The next few blogs will catch you up from before Thanksgiving until now. I will try to condense them a bit so you don’t have to wait very long to hear the exciting details and see the photos from our arrival at the Atlantic while the excitement is still fresh. I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that we are almost there…….!
Richard’s quote that “it’s like the 3 stooges go packing” today was pretty accurate. Between Apache constantly spooking, Fiddle’s saddle (it was Satchmo’s day off) constantly sliding forward no matter what we did, Chance breaking the piggin strings, Tiska’s pack having a loose cinch and not balancing correctly, and dogs that wouldn’t leave us alone, it was quite the stop-and-go day.
The highlight was that a news crew came out and did an interview which turned out pretty good on TV. We were informed by a few people that where we were heading was “horse country” and we wouldn’t have any trouble finding a place to stop. I’m not sure how they define horse country because all we could find was woods, woods, and more woods! The narrow and somewhat curvy roads we were on had little in the form of civilization, and even less grass or potential camping spots. We were left literally riding in the fast approaching dark with no idea where we were stopping.
A man named Nick pulled over because “something told him to” and offered his assistance by calling his neighbors and by offering his home. The only problem- it was a mile back WEST. We weren’t too quick to jump on the idea of riding backwards that far… in the dark. So while Nick was making calls, we saw that the folks across the street were home and they had a strip of grass large enough to feed our horses. So we went and asked them if we could camp there for the night. They hesitantly agreed, which was great because Nick wasn’t able to get ahold of the nearby farmer. We declined his offer to ride back to his house and started unpacking and setting up camp in the dark. Our hosts were a bit more confident of their choice to allow us to camp there once they saw us on the news that night!
It was supposed to be the coldest night yet, so we piled coats and tarps on top of our sleeping bags and shared a blanket with Bella. In the morning, we reluctantly got up in the freezing cold and starting getting ready for yet another day of riding. The horses were a couple days over-due for a rest, but we were hopeful that being on TV last night would create a little more welcome for us in the area and potentially help us find a place to rest.
Then Nick drove by again that morning on his way to town. He was lamenting missing out on being able to help us and give us a place to rest… if only he had been home when we passed his driveway! He offered to bring coffee back from town, so we continued to pack up and get the horses ready while we waited for him to return. It was the weirdest thing, but I had this overwhelming sense that if he brought us breakfast along with the coffee, it was a sign that we should go backwards a whole mile rather than ride forward that day to look for a place to rest. Richard agreed that this would be our sign.
Nick showed up with coffee.
That was so weird! I wasn’t expecting that at all. But God is a big God and he knows what we need. Richard and I and the horses needed a friendly place with a computer to rest. It was offered to us. So for the first time in the entire 20 months of this trip, we rode backwards 1 mile! We’ve never gone more than 1/4 mile backwards to stay anywhere, no matter how nice. But we went with peace knowing that this family was excited, friendly, accommodating, and thrilled to be a part of our journey. Nick was excited to put Evington, VA on the map as having hosted the Cross Country Riders!
So we loaded our stuff in Nicks van and rode the horses back a mile to his house. Richard and Nick spent an hour fixing the fence around their yard where there was plenty of grass and running water for the horses to rejuvenate. Their brand new house was a beautiful place to rest up, finish catching up on work, do laundry, take showers, and spend time making new friends. It was well worth the mile backwards to have a safe and welcome place to stay for a couple days before we did an extra long week so we could take Thanksgiving off. We do, after all, have a date to make now!