Day 63 – Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Mark and Toni Harvey fixed us an amazing breakfast as we prepared to leave their place. I was able to post the blog too using their wifi before we left. We were so disappointed that Cliff was still sleeping since he wasn’t feeling well last night so we didn’t get to have a photo with him or tell him goodbye. But, we left a note for him with our gratitude for him letting us stay with them. We were sad telling them goodbye. They are such a special family and we will miss them.
We headed out on dirt roads so we thought Durango would be going fast today but he just wanted to go at a slow pace. It is hard to try and make a horse go faster that has brought you close to 900 miles. So, we just moved at his pace and muddled through the roads towards Hudson.
I had called Total Equine because I was trying to find someone near us that carried it. I spoke to the head of the company Harry Anderson and he gave me two numbers of dealers that were close to us. The first one didn’t answer and then I talked to Jerry Gieseke from the Promenade Stables in Brighton and he had some and said I could come and get some from there. It was about twenty minutes from when we would cross I75 so I thought I would stay with Winston until then and then run down and get it while he continued on 52.
Once the dirt roads dead ended we had to get on 52 headed west and it was a really hard road. There is huge oil and natural gas truck traffic on this road and it was no good for any of us. We were searching for other routes but knew we had to go through Hudson and cross I75. When we got to the Hudson town limits we stopped to take photos for our little friend Hudson Siebert in Dalhart. He was excited we were going through a town with his name and we wanted to make sure and get a photo for him! Just after we passed the sign we could see lightning in the distance and so we pulled over just inside of Hudson. While we were sitting there Mark, Toni and Cliff Harvey pulled up! They had been on the way to the hospital with Cliff but then he felt better so they were on the way back home. I was so happy that I could get a photo with Cliff!! We talked to them while we waited for the storm to pass in front of us and Mark said that if we needed anything at all or if the storm didn’t get better to just call him and he would come with a truck and trailer and get Durango. What would we do without all these nice people! We thanked them and said goodbye.
The storm did clear up and we were able to head into Hudson. Durango and Winston had to cross over a big train track and then we got up to the interstate and it was an overpass not an underpass. He had not ever done an overpass with us yet. I looked for alternatives but there just weren’t any. So, I was going to ride with my flashers on behind them and people behind us would just have to wait. I was nervous about the right railing because it was low and if the traffic below scared him I was afraid he would go too close to the edge. But, he did great! He got a little spooked when he heard the traffic below him but he kept going forward. Mandy did a great job training him for traffic! We made it across and stopped at a Love’s Truck Stop. Winston was going to keep going and I was going to head to Brighton to get more feed which I figured would take about twenty or thirty minutes. I gave them snacks and water and headed off to Brighton. It took me about 15 minutes to get to Promenade Stables and it was hidden off the road but is an amazing facility for horses. I met Jerry’s wife Kim and I told her about the journey and that we were so relieved that they sold Total Equine because we had run out this morning. She was happy to get me the two bags we needed and then she wouldn’t take money from me. She said it was on them! If you live in the Brighton area and are in need of lessons or stables for your horse, please consider giving these lovely, generous people your business. I thanked Kim and headed back to meet up with Winston.
I had been gone about thirty minutes and Winston had only made it about 1.5 miles. He said this road was awful with the traffic and deep mud that Durango was having to walk through so he was having to be super careful and it was taking forever. We still didn’t know where we were staying. We were trying to make it to Fort Lupton. I had called Jennifer Tucker who is a neighbor of the Sheely’s in Bennett and she stables her horse with them. She was trying to find a place for us in Fort Lupton. She texted me with two options. One was on this road and the other was a mile or two off the road. I called the first one and left a message this morning but had not heard back and then I called again just so we would know whether we had a place or not. When I couldn’t reach her, I tried the other number and asked Terry Felloon if she had any recommendations on this road. She said, let me call and check a place for you. She was so nice and she called me right back and told me that we could stay at Tory Schaeffer’s place which was right on the road. She told me that Tory said he wouldn’t be home but we could put Durango in his arena and just make ourselves at home! Wow! Again, the kindness of strangers just overwhelms us. It was only a mile from where we were and two miles east of Fort Lupton. We were so relieved Durango would have a safe place for the night and we would be off the road. We got set up and met Chelsea Toy, Tory’s girlfriend. We found out later that Chelsea is the Gear Editor for American Cowboy Magazine and that magazine was in our RV because I had just bought it for Winston two days ago!
One of Winston’s friends that worked with Winston and Jonathan at Wind River, Rachel Mack Cummings, wanted to fix us a meal and bring it out to us. Her mom, Marianne and her sister, Angela had also worked there and wanted to come see us. They brought their kids too. Angela brought her son Caleb and Rachel brought her son Riley and her daughter Delaney. They brought us this amazing meal of spaghetti, Caesar salad, garlic bread, wine and chocolate pudding for dessert. Rachel told me that she made the pudding in Jonathan’s honor because they had a chocolate pudding fight once at Wind River. She told me that Don was not happy about it!! The boys brought treats for Hart and Durango and I helped Caleb and Riley feed the treats to both of our “boys”! They loved the treats! I found out a few months ago that Rachel and I both belong to Tri Sigma sorority so we are Sigma sisters! And Delaney is a little Sigma legacy! We enjoyed visiting with them and Marianne and Angela are going to try and come on Sunday to see us at the end of the journey! Rachel is so upset that she will be out of town. We thanked them for our meal and then they headed back. Our meal was delicious and we were so grateful. Durango had a big sandy arena and he kept rolling in it, he loved the way the sand felt.
Terry Felloon who got us this place told me that she wanted to come by and give us a donation and meet us. We were so glad that we would be able to thank her in person for her help. She came with her roommate Jimmy Anderson and we really enjoyed talking to these nice people. They both love horses and Terry is a barrel racer. She gave us a donation and then she wanted to meet Durango. She gave Durango a neck massage and he was in heaven. He was falling asleep while she was massaging his neck. Jimmy told us that he was going to bring us breakfast burritos in the morning so we said goodnight and thanked them again for their kindness and then we hit the bed.
Day 64 – Thursday, May 15, 2014
We woke up around 7 and Jimmy came and brought us burritos and coffee. When Winston was getting Durango ready he started picking his feet and came to tell me the bad news that Durango had lost another shoe. Not the one we had fixed in Hugo but another one. We don’t know if it got loose in the mud yesterday or he lost it in the sand in the arena but it had to be fixed. I got on the phone with Jennifer and told her our dilemma and that we needed a farrier. Her farrier could only come in the afternoon. She recommended a local farrier and I called him but he was booked solid but said he would call around for us. Jimmy called Terry in the meantime to check with her farrier. He was busy too. She told us that Tory was a farrier and was sleeping in the house next to us but he had worked all night on an oil rig and we just didn’t have the heart to knock on the door after he was nice enough to let us stay here. We decided that we could try the safe shoe on him that we had so that he could make it to the afternoon when that farrier was available. But, the shoe didn’t fit! In the meantime, a farrier called that the local farrier had contacted and he was in Brighton but didn’t start working until 10am so he said he could come to us and do Durango’s shoe before work. We were so grateful. I went to dump the RV while they were waiting for the farrier. When I got back, the farrier, Neil Miller had just finished with the shoe and I got to meet him briefly and thank him when he was leaving. I asked Winston if he had enough cash and he said that Neil wouldn’t take our money. It’s just humbling that total strangers have been so supportive and so generous to us. I called him to thank him again and he said it was his pleasure to do that for our journey.
We finally got on the road about 10am. We needed to get off of 52 as soon as possible so we were going to take some country roads and Jimmy offered to drive ahead and scout for us. We were so appreciative. He said he would stay with us until we crossed over 85. We kept having to switch roads because of truck traffic or no shoulder or the road would dead end. It was really hard maneuvering though all these roads. It just got worse the closer we got to the oil places and sand pits. Eighteen wheelers just one after another in an endless line, it was really tedious and stressful. We got to a bridge that seemed really hard to cross. I told Jimmy that I would go ahead so that Durango could see me going forward and Jimmy would go behind them with his flashers on. I told him to beware of them going around him across double lines on the bridge since they had done that to me before and Jimmy said, “Oh they won’t get around me, I will cut them off!” So glad I decided that he would be in the back, he will be way better at that than I would! While Durango was crossing the bridge llamas came running under the bridge and he stopped and then did a little dance because he didn’t know what they were but eventually they made it across the bridge. I thought we might be able to stay at a state park nearby but when I called them they said they didn’t take horses. I looked on the map to see where we needed to go to be closer to the place we were going to meet Don and Nick on Friday. I saw that we might go through the town of Firestone. Chelsea McKinney had contacted me a while back and said she lived in Firestone and if we needed a place there she was sure her stables could find a place for Durango. I never thought we would be close to her town but now that we were going to go past there I called Chelsea and she gave me the name of the owner of the stables where she keeps her horse. I called Kris Espinosa and told her what we were doing and that we were looking for a stall or fenced yard for one night. She was so nice and said that she didn’t have a stall available but we could put him in one of their turnout yards. We were so grateful and it was reassuring to know we had a place for the night. It was the last place I would have to secure since Don had arranged places for us the next two nights. Once we got back to some dirt roads, Jimmy left us and we thanked him so much for helping us and he said it was his pleasure. We enjoyed visiting with him during the day.
I had called Toni Harvey’s house to check on Cliff this morning and no one answered so I was worried that Cliff had to be put in the hospital. I called back later when we were on the road and talked to Toni. She told me that Cliff was in the hospital and that they found a mass on his pancreas and it was pressing on his spleen which is what was causing his pain. Please, please send prayers up for Cliff. They will do a biopsy next week to determine if it can be removed or treated if necessary. We will keep this lovely family in our prayers. Cliff, we wish you a quick recovery!
Winston and I continued on the dirt roads and then when we were on the road to her stables we ended up in the middle of suburbia. We passed a country club and golf course and Winston had to cross a highway at a stoplight. Everyone was giving us looks. Anyway, we made it to the Hobby Horse Farms and Stables and I had no idea how big this place was. They have tons of stalls and arenas where they do competitions and it was an amazing facility. I found Kris and thanked her again for taking us in and she showed us where to put our horse. He was in a turnout yard with an amazing view of the mountains. We were hoping he would reflect on how he was going to get to the top of those mountains to Wind River Ranch!
Jonathan’s roommate from college, Kevin Kuoni came by to see us with his girlfriend Meghan and we were so happy to see them and visit with them. They came and met Durango and we caught them up on what our day had been like. Then Chelsea came by to see us. Chelsea was about 14 years old when Jonathan used to go to her family’s land and ride horses when he was in college in Boulder. Her family was really special to Jonathan and I was so happy to meet her after hearing so much about her. Chelsea is a barrel racer and she also does jumping and other events and we got to meet her horse Booty Man! He was beautiful! We also met a horse named Max that was the biggest horse I have ever seen up close. He weighed 1700 pounds which is almost double of Durango! Winston’s shoulder could fit under the horse’s neck. It was crazy! We took some photos and then Winston and I needed to go to sleep. We heard that they were going to turn horses out at 5am in the yard with Durango so we weren’t sure if we would have to move him or if they would wait til we left. The reporter from the Longmont Times wanted to come in the morning and do a story before we left so he was going to be there around 6:30am.
Day 65 – Friday, May 16, 2014
Happy Birthday to my cousin Cassie!!! I hope your day is filled with laughter and happiness and that you are surrounded by the ones that love you.
We got up at 6:15 and Winston went out about 6:40 to feed Durango and he came back and said, well I have good news and bad news…..Louis is here from the Longmont Times but our horse is gone. What?!? I jumped out of the bunk and started throwing on my clothes. Winston went to look for Durango. There were other horses in the pen he was in so we assumed he had been moved and not that he had decided to go back to the place we were last night. Winston finally found him in one of the outdoor stalls and we were both relieved. Louis was the photographer for the Times and he took a bunch of photos and asked Winston questions and then another reporter was going to come later in the day to interview him. One reporter Whitney had done a small article to put online today after talking to me on the phone. We headed out at about 7:45am because we wanted to get to the Sleepy Teepee Ranch as early as we could. Winston was really excited about sleeping in the teepee! Louis met us along the road a few times to get photos of Winston on the trail and then he came back to tell us that on the route we were taking there was a bridge still out from the flood last September here that did enormous amounts of damage. They are still recovering from it. We had to take a few detours and we had to get on some busy roads or roads with little or no shoulder so it was a really stressful day.
Thankfully one road had a very wide grassy area that was an easement we think for future expansion of the road but then we got to an intersection where there was no good areas to go forward and it had started raining so everything was slick. I went ahead and scouted the road and there was really no safe place for him to be. I found a back route through the gas station parking lot and then through an apartment building parking lot and then through a residential neighborhood so we could get back to the wide shoulder area of the road. To get to the gas station he had to cross over with the light, so he pressed the button to get across and waited with Durango to cross the road. Durango waited with him on the median and did great even with cars and traffic passing by. When he got to the gas station I was explaining to him where to go and a man pulled over and said he was the vet that worked with our friend Lee from Estes Park. He has been following the journey and then saw Winston crossing the street and circled back around. He told us that he is going to be there for the end of the journey. While we were standing there a man named Ozzie came over from pumping gas and said, “Are you the guy riding in memory of your friend?” Winston said he was and he said, “I recognized the horse.” He had seen the article by Marty Metzger in the Fencepost Magazine a month ago and remembered Durango and the story. He wanted to shake Winston’s hand and he thought it was such a cool thing for Winston to do for his friend. He wanted a photo with them so I took it and then we got going. We went through the residential neighborhood and Winston got stopped three more times because Whitney had put the short story about the journey on the online edition of the paper. Then Winston had to cross over this highway again but without a light and the traffic was horrendous. I went ahead a couple of miles where I could pull over safely and then one of our original backers who Winston knew from Wind River was headed to the airport from Wind River and saw Winston on the side of the road! She had no idea that we were on this road today. Her name is Paige Crosby and I was so sad that I missed meeting her. I was up ahead and it was too dangerous to try and circle back. Eventually Winston caught up to me and we were stopped four more times by people who saw the article. One little boy actually walked alongside of Winston for a ways on the way back to his house. We met a lady named Patricia who was so sweet and wanted to take a photo for her daughter. She had also seen the article in the online paper.
It seemed like we had been on this road for an eternity. It was taking a really long time to get to where we were going. Winston realized that it was going to be his last day riding alone with Durango so he was trying to soak in every minute. We finally got to the Sleepy Teepee and met Jim and Jeri Wall. They were so nice and they got us set up with Durango and we checked out the teepee which was awesome!! It even had a bed in it and a wood floor!! The reporter from the Times, Scott, came out and interviewed Winston and then we fed Durango and went in to meet Jeri’s mom, Peggy. They were all so nice. Then Don and Nick arrived and we were so happy to see them!! They brought two of their horses and are going to ride with Winston tomorrow and Sunday. He is really excited about that. We can’t wait to see what Durango will do when he has friends to ride with tomorrow that are actually a part of his new herd!! Jim treated us to dinner at Smoking Dave’s BBQ in Lyons and it was delicious! We were so grateful! Then we came back to the house and had strawberry pie that Don’s wife Sara had sent for us! It was amazing! Thank you Sara! So, it has been raining since we got here and there was a little water in the teepee but I told Winston he has wanted to sleep in a teepee forever so now was his chance. Nick brought a bed roll so he was going to sleep in the teepee also and I had decided to stay in the RV since I was trying to finish the blog. Don didn’t want to be left out so he went to sleep in the teepee too! It is supposed to be raining in the morning until 7 so we plan on setting out at 8a.m. We will have to trailer part of the way because a lot of roads around here are still closed from the flood and there is a lot of construction. Don has it all mapped out for us so I know we are in good hands. Some of the time they will be off road so I will just go ahead and meet up with them at certain points.
It is hard for us to believe that this journey is nearing its end. We have so many people praying for us and cheering us ON TO GLORY!!! And it is going to be glorious for sure!!! If you are anywhere near and want to come share this special moment with us when we cross through the gates of Wind River, please come join us on Sunday at Wind River Ranch around noon or 12:30 which is the estimated arrival time. Whether you are there or not, every person who has followed along, who has prayed for us, who has donated to us, who has provided us food or shelter will definitely share in this amazing accomplishment and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping Winston fulfill his final promise to Jonathan. I know Jonathan is very proud of Winston for being so close to the finish line and especially that he has done it on a spirited mustang named Durango Bobwire. I know Jonathan will be riding with Winston as he crosses into Wind River, a place that meant so much to both of them. It changed both of their lives, just as this journey has changed our lives. Please pray for us for our final days in crossing the finish line! And wherever you are on Sunday at 12:30pm, I hope you will say a little prayer of thanks for God allowing us to arrive safely and I hope you will whisper to yourself “Glory” for we will have just achieved it!! Until then, we will keep moving up the mountains and On to Glory!!
Love, Donna (Winston, Hart and Durango too!)