Our Oasis friends did a great job helping us pack up the horses in the morning. They sent us off with a prayer, a list of contacts for potential hosts, and hugs. We rode east on Trail West Road all day, and discovered that only 3 inches of snow in windy Kansas creates at least one foot drifts in the ditches along the roads- where we ride. We rode in the ditches where we could, along the sides of fields when we couldn’t, and in the road when we had to. The one benefit of snow is we don’t have to take time to put their boots on. The one down side is if there is any ice- we can’t see it under the snow.
There haven’t seen much ice, but Apache happened to step on a patch and fell first to his knees, then down on his hind end. It caught me by surprise and I didn’t know what was going on until he tried to get up and I saw his front leg slide across the ground and he went the rest of the way down. I screamed to Richard not to come this way- there’s ice! I was trying to figure out how to help him before he got hurt when suddenly, he found some safe ground, hopped up, and we got out of the road in one quick movement. That was scary. He seemed ok so I kept riding him, but we decided he would have the day off tomorrow in case he was sore from the fall.
Not long after the adrenaline subsided from that incident, it came right back…. We heard this piercing sound coming louder and louder up in the sky. The clouds were low and we couldn’t see anything. I thought it might have been a fighter jet; it kept getting louder and closer. The horses started to get scared and tried to bolt. I started to get nervous because the noise was deafening and I still couldn’t see what was coming at us. Then just like that- it was gone. Sure enough, a fighter jet became visible as it flew away from us. We got the horses calmed down, but it sure brought back memories of a certain evening back in Nevada near the Army bombing practice range…..
A man Richard had met at the Oasis drove by and asked if we had a place to stay. Once again, we were riding on faith. He decided to take the time to find a place for us to stop and drove back by a while later with exciting news. He found us a host! But it was one mile north of our path. We were disappointed- 1 mile north then a mile back south- that’s two miles out of our way. You add that up daily over the course of months and it adds hundreds of miles to our trip. He suggested another house to stop at on the way but to use the one he just found as a back up. A couple other people stopped by and suggested the same house to stop at…. so we did.
I lowered my face mask, raised my goggles, and knocked on the door. A “plain” lady (Mennonite or Amish) answered the door- well, at least she opened it 2 inches anyhow. “What can I do for you SIR?” said gruffly. Ok, not the welcome I was expecting judging by the suggestions to stop here. And not ALL women where ONLY dresses. So I put on my best smile and gave her our story and why we had stopped. Her reaction, put nicely, was completely unenthusiastic. We had a kind and excited offer from another Mennonite family to put us up if this family would put our horses up. But we told her we didn’t want to force anything or make anyone uncomfortable so we would move on. “But maybe we could work this out and let your horses stay the night.” Sorry lady- it doesn’t work to be nice after we are walking away. We just felt bad to turn down the dinner offer from the other family who was excited to help us.
So it turns out that our plan B was our plan A all along. A mile out of our way suddenly seemed worth it for a warm bed, dinner, hospitality for our horses, and an Amish family that was just oozing excitement to host us. We decided we’d be a little less strict on how far off our path we’d go during the cold months if that meant not having to sleep outside. You can’t blame us right?!