This blog by the Montana Gift Corral features Bernice and “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback”. Exerpt below.
Photo courtesy of Olivia Harlow
On a small dairy farm just outside of Rogers, Minnesota a young girl grew up riding the wind and chasing her dreams. Bernice Ende was born to a knarl-handed dairy farmer and his wife, a woman who encouraged taking life by the reigns. Bernice grew up riding horses around the 100+ acres of land, imagining what it would be like to be riding through the wild west alongside the Lone Ranger and Hop-a-Long Cassidy. After Bernice was inspired by the grace of the horses, she went to Portland to study dance. From there she learned the Royal Academy of Dance method and went on to teach ballet for twenty-five years. In 1992 she moved to Trego, Montana where she opened up a dance school. Ten years later, Bernice Ende retired.
However, retirement didn’t bring inactivity, it brought a window of opportunity. It was only after retiring Bernice felt the pull of the open road, the desire for adventure, the need to go, to see, to experience. So in 2005, after an epiphany and a battle with her desires, Bernice Ende started a 2,000-mile journey on horseback. Since then, Bernice has logged more than 30,000 miles in the saddle. Her book, Lady Long Rider is a beautiful account of her journeys, her hardships, her hopes, and fears. If you want a raw and wonderful story, her’s is one I highly recommend.
I suppose I should not admit it, but I am… running away.
I remember running away when my mother, while in the hospital to have my younger brother, had been gone just a little too long for my 5-year-old heart. I was found not far down the country gravel road with my wagon and blanket.
By now my sister must be quite tired of me, where I am staying here in Edgewood, NM. I’d planned on staying three days. Three weeks later I am preparing to leave, snow being the reason. But, three weeks well spent with my older sister and her friends–more talks and much rest.
I am half-way through the Lady Long Rider Book Tour. Half-way! Four months ago I looked south on my map with trepidation. I am taking THAT (eyes upon my 50-year-old ’69 Ford, a truck that has scarcely been out of Montana!) on this book tour? But here we are, Bill’s Old Blue Truck having gallantly pulled my girls up and over the mountains of Montana into the green of Washington and across the plains and rolling hills of Oregon. We followed the east side of the Sierra Nevada’s south then eastward over the flatland of the Mojave Desert and finally, my loyal Ford conquered the high town of Flagstaff before dipping south through Silver City, and arriving in Albuquerque three weeks ago.
I’ve decided to forgo Texas until the documentary is completed, when there’ll be more time for the big state. We have been doing much additional filming while I’ve been here. I also look at a serious need for a break and time to ride. Thus comes, a “Run Away”.
I return and begin the second half of the book tour on February 15th. Sunshine, miles of open road, the absence of cell phone and computer. The horses and tent await me. A sincere heartfelt “Thank You” to all who have hosted a talk or who have responded with kind words after reading the book, Lady Long Rider. To all of those who have traveled miles to hear my words and stories. Thank you to those who have helped coordinate the presentations. And thank you, thank you, to my publisher, FarCounry Press, for the support you offer.
Sarah Wilson and Zach from FarCountry Press will be holding the reins while I am riding. I will continue sending book and DVD orders and will check in with Sarah once a week.
No one is complaining however. The moisture is much needed. But this much at one drop, with single-digits weather is more like Montana.
No matter how fast or slow I travel, the days consistently pass by as we near the end of 2018. Bill’s Old Blue Truck gallantly pulls me on and on. I remember thinking way back in Oregon, “I’ll be halfway through my book tour when I reach Santa Fe.” Well here we are!
Lone Pine, California. I said goodbye to Claiborne Mitchell who helped facilitate the California stretch as snow-covered Sierra Nevada’s reminded me, winter is coming, winter is coming.
A strong westerly wind pushed us quickly across the Mohave Desert. I’d intended on traveling across Death Valley following the route I’d taken in 2007. But weather, time, and the fact I was pulling a horse trailer (plus nearly everyone said, don’t go across Death Valley with a trailer) had me reconsider.
“Triple Farms” has been a repeat stop since 2007, on the 5000-mile ride with Honor. The owner, Suzanne Evans, and her partner Jake have had their hands in a dozen different adventures. This time it’s a produce stand! Incredibly successful and how pretty with an enormous selection. I wished I’d taken more of their produce with me when I left after a two-day stop over.
Next stop – Flagstaff, Arizona. Snow greeted me as I drove into Mary Williamson’s home who kindly hosted my stay. Like I said earlier, this has become a reunion book tour. I stayed with Mary and her partner Chris Mcintosh in 2008 on my 3000-mile ride with Honor, Essie Pearl, and Claire Dog. Mary made all the arrangements for the Flagstaff talk which was standing room only, by the way.
Ran down to Prescott, Arizona for a talk, where Sharon Christopherson and Gary Hammond surprised me. I stayed with them back in 2007 and 2008!
St. Johns, Arizona. I met Kay McDevitt in 2008. She has been caretaker of the fairgrounds in St. Johns for I think she said, 27 years. From St. Johns I ran over to Holbrook for an evening talk before moving on to Silver City, New Mexico.
Silver City, New Mexico was non-stop talks thanks to Pat Wolph who made all the arrangements AND hosted my stay in her pretty casita. We may have been busy but we had a great time and good turn-outs for the talks.
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Grapes Gallery hosted my talk and Grace Bryan provided one of the loveliest settings in her colorful gallery that I have spoken at.
More photos – Between Lone Pine, CA. to Truth or Consequences, NM.
Dawn rises from behind the Inyo Mountains still dark and shaded as the Sierra Nevada’s scream, “Good morning! Good morning!” with early morning sunshine.
What a view! Hwy 395 is busy with holiday traffic. McDonald’s parking lot is full, dogs bark, ravens caw, and the day begins.
Nights are cold, good for sleeping. Days warm, and warm, and warm until I am suddenly surprised by the coolness when the ball of heat dips below the lightly dusted snow-covered Sierra Nevadas.
I do not have one single photo of my Taylorville stop. I arrived at 3 pm, November 1oth, spoke at 6 pm, and left early in the morning. It was, however, a very important stop for me because once again I had met someone in 2007 on my 5000-mile ride that simply became an overnight best friend, Georgette Bauchman, who passed away some years ago. Her daughter was there when I spoke, evoking tears from the crowd, recalling how much this woman helped me, encouraged me, and fed me hope when I so needed it.
Thank You, Bill and Denise Battagin who reached out, pulled me in. They knew Georgette (she delivered mail, everyone knew Georgette) In 2007 their children were still young, now grown, off to university. They took me this time, for a drive in a NEW Tesla. Like riding the future, simply unbelievable. The speed, the silence, the agility. Recharging for the Battagin’s is done by solar. Way cool!
Further south…. Next stop, Millpond Equestrian Center.
They are so in your face like right there, reach out and touch them.
Spellbinder Books in Bishop pulled in a full house for the talk there. They also gave me a surprise Birthday cake complete with song and flowers!!
Thank you, Lynn, owner of Spellbinder Books for many years. It’s one of those bookstores which offers space for lingering, talking, and a cafe in the back–very nice.
Burton Robson from Portland, Michigan (I’ll be stopping there in the spring on the tour) sent a most precious birthday gift, a handmade Stampede Braid made from the hair of my old draft mare, Sarah. He got the hair I’d been saving all these years thinking I must do something with it, this year while visiting me in Montana. Oh my, the story is long. I put Sarah down (her stifle had completely given out) the same day I began long riding. Very hard. Waited until the very last minute, then rode out……. Look at Donna Murray’s work. It is delicate, precise, and for those of us that love our horses as we do, this is a priceless gift. Thank you, Burton and Donna, Thank you ever so much!
Friends I met in 2007. I was so poor back then and they all–each one of them–helped me SOOO MUCH. This time I took them out to dinner. Cheers to Kathy Forrester Bancroft, Claiborne Mitchel, and Kathy Noland. An evening meal at the Still Life Cafe. This French cafe in Independence, after this year’s tiny experience with France, sent my heart racing back over the ocean. Sweet. This touched my heart!! In 2007 Kathy Forrester knew medicinal herbs and helped me when Honor’s hoof needed attention. Kathy Noland–she just was there back in 2007 and did something because I remember her and her husband, Tom. I smile now. They really all did so much more. I can not begin to tell it here. This entire stretch was prearranged by Claiborne Mitchell. THANK YOU CLAIBORNE!! Claiborne in 2007 with her Loren Bacall British accent, had directorship of the Museum in Lone Pine. She took me under her wing, fed me, introduced me to people, and kept me going. This time around? From Mammoth Lakes to Lone Pine, Claiborne had all the arrangements taken care of–lodging, publicity, interviews, and more. You can hear her every Wednesday afternoon on KIBS, Bishop FM Radio.
Thank You, DARLING.
Good Bye California until next time! Many, many thanks. Fond memories, old and new, ride with me once again.
My old 69′ Ford crept up the steep long incline like a steady chug a chug train, 30 mph. An exquisite Ahhh came oozing from my lips expressing both the gallant work my little blue truck made but also at the view presented as I crested the top.
Eastern Oregon from Pendleton to Prineville is big and windy and open. It pitches up and over giant rolling hills now brown from a dry summer. The roller-coaster road, newly paved, dark, smooth, shoulder less. “Keep to the middle if you can,” I say to myself with reservation at the drop off.
Yet, beautiful as it is, it simply does not compare to the long slow climb on horseback or most often on foot as I lead the horses up giving them a much needed break. A hill like that I thought would have taken us at least 45 min to complete on horseback. With a truck and trailer 10 min. max.
Time, lots of time that’s what equestrian travel takes and in that time the smallest details can be acquired. Smells are shoved up your nose – nearby cattle, exhaust fumes from cars and trucks, the horses sweat, road kill. I hear the steady sound of hoof beats or a red tail hawk shriek over head at the intruder down below. Maybe I am startled and jump because a rattlesnake shakes out a warning or a darting rabbit rushes by, both coming out of no where. The wind steals my hat, I tighten my stampede braid. The horses breath on my arm, my heart beats heavy in my chest and I lean a bit forward plodding one foot after another. All of this is lost in truck travel, even at the speed of 30 mph. All passes by much to quickly. So much can happen as I slowly but steadily climb to the top of yet another momentous hill on horseback.
But it’s not a huge jump from Fjord to Ford they have many similarities when I think about it. Both or legendary, tough and built for the long haul. But so much will be missed as I roll along on smooth, paved surface – however necessary if I am to make my appointed times for slide-show presentations and book-signings. So it goes.
Horse travel…20/30 miles a day, truck travel…200 miles a day.
If you take the “j” out of Fjord you get Ford. My 1969 baby blue Ford has a rebuilt engine, front end, new brakes, bearings, seals, battery, tires, there’s more I just can’t remember what all the mechanics back home did to the truck. Thank you Wayne Bozarth, his son Tim and apprentice Jamie, from Eureka Auto for bringing the truck up to traveling speed. Like a champ, running like a champ gentlemen!
My old Ford (which I refer to as “Bills Old Blue Truck,” was given to me by Bill Griffins widow. Bill and I were good friends for many years. The blue Ford spent its entire life,until now, running Bill and his old dog Whiskey, around the tiny community of Trego, Montana. Bill bought it new in 1969 in Kalispell, Montana.
A fifty year old Ford is I am learning, a head turner. Not by the young so much, but by those fifty and older. “This was when they really made trucks.” said a man helping me at the Heppner Fairgrounds. “My Dad had one just like that, same color.” Came another remark at a gas station stop. An elderly man came over with his new Ford while I parked one afternoon, leaned out his window and said “Best damn truck Ford ever made,” I suggested we trade straight across for the 2017 white super duper Ford truck he was driving.
It’s easy to romanticize, like equestrian long riding. But really, truth be told – the new trucks are quieter, faster, have more power, get better gas mileage, pollute less and are far, far easier to drive. The only thing not better is the price of a new truck. I think Bill paid something like $7000.00 for the 69′ Ford, new.
And don’t think for one minute that I would not also be driving a new truck if I had such money, but I don’t. And so, here comes “The Lady Long Rider Book Tour Mobile,” just smile and wave.
Weather is warmer here as I leave Pendleton, Oregon behind. Sunsets linger in shades of orange, pink and reds something I miss deeply at my Montana cabin where the sun sets behind mountains hiding the colors of sunrise and sunset. I feel like I’m climbing up and over the backs of giant brown dinosaurs. I forget how big this part of our country is, how “cowboy” it is.
Now two weeks into my book tour I’m beginning to realize like other long rides, that this will take more than I’d bargained for. I must pull tenacity and single-minded determination from my saddlebags. I must call to my will power, all the while reminding myself “don’t forget about the love and longing of the ride.” Remember it is not in getting there but rather all those singular steps required in making the journey.
I had once thought “Oh this is really just another long ride, a little different, true. My horses travel in a horse-trailer pulled by a 69 baby blue Ford pickup. But its not, its not at all like long riding. I am pulled in a dozen different directions at once, distracted by truck, by traffic and speed! Long riding is methodical, slow, deliberate. My hands are on horses, not machinery.
Before each of my rides I have said, “Its all a lot of talk until we actually do it.” That includes me and the truck. Happy Trails.