Now one week into my book tour, I have spoken at four libraries, a well attended Back Country Horseman meeting, and my tour was launched at an over-the-top, so lovely, book club meeting in Libby.
When deciding the route and character of my book tour I felt I wanted to highlight our public libraries as funding cuts are making our libraries squeeze and creak. But I have discovered something about our libraries, they are reinventing themselves! My first Library, Boundary County Library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, had the distinction of being nominated “Best Small Library in America 2017” by the Library Journal. Director Craig Anderson greeted me as I entered the library building with a box of books scheduled for my 7 pm talk. It is not a new library by any means but had the look of a well-used library. Three years ago Craig replaced Sandy Ashworth, director for 30 years.
From the Library Journal: “Anderson, whose record includes decades of teaching high school in Bonners Ferry, now works to strengthen and expand the BCLD [Boundary County Library District] vision and services. ‘I am the next generation of Sandy’s vision.’ Anderson says. ‘I let the board know that I share that vision to take the library far beyond a traditional library.’ The result is a dynamic BCLD, a model for all of America’s libraries and winner of the 2017 Best Small Library in America Award…..Ashworth had read about Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT) professor Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms and his FAB program that is now global. FAB empowers local invention, engineering educations, entrepreneurship, and the philosophy that anyone can make almost anything. Ashworth was so taken with the idea she decided BCLD needed a FAB Lab, what Anderson calls “a Maker space on steroids.”
Today, Boundary County Library instills a love of reading and learning to all ages. The library works on reading and activity time with 4-H, daycare, and the elderly at the local Restorium and Extended Care Facility. Boundary Library’s Box Program provides books in English and Spanish for the local food bank, hospital, Mountain Hops Farm, and Mercantile Store to serve migrant farm works. The Library also participates in the Read To Me early literacy program as well as Idaho’s Strengthening School Partnership summer program. Fulfilling its mission to create a culture of opportunity by incorporating technologies, adding a new dimension, and reinventing the meaning of library! Bravo, I say, Bravo.
As I prepare for my upcoming Lady Long Rider Book Tour (see www.endeofthetrail.com/book-tour/ ) I realize I’m approaching it as I would a long ride. Find a route, walk myself through it again and again…and again. Prepare gear (truck & trailer) gather tack and necessary apparel. Condition the horses, new horseshoes, vaccinations and traveling papers… I am glad for the time traveling with Rosie and her truck and trailer earlier this year. It gave me valuable experience for this trip.
When I conclude this book tour at Fort Edwards, New York, seven/eight months from now I’ll saddle and pack up the horses, who will, by then be rearing to move and strike out on a short 2 month ride. We’ll travel south through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, maybe Kentucky before heading back to the Montana cabin.
I’m aware that riding public as I do makes me a moving target for critics. I am not complaining. Many times criticism, if you are brave enough to look, will bring humble moments of self-discovery.
There is nothing heroic about what I do. I’m quite sure there are many more women and men who’d be better long riders than the rider I’ve become having ridden 30,000 miles. I by no means think I know everything about long riding. My horses and I have traveled many long, hard-earned miles together. I had no teachers. I am self taught and believe me there were so many mistakes made and as many roads and trails I wish I’d never ridden down. I have humbly apologized (more than once) to my horses for getting them into dangerous, complicated situations, into a mess.
There are many, many more of you that hold greater knowledge than I do about equine care, packing, saddling, riding. There are many that would/could provide better hoof care and equine health care than I do. There are those who will say, “Why must you torture horses as you do?” Don’t trim their manes or fore-locks, don’t use horseshoes, use this mineral supplement, use this saddle pad not that one, that saddle of yours is no good, use a treeless saddle, a bit is cruel, and so is riding my horses as many miles as I do. (I am off & walking a great deal.) It goes on and for the most part I am willing to accept criticism and suggestions. I am not above looking at my own actions and looking at how they could be improved upon.
I recently heard about a review (Amazon)… “She is aloof, the rides are really all about her, she does not put her horses first – She did not write about her horse’s enough.” I thought, “They’re right,” I had been aloof on those early rides. It was all I could do to stay alive the first few years of travel. But my horses do come first. The review however did make me think, “Maybe I take for-granted this deeply personal and unique relationship I have with my horses.” The only other person I’ve met who actually lived with her horses (mules) was Jodie Foss, who wrote Mules Across the Great Wide Open. I met her when crossing Oregon in 2009, stayed at her farm a few days. I have also seen equine “liberty” trainers who brought tears to my eyes with the display of beauty and grace between human and horse and leaving me with the desire to know more about the equine/human relationship. I know it sounds crazy but with the Fjord’s its almost like having dogs around, how we relate is easy, gentle, even mischievous at times.
Are my horses worse off than horses seldom ridden? Or horses handled momentarily morning and evening but live quiet, safe days in one pasture their entire lives? Bernice it would be far safer to stay home!!! Only a handful of horses in today’s world can run free and wild. The remaining which live with we humans are at our mercy are they not?
I honestly believe my horses are interested, intelligent, more capable, healthier, and happier than many horses I come across. My horses have brave hearts. They are incredibly curious because they are unafraid of most things they encounter. They, like most horses that are fit, like to move, like traveling about in search of fresh grazing. I think if you met me and my horses you would find a warm, loving, happy unit consisting of two gregarious horses and one not so young woman. Our dance together is smooth and quiet. I hear them through out the night whether here at my cabin or on the road traveling where they lie next to me. They speak to me with their eyes, ears and soft rumbling neighs. We like one another, we do our work well together. Little Liska Pearl and Montana Spirit are both alpha mares, they are, but have found a peaceable arrangement which works for the most part for them.
Truck and trailer? Who would have thought. Competent mechanics have gone through both the 1969 Ford PU and …… Iowa built horse trailer. New tires, bearings, brakes, engine, front-end, etc., etc. New floor, mats, brakes, electric on trailer. I shall maneuver the back roads slowly, ever so slowly. That being said, from 20 miles a day to 200 miles a day? I guess its all relative isn’t it? We’ll take breaks and stop often, go for a run, rest, stretch. I’ve allowed plenty of time between talks. I will not be pushing day after day. I have USRIDER insurance.
Please, all of you, know that I sincerely try. And I will continue as I travel on this book tour to keep my horses and myself fit and happy and cared for us as best I can. It may not be the way you would do it but usually there’s a reason for my actions concerning the horses. Humbly having to step down off my high horse day after day asking for food, water, shelter, or directions has ( I like to think) produced a more empathetic person not so quick to judge. My horses have been my greatest teachers with daily lessons in devotion, trust, willingness, endurance. But so have the 100s of families and individuals who for no reason offered kindness with food, a shower, encouragement, shelter, corrals, safety. Trail Angels. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, all those who have been following my rides, for what ever reason, all these years. You fit in my saddlebags, vicariously. Your spirits do not weigh much, but are soundly felt.
This Lady Long Rider Book Tour will take me through my earlier routes with the opportunity to see faces I met years ago (and not so long ago)… an opportunity to once again say, “Thank you.” Already it is beginning to feel like the “Lady Long Rider’s Reunion Book Tour.” All those years and miles of riding would not have happened without a great deal of help. I hope to share what I discovered long riding, what I learned, and how it re-shaped my thinking.
I also realize traveling with truck and trailer offers risks I would never encounter traveling at 4 miles an hour with only the horses. Friends from each state are reaching out with support for which I am beyond grateful. But at some point I will single-minded-ly turn and leave everything behind except the road ahead. Sarah Wilson will be helping with emails, Facebook, and the endeofthetrail.com website. If you receive a response from her instead of me, you’ll know who it is. If anyone knows where I am it will be her. Zach Basinger, marketing and publicity manager at Farcountry Press, is handling much of the booking for talks once I leave.
As with any long ride once I leave I must be focused with attentiveness, caution and skill thinking how best to move forward.
Even with this journey I will preface with, “Its a whole lot of talk until I actually do it.”
Until I am there – I am not.
Yours truly, Bernice
If for no other reason I do hope with all my heart that my rides will impart encouragement to those longing to reach beyond their fears for more.
Several people have commented, “I think fall is here.” And yes I agree a touch of fall air brushes against my cheek now and then. We have perhaps made it through another fire season. Hard to imagine this will be a yearly event, “Fire Season” but with climate changes it appears inevitable. Carry on we shall….
September, 2018 dates for book-signing/slideshow presentations.
September 24th– Whitefish Public Library 7pm Whitefish, Montana contact information:
September 26th– Northlake County Public Library 7pm Polson, Montana contact information:
September 27th – Grizzly Claw Trading Company 7pm Seeley Lake, Montana contact information: 1 406-677-008
Below is a radio interview I did with Yellowstone Public Radio August 8th 2018 with Steve Shadley.
Last but not least I would like to mention the up coming Book Tour I am embarking on in Oct. I’ll be posting more about this in the coming week. Hope to see many of you out there that I have not seen in years, I am expecting many hugs and lots of joyful tears and smiles. Bernice
The air is hot and smoky here in the Northwest corner of Montana. I hose the horses off in the hot afternoon. They stand with contentment in the cool shade of their stalls.
Last week I traveled with my friend Janna Pekaar down the east side of Flathead Lake over Helena National Forest up and over McDonald’s Pass to the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains where I gave a series of five slideshow presentations/book readings and signing. We brought our tents, camp food was on the menu as were cold creeks and hot springs. We toured Helena, Janna is improving on her accordion with gentle French melodies. My childhood friend Paulette attended two of the talks. (there is a chapter about us in the book) The Choteau stop gave me another opportunity to share stories about my grandparents who had settled in the area during the early 1900’s. Finally, and yes finally I was able to put faces to what had only been voices from the crew at FarCountry who have been absolutely delightful to work with through this lengthy book process. The weather cooperated as I talked and sold books, traffic was light, the scenery spectacular and I kept saying to Janna, “I must go out and ride again, I must.” The huge expanse called again and again, “Come, Come come feel the road, taste the air.”
Five days of speaking engagements this week in Eastern Montana:
July 31, 2018, Boulder Library, 6:30pm Contact Jodi for more info. 406-225-3241
August 1, 2018, Choteau Library, 7pm Contact Dell for more info. 406-466-2052
August 2, 2018, Whitehall Library, 6:30pm Contact Jeannie for more info. 406-287-3763
August 3, 2018, Clancy Library, 6:00pm Contact Carli for more info. 406- 933-5254
August 4, 2018, Helena Library, 1pm Contact Suzanne for more info. 406-447-1690
My slideshow presentations are generally 1 hour long including time for questions and answers of course. I will have books to sell and sign. Looking forward to the entire week of visiting and sharing my adventures. Hope see many of you out there this week
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.