Thief River Falls, North Dakota July 2nd, 2015 Pennington Fairgrounds

Greetings and apologies, this is what happened… Two weeks ago I had the entire posting with photos already to go and my computer crashed. It has been sent home; perhaps Gordy the computer guy back home can salvage some of what I lost. If not, I have lost a good deal of writing and photos. Life goes on. So this is short as I am at a library and time is limited.

Riding is hard. The heat, the mosquitoes, the wood ticks, humidity all adds up and I find myself losing perspective. I have said many times, “fatigue is my greatest enemy.” The horses are holding up better than I. We are packed light. Essie carries only 75/80 pd. Spirit has the weight of me and extra gear so that adds up but I walk at least 10 miles a day so am not on her back as much as you would think. I must be up by 3am and in the saddle by 5am. I am trotting the horses in the early morning, as the sunrises we are chased by a red ball of heat until we give in and find shade all afternoon. My bags carry dandelion greens, nettles, lambs- quarters for my evening meals. Last week I found strawberries and then I found an abandoned home whose garden still had stalks of rhubarb flourishing. So I cooked strawberries, apples, and the rhubarb with salt and honey, delicious. I stop at “eggs for sale” signs. The Amish, Hutterite’s and Mennonites’ sell produce. Spirit and Essie have a cornucopia of grasses they graze from as we travel; I let them eat and walk. They are very good at it, do not slow down, but as wild horses they can and love to eat and walk. So we are in good condition as far as nutrients goes.

We are now headed for Canada. However, I am waiting for a shipment from Tuckers Saddle and Outfitters Supply before I enter Canada. Tuckers Saddle is sending out another saddle while my Black Mountain goes in for a tune-up. It has over 12,000 miles on it. I told Dara, at Tuckers that the saddle looks like a fine pair of expensive leather shoes. It speaks of adventure. I use it hard, much more than most, if any would use a saddle these days except perhaps a working cowboy or cowgirl. It’s offered comfort to both me and Spirit and held up so well, just needs some new stitching and repairs made. But I want to take care of this and a few things from Outfitters Supply that need replacing. I certainly must be a true test for both Tuckers and OFS’s products- I could not be happier nor prouder to have them as sponsors. I also picked up a beautiful new hat which Jimmy from Sundbody Hats supplies me with. The Classic Gus which I wear is so pretty right now and then I take it and it becomes so personal to me. I cannot ride without a hat you must understand….the hat is important. > New horse shoes arrived from THE Blacksmith Shop (see sponsorship page.)  New horseshoes all around. I find myself getting better with shoeing technique, not so frustrated, it’s not easy and I have an even greater appreciation for the skills of a good farrier.  The horses wear a light fly mask all day, at night they wear heavier netting. It’s made by Cashel’s (see sponsorship page) and like the horseshoes they are critical to my rides. I just cannot thank my sponsors enough. When I began long riding I looked like a pitiful homeless woman on a horse! Now after 11 years, I have the best of equipment….and support from highly respected businesses and private sponsors. Please look at the sponsorship page for more information about all the sponsors that support my rides THANK YOU SPONSORS!

I chose Thief River Falls, MN. for my box(my horseshoes and shoeing equipment get sent ahead via postal service) pickup and stay over (a stop to rest) simply because I liked the name. I am surprised they let me stay at the Pennington County Fairgrounds looking as I did when I rode in early Wednesday morning. I was filthy, tired, looked ragged and in much need of help. I needed rest, I needed someone to say “hey, come in and make your-self at home and whatever you need we can help you get it, you just come in and rest and rest those horses.” And that is exactly what I found in Thief River Falls. It was good of Curt Howe president of the Fair Board to come out and greet me but it was Wayne Harder and Vern Hamre who got me settled in near the horse barn with my tent under lovely shade trees and the horses in open air stalls, shaded, clean and fed. It was so very nice of these two men. I had to be driven around to different locations for supplies. They opened the building so I could take showers and they checked on me several times as they worked throughout the day preparing for the upcoming 2015 Pennington County Fair July 16th. Norwegians, Swedes, farming, hard working, suntanned outdoor men, probably a bit older than me, but not by much.

I happened to be in Clearbrook, MN a day before the SummerFest Parade. Found myself caught in an afternoon storm and then rescued by Dennis Engebretson who had stopped for a visit. Dennis had a friend with a retired dairy farm so I spent the night there, in the hay shed with the horses snoring nearby. It may sound rough but it was sooooo comfortable to be out of the heat and bugs, the horses even had fresh straw for beds. In the morning I was talked into riding in the parade. It was fun, but I could not help but think, “These people must wonder who the heck is this odd looking woman with two horses and what are those big bags for?”  I followed a sign which read..”Class of 71, still horsing around. Seems I am forever getting “rescued.”

Let’s see what else has happened?
I stopped the Swan’s Man the other day. For  those of you who do not know about the “Swan’s Man”  (this what I have always thought of them as)…..For as long as I can remember there have been these yellow refrigeration trucks bigger than a pickup truck but not huge with refrigeration compartments built on the back driving the back roads, in small towns and rural routes. Swan’s offers frozen foods selling and delivering meals, sort of a frozen version of meals on wheels. The Swan Man…I have never seen a Swan’s truck driven by a woman….ummm. Well I flagged the yellow truck down, and said,” Do you have anything I could buy, like a Popsicle or something?” It was terribly hot. I was having a heck of a time just staying awake in the saddle, could not even think of walking and was having a hard time finding a place to rest in the shade. “Why yes, how about a pint of lemon-strawberry ice-cream,” the young man driving replied. Off I rode, with a pint of ice cold, brick hard ice-cream which before opening I rolled around on my face, neck and back. “This is the most unusual stop I have ever had,” he said. “Indeed,” I replied handing him a card. I rode off with cold fingers.

Stopped in Remer, MN for a couple of days, not much rest but a warm friendly visit with family. Rode the rails across Wisconsin. The Rails to Trails that is. Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin have some of the best riding trails I’ve ever found. However I must remind you they are mostly for the 4-wheelers. My horses are perfectly fine with a herd of ATVer’s barreling down the trail at them. For the most part everyone is cautious and or stop to visit. Rarely does anyone ever race by the horses carelessly. The Tri-county Corridor in Wisconsin was 80 miles I think. I also rode the Soo-line trail in Minnesota 116 miles, both coming and going on this ride..

How did I manage without a computer all those years? Now with-out it my time is limited to computers at libraries. Please understand if you do not hear from me or if my replies are short, that I have time to do a posting for the website but not much for chatting. If anyone has a newspaper article they would like to share and can scan it and/or email the link to the page so I can post the articles, I would greatly appreciate it. Also photos PLEASE SEND YOUR PHOTOS so I can share them. I have had a couple of dozen interviews in the past 2 months and most never send me a copy of the article.

So I leave in the morning with a pretty new shirt from the thrift store, a new hat, rested, well, happy and content and filled to the brim with appreciation. Thank you, never enough thank you’s…. Oh but yes there is and that is to Ashia Gustafson, librarian at Thief River Public Library. Thank you because she came to my rescue and after many failed attempts found a way to up load the photos you are looking at. Thank you Ashia