Bernice’s book won the Silver Award of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Voice – Nonfiction, from the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). This is great! Congrats, Bernice!
Statement from FarCountry Press, Bernice’s publisher in Helena, Montana.
Farcountry Press is pleased to announce that two of our 2018 titles have received Silver Awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) in it’s prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award™ program, recognizing excellence and innovation in independent publishing. Bernice Ende won the Silver Award for Best New Voice: Nonfiction for her incredible memoir Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback Lady Long Rider – Bernice Ende. And our handsome book of wildlife photography, Donald M. Jones Wild Montana, brought home the Silver Award for Best Coffee Table Book! Congratulations to our authors, photographers, production staff, and the entire Farcountry Team.
I will call this week “Michigan Madness.” When I rode through this part of the country in 2014/15 I experienced the same enthusiasm and interest, it’s been fast and furious and I say that with a big smile.
The grass is SO GREEN! This is in stark contrast to the densely forested naked trees bedded down with a thick layer of brown leaves from last year’s shedding. The grass looks fake, Fake Grass like Fake News!! Ummm
This is Ford country. My truck receives a good deal of attention. There are no trucks this age (Bill’s Old Blue Truck is 50 years old). Here in Michigan, they all have rusted back into the earth.
I can’t help but think that in 1969 this old Ford rolled off the assembly line in Detroit, destined for Whitefish, Montana, where my friend Bill Griffin purchased it new at DePratu Ford dealership.
The only reason I am driving this truck is because Burton Robson who lives in Portland, Michigan, told me, “That’s a good truck, it will make it, you keep that truck.” I lamented not having a better vehicle for the book tour. Now here I am nearing the end of my travels with this old trusty truck and not one, not one problem has presented itself! I tell it repeatedly, “You are a champion,” and pat the dashboard.
Last Saturday I spoke at the Portland District Library, Portland, Michigan, to a full room–many of whom were the Robson Clan. I had a lovely sunny afternoon with Sharon and Burton’s family on Easter. Watching an exhausting kite flying exhibition from a grandson brought back memories of those little kites we purchased for 99 cents with a match stick (balsa wood?) like frame and tissue paper thin structure. The kite hardly held up in the wind before coming crashing down, breaking to bits!
I also drove south for talks in LaPorte, Indiana, at the La Porte County Public Library where I spoke at another well-attended gathering. Susan Bannwart, Adult Services at the library, introduced me–herself being a horsewoman.
The next day I drove to Swanton, Ohio, where I spoke at the restored Beach Ridge Wheelhouse, Oak Openings Preserve Metropark. This was hosted by Debbie Disbrow, owner of RAMM Horse Fencing & Stalls, https://www.rammfence.com/. Now I have to laugh because I thought all this time I would drive up to a feed store that sold fencing. Instead, I drove up to a complex of buildings that manufactures and distributes fencing from which many of you who are horse people have purchased fencing. The Divine Equine Stables where my horses are stabled have RAMM stalls!
I think I can now honestly say how it feels to be a celebrity because these women went all out in cutting a huge slice of hospitality for me!! My goodness and such a turnout!! The entire event was as they say, OVER THE TOP. Thank you!!
Last night I spoke in Hesperia, Michigan. Hosted by Chris Hubbard, an avid horsewoman and packer who has put many miles in riding Michigan over the past years. We had a good showing at the library and then I had a good rest in her renovated living-quarters horse trailer before heading north for Traverse City, Michigan.
Traverse City is a beautiful, innovative, charming historic town located on West Grand Traverse Bay. From the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake shore to the vibrant downtown with cultural diversity, arts & fine dining, Traverse City is a place I must return to for a longer visit. It’s the Cherry Capital of the World!
The horses are safe and sound at Divine Equine Stables eight miles north of Portland, Michigan. The owners are Denise and Roger Arnesen. Although not quite ready for boarders, Denise and Roger have accommodated my two girls. The dairy farm they are renovating into a boarding stable once belonged to her father. I simply can not thank them enough as I feel the horses are far better off safely tucked away at Divine Equine Stables than with me on this very busy last leg of the book tour. I truly miss them already!!
Weather is on and off again, Spring rains mixed with warm sunny days. This week I have talks everyday. Sunday I leave for New York for three weeks. I end the book tour on May 22. Nearly done. More later.
I call this week Michigan Madness because when I rode through this part of the country in 2014/15 I experienced the same enthusiasm and interest, its been fast and furious and I say that with a big smile.
The John & Kathy Schroeder Farm, a century home where John and Kathy, third-generation owners, kindly hosted my stay for two nights when I gave my talk at the library in Park Falls, Wisconsin.
Iron River, Michigan.
For those of you concerned about the snow… Well, I did indeed get stuck right in the middle of it–but, the folks in Iron River, Michigan, helped me through it. From Gina Giuliani whom I had met in 2014, to the librarians, and the road department–all came to my aid and put me up at the Iron County Michigan Fairgrounds where the horses had shelter and we had support. I remained warm, safe, and dry for which I say again and again, “Thank You!”
Lake Michigan, Mackinac Bridge, Lake Huron
As we traveled eastward from Park Falls, Wisconsin, toward the Mackinac Bridge between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the snow lessened, green grass began to show, and there it was, Lake Michigan. It was a thrill to see, even if it was not on horseback as it had been in 2014. I could not help but wonder if Spirit could smell and remember the area. Little Liska is on quite the adventure, as is Bill’s Old Blue Truck!
Fairgrounds in Cheboygan, Michigan
Leigh Lasley welcomed me to the Cheboygan County Fairgrounds. I met Leigh in 2014 when she stopped as one of the curious and interested. She brought hay and we have remained friends ever since. And again this visit, she brought hay. Oh my, to be through the worst of the weather, I do believe!
The eBook of “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback” is now available from the publisher, FarCountry Press, https://farcountrypress.com/details.php?id=815 and Amazon (internationally). Especially awaited by international followers of our favorite long rider, Bernice Ende. Above is a lovely photo of Ylime Marie and her Lady Long Rider book on the way to Buenos Aires! (that is, before the e-book was available).
Author and long-distance horse rider Bernice Ende stands with her stalwart companions from earlier rides: Honor and Claire Dog.
Bernice Ende shares a moment with one of her horses while traveling through New Mexico.
In 2005 at the age of 50, Bernice Ende mounted her horse and rode south, starting an odyssey that would take her 2,000 miles away from her starting point of Trego, Montana, to Edgewood, New Mexico. The experience that unfolded over the following five months would have been the journey of a lifetime for most people, but for Ende, it was just the beginning.
Over the past 14 years, Ende has essentially adopted the life of a nomad, riding 30,000 miles through the United States and Canada. While she still owns a log cabin in northwestern Montana, Ende spends the vast majority of her life traveling with her horses, constantly outdoors, ever on the move.
Ende’s life wasn’t always this way.
Before her first ride in 2005, Ende grew up on a Minnesota dairy farm, riding horses from the time she could walk. When she grew up, Ende pursued an education in ballet, teaching dance for her entire career. In 1992, Ende moved from the west coast to Trego, Montana, where she opened a small dance school and began giving riding lessons and training horses.
Then it happened.
“I just suddenly had the realization that I had to move, had to change, had to do something,” she said. Although horses and riding had been a lifelong passion, riding across the country had never been something she’d considered. Until now.
As Ende tells it, she saw a window of opportunity open and climbed through.
With nothing but her horse and her dog, Ende set off, aiming for New Mexico. The journey was exhausting, both physically and mentally. With a horse determined to return home to the safety of his pasture, Ende felt she couldn’t safely take her hands off the reins. For two weeks, she never let go of her horse. The only way to keep them both sane was to keep moving, so they rode — 30, 40, 50 miles in a day. Ende recalls her legs collapsing when she tried to dismount. She slept in ditches. During the few hours of sleep she got in a night, the only thing that kept her warm was the body warmth of her faithful dog. Ende cried as she rode, often only able to focus on taking one step after another.
Yet, eventually, horse and human found an equilibrium. While that first long ride was a challenge from start to finish, Ende rode into New Mexico with the realization that she could never return to normal life. The experience had forever changed her.
“It was as if, at 50 years old, I had crawled into my own skin for the first time,” she recalled.
Only months after returning to Montana, Ende was on the road again, which is where she has found herself ever since. Many things have changed since that first ride, both in how Ende personally approaches the experience and in the country she is riding through.
After 14 years of moving at a walking pace through the country — traveling east, west, north, and south — Ende has gotten a taste of the world she could never have experienced if she had stayed in her “normal” existence. She has experienced both true danger and true kindness on the road, from encounters with grizzly bear and people pulling guns to perfect strangers welcoming her into their homes and greeting her with a hero’s welcome.
Perhaps the most surprising realization for Ende is the fact that so many people long for such adventure in their own lives, and how many people she now brings vicariously on her rides.
“This is a unique way to travel in the modern world,” she said. “Not just the physical experience, but the romantic image people hold in their head of a lone person crossing the country on horseback. I realized I wasn’t just on a journey for myself — I am out here for hundreds, maybe thousands of other people who want this.”
By her own choice, Ende’s life is one different than most. Year-round, she lives outdoors with her horses, sleeping either in a tent or sometimes her horse trailer. Her days are not as simple as riding from one point to another; horses, even those well trained, are still powerful and unpredictable animals. Every moment Ende is riding, she must remain alert to the possibility of something unexpected occuring. While she maintains that the vast majority of her interactions with other humans are positive, Ende does carry a gun for her own safety.
As she rides, she navigates her routes along small highways using state maps that she carries with her. The routes she chooses are based on a litany of variables: weather, food, people, and road conditions.
In a life stripped to its bare essentials, Ende lives on about $3 a day. Every day she is on the road, her focus is in finding food and shelter. At the end of day, there are often quiet moments, when Ende might find time to read or write in her journal as her horses graze nearby.
“Living this way has changed my sense of space and time,” explained Ende. “My awareness of other people, animals, the weather, has all broadened. To leave behind your walls and stalls, all the things that separate us, is an experience so unique and intimate.”
Yet such freedom always comes at a price.
“It is a trade-off,” Ende freely admitted. “To live like this, you give up community and relationships. I don’t have a home or a job or a town. There are times when that’s hard. But what I have in an expansive group of people that believe in what I’m doing, and have been so generous to me.”
Perhaps the hardest experience Ende has had to face in all her many years of riding has been the loss of some of her longtime companions. Her faithful first companion, a mix-breed dog of unknown origins that answered to Claire Dog, passed away at the age of 16 in 2015 after covering 17,000 miles with Ende. While her first long-distance horse is happily retired on a Montana ranch, Ende lost her beloved second horse to a freak accident. A third horse passed away in retirement, and a fourth horse died of a brain parasite. Through the strong bonds forged after years and countless miles spent together, these are losses Ende will always carry.
The gumption that comes from a long line of strong and independent women is part of what has given Ende the inner strength required to stick with her way of life. Ende dedicates each of her rides to her mother, who she describes as a capable woman that always encouraged her daughter to seek adventure. In turn, Ende hopes that in some small way, her own journey will encourage other women to surmount challenges and become strong leaders.
Since October 2018, Ende has been on the road traveling once again, this time with a trailer for her horses and boxes of books in her truck as she tours the country sharing her story with others.
Ende’s eight long-distance rides have become her first book, “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback.” Ende will be visiting the Park Falls Public Library at 6 p.m., Monday, April 8, to tell her story, which will also be the topic of a documentary released later this summer.
While Ende’s journey has taken her across the country, it is still far from over.
“I think I still have several good rides left in me,” she said. “At this point, my trips operate a lot more smoothly than they did when I started. I’m not sure where I’ll be heading next, but I have a couple ideas in mind.”
Okay, here it is April. The weather can not make up its mind. And I must go north into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which still has a foot of snow on the ground. Fortunately, I have lots of help once I get into Michigan and Burton Robson in Portland, Michigan will be making sure I get through all of this “Michigan Madness.”
I have seven more weeks remaining. May 22nd I wrap up the tour in Glens Falls, New York. How or why this old blue truck is still running and running like a champion – only amazes me!! I can only thank Bill Griffin who gave the truck to me years ago. What a trooper it has been. Don’t think I didn’t look at that old truck and trailer way back in September of last year and say, “YOU ARE OUT OF YOUR MIND, BERNICE.”
My oldest sister, Kathryn, who may complain of my putting this on the website. My earliest memories are of her holding me as an toddler and I am screaming and crying and reaching for Spot (the old crippled Welsh pony that embellished our lawn.) Kathryn’s book club came to her home with many questions–a round table of sorts. It was lovely with wine and cheese, and what, 20 women!
And last but not least, I must thank Greg and Sue Jeddeloh for hosting a one week stop in Elk River. I have known Sue for many years. We were once hot shot waitresses at the Rogers Truck Stop. She’s been to my cabin many times with her brothers and sisters, and their husbands and wives. She’s an x-ray tech at a nearby hospital. Her husband, Greg, is on the Minneapolis police force–I won’t say which division. When I think of how I simply ride into smiles, day after day, I will think of him, because he drives into the worst of the worst that humanity has to offer, and yet he remains a kind and gentle soul, a loving husband, and good neighbor. I think, now if this man can do what he does and still retains a positive out look, then I say, “So can all of us. Be kind to one another.”