So I asked her, “Do you remember Essie, Hart and Claire?” She replied, “Don’t be silly of course I do horses never forget good friends.” I continued reading.
I received this lovely painting (pencil and watercolor) from Barb Mcgee last week called, “Has anyone seen Bernice?” I met Barb in 2006 while riding through Peterson, Iowa on my 5000-mile ride. She took a photo and did the painting that year. I’m so delighted to finally have it on my wall adding to a growing collection of paintings people have done of me, or my traveling partners. Thank you Barb, thank you!
Speaking Engagements in Eastern Montana
July 31, 2018, Boulder Library, 6:30 p.m. Contact Jodi for more info. 406-225-3241
August 1, 2018, Choteau Library, 7:00 p.m. Contact Dell for more info. 406-466-2052
August 2, 2018, Whitehall Library, 6:30 p.m. Contact Jeannie for more info. 406-287-3763
August 3, 2018, Clancy Library, 6:00 p.m. Contact Carli for more info. 406-933-5254
August 4, 2018, Helena Library, 1:00 p.m. Contact Suzanne for more info. 406-447-1690
My slideshow presentations are generally 1 hour long, including time for questions and answers.
I will have books to sell and sign. Looking forward to the entire week of visiting and sharing my adventures.
Winter of 2017/18 Well we did it. At least that is what I have been saying to my girls Liska Pearl and Montana Spirit, “We did it girls.” Many times when I tell someone I am going to do a ride, “Yes,” I say, ”I am riding from bla bla bla to bla bla bla.” I preface those big words with, “ But don’t forget its all a lot of talk until I actually do it.” So when I left Montana last November holding grand, adventurous plans in my hand, I also left with – “Well, now lets see if you can do it Bernice,” rattling around in my head. For the past eight months I have been traveling, mostly by horse, some by truck and horse trailer, some by foot, but mostly accompanied by the beloved equine. Reflections Libby, Montana is quiet this evening. From my campsite at the J Neils Park north of town I can hear the Kootenai River in the distance. The horses are eating contently on long picket lines, toting fat bellies full of long stem grasses. I must have put in about 1000 miles this winter, something like that, not as many miles as I had projected but still a fair amount of time spent in the saddle. The itinerary went like this; Late October I hauled my horses to Montpelier, Idaho with my old but dependable 1969 Ford pick up. Met Rosie Rollins in Montpelier on the 4th of November. Transferred my gear and horses into her much bigger trailer and headed south for Utah. Spent November, December and part of January riding the southwest, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico. Short rides – long campsites. Rosie rode Spirit most of the time. Saw some beautiful country. In January I rode from Sonoita, AZ to Socorro, NM about 350 miles. Desert riding. (Rosie headed back east to take care of business) February, Rosie returned and met me in Albuquerque, hauled me to Nebraska where I left my horses at Jeanie Grace’s home. Flew to France for a ride with Lynx Vilden. Had hoped to ride much longer but we got in about 300 miles. I can’t even describe it, just look on the website at the photos. Returned to U.S. in April. Rode from Lewellen, NE. to Laramie, Wy. 250 miles. Spent a few days at the Burns residence, north of Laramie. Snow kept the mountain passes closed and Rosie was coming thru AGAIN so I hitched a ride to Craig, Colorado. Rode from Craig, Colorado to Rock Springs Wyoming, about 200 miles. Met up with documentary filmmakers from“WE Productions” out of Santa Fe, NM. Spent one week filming in Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho. They brought a horse trailer and dropped me off in Montpelier, Idaho at Elaine Zeyers home. Drove north 600 miles and now I am nearly home. What else can I say except… WOW, my head is reeling.
THANK YOU The list is long. Thank you Outfitters Supply and Tuckers Saddle for getting me and my gear over to France. Also to the support from 3 private donors who made that ride possible, a deep heart felt thank you to all of you. To Sunbody Hats, Benchmark Maps, Cashel Co., Source Micro-nutrients, Skido Saddle Pads and The Blacksmith Shop for fabulous horseshoes! Lets see, to Rosie Rollins, we really did have a good time running around this past winter. I have never done “trailer camping” before. Thank you Rosie. (I slept in my tent, she had the trailer) Thank you to the Grace’s and the Burn’s for putting my horses up and for getting me safely from Nebraska to Wyoming, with help from many of their friends. Will never forget how Jeannie Grace showed up unexpectedly at the airport when I flew back from France. Thank you Elaine and Polly for letting me store my truck and trailer all winter in Montpelier, Idaho. Thank you to the folks at Ferme de Fonluc in France for providing me with the fine leopard Appaloosa horse named“Flora.” And to Lynx for initiating the ride in the first place. I returned filled with deep respect for her knowledge and skills. I loved France and its people. I must return! And last but not least thank you to my steeds Liska and Spirit for their willingness, for their courage and for the love they show me.
BOOK, BOOK, BOOK FINALLY THE BOOKLADY LONG RIDERALONE ACROSS AMERICA BY HORSEBACKFarCountry PressComes out in July, will offer personalized signed copies off the website.
As I said in an earlier posting, “I am inching my way home.”
Now in Kremmling, Colorado where Rosie and I will soon bid Adieu to each other.( She returns to West Virginia to teach nursing classes.) We have spent one restful week at a cabin she once owned outside Granby, CO. She has the good fortune to continue using it when it’s not occupied. Northwestern Colorado is magnificent, snow covered mountain peaks and wide open vista. We did short rides every day, keeping the horses in shape and just relaxing after the busy winter including the France trip. Am now winding the year of travel up. My book,”Lady Long Rider” is in its final stages and will be out, published by Far Country Press by the time I return to Trego, Montana. I will have signed copies available on the website.
One last stretch remains, Steamboat Springs to Green River Wyoming, then over to Montpelier, Idaho and back into Montana. Three weeks, until then, Happy Trails.
Wyoming, known as the “equality state,” played an important role in the suffrage movement. On December 10th, 1869 women were given the right to vote – some 50 years before the 19th amendment passed in 1920.
Western states led the nation in approving women’s suffrage, but some of them had rather unsavory motives. Though some men recognized the important role women played in frontier settlement, others voted for women’s suffrage only to bolster the strength of conservative voting blocks. In Wyoming, some men were also motivated by sheer loneliness–in 1869, the territory had over 6,000 adult males and only 1,000 females, and area men hoped women would be more likely to settle in the rugged and isolated country if they were granted the right to vote.
“According to a booklet published by the Laramie Plains Museum, “Laramie, Wyoming, Women Made World History,” the first Legislature for the new Wyoming Territory met in October 1869, they passed laws guaranteeing equal pay for male and female teachers and giving individual property rights to married woman.” by Eve Newman – Laramie Boomerang.
Laramie’s, Louisa Gardener Swain, a 70 year old Quaker woman became the first woman in the world to cast a ballot under laws giving women full equality to men on September 6th, 1870.
Martha Symons Boies became the first woman in the world appointed as a bailiff in Laramie in March 1870. In February 1870, three women were commissioned as justices of the peace in Wyoming, although only one, Esther Morris, was known to have actually served as a judge. She tried more than forty cases in the territory. She lost none on appeal and was widely regarded as a good judge, but wasn’t nominated for re-election when her term ended.
Elisa Stewart became the first woman subpoenaed to serve on a court jury. She was also Laramie’s first school teacher. The first women jurors began their service in March or April of 1870. In T. A. Larson’s A History of Wyoming, the author writes that male jurors stopped smoking and chewing tobacco once women began to serve alongside them. Men stopped gambling and drinking during their jury breaks.
It is a state rich in history but the role Wyoming played in the women’s suffrage movement can not be under estimated. We are nearing the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. The more I think about the women who fought with single-minded determination against odds that stagger me I think, remember, remember these historical figures, don’t forget what they did for you.
Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming a beautiful old campus. I saw an old black and white photo of the campus in its infancy. There stood the historic limestone building “Old Main,” standing naked in 1886 like a new born baby all alone. No beautiful tree’s like now, no lovely green, no nothing but a barren landscape. Now 122 years later a proud, picturesque campus exists.
From Lewellen, Nebraska to Laramie,Wyoming
Two-hundred and thirty windy miles between Lewellen Nebraska and Laramie, Wyoming. Nine days of riding, three days held up in Pine Bluff ‘s rodeo grounds waiting out wet, stormy weather. Nebraska’s flat farm country now busy with million dollar tractors – seeding, spraying preparing the great plains soil has given way for Wyoming’s big, windy, audacious cattle country.
When I say, “No I do not travel with a support team,” I have to laugh. I had a team on this short run! Jeanie Grace, Barbara Burns, Rosie Rollin, Thelma Thompson and Deb Sullivan kept tabs on me,
checked up, made camping arrangements and route suggestions. Goodness ladies!!! I am now at the Hal and Barbara Burns residence north of Laramie, they are kindly hosting my stay. The Burns have been in the rodeo stock business for generations providing bucking horses and bulls for the rodeo circuit. The famous bucking bull, “Mr. T” came from Burn’s stock. Hal told me an interesting thing, He said anything western like rodeos and cowboy is a huge draw. The rodeos all across the United States are sell outs, packed audiences but… there are not enough contestants. Cowboy contestants came off ranches to compete. Ranches that work with “real cowboys” are in decline. “We just don’t have the cowboys like we once did” said Hal. Interesting,wonder what will happen?
Inclement weather and roads I planned on riding remain closed due to snow makes travel difficult. Nothing new when one is long riding. I’m inching my way back to Montana.
2008, packing Honor my beautiful grey Thoroughbred . In 2008 I did a 3000 mile ride from Needles, California – east to Nicodemus, Kansas – north to Montana, a 7/8 month ride. My third ride and first ride with a pack horse. Claire Dog now had a horse of her own, Essie Pearl. It was not a hard ride, but riding with two horses did challenge me. I traveled as far east as the National Historic town of Nicodemus, Kansas where I visited historian Angela Bates. From there I headed north by northwest. My route taking us thru Oberlin, Kansas crossing the North Platte River at Ogallala and following the river west to Lewellen, Nebraska. Now 10 years later my route has come full circle.
Now and then: When I rode through the tiny town of Lewellen in 2008 Cynthia and Dennis Miller had not yet established The Most Unlikely Place Cafe and Art Gallery. But they did greet me, a lone rider, looking, I am quite sure – homeless. They invited me into their private home for lunch. I spoke at the senior center which is now a bed and breakfast/motel. I camped in town and the next day rode north on dirt roads which led into the Nebraska Sand Hills. I’d not ridden far when a car passed, slowed to a stop and asked if I needed help. The driver, Sheila Litke was shocked to see a woman in the saddle. Her husband and family lived and worked at the Turner Ranch just up the road. “You’re welcome to stop if you’d like, there are storm warnings out you know, looking very serious.” I had in mind, “more miles, more miles.” But as I rode on it was obvious a serious storm was brewing. I turned around and headed back to the Turner Ranch driveway but an auto-gate stopped me. An auto-gate without a side gate for horses and cattle. About a half mile back I passed an abandoned homestead/church, not sure what the buildings were but it would have to do for shelter. Not long after I had my tent up, (in an open shed with a partial roof with wind whipping madly about) a truck and stock trailer showed up, of course I thought, “Oh no they’re coming to tell me, Hey this is private property, get out.”
Turned out to be local ranchers Pat and Diane Thelander. Sheila had called the Thelanders, told them she’d seen a lone woman riding down the road and now a storm approached, maybe they should go find her. And they did. I was if you can believe it, reluctant to go, “I’ll be ok,” I said. But Pat was pretty insistent, (rancher sensibility.) I spent the night inside while the horses remained dry in the Thelander barn, the storm raged on through the night. I remember it all so well, before falling asleep, worried about the horses being scared, frightened, my not being there to console them. We all survived. The morning brought sunshine, a big ranch breakfast, hay for the horses and a visit from the Litke’s. These are photos Sheila took,( a professional photographer)
How did I land back in Lewellen? Rosie Rollins that’s how. Jeannie Grace and Rosie are long time endurance riding friends. Rosie’s old endurance horse Maple is retired here. Jeannie offered to keep my horses when I rode in France and so here I am back in Lewellen – meeting, with smiles, faces I never thought I would see again and remembering, humbling remembering all that others had done for me. I look at these photos and see a young inexperienced long rider. I am critical of my packing. I laugh at how precariously Claire perched upon the saddle pad, her first year of riding. I only had 9000 miles under my saddle. This time I shared stories with the community of Lewellen from 14 years and 30,000 miles of equestrian travel. Who would have thought.
On April 21st I gave a slide show presentation at “MUP” as the establishment is referred by the locals. The Most Unlikely Place Cafe filled with people curious to hear my stories. Later that day Rosie, Jeannie and I returned to the Cafe for dinner and music. The old building once a theater, a hotel, a meeting hall, still filling with “community.” Warm, friendly music from a 6 piece band, Aspen County entertained a full house. A delicious Mexican meal served up, wine glasses clinked, “cheers.” Dancers danced arm in arm.
And I thought as I looked out at these people who had come together by the eternal magic of food and music, at the beautiful sight of lights, hearing the music filling our hearts and words written, embellishing the upper walls.. humor, believe, sing, care, thrive, integrity, dazzle, harmony, abundance, light , grace, mercy, gratitude. And I thought, “This is the truth.” The truth is here among us in the stories we share in the friends and neighbors and family whose lives we care about. It matters, this coming together for leisure. It matters because it gives a sense of belonging. It matters because brought together like this refreshes our souls, restores our hearts, reminds us to smile and rejoice in community. And I had to say thank you for the Millers who created this lovely space and for the people who filled it and to all the ranchers who have reached out with kindness to help me then… and now.
In the morning I set out on a 600 mile ride across southern Wyoming. Wind and open space await me. Happy Trails
I have breathed the scent of my horses into my lungs. My clothes now covered in shedding horse hair. I wrapped my legs around sturdy bareback, spirited horses and we rode like the fierce Nebraska wind. I am home.
I don’t think I have ever seen Liska Pearl looking better. She has a nice round belly on her. Their winter coats are shedding nicely. Spirit, well Montana Spirit is what we call “an easy keeper.” She looked magnificent. I never, not for one moment ever worried about the horses. They had safe and really luxurious accommodations here at “Graceland,” in the hands of Jeannie and Butch Grace. From the bottom of my heart I thank you both and thank you again. Jeannie and Rosie Rollin are good friends. (see earlier post) Now Jeannie & Butch I claim as…”friends.”
The Journey from Ferme de Fonluc to Lewellen, Nebraska
I take a deep sigh when I recall it from memory, however I recall the journey with a smile.
Lynx, Herbert and Isabelle linked arms around one another, all wearing smiles as I drove off – with two young Frenchmen. Simone driving and Jon Baptiste navigating we left Ferme de Fonluc behind us. Both of my “knights in shining armor,” had taken Lynx’s workshop and were headed back to Paris. My good fortune as I HAD TO HAVE HELP with my 3 – 50# bags of horse-gear. So with a knight in shining armor to my right and one to my left, riding a somewhat aging white steed, but dependable (a 95 Nissan van) we headed north. A 9 hour journey lay ahead of us. This was no hop on a freeway and go. The roads were many as we weaved our way to Paris. Lost? Many times. Chatter in French passed back and forth while I sat between them, silently thinking, “Oh my I do hope these two young men know what they are doing.” Both spoke English. We shared stories, ideas and comments about our countries. Time passed quickly as darkness descended and car lights glared in our eyes. More and more traffic, Paris! There is Paris! The Eiffel Tower, Seine River. Lost again, “No this way,” “No, that way.” Round and round the “round about” until they decided which exit to take. We arrived, well into the night stiff and tired at Jon Baptiste’s house, west of Paris. I lived in a household much like this when I was his age. A house full of youth and laughter and ideas and late nights. A house full, did I count 10? Three floors of young people each had their own rooms all coming and going, working or studying. A big pan of spaghetti boiled on the stove oozing out delicious French aromas as some dance, some did yoga, some sang, all talking at once. OH MY! I am only hopeful when I mix with the energy of healthy, mindful youth.
I went to bed, mentally preparing myself for the upcoming travel. Three short hours later Siimone, John Bapitiste and I were were walking down the street with all my belongings headed for the bus which – we ran for. Simone rode the bus with me, managing a huge pack on his back the other in his hand. We loaded on the bus and Simone said, “Ok that was the easy part.” I could never have managed without his help. Oh MY!! Bags checked in, Simone gives me my last French double cheek kiss. I find the gate, follow through the security and take a deep breath. Goodbye France, thank you. Fourteen hours and three documentaries later. (Dorothea Lange, Rachael Carson and Jane Goodall. Three women. Three brave heroines in my mind. They changed the world, gave their lives in purpose.)
I arrived in Denver, relieved.
Now, remember I had not had more than 5 hours of sleep in two days when I arrived at the Denver International Airport. I simply slowed to tortoise speed. I waited until the last person left the airplane. Walking ever so slowly I followed the baggage claim signs. My mind had ceased thinking. I walked as in a dream. I’d made it. The France ride with Lynx now a fairy-tale memory riding around in my heart.
As I came around the corner, my mind focusing on how I would proceed. The plan I had in mind ? Well, I’d purchased a Greyhound bus ticket, the bus leaving at 8:35 the next morning from downtown Denver, miles away. My clock said 6pm, I had 12 hours,. I’ll hang around the airport and rest before calling a taxi in the morning and make my way to the bus depot. I had it all worked out. I had not figured angel kindness into the plans.
I came around the corner and saw my bags on the ground near the carousal. “Umh, that’s unusual what is going on?” I could not make out the woman standing there, but when I did I nearly fainted. I felt like I’d just met an angel. I said softly, “Jeannie? “Jeannie, you are an angel.”
I had not wanted Jeannie driving the 4 hour freeway trip to the airport from Lewellen, NE. Her and Rosie had taken me to the airport when I flew out 5 weeks ago. And Jeannie and Butch Grace had so taken care of my horses while I rode in France. I could NOT possibly ask her to come get me. I’d thought it all out, I was prepared. AND THEN, and then…..there is Jeannie Grace. Somehow she had found – with the help of a friend and another friend what flight I was arriving on. I chuckled to myself as we loaded the heavy bags into the shuttle bus, “An angel of mercy from Grace land.
Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jog
The horses and I laughed and hugged one another. I slept inside/ showered!
My tent is now set up in the horse shed – I have half, the horses have the other half. Meadowlarks welcome me in the morning as does a flat treeless horizon shedding light at the brink of dawn. I know many of you must think me crazy, nuts, unstable to love my tent and life with my horses as I do. But that is how it is for me.
The land in central pan-handle of Nebraska is open, windy, treeless with big cattle ranches, wheat fields and irrigated corn and soybeans off the North Platte river. I rode through here in 2008 on a 3000 mile ride. Stayed in Lewellen!. Rode north, not far when a storm came in (a tornado like storm). Pat and Diane Thelander rescued me. They’d brought a trailer out and declared in raging wind, “You have to come in!” (An hour earlier I’d set up camp in an abandoned shed not far from their home.) They’d seen earlier riding down the road.
I now prepare for the ride back to Montpelier, Idaho, 600miles or so. Two months. Where my old 69 Ford still waits for me with a horse trailer attached to it. Then 600miles north to Trego, Montana with truck and trailer, a 5 day drive. Amazing what wheels will do.