Del Bonita, Alberta Canada. September 5th, 2015

I am waiting out a weather front. My host and hostess, Sam and Marcia Stahl have graciously opened their home to me while I get my self together, rest and secure a route home. Sam and Marcia are pasture supervisors for the Twin River Provincial Grazing Reserve.This is the real deal as far as cowboys go. I feel like I am on a movie set – it is simply stunning. Black and brown cattle graze along the Milk River. The hills are brown but the coulees and ravines hold hints of green all wrapped around and round by a vast range and enormous sky.
I’ll resume my journey Sunday.
I don’t think I have ridden in any other place that quite measures up to Canada’s Southern Alberta and Southern Saskatchewan. It is spectacular country, big, spacious country. The horizon is clean, unbroken. The eye seeks to find an end to it but it appears to go on and on and on.The sky drops clearly to a land that rounds off over the horizon. This land either intimates or embraces, there is no in between. The mind is swept clean of thoughts I try to think but the land seems to refuse to hold my thoughts and I find myself just wandering like a phone on “roaming.” You just wonder where it will end. This is cattle country, huge wheat farms and ranches that take of 10s of thousands of acres. Its hard to comprehend for most of us.
We pushed hard after reentering Canada near eastern Montana. I rode into Orkney, Saskatchewan just as Bob Nelson was finishing up with farm work, good thing I caught up with him because there weren’t any other people that I could see in town. He gave me drinking water and then his wife sent out shepherds pie and cookies to eat.This is Canadian hospitality! We traveled west on 501 a paved road, not at all busy. The heat would have been unbearable with out the steady westerly wind. In the small town of Climax I was greeted by a young woman with a beautiful smile named Charity who showed me to the park where I rested and had a bite to eat. Several folks and kids stopped by to see the attraction. Fire Chief Kim Bennett set me up with a place to stay in the next town of Frontier. I met Kim’s wife Val at the impressive Recreation Center that housed a curling arena, hockey arena, cafe, lounge area for young people with a pool table, all supervised and well maintained. ANY town would be proud to have such a facility. Rain and wind set in that night and I was glad to be inside as Kim had set me up….. inside the new fire hall!!! The horses had trees for shelter and we all made out just fine.
August 3rd, 2015 Reached “Old Man On His Back” a Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area managed by Nature Conservancy Canada. Sue and Allen are overseers. (and have a 4th generation farm nearby) Sue gave an excellent presentation she must have done it a half dozen times that day, it was busy. The Conservation Ranch raise Buffalo and is a haven for wildlife seldom seen by most people this includes Burrowing Owls, Swift Fox and Ferruginous Hawks. The interpretive center is open from mid May to the end of September. check it out its well worth visiting.
Just before crossing into Alberta I spent two nights at the Lodge Creek Ranch. I had no idea Joe and Joan Saville lived there. IT was not until I got there and started visiting with Joan and Joe that I realized it was the “Joe Saville” a legendary horseman, a name one knows if you are in the horse industry. From 1982 to 2008 Joe and Joan hosted a horse sale that came to be known as “home of the big quarter horse sale.” It was huge and people came from all over North America to the sale. The list of champions is long, Joe produced many champions- “Bulldog Horse of the Year” – “Calf roping Horse of the Year” you get the picture. He also had teams, big teams of Belgium horses that were sought after. I got a look at his beautiful draft horse barn. I told Joan I would marry a man for a barn like that. The stalls were now empty, the barn however, remained neat as a pin. At 80, Joe continues to ride, not as much but still he trains and rides a good deal. The day I was there he was working on culverts with the other men. Maybe its the air or the open space but I have met more men and women on this stretch across Canada, in their 80s and 90’s living and working like 50 year old’s. Its encouraging.
I have been pushing hard because I had wanted to cross at Rooseville, Montana from the north, stay in Canada longer. I have been slowed by smoke. Five steady days of smoke. One night wind carried ash from the fires burning in Montana. Then heavy winds, then rain. The rain has finally come can’t complain, just can not complain about that. But it has slowed me down and now because my vet papers for the horses are good for only 30 days I can’t make the Rooseville crossing. I must drop down at Del Bonita, Canada and take another route home. I have plenty of time so we shall carry on slowly but surely, we shall make our way home.
September 4th, 2015 morning … My beloved Claire Dog laid on her bed and passed away at the age of 16. This faithful companion traveled with me over 17,000 miles. This was my first ride without her. She was by anyone’s measure…”the Star of the Show”
Prep for New Ulm Ride006

 August 13th, 2015 – Ophiem, Montana

I have been “town-hopping” yes town-hopping, no not bar-hopping, town-hopping.
From Plentywood, Montana where I spent 4 days at the fairgrounds to Ophiem, Montana I town-hopped, about 80 miles. Tiny towns, population 10 or 8, they are like Oasis’s to me, they provide me with water and shade, when its 100 degrees out I must have shade and water for my horses! We rode early mornings from 4:30 to maybe 11am. The towns are about 10/12 miles from one another built on a Railroad line that is now abandoned but Hwy 5 connect the towns. Some are but work stations for harvesting. Most all had or still have functioning grain elevators. The harvest is in full throttle. It is really something to see, mammoth machinery and the fields are so big one wonders how it is possible to do it all. So I stopped in each and every little town sometimes for a night over sometimes for an afternoon break to rest in the shade and water the horses. I pull all the gear from the horses backs every 10 miles!!!!.
From Plentywood the first stop was Redstone. I met Steve Nash, kind of a jack-of-all-trade and master of many. Metal fabricator. His father had the machine shop, the only business in town, now Steve had it. I caught him just as he drove with a semi of water. He let me put up in his field and left the shop open so I could get water and use the restroom. The town had 8 people living in it, nearly a ghost town, I was sure glad it was there!!  Then there was Peerless. It was pretty busy with harvest trucks. It had a Grain Co-op and large elevator. I camped across from the post office on the lawn of a empty home. We  camped in Scobey’s very nice fairground where the horses had in-door accommodations. Camped in Richland and Glentana, rested in Flaxville and Madoc, had lots of waves and curious, interested stoppers. as we rode the wide ditch, had to watch for gopher and badger holes .Lots of alfalfa and clover for the girls. With the amount of work my two horses do, alfalfa and clover can be fed to them, I let them eat as we walk. They come in with a full belly.
Ophiem. I rode thru Ophiem in 2012 with Emily McKee who ventured out with me for a couple of hundred miles into Canada. I remember the town well and seems many remember me, it’s been a fun stop and they found me a spot in town on a lawn, with shade and good neighbors.(smiles) The house is empty the horses and I are camped around back, it’s very nice. I would have died in this heat out at the rodeo ground’s. The Outpost is still here and Coreen Dear still runs the little café, good food and rustic friendly atmosphere. The horses were tied out back while I went in to visit. The Mint Bar is still going as is the Farm Cooperative. The school is sustaining itself as one resident commented. Having the café is so important. Today was senior day and the place was filling as I left, ( it  was busy in the morning, with the coffee club)  The café is exceptional and  is owned by a developmental council. Donations were received by alumni, local residents and businesses in the area to keep the café open. Coreen has been managing it for 3 years, its just a pretty cool thing that the town has done. I have seen it in other small towns, creative ways to keep the town alive.
It’s been a good ride, hot but good across this Northeastern part of Montana where the sky is bigger than the land.
I head north for Canada on Saturday. Will get another posting in 2 weeks.
Happy Trails Bernice

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Plentywood, Montana August 3rd – 7th, 2015 Sheridan County Fairgrounds

I must admit it was with a certain amount of relief that I rode across the North Dakota / Montana state line. As I turn in my saddle and stretch my gaze back to New York well it all still seems like a dream. How could I possibly have ridden that far? So much can and does happen in any given day-how ever did I make it…I’ll tell you, with a lot of help from folks like yourselves who follow the rides.
North Dakota is one of my favorite places to ride. The dirt roads, small towns, water, grass and plenty of places to camp all add up to an easy state to ride across. The oil boom has slowed some but still as I rode across the northern part of the state only a couple of miles from the Canadian/U.S. border, it was busy. All the towns were busy and so were the roads. New wind farms are going in. The farming in North Dakota is some of the worlds most productive land, mammoth machinery, mammoth fields.
As I came across the Mouse River two weeks ago we were caught in a serious storm. I thought it might blow over but it settled in with raging 70 mph winds and rain. I found shelter behind a grove of thick evergreen trees, set up camp and waited it out. This is the kind of wind that you can not even stand in, let alone ride in. But the shelter worked, the horses had grass and there was even a small pond for horse water. Serious business, I was lucky.
Picked up my new saddle from Tuckers Saddle Co. my Black Mountain saddle has gone in for a few repairs, after 12,000 miles it needed a few repairs. I am now in an Endurance saddle the Trail Endurance, and oh my it is comfortable.
Roger Robinson has been such a huge help. He owns the Blacksmith Shop, (see sponsorship page) and sends out horseshoes that have his Dril-tech on the bottom. The pair I just took off yesterday came all the way from Thief River Falls, MN. that’s about 6/700 miles!!! But I’m having some issues with the toe wearing on Spirits rear hooves and Roger has made some alterations on the shoes. I can not tell you how much it helps to have a farrier of his caliber riding with me!!! I did have to venture over to the road dept. machine shop for help this morning. I could not get the rear shoes shaped properly and needed a big hammer and anvil which quite obviously I do not carry The men were up to it and they had an anvil and big hammer and they just shaped those horseshoes up for me in no time. I carried them back and had them on the horses hooves in no time. I left with a smile, wonder what they thought?
The sun takes it time setting and rising out here on the plains. I don’t have to be up quite so early and there is a shift in weather, its a bit cooler with the northern winds pushing, no shoving cooler air down our hot necks. The horses are in excellent condition. Neither one has been sick or hurt in the 6500 miles we have traveled thus far. They are by far the best team I have ever taken out. So very steadfast!
I rode into Plentywood, Montana on Monday and as I rode in a man in a cement truck caught a glimpse of me. His name is James Lord. He and Betty Smithers saw me last year as I rode through Medora, North Dakota. I so remember them because James jumped out of their jeep they were driving on the freeway entrance I was riding along. Shoved a $20.00 bill in my hand and said,”here go buy yourself a steak, we think what you’re doing is awesome.”  They have been out to visit at the fairgrounds a number of times as have a lot of other people. Still don’t know why every one does not think I am just plain nuts doing what I am doing.
Well the library is closing so this is it. forgive the misspelled words this is done rather quickly.
Happy Trials to all,
Bernice

Took us a while but we are finally going back into Canada. For Various reasons, roads, weather, forest fires burning in Canada….just kept me from getting back up there. But now our paper work is done and this will be the 3rd time I have crossed the border with the horses. I have enjoyed my travels each and every-time I have ridden in our northern neighbors country.


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Crosby, North Dakota Divide County Historical Village –  July 31st, 2015

The land has opened to display a specular panoramic view of the prairie. I always think of Willa Cather and her books about the Nebraska prairie she loved so much. I also love this country. I love the expanse and how the eye rest calmly upon the undisturbed horizon. It is all about wind, sky and now wheat, cattle and an occasional skyscraper(grain elevators)reaching for that blue sky. This once again will be short as I am at the private home of Lloyd Nygaard. Lloyd got the horses all settled in at the historical village in a 100 year old barn, it is very, very nice., the horses may refuse to leave in the morning. Then I came out to see his Fjord horses and use his computer. When I reach Plentywood, Montana in a few days I will have time to do a full length update but until then, this is short just letting you l know we are fine, traveling well nearly in Montana.
Happy Trails Bernice
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July 13th, 2015 Langdon, North Dakota

Well it has happened again…A BLUE RIBBON COMMUNITY! Langdon, North Dakota is one such community. Not only was it so very pretty, with flowers on mainstreet open fresh looking, the many parks and store fronts creatively decorated but the library, post office and businesses were all centrally located. But ofcourse the frosting is always in the hospitality!. From the chief of police who let me stay in the town park ( I carry a pooperscooper and clean up after the horses) to Michelle Schefter at the Langdon Hardward Store who provided supplies and then the smiles and handshakes and well wishers that I passed as I rode thur town, it all adds up to ….you got it
A BLUE RIBBON COMMUNITY!
 
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Am now spending a few days with Juli at her home east of town preparing to re-enter Canada. Juli’s home reminds me of the home I grew up in. A midwestern farm that her great-grandfather settled. The cool shade from big cotton wood trees makes me want to not leave. A much needed stop over to regain my composure as I ride some very hot, humid weather. The horses are doing very well. The saddles come off every 2 hours and we ride only early mornings, form 4am to maybe 10 or 11 am. I continue to update at libraries so the posting is short. I am heading for Rolla where I will prepare to re-enter Canada.
Happy Trails
Bernice
 
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Thief River Falls, North Dakota July 2nd, 2015 Pennington Fairgrounds

Greetings and apologies, this is what happened… Two weeks ago I had the entire posting with photos already to go and my computer crashed. It has been sent home; perhaps Gordy the computer guy back home can salvage some of what I lost. If not, I have lost a good deal of writing and photos. Life goes on. So this is short as I am at a library and time is limited.

Riding is hard. The heat, the mosquitoes, the wood ticks, humidity all adds up and I find myself losing perspective. I have said many times, “fatigue is my greatest enemy.” The horses are holding up better than I. We are packed light. Essie carries only 75/80 pd. Spirit has the weight of me and extra gear so that adds up but I walk at least 10 miles a day so am not on her back as much as you would think. I must be up by 3am and in the saddle by 5am. I am trotting the horses in the early morning, as the sunrises we are chased by a red ball of heat until we give in and find shade all afternoon. My bags carry dandelion greens, nettles, lambs- quarters for my evening meals. Last week I found strawberries and then I found an abandoned home whose garden still had stalks of rhubarb flourishing. So I cooked strawberries, apples, and the rhubarb with salt and honey, delicious. I stop at “eggs for sale” signs. The Amish, Hutterite’s and Mennonites’ sell produce. Spirit and Essie have a cornucopia of grasses they graze from as we travel; I let them eat and walk. They are very good at it, do not slow down, but as wild horses they can and love to eat and walk. So we are in good condition as far as nutrients goes.

We are now headed for Canada. However, I am waiting for a shipment from Tuckers Saddle and Outfitters Supply before I enter Canada. Tuckers Saddle is sending out another saddle while my Black Mountain goes in for a tune-up. It has over 12,000 miles on it. I told Dara, at Tuckers that the saddle looks like a fine pair of expensive leather shoes. It speaks of adventure. I use it hard, much more than most, if any would use a saddle these days except perhaps a working cowboy or cowgirl. It’s offered comfort to both me and Spirit and held up so well, just needs some new stitching and repairs made. But I want to take care of this and a few things from Outfitters Supply that need replacing. I certainly must be a true test for both Tuckers and OFS’s products- I could not be happier nor prouder to have them as sponsors. I also picked up a beautiful new hat which Jimmy from Sundbody Hats supplies me with. The Classic Gus which I wear is so pretty right now and then I take it and it becomes so personal to me. I cannot ride without a hat you must understand….the hat is important. > New horse shoes arrived from THE Blacksmith Shop (see sponsorship page.)  New horseshoes all around. I find myself getting better with shoeing technique, not so frustrated, it’s not easy and I have an even greater appreciation for the skills of a good farrier.  The horses wear a light fly mask all day, at night they wear heavier netting. It’s made by Cashel’s (see sponsorship page) and like the horseshoes they are critical to my rides. I just cannot thank my sponsors enough. When I began long riding I looked like a pitiful homeless woman on a horse! Now after 11 years, I have the best of equipment….and support from highly respected businesses and private sponsors. Please look at the sponsorship page for more information about all the sponsors that support my rides THANK YOU SPONSORS!

I chose Thief River Falls, MN. for my box(my horseshoes and shoeing equipment get sent ahead via postal service) pickup and stay over (a stop to rest) simply because I liked the name. I am surprised they let me stay at the Pennington County Fairgrounds looking as I did when I rode in early Wednesday morning. I was filthy, tired, looked ragged and in much need of help. I needed rest, I needed someone to say “hey, come in and make your-self at home and whatever you need we can help you get it, you just come in and rest and rest those horses.” And that is exactly what I found in Thief River Falls. It was good of Curt Howe president of the Fair Board to come out and greet me but it was Wayne Harder and Vern Hamre who got me settled in near the horse barn with my tent under lovely shade trees and the horses in open air stalls, shaded, clean and fed. It was so very nice of these two men. I had to be driven around to different locations for supplies. They opened the building so I could take showers and they checked on me several times as they worked throughout the day preparing for the upcoming 2015 Pennington County Fair July 16th. Norwegians, Swedes, farming, hard working, suntanned outdoor men, probably a bit older than me, but not by much.

I happened to be in Clearbrook, MN a day before the SummerFest Parade. Found myself caught in an afternoon storm and then rescued by Dennis Engebretson who had stopped for a visit. Dennis had a friend with a retired dairy farm so I spent the night there, in the hay shed with the horses snoring nearby. It may sound rough but it was sooooo comfortable to be out of the heat and bugs, the horses even had fresh straw for beds. In the morning I was talked into riding in the parade. It was fun, but I could not help but think, “These people must wonder who the heck is this odd looking woman with two horses and what are those big bags for?”  I followed a sign which read..”Class of 71, still horsing around. Seems I am forever getting “rescued.”

Let’s see what else has happened?
I stopped the Swan’s Man the other day. For  those of you who do not know about the “Swan’s Man”  (this what I have always thought of them as)…..For as long as I can remember there have been these yellow refrigeration trucks bigger than a pickup truck but not huge with refrigeration compartments built on the back driving the back roads, in small towns and rural routes. Swan’s offers frozen foods selling and delivering meals, sort of a frozen version of meals on wheels. The Swan Man…I have never seen a Swan’s truck driven by a woman….ummm. Well I flagged the yellow truck down, and said,” Do you have anything I could buy, like a Popsicle or something?” It was terribly hot. I was having a heck of a time just staying awake in the saddle, could not even think of walking and was having a hard time finding a place to rest in the shade. “Why yes, how about a pint of lemon-strawberry ice-cream,” the young man driving replied. Off I rode, with a pint of ice cold, brick hard ice-cream which before opening I rolled around on my face, neck and back. “This is the most unusual stop I have ever had,” he said. “Indeed,” I replied handing him a card. I rode off with cold fingers.

Stopped in Remer, MN for a couple of days, not much rest but a warm friendly visit with family. Rode the rails across Wisconsin. The Rails to Trails that is. Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin have some of the best riding trails I’ve ever found. However I must remind you they are mostly for the 4-wheelers. My horses are perfectly fine with a herd of ATVer’s barreling down the trail at them. For the most part everyone is cautious and or stop to visit. Rarely does anyone ever race by the horses carelessly. The Tri-county Corridor in Wisconsin was 80 miles I think. I also rode the Soo-line trail in Minnesota 116 miles, both coming and going on this ride..

How did I manage without a computer all those years? Now with-out it my time is limited to computers at libraries. Please understand if you do not hear from me or if my replies are short, that I have time to do a posting for the website but not much for chatting. If anyone has a newspaper article they would like to share and can scan it and/or email the link to the page so I can post the articles, I would greatly appreciate it. Also photos PLEASE SEND YOUR PHOTOS so I can share them. I have had a couple of dozen interviews in the past 2 months and most never send me a copy of the article.

So I leave in the morning with a pretty new shirt from the thrift store, a new hat, rested, well, happy and content and filled to the brim with appreciation. Thank you, never enough thank you’s…. Oh but yes there is and that is to Ashia Gustafson, librarian at Thief River Public Library. Thank you because she came to my rescue and after many failed attempts found a way to up load the photos you are looking at. Thank you Ashia

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