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Going Home- Part 3

When we arrived at Lonnie and Theresa’s, we still did not know how we were getting from Colorado up to Wyoming. But with the help of Theresa, the Cowboy Church, Susan who hosted us for part of our first Thanksgiving on the trail, and several other locals, we eventually were offered a ride. ….  whom we had never met, offered to drive us all the way from Pueblo to Jackson Hole sight unseen! How generous and kind! His comment was, “I’ve got nothing better to do on the weekend so I’d be happy to help!” We had been  trying to time it so we could go to church and speak on Sunday at the Cowboy church, but …. had to be back Monday night, so we were not able to go.

So Saturday morning, he met us bright and early, we loaded the trailer, blanketed the horses for the cold drive, said goodbye to the Martinez family, and off we went. We had many hours of great visiting getting to know …. and he us as we traveled north through Colorado and crossed into wonderful Wyoming. It wasn’t so wonderful this time of year though- the wind in the south east of the state was pretty brutal not only on the temperature but on the fuel economy as well! We had called ahead to our friend, Grant Golliher, in Pavillion who had suggested that we stay with him for the night on our way through Wyoming. It would have been a 16 hour trip straight through and we weren’t willing to put the horses through that. So we accepted the offer and found our way to his house well after dark. Grant wasn’t home yet so after looking around with a flashlight, we finally figured out where to put the horses and headed inside for the night. Grant came home just as we were heading inside and we spent the rest of the evening telling him about our journey. He admitted that he thought we were crazy, weren’t going to make it, would go through several horses, and would never come back to this area again. We knew exactly how he felt and we had heard that from many people before we left. That’s the thing about going against the norm of society- you get alot of people telling you it can’t be done and giving you all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it-  and that’s why God had to make it utterly clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were supposed to do this crazy journey. So we were honored when he said, “You’ve earned alot of respect around here and I am proud of you.” He seemed to really enjoy our pictures as well and was just in complete amazement. I wish Jane were there too- we missed seeing her- but she was out of town. But we did have a good time with Grant and were thankful he let us stay for the night.

We woke up on January 15th with excitement and a bit of trepidation- today was the day we were going home! Our stomachs and minds were churning with excitement, concerns, and emotions. We had looked forward to it for so long, but what would it be like? How many challenges would there be? Would anyone in the area care that we were home? So many questions with no answers- just relying on God to take care of everything just as we’ve been doing for two years with no home. It didn’t take us long to get the horses back in the trailer and head out. The trailer was already loaded so that made it easy.

It was only a couple hours before we were back in our old stomping grounds with familiar scenery. We stopped to fill the gas before committing ourselves to the drive over Togwotee pass and the Continental Divide. I can’t even stress the miracle of the weather we had. The ENTIRE way across the country during this trailer relay the weather was unseasonably mild, warm, and sunny. IN JANUARY!!!! That is unheard of. A week and a half of mild weather in January across the entire country! Crossing this dangerous pass was no exception. Normally the roads are covered in several inches of ice all winter long. Taking a full horse trailer across is not something that is recommended. The roads were ninety percent dry. I’ll say it again- they were dry!!! It was sunny, relatively warm, and gorgeous. Our first glimpse of the Grand Teton Mountains made my heart race! We were so glad it was a beautiful day so we could see the whole range from bottom to top and it was glorious. They were larger and more beautiful than we remembered. I guess you kind of get used to a good thing and take it for granted- so it was fun seeing them with a new perspective.

While I’m on the subject of blessings, I have to mention how generous everyone was who drove us. There were 8 drivers throughout a week and a half period of time. We had just enough money left to pay for gas back to Wyoming- leaving us with no money to live on until we got jobs. A scary thought, yes, but God is bigger than that problem. After more than 2,500 miles on the road, we were ‘allowed’ to spend a sum total of $270 in gas. Total. That’s it! I can’t even tell you how much of a blessing it is to come home with a little bit of money to start on! Thank you friends for your generosity- it has helped give us at least a little bit of a start in our new life.

We continued to tell stories as we drove through Jackson Hole, through Teton National Park, past the elk refuge, and past the elk antler arches in Jackson. We only had a little further to go- around the end of the Tetons before we would be coming down the homestretch. We craned our necks, looking out the window trying to get the first glimpse of home.

As we pulled in the driveway, our first thought was, “wow- the barn and fence look great!” Our landlord had renovated quite a bit while we were gone. As the truck came to a stop, the first thing a did was headed for the house. I wanted to see my kitty. We unlocked the door and there was Nacho, alive and well. He didn’t run away or act mad as I expected, so I gently went over to him and picked him up, he snuggled into me, and I just wept and kissed him and hugged him. He acted a little like he didn’t know us- after all we had been gone for a quarter of his life, but we knew it would come back to him. Richard got it all on video and he gave Nacho hugs too. I had a serious fear when we left him- my childhood horse died while I was away at college and I was so afraid that was going to happen to me again and I would never see Nacho after we left him that day two years ago. But there he was alive and well. Praise God for preventing that fear from manifesting, and many thanks to all 5 of our friends and family who helped take care of him while we were gone.

I pried myself away from Nacho and we all went back out to take care of the horses. It was surprisingly warm with very minimal snow, so we took the blankets off and walked them over to the pasture gate. We knew immediately that Satchmo, Tiska, Apache, and Fiddle all realized quickly where they were and remembered their old home. Their heads went up, they sniffed the wind, listened to the local sounds, and went trotting off to check out all their favorite hang-out spots. To Chance, it was just another stop. He eventually followed, but he held back without the same eager excitement as the others had. We hoped they would explain to him in horsey language that this was home.

Finally, we got to the task of unloading the truck of all our gear. We packed the horse tack into the shed and all our other gear into the house where we laid it on a tarp in the living room. It took up the entire floor and looked like a very daunting project! We even peaked into our spare room where all our dehydrated food, extra supplies, boxes we had sent home, and other gear was piled shoulder high with hardly a walkway and we promptly shut the door. One project at a time! When it was all unloaded and there was nothing left for ….. to do, he gave us a hug before heading back to Colorado, turned to us and said, “Well, you’re home!”

Indeed we are. GLORY TO GOD!

The end of the Ride Across America.

The completion of a life-long dream.

Just the beginning of another- Hearts Up Ranch.

From one adventure to another- the next chapter in life begins…….. :)


{Note- while this is the official end of the Ride Across America, we fully intend to continue blogging periodically to keep you posted on the progression of the plans and vision for Hearts Up Ranch. I already have one coming out in the next day or two, and my goal is to do at least one per week. We will also share stories from our personal lives, updates on the animals, and planned events as we continue to push toward this goal. Do not hesitate to leave a comment if you have any questions or are curious about certain updates that I may not have mentioned. We desire to stay in touch with as many people as possible who we met across America, and this is one way we can do that. Additionally, we are creating an email list so we can personally send out newsletters. If you are not sure if we have your email and would like to be added to this list, please contact us via the link above and let us know. Also, don’t be afraid to call to keep in touch- even if it’s five years from now. Finally, one last thank you to everyone who helped us along the way, from the time when the ride was still in the planning stages to helping us get back on our feet back at home, from the prayers of those we never met to those with whom we spent weeks, from the humble donations of pocket change to the very generous donations including the ones given specifically for our personal use, from the tiniest church who invited us to speak to the broadest national news coverage, from the single encouraging word as we rode by to our cheerleaders who were there every step of the way, from the least little thing to the greatest. We could not have done it without you and your kindness will remain gratefully in our hearts always and forever. – With greatest love, Richard and Jeannette McGrath}



4 comments

  1. So enjoyed following you along your journey these past 20 months! Thanks for sharing it all with us! So glad you all made it home safely! You both have been blessed with many wonderful people who have helped you along the way. You will continue to be in our prayers. I did have one question… how are Bella and Nacho getting along?

  2. Glad you will be keeping in touch via newsletters. I have so enjoyed reading all the blogs you have posted. May God keep you wrapped in his loving care daily.


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