The day we left Diane’s place greeted us with much better riding but still the same challenge of finding a place to stop for the night. We were seen off by a nice reporter who photographed the last hour of our packing up routine, then we took a back road that brought us up over a mountain but got us off of 52 for several miles. We knew we took a wrong turn when we came to a dead end at a tiny airport (just a strip of tar in the woods), but we turned around and it didn’t take us too long to get back on our way.
When we came off the mountain and back out to 52 in Kindell, Diane was waiting for us to make sure we found our way. We were also met by a reporter from the main news station in the area- whom Bella took quite a liking to! The road in that area wasn’t as bad as we were expecting- once again we had about 3 feet of shoulder which was so much more than we’ve had for quite a while. But we did have to watch out for all the 4 wheeler traffic on the roads! One of the biggest attractions in the area is the Hatfield/McCoy trail system that is heavily traveled by 4 wheelers.
It took us nearly 2 hours to find a place to stop that night. There weren’t many options where there was grass, and no one seemed the least bit interested in hosting our traveling herd. We were getting concerned because the sun was going down fast, we were coming up to a remote and mountainous section of road, and we had almost resigned ourselves to walking for most of the night. Then a friendly face by the name of Jesse pulled over and offered assistance with anything we needed. He got busy driving up the road and trying to find us a place to stop and rounding up some hay. No sooner did he offer his assistance when Joey came up the road to show his son the horses. When he discovered we were looking for a camping spot, without hesitation he offered his home. We had to turn around and walk WEST for about 1/4 mile, but we were so relieved I almost skipped back in the wrong direction!
Joey and his wife treated us like family. They put our horses in their dog run around their house, fed us supper, and invited us to take showers and sleep inside. They even had a warm fire going, which was great considering it is starting to frost at night. Jesse and his wife came by with fresh fruit for us to enjoy too. I had to laugh at the pen for the horses because it had toys, a swimming pool ladder, and a kiddie pool for them to drink out of- it amazes me how much you can get away with when you are dealing with tired horses. It was absolutely perfect for the night, but our horses certainly never know what their accommodations are going to be like! But we were grateful that Joey was a think-outside-the-box kinda guy and didn’t hesitate to offer his dog run for our horses.
The following day was pretty cool. It was a long, long, long uphill with lots of switchbacks, but the view was spectacular at the top. We were reminded that Bella came from the plains of Kansas, because she nearly gave me heartfailure when she almost jumped off a cliff after a squirrel! I think these are the first big mountains she has seen, and she has definitely had a learning curve.
The road was fairly quiet for most of the day, but once again, we were stumped on where we were going to stop for the day. So we trusted that God was taking care of the details like He always does for us, and we just kept walking. A state trooper pulled over to check on us and offered to help us find a place to camp. He knew a family with a riding ring and ranch at the perfect distance for us to stop for the day, so he drove away to go ask them if they would host us. He came back with good news then gave us directions for a shortcut.
We became fast friends with the Hagerman family. Our horses got to be turned loose in the ring- the first time in 9 days that they were turned loose in an area where they could relax and just be horses. Then we were ushered into the house for showers, dinner, and a huge surprise. A group of their friends showed up with instruments in tow and we were treated to the most wonderful bluegrass music and gospel singing. I broke down in tears for the pure joy and welcomeness of that simple act of kindness done primarily for our benefit. We laughed harder than we have in a long while, told stories well into the night, and decided to bag the next day’s ride. We hung out for an extra day and went to church with the family and just relished the time we had with them.