Colville, Washington – October 22nd 2018

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.

Tracy and Martin Vincent (who made the event happen) outside the Hidden Chapel restaurant
Craig Anderson, director of Boundary County Library in the “FAB LAB” reinventing libraries.
My very dear friend of many, many years, Mary Ellen Campbell (93) at the Sandpoint Library.

Trego, Montana October 5, 2018

Received another lovely painting of my dear Claire Dog from Ima Jean Harrison in Texas. I simply love her work, thank you ever so much Ima Jean, Thank you!

Until I am There – I’m Not

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.

In the paper
Polson Public Librarians were as surprised as I at the turn-out on the 26th of Sept. presentation.

Trego, Montana August 24th, 2018

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

September 28th-30th Montana Book Festival, Missoula, Montana contact information: www.montanabookfestival.org

This Photo was taken by John Crandell(now deceased) back in 2013, funny how much I still miss that Claire Dog of mine. There is no more dog and pony act following behind, enticing the curious and interested.

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

Trego, Montana August 10th, 2018

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.”

TV  Link: http://www.kxlh.com/story/38816559/montana-woman-shares-stories-about-travels-on-horseback

Helena downtown Library
Janna (center) with the FarCountry Crew!! Helena, Mt.
Paulette and I reminiscence after one of my talks.
Janna in Forsyth, Montana
Janna and I tour Helena

July 3oth, 2018 Trego, Montana

Just a reminder

Lydia Hopper Photographer 2016

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

July 16th, 2018 Trego, Montana

I am reading “Lady Long Rider” to Spirit.

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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.

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 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.

Libby, Montana – June 15th, 2018

Montana's mountains had a soft velvety green blanket covering them.
Montana’s mountains had a soft velvety green blanket covering them.

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.

Only in the WEST, "Calf-A" clever.
Only in the WEST, “Calf-A”
clever.
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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.

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BOOK, BOOK, BOOK FINALLY THE BOOK LADY LONG RIDER ALONE ACROSS AMERICA BY HORSEBACK FarCountry Press Comes out in July, will offer personalized signed copies off the website.

 

Granby, Colorado May 21st, 2018

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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.

Bella, Rosie's dog, resting inside her cool cabin.
Bella, Rosie’s dog, resting inside the rustic, cool cabin.
Rosie on Montana Spirit over looking Rocky Mountain Park.
Rosie on Montana Spirit over looking Rocky Mountain Park.
Me leading the horses down a VERY steep grade.
Me leading the horses down a VERY steep grade.

Laramie Wyoming, The Burns Residence – May 9th, 2018

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Laramie, Wyoming

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Cheyenne newspaper 1870, women voting

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.

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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,

What a support team I had the only one we are missing is Zelma Thompson. R to L Rosie, Barb, Jeannie and Deb
What a support team I had the only one we are missing is Zelma Thompson. R to L Rosie, Barb, Jeannie and Deb

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.

New set of Roger Robinson's horseshoes going on before leaving Lewellen.
New set of Roger Robinson’s horseshoes going on before leaving Lewellen.
Wind and open Space that's what this country is all about.
Wind and open Space that’s what this country is all about.
Pin BLuff "Our lady of Peace" statue
Pine BLuff, last stop in NE – “Our lady of Peace” statue.
An abandoned Quonset hut became my home for the night. So glad to have shelter from the wind.
An abandoned Quonset hut became my home for the night. So glad to have shelter from the wind.
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Tea break just west of Horse Creek, Wyoming
Tea break just west of Horse Creek, Wyoming.
A barbed wire fence held my  Sunbody hat long enough for me to retrieve it.
A barbed wire fence held my Sunbody hat long enough for me to retrieve it.
Martindale's Western Store, Family owned Joan Marindale showing off Sunbody Hats
Martindale Western Store.  Family owned, Joan Martindale showing off the Sunbody Hat I wear and her store carries.

Lewellen, Nebraska – April 24th, 2018

2008, packing Honor my beautiful grey Thoroughbred .

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.”

2008 Thelanders left, Shelia Lis right.
2008 –  Thelanders left, Shelia Litke right. EssiePearl’s first year out, Honors first year packing.


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)

Pat and Diane Thelander April 22nd 2018, dinner with the Litke's
Pat and Diane Thelander, April 22nd 2018, dinner with the Litke’s


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.

2008 at the Thelander Ranch, Claire riding Honor.
2008 at the Thelander Ranch, Claire riding Honor.
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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.

on the north side of the "MUP"
On the north side of the “MUP”
Brought together by the magic of food and music.
Brought together by the magic of food and music.

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.

 2008 riding out, Thank you
2008 riding out, Thank you

In the morning I set out on a 600 mile ride across southern Wyoming. Wind and open space await me. Happy Trails