Silver City, New Mexico – December 6th, 2017

Elkhorn cactus in bloom
Elkhorn cactus in bloom

South by Southwest

It hardly seems like winter when the temperature is in the 70’s, nice. We are part of the winter migration called “snowbirds.” How remarkably easy travel becomes with a truck and trailer!

Recapping the past two weeks:

From Pie Town we dropped due south into the Gila National Forest. Jeanetta Sturgeon knew Annie George and Susan Dent (horse-gals) who own property just outside the forest boundary. Anne makes saddles, Susan’s a vet in Alaska. Annie provided us with water other wise it would have been impossible to have stayed where we did. We enjoyed one full week of lively conversation, sunshine, shared meals and trail rides with two new friends.

Doug Dexter, president of Gila Back Country Horseman, Rosie and Pat Wolph who invited us in the first place. The setting was by far the most interesting of BCH meetings I have been to.
Doug Dexter, president of Gila Back Country Horseman, Rosie and Pat Wolph who invited us in the first place. The setting was by far the most interesting place for a BCH gathering I have been to.

Rosie, her dog Bella and I toured the unique historical Silver City, joined the Gila Back-Country Horseman’s Christmas party at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House in Pin’os Altos (north of Silver City) and watched the Super Moon rise and brilliantly illuminate the sky.

Silver City entrepreneur
Silver City entrepreneur

As the weather turns cooler we head further south for Arizona looking for more canyons to explore, more sun and perhaps more new friends to warm us.

Historic downtown Silver City
Historic downtown Silver City
Rosie and Bella at the O'Keefe gallery in Silver City
Rosie and Bella at the O’Keefe Gallery in Silver City
Susan Dent and Rosie out side the Buckhorn Saloon
Susan Dent and Rosie out side the Buckhorn Saloon
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we drove past this in Pin'os Altos just up from the Buckhorn Saloon
We drove past this in Pin’os Altos just up from the Buckhorn Saloon.
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Spirit with the morning Super Moon slowly settling down behind her
Spirit with the morning Super Moon slowly settling down behind her
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Pie Town, New Mexico – November 20th, 2017

Pies in Pie Town, New Mexico

Pie Town, New Mexico and look at the PIES!. The Gathering Place is relatively new, it has been in business for two years.

The Pie Town Cafe and The Pie-O-neer Cafe were both closed today. I tied the horses outside on an old grey weathered wooden fence. Smiles greeted me from three women with white floured hands baking pies. I could not resist. “Blueberry please,” I said – after a breakfast burrito.

I sat next to a couple from Young, Az. They were off to look at petroglyphs near Socorro, NM.

It was like this in 2006 when I rode through. I think its the pies. Its like home and friendly and welcoming where people have time to sit down and have a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. No, Pie Town has not changed much, thank goodness!

P.S. The pie was spectacular like the vista’s of New Mexico

Early Suffragettes

Our hostess Jeanetta Sturgeon took Rosie and I for a drive to Datil 20 miles east of Pie Town and we came across this sign. I have read “No Life For A Lady.” Jeanetta’s grandparents had historical ties to this area. These women in my humble opinion define courageous.

Pie Town, New Mexico November 20th, 2017

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Still Adventurous and Young at Heart

Last month I received this email:

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Hello Bernice,

I am very interested to learn about your travels across the country on horseback.  I first heard about your story from my from my grandfather, Art Penzien.  We are from Michigan and he had read about your trip across the country when you passed through northern Michigan several years ago. (2014/15- 8000 mile ride)

Since that time he has asked anyone he has talked to if they know anything more about your journeys.  My grandpa celebrated his 98th birthday this summer.  You would not believe how many people he has shown the article of your trip through Michigan that he clipped out of the small northern Michigan newspaper.

I was wondering if there is any way I could get more information about your rides?  Do you have a book that chronicles your trips?  Are you going to be doing any speaking engagements in Michigan any time soon.  I would love to give him this for a Christmas gift this year and would be more then happy to donate to your rides for a gift for him.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much,
Jon Penzien


So I sent him my DVD, The Adventures of a Lady Long Rider – the first 10,000 miles.


And I received this:
“ I’m sure my grandpa will enjoy that. (my DVD)  I’m looking forward to your book coming out.  Hopefully we can get my grandpa to one of the stops on your book tour.  He has a lot of questions for you.

Thanks again,

Jon Penzien
Art Pensien is 98 years old this year

Art Penzien was born to a farming family in Macomb Township, MI in 1919.  He is a retired meter reader for Consumers Power in Michigan.  He was married to Irma Reis and they had three sons, Herb, Tom and Jerry.  He still lives in Macomb, MI to this day.  Even at the age of 98 he is still very active.  The loves spending time with his family especially his grandchildren and great grandchildren.  He still plays euchre every Friday with a group of friends.  In 2015 a friend from Marquette, MI sent him a copy of the Marquette newspaper which contained a story of Lady Long Rider passing through the upper peninsula of Michigan, and he has been very interested in her travels ever since.

THEN I received this photo! I asked him if he would mind sharing HIS story on my website and Facebook page. I knew you’d all enjoy it.Perhaps I’ll do a book signing in his Michigan town and personally hand deliver a book, “In My Own Skin – Becoming a Lady Long Rider – coming out this spring.

Pie Town, New Mexico – November18th, 2017

When I rode through Pie Town in 2006 from the west 2500 miles or so into a 5000 mile ride, a snow storm came raging in from the east stopping me dead in my tracks.  While snow piled up in Pie Town I stayed warm in a tar-paper shack, with a million dollar view. I stayed 7 days.
The tar paper shack is now gone, new business have opened, many shacks have disappeared. I won’t tell you much more about the ride in 2006 because my week in Pie Town became a chapter in my book, you’ll be able to read about it.

2006 - Honor tied outside the post office
2006 – Honor tied outside the post office, Claire Dog standing guard.
2017 Montana Spirit patiently waits as I mail letters
2017 Montana Spirit patiently waits as I mail letters.

The town has not changed that much. It’s a town about PIES now that’s a good thing, lots of pies. Its just off the Continental Divide Trail and hosts hikers working their way up and down the roughed trail.  Travelers racing by on Hwy 60 slow down when they see “Pies Ahead.”

Days are warm and sunny but last night the temperature dropped to 12 degrees, Rosie says with a smile, “We’re going further south.”

Knowing where you are going and how best to get there is a good thing.

Or Why I love my Benchmark Maps.

Benchmark Maps sponsor my rides – atlas@benchmarkmaps.com

Today I received new maps for New Mexico and California, I already had a Benchmark Arizona Map book for this ride. Now you must understand these are not just any old map books. The Benchmark State by State Road and Recreation Atlas minutely details each state with back roads, forest service roads, 4-wheeler roads, trails, even power-line roads and much, much more.

The pages have light color back grounds that makes for easy reading. I look at my maps morning noon and night, over meals, on the back of my horse, over a cup of coffee. When stepping up to a stranger asking for direction my Benchmark Map book is in my hand.

Without my Benchmark Map I feel lost. Each book has a large U.S. highway map then a regional map then recreational maps of the state followed by landscape maps full of information that keeps me awake nights looking, looking, looking, and usually discovering, “Ah there – that way will work, we can take this back road and connect up with that one.” Most of my rides are recorded on Benchmark Maps – complete with dates, campsites, people I stayed with and comments about weather and terrain.

Why no GPS? Many of you can understand when I say, “I want to feel the book and I can SEE where I will be going in relation to where I am.” Then I mark the route and plan, always planning another route. But also accepting the fact that it can be changed.

Jeanetta Sturgeon our Pie Town hostess and Rosie arguing with Spirit about "where to ride."
Jeanetta Sturgeon our Pie Town hostess and Rosie arguing with Spirit about “where to ride.”
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And me telling my big, big girl, “Now listen Spirit, they want to go over there you can not always have your own way.”

Each book contains information about the state, climate, attractions, notable towns, campgrounds and RV parks, Tribal Lands, National Parks and Monuments. I read and study each page with interest. These maps are as much a part of my rides as my Tucker Saddle.

IF you take a road trip, don’t leave without a Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas. And when you return with stains from coffee and juice spills and tears from reading and rereading a page, with pen marks and phone #’s, you’ll look again at your trip, at your adventure refreshing those memories with ohhs and ahhs that no GPS can record.

Happy Trails

Last weeks ride thru

SanLorenso Canyon

Rosie remarked, "I think Spirit is a bit heavy." After seeing this photo I agree.
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Rosie and Liska Pearl Lead the way
Rosie and Liska Pearl Lead the way.
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November 12th, 2017 KIVA RV and Horse Motel – South of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Travels with Rosie

Roise and Liska Pearl in Utah
Rosie and Liska Pearl in Utah

I have never done this. Traveled with truck and trailer. I have picked up rides to avoid a bridge crossing, a dangerous intersection or treacherous traffic situation. But actually traveling with the horses in a truck and trailer like normal people do, no, I have never done this. It takes the edge off. The risk, the uncertainty is minimized and I can carry so darn much stuff!!

The nice red truck and big trailer belong to Rosie Rollins, a spry 76 year old equestrian rider of many, many years. Once an ICU nurse, once a biologist for the Department of Agriculture, Rosie now mostly travels. You can read more about her in an earlier posting (July 2017)and in her book “Adventures on Horseback.”

Rosie came unexpectedly walking up to my front porch this summer and introduced herself as a “short lady long rider.” “I’ve been following your rides for years,” Rosie said. “I happened to be in the area and thought I’d look you up, I hope I’m not intruding.” We became friends immediately.

Rosie began doing short rides (100 to 300 miles) with her horses in 1964. She’s probably accumulated more miles than yours truly. I asked her if she’d like to go south this winter and ride. “I’ll provide the horses, you the truck and trailer.” (She retired her last horse in June of 2017) She’s a very good rider, light for Liska Pearl, they are a perfect match. So here we are, traveling with truck and trailer. I sleep in my tent, Rosie has comfortable horse-trailer accommodations. Spirit and Liska have never had it so good.

My old 69 Ford miraculously pulled Liska and Spirit in my two horse-trailer 700 miles to Montpelier, Idaho. (south of Idaho Falls) Bitter winter winds and cold weather chased us south. It snowed 12 inches at my cabin two days after I left.

November 1st Arrived in Montpelier, stayed at the fairgrounds, had covered stalls, good thing as it snowed and rained while I waited for Rosie who arrived on the 4th.

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I met Elaine Zeyer in 2009 when I rode through Montpelier on my 6000 mile ride – we’ve been friends ever since. She once again did what she did in 2009, she fed me. Wonderfully home-cooked food poured from her kitchen and then she sent a load of this years dried fruits and veggies with me. Good to see her again. She has my truck and trailer at her place. This time Elaine shared many of her friends and family with me while I waited for Rosie traveling with her golden lab/ridge-back dog Bella from Nebraska to rendezvous with me in Montpelier, Idaho.
Thank you Elaine.

Each night the Milky-way clearly stretches across the sky from horizon to horizon. I love this country, but then I say that often. I say that even though this spacious desert country is daunting, merciless and presented me with some of the most difficult riding I’ve ever ridden. The red rock plateau’s, mesa’s and striking rock formations make one ooh and aah. The highway stretches out into eternity and I wonder, how in Gods name did I ever ride this country as I did from 2005 to 2009? There is so little water. Grass? What grass? And I rode single horse rides! Claire Dog walked, I walked, Honor, Pride and Essie walked 100’s of miles in this vast, dry, cracked desert country.

Oh but I do love this country. I love the nights without bugs, without wind camped in sagebrush scented air, so still and clean it sinks deep into the lungs and I toss back my head and visually pull the stars to my chest wrapping my arms tightly around them. Lights rest on the horizon like stars that have fallen from the sky. The muffled sounds of car and truck traffic mingles with coyotes song.

For the past nine years I have traveled northern routes bountiful with water, grass and campsites. Easy riding in comparison to these early routes and years. Those first few rides were lean, hard rides. If I had five dollars in my pocket I considered myself rich. I am reflective, even somber as I look out across land and roads that quite honestly look impossible to me now. “How ever did I do it?” I wonder, gazing out the window as Rosie, Bella and I drive smoothly and swiftly in the comfort of her new red Chevrolet pickup. “Why did I have to do it?” I ask myself. No answer. To many memories running through my head just now. Coming back through this country has sparked unexpected emotions that toss and turn in my head.
But tonight camped on a route I rode in 2008, a mile off Interstate 25 south of Belen, NM.,I tell you it is paradise to me. North of me is an oasis, the Kiva RV and Horse Motel owned by Diane and Bob Wiltshire. In 2008 Diane and Bob invited me, Claire Dog, Essie Pearl and Honor in for the night. I remember being so deeply grateful as the horses were put in corrals, fed and watered and I slept, really slept for the first time in many nights. It’s one of the prettiest, well kept Horse Motels I have seen. But now Rosie, (who has known Diane and Bob for 4 years,) Bella, the horses and I are camped on BLM land just south of Bob and Diane’s business, Rosie and Bella in her trailer me in my tent. The horses in a portable fence. We have water and hay that I bought at a “Hay Vendor” in Gallop, NM a few days ago. The horses have apples and salt and Source Micro-nutrients and a little alfalfa and a little oats and they are like two pets that are spoiled and I love them for their curious want-to-be near me attitude, always nickering, always needing something.

Rosie is calling this her “Canyon Ride” as she would like to see several canyons that she’s not ridden. So far we have taken 4 short rides. One in Nevada just out on BLM land where we’d camped for the night, one around McPhee Reservoir in Delores, NM, one at Boggy Draw (near Delores) and one along Delores Canyon. Next week we ride San Lorenso Canyon with Diane and her friends. My sister MaryAnn is coming from Edgewood, NM for a visit tomorrow.

We will continue south with Bella in the lead, Rosie ahead of me on Liska Pearl who is gaining experience and strength. Bringing up the rear are two seasoned travelers who know one another very well, Montana Spirit and yours truly.

Happy Trails, Bernice

Trego, Montana October 25, 2017

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Received my new catalog from Tuckers Saddles, I am honored to be part of this company and greatly appreciate their sponsorship AND of course their fine saddles, Thank you Tuckers ! My horses and I have spent a good many hours wearing your saddles.

Steve Tucker quotes me below in his “message from founder” and I do mean it… “Nothing comes between me and my horse but a Tuckers Saddle.”

Bills Old Blue Truck
Bills Old Blue Truck

Here is a cute story you may enjoy. I am taking Bills Old Blue Truck south next week for winter riding with Rosie Rolling (see summer posting and her book “Adventures on Horseback”)

Bill’s Old Blue Truck

He bought it new in 1969 from the DePratu Ford dealership in Whitefish, Montana. He brought it home, home to Trego all shiny and new. His short body sat a bit taller in the driver’s seat, proud of his new acquisition. Proud. Bill Griffin was a “Ford Man.”

A 1969 ¾ ton Ford Pick-up truck, baby blue, “Camper Special,” two wheel drive, 360 V-8, four on the floor – stick shift, full-size box with side chrome embellishment. Brand spanking new.  It rolled off the Ford’s Detroit assembly line in 1968. They sold for $7,000.00 give or take. Built not for speed but for work. Dependable.

Bill’s blue Ford truck has been a fixture on the roads of Trego, Montana and its surrounding communities for nearly fifty years: coming and going, never missing a beat, steadfast like a work horse. It is now the only truck like it in the tiny community. Everyone knew it belonged to Bill, they waved and smiled when driving past. “There goes Bill with another load of neatly stacked wood filling the box.” He left the tail gate down where “Whiskey,” his shaggy gray/brown colored Collie perched precariously, but calmly, seriously taking life in as dogs do. He trusted Bill because Bill drove slow, Bill drove careful.

He had an Apache Camper that fit on the truck. He and Peggy his first wife took several long trips around the country with the truck and camper. “Bill was really proud of it,” said Perry Johnson, long time friend and relative.
Roy Kern of Trego rebuilt the engine in 2016, did as good a job as any master-mechanic would. Kelly Mee finished it up. He raved about the work Roy did. It purrs like a kitten, starts right over, requires muscles to drive it. With good tires and in low gear, that old truck will crawl ever so slowly up a steep incline, just let it go she’ll crawl steady like a tank.

Bill and I were friends, just good friends and had been for years. After Bill passed away in July of 2006 at the age of 83, Norma Griffin, Bill’s widow, gave the truck to me. It had 90,000 miles on it and hadn’t been driven for a few years. I tried selling the truck a few times, “Needs too much work, too old.” I said, but the damn thing persistently held on and would not go.
Bill moved westward as a young man with a friend from Wisconsin in 1951. “Couple of boys probably just out looking at the country,” said Peggy Brandon. He lived with the Henry Hillikee family (Peggy’s father) for years before purchasing his own home. The Hillikees and Griffins had family connections from Wisconsin.

He found work with the National Forest Service grading roads and fighting fires – stuck with it and retired from the USFS. He remained a dedicated community member, husband, and father. “Couldn’t ask for a better neighbor.” said Bruce Todd. Bill was a friend to many. He was a Mason, served on the Trego School board, the Trego Hall board and the Lincoln Electric Co-op board for eighteen years. Ask him, “Well whaddaya think?” “Takes a big dog to weigh a ton,” came his reply.” Bill had a million of them. “It’s so cloudy around here a person think they’d sold the sun to North Dakota.” He’d say with a faint smile.

Bill moved through life gently. He wasn’t a man to shout or cuss. He was a gentleman. He held his short sturdy body straight, was never fat, wore a belt on his jeans and usually a nice wool plaid shirt tucked in. He wore a fisherman’s cap and thick rimmed black glasses. He dressed clean and neatly unless he’d gotten himself into some dirty project like rebuilding a horse drawn wagon (for me). Our local vet Nancy Haugan now has the beautifully crafted (John Deer green) wagon.

He made his own firewood, was an avid reader, had carpenter skills and was a good mechanic. If he didn’t know how to do something, he’d figure it out. Each year he baled and sold the hay off his land at the end of Griffin Road in Trego. More often than not he’d give it away. He was the kind of man who was always, always willing to help when-ever, how-ever he could.
Bill rides along sometimes in the 69 Ford. I swear I can see him sitting at the other end of the bench seat looking out through his thick glasses, commenting on the weather, the land, historical events, smiling. He makes a clever remark that makes me laugh but I keep my eyes on the road, both hands on the big steering wheel. Behind me my two horses follow smoothly. The old blue truck pulling my horse trailer is slow but steady. It looks retro. I must gear down for hills. New trucks hurtling past me up ANY mountain pass, laugh, curse and snort at us slow pokes. I drop down into 2nd gear and pull over to let a line of cars pass. When I stop for gas a man fueling in the other lane calls over, “What year?” “Sixty-nine,” I call back. “Best truck Ford ever put out!” says the man. I smile. Bill would have had a clever reply, I only nod.

It’s got a few dents and scraps adding character – its no show room vehicle, it’s still working, that’s obvious. But still it looks pretty good. Inside is like new.

Fifty years later Bill’s Old Blue Truck is still rolling its wheels down the paved highway looking for adventure.

Thanks Bill, thanks Roy, thanks Ford!

Special thank you to Bruce & Loretta Todd, dear friends of Bill’s who provided time and information for the story.

When Bernice Ende is not traveling around in Bill’s Old Blue Truck at 50 mph she’s traveling at 5mph as an equestrian long rider. She has amassed an amazing 30,000 miles in the past 13 years crisscrossing the United States and Canada on her beloved horses. This is the very first truck and trailer she has ever owned! Read more about her travels on her website www.endeofthetrail.com or read her book “In My Own Skin, Becoming a Lady Long Rider.”

Bill Griffin
Bill Griffin

And there is more….

Following this past years fire season and with much careful deliberation I have decided to log my property. I have had enormous help deciding how best my property should be logged so as to improve its condition and provide good stewardship. Brian Russel, Ed Ferruzzi and Michael Justus are the team assisting my project. Michael did this wonderful Management plan and I felt I must  share the Philosophy part.

Tree Farm/ Forest Stewardship
Forest Management Plan
Forest management is the human process of assessing a forest, and act accordingly to provide for its sustainability”

Bernice’s Cabin

Management Philosophy:

Native American Reality: A Land Ethic

Community: Men and women are members of a community that includes all beings. Each has its proper role and obligations to others. All beings have spirit.

Human-to-human relationships are similar to human-to animal and human-to-plant relationships. Human obligations in action toward nature should mirror human actions toward one another.

Connectedness: One should expect that an action that affects one part of the environment will have impacts on other parts. Further, the connections are many and complicated. As a consequence, the assumption of connectedness, native peoples rarely classify other species as “good” or “bad.” They assume that every being has a reason to exist, even if humans do not understand the reason.

Seventh Generation: Among humanity, past generations have left a legacy, and humans have a duty not only to their children but also to seven generations. This assumption of duty to the seventh generation leads to the belief that land should be sustained.

Humility: In taking action, humans should be humble. The natural world is powerful and complicated. Connections are not obvious, but they are important when considered over the time scale of seven generations. Some tribes object to the concept of “management” and prefer the term “care-giving” to describe their philosophy of interaction with the land.