After a clammy cold, yet more enjoyable day than the previous, we found ourselves in conversation with a man from Conway while we made a pit stop at a nearby gas station. He new ‘just the person’ that we should stay with for the night and hurried off to ask his friend if he’d like company for the evening. Justin, a young, single horse trainer with a kind personality and a glint of mischief in his eyes invited us with open arms to his ranch home for the night. While we unpacked the horses in his barn, we were entertained.. or were we entertaining them?… with the questions from Justin and his friends. I think sometimes they looked at us like we had three heads, frequently commenting how nuts we are and how much work this was! We were appreciative of the perspective from a horseman that this is not just a ‘fun ride’ but a serious commitment and a lot of work. We felt warmly welcomed and at home with this bunch of friends and especially by Justin’s easy, relaxed hospitality.
And we were in for a treat for dinner. Right next to the fried chicken on the local specialty menu of Missouri is fried fish! We had been served fried fish by Matthew and Heather in Stockton, but we did not realize at the time how culturally typical that was. We heard recently that you “count how many fish you have then start making phone calls to your friends- who rarely turn down a good fish fry!” Justin was particularly gifted at this local specialty; corn battering fresh caught local fish and frying them to a golden, melt-in-your-mouth perfection. To go with a fish fry is typically thin sliced (the round way) fried potatoes and onions. At the few we have been to, not a vegetable has ever been in sight unless you count onions! Fish and potatoes are the name of the game! So far, we’ve tried Walleye, Trout, Catfish, and Sucker Fish.
Before bed, we sat down together and watched the news broadcast that was aired from Springfield, MO and were very pleased with the job they did. We learned the next day that the information from that broadcast was aired in 4 different states that we had never been to! Pretty cool! We hope to keep the momentum going until the whole country knows about Hearts Up Ranch and pitches in to help us meet our 2 million dollar fundraising goal for the Ride Across America!