Day 59 – May 10, 2014
Happy Birthday to my Mom today!! Wish I was with you to celebrate!!
We set out this morning from Last Chance, Colorado from Jim and Mary’s place and were going to be turning west on 36 towards Strasburg. We stopped at the tiny rest area to empty our trash and we saw a sign that said this used to be a part of the Texas-Montana Trail. Then we turned and got going to try and make it as far as we could today and then hopefully find someone to help us and get Durango set up in a barn for the snow that is forecast for Sunday and Monday.
About 2 miles into the day, I crossed over the West Fork of Plum Bush creek. I told Winston that it looked like he might be able to go down beside the bridge but it may be a little steep. He said he would check it out. I was sitting in the RV on the side of the road waiting for him to be safely across the bridge and he called me on the walkie talkie and said look behind you to your left at the deer. He told me later that four deer had crossed in front of them and Durango was scared at first but then was just watching them jump the fence to figure out what they were. I answered back to him that I didn’t see the deer and while I was still holding the walkie talkie and looking in the side mirror, I saw a deer bolt out from under the bridge a few feet in front of them and the deer jumped so high it was eye level with Durango. DB started doing his mustang buck, front legs then back legs and Winston held on for two or three of them like he was in a rodeo and then Durango twisted all the way to the side with his next kick and I saw Winston’s feet go flying higher than Durango’s head and then I saw him fall to the ground. Then I couldn’t see Winston but Durango was still bucking like crazy! This all happened in a matter of seconds and I screamed and threw my walkie down and jumped out of the RV and started running back to them because I thought Winston was being trampled under Durango. Then I saw Winston jump up and he was trying to calm Durango but DB wasn’t having any part of it, he was really spooked. I knew if he ran my way, he would stop at the RV but then he ran up to the road and crossed it (thankfully no cars were coming) and then started bucking on the other side of the road and the saddle slid underneath his stomach and then he started running back to where we had come from with the saddle under him. That slowed him down a little because his feet were getting caught up in it. Winston was running to catch him and I ran back to the RV to get it and try and head him off. In the meantime, a pickup truck with two men in it pulled over and tried to stop him. He slowed down a little when he saw them. I pulled past them and jumped out and got his feed scoop with some food in it and started shaking it and he stopped long enough to look at me. I just kept talking to him as I made my way up the hill shaking the feed scoop and he stayed still long enough for me to get his lead rope. Winston caught up with us and started getting the saddle off of him. We thanked the men that had helped us and then Winston realized that he had stepped into the stirrup and it got caught on his foot. He finally got that off and Durango was grazing as though nothing had happened at all. Winston said he was fine but I saw how high he fell from so I was so thankful that he didn’t have any broken bones or worse. I know he will be sore later though. Durango seemed to be okay too. Winston checked him over and it didn’t seem like he had any issues with the little rodeo. We did have a few casualties, his reins were missing and the pommel bag and he busted the leather on his bridle in half on both sides. We didn’t have another one in the RV. I went looking for the reins while Winston figured out if we were missing anything else. We found the reins and the pommel bag and then had to figure a way to repair the bridle. I got some black gaffer tape and Winston held the pieces together and I taped them together really well and it seemed to be very secure and sturdy. We got DB all saddled back up and I told Winston that deer had come back to his spot under the bridge so they should try and cross on top of the bridge and I would watch for cars up ahead. We got safely across the bridge and I said a prayer of thanks that everyone was ok. I know that it could have been a lot worse and we felt that angels and God were watching over us. Unfortunately, I was too traumatized to take any photos to document this but I assure you that it happened.
This put a big delay in our morning but we were going to try and make up time. The next time I pulled over, when Winston caught up with me he told me that not even a mile after the bridge he was looking ahead of them and right between DB’s ears he saw a four foot rattlesnake directly in their path rattling his tail. DB had not even seen him so Winston just steered wide and the snake started moving away. Then not long after that he saw another green snake. Way too much drama to start our day! I kept getting alerts on my phone about the weather for Sunday. Yesterday I had looked up stables in the Strasburg area and there were about twelve listed in a three city area. I checked their websites and I liked one called The S Bar 7 Stables. One of the things on their webpage said: Facilities located on 40 acres, offering pasture turn-out for exercise and "horsing around" if desired--horsing around for horses only, please. And then it said, Mike and Kathy Sheely – horse lovers at your service! I liked that they had a sense of humor and that they were horse lovers so I thought they might let us put Durango at their barn if they had room. So I left a message on their work number. They listed cell phone numbers but I didn’t want to bother them. Today though I had not heard back from them and I was getting nervous about the weather that we would need a place to be safe. So, I called Kathy’s cell phone number and told her the story about the journey and that because of weather forecasts we were looking for a place to stable Durango for the storm. She said, are you driving a blue and white rental R.V.? I told her that I was and she said that her brother passed away last week of cancer and she had gone down to Wichita Falls, Texas to see him before he died and had seen us on the road in Texas and then then they saw us again on their way to the funeral last week and we were in Colorado. She said they almost stopped to find out what we were doing but then just didn’t. She said that they had ONE stall available!! I told her that we were trying to make it to Strasburg but we were sure we couldn’t make it all the way and we were afraid to try and travel tomorrow during the weather. She told me that she would call her husband and see if when we did our miles today he would come and get us with a trailer. She said that she was sure he would love the story and she thought that he would come get us wherever we made it to because that’s just the type of man he is. Awwww, that is so sweet!
Mike called me back a few minutes later and said that he would help accommodate us in any way possible. He said just let me know when and where and I will come get you with the horse trailer and you will be safe with us until the storm passes. I was so appreciative and couldn’t wait to meet these nice people.
We were going to try and get in our 20 miles and then Mike would come and get us. It is so hilly around here and it was time consuming for them to pick their way through the tall grass and look for snakes and deer and go up and down hills and then for miles we kept hearing what sounded like a racetrack but we never could see anything. When I came up over one rise I saw a huge racetrack for motorcycles and they were racing around at high speeds and creating quite a racket! I figured Durango would not like it so I told Winston he should cross to the other side. He had to work with Durango to get him past them slowly. But, he did fine eventually.
We had just about reached our miles for the day when Mike and Kathy showed up to get us. They trailered us to their stables in Bennett, Colorado. We were 36 miles east of Denver. We couldn’t believe it, but all day we still had not seen mountains because of the clouds. As we got close to their house we could see shadows of mountains in the distance but the clouds quickly covered them back up. I had still not met Kathy and Mike since they picked Winston and Durango up and I had moved up ahead to let him get in with the trailer. When I got out at their place, I went and hugged them both and thanked them so much for helping us. Mike said this is where we were supposed to be. We got Durango set up in the barn and met all of their other horses that people board with them. They were beautiful! While we were standing there, Kathy’s phone started ringing and the ringtone was “You are My Sunshine.” For those of you who don’t know the significance of this song to my family I will share it with you. When my brother was a baby we used to sing it to him for him to go to sleep and then when he died we sang it at his funeral and the priest had everyone in the church stand and sing it with us. My sister and I went and stood by his coffin and sang it to him one last time and I will never forget the sound of the entire church filling with their beautiful voices belting out this special song for my brother. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. The song was also written by a former governor of Louisiana which is my home state. I couldn’t believe that Kathy had this ring tone. She told me that it wasn’t her ring tone, it is the ringtone for a friend who is like a sister to her and she has always been called Sunshine and she loves the song. I couldn’t believe that she happened to call her the moment that we had arrived at their land. It made me think of my brother and I know he was happy that we were safe.
Mike said Winston could put his saddle in their barn and I was bringing the saddle stand in and he said you don’t need that in here. I told him that it was in the aisle of the RV so we would appreciate it if we could put it inside so we weren’t so cluttered in the RV. ( I mean, more cluttered than normal!) He said, “You aren’t sleeping in the R.V.” I said, “we aren’t?” He asked me, “Do you have a big bathtub in there for him to soak in? Or a big queen size bed to stretch out in?” I said no we definitely don’t have either of those. He said, “Well, alright then. That’s settled.” I told Kathy, “he’s bossy!!” We really didn’t want to impose on them but the sound of a bath and bed since it was going to be snowing for two days sounded really too good to pass up. They had a porch Hart could go in that was heated and closed and they had three dogs too. And they said Hart could sleep in the room with us at night on a pallet on the floor. It was so nice to know we were going to be safe with these lovely two people. I said a prayer of thanks for them coming to our rescue.
They wanted to take us to dinner so we got DB fed and then we headed out to this great diner in town and the food was delicious! We talked and talked about the journey and told them about Jonathan and Winston’s time at Wind River and then about Jonathan being an architect and we learned how they met and how they ended up in Bennett. They even got married on horseback!! We had such a nice time talking and getting to know about them. We got back to the house and Mike showed us photos from a trail ride he had been on in the Flattop Mountains in Colorado and the photos were amazing. We talked some more and I showed them the video of Winston’s arrival into Oklahoma and they laughed and Mike said, “Do I have time to change my mind about y’all staying here?” Haha!! They loved the video! Winston has a little book that he got from Wind River 14 years ago and it is a little pocket sized bible called The Way for Cowboys. He took it with him on this trip. In the whole time he has owned it he has never seen anyone else with a copy of it and on the shelf in their home and in several rooms they had copies of this little book. Winston couldn’t believe it. Then Mike got on the computer and did a map to plot out our leftover distance and he thinks we have about 80 miles to get to Lyons which is about a two day ride from Wind River!! We can’t believe we are so close!! This snow delay is not the best timing but I believe that we were meant to meet Mike and Kathy so they could be a part of our story. Kathy lost her brother and a sister to cancer and I just think we were meant to be here. Winston was starting to tighten up from his fall today and so he took an Epsom Salt bath and then headed to bed. I took a bath too and it was awesome and then I went to sleep too. We both slept really well.
Day 60 – May 11, 2014
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, Ann and Winston’s mom Linda!! And Happy Mother’s Day to all of the other moms out there that our following our journey. We hope your day has been special and relaxing and full of love!
We decided we would try and get supplies and gas before the weather got too bad so we would be ready to go on Tuesday. We fed DB and the rain had already started when we left. We got our supplies at their big grocery store and got gas and then headed back to the house. On the way back, the road was slick and Winston and I were so grateful that we were not riding today. We got flowers and a card for Kathy for Mother’s Day since she might not get to see any of her kids today because of the weather and because some live out of town. We were happy to honor her for Mother’s Day since we couldn’t be with our own moms today. About an hour later the snow started and it was blowing hard and it was really big flakes. The yard was filling with snow. Then it stopped for a while and a lot of it melted. But, we have heard that there is going to be a lot more tonight and tomorrow. Hopefully it won’t be so much that it won’t clear out by Tuesday. We are still trying to get to Wind River by the 18th. It will depend on the weather. Don McIntyre and Nick Herold from Wind River are planning to ride with Winston the final couple of days and I know that will be really special for him since Don and Nick worked with Jonathan and Winston during all of their years at Wind River and he admires both of them so much. We can’t believe that we are actually close enough to be talking about the end of the journey. There are so many factors that could have prevented us from making it this far but we are so grateful to all of the people who have helped us fulfill Winston’s final promise to Jonathan. We are anxious to achieve the final goal but we also know we will be sad too when it is over. Saying goodbye to Durango will be really hard but we know we can always come and visit him! This journey will be a part of us forever and I know we will never forget it.
Thank you for your prayers, your love and support. We would not be this far without all of you! We feel sure that the quantity of prayers that are going up for us have made us be wrapped in God’s arms and that we will safely arrive to Wind River all together!! The four of us have made quite a team! We are patiently waiting out the snow and then we will move west and On to Glory!!
Love, Donna (Winston, Hart and Durango too!)