Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Update from Day 4 and 5!!

Day 4 – Sunday, March 16, 2014

   In the olden days, pioneers set out across miles of land and usually they were in search of water.... on our journey so far we are constantly in search of an internet signal!  Luckily, unlike water, our lives do not depend on internet service!  So, I drove to the nearest town to day to send this update out so that everyone would know what has been going on the last few days. (As luck would have it, the internet service at McDonald's disconnected after I had entered all of this and so this is round 2!  I almost started crying because I realized I had to head back because they were going to be running out of water soon and there was no way I could enter all the photos again! So I got smart and called AT&T to see if they could get me a wifi mobile hotspot hooked through my phone and believe it or not they did! I wish you could see the blackness that I am looking out into outside the RV but here I am making an entry!)   
  The day after I sent my last post I found some notes that I had written down but did not put in the original update so I am going to add them in here.  The day that we left on Thursday I had driven down about a mile or so from the Avitia’s land to wait for Winston and pulled over into a gravel lot.  I passed him on the road so I knew I was a good ways from him.  I got out of the RV with Hart and was leaning on the front hood trying to see my phone to send out a text message.  From a distance I heard what sounded like galloping.  I knew it couldn’t be Winston because he was too far away still.  I thought maybe a horse was coming down the side street behind me.  As I looked over my shoulder to see what it was I realized that it was the sound of wings flapping.  It was so quiet out there that I could hear every whoosh of the wings and when he flew right past my head I saw that it was the most beautiful redbird and it was so stark in contrast to all the brown trees, dirt and gravel around me.  I started sobbing.  For those of you who don’t know me, I lost my little brother when he was 24 and a few months after he died I asked him to send me a sign of a redbird so that I would know he was okay.  A few months after that I did receive the sign.  Since that day, redbirds appear to me often at the most challenging or rewarding times in my life. Winston wrote a song for me entitled “Redbird” about my brother that I cherish.  So, the redbird appearing to me at the very start of our journey let me know that not only will Jonathan be with us every step of the way, I think my brother wanted me to know that he would be with us also.  Winston told me later that night that he saw a redbird twice during his ride that day. In my heart I believe that K.C. sent us those signs and it made me smile.

     I also had a note about Winston’s preparations for this journey.  He did tons of research and obviously we did horrendous hours of planning but one of the things he had to do also was a physically demanding one.  Durango weighed less than most of the horses we were originally looking at so Winston realized that he was going to have to drop some weight while Mandy was trying to help Durango gain weight.  So, starting Jan. 4 until March 9 when we left Shreveport he lost 27 pounds in order to be lighter for Durango.  We eliminated sugar from our diets and lowered carb intake.  I would prepare meals for him and basically put in front of him what he was allowed to eat.  He was very committed to it and he did a great job of sticking to the diet.  I did tell him that anything is easier if you have someone else shopping for it and preparing it all for you and all you have to do is eat it and nothing else!! J  But he could have cheated when I wasn’t around and he didn’t! It was amazing the transformation he made in such a short time. 

     The night we were at the Wagon Wheel Ranch, Winston’s mom came and delivered supper to us again!  It was so nice to have a hot meal!  We were also visited by Elaina and Debbie Benson.  Elaina brought me a little ladybug for my dashboard that was special to her dad, Eddie, who passed away about 6 months after Jonathan.  He would always put it up before they left in the RV for good luck and named her Margie.  So, the next morning when I left I said out loud… “Ok Eddie, Margie is up….Let’s roll!!”  She also brought me a photo of my brother and I in a frame for my dashboard to bring me smiles when I was waiting on the road for Winston.  She had gifts for Winston too.  Jonathan and Winston used to always give each other a bottle of Maker’s Mark for their birthdays or at least have a shot of it to celebrate another year. So she brought him a bottle of that in honor of Jonathan's birthday and she also had a leather diary made for him in Spain with his initials and various personalized quotes that he and Jonathan shared on the diary for him to chronicle his journey. It is beautiful and he is already filling it.  Before we left Gatesville he had also received a box from Nick Herold and Don McIntyre from Wind River with some books for the journey, two wild rags which are cowboy scarves and another beautiful journal from Don.  I know Winston will fill all of these journals because every day is amazing and filled with blessings.  Ben Wilson also brought him some homemade deer jerky which is a favorite of his on the trail and he eats some every day!  Lee and Lynn Kaminski also sent him special saddle coins that are riding in the saddle bag with him that say different sayings about hope, loyalty, friendship, and guardian angels.

     So, back to Day 4, March 17th.  We started out at Lometa Regional Park and headed out on FM 190.  The forecast was predicting strong winds of 25-35 mph with gusts of 45.  It was supposed to die down midday.  But, those winds blew that strong the entire day.  It wasn’t as bad for Winston when the sun was out but when it went behind the clouds it was brutal.  As we were traveling along the road, Cointa and Pepe showed up and brought us goodies!  They brought us homemade lunch, muffins, brownies, coffee and the paper from Gatesville! They also bought a present from Lindsey, Jonathan’s wife that arrived after we left.  It was so nice to see them!  Food seems to follow us wherever we go! It was funny too that what was about a 30 minute ride for them took us 3 days!! 

     If you have ever traveled this road you have probably never noticed the little bridges that are every few miles or so.  But, let me tell you on a horse you have to be careful on every single one!  This stretch of highway is probably the last time we will encounter those type of bridges thankfully. They were stressing me out.  I stopped counting after the 8th one.  The one bridge that we could not cross safely was the bridge over the Colorado River.  It is about 100 feet above the water, narrow and no shoulder.  We always knew we were going to have to get help to cross this one.  So, our friend Rusty from the Wagon Wheel Ranch came with his horse trailer and loaded Winston and Durango up and hauled them across the bridge.  We were so appreciative that our new friend was willing to come out on his Sunday and do this for us. 

Winston was battling the wind all day.  It made the travel even slower.  We had originally thought that I would go ahead the 20 miles we could travel in a day and find a spot to camp but that hasn’t worked out that way.  I usually don’t get too far ahead of him now so that we are in walkie talkie range.  One of Winston’s friends, Austin Tonroy, from near Waring, TX texted me that morning to see what road we would be on so he could surprise Winston.  Winston used to work for him at ServPro of the Hill Country.  They had a running joke when Winston lived down there and he would be on a long walk with his dogs and out of the blue Austin would ride up next to him with a cold beer, hand it out the window and then just drive on.  So, he thought it would be funny and fitting to surprise him on the road with a cold beer.  They shared a quick beer at a rest stop and then Winston headed on. 


About the time that Austin had stopped a stranger in a car pulled over to talk to Winston.  He said that he saw the story on the news and he had just lost his mom to cancer and thought it was a wonderful thing Winston was doing to honor his best friend.  He could barely get the words out because he was trying to hold back his tears.  Then he wished Winston good luck and safe journey. 


     We had a destination in mind this day.  We were trying to get to the Jordan Cattle Barn outside of San Saba because we knew they had secure pens.  We were unable to get in touch with anyone since it was Sunday so I left messages and slid a brochure and a note under their door to let them know we had Durango in a pen and were parked beside him.  Rusty had assured us that he thought they wouldn’t mind at all.  We went through the town of San Saba and DB did great!  It wasn’t so busy since it was a Sunday. 

And at the end of a hard day, there is always "hope"!

We kept heading towards the barn and the wind kept whipping steadily at about 25-35mph.  It was hard for me to watch Winston out in the wind fighting for every mile.  We knew the barn was outside of the city limits but we did not realize just how far it was. In a car it seems really close but on a horse in the wind it was not close at all. The last two miles Winston looked so beaten down by the wind.  He walked for the last few miles to give DB a break and to stretch out his legs.  For all of you that have been so concerned about his derrierre, rest assured that you should be praying for his legs and knees instead and no wind.  He hasn’t had saddle soreness but his knees do lock up from time to time.  He kept his head down while he was walking to keep the wind out of his face and he looked like a kid who lost their puppy or he looked like as his 4 year old nephew Witten would say, “My batteries died” while hanging his head down and saying it sadly.  When I would ask Winston if he was cold or tired, he would just give me a thumbs up and say that he was just getting his second wind!  I knew it wasn’t true but I loved his optimism! 

We finally did make it to the barn and had a safe place for DB.  We covered a total of 25.8 miles but he was trailered for 3 of those.  Winston had been out in 25-35mph winds for 10 ½ straight hours.  But, I can tell you with the wind it seemed like 100 miles and 30 hours.  Winston was physically and mentally spent and I felt really bad for him.  Durango on the other hand was running around the pen not tired at all because he could hear cows in the back of the barn area! 

There is always a reason for everything and for some reason Lindsey’s gift didn’t arrive until after we left.  Cointa kindly brought it out to us and Winston never really stopped the whole day other than for a few breaks so he didn’t get to open it until we got to the barn.  When he opened the gift it was a leather bracelet that had imprinted “Be Strong and Show Yourself a Man.”  This was a verse that John York from Wind River used to say to the boys and men at Wind River.  It is 1 Kings 2:2.  Winston and Jonathan had written this into a tool box of Jonathan’s that Lindsey still has and she said when she opened it the other day she saw the quote and the bible verse with both of their signatures and the date that they signed it….March 28, 2005.  Lindsey said she couldn’t believe it because eight years later on that exact date was the 1st day Winston would have to start his life without his best friend since Jonathan died on March 27, 2013.  The bracelet was so special to Winston and he said that it came on the perfect day because he felt like he had to really dig deep that day and he felt he had earned it.  Lindsey said she felt like the gift was really for Jonathan and that she was just happy to deliver it to Winston.  He will wear it from this day forward right next to his Jonathan’s Army bracelet that he still wears.  We settled in for the night there and got some good sleep.  In the morning we were heading towards Richland Springs on 190.
Day 5 - Monday, March 17, 2014

  We were on the road at sunup and headed towards Richland Springs.  Thankfully not much wind and beautiful weather! 



     We weren’t sure how far we would make it but we were hoping to make it through Richland Springs and then camp somewhere.  We didn’t think there would be pens that far out.  I drove ahead to check out food in the town and came across the Cen-Tex Feed and Fertilizer Feed Lot.  It sold feed, fertilizer, beer, pizza, grocery items and trailers and had a drive up service if you wanted. I was so intrigued by the combination! I went in to ask if they had alfalfa hay and whether they knew of anywhere that had pens further out on FM 45.  There was a customer there waiting on his pizza standing next to the worker I was talking to and he said “I have horses and there really isn’t a whole lot out there unless you want to stay at my house?”  I said, “Could we stay at your house??”  He was about three miles before what our final destination would have been for the day but if we could get a pen I knew Winston would be all for it!  His name is Weldon Faught and he is a pancreatic cancer survivor.  As we were talking I was telling him about Jonathan and he told me about his cancer and we were both teary eyed and I learned that he had been diagnosed 5 days after Jonathan a few years ago.  I told him we were self sufficient and could just pull our RV up next to the pen and wouldn’t need anything.  He said he would be honored to have us stay on his property.  He said about his cancer, “the Good Lord wasn’t ready for me to go yet and I try every day to do the best I can for Him and maybe he kept me around just to help you folks out today.”  Well, what do you say to that.? The kindness of strangers continues to amaze me. 
     The owner of the Feed Lot, Reagan Maxcey, was also so helpful to us and if you are ever passing through on 190 please stop in and say hi and have a pizza or a beer.  He would love to meet you and tell him we sent you!  I found out later from Weldon that Reagan lost his dad to cancer and I was so sorry to hear that.  We had an amazing pizza that Reagan cooked for us and Winston and DB even tried out the drive through beer barn.

We crossed through the little downtown of Richland Springs and a lady and her little girl were standing in the street to wave to Winston and wish him good luck on his journey. 

So, the story continues that Weldon has been a horse trainer and ferrier for over 50 years.  He has only missed two years of the San Angelo Roping Fiesta for 40 years.  He drives the horse sled for injured calves. He also drives a covered wagon with two white horses that he takes on trail rides and the side of the wagon has a sign that says Thank God and two bible verses.  And we did give thanks to God for Weldon and his wife Pat that night.  He and Pat treated us to such an enjoyable evening and their hospitality was so appreciated.  I got to hold a chicken when he went to feed the little chickens and we went and fed deer on his land AND he let us wash clothes!!!!  Yaaaayyyy!!!!!  And take a shower in a real shower, not a shower/toilet combo like in the RV! By the way, I will never take a bathtub for granted again!  They showed us their lovely home and Winston treated them to a few hymns on their piano. We fell in love with the two of them. I wish I could tell you all of the hysterical things that Weldon told us, he has a million one liners that are priceless.  One quote that will always stick with me when I asked him if he liked to travel to the mountains or the beach and he said, “I like to go where I am not higher than the corn grows and not lower than a potato in the ground!”  Love it!! 


   We got some good sleep and then were up this morning to head out towards FM 765.  We know pens will be hard to come by on this desolate stretch of road but we have been lucky so far!  I now have a new fangled wifi hotspot on my phone that goes to my computer so maybe I will be able to report more easily.  Today was stressful when I drove into town for alfalfa hay and internet but knew that Winston and Durango were still out on the road with only the water and food that I left them with. I will try and do another update in the morning about today which was Day 6. 

We are headed towards San Angelo on FM 765 and are aiming to reach there by Sunday or Monday.  We are being hosted at the Historic Fort Concho there which Winston’s dad arranged for us! 
If this mobile hotspot continues to work, I will feel like I have struck gold!!

We are all safe and moving forward!  Love to everyone and keep praying for us!

Love, Donna (Winston , Hart and Durango Bobwire)



Richard Adams said...

Hey Winston and Donna,I believe I saw your R.V. a day or two before Winston left. All of your friends from Pearl Bluegrass are pulling for you! Be safe on your journey.Ican see you have found out there are still good people out there on the road.God bless, Richard Adams

Donna said...

Thank you Richard! We learned about good people at Pearl first! ! Love to all our friends there!

Cointa Avitia said...

capraying for.Winston,Donna,Hart,Durango Thank you so much,for this . Journey. The good .Lord has put good people in your path and he will continue doing that.. i know our Angels in heaven they are watching you every step of the way .Be Safe I Love you very much Cointa

Lynn Kaminski said...

DAY 10: "It is good to work; it is better still that our work should lead us to...LET GOD WORK"

This is so clearly seen in your journey...as you ride in obedience to the Lord's will...and just let God work out the details. xxoo