Walter and I had a room here at The Stone Hearth Inn which is next door to the stable. We had such a wonderful night there. The owner of the Stone Hearth Inn, Sheldon, is full of energy and smiles.
...by doing this. Very pretty picture-I kind of can't believe I'm posting it here. That's not my face. This is all a joke. That's not my face.
Right now we are in a little coffee shop called Tucker Box in White River Junction. I've been here before. I think this is the first time on this whole trip that I've been in a little shop I've visited in the past. Unless my memory is failing me...which it could be...it often does.
"Add a half mile today to mostly stay off of Route 5?", Walter is asking me right now.
He's looking at the route and scouting out back roads. This is the same thing we have been doing now for 8 months and 13 days. How does it feel? How does it feel? I can't really say yet...I don't really know. I have lots of mixed feelings.
I am very ready to be home and I have not mentioned this yet but I decided to ride a little harder a couple of nights ago after clearing my head with my best friend, Bri. The decision made was that we're going home. This means today we ride to Thetford, Vt. and tomorrow....after 3,699 miles, we ride down our driveway. Home. Maybe I'll ride around in a circle to make it 3,700 exactly, but as is, believe it or not, it's 3,699.
I was so torn about going home early or trying to hold off and ride in on the 20th.
"The fact of the matter is", Bri said to me, "you got home early. Whether Soj is hanging out 10 miles away or not, you're home. You got home early so just get home and enjoy it."
I was worried it wouldn't be as cool for anyone who comes out to see us on Nov. 20th because we would have gotten home a few days before. Everyone I've talked to says this is crazy (and Walter has known we need to just get home all along). So my plan was to keep Soj 10 miles away from home from the 14th to the 20th. We would go back and forth and feed him and on the 18th when friends and family started flying in, we would head out to Bri's and then come back on the 19th and sleep with Soj and then ride in on the 20th.
"No, it's just too contrived and anti-climatic", Cait said to me. I didn't really think of it that way, but we would have ridden all of this way and then wouldn't even get home with Soj! We would hold him off and then ride him home later after we had already been home. It's just pure torture to try and hold off when we are so close. It was bringing me down and I just feel so much better to know that we are just going to go home at our natural pace.
My dad has been working so hard on getting a huge pasture made for Soj. He will drive 40 minutes to go work on the pasture for an hour while he has a break from work and then he will drive 40 minutes back to go back to work. That is my father. That is how he has always been for our entire lives. And Daddy-I don't think you'll ever truly know how proud I am to have you as my father, but I'm the proudest. The absolute proudest.
So I want Soj to have the lovely pasture my dad has made for him. And oh, you should see it. It's perfect. There are mountains all around it and the sun always warms it with a beautiful golden light. We have the most wonderful neighbors, The Wymans on one side and The Solnits on the other. It's like we're nestled in beauty-with the land and the people that surround us.
I just can't wait to be there and tomorrow we will be! Thank you, Bri, for sometimes understanding me better than I understand myself. I was starting to fade a little. I am pretty tired and I was just, I don't know, after this whole huge ride something didn't feel right and it was just that I needed to get home! Naturally and peacefully and really feel all of this.
Yesterday we rode 27 miles. Sojourner was strong and full of energy. We took a pretty good spill on the side of the road because that's how Soj is and unlike any other horse, sometimes we fall down. He caught the tip of his front boot on something and we went down to his knees. I mean all the way down. I thought we were going to somersault together and we were right on the side of the road. Two cars were driving by at the time. We probably scared them.
"You goof", I said as he fumbled up onto his feet again. He has always been this way. It's kind of funny because I'm that way, too. It comes from my mom. Once we were in the grocery store and my mom ran into one of those racks that stands in the middle of the aisle with books or something all over it. She gasped and turned with her arms out apologizing profusely to it until she realized it wasn't a person. That went down in the books as one of the truest and hardest bouts of laughter I have ever had.
I just asked Walter if he wants the other half of my bagel. I can't eat it. I never used to eat before a big performance either. I think all of this talk about getting home has got my stomach twisted up a little. Or it's this cappuccino. Cappuccino's suppress my appetite, too.
We should get back to 7th Heaven Ranch where Sojourner is now and tack him up. Today we have a 19 mile ride and then another 24.8 miles tomorrow will take us home. Sojourner is pulling in so strong. He looks as fit as a fiddle and as bright eyed as ever. What a ride. Thank you to you all for supporting it.
The next time I write we will have landed and I'm sure I will have many words and thoughts after, but for now all I can say is: Do what you love. Do what you dream. Nothing will make you happier.