Thursday, April 3, 2014

Crossed over 300 miles this week! Days 19- 22!

Day 19 – Monday, March 31, 2014

    We left Brenda’s at 8am headed north on 208 towards Snyder.  It is a beautiful sunny day with hardly any wind.  We are making good time and hope to be to Snyder by 6pm.  This road is a little busier than we had hoped but we are plugging through it.  While I was waiting for Winston I called Weldon Faught who we had stayed with in Richland Springs.  Weldon was due to have his pancreatic cancer scan on March 29th so I wanted to check in with him.  When he answered and I told him who I was and that we had been praying for him, he said WE have been praying for y’all!!  He told me the great news that he was again cancer free!  He does not have to return again for another scan for 6 months.  Please continue to keep this sweet man in your prayers.  Our friend Brenda kept checking on our progress throughout the day and our friend Arnetta Cooper who is originally from Snyder is trying to get permission from Western Texas College for us to stay at their Coliseum which has RV spots and horse pens. 


     We had lunch along the road and Arnetta stopped by and had lunch with us and told us that WTC had given us permission to stay on the grounds at the Coliseum!  We are so grateful for a place to head towards.  Right outside of Snyder a man named Jerry Boyd stopped Winston and said, “You goin’ to Colorado?”  Winston said he was and the man said he saw it on facebook.  They did not know each other but apparently had some mutual friend we guessed.  He gave Winston a donation and wished him safe travels.  We passed Hart Ranch Road!  He didn't even tell us he had family out here!

    We arrived at the Coliseum before 5pm and had gone 20.7 miles today.  We settled into our spot and Winston got out his bed roll and chair and some supplies since I was going to take the RV and head to Wal Mart for supplies.  I think I could get used to all the boys being outside the trailer and me inside!!  On my way to Wal Mart I wanted to check out the road for our route out of Snyder.  We are definitely going to have to change our route because the road we picked is way too dangerous for a horse.  I picked up some dinner and when I got back I tried to return phone calls and some texts.  A reporter for Fence Post magazine is doing a three part article on Wind River Ranch and on the journey and so I called her back and gave her some information and sent her some photos from the journey so far.  The first article was in today’s edition and you can find it at  The 2nd article that will be exclusively about the journey will be in next Monday’s edition April 7th.  If you live in the Colorado area, you can get physical copies of the Fence Post magazine at Feed Stores. 


     We have decided that now would be the time to do Durango’s updated health check just in case we don’t find a vet in the upcoming week that could fit us in.  We have to get a new health certificate each month since we are crossing state lines with him.  We found a Vet named Dr. Church in Snyder who is going to look at him tomorrow and give him his new health certificate.  I also have yet to be able to file my income taxes because of limited time and internet on the trail.  We have heard that there might be bad storms tomorrow night too so we are going to stay an extra day in Snyder to take care of all of these things. 

Day 20 – Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    We woke this morning to hear the news that our friend Jan from Shreveport lost her mom this morning.  Jan is Burt’s wife who drove all the way to San Angelo to see us.  Her name is Ann Matthews.  Please say a prayer for Burt and Jan in this time of loss.  I know that Ann will also be watching over us now from heaven.  We also are celebrating the life of Eddie Benson today.  Eddie was the husband of our friend Debbie and father to our friend Elaina and they lost him last year in a tragic accident.  We are thinking of them today and celebrating Eddie’s life which he lived to the fullest every day.  Winston is carrying a military pin of Eddie’s in his saddlebags in his honor on the journey.  We miss Eddie every day.  Eddie was devastated by the loss of Jonathan and I sincerely hope that they are up there in heaven catching up and having a birthday beer together in honor of Eddie’s birthday. 

    I was able to get my taxes partially filed at the Holiday Inn across the street from the Coliseum.  They kindly let me use their business center.  Working freelance I have a bunch of W2’s so as luck would have it, I was missing one!  I had to request a duplicate but finished entering everything else so hopefully can get them done in a few days when I get the missing information.  We made our way to the vet’s office.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t come to us and since we don’t have a trailer, Winston had to ride Durango to the vet.  It was about 4.4  miles there and back. We met Dr. Church and he checked Durango out and asked us about the journey and sent us on our way with a brand new bill of health for Durango!  On the way back Durango was being hardheaded trying to RUN back to the “barn” which he didn’t even know existed yesterday! So, Winston took his time and worked with him to get him to change his mind and walk at a normal pace and we finally made it back to the Coliseum.

    Four years ago today was the day that Durango Bobwire’s mom was captured in the wild near Carson City, Nevada and then he was born in the Bureau of Land Management facility and lived there until Mandy adopted him when he was 2 years old.  We can’t tell from the adoption papers if he was born on that day or four months from that day! But, just in case Mandy wanted us to give him a treat from her and wish him a happy birthday!  So we did and he loved it!

    One thing that has been entertaining to me on this journey is to see people’s reaction when I tell them what Winston and I do for a living.  When I say that Winston is a full time piano entertainer and that I work in the film industry as a costumer they look at us like we are crazy for doing this journey!!  But, what is also funny is that we got the same reaction from our friends in Shreveport who know what we do for a living and couldn’t picture us doing a journey like this! This may be the longest Winston has ever gone without playing a piano.  Weldon and his wife had a piano in their home and so they got to hear him play when we stayed with them.  Pianos are few and far between on the trail and we for sure could not fit one in the RV!  But, we know there is one at Wind River that Winston used to play when he worked there so we will set our sights on a big celebration concert there if Winston can still move his fingers by then!  

     I have been meaning to take a photo of Winston’s spurs that he is riding with on this journey and to tell you the story about them.  In Spring of 2005 Winston felt the need to go to Mexico for a visit.  He was living in Waring, TX so it was only about a 2 ½ hour drive.  He crossed the border on foot at Eagle Pass and went into Piedras Negras, Mexico.  He walked around the town and found a shop that had all kinds of horse things and he knew Jonathan would love the shop.  He decided to buy something for Jonathan there since he would be meeting him at Wind River soon and Jonathan’s 23rd birthday was coming up.  Even though they usually didn’t exchange gifts, he knew Jonathan would love a gift from Mexico.  So, he saw these spurs and they said 300 on them.  At first he thought that it meant dollars so he knew he couldn’t afford them but it was actually 300 pesos or about $30 so he got them for Jonathan.   Jonathan did love them and then Winston forgot about them until just before he started this journey.  He thought it would be fitting to wear them on this trip to honor Jonathan and their friendship.  He figured they were with his things at Pepe and Cointa’s house and so he asked Cointa about them.  She said they were probably in some of his boxes of things in the garage from when he left Colorado but she had no idea where.  When Pepe got home she asked him about the spurs and Pepe went right to them and gave them to Winston to wear on the journey.  They are yet another symbol of their friendship.  He wears them every day on the journey.      


    We were sitting in the RV at the Coliseum planning our route for the next leg of the journey when a man named Eddie Floyd came up and asked us about the journey.  He said he had a mule for sale if Winston wanted it for a pack mule.  I told Winston he should have told him that we already have a mule!  Durango definitely exhibits that “stubborn as a mule” behavior a lot of the time!  But, then he makes up for it with his endurance and his oblivion to traffic and most things that horses would never tolerate.  So, we take both sides of him and still love him!  I am sure he does the same with us!

    While Eddie was still here, a girl came up and said to Winston, “Are you Winston Hall?”  He said he was and she told us that she graduated from Gatesville High School where Jonathan and Winston graduated from!  Her name was Jesse James Harvey. Crazy small world and her aunt who still lives in Gatesville saw on facebook that we were at the Coliseum and so Jesse came to see if she could bring us anything.  She offered to go get us some supper and we told her that she didn’t have to but she said she really wanted to help us so we gratefully accepted.  While we were talking I told her that we had found the coliseum through our friend Arnetta Cooper who grew up here and whose brother is a doctor in Snyder.  She said, I just left his house….he is my landlord!  What??!! Oh my gosh! We know a total of one person from Snyder and this girl is the tenant of her brother!  So Jesse went to get us food and came back with her two sons, Hunter and Hayden who were adorable and asked a bunch of questions about the journey and the RV.  They had to pet Durango and they wanted to try out the top bunk where we sleep.  I gave them a postcard so they could remember us and signed it for them and the little one Hayden said he wanted to know what I wrote on it.  I told him that I wrote “Thanks for coming to visit us!”  He handed it back to me and said, “Can you write, I love you Hayden on it too?”  To which I replied, “Of course I can. I would be happy to!”  He then told his mom he wanted to stay with us and go with us.  This RV can definitely not handle one more person, child, animal or critter!  So, we said our goodbyes with our thanks for our meal that she would not let us pay for. 

    Then our friend Jerry that Winston saw on the road yesterday stopped to see us.  We visited with him for about a half hour and learned that he had originally seen our Kickstarter page on Mandy Bradford’s facebook page (Durango’s trainer).  He said he likes to follow pages connected with the Mustang Million.  So when he saw Winston on the highway he just knew it was the guy going to Colorado and then when he saw the RV he knew for sure.  We really enjoyed our visit with him and told him that one of the blessings of this trip was meeting so many cool people along the way like him.   He said, “I’m in the cool group?”  He said that his two sons say he isn’t cool, well we are here to tell you that they are wrong!  We look forward to seeing Jerry somewhere down the road.  He works for a pipeline company and goes to Post often so we will probably see him again in the next day or two. 

    Our friends Jesse, Hayden and Hunter had driven back to bring us pictures that Hunter drew for us.  He had a drawing for Winston with his name on the back, one for me and then one that said For the Family of Jonathan Avitia.  How sweet is that?!!  He drew pictures of our little setup here.  He remembered it really well too.  He had Winston and I outside of the RV, Hart on a staked leash and Durango in his pen.  He only got one detail wrong, he gave Winston a lot of hair!!  Oh and he put a snake on Winston’s drawing.  I am hoping he just used his imagination with that one and he didn’t really see one out here.  We hung the drawings  in the RV next to our other drawings that our neighbors in Shreveport Colin and Caleb made us and the one that Brenda’s granddaughter Kail made us for our journey.  It makes me smile every time I see them.  And I am going to mail Cointa and Pepe their drawing from Hunter.  When they were ready to say goodbye, Winston shook their hands and I said I want hugs and they both jumped into my arms to hug me! So sweet!  Jesse had to pry them away because they again mentioned they wanted to stay with us.  They were too cute! 

    Well, it is about time to get to bed so that we can hit the road at sunrise.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day some days…..and other days there seem to be too many hours!!  But, we will take them all with God’s blessing and we are thankful for each day and each mile that we are given. 

Day 21 -Tuesday, April 2, 2014

     We got on the road about 7:45am and are heading north on Hwy 84 towards Post.  We are about 46 miles from there so we know we will have to stop at least once between Snyder and Post or maybe twice.  I got my missing W2 so I was able to file my taxes before we left Snyder! Yaaayyyy!!! 

     We are making pretty good time so far today and hopefully we will find a good spot to camp for the night about halfway to Post.  Jerry just passed us on the highway and waved!  We love seeing people we met before! I just called Dwayne Norris who we stayed with back in Rochelle, TX near Brady.  He had his shoulder surgery yesterday and all went well.  He is trying to manage the pain but may get to go home tomorrow.  Please keep him in your prayers for a quick and successful recovery!  He told me that he got to check our blog a couple of days ago and he said people always say there aren’t good people in the world anymore but reading our blog he was happy to say that they are wrong.  There are so many good people still out there and we are thankful every day for every one of them that we cross paths with.

    We were stopped on the side of the road and a man stopped in a huge truck and said that he saw Winston on the news in Abilene and then saw us on the road yesterday and was trying to find us today.  He wanted to give us a donation, to see Jonathan’s saddle and to shake Winston’s hand.  He said this journey is awesome and he wished he had one friend other than his wife who he meant that much to that they would make a journey like this for him.  We enjoyed talking to Jeff Rhodes and hope our paths will cross again!  Hart is sacked out in his front seat spot and when we stopped Durango decided to check out the inside of the RV!

   I was pulled over at a picnic area and up drove Jerry Boyd.  I recognized his truck and he said he wanted to buy us dinner again so gave me some money and his business card and said, “ if y’all need anything at all even if I am 100 miles away, just call and I will be there as soon as I can.”  We are so blessed every day to keep meeting amazing people like this and we do not ever take it for granted.  We checked out the picnic area as a camp site but there is a prediction for really high winds tomorrow so we want to go as far as we can today so that maybe we can do a shorter day tomorrow afternoon when the winds are at their highest. 

     When Winston caught up to me a little while ago he said he had two signs from Jonathan along the road.  I couldn’t wait to hear what they were.  The first was a Ford emblem from a car or truck just lying on the side of the road where he was walking.  For those of you who knew Jonathan you know how partial he was to Ford trucks.  He also found another CD which was upside down but because of the Chris LeDoux CD he had found a week ago his curiosity got the best of him and he picked it up and turned it over.  It was a Los Lonely Boys CD.  The only concert that Winston and Jonathan ever went to together in their whole friendship of more than 25 years was a Los Lonely Boys concert.  You can call that coincidence if you want but in my mind and in my heart those two things are signs that Jonathan is with us every step of the way and maybe he thought Winston would get a kick out of those two reminders of him.  And just look at some of the songs that were on this CD……Crazy Dream, Heaven, Hollywood, More than Love, Nobody Else, Real Emotions, Tell Me Why, and Velvet Sky.  Even if it was a sheer coincidence, what an awesome one!!  


     So, the camping possibilities are looking pretty grim.  There are just not a lot of great spots out here to pull safely off the road with a horse tied up.  We came across a picnic area but it was just too close for the amount of miles we needed to make today so we forged ahead.  I started going up and scouting and coming back to report while Winston and Durango kept plodding along.  I found one spot that was part of an Energy Oil Lease and the gates were open and there was a flat spot off the road and behind the fence.  There was a metal mailbox right in the middle of the opening so I drove over to see if there was a number or something in there.  The flap was open but there was nothing in there and as I went to pull off a gust of wind blew up and closed the flap and wedged it along the side of the RV.  It made a big scratch along the decal on the side of the RV.  It had been a really long day and the sun was sinking fast and so this really did me in.  I just started crying thinking of how much the rental company was going to charge us for the damage I did.  I was afraid to back up because I didn’t want to do more damage so I got a towel out and pulled the mailbox far enough back to wedge the towel between it and the RV and was able to pull forward to free it.  When I went back to find Winston and tell him about the RV and that the only spot I could find that was relatively safe was actually part of on oil lease company so it was private property but the gate was open it seemed to be our only safe option.  I had called the company headquarters in Midland but no one had returned my call yet. It was also about to get dark so we wanted to make sure we could get set up before then.  It was still about 2 miles up the road and we had already done 23 miles that day so Winston said he and Durango would trot the rest of the way.  I went up ahead and this lease spot was up on the top of a hill and I could see Winston coming up and he called me on the walkie and thanked me for finding the best possible spot with an incredible view of a spectacular sunset. 

Cointa texts me every morning and every night to tell me that she loves us and is praying for us and I always tell her that we are in a safe spot.  She usually doesn’t ask me if we are.  Tonight though she did and so I told her that we had found a spot on the side of the road that was pretty safe but we had not heard back from the company yet so we were hoping for the best.  She said she would start praying to God and to Jonathan to help us.  I am not exaggerating within four minutes of getting her text saying she was praying for our safety Winston rode into the driveway  to come up the hill.  I was opening the horse gate for him when a lady pulled over with a horse trailer behind her truck and said, “Are you Winston?”  He said he was and she said I am just coming from Bob Mundy’s house near Cleburne and am on my way home.  Bob Mundy is the man who put horseshoes on Durango right before the journey and lives near Dallas.  We never even met Bob because Mandy took him to be shoed.  Her name is Ellen Kendrick and she and Bob are friends and he had just shoed her horse and she and her mom were returning home to Brownfield.  Mandy had originally put a post on facebook when she found Bob to put the shoes on Durango and had tagged us in the post.  So Ellen saw the post on Bob’s wall since they are friends started following our blog and the journey.  The last she had heard we were in Sterling City.  She had no idea that we were traveling on this road and normally would not travel this road home but did so today so the sun would not be in her eyes the whole way home.  She said everything that day had taken longer than she had hoped and they had stopped to eat before getting back on the road.  She saw Winston just as he was entering the driveway and then saw me up top with the RV.  If two more minutes had passed we would have been beyond the gate and she would have driven on by.  She had a horse trailer with her with one extra space in it.  If she had two horses in there or if it was a one horse trailer she would not have been able to help us.  We told her our dilemma that we had not yet received permission to be inside that gate but now it was almost dark and it wasn’t safe to travel this road at night.  We were a few miles outside of Justiceburg.  She offered to trailer us to the arena that was just outside of Post so that all of us would be safe.  As it turns out there were two long bridges that we didn’t know about up ahead that we would have had to be trailered across the next day.  I felt like Cointa’s prayers were immediately answered.  God and Jonathan provided a safe alternative for us when we needed it.  He sent Ellen to us and it was so emotional that Winston had tears in his eyes and I was crying.  We just couldn’t believe the timing of it all.  We took a moment to thank God for that blessing and are continually amazed every day at what He is providing for us.  By the time we got to the Post Stampede Arena and got situated it was almost 10:30pm.  We had been up and moving since 6:30am!  I feel like I am working on a movie; that would be a typical 16 hour day for me!  We thanked Ellen over and over again and she said she felt like God had a plan for her that day and her delays during the day all made sense now.  We are eternally grateful for her help. 

When we were loading the saddle into the RV we realized that the bag on the back of the saddle with the scroll of all of our backers was gone.  We were so sad.  When Winston had to get rid of the saddle bags we had put the scroll in the bag on the back of the saddle with his water.  We checked with Ellen and it was not in her trailer so Winston figured it had fallen off when we he was trotting trying to beat the sunset. We decided we would try and back track in the RV in the morning to try and find it.

Day 22- Thursday, April 3, 2014

    We had Durango safely in his pen eating breakfast so we ran back with the RV to the spot where we were last night.  After about 20 minutes we found the bag on the side of the road a few hundred yards from where he started trotting!  It took me hours to write all those names in calligraphy so I was happy that I was not going to have to redo it.  We got back to the arena and set off on 207 north towards Floydada.  I am hoping today will go much smoother but I am off to a bad start with a severe allergy attack.  I sneezed about 20 times before we even left the arena.  I am praying it will get better soon!  On to glory and safe resting spots!!

Donna   (Winston, Hart and Durango too!)






denisemarceaux said...

I love, love, love reading about this. Everything positive coming your way - to you all Donna, Winston, Durango, and Hart and all the cool people you meet along the way. Lots of love to you and if a little bit of that wears off on me I'll be very lucky!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Donna, it's Meriwether. Wende and I are loving your detailed and thoughtful posts. Wende said Winston may be making his journey in the saddle, but Donna has something of her own in the RV. Okay, it was a lot more poetic than that, but it was late, and I can't remember it like I wish I could. We are praying for y'all and are so proud. RIght now, I have to pack up my little posse and head to the grocery. A journey of my own, I assure you. Love and miss you. If you can shoot me a quick text and let me know your closest point to Santa Fe, maybe MAYBE we can visit. No need for a long message. Just an approximate date and the name of a town or major crossroads. Love to all of you, Meriwether, Wende, Cole & Jed.

Fans of Jonathan said...

Thank you Denise! I hope some of this amazing journey wears off on you! Love, Donna

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna. Chris and Krystal here. Love the posts. Let us know if we can do anything for you there or take care of something for you here.