At this time last year we- Essie, Spirit and I were heading back to Darlene Lundgrens home in Fort Edward, New York. I set up winter camp in the historical feed store building that sits behind her house. To be perfectly honest it seems impossible that I really and truly rode to the Atlantic Ocean last year. The ride was so much more than I could have EVER imagined. Darlene – well the entire town were very gracious hosting my stay. I enjoyed being a “celebrity” through a snowy winter and I am sooooo glad my travels had taken me to the northeastern half of our country. I will reflect on the ride when I settle in this winter.
I have a new computer!
The name, Soroptimist, means “best for women,” and that’s what the organization strives to achieve.
Soroptimist is a global women’s organization whose members volunteer to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Approximately 75,500 Soroptimist’s in 130 countries and territories support community–based and global projects benefiting women and girls. The organization is particularly concerned with providing women and girls access to education, as this is the most effective path to self-determination. Soroptimists are women at their best, working to help other women to be their best. I am familiar with the Soroptomist International Organization whose work supporting and encouraging women throughout the world is well known. I have frequented the thrift store they own in Whitefish, Montana many times. I have the Soroptomist’s to thank for this much needed tool, a computer. They also donated living expense for 2 months! The “geek Squad” as they are called at Best Buy in Kalispell helped me select a computer suitable for my unusual travel needs, it takes a beating in my Trail Max Panniers, (big saddle bags). This will be the first year I am going out with such a device, one that is light, has sufficient battery capacity and large enough key board that my fingers don’t protest. It will enable me to post regularly, maybe even more than I do!!. I can stay a bit more connected, have access to maps, messages etc. I have protested for years but now perhaps because there are so many that follow the ride or perhaps I just like sharing the story, I do feel the need to stay connected. At the very core of my rides is this…
I hope it encourages women to reach beyond fears that keep them from leadership! that’s it. SO thank you, thank you so very much Soroptimst of Whitefish, Montana. Thank you. www.soroptimist.org
I have been I must admit in turmoil about whether or not to continue riding any further this year. I have wanted to go home in the worst way. Just relax among community I know. Where I have invested time, be home.
After coming down from Canada, unable to get us across north of Waterton Parks, Alberta for several reasons, fires had slowed us down, then inclement weather, then vet papers expired and for reasons too complicated to explain – I returned. I came down thru Browning, Montana where the wind can wipe the smile off your face real quick. Oh my that is brutal wind, and so much of it. Spectacular vista’s as I came within view of the Rocky Mountain’s Eastern Front. A recent snow fall had the tips covered in snow, a reminder, “winter is coming, winter is coming.” Intimidating that’s what they are. Cold, dangerous and tired – wanting home, that’s how it felt crossing Maris’s Pass.
I must say something about riding a horse over Maria’s Pass. A five day dangerous ride. I have come across Maria’s Pass 2 other times both in a trailer/truck that Russ Barnett from OutFItters Supply hauled the horses with. Both times the pass had snow covering the sides of the road. This time for what ever reason, I felt I could do it. Please, please understand that I have two of the finest long riding horses – with thousands of miles, seasoned, exceptional, champions in my humble opinion, long riding horses. Don’t ride Maria’s Pass if you can avoid it. Just don’t, it’s far to dangerous. Semi traffic is horrendous they are coming down off the mountain fast, with Jake Brakes sounding like rifle shots. Guard rails keep you about 2 feet from them, I could reach out and touch some of them. Very few horses will hold for it. I could NEVER have ridden down the steep pavement with-out the horseshoes I have on from Roger Robinson, NEVER. I could never have done it with out Essie Pearl who is steadfast and trusting above and beyond the call of duty, she is truly a champion!
But the love and longing of the ride seems to always win out. I have kept riding. The horses are fit, kicking up dirt, round bellies, lively steps – the fall weather being their first choice and mine also, of riding seasons. But what has kept me from thinking of continuing much further than the Washington/Idaho border, Spokane area, was this which I read just yesterday….
“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail.
Travel to fast and you miss all you are traveling for.”
It’s from Louis L’Amour, “Ride the Dark TraiI”
I recently read this in Gary Montgomery’s THE TRAIL. Gary publishes a quarterly collection of interviews, historical photos and as he says “interesting tidbits from the past.”.
Rest and repair stop at OUTFITTERS SUPPLY
I have camped behind OUTFITTERS SUPPLY’S store and warehouse in Columbia Falls I think 5 times on various rides coming and going. Ruth the seamstress reinforced a few seams on my saddlebags.!!!Replaced a few things but for the most part all the gear was in good repair.OH MY SPONSORS I so appreciate all of you, your products, your support. When I began long riding in 2005 I looked like a hopelessly homeless woman (but on a beautiful horse, Pride). I now have the best of equipment, support from a farrier, Vet, and equine nutritionist. I just have to do the ride, keep myself and horses alive. smiles
Supplies arrived from Theodora Brennan who manages to help keep me going and is the sum total of my “homebase.”(and somehow manages to keep me tied to reality) Then Chrissy Tate from Texas with friends in tow arrived. I met Chrissy years ago on another ride, this was a screamer, just by chance we see each other again!
The ride from Columbia Falls to Whitefish, besides an interview from the Flathead Beacon-(www.FLATHEADBEACON.COM – Sept. 23 issue,) held several other friends who came out to meet and greet, give hugs and encouragement. OH I so wanted to turn north and go home. But I also knew that once the hugs and smiles and joy of seeing friends and family had ended and they’d all gone home and on with their lives, well there I would be with a lot of time on my hands, riding time and to late to really go back out. SOOOOO
On I continue, but having settled in my head how far and what I am going to do this winter. Libby, Montana
This is I think the 7th time I have ridden thru Libby and the changes and make-over is remarkable to me. The town went thru hell with the Grace Mine fiasco, still is, but I tell you they have come a long ways in rebuilding town pride and the towns beauty. It sits in a valley surrounded by the Cabinet and Salish Mountain Ranges. Libby has a recreational park that most towns would give anything to have. Besides a walking path, sports area and picnic areas there is a horse arena covered stalls round pen and riding trails. The J.Neils Park. The Hilton to us.
Close enough to town to walk. I like Libby, I’m always greeted with, “hey your back again, where’d you go this time?” It is good to be back, feels like I have been gone a very long time. That’s the thing about traveling slow. You move in and out of terrain slow enough that it changes you, it has an effect on you. The mountains seem bigger to me, the scent of lodge pole pine stronger, the raptors, scavenger birds, eagles, turkey vulture’s big black ravens are loud and cocky. And the Tamaracks, just now getting underway transforming from green NEEDLES to the most incredible gold, yellow and tans. A very different color change and look than on the east coast which was also incredible. Everywhere, everywhere there is something beautiful to marvel at. Happy Trails, Bernice
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”
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
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.
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.
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!
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.