Day 6 – Tuesday, March 18, 2014
As we were preparing to leave from Weldon’s today, I had work gloves on and was pouring horse feed into the feed bucket and I thought of my Grandpa Chance who was raised on a farm and my Grandpa Pete who was a farmer early in his life and I thought how proud they would be of me if they could see me doing farm type chores. Weldon came out to see us off and it is hard to believe how attached we got to him and how close he got to us in less than 24 hours. We won’t forget him and his wife and the kindness shown to us. Weldon has another scan for his cancer on March 28th, please keep this special man in your prayers that he will be cancer free soon. When I hugged him goodbye, I had tears in my eyes and I sincerely hope our paths will cross again one day.
We headed out on 45 north towards 765 and then headed west on 765. The wind wasn’t that strong this morning so we hope that holds up. Today I need to leave Winston and Durango on the road and go into Brady to get more hay. We watered Durango and I left Winston with a lot of water and food and headed to Brady. I was stressed out worrying about them the whole time I was gone.
When I drove the rest of the way on 765 to get to the road to go to Brady I saw a farm that was called the Norris Ranch. My Grandpa Chance’s first name was Norris and he had family in Arkansas with the last name of Norris. It made me smile to see this little sign from him since I had been thinking of him that morning. When I finally caught back up to Winston the wind had picked up and was beating him to a pulp again. While Winston had been walking, he was keeping his head down to keep the wind off of him and in that vast expanse of land, right between his legs and in his eyeshot was a busted up CD. He picked it up and could not believe it was a Chris LeDoux CD. Before we left on this journey I made him listen to The Ride by Chris LeDoux. This was another CD but included songs like Take Me To the Rodeo and other cowboy songs. Pretty strange coincidence out on the side of the road. When I caught back up to them, we were parked on the side of the road trying to decide what our options were and how far we thought we could make it that night and a truck pulled up behind us and it was our friend Weldon and his friend Charlie! Weldon told Charlie about our journey and he wanted to come meet us so they drove out to find us! We were so glad to see our friend and to meet Charlie. After a quick visit we told them we needed to get moving because we were trying to make our 20 mile goal.
It was getting close to sunset and we weren’t sure we would make it to our spot that we thought we would camp. I thought back to the Norris Ranch and figured maybe my Grandpa had sent me that little gift from heaven so that I would remember that the ranch was there because it shared his name. I called the number and left a message and said that we were looking for a stall to rent for the night for our horse if he would be kind enough to let us stay next to the pen with our RV that we would be happy to pay him. Dwayne Norris who is the owner of the ranch called me right back and said “just come on in the gate, I have a barn and a pen and a pasture you are welcome to use for your horse. You can plug in your RV and just make yourself at home. At this time, we had been almost 20 miles and we thought Durango was finally tired. He was walking slowly along and then he caught sight of Dwayne’s horses by the fence and he took off in a full gallop the rest of the way almost a mile to the barn. Guess he wasn’t tired after all!! Dwayne had a great setup for us to rest the horse and we asked if we could possibly stay the next day and let Durango rest and us too. We have been riding for 6 days straight even though one day was a half day for weather. He said stay as long as you want.
Today we passed over 100 miles!! 101.8 miles down…..898.1 to go!! More or less! Since we only had google maps to go by we aren’t sure if it will be a little more or less than 1000 miles but it will be close!
Day 7 – Wednesday, March 19, 2014
And on the 7th day they rested! And we needed it! Well maybe not Durango, but for sure us!
It was a perfect place for a rest day because Durango was safe in a large fenced pasture and had room to run and eat and play. We got to watch Dwayne’s son, Daniel load up a bull into a trailer and that was quite a sight!
It was clean the RV day also so we got busy on that. Winston, Hart and I even got to go to town together to pick up some supplies and have some BBQ! We visited with Dwayne when we returned and he gave us money and his card and said, “If you get into any trouble with weather or the horse or anything at all, just give me a call and I will come right out with my horse trailer and get y’all.” Just the type of man my Grandpa Chance was, always willing to help out anyone in need. I know my Grandpa is smiling at how Dwayne Norris treated us! His kindness will not be forgotten. He is having shoulder surgery on April 1st so please keep him in your prayers. To run this ranching operation here he needs both shoulders for sure!
Day 8 – Thursday, March 20, 2014
Today we decided to get going earlier so Winston got up and got ready before sunup so he could start getting Durango saddled up and fed as I was getting the trailer locked down. We were ready to leave just as the sun was cresting the horizon.
Winston has been having some “Come to Jesus” talks with DB about the speed he walks which is SLOW. But, we think it is truly the mustang in him that he is always sniffing and always trying to find the herd. He is still trying to get used to having a new leader too. But, after his performance yesterday when we thought he was so tired, Winston decided to see what he could do today. Winston examines him every morning and evening and he has not seen one indication of saddle soreness and no soreness or swelling in his legs either. However, Winston has soreness in his knees and leg joints mostly. Anyone who thinks that horseback riding isn’t a physical activity has never ridden a horse for any length of time. He uses almost every muscle in his body while riding. Contrary to popular belief, the horse does not do all the work! J When DB is walking he had been doing about 2.8 mph at his fastest, today Winston alternated loping and walking and he has done 7.2 miles in the first two hours. Today is a “good day to ride”!! It is a beautiful sunny day, cool but little wind.
We are pretty sure we won’t find a pen tonight along this long stretch of 765. But, we will try to find a flat spot off the road where we can tie DB up safely. Dwayne just drove up and brought our doormat which we forgot at his land! It was so nice of him to come bring it to us and it was good to see him again!
Jonathan and Winston used to say, “Glory” as an expression or “On to Glory” when they were traveling so all day today when he catches up to me and we head out again he says, “On to Glory!” Jonathan’s mom said that it broke her heart to see the photos of Winston out in the elements and so cold and tired but I will tell you that he tilts his head down usually to break some of the wind off of his face so even though he looks sad or tired, it is more of a survival technique to keep the wind at bay. He said anytime he feels tired or sore, he just thinks of every treatment Jonathan endured in that last 17 months and he said this journey is nothing compared to that. He knows Jonathan would have much preferred this kind of minimal pain or discomfort any day over cancer. I had a pocket watch engraved for Winston for the journey that says Journey for Jonathan March 13, 2014 and on the back it says The journey is the destination. Inside of the watch when he pops it open to see the time, I have a photo of Jonathan scuba diving and giving the OK symbol with his fingers. Winston said if he ever feels like they are moving slow or his knees or his feet hurt, he likes to pop it open and see Jonathan giving him the OK sign. And he also looks at his bracelet that says Be Strong and Show Yourself a Man from Lindsey. He says they both encourage him to keep moving.
We made 13.2 miles by noon today and stopped for lunch. Most quarter horses or trail horses after doing 13.3 miles in a few hours would stand stock still during their break and maybe even sleep. Not Durango, he did not stop moving the entire time of our break. I had to hold DB by the lead rope and let him graze just so Winston could eat. Then we moved on. It is interesting to see the road from this slow pace. There are so many things you never see when you are going by at 70 mph. I did tell him yesterday that I have come a long way because normally on highways I look for flowers, or horses, or pretty houses and now I just look for flat spots to pull the RV over and wait for him and I look for pens or stalls for Durango! I got some treats for DB when he does well and he loves them and I always talk sweet to him so now he follows me. I never have to fuss at him since I am never riding him. Today I walked up to meet Winston and DB on the road to take photos and he perked up and started following me at a fast pace. Winston asked me if I could just walk in front of him the whole way to Colorado and we would get there in no time! Uhhhhh, no thank you. But, he is such a sweet horse and definitely knows us now. Even Hart has accepted Durango as his little brother and as part of our herd. But, as sweet as he is, he has a stubborn streak a mile wide and reminds us so much of a little kid which of course he really is in the life of a horse since he is only 4 years old. I get to babysit him on the road if Winston needs a break, I just hold his lead rope. I told Winston that I have babysat for a lot of 4 year olds in my life but never one this big! He does have a hard head but so do I! Today he and Winston did really well together and for that we are so excited!
I cannot say it enough how thankful and blessed we have been by the kindness of strangers. People pull over often and ask us about Jonathan and about the journey. We had brochures printed up to pass along to people and we share them with anyone who wants them. Most people have been inspired by the journey and by the friendship of Jonathan and Winston and WE have been inspired by the kindness we have been shown every step of the way not only by our friends and family following along with us but with the strangers we have met along the way who are now our friends. There are so many people who will share in the success of this journey with us. Just yesterday when Winston and I talked about making it all the way to Wind River and crossing through those gates we both started crying we were so overcome with the possibility of achieving that goal. It seems like a long time away right now but with every mile we take we are one mile closer.
A little while ago we passed the marker that says San Angelo 68 miles!! In car time that is about an hour but it will take us about 3 ½ days! But, Winston’s Dad says that we have a first class stall waiting for Durango at Fort Concho. We are so grateful to the Director of Fort Concho, Bob Bluthardt, for inviting us to stay at this historic living museum.
So, we did 23 miles today and at the end of that we can say that Winston and Durango were both at their limit for the day. However we didn’t have a place to camp at that point that was safe. I called some ranches nearby and a realtor who was selling some land to see if we could pull onto their land so DB would at least be behind a fence. I had bad luck finding any numbers or anyone to answer. About that time I had gone ahead to try and find somewhere and Winston and DB were walking to meet up with me. A man named Michael Looney pulled over and asked him if he was in the Lampasas paper today and Winston said well, I don’t know about that. I have been riding all day. We figured it was in the paper though since the reporter had come out last week. Turns out Michael and his wife Karen live in Lampasas and have a place in Millersview where we are headed on 765. So, as he planned with Winston for us to stay with them for the next night we were still trying to figure out tonight. Meanwhile I was up the road making calls and a man pulled over named Victor Gutierrez and he and I were talking about our options for the night. He told me he was the ranch manager for the Double C ranch and their headquarters were 3 miles down the road. I told him that three more miles for Winston and Durango was just not a possibility for the long day they had put in. This man had just finished a whole day of work on a ranch and offered to go back and get a horse trailer and haul them up to the land where we could spend the night. They didn’t have a corral but DB would be safe behind a fence at least on a high line. He told us that he was originally from Saragosa, Mexico and had been here 18 years. I offered him money and a thank you note that I wrote to him since he had made a special trip back to get the trailer but he was taken back by my offer and said he was honored to help us. He took the note but said to save our money for other emergencies. Amazing kindness once again.
We have settled in for the night and Michael has texted me and said that not only does he have a place for us to stay tomorrow night at their house he also has a place for us 20 miles past that in Eola.
I am sorry that the blog has not been allowing people to comment. I think I had something set as embedded that was preventing it. I am pretty sure you can do it now since I got a comment today. I typed a comment back and I had to enter my name and a URL. I tried my email but that didn’t work so I entered the blogspot address and that worked so if you want to use that you can. Or if you have trouble and are not on facebook, you can just email me a comment at chanceDLC@aol.com. Thank you all for your love, support, prayers and comments!! We feel the love and it is so encouraging!
Love, Donna (And Winston, Hart and Durango Bobwire)