Day 15 - Thursday, March 27, 2014
So, we made our way from Will and Jessica Foster’s ranch outside of Sterling City on 87 headed north towards 163 North which was to be our alternate route instead of 158. Just across 87 from the ranch there were about 11 horses in a pasture along the road and Durango was so excited to see them and Winston rode up to them and let him investigate. They checked each other out and then Winston started loping with Durango to see if they would follow and they all started galloping with him along the fence. It was something to see. The photo does not do it justice. We made great time the first few miles and then stopped to take a photo at the entrance to Sterling City. Julie Smith who we met yesterday and is with the Sterling Courier newspaper asked if she could meet up with us just inside the city limits to take a photo for the paper. We met her at a Methodist Church just inside town and took photos and then she gave us the name of a lady with a ranch on 163 that had horses and said she would be happy if we spent the night with her. Winston continued on and I went to Dairy Queen to get him lunch and get wifi to send out the last update. I also filled the RV up with gas and water and while I was at the pump a trucker stopped and asked what the journey was about. He had seen us on the road the last two days. I told him about Jonathan and the promise and he put his hand on my shoulder and said that it is a really good thing we are doing and he handed me some money and said I hope this will help you out some. I told him that he just bought us lunch and it was greatly appreciated. His name was Clay Urshaw and he said for us to have safe travels.
I caught up with Winston on the turnoff to 163 north and he was standing on the side of the road with a rancher named Colby Frizzell who was offering help with anything we needed. He said he had friends all the way into New Mexico and Colorado so to just call him if we were ever in a bind finding a place. He said wait until you get into New Mexico, it is really spread out up there. He told us that ranches were few and far between. More spread out than this?!? Yikes!! We were headed to Ruth Foster’s ranch and we knew it would be about a 17 mile ride. Julie told us to just keep looking on the left for a big Texas flag in front of a ranch. As calm as the wind was this morning when we changed directions from west to north on 163 it really kicked up and presented more of a challenge. We traveled 17.4 miles today and arrived at Ruthe Foster’s beautiful ranch. I looked down the long driveway and saw this petite lady maybe 5’tall and I bet only 100 pounds zooming up on a 4-wheeler!! She came out to open the horse gate for Winston and to welcome us. Her neighbors Susan and Troy Millican stopped to meet us and Susan told us that she had lost a sister to breast cancer and thought this was such a special journey. We learned that Ruth used to be a barrel racer and her husband Melvin had been a champion steer roper. Ruthe lost Melvin several years ago and now runs this ranch. She could not have been any sweeter to us and said she was cooking supper for us and that to feel free to come in and relax and watch tv if we wanted to. It was the first time since before we started the journey we had seen a tv on. And big bonus….she had internet!! Her neighbors Troy and Susan joined us for supper and we had an amazing meal of goulash, asparagus , biscuits and jello salad. Winston said it was her world famous goulash and she said she didn’t know about all that but I told her that she had saved Winston from my world famous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that evening! We enjoyed swapping stories with all of them and then we fed Durango and Hart and turned in. Ruthe had called friends of hers up the road and they agreed to let us stay there the next night. Kregg and Diana McKinney lived about 16 miles up the road from Ruth. We decided we would start a little later in the morning due to oil field and gas plant traffic on the road.
Day 16 - Friday, March 28, 2014
We woke up and got everything ready to go and then Ruthe cooked us breakfast and gave us some muffins to take with us for breakfast tomorrow. Kregg called to say that he was going to take us into Colorado City tonight to eat at their favorite Mexican restaurant there. The kindness that surrounds us on this journey overwhelms us on a daily basis. I had left a message for Jessica Foster who we stayed with the night before since we didn’t get to see her when we left. I told her how much we appreciated her letting us stay on their land and what a fine young man she was raising in her son Quenton. She sent me a text this morning to thank me for my message and said that Quenton had loved meeting us too! She sent me this bible verse, John 1:16 From the fullness of His Grace we have all received one blessing after another. That has certainly been true on this journey so far. As we left Ruth’s ranch we were sad to say goodbye to our new friend. I promised her I wouldn't put the photo we took with her on the blog since it was first thing in the morning but I told her we had to have it for our own memories. We promised to return one day to visit!
Today was a beautiful day and as we look around us it is amazing how much the landscape has changed. There are wide open vistas with mesas and arroyos and there are wind turbines as far as you can see. There is also a lot of oil well activity in these areas. For some reason today seems to have moved so slowly. Winston said he feels like he has gone 40 miles today. I went up ahead around 1pm to make lunch for Winston and out the back window I saw a truck pull up and Ruthe got out and my first thought was, “oh no, what did we forget??” But, God bless her she was carrying baggies full of ice and 2 jars of tea!! I ran out of the RV and hugged her! It came at the perfect time! She stayed and visited with me and checked out our limited space in the RV. Then our friend Arnetta from San Angelo stopped by to say hi on her way to Snyder. When Winston arrived our friend Troy stopped by and we had a regular roadside party going on! Then we packed up and moved on. Our instructions from Ruthe on this stretch from her house to Kregg’s were to look for the next house on the left! 16 miles later we saw the next house! Kregg had given us the combination to the gate since they wouldn’t be home yet. We do not take for granted the trust that these people instill in us on a daily basis. It is absolutely amazing. We met their dog Doc who was almost as big as me! He was so sweet and wanted to play with Hart but Hart wasn’t sure about this big dog being around us. We walked around and checked out their place and Hart chased rabbits. We saw a hawk and an owl doing circles by this tree in the field. Kregg came home and we found out this land had been in his family for generations. There was an old barn that was from the blacksmith days and their house was built in 1935 but there were other older structures on the property too. There was a chimney still standing that had been part of a house where one of their sharecroppers lived. Diana got home and told us that she had already called ahead and found someplace for us to stay the next night! We visited with them and then Ruth came over and since Durango was safely in his pen, we all went in to Colorado City to eat at a family owned Mexican restaurant called Mi Ranchita. It was so charming and the food was delicious! Brenda Wilson who we would be staying with the next night joined us so that we could meet her. She has offered her round pen for Durango in Colorado City. We learned that Brenda had lost her husband Roy to lung cancer a little over three years ago and she said she is trying her best to make it without him. He was a cowboy for 41 years at the Slade Ranch that we passed on 163. We had such a great evening visiting with these lovely, sincere, genuine people. With every person that we meet on this journey, our lives are a little better and a little richer and our hearts a little more full of love. I sincerely hope that one day we will see these people again and I hope that they know how grateful we will always be for their help and kindness as we make our way to Colorado in our Journey for Jonathan. We will never forget them.
Day 17 – Saturday, March 29, 2014
We wanted to get an early start today because we knew we had over 20 miles to cover to get to Brenda’s place. Diana cooked us breakfast burritos and coffee and we watched the sunrise over their land. It was so beautiful and peaceful. Kregg came out and walked Durango while Winston ate and then we headed off towards Colorado City. We are so thankful for these kind people who took us in and treated us to an amazing meal last night and this morning.
We did 3.5 miles in the first 45 minutes today so Durango must be anxious to get to our new place too. We know today will be a long day but we are hoping to get a rest day tomorrow. Durango showed his first sign of a little saddle soreness last night so Winston eliminated the saddlebags today to make it as light as possible for Durango and he will walk him quite a bit today to give his back a rest. I am always just a few miles ahead of him if he needs anything so he felt okay getting rid of the saddlebags for a while. I was on the side of the road waiting for him and a man who owned the land I was parked in front of came to see if I needed help. His name was Don Redwine and when I told him the story of why I was there and what we were doing he said if we needed anything at all to just holler. While he was there Winston’s dad and his sister Emily and her three kids came by to visit! Don came back later and said that he and his wife Liz wanted to help us out with anything they could and so he brought us some horse feed and then asked if he could go to town and get us some alfalfa hay. We were just about to need more so I accepted his offer and he came back about a half hour later with some hay, lunch for Winston and I and M&M’s for the kids. He would not accept any money and said that it was he and his wife’s contribution to our journey. I knew this man for literally fifteen minutes and he was already trying to help us and take care of us. It is my sincere hope that in the future anyone who is reading this blog will offer help to strangers in need as a way of repaying some of the kindness we have been shown. I know I certainly will. Shortly after, Diana drove by to see if we needed anything.
While Emily, Witten, Arri, Josie and I were waiting for Winston to catch up, I taught Witten how to call Uncle Dub on the walkie talkie. Tim, Winston’s dad, walked along with Winston for a little while. Witten and Arri were amazed by the cows on the side of the road that were fixated on the RV. We think the cows thought I had food for them in the RV. They just kept staring at us and mooing! A few more cars stopped to ask about the journey and then we had to move on since we still had a good ways to go.
Kregg and Diana had told us a good way to go through Colorado City to avoid the bridge over the Colorado River. We had run out of water in the RV so when we were close to town I ran into town to get some water so the bathroom would work again. While I was gone, Winston said that a man pulled over and said that God wanted him to bless Winston and his horse. He said, do you mind if I bless you? Winston told him that he could. He raised his hands and said The Lord Bless you and Keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you, The Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace. And then he blessed Durango too. He then asked where Winston was going and what he was doing and when Winston told him he said then that is why God told me to bless you. His name was Keith Hart. Winston couldn't believe that his last name was Hart. What a random coincidence that he shared the name of our dog. He then got in his car and drove away. I met up with Winston shortly after that. We crossed back around by the prison on the side of town and you could tell Durango Bobwire was fascinated by all the barbwire around the prison! J He must have known if was his original namesake from Mandy! He crossed over railroad tracks like a champ and we also crossed under Interstate 20. Winston said to me this is your last chance if you want to leave me and go back to Shreveport! Nope, I am in this for the long haul!
We did 21.9 miles today and got to Brenda’s and put Durango in her round pen. She had so many beautiful horses and she had a little 7 month old foal named Bay Bee! She was so cute!! She also told me that the house on the property was one that she was renovating so no one was living there but there was electricity, a working bathtub and a washer and dryer!! It was perfect because we didn’t feel as though we were imposing on anyone and because we had a rest day tomorrow I felt the energy to gather my stuff and go in to the house. I told her that I might never leave here! We asked her if we could rest here tomorrow and she said she would love for us to and to just make ourselves at home. Winston was really tired and sore and so we decided to not go to dinner and go to bed early. I washed some clothes and took my first real bath since before we left Shreveport March 9th!! I am not normally a shower person and showering in a shower/tub combo where my elbows hit on both sides when I try to wash my hair is no fun at all so having the luxury of a real bath was so exciting! I have learned to appreciate so many little things on this journey. We went to bed and slept for over 9 hours!!
Day 18 – Sunday, March 30, 2014
We woke up well rested and I finished the laundry and even took a shower and washed my hair! In the RV when I wash my hair it is always a project because my hair is so long and it takes forever to dry. Unless we are plugged in somewhere I cannot use my blowdryer. Today, I was able to go into the house and wash my hair and blow it dry and it was AWESOME! Little things are big things on this journey! Winston and I started cleaning out the RV and then Brenda came to take us to lunch with her daughter-in-law Hannah to a place called Hidalgo’s. We had such a great time meeting Hannah and visiting with both of them. We also got to meet Kail, who is Hannah and Brenda’s son Matthew’s daughter. She is adorable and she is 4 years old but talks and asks questions like an adult! She wanted to know why we lived in this really small house?! Why, indeed!
Yesterday Brenda showed me where her husband was buried and his tombstone was absolutely amazing. I told her that it was such a fitting tombstone for her cowboy. She will also be buried there one day. So today when Winston and I went to dump the RV and run some errands I took him by the tomb so he could see it. When we got back to the house, Brenda had asked Winston if he would do an interview with the radio station there. He did an interview with Jim Baum who has owned the radio station here since 1950 and is the voice of Mitchell County. His station is KAUM 107.1. He came by to meet Durango and Hart and me and said that I was a special lady if I could last in that small RV with a man and a dog for longer than a few days!
When Winston got back I told him that Jonathan’s mom Cointa had texted and said they were trying to find us on the road to Snyder because they didn’t know we had taken a rest day. I felt so bad because I didn’t even know what road we were staying on. They finally found us and brought fresh tamales Cointa had made, and jalapeno rolls and homemade cookies! They both were wearing their Journey for Jonathan t-shirts that we had made for them and it was so good to see Cointa, Pepe and their two dogs Princess and Bobo’s Angel. We had such a great visit with them and then they headed back to Gatesville.
Today has been a great rest day and we got so much done. It is funny that on our rest day is when we have to do all of our major work cleaning and organizing so rest is a loose term. Durango rested but quite honestly he just looks bored like he is ready to go again! We are finishing cleaning and organizing the RV and we will set out tomorrow on 208 north towards Snyder. We will probably stay at the arena in Snyder which has RV spaces next to the horse pens. We have gone 273.5 miles so far! One mile at a time, one day at a time, that is our motto. Our friends Lee and Lynn Kaminski in Estes Park send us bible scriptures and thoughts every day and the other day Lee sent one that said “The journey always seems impossible until it is done….Walk on.” And Lynn said, “Steady and Sure.” These are both appropriate thoughts for this point in our journey. My mom told us the other day that our journey reminded her of the movie Forrest Gump when he runs across America and people keep joining in along the way. She thinks in a way this is reminiscent of that because people keep joining our blog as we make our way across Texas. Winston said the other day, “Well, I made it across Tom Green county and Sterling county, I might as well go all the way across Texas!” It was his own Forrest Gump reference!
I know we could never repay all of these lovely people who have become a part of our story for their help, but I will continue to keep them all in my prayers and will pray for peace for those that are grieving and that need it. I know God will reward their kindness ten-fold. Tonight we will tell Brenda goodbye since she is a school teacher and will be at school tomorrow when we leave. I will miss this kind, gentle woman and I hope that she finds the happiness that she deserves after losing her husband. Like Ruth, she also takes care of all of her cows, horses and pastures now that her husband is gone. The strength of these women who take on these tasks even after their husbands are gone is inspirational.
We will leave tomorrow refreshed and with a renewed commitment to move forward and On to Glory!!
Love, Donna (Winston, Hart and Durango too!)