Thursday, March 27, 2014

Days 12-15 Crossed over 200 miles!!

I meant to mention on the first blog why we changed the journey’s name from Jonathan’s Journey to Journey for Jonathan.  After Winston set up the Kickstarter Page we discovered that Jonathan’s Journey was already the copyrighted title of a book and a blog was linked under that name.  So, when we started the blog and all of the printed materials we changed it to Journey for Jonathan.  I know some people were confused by that but it could not be helped.  And the more we travel it seems this title is becoming more and more appropriate. 

Day 12 – Monday, March 24, 2014

     Today was our rest day but what was supposed to be a day of rest turned into Press, Errand and Visitor day!!  We literally did not eat or take one break for 9 straight hours.  Winston knows a lot of people in San Angelo since he went to Angelo State and he has family here too!  DB was loving his first class accommodations at the Fort Concho Living History Stables!  He got lots of rest and was the only one of us that didn’t need any rest!  We did finally get the major things done we needed to do with the RV like dump the tanks, fill up with gas and propane, and got it washed.  We just ran out of time to organize and clean out the inside of the RV.  We got little sleep last night so today was a little hard to be on our “A” game.  We were going to try and sleep in a little but our visitors started at 8 am and lasted til 8:30 pm!  Winston’s dad called me the trail boss today and I am going to try hard to live up to that title! Winston said to his dad, “Well then what I am if she is the trail boss?”  He said you are the trail rider and she tells you what to do!  So, trail riding is not too far off from real life after all!  Just kidding!!  But, seriously, a lot of you have asked what I do with all my free time and do I get bored?  I can tell you honestly that I do not have free time and I do more thinking and planning and organizing than I ever did when I was a sales and marketing manager in NYC!!  In the mornings, I start getting the RV ready for travel putting away everything for the night and start locking down everything for travel while Winston is feeding Durango and saddling him.  We feed Hart and take him out.  I check out the route for the day and any possible campsites we might be able to get to.  I usually only go about two or three miles up ahead of him and then when I stop I upload photos from my camera and then I make notes for the blog.  I total up our receipts and see where we are on our budget.  Often I also have to do real life things like pay bills or do my taxes!  By the time we make our 2nd stop I usually have about 20 or more text messages to return and an equal amount of emails.  So, if you ever wonder why I don’t text back right away, that is usually the reason.  I am also taking all of Winston’s calls, texts and emails.  And believe it or not, I am also taking care of booking gigs for his music for when he gets back.  It is hard to think of him as a piano player when we are out here on the trail.  I am also always in search of internet.  My wifi hot spot on my phone is costing an arm and a leg.  I have gone over the limit twice because of all the photos I upload to the blog so I am trying now to just look for wifi spots that are free.  Then I usually get food ready for Winston on his break and then walk Durango so Winston can eat.  And if Durango needs to be watered I try to have that ready too.  Inside the RV there is always stuff to be organized.  You have to be creative with such a small space.  I make calls ahead to figure out good spots to get our alfalfa hay and the food that Durango eats. I try to make contacts for places we can stay further up the road. I keep track of the miles on the odometer so that we know how many miles we do in a day and also I have checkpoints each day to see how many miles they are going per hour so I can figure out about how far we will make it in a day to secure a camping spot. I keep a running tally of miles also so we know if we are making our weekly goal.  I also handle all of the communications with reporters and news anchors to set up interviews and do follow up reports.  When I work on movies, there is a publicist that only does that so I feel sure I am being underpaid for my volunteer position!! J  I usually type up the blog at the end of the night in case I find internet the next day so I am usually not in bed until after midnight most nights and then we are up at sunup.  So, free time is as sparse as the internet out in these parts.  Oh well….free time is probably as overrated as bathtubs! I have decided that I will wait until after the journey for a bathtub because honestly I am usually too tired even if someone offers it to gather up all my stuff and go into the house. Sunday night we took the time to get all our stuff together to shower in the inside facility at Fort Concho and after I got shampoo in my hair the water turned freezing cold!! My teeth were chattering as I tried to get all the shampoo out.  I decided then and there that I could do without the space of a larger shower since I knew at least in the RV the water was hot!  I told Winston that I have lowered my standards on this trip for those types of things and it’s okay.  I can do without a lot of luxuries for the greater good of this trip!

     We had a bunch of visitors on Monday that we were so happy to catch up with!  Our friend Burt from Shreveport came and brought us breakfast and then Winston’s dad Tim came to see if we needed anything.  Honey Powell came out to see us. Honey is 84 and lived in Gatesville and knew Winston for a long time and now lives in a retirement community in San Angelo.  She brought us so many useful goodies for Winston and a donation which I tried desperately to give back to her and she told me about her two daughters that she had lost to two kinds of cancer with tears in her eyes and said please take it to help with expenses.  No mother should ever have to say goodbye to two children.  It broke my heart to hear of her losses. So, we accepted the donation in her daughter Julius and Janie’s memories. She also gave Winston a small feather for his hat that belonged to her late husband.  And she gave him a scarf that she knitted herself.  We enjoyed our visit with her. 

Then we had a visit from Charlie Landers and his wife M’Kenna and their son Eli who wanted to meet Durango!  I was so sorry to have missed them because I had gone to refill the propane tank on the RV but Winston was so happy to see them.  Winston went to Costa Rica last year on a mission trip with the Methodist Church in San Angelo and some of his friends from there came out to see us.  Brenda Stone and her son Shawn and they brought Carol Santry also.  They are all so sweet and Carol has some of the best expressions I have ever heard!  Winston had wanted me to meet her for a long time and I was thrilled to get to finally meet this unique and special lady.  Then we had interviews with Clint Dooley who worked on the college paper at Angelo State with Winston who works with KSAN and KSLT tv in San Angelo.  His reporter was Connie and she did a great interview. And then directly after that we had an interview with Lauren Sarchiapone from FOX 10. I have been communicating  with her back and forth for about a month so she could cover the story.  Our friend Staci from Eola also came by to check on us and see if she knew anyone else along our route that she could call to help house Durango.  So sweet of her to take time out to come do that and we are so grateful!  We had to go wash some blankets at the laundromat so Winston’s sister Emily and her three kids met us there to say bye to us.  We finally got to bed around 10:30pm and decided we would start out a little later since we were being trailered outside of the city limits and we had a place to stay tomorrow evening. 

Day 13 -  Tuesday, March 25, 2014

     We woke up this morning and started packing up to be trailered outside of the city limits to 87 North.  Our new friend Becky Wilson offered her horse trailer and services to take us out to a picnic area just outside the city limits.  She brought us some treats for Durango and Hart and little treats for me and a donation for the journey.  It was so kind of her to come and help us and we greatly appreciated it.  We stopped by a feed store for some hay and met Tyler Brewster.  Tyler had contacted us on the blog and through Mandy and he owns and trains Mustangs for the Mustang Makeovers.  He lost his dad to cancer five years ago and told Winston he loved what he was doing and wished he could ride with him. 

     We made it to the rest area and headed off towards Carlsbad on 87 North.  The only downside of being on the news is that then everyone knows who you are and what you are doing and so they stop on the side of the road and want to shake Winston’s hand, and see the saddle and meet Durango and hear about Jonathan so it slows down the mileage for the day.  But, we love that all of these people who didn’t know Jonathan are getting a glimpse into the type of person he was because we tell them about his talents, his hobbies, his stories and about this journey in his memory.  Winston said yesterday he wouldn’t ride 1000 miles for just anyone, but I know he feels that it almost seems inadequate for the meaning that Jonathan’s friendship was in his life.  I know he misses his talks with Jonathan the most. He had to start letting go of that when Jonathan was going through treatments because it was hard for Jonathan to talk or text too much.  When we saw Jonathan the last time, I told him how much we missed seeing him and how much Winston missed talking to him and he said, “Donna, it’s just different now.  It’s hard to take all of this, it’s just really hard.”  Later that night he told Winston that all that would save him now was a miracle.  I will never forget the ride back to Shreveport, Winston really struggled with Jonathan’s statement. We prayed so hard for his miracle that unfortunately did not come.  I strongly believe that he is no longer in pain and I hope he is up in heaven catching fish with my brother and doing all the things that he loved here on earth.  So many people miss him every day and especially as we approach the one year anniversary of his death on the 27th.  Today as Winston was riding a man pulled up on a cross street and shouted out of his window, “Are you on a journey for Jonathan?!”  Winston told him that he was and the man said he had a place just up the road if he needed it.  I know Jonathan is smiling at all of the kindness that is being shown in his name. 

     So, to our amazement the ranch that we were to be staying in Carlsbad was much closer than we anticipated.  Since we didn’t get a lot of rest yesterday and we are ahead of our weekly goal we decided to go ahead and stop even though it would be a short day for us.  A co-worker of Winston’s sister Emily had offered for us to stay at her horse ranch.  Erin Kelly is her name and when we arrived her grandmother Peggie McMullan met us and showed us where to put Durango and was just so sweet to us!  The Kelly Ranch is an amazing roping facility that they built themselves.  Erin and her brother Jacob both live there and they along with their parents turned this into a first rate operation.  Durango got to roll around in a giant arena and then had a double stall right outside of our RV.  We arrived so early that we got to finish all of our organizing and cleaning and we even took a 30 minute break in the middle of the afternoon!  I even got to brush Durango’s mane and tail and Winston let me put Durango’s halter on him!  It was the first time I ever put a halter on a horse.  Winston told me that because my first horse to halter was a mustang that I had skipped ahead several levels since Durango never stands still!  Winston also made me do an experiment in the big arena.  He wanted to see if Durango would just follow me around with no lead rope.  So, I was doing figure 8s and kept switching directions and he just kept following me like a little puppy!  The Kelly Ranch backs up to the Concho River which unfortunately has no water in it right now.  I can just imagine how beautiful it is though when water is in it and all the trees and grass are green. 

    Erin was kind enough to pick up food for us and bring it back to us.  Delivery service right to our RV!  We enjoyed visiting with her and finding out all about her life.  She had been competing with horses since she was 6 years old! She did barrel racing and team calf roping.  We turned in early and she told us that her Grandma wanted to cook breakfast for us.  No complaints from us!!  I told her that would make Jonathan’s mom so happy because she worried about us not having hot meals. 

Day 14 – Wednesday, March 26, 2014

     This morning we got packed up and then headed over to Peggie’s house next door to Erin’s and she had breakfast all ready for us.  We had such a nice visit and she told us some great stories.  Peggie’s husband Johnnie passed away last year to cancer.  She told us that tomorrow March 27th would have been their 61st wedding anniversary.  She showed us Johnnie’s roping belt buckles and photos of him and his spurs. We were so happy to hear stories about her husband who I know she misses terribly.  She woke up early to cook us breakfast so I promised her I wouldn't put her photo on the blog with no makeup on but we had to take one for our own scrapbook so we could remember her always!

     Yesterday we decided to change our route due to many people telling us that the road we were going to take is full of oil field tankers now and construction and that it would be dangerous for us.  So, we are now going to head west to Sterling City then go North on 163 to Colorado City, TX and then North on 208 to Snyder.  Of course, that will take us many days!! 

     We were supposed to get rain today and this area needs it so badly so Winston said he could take the rain as long as the lightning stayed away. But, we didn’t get the rain.  Now the wind, that was another story.  We had lots of that!  We were making pretty good time but we weren’t sure we would make it to Sterling City.  About 6 miles into today we passed the 200 mile mark!!  Wow!!! 

We knew from Erin’s ranch  into the city was about 28.1 miles.  That would have been a long day for us even without the wind.  When we got to about 20 miles, I was sure we were not going to make it all the way.  Winston’s knees were hurting pretty badly and his face was so wind burned that eight more miles seemed like a full day.  We took a break on the side of the road to give Winston's knees a break.  I held Durango so Winston could have some cuddle time with Hart who does not understand why Winston spends all his time with Durango now.  Erin mentioned to us that her cousin lived about 5 miles before Sterling City and had a horse arena and she was sure we could stay there.  I texted Erin and told her that we weren’t going to make it and if the Foster's would let us we would be so appreciative if we could stay outside of their arena.  Jessica and Will Foster kindly let us stay at their arena and their son Quenton took us down and showed us the arena.  He is 12 years old and is so personable and incredibly polite and we really enjoyed our visit with him. 

Jessica also has two little boys ages 4 and 5 and is 8 months pregnant with a little girl!  She was also babysitting a friend’s baby, she is an accountant and it is tax season, she had people helping her paint the baby’s room, she home schools Quenton and she told Erin she felt bad that she didn’t come down and check on us!!  I told Erin I felt bad when I knocked on her door and saw all that she had going on that I had even made her have to come answer the door.  She was so sweet and said whatever we needed to just let her know.  We were so grateful for a place to let Durango run around.  The wind does not bother him at all!  There must be gusts of 45 mph right now.  It is crazy.  Our total for the day was 24.4 miles and that was the furthest we have gone in a day so far.  Tomorrow is supposed to be bad wind too.  When we got Durango in the pen, we ran into town to get some supplies and to grab some food at Dairy Queen.  A lady came in and asked Winston if he was riding to Colorado.  She had seen us on the road earlier and wanted to offer us a place to stay because she had horses and she was also with the Sterling Courier newspaper and wanted to put some photos in their paper.  She couldn’t figure out where we had disappeared to since she knew we didn’t have a horse trailer.  She had been driving up and down the road looking for us and then saw the RV in Dairy Queen.  Her name was Julie Smith and she was so sweet and offered a place for us to stay and was willing to make calls to some of her friends up the road to see if we could stay on their land tomorrow night.  She is going to meet us in the morning to take a photo with Durango and Winston. 

Day 15 - Thursday, March 27, 2014
Today is the one year anniversary of Jonathan's death and we started out the day at sunrise listening to some Robert Earl Keen and thinking of Jonathan.  We played the song that we had heard on the day of Jonathan's funeral in Gatesville, "Make them Leave My Boots on, on the day they lay me down."  Winston and I both stood there looking out at the sunrise and listening to the song and were both crying.  It doesn't seem like it could already be a year.  I know it will be a hard day for Cointa, Pepe, Ila Mae, Lindsey and all of those that his life touched.  I hope that you will all say an extra prayer for each of them.  We said prayers for everyone as we started our day.  In honor of Jonathan, we put a temporary brand on Durango.  He actually let us do it and stood still.  When he got his real Mustang brand he has what is called a bad brand or a non-brand…. I am sure because he was probably fidgeting too much!!  Winston and Jonathan designed a brand one year in case they ever opened the cattle ranch that they thought they might own one day. It was to be called the Lazy WJ.  Winston said that when they were at Wind River Jonathan actually made an iron brand with the design and they left it in the barn there.  He wondered if it might still be there.  But for today we are putting a JA brand on Durango in Jonathan’s memory.  We will be thinking of Jonathan every step of the way especially today.  And we are sending only positive thoughts, strength and love to Cointa, Pepe, Ila Mae and Lindsey and all of you that are missing him today like we are.  May God give all of us peace today.  As we start out today, Jonathan has already given us a gift.  They were predicting 40 mph winds today but it is sunny, cool and hardly any wind.  Thank you Jonathan.

   There is an old Chinese proverb that says The Journey is the Reward.  I agree wholeheartedly.  Thank you for your love, your prayers and your support.  We are so blessed to have such a large group following us and believing in us!  On to Glory!!

Love, Donna (and Winston, Hart and Durango)


Mandy Bradford said...

Wow. Just wow. I had so many responses to so much in this one post. All of it is so cool. I know the parts in between what you write about are tough and not as glorious. Yet you have had so many amazing things and so much of what you, we predicted has happened! Bob looks great. It is just like him to STILL be fidgeting with his bit! I loved the pictures of Hart with W. He was so happy. I especially liked the photo of all three of you and W's excitement over the 200 mile mark! Thank you for posting. You are obviously reaching so many people and bringing excitement to the small towns that sit and wait for rain. On to glory!!!

Antha Lou said...

So many people are with you, behind you, and praying for you. We love you both so much! Glory!!

Brenda Stone said...

I'm SO glad I got to see y'all while you had your stop over in San Angelo. I think what you're doing is amazing!! Shawn called me earlier today and said he saw you while he was driving to Midland to fly his boss to Austin. Crazy how things work out! Y'all will continue to be in my prayers as you journey! What a ride!!! Love y'all. Brenda

Shirley said...

I look forward to your blog. What an amazing journey. It is so wonderful to see that God is putting the right people in your path. May God be with you and Winston. You will both be in my prayers. Shirley Channell

Ann Chance said...

Thought about all of you today and Jonathan. My prayers have been with you every single day and especially today. I couldn't help remembering all of Jonathan's wonderful family that we met last year at his Memorial Service. My heart breaks for all of you. Donna, I think I mentioned on the phone that this journey reminds me a scene from the movie Forrest Gump. Just like the hundreds of people jumped onboard and joined Forrest as he ran across the country, hundreds are joining Winston in a way too on your Journey for Jonathan. What an amazing undertaking ! I am so happy and so proud of all of you. I wish I could you too. My love to all of you and my constant prayers for a safe journey. I have been sharing this journey and they love it. All of the boys wish they were with you too.