The King of the Road

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I would like to share a story about a man who woke up one morning with a head full of ideas and started making plans. This man decided that he wanted to ride his horse across the United States.

In ordered to pursue his dream, he bought or borrowed every book he could find concerning horses, especially books dealing with packing and endurance riding. He read “Horseback Honeymoon” and the “The History of the Horse in the Military”. He also read packing manuals and the “Official U.S. Cavalry Manual of Rules and Regulations”. He studied old photos and drawings of every type of saddle, learned the names of different styles of bits. Then he bought and tried equipment, modified it to suit his needs or discarded it. He met with horse owners by the score and picked their brains for information.

At the same time, he conditioned himself and his horses, riding a few miles at night after work, twenty miles trips on the weekends, testing tack and camping equipment, gearing everything to ruggedness and weight. These trial runs were also a test for his horse, Sabrina, an Arabian mare. However, she was afflicted with the nervousness common to Arabians. During these rides, he realized that he needed stout horses with long strides, endurance animals that can cover distances day after day. With this realization, he ended up selling Sabrina and got a couple of Mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management mustang adoption program.


Once he was satisfied that his two new horses were solid animals with strong legs and good feet, he realized that he was as ready as he’d ever be. Since he was already behind schedule of his original starting date of early February had long since come and gone, he already quit his job and so was spending non-replaceable funds, and if he started too late he would not each his East Coast destination until well into the snow season. So, he finally gave away or sold almost everything he owned, loaded what left into two hand-made panniers and rode off into the sunset starting from Santa Monica following old Route 66 via the railroad embankments.

KingOfTheRoad7 (2)

The first week’s travel found him with a lame horse, thundershowers which kept everything he owned soaked for days, an encounter with quicksand and alarming weight loss in one of his horse, Spooky. The latter proved to be a problem because he originally planned to alternate his horses, riding one and packing the other, but the weight loss in Spooky prevented the riding saddle from fitting properly. Since, the pack saddle’s flexible design, it allowed him to continue the trip using Spooky as a pack horse and other horse, Cinnamon, as his riding horse.


Early in his trip, a road-wise dog of indeterminate origin decided that trotting along with him and the horses all day was a better life than the one she had been leading because the horses would scurry up the small games for her to chase. Despite her size, she gamely kept up with the long stride of the horses, so he decided to adopt her as a permanent member of the expedition. He began sharing his food with her (or sometimes, she shared hers with him) and he named her Speedbump, based on her penchant for traveling down the white line of the highway and being absolutely fearless in the face of oncoming traffic.


After five months on horseback, he had pared down his necessities to the minimum. Along the way, he would ship off any equipment that have been proven unnecessary. He had gotten horseback camping down to an art. However, even with dumping unnecessary equipment, his pack horse, Spooky was still losing weight which was proving to be a problem. When he planned for this trip, he had figured heavily on range grazing for the horses in order to cut down the cost of grain and the problems of carrying it. This system worked well for his older horse, Cinnamon, who would eat whatever was available and suffer no ill effects. Spooky, on the other hand, was a picky eater. To compound the problem, he was still a young horse, and consequently needed more nutrition than his other horse.

He, himself, was beginning to feel the effects of five months in the saddle. He has lost a total of thirty pounds since leaving California in May. He was riding an unpadded saddle, and by the time he reached Santa Fe, New Mexico, he had none of his own padding left, either. It was getting harder to spend eight or ten hours a day in the saddle. So he shortened his daily mileage, extended his rest stops by a day or so, and anything to keep Spooky and himself healthy and strong.

Slowly, reluctantly he came to a few stark realizations. He was facing over 2,000 miles and another six to eight months of travel and he could not judge the toll it would take on himself or Spooky. Spooky although still healthy, would probably be seriously damaged in another few weeks. He was simply too young to endure the prolonged physical stress of the trip. Plus, he was running seriously short of funds. Feed expenses, replacement of gear and other unexpected costs has depleted his funds faster than he had hoped. In addition, the late start had set him on a schedule which would leave him traveling through snow during the last months of this trip.

In the end, he came to realize that this was not an endurance test or a ride to set a record. It was simply supposed to be an adventure. Nothing was worth the cost of a horse, and the country would still be there for him to explore at a later date. He decided to postpone the remainder of his journey and head home.

KingOfTheRoad8So, you’re probably wondering who was this guy that rode his horses across the United States? It was my late husband, Russ who took this journey back in 1993. This story was extracted from various news articles that I found in storage and the memories of his story as he told it to me and his friend, Don Dickinson. I’m still regretting that I didn’t take along a tape recorder when we took a road trip on Route 66 back in 2003 reliving his past and from the sound of it he had quite an adventure on his journey.


As I re-read what I wrote, I can’t help but wondered if our journey were meant to follow the same path in life. He took this journey before we ever met and if he finished his journey like he intended to, our path may have never crossed.

New Life Lessons from the Road

Back in May, I wrote a post about life lessons learned from the road. Well here’s an updated version of that post since I have now been on the road for over four months. It was also one of my presentation at the Horizon Unlimited California event last month.
Life is too short – I remember seeing a quote running around on Facebook that read as “Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you’re still paying for in order to get the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it. [Ellen Goodman]. This quote really struck a cord with me because it’s true. Society teaches us at a young age, that in order to be a somebody that we must go to college, get a career, get married, get a house with the white picket fence, have 2.5 kids, send the kids to college, build a nest eggs and then maybe get to retire at the age of 67.5. But sadly 43% of American spend more than they earn per year trying to achieve this and can’t afford to retire. So the reality is there is never the right time to pursue your dreams so why not make it happen now since you might not get the chance to do so later.

Flying Solo – Traveling solo on this journey has been a huge challenge for me in so many ways. One was learning how to be more free-spirited in my travel than my usual structured mission oriented personality. Also learning how to balance the two personality within myself. Russ was the free-spirited one and I was the structured mission oriented one. Over time we learned how to keep each other in balance. Now I had to learn how to do that alone. I bet some people thought I was crazy when I was talking to myself all the time. Secondly, traveling alone as a deaf person has presented some few challenges for me. Such as not being able to hear a car horn while riding. Another is not being able to hear if someone or something is outside of my tent. Lastly knowing if there is a mechanical problem developing with my bike because I can’t hear the different sound it makes. Lastly, the biggest challenge was learning how to maintain my own motorcycle. I didn’t realize how much Russ did whenever we took off camping on our motorcycle. We always his and her chores preparing for any trips we took. I now wished that we switch roles every now and then so we could have been more prepared. Even if you’re not traveling solo, you never know when something might happen to your partner and you have to take over the rest of the trip.

Expectation – The biggest thing I learned is that nothing is as it seems. Especially the weather, never ever trust the weather report. In another word, hope for the best but expect the worst. For example, on Fourth of July, I stopped in a town called Havre, Montana which is famous for the Wahkpa Chu’gn buffalo jump, or bison kill. This location is over 2,000 years old, it is one of the largest and best preserved buffalo jumps anywhere. In prehistoric times, Native Americans would drive bison over the edge of the cliff, killing or severely injuring the animals. Afterwards, the Native Americans skinned the animals and preserved the meat. The buffalo jump is now an archaeological site and a small tourist attraction. I found camping at the fairground which is a great source for cheap or free campground. I was also excited to learn that the firework would be launch off at the fairground as well. The weather predicted a storm to be arriving late evening with fifteen to twenty mile per hour winds. That is nothing compared to the winds we get in the desert. The campground had very little trees for shelter so I decided to move my tent to under an awning at one of the 4H building to provide additional shelter from the storm. While waiting for the fireworks to go off, the sirens went off. As I run back to the campground, I already saw that my tent sliding across the patio. There was not much I could do but sit in my tent and hope for the storm to quietly to blow over. Luckily for me the sheriff and the maintenance crew from the fairground came to help me break down the camp and evacuate to the nearest shelter. As it turned out, it was a seventy mph tornado like storm which knock out powers and destroyed several building in the area. Also, the poles on my tent became warped. Thanks to my brother, I received a new tent when I arrived at his place a week later so I can continue on with my trip. 


Camaraderie and Humanities – It seems that the newscast, social media and YouTube video rating are higher when they show that the world is a cruel, dangerous and an unforgiving place out there. So if it is on the media then it must true? I actually found it not to be the case. I have met the most kind and caring people on this journey. I can’t tell how many times, I have had been invited over for dinner by fellow campers seeing that I was only eating a dehydrated meal. Or how many times, I have listened to caregiver or cancer survivor tell me their stories of courage, strength and hope. Or me giving those who are struggling my stories of courage, strength and hope. Or when I drove through the most dangerous neighborhood in Chicago and getting thumbs up by local gang members. The world is not as bad as it seems on the news. Maybe we should give more thumbs up to the good hearted stories than the stupid or bad ones.

Which brings me to a quote I hope that all of you can relate to…
“There are no mistakes in life,

only lessons. There is no such thing as a negative experience, only

opportunities to grow, learn and advance along the road of self-mastery.

From struggle comes strength. Even pain can be a wonderful teacher”

(Robin Sharma)

The Rabbit Hole

Have you ever felt like you’re in a hallway waiting for one of the doors to open or trying to figure out which door to open? Ever since I got back from Horizon Unlimited California (HU), I have been feeling lost and like I’m falling down the rabbit hole. Prior to HU, I was always on a mission whether it was working, dealing with the estate, preparing for the motorcycle trip or actually riding the motorcycle on the trip. Now, I’m in limbo, waiting on test results and doctors appointments that are weeks or months away.
In other words before now, I was always keeping myself busy. So while waiting, my mind start to wander and I feel like I don’t know who I am or wants to be anymore. Ever since I have been on the road trip, I learn how to take care of myself and do the things that I wanted to do. Basically learned how to be a more of a free spirited person. Now that I’m back, I know that I can’t go back to being the person who I was before Russ passed away. In another word, the people pleaser, the perfectionist, and the person who was always on a mission. Even though my friends and families expect me to like nothing ever happened.

Then there was this new life that started evolving before I left for this trip. A friend of mine called me one day and asked if she could give my phone number to a mutual friend of her. At first I told her no since I was leaving in three months for my trip. However, she was persistent stating that her friend recently gotten divorced and needs some help getting back in the dating world. She also said that I need to have some fun once awhile too. So I caved in and let her give him my phone number.

We talked for awhile and I let him know up front that I will be leaving shortly on a trip for a year. He was cool with that but it still took him awhile to ask me out on a date. He was worried that I wouldn’t like the place that he wanted to go for a date. When he finally asked me if I would like to Calico Ghost Town for the day and immediately I said “Yes!”. He was surprised since he was not used to anyone who would like to do the same thing as he does. Since that day, we have gone to other places such as the zoo, horse back riding, off road motorcycle riding and to a country music festival. He also helped me prepare for my trip by running around with me to various camping and motorcycle stores to get the gears I needed.

While on my trip, he kept in contact with me to make sure that I was doing okay. So when he heard that I was having issues with my hands and needed to come back home to make doctor appointment. He asked if I would come and live with him while I try to figure out my medical issues. At first I wasn’t sure if that would be a good idea. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for new relationship. I did have other alternative living arrangement but I one thing I knew for sure was that I do not want to live in the urban area again. After living in the desert for several years, I have come to love this area and wanted to live here again. So, I decided to take a chance and give it a shot living with him.

It has been awkward for me since I have been back because I never been a homebody. Ever since I was fourteen years old, I have always have had a job. Now, I’m struggling to find a job where I could work from home or on the road. It is taking awhile to solidify some leads I have had in the works. Once again while waiting for supplemental income, I’m not used to having to rely on someone for a vehicle when I need to run errands or not contributing to household bills since I still haven’t received the money from the estate. I do not like the feeling of having to rely on someone for help. I have always been independent and always could take care of myself. So this feeling of needing someone is very new and scary feeling for me.

With this new lifestyle and the pull of my friends and families back to the old me has me feeling more confused then ever.  A part of me feel guilty for moving on without Russ and feel so lost without a mission or purpose.  At the same time, I was missing Russ more than ever which also made me feel guilty for my friend. I was in my lowest of low the other day when my daughter called to check up on me. Her timing couldn’t be better. I told her how I have been feeling lately. Telling her how much I wanted to be back on the road as a free-spirited person but frustrated with the lack of knowing what’s wrong with my hands which is preventing me from being on the road again. She calmly told me that I was still me and doing what I always do best, making lemonade out of lemon. She said that I always do the best of whatever I was doing whether it’s raising two kids as a single mom, riding the motorcycle on the back road of United States or being the best Susie Homemaker there ever was. She reminded me to “just live in the moment and make the best of it as I have alway done before”

So here I am just making the best of the situation and reminding myself once again, just to take it one day at a time. All the while, I also know that he see me staring out the window itching to be out in the world wandering again. I know that when he hears the song “Wild Child” by Kenny Chesney and wonder when will the wind shift again for me. However, I know that he still have hope for us making a new life together but is living in the moment for now just as I am. 


Roadside America

As mentioned in my previous post called the “The Compass”, I mentioned that I wanted to explore United States using only the back roads. I found the information I needed to guide me on a website called “Road Trip USA” showing the cross-country adventures on America’s two-lane Highways. So far, I have covered three of the eleven roads. While on these roads, I also used another app called Roadside America which is a travel tools and guide to unusual attractions, tourist traps, weird vacations, and road trips.
So what is a roadside attraction? It’s a feature along the side of a road as a mean to attract tourists. The phenomenon started in early 1930’s with entrepreneurs began building businesses in the form of common objects of enormous size such as the dinosaur next to a motel in Vernal, UT.


Other attractions include monuments and pseudo-scientific amusements such as Trees of Mystery in Klamath Falls, CA.

The most famous are found on Route 66 which I have not done all of it yet but it is next on my list to do. Anyhow, below are some of my favorite roadside attractions that I visited on my trip.

  1. Trigger – This 24 foot tall statue represent Trigger who was the famous horse of Roy Rogers. His horse appeared in all of his movies with him. Roy Rogers was Russ’ idol and when we went to visit the cemetery and discovered this statue, he was so excited to see an anatomically correct version of Trigger, I knew that this is the place to make Russ’ final resting place.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  2. Bottle Tree Ranch – This is located near my hometown on Route 66 in Ore Grande, CA. The artist, Elmer Long began building his ranch for nearly fourteen years now. It all started when he inherited his father’s collection of bottles back in 2000. He decided to display the bottles on metal trees that he constructed. Shortly thereafter, he quit his full-time job and dedicate his life solely towards the construction and expansion of the Bottle Tree Ranch.BottleTree
  3. Paul Bunyan and Babe – Theses roadside attraction for the Trees of Mystery park which is famous for corkscrew trees. The statue of Paul actually talks to the visitors as they approach the entrance. Whereas the statue of Babe is not anatomically correct but it sure does one giant ball which I had to take a picture with in honor of Russ knowing that is something he would have done.Babe2
  4. Chief Leatherlips Monument – This roadside attraction holds a special place for me since when I’m visiting friends or families I don’t take the time to visit the roadside attraction when I’m in the area. I was visiting Russ’ sister and it was her idea to make a day trip out of it. I guess the quirkiness runs in the family, like brother, like sister. Anyway, this monument is the second one that was built in honor of Chief Leatherlips further away from his death site. Since the first one was removed from the golf course and have been rumored that since it has been removed the famous PGA golf tournament has been rained on every year.CheifLeatherLip
  5. The Trail of the Whispering Giant – This one is located in Erie, PA but there are seventy-four of them in United States and Canada (at least one in each of the fifty states). These wooden statues is a collection of sculptures by a Hungarian-born artist Peter Wolf Toth. The sculptures range from fifteen to forty feet in height and all resemble the natives of the region in which they are located. The artist always donates them to the town he carved it in and never charges a fee for his time.WhisperingGiants
  6. Freedom Rock – This is a large (approx. 60+ ton) boulder located in a rural town of Iowa that is repainted every year in time for Memorial Day with a different Thank You theme to the U.S. Veterans for their service by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen. Now, he is on a mission to paint a patriotic themed rock in every county of Iowa.
FreedomRock1 FreedomRock2
Since I’m on hiatus from my journey but it doesn’t mean that I can’t make small road trip locally using this apps. For more information about the app or the website, you can go to

The Journey to HU California 2015

It’s that time again, the fifth annual Horizon Unlimited motorcycle event is being held at the Mariposa County Fairground. This year, I offered to volunteer on behalf of a charity organization called Lost for a Reason.  


When I registered for the event, I asked one of the organizer if they still needed presenters and of course she said that they still needed to fill some time slot. Thinking it was like Overland Expo event, I submitted several ideas but I didn’t realize that they would choose both topics I presented. Yikes, I had less than two weeks to get a new laptop and to look through over 2,000 pictures that I took on the trip to use in both presentations.

The first hurdle I had to jump since I got back from the road was dealing with the bank. I went on a Sunday to buy the new laptop but my bank declined it. Uh? I know that I have enough money in my account so I was baffled as to why it would be declined. Since, it is a local credit union, I won’t be able to address the issue until Monday. Sigh, it has not been a smooth transition ever since I have gotten back home. After discussing it with the bank and which I have forgotten about is that I had them put a $500 dollar cap on all charges before I went on the road. So once I have cleared up that hurdle I went back and purchased the laptop and began the process of installing all of the necessary softwares which took several days.  

Then I could finally proceed with putting together the slide show for the two presentations. The first one was called “Roadside America – Unusual attractions, tourist traps, other oddities in the USA” This presentation was all about America obsession with quirky billboards and giant statues that still litter along the highway. The second presentation was about “Life Lesson from the Road” and was more emotional and harder for me to put to together. When I started this journey, I wanted to share experiences, strength and hope but it is I who ended up learning more about herself. Plus when looking through the all of the pictures, I discovered that it was mostly that the people I met along way who gave me experiences, strength and hope.

Whew, I finished working on my slide show presentation the day before I needed to hit the road to Horizon Unlimited. Last year, I took a scenic route up there but since Purple is drinking oil a little bit too much for my taste, so I decided that this year, I would take the most direct route up there. Part of it is on Highway 58, which I finally stopped at a museum that I have been wanting to visit probably a million times since this is the same route I used to take to go to the Corporate office who I used to work for.  

The museum is in a small town call Boron which is home to the U.S. Borax Boron Mine, California’s largest open-pit mine, which is also the largest borax mine in the world. Back in the old days, the borax was hauled out of there via a Twenty-mule teams. They were teams of eighteen mules and two horses attached to large wagons that traveled from Death Valley across the Mojave Desert to the nearest railroad spur, 165 miles (275 km) away in Mojave, California. There were miniature version of the twenty-mule team and other artifacts about the mining life in Boron.  


I got an unexpected surprise when I stopped to visit the Twenty-Mule Museum, there was another museum next door. The Saxon Aerospace museum displays a collection of artifacts from the Edwards Air Force Base which is famous for its role in flight research and test pilot heroics such as Chuck Yeager.  

Since the event was over 300 miles away and I typically only go about 150 miles per day when I’m traveling, I stayed the night in a small town called Porterville and hit the road early the next day so I can make it in time for my 2 p.m. presentation. Only twenty-eight miles out, my chain broke again. Sigh, I seem cursed when I head to this event. You may remember last year on my way home, I broke the throttle cable and had to camp out in the middle of a blizzard. Before I hunkered down to work on the chain to see what broke, I decided to call AAA just in case knowing that it usually take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour for them to show up. It’s a good thing that I did, as I took the chain guard off and tried to wiggle the chain out of the bike, I noticed that it is wrapped up in the motor near the front sprocket. This is not a good sign! So it is a good thing that I already called AAA. Wow, they showed up in less than thirty minutes and I got two of them to show up at the same time. I guess they got excited when they heard over the radio that a female motorcycle rider is broken down on the side of the road. After looking at my bike and reading where AAA wanted them to take my bike, they decided it would be better to take me to a Yamaha dealer forty-five miles away instead. 

When we arrived at the dealer, they were able to work on it right away and the progress was not looking good since they had to take the side cover off and cut the chain out since it was wrapped up several times around the front sprocket. We didn’t know what the condition of the sprocket would be in and they didn’t have one on hand. However, they could get one within the same day if needed to. I was probably the worst customer they had since was pacing back and forth in front of the garage and looking at my watch calculating to see what the latest time I had to leave in order to make it in time to my presentation. Well, I got the good news about thirty minutes I had to be on the road that the sprocket is in fair and should hold up until I get back home. As soon as Purple was put back together, I jumped up on her and rode her for two and half hour straight to get the event with ten minutes to spare, whew!