Ironwood, Michigan – June 11th, 2015

We rode into Ironwood, Michigan June 9th.

The Gogebic County Fairgrounds has been kind enough to host my 3 day stop over. From Sault Saint Marie to Ironwood is 350 miles. I added another 60 or so by riding north thur L’Anse and Ontonagon to avoid hwy 28. It also gave me a chance to ride the shores of Lake Superior, an ocean without the salt, thrilling for this lady long rider. Twenty three days to cross Michigan, over 400 miles. We need a rest. The horses are in excellent condition and moving with energy. I am packed light, much lighter than I had been crossing Ontario, summer weather allows for fewer items to be packed and carried in my panneirs. Lots of rain but cool and only now are the bugs really determined to devour us. Each night the horses, if we do not have shelter, are covered in bed sheets and fly masks then sprayed with insect repellent. It works. Their heads and tails are quiet as they grab mouthfuls of tall orchard grass, clover, alfalfa, a cornucopia of food for my girls here in the fertile land of Michigan. IMG_1558

just before leaving Newberry, MI I stopped at the store for supplies, they had carry out, imagine what the young man must have thought
just before leaving Newberry, MI. I stopped at the store for supplies, they had carry out, imagine what the young man must have thought

MICHIGAN has the longest freshwater coastline in the world and over half the state is forested and dotted with over 100 parks!!, its been a highlight of the ride. I have learned about the “yoopers”-the name given to those living in the upper peninsula and the “trolls” those living out side or in the lower half of the state. I’ve eaten “pasties” a pastry filled with meat and vegetables, once made for the miners. And….I have been bitten by Michigan’s  nasty “black flies.” The name Michigan is derived from the American Indian name “Michi-gama” meaning large lake. The American Robin is the state bird and the painted turtle is the state reptile, I see lots of both. Its a good state to ride, lots of grass, water and friendly people who seem to find an equestrian traveler…well interesting. I am glad I came back thru, it was a good call to reroute this way.

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I really feel I must apologize for not posting my route change. Several people have inquired with,” Hey whats up I thought you were riding Canada coast to coast?” Well yes it had been my intention when I set out on this ride but plans change routes change and I do reserve the right to reroute if I feel it may be dangerous, or I simply can not make it do to weather. When I rode back into New York last year from the Atlantic Ocean I realized it would be impossible to ride all the way back into Canada near Maine. (please note that I do not route in detail my entire ride, right now I am looking at Wisconsin and Minnesota, when I cross those states I will look at Manitoba and the route westward) So I headed up thru Ontario, not sure at that point whether I would take a northern route thru Thunder Bay or take a southern route along Lake Superiors shores. I still wanted to see the Adirondacks of New York and I was pulled to see a bit more of Michigan’s “upper peninsula.” But what really changed the route was Canada’s Hwy 17, holy cow. I have never seen such truck traffic on a 2 lane road. As it was I had to haul about 100 miles of it. Highway 17 SHOULD NOT BE RIDDEN by equestrian travelers! Plain and simple. Taking the northern route seemed ridiculous as it meant even more risk. SO, I went thru Sault Saint Marie and will re-enter Canada near the Minnesota/North Dakota border and head for the west coast.

The Gogebic Fairgrounds has one of the finest displays of historical buildings constructed in the 30s. The facility is hosting several events this weekends.

Local 4-H groups learning to shear sheep
Local 4-H groups learning to shear sheep

The 4-H’s are having educational workshops and have brought tents and campers for the event not to mention their sheep, cows and pigs they will be showing at the fair this summer. I am a spokesperson for 4-H and speak at many clubs as I travel. It filled my summer with direction and discovery, I’ve said many times the lessons learned in 4-H are now applied to my long riding life. IMG_1618IMG_1617
There is also a horse-show coming up on Saturday. The fairground facility may not be what it once had been but it’s worth having and adds to any community. I do hope they are able to do the necessary repairs to the Gogebic Fairgrounds they are beautiful and as is seen by this weekend, well used.
Thank you to Carl and John who keep the buildings and grounds in good working order. They made sure I had everything, ran me out to buy hay and grain and just checked in on us to make sure the horses and myself had everything we needed. ALSO thank you Kathy Jo and Nancy Zak for helping us get settled in and safely off busy hwy #2.

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Michigan photos:

my champion horses in Champion, MI
my champion horses in Champion, MI

when the sign says STOP well we stoop
when the sign says STOP well we stop

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Here we are in the Gogebic Fairgrounds Race Horse barn #2 Essie and Spirit could not qualify for barn #1

 
 

Ironwood, Michigan

These photos do not do justice to the actual structures. Deb Daniels met me a day or two before I rode into Ironwood. She had stopped the car beside me as I struggled to pick up the over turned panniers. (They’d slipped under Essie’s belly, the cinch came loose), Oh  I was having a good time when Deb stopped, and we laughed about it. Her aging terrier (I think he is) Gismo stuck his head out the window and thought the whole scene pretty amusing. Deb came by later the next day at the fairgrounds. She let me take a hot bathtub soak at her lovely home, chauffeured me around town to run errands and then we went out with a handful of other folks for a beer. Such a help. These are photos of Ironwood, once a logging town once a mining town once quite prosperous. But still it is a beautiful town and well kept and the architecture stunning.

there Deb on the steps of the Memorial Building
there Deb on the steps of the Memorial Building

 
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Look at this mural
Look at this mural

 
taken from an actual photo I wish I had more details for you. It is the miners who worked in the Iron Ore Mines real faces, real lives.
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four magnificent cathedrals stood on one corner all out did the other
four magnificent cathedrals stood on one corner all out did the other

Newberry, Michigan – 3 day stop over at the Rathjes Home – May 25th,2015

On May 16th, 2015 as I neared the end of my Ontario ride I rode westward along a dirt road with long shadows attached to our tails. A newer pickup coming out of the setting sun drove up and stopped. The driver rolled down his window and the woman passenger leaned over to get a better look. I should have written their names down because I do not remember it. One of the many…”curious and interested” who embellish my rides. After we got our who’s and where’s straight away the elderly gentleman asked if I had heard of the book called Saddlebags for Suitcases. I said, of course I had it was a legendary ride by Mary Bosanquet.  Well he told me she came down this road and she wintered here in Dayton, YOU ARE IN Dayton he said. There were no buildings remaining and he was not sure who the family was that she stayed with but it didn’t matter to me, my jaw was hanging in disbelief as he drove off. WOW I mean, I had just been told I was on the same route that Mary rode in 1939. The nearby farms held Mennonite and Amish farmers. Minutes earlier I had ridden past a team of work horses pulling a manure spreader driven by a young man who skillfully handled the team. Black buggies pulled by lean, long legged saddle-bred horses sped by, a nod from the bearded driver wearing a large hat like mine. A quietness filled the air. The absence of engine noise replaced by bird songs in spring delight.
A time warp. It happens.
Posted is a short exert from her book, its available thru the Long Riders Guild library or most libraries have it. It’s a good read.  One of the earliest  “lady long riders.”
Had to share this with you.
March 9, 2015 by leaves and pages website
In 1939 a young Englishwoman in her early 20s had an unusual idea, and, being of a straightforward nature and having a methodical sort of mind, set about to see if she could bring the thought into reality.
Perhaps inspired by the accounts of Aimé Tschiffely, who from 1925 to 1928 made a 10,000 mile horseback journey from Buenos Aires to New York City, Mary Bosanquet, a lifelong horsewoman and an accomplished rider, decided to try for a relatively more modest but still astoundingly ambitious solo horseback ride: right across Canada from Vancouver heading East.
Mary and her horses Timothy and Jonty achieved the goal, covering an estimated 3800 miles of horse trail, back road, and highway in eighteen months. Of this time, the winter of 1939-40 was spent hosted by a farm family in Ontario.She was the recipient of much attention from newspaper reporters as the trek proceeded, was surprised by several offers of marriage from smitten cowboys, attended the Calgary Stampede and was inspired by the displays there to try out bronc riding herself with reasonably successful results, for though she was unseated several times she felt she had figured out the stick-to-the-horse technique quite nicely, learning through doing, as it were. During the later stage of her journey Mary even visited the Dionne quintuplets, and her wry commentary on that experience is a fascinating glimpse at that particular social phenomenon.
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An Extraordinary Solo Journey – Saddlebags for Suitcases: Across Canada on Horseback by Mary Bosanquet
March 9, 2015 by leaves and pages
In 1939 a young Englishwoman in her early 20s had an unusual idea, and, being of a straightforward nature and having a methodical sort of mind, set about to see if she could bring the thought into reality.
Perhaps inspired by the accounts of Aimé Tschiffely, who from 1925 to 1928 made a 10,000 mile horseback journey from Buenos Aires to New York City, Mary Bosanquet, a lifelong horsewoman and an accomplished rider, decided to try for a relatively more modest but still astoundingly ambitious solo horseback ride: right across Canada from Vancouver heading East.
Mary and her horses Timothy and Jonty achieved the goal, covering an estimated 3800 miles of horse trail, back road, and highway in eighteen months. Of this time, the winter of 1939-40 was spent hosted by a farm family in Ontario.She was the recipient of much attention from newspaper reporters as the trek proceeded, was surprised by several offers of marriage from smitten cowboys, attended the Calgary Stampede and was inspired by the displays there to try out bronc riding herself with reasonably successful results, for though she was unseated several times she felt she had figured out the stick-to-the-horse technique quite nicely, learning through doing, as it were. During the later stage of her journey Mary even visited the Dionne quintuplets, and her wry commentary on that experience is a fascinating glimpse at that particular social phenomenon.
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Thank you to Greg and Christine and their daughter Lilly, home from University.  Greg and Christine Rathjes are both teachers so there was an added bonus of stimulating conversation besides the time to rest, recover, prepare for the next step. Thank you so very much, a much needed stop over for me AND for the horses who had oats and minerals and carrots and treats…and new horseshoes!!
I head north in the morning. Will swing up for a look at Lake Superior.
Duluth- next long stop over.
Happy Trails, stay well. Bernice
 

ONTARIO,,,,,,THANK YOU

 
 
 

Newberry, Michigan – the Rathjes’s residence – May 24th, 2015 and I might add Moose Capital of Michigan

From Canada across the Sault Saint Marie Bridge into the States, Kathy Lemieux at the helm.
ality show called MANTRACKER of which Phil Lemeiux has appeared in 11 episodes. It was really quite an honor to have met the Lemiuex’s. My last night in Ontario at there beautiful Texas style home.
Kathy Lemeiux last goodbyes after hauling us across the bridge

There is, with a ride of this length and breath, a certain amount of forward impetus that must be maintained. Keep moving. Keep moving, prepare for the next step, focus, stay alive.  And of-course one must find withing that frame of mind – time to enjoy, appreciated and learn from the journey.
I am often asked the… “Why” question. “Why do this?” My response changes from time to time but from my mouth came, “to learn, to grow, to discover.” I’d never heard myself say that but I thought, “Umm, now that kind of covers it.”

One of the hard parts of what I do is this, riding away from folks you have spent enough time with to become friends. People who have helped in one way or another. They have provided shelter or food or necessities or a hot shower or a haul or the list goes on. And they become imbedded in your journey, in your heart and the next day you rise, saddle up and ride out never to see one another again. They must be left behind as soon as I ride out, my mind must clear for the immediate events that surround me. The traffic, the horses, the weather, the direction I am headed must fill my mind with a clear purpose and destination. I must cast those friendships into the sky and hope they land on the stars where I can recall and reflect upon them in the stillness of a star studded night.

Already I refer to last winter as “the New York Winter”  it feels as if it where impossible, simply a dream. How could I have imagined it would be as full as exciting as rich with yes smiles and handshakes but with more importantly with interest. I did 30 slideshow presentations thru out the Glens Falls, Fort Edward, Saratoga area. Each and every day people stopped by Darleen Lundgren’s home to visit the unique travelers with her camp set up in the historical feed store behind Darleen’s house.  Most days I exercised the horses who wore heavy winter coats, riding bareback, thru the streets of Fort Edward clip clop past snow covered homes and sidewalks. Or I walked to the Fort Edward Library where librarian Vicki Plude greeted me and I would spend the afternoon on the computer. Everywhere I went people had heard of me. They said hello, stopped to visit and I must say I did feel a bit like a celebrity. (don’t let it go to your head Bernice)

Picked up a rails to trails Michigan has successfully established many of these….wonderful!!

But as soon as I ride out it ALL must be put behind me. It just has to be or I’d get myself killed. I must be present. I must not be thinking of what happened back there. But do not think I forget, do not think I go riding off and LEAVE YOU ALL BEHIND, no it’s not like that. My heart is bursting with gratitude and I know, I truly know that I could not possibly do these rides with out the help of people like you.

There are to many emails to answer them all. There are to many people to email and thank each time I ride out but please, please know that my rides, my saddle, my panniers are packed with memories and gratitude. That each night when I stop for the night you are up there shinning from a star reminding me I am not alone, reminding me that I could not do these rides with-out a lot of help from people like you. I realized long ago that it’s not about me, it’s about all of us and how we share our stories as friends, families and communities.

Each ride is different of course. The first 3 years were brutal and to be perfectly honest I’m not sure how I did it. Last years ride measured out as the best ever. I so enjoyed the East Coast, the New England states, the rich history and its “curious enough to stop and ask what the heck I was all a bout” inhabitants. I like that. When a car stops and there is a young father or mother driving with children in the back seat. And they want to know “hey what are you all about?” I say, “you have just given your children one of the most important lesson of life. If you are interested, stop and find out what caught your attention. Ask questions, discover something you never knew before.

As I travel further west, further and further from your east coast door steps. Please, Please remember you will remain forever a part of my rides, the collective memory, as so many others are. The little gifts and momentum’s have been mailed back to Montana. I must travel light and I do. Light hearted with the delightful memories of my “winter in New York.” Looking forward the upcoming additions.I am here now with Christine and Greg Rathjes, both teachers who have offered a quiet respite for both horses and rider. Next stretch…Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota then back into Canada. The sun warms my back most mornings and now resides on my left shoulder thru out the afternoon before settling down before us like a red flaring ball of light guiding us home. We still have a fair amount of miles to go.

Happy Trails, your lady long rider Bernice Ende.

on the road again
Post office in Strong, Michigan this ones for Kathy Lewis back home in Trego, MT.
off hwy 28 state trooper Nathan Grenfell stopped to say hello make sure everything was ok

Sault Saint Marie, Ontario Canada – May18th, 2015

I can see the horses standing in the shade, fly masks on, standing head to tail with wind enough to keep them free of bugs. Resting comfortably.
New York, the New England states, winter, snow and cold all seems like a dream, it all seems impossible that I truly rode all the way to the Atlantic Ocean last year from my home in Northwest Montana with these two remarkable horses!
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Recount of ride through Ontario April 25th to May 19th, 2015
Judy Boyer and her sister Joan Carlisle trailered me and my girls across the St.Lawrence River and dropped us off in Domesville, Ontario.
First night out we camped in Nico and Maki Hiferink’s pasture in “Land O’ Nod Farm.” Both retired dancers still working with the National Ballet of Canada. Nico shared stories, many stories as he encountered the great dancers of the world, Baryshnikov, Fontaine, Nureyev. Such stories, when would I ever meet someone – who to me,had enthralling recounts of a world I had only read about.
There are to many night s to recall each and every one.What follows is a list with a heartfelt thank you to ALL of you who so kindly hosted a night or two.
Kathy Porter
Dianne and Mark Czerwinski
David Trumbel
Karen and Darren Gillingham
Glen Burkholder
Steve and Barb Barker
Shirley and Bruce Davidson
Jack and Peggy Hurely
Marjory and Glen Goodwin
Kimberley Cousin and Jeff Hastings
Dan and Danika Gravelle
Debbie and Curtis Kirby
Jason Kolvisto and Kit Purnis
last but not least the least the Lemieux’s, Kathy and Phil (of Mantracker) who hauled me across the Sault Saint Marie Bridge..
and then there was…
Pat Wolf from the Canadian Fjord Association who drove out from Ottawa to haul the horses and I around Sudbury because it was in my opinion and others….un-rideable.
And the folks that delivered food on the road or maple syrup fresh from their trees or the town of Bancroft that set the streets with smiles and waves as the short parade of 2 horses rode thru town. And although I did feel rushed trying to beat the black fly season. Still there was plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful Province of Ontario. Thank you so much ….to each and everyone whose path I crossed thank you for the support, encouragement and interest I could not have done it without you. You just can’t go wrong, the world loves the Canadians. I came back into the states once again thinking..”I am so glad these Canadians are our northern neighbors.”
Sincerely, Bernice Ende your lady long rider

 

Commanda, Ontario May 11th, 2015

One never knows, its just that simple, one never knows what is ahead, the people, the smells the sounds that make up a community. You can look at a picture of course but now until you’re actually there – actually clip clopping down the hard pavement in-front of homes and business building, the yards, tidy and groomed, shaking hands, receiving smiles, explaining yourself, do you actually get to know what you have ridden into.
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You can go anywhere in the world and people will love the Canadians. They have a casual, easy way about them, generous, hospitable, welcoming.  Commanda is yet another village on the list of my Ontario stop overs. The community has been kind enough to let me camp in their fenced in area next to their community owned, Commanda Community Center. I attended a wonderful Yoga class this morning. I must admit it reminds me of home!!!! Wood stoves, home cooked meals, a community of earthy, warm, loving people sharing lives together. It’s nice to be here, nice to feel welcomed and at home. thank you
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Hard rains have us stopped for a couple of days. Pat Wolf, member of the Canadian Fjord Association is coming on Wednesday to haul me up the expressway to Sudbury AND to do an interview for the Fjord Magazine.

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Ontario has been tricky in some areas as the roads are limited, but for the most part I have made my way zig zagging a path thru Ontario’s back country roads, its been lovely.
I know it must seem I am forever riding off into the sunset well now I truly am doing just that.
When I reach Michigan and have access to my computer I will fill in my Ontario stretch, there’s simply to much to post while I am stopped at a private home. I feel it a bit inconsiderate to be on the computer when I should be visiting. 
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Until later, thank you so much Ontario, “I could not have done it with-out your help.” Sincerely,  Bernice – Thank you

Brancroft, Ontario Canada May 2nd, 2015

We have been in Canada one week, crossing at Ogdensburg, New York and thru customs with papers all in order all went easy.
The weather has been perfect and as usual the Canadians are so very friendly. The last time I rode in Canada in 2012 I went home and said, ” I am so glad that these Canadians are our northern neighbors.”
This is a short posting as I am at the private home of the Glen Burkholder family.  Glen stopped in his car when he saw me and the horses resting by an empty building in Hartwood Lake. He invited me but he and his family lived 30 miles down the road.
Well as I pressed on two ladies from the town council of Bancroft stopped as Mark Williamson has called them to let them know I was riding into town.They took my heavy saddle packs which let us pick up the speed, we rode into the Burkholder home just past 7pm, Mark came out from his home as I rode by earlier in the day. He brought out fresh maple syrup, carrots, and apples.
THEN stopped again to make sure I was doing ok and  brought water more carrots and apples. Oh my… this is Canadian hospitably!!!
I am having a wonderful ride. The horses are in good health, moving well and this is just a shout out…Hello and thank you so much all of you that are helping me to make my way across Ontario, Canada.
Happy Trails Bernice