Dawn rises from behind the Inyo Mountains still dark and shaded as the Sierra Nevada’s scream, “Good morning! Good morning!” with early morning sunshine.
What a view! Hwy 395 is busy with holiday traffic. McDonald’s parking lot is full, dogs bark, ravens caw, and the day begins.
Nights are cold, good for sleeping. Days warm, and warm, and warm until I am suddenly surprised by the coolness when the ball of heat dips below the lightly dusted snow-covered Sierra Nevadas.
I do not have one single photo of my Taylorville stop. I arrived at 3 pm, November 1oth, spoke at 6 pm, and left early in the morning. It was, however, a very important stop for me because once again I had met someone in 2007 on my 5000-mile ride that simply became an overnight best friend, Georgette Bauchman, who passed away some years ago. Her daughter was there when I spoke, evoking tears from the crowd, recalling how much this woman helped me, encouraged me, and fed me hope when I so needed it.
Thank You, Bill and Denise Battagin who reached out, pulled me in. They knew Georgette (she delivered mail, everyone knew Georgette) In 2007 their children were still young, now grown, off to university. They took me this time, for a drive in a NEW Tesla. Like riding the future, simply unbelievable. The speed, the silence, the agility. Recharging for the Battagin’s is done by solar. Way cool!
Further south…. Next stop, Millpond Equestrian Center.
They are so in your face like right there, reach out and touch them.
Spellbinder Books in Bishop pulled in a full house for the talk there. They also gave me a surprise Birthday cake complete with song and flowers!!
Thank you, Lynn, owner of Spellbinder Books for many years. It’s one of those bookstores which offers space for lingering, talking, and a cafe in the back–very nice.
Burton Robson from Portland, Michigan (I’ll be stopping there in the spring on the tour) sent a most precious birthday gift, a handmade Stampede Braid made from the hair of my old draft mare, Sarah. He got the hair I’d been saving all these years thinking I must do something with it, this year while visiting me in Montana. Oh my, the story is long. I put Sarah down (her stifle had completely given out) the same day I began long riding. Very hard. Waited until the very last minute, then rode out……. Look at Donna Murray’s work. It is delicate, precise, and for those of us that love our horses as we do, this is a priceless gift. Thank you, Burton and Donna, Thank you ever so much!
Friends I met in 2007. I was so poor back then and they all–each one of them–helped me SOOO MUCH. This time I took them out to dinner. Cheers to Kathy Forrester Bancroft, Claiborne Mitchel, and Kathy Noland. An evening meal at the Still Life Cafe. This French cafe in Independence, after this year’s tiny experience with France, sent my heart racing back over the ocean. Sweet. This touched my heart!! In 2007 Kathy Forrester knew medicinal herbs and helped me when Honor’s hoof needed attention. Kathy Noland–she just was there back in 2007 and did something because I remember her and her husband, Tom. I smile now. They really all did so much more. I can not begin to tell it here. This entire stretch was prearranged by Claiborne Mitchell. THANK YOU CLAIBORNE!! Claiborne in 2007 with her Loren Bacall British accent, had directorship of the Museum in Lone Pine. She took me under her wing, fed me, introduced me to people, and kept me going. This time around? From Mammoth Lakes to Lone Pine, Claiborne had all the arrangements taken care of–lodging, publicity, interviews, and more. You can hear her every Wednesday afternoon on KIBS, Bishop FM Radio.
Thank You, DARLING.
Good Bye California until next time! Many, many thanks. Fond memories, old and new, ride with me once again.
My old 69′ Ford crept up the steep long incline like a steady chug a chug train, 30 mph. An exquisite Ahhh came oozing from my lips expressing both the gallant work my little blue truck made but also at the view presented as I crested the top.
Eastern Oregon from Pendleton to Prineville is big and windy and open. It pitches up and over giant rolling hills now brown from a dry summer. The roller-coaster road, newly paved, dark, smooth, shoulder less. “Keep to the middle if you can,” I say to myself with reservation at the drop off.
Yet, beautiful as it is, it simply does not compare to the long slow climb on horseback or most often on foot as I lead the horses up giving them a much needed break. A hill like that I thought would have taken us at least 45 min to complete on horseback. With a truck and trailer 10 min. max.
Time, lots of time that’s what equestrian travel takes and in that time the smallest details can be acquired. Smells are shoved up your nose – nearby cattle, exhaust fumes from cars and trucks, the horses sweat, road kill. I hear the steady sound of hoof beats or a red tail hawk shriek over head at the intruder down below. Maybe I am startled and jump because a rattlesnake shakes out a warning or a darting rabbit rushes by, both coming out of no where. The wind steals my hat, I tighten my stampede braid. The horses breath on my arm, my heart beats heavy in my chest and I lean a bit forward plodding one foot after another. All of this is lost in truck travel, even at the speed of 30 mph. All passes by much to quickly. So much can happen as I slowly but steadily climb to the top of yet another momentous hill on horseback.
But it’s not a huge jump from Fjord to Ford they have many similarities when I think about it. Both or legendary, tough and built for the long haul. But so much will be missed as I roll along on smooth, paved surface – however necessary if I am to make my appointed times for slide-show presentations and book-signings. So it goes.
Horse travel…20/30 miles a day, truck travel…200 miles a day.
If you take the “j” out of Fjord you get Ford. My 1969 baby blue Ford has a rebuilt engine, front end, new brakes, bearings, seals, battery, tires, there’s more I just can’t remember what all the mechanics back home did to the truck. Thank you Wayne Bozarth, his son Tim and apprentice Jamie, from Eureka Auto for bringing the truck up to traveling speed. Like a champ, running like a champ gentlemen!
My old Ford (which I refer to as “Bills Old Blue Truck,” was given to me by Bill Griffins widow. Bill and I were good friends for many years. The blue Ford spent its entire life,until now, running Bill and his old dog Whiskey, around the tiny community of Trego, Montana. Bill bought it new in 1969 in Kalispell, Montana.
A fifty year old Ford is I am learning, a head turner. Not by the young so much, but by those fifty and older. “This was when they really made trucks.” said a man helping me at the Heppner Fairgrounds. “My Dad had one just like that, same color.” Came another remark at a gas station stop. An elderly man came over with his new Ford while I parked one afternoon, leaned out his window and said “Best damn truck Ford ever made,” I suggested we trade straight across for the 2017 white super duper Ford truck he was driving.
It’s easy to romanticize, like equestrian long riding. But really, truth be told – the new trucks are quieter, faster, have more power, get better gas mileage, pollute less and are far, far easier to drive. The only thing not better is the price of a new truck. I think Bill paid something like $7000.00 for the 69′ Ford, new.
And don’t think for one minute that I would not also be driving a new truck if I had such money, but I don’t. And so, here comes “The Lady Long Rider Book Tour Mobile,” just smile and wave.
Weather is warmer here as I leave Pendleton, Oregon behind. Sunsets linger in shades of orange, pink and reds something I miss deeply at my Montana cabin where the sun sets behind mountains hiding the colors of sunrise and sunset. I feel like I’m climbing up and over the backs of giant brown dinosaurs. I forget how big this part of our country is, how “cowboy” it is.
Now two weeks into my book tour I’m beginning to realize like other long rides, that this will take more than I’d bargained for. I must pull tenacity and single-minded determination from my saddlebags. I must call to my will power, all the while reminding myself “don’t forget about the love and longing of the ride.” Remember it is not in getting there but rather all those singular steps required in making the journey.
I had once thought “Oh this is really just another long ride, a little different, true. My horses travel in a horse-trailer pulled by a 69 baby blue Ford pickup. But its not, its not at all like long riding. I am pulled in a dozen different directions at once, distracted by truck, by traffic and speed! Long riding is methodical, slow, deliberate. My hands are on horses, not machinery.
Before each of my rides I have said, “Its all a lot of talk until we actually do it.” That includes me and the truck. Happy Trails.
Discover what it’s like to travel more than 29,000 miles alone on horseback when author Bernice Ende, the “Lady Long Rider,” visits the downtown Klamath County Library at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9.
Ende will share selections from her memoir, Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback, according to a news release. Since setting out at age 50, Ende has logged more than 29,000 miles in the saddle across North America – more than any other living female rider – with only her horses, Montana Spirit and Liska Pearl, to keep her company.
Travel fans and horse lovers alike will thrill to Ende’s tales of her adventures. Copies of Ende’s book will be available for purchase and signing.
Despite the fact that this is an after-hours library event, there is no pre-registration required and the event is absolutely free.
For more information, call 541-882-8894 or visit the Information & Reference desk. For more about Ende and her travels, visit her website at endeofthetrail.com.
Bob Fay opened the gates for me at the Grandview Fair & Rodeo Grounds yesterday. Bob has lived his entire life here in Grandview, knows everyone, feels deeply connected to the community and it shows. He’s the kind of community member you wish you had 100 of!!. Community members who are there when something needs to be done. He is no youngster. This hangs on the exterior metal building next to my campsite:
Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo
Our Mission is education through:
advancement of all participants.
promotion community spirit
discovery of individual worth and potential
THAT is beautiful!!
I have stopped in Grandview to meet friends from the Confederated Tribes of the Yakima Nation. Margret Gwinn an elder of the tribe and her daughter Sandy were the only ones able to come, others had work commitments.
But I must tell you the story of meeting Margret and her husband Charles (now deceased) and the Gwinn family.
In 2007 I came across the Yakima Nations Tribal land from the west crossing Mount St. Helens. This is primate land the tribes National Forest land that I’d been granted permission to cross saving me from many miles of dangerous road travel. The 5000 mile – 22 month ride as I reflect remains the most arduous travel of all my rides. To say “harrowing,” is an understatement. Ignorance let me to make many mistakes. Illness, injury and inclement weather rode with me Honor and Claire Dog on that journey. So when I came over the Cascades into the Yakima Valley, I looked ragged, tired and thin, we all did. Margret and her daughter Elizabeth were driving home from a day of huckleberry picking when the passed me. They stopped greeted me warmly, offered water to the lowly looking travelers and left. BUT they returned with food and corn and meat and lots of food. They helped me find a suitable campsite off the road and brought buckets of water for Claire and Honor. Trail Angels, Trail Angels who then the next day invited me into their family home where I camped for nearly a week filling up on home, family, tribal love and kindness. One of those stops I shall never forget. I must also share with you this story.
Margret and Charles purchased for me a new pair of Airat Roper boots. I can’t remember if I had on tennis shoes or what but I do remember I had no money those years and what ever I could find at a thrift store had to work. (The next year I told Ariat my boot story which let to Ariat sponsoring me for years, they have since sold out to another corporation and no longer sponsor a lowly lady long rider)
What I will remember the most. What I took away from that stop in 2007 will be – “family and the love, support and importance it is to the “Tribal Indian.” Food and a revolving door – people coming and going, issues of the day discussed, card games at night. I sank myself in, recalling my Mother who also called us “Her Tribe.”
Margret introduced me to the Tribal Council. Where I thanked them for allowing me to cross their land. We toured the countryside and had lunch with other family members in Toppenish but mostly we spent our time in the large back yard where my beloved Honor and Claire rested, ate and were bestowed treats and care through out our stay. Elizabeth brought out a mattress and canopy for me to sleep on when I insisted on sleeping next to Honor.
We have stayed in touch thanks to Facebook and in 2009 I returned once again on the 6000 mile ride with two horses and a dog that now rode.
The dogie box you see here is one that Elizabeth, Sally and Margret and I pieced together. This arrangement lasted until Texas where another box was rebuilt still using the Indian black and white material the Gwinn’s first added.
This rendezvous with Margret meant a great deal to me. As I told Margret, 1000’s of people pass me but only a hand-ful stop, the “Curious and Interested” as I refer to them. These became Trail Angels. Many thanks to the Gwinn family and to the Confederated Tribes of the Yakima Nation for allowing me to cross tribal land.
I move on. Washington and Idaho commitments are filled. Next stop Oregon. Pendleton is next where I not only do a talk at the Public Library, November 1st at 6:30 but I will also meet up with Rebecca Adams who donated Little Liska Pearl to my rides after I tragically lost Essie Pearl. I simply cannot wait for her to see Liska Pearl and the remarkable change that has come to this little pony. (Although she is not so little anymore.) She is naughty, mischievous, quick to learn and I love her to pieces. She and Montana Spirit have a big sister/little sister relationship and are of course inseparable which is just fine with me because if I have one horse I have two.
My 1969 Ford pulled us gallantly into Grandview, Washington, home to Smucker, Welch and other fruit packing plants. Yakima Valley College is located here. An enormous irrigation system pulls water from the Columbia and makes possible tens of thousands of acres producing fruit -apples, pears, grapes. It’s a busy area.
We travel the back roads at 40 or 45 mph. The horses are not in the trailer over 2 hours.
We only travel 4 hours on any given day. We exercise twice a day. Plenty of carrots,apples and still much grazing can be done which keeps the girls in good spirits.
And now here it is the envy of all those who pass by with your luxurious living quarter horse trailers. The Lady Long Rider Living Quarters Horse Trailer!!
Wall ha! Smiles and appreciation to all of you that follow the rides.
Hopefully I will see more familiar faces on the book tour. It’s truly humble meeting people who helped me on my earlier rides at my talks. From young women who were once my ballet students as children to the elders like Margret. I am touched and deeply grateful to see you once again and to say, Thank You, Thank You!
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.
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.