We had a joyful surprise this day. First, about lunchtime, we were hailed by a couple as we passed their yard. We pulled off and they were so excited to meet us, offer us lunch, water, a bathroom, goodies for the horses, and help finding a place to stop that night. Ric and Gail were just a joy, and they got us hooked up with a church down the road where we were allowed to camp out back. They brought us hay and then spent the evening with us because it just so happened that the church was having an early Thanksgiving celebration that night. So instead of nasty dehydrated food, we got stuffed on homemade Thanksgiving dishes!
Since we camped at a church, we attended their Sunday service in between packing up, then we rode a shorter distance that afternoon. We were met about 2 miles from our goal by Harold and Dorris who rode their horses with us back to their place. We were in for a nice treat. Harold, a cowboy at heart, had a fire going in the firepit (with a piece of cedar smoking that smelled amazing), had BBQ going on his grill (permanently located in his barn next to his horses), opened an old bottle of wine saved for a special occasion, and invited over good company. It was an enjoyable evening that made it hard to leave- especially when we were serenaded by Mandolin playing and breakfast on the grill in the morning.
The following day was a reality check. We came out on highway 460 and realized that we would be on busy roads – mainly 460- all the way to the end. It’s not exactly relaxing riding, but it is exciting that we are getting so close! Poor Apache is just emotionally maxed out on trailer trucks- he is just having a hard time dealing with them going by. He’s better than he was after Roanoke, but not nearly like he used to be. We found a semi quiet yard to camp in just a short ways off 460 and we got in our tent just as it started raining. We were counting our blessings that this tent is much more water proof than our last one was! (Not that it owed us anything after the use it got!)
“Note to self: Why to never do this again even when it sounds like fun after the memory of the pain fades……. We are all struggling to finish. It’s so close, yet it’s like senioritis in high school. I don’t want to sit in the saddle anymore. I don’t want to walk. I don’t want to make phone calls, yet I do just to pass the time. I am so bored of going the same speed in the same direction all day. I feel braindead from doing the same thing day in and day out…. But my nerves are fried from our constant brushes with danger. My day and night dreams are plagued by nightmares of the horses or Bella getting run over and looking like the road-kill we ride by on a daily basis. I think that’s called ‘battle stress’. We sing and pray constantly to stay sane and calm, reminding ourselves that God is bigger than all this. I am tired of chafing and getting rashes (in unmentionable places). I can hardly remember a time when my back, neck, shoulders, tailbone, and hips didn’t hurt. It is a constant pain- often nagging, sometimes stabbing. I slouch in the saddle because I am too tired to bother riding properly. I don’t think I even keep my heels down anymore. I am so stiff and inflexible- what a chore it will be to bring my body back from this abuse. If I have this pain, I know the horses all have pain too. We are all living on Ibuprofen and Bute for the next couple weeks just to get through….”
Does that answer the question of if we are riding home or not and if we are happy or sad to finish?!? We are so definitely NOT riding home (it would be horse abuse to even think about it- not to mention self abuse) and definitely ARE ready and happy to finish!!! Hanging on to Jesus for strength and keeping our eyes on the finish line………