stall or a pasture. Which would you prefer?” I always prefer pasture for him because he’s most definitely an outdoor boy.

“Well”, he said. “That’s fine as long as he doesn’t mind a bunch of baby cows!”

“Really!??” I asked “No! This will be perfect because he is scared of cows and what better way to get him acquainted with them than a bunch of babies?!”

It was adorable. I’m pretty sure cows are the most curious animals on the planet and they had never met a horse before! I put Sojourner in there with them and he didn’t seem scared even a little bit. Every single little cow followed him into the field in nearly single file. Oh! It was the sweetest thing ever to see! The little babies did little kicks and tossed their little heads in excitement. Soj led the whole line down toward the grass he spotted.

Finally the babes in the front got a little daring and went right up to Soj. This is when Soj started to nod his head the way horses do telling them to scat. They would hop back and then head right at him again. Finally Soj gave a stomp with his front leg and they kind of lost interest in him. I think this is all good for Sojourner's confidence but I have a feeling they will be near him again when we go back out there. I can’t wait to see what they’re all doing!

(Rick told us later that he went out and Sojourner was totally enclosed in a circle of baby cows. Sojourner did a little rear and kick out with his paws and scattered the circle though. By the time we got out they were all scattered...what a picture that would have made!!)

The farmer is Rick Shaffer. We are staying here with him and his wife, Chris. Walter and I were planning on taking a drive to a cool town that is about 45 minutes away tomorrow but we are hoping we can just follow Rick around on the farm instead if he is up for it.

Earlier today Walter had mentioned how he wants to build a tree house. We stepped out on the porch that is off of our room and lo and behold there is a sort of tree house, but better. It’s built up on stilts and it’s an actual little house.

“Actually, that’s what I want. That’s perfect.” Walter said when he saw it. It is. It’s pretty perfect.

The townspeople of Jersey Shore had a sign up when we rode in. It was so sweet to see. We were supposed to go down mainstreet, but we didn’t know so we took a short cut that skipped town. We were told to head back to town after we almost already at the farm so we turned the confused little Soj around and headed back down the hill.

Well, a cop came to escort us so we figured he was bringing us to wherever we were supposed to go, but he just escorted us right back up the hill and back to the farm again!! Apparently people were waiting for us down on the main street and they were going to welcome us in. I felt so bad! Maybe we will see them on the way out after our rest day tomorrow.

Today was a beautiful ride. Steve and Beth Bason looked at maps with us and told us the best roads to travel on. We stayed with them in their lovely home up on a hill last night. This morning Beth made us a huge breakfast that we thoroughly enjoyed and then went with us to feed and tack Soj for the day.

Soj is getting fuzzier for sure, but he does get cold pretty easily. He got shivery after I put some liniment on his legs. We have a blanket, but I have been leaving it off so his coat will grow as full as it can before we get to NH. I only put it on if it’s raining. I am thinking he is probably going to need one of those full body suits for the winter and a pretty warm stall (which we will build when we get there next month). Otherwise the little California boy will freeze and we can’t have that!

Dinner has been donated to us this evening at The Gamble Farm Inn. I am really looking forward to that because my stomach is eating itself right now. I should go head out to little Sojer. We have a warming liniment to put on him (the stuff we got back at Athea’s in California when it was freezing way back then!!)


It's another day now. We have decided to take one more rest day because I am still pretty tired. It's beautiful outside, a perfect fall day. We zoomed past fall and had some Christmas spirit injected into us this morning though because we went to a tree farm!

Farr's Christmas Tree Farm has some of the most beautiful trees in one of the most beautiful settings I've ever seen. Rick called the Farr family to ask them if we could come by and pick his brain a little.

"Sure! Come on over! We'll be on the Northeast side of the farm cutting logs".

We headed over there and Bill Farr answered any questions Walter had about tree farming. Bill put an emphasis on how much work it was, but that one month out of the year is pretty special. Walter loves outside work and so do I so the idea of being out there with the trees day after day is pretty appealing. Now just where to find the farm!???

There is so much peace with trees. They smell so incredible, too...some of them like oranges and some of them like traditional pine. All wonderful, all invigorating.

Walter and I thanked Rick for setting things up so we could go to the farm and ask questions. He said he knows how we feel because when he and his wife first decided they wanted to start a greenhouse all they wanted to do was go to greenhouses and see how they were put together and ask any questions they could think of. Now they have 9 greenhouses.

Rick did end up letting us follow him around a bit yesterday. We went to their cabin up on the mountain and Walter helped feed the baby cows in the evening...

Rick and Chris' land runs over hills and pastures down to a river where we are going to all have a bon fire tonight. Sojourner is content in his field with his curious baby cow pals and is probably glad to have one more day off as well.

Tomorrow we head to Trout Run and in only 3 or 4 days we will cross into New York making this a West coast state to East coast state ride. The three of us have nearly walked across the entire continent. We know one another inside and out, have spent every minute of every day together since March 1st, and have loved every second of it. Walter and Sojourner are dream makers, givers, jokers, inspire-rs, and strength.

We have an arrival date for Bath, NH where this incredible ride will come to it's sweet end...the morning of November 20th.

Leaving Tom Benner's place in Bellefonte, PA. We had such a nice visit with them...short, but very sweet. We are just about to take off into cold rain. We went 27 miles to the Bason's place where we were offered another cozy bed and Soj had a stall that was absolutely piled full with sawdust so he would be warm. We took off from the Bason's place to where we are now at the Shaffer's farm.

Riding through Bellefonte, PA

Follow your dreams.


  1. Linny & Walter~

    I KNEW you'd love the land and the people of Pennsylvania! They are BOTH so beautiful. New Hampshire is getting closer every day! You are in our prayers...

    ~Donna Herto & Family from WV

  2. Let's get a little dirty . . . When my girls were little I always used to say I could tell how much fun they had that day by how dirty they were. The more dirt - the more fun! To this day, if people ask my girls if they were raised in a barn they answer, "Actually, YES!" :)

  3. Hi Linny,
    Came back from an extended weekend in Santa Fe N.M., and I thought about you a lot. Everywhere I went, there was something that would bring you to mind. The Natural Museum of History had an exhibit entitled "Sole Partners", which displayed various people and their one-of-a-kind cowboy(girl) boots. Some of the boots were so outrageous that it would be difficult to describe. One set had Marilyn Monroe's face, utilizing sequins, paint and leather tooling. There was a display that demonstrated how boots were made, from skinning of the calf, tanning the hide, cutting, forms, tools and on and on. An amazing amount of talent went into each hand made boot. Then of course, there was the endless galleries of art and crafts, scrumptious food, talented musicians and that incredible sky that so inspired Georgia O'Keefe. It is a magical and inspiring place. I didn't see any pie shops that combined music, food and leather making. Not a tree farm in sight. Might just be what the area needs. I could see you on the mesa, galloping along the ridge with your hair flying and your boots gleaming in the sun.... at least you would be in the middle of the country so we could all come and visit. There is so much support for the arts and I'm sure you would be nurtured and encouraged along all the varying avenues of your multi- talented self. Just a thought. There's always Mendocino waiting in the background if all your other venues don't pan out. In particular is a grove of redwoods in the back of the property that is shaped in a fairy ring and just begging to have a tree house built in the canopy. My boys never got around to it. Ummmm. You didn't really think I was throwing in the towel! I don't give up that easy.
    Your journey continues to amaze and inspire. I can only imagine how much harder it is to continue when the end is in sight and you are worn out from the months and months of trail riding. There is no doubt that you will complete what you want and have taught and learned more than you ever thought possible. Your dream lives in us all.
    Much love to you and Walter and Soj


  4. You are headed in our direction----where are you going across NY?? We can help! lhayes @ netsync . net (remove spaces)