Well, I guess I need to apologize. "Anonymous" has posted a wake up call to remind me that there may be some of you waiting to hear more "horse stories". Ok. Sorry I have been lame, and I do intend to keep blogging (although I'm switching to a new format), but I've been a little busy lately having too much fun!
I have decided to change my plans. For some of you, this will be disappointing, for others, a big relief.
While keeping abreast of the International news broadcast in Europe, I learned that the very town in Mexico where I was planning to cross the border had experienced a slaughter/firefight including a reporter killed in the crossfire. I laid awake all night in self examination, feeling anxious that I was putting not only myself, but my horses in unneeded danger, and getting the feeling that the trip I had planned was not going to be fun anymore.
Since nobody is paying me (to write this blog or to ride my horses), I feel very strongly that I can do whatever I want to do, when I want to do it. In that long night, tossing and turning in my hotel bed in Switzerland, I came up with a new plan.
Instead of riding south across the border, my new plan is to ride the same distance (10,000 miles), but in the United States. I am planning to ride in every state, looking for the best 200 miles in each state. I am already enroute to my starting point, heading to California, with the horses in tow. Because I will be driving to each state, and then riding, it will cost me more than my previous plan. I will be keeping a cell phone and my truck and trailer, which means I have to pay for gas and insurance, which means I will need to work, unless somebody wants to give me money.
So until those sponsorships come rolling in, my plan includes intermittent employment as a travel ER nurse. I have been in touch with a couple of travel nurse agencies, but haven't decided yet which one to sign on with. If any of you readers know of a good company, let me know and I'll check them out!
I'm feeling really comfortable and excited about my new plan! I left Denver/Fort Collins a few days ago, and have had a wonderful time so far. Just perfect days!
My son Zak is caravanning with me, as he is moving to San Francisco. I have some of his things in my truck and trailer, and our plan is to take our time, stopping wherever we want to ride. The first day we stopped in Blanca, where we found a nice little affordable place called the "Lodge Motel". They had a corral out back for the horses and a very nice, large room. The next day, we hauled the horses to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and rode for 4 hours all over the north dunes. Fantastic! We felt like we were in Saudi Arabia! The horses were amazing - climbing up mountains of sand and going down steep slopes without hesitation. It was such an interesting landscape - like being on the moon? Hard to describe. I took a few photos with my iphone, and although they weren't too bad, I decided to buy a camera for the future.
That night we had a wonderful dinner at Lu's Cafe in Blanca. Great food! (So much better than anything we had in Europe!) We slept well that night, and headed South to New Mexico after breakfast the next morning.
What a beautiful day! We took a small road through the mountains of Southern Colorado, Northern New Mexico. It was sunny and about 68 degrees, and we made good time through Taos, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. I stopped and bought a Nikon 8100 that evening. I love it! I still have to learn it's finer points of operation, but so far the photos look amazing. When I figure out how to load them onto my computer, I'll be happy to share some of them with you.
We spent the night at my friend Mary's, in Belen. Her friend Doug has a small pasture next to his house, and hosted the three horses next to a field of goats and cows. They were well rested and happy to see us the next day. Doug fixed us an amazing breakfast of eggs, biscuits and gravy, red chili (yum!), green chili, fresh tomatoes, hash browns, and green chili, complete with orange juice and fresh brewed coffee. Wow, what a nice treat.
After that treat, we headed south again, without a firm plan of where to go next, except that we have a "sort of" plan to turn west at the southern end of New Mexico.
When we got to the Truth or Consequences exit, we couldn't resist. Such a great name for a town! We drove from the exit to Elephant Butte state park, and took a look at the lake there, but the ranger informed us that horses were not allowed in the park. Well, the brochure stated that they were, so ok, he said maybe at the north end of the park. The retired couple in the info booth wasn't really sure, but they thought maybe horses were allowed in Caballo (horse in Spanish) State Park, further to the south.
So Zak and I pulled out, but decided to stop and ask about the hot springs we were seeing signs for. We learned that Truth or Consequences was a new name for a town previously named "Hot Springs", and that there were hotels, motels, and public baths in town. We decided to check it out!
We pulled into this cute little New Mexican town and headed toward the Rio Grande River. The fellow at the gas station had told me that hot springs flowed near the river, and that in the "old days" people would dig "wide spots" and sit in hot springs by the river. Nowadays, there are quite a few places that cater to those wishing to soak in the healing waters. We found a nice spot called Riverbend, which had beautiful pools overlooking the river. Public and private, varying costs. Zak and I parked the trailer and walked all over town, following a map and checking all the options. I decided to schedule a Thai Massage treatment which included a soak at 600 pm last night.
Since it was about 3 pm, we decided to get a room, get something to eat, and ride the horses. We found a beautiful, colorful adobe room at the "Pelican". Two beds in separate rooms. Just lovely, and reasonable price! Also includes soaking in mineral water... I'm liking this town better and better!
After setting up the room, we walked across the street for a bite to eat. I ordered a burrito and Zak had a bbq sandwich. Very tasty New Mexican flavors, and satisfied, we headed back to the horses to saddle up. Our hostess at the Pelican had given us some tips on where to ride, so we drove the truck and trailer to the Rio Grande and unloaded. They are so awesome. So calm, so willing, so gentle.
We took them first to the river to drink, and then rode along a river trail at sunset. We crossed the Rio Grande, which is only a foot deep at this stretch, but about 30 feet wide. Zak was riding Maggie bareback, and I saddled Midnight, towing Magic with a lead. We took photos in the river - the sunset casting pink on the still surface. A warm breeze brought us joyful smiles, and the horses got a nice trot over the dusty trail. It was a short but scenic ride, and somehow just very special.
We got back just in time, and enjoyed a great soak at the spa in preparation for my massage. My hips give me a lot of trouble. I have injuries, and I am on a mission to heal them. It doesn't bother me to ride, but sometimes I have a lot of pain, especially if I need to carry something heavy.
The massage helped quite a bit. I had never had a Thai Massage, and it was an interesting experience. Fully clothed, I laid on a mat on the floor, and the therapist performed accupressure with her hands, legs, knees, feet, and at one point, sat on me! She stretched me, jiggled me, and pressed me to a point where I finally felt a lot better. I would definitely try it again.
After the massage, Zak and I mounted the horses again and rode around the town. It was the night of a "Old Fashioned Christmas", and the town's main street was blocked off to traffic, with barrels of bonfires spaced along the street all the way through town. We sort of missed the celebration because it ended at 9 pm, but we did connect with the nice people who had been giving carriage rides all night. The very friendly owner, Deanne, invited me to put the horses overnight at her ranch, so we loaded them up and followed her back, where we turned the horses into a pen beside a longhorn steer and her beautiful percheron team.
Back to the Pelican to sleep, and now it's morning. I'm about to have another soak in the beautiful waters. The room is adobe, and the walls are painted lime green. Southwestern art is on the walls, and the room is inviting and peaceful.
We're planning to spend another night here, so we can take the horses to Caballo park (about 15 miles south). Later, there is a Christmas season "luminaria walk" at the Elephant butte park. We plan to check that out this evening too.
So that's the update. Thanks to all of you who have followed my blog so far, and as always, I welcome your comments. I'm sorry for the lapse in time, I was having computer issues, but purchased a Macbook Pro (it rocks!) and should be sailing from here out.
I am not satisfied with this blog format however, and will be changing to a new format very soon. See my next entry for information on how you can continue to follow my story.