When we left the Ireland’s, it was in the 30’s. Wow, what a shock to the system after 60’s for the last two days! The horses were walking along at a nice clip, which was a good thing since we had another long 21 mile day to get to our next host. We had somehow gotten in touch with Delbert who had ridden with a group of 40 people from Mexico to Canada! The feeling of excitement to meet someone who had experienced a similar trip was mutual.
We made our way down the quiet country roads of 80th and 70th- aiming for Humboldt. Half way through the day, we were hailed by an excited man running out of his house in his socks! “Wait.. wait!” He was very excited to learn what we were doing and was quick to offer us water for the horses, food for the trail, a bathroom break, prayer, and his Gazetteer Atlas of Missouri. We needed one of those! What a joy it was to meet him!
We waved goodbye to this nice man and headed towards the Shield’s place. We knew we couldn’t waist any time if we were to make it there. And considering that there was a snow storm predicted and we were offered a place to hole up as long as needed…. we wanted to make it!
Our goal is to ride 8 days in a row, but this winter seems to lend itself to 6 nice days to ride, then 3 days of snow and bitter cold. No point in riding through the nasty days to sit out the nice days. So we stop early again.
Del was kind enough to meet us out about half a mile and walk the rest of the way back to his house with us. We were getting tired, cold, and a little cranky by that point so it was nice to have someone else to talk to! We tucked the horses into a small corral with the option of going in his barn to get out of the impending storm. He had put out a round bale for them to eat as much as they wanted, then took us in the house for a hot breakfast style dinner. We were able to spend a little time getting to know him and his family as well as talking about both of our rides. He had been the ‘trail boss’ for the large ride; planning logistics, organizing, helping figure out where they were going to park all their horse trailers with living quarters each night, caring for the needs of the 40 riders and all their horses and spare horses, and entertaining with his cowboy singing at night. The ride consisted of almost all elderly folks who were doing this for reasons as varied as their personalities. One couple had never taken a vacation and it was their 50th anniversary. One man wanted to do this before he died and didn’t care if he died on the trail. I can only imagine how interesting it must have been to talk to these people along the journey. Del fondly recounts how he purposely named his horse “Naked” when he bought it for the trip and all the many funny moments that caused and all the places he rode ‘naked!’ He even got a “Ride Naked” fan club going all in good fun! The adventure had been documented and televised on RFDTV, a horse focused cable channel on the show “The Best of America by Horseback.” Del is going to see what he can do to get our Ride Across America story shared on the show as well.
After dinner, he took us over to the neighbor’s barn office where we were to make that home for the next several nights. We went to sleep wondering what the next couple days would bring. The weathermen were pretty hyped up about the impending snow storm!……