Thunder Bay Ontario has these great big neon signs that say “moose on the loose” and they are not kidding! As soon as night falls people get off the road, it spooky – like Mexico spooky.
Dusk surrounds us as we realize that there is absolutely no chance of making our destination an hour further down the road so we knock on Helena Forniri’s door at 10:30pm, interrupt her movie which from what I understand from her husband Gerald is risky business. As it turns out the prairie hospitality runs straight through to Ontario.
Guy just about crawled out the window when he spotted the Tims. He was so excited he started speaking French. As it turned out everyone spoke French. They call this place little Quebec and 90% of the town is French, the other 10% speak French. It is fun for me as I have to really listen to decipher the conversation and so far I have nothing to write about. If I ever figure out what is being said I will certainly report it. For now, the photos will have to suffice.
We had considered driving to smooth rock but when we stumbled across the “horse hotel” we knew where we would be spending the night. Seriously, the horse hotel, what a name! Anyway, the owner closed it down in 2007 when her parents both passed away. It is really a quaint location and is now considering a grand reopening. In the meantime, Chip, Cheyenne and Zeus will get a good night’s rest.
Kenora is a historical Ontario town quietly welcoming experienced travelers. Gone are the days when the Trans Canada meandered through down town. So it is with some hesitation that I recommend future travelers make the stop. After all, there is only so much pristine wilderness, fishing, hunting, great food and most of all hospitality to go around. So, for those of you in search of a box store pizza and a movie theater Thunder Bay is just a few more hours down the road.
My journey with these cowboys has come to an end but not before I got schooled in the ways of the west. It would seem that all the jeering and poking fun at these guys would finally catch up to me as I was unceremoniously perched atop Chip for the ride out of Maidstone.
Some first thoughts on Chip who is a well hung quarter horse are: “he is big, not Zeus big, but big in spirit and he has a sticky clutch. He likes his ears to be scratched just like Maggie’s. He is part of the Cheyenne/Zeus heard and gets picked on a bit but he seems to enjoy it. He wears a very uncomfortable Saddle that pinches his armpit… it is not at all like the lounge chair I had imagined it to be.”
Generosity comes in all sizes and shapes and is always appreciated, and you will find that the gesture usually correlates with the source. Being a foster parent for many years now, I have seen firsthand the effects of sexual abuse and neglect. Combined with the fact that I had an opportunity to spend time with a couple old school cowboys and because I share in the vision of The Angel Express – I donate what I can to help. Yes, I am feeling some pain because of it; my business will suffer but it will recover. My family misses me and prefers to have me around; however, I love my bus and like to have it around as well And I realize that my minimal hardship is minute in comparison to those who I am aiming to help; their sacrifice and suffering needs to be eased.
The society chose to ride horses for the expedition because of what the animal symbolizes. “The horse is a symbol of strength, compassion, understanding, and commitment and this is what these kids need,” Brooke said.
It’s also more unique than the usual awareness campaigns. “You have your walks, your bicycle rides, your runners [but] you don’t hear [of] too many horse expeditions.
“We need the grassroots Canadian’s to support us and that’s what we are banking on,” Brooke said.”
So the cowboys are supposed to be dialed into the rhythm of his animals, right? Well, last night the border collies were practically sitting on Guy’s head while he slept. I could only put up with the whining for so long before I broke down and crawled out of my warm bed to let them out to pee… OK he may have been a bit tired from the ride so I will give the benefit of the doubt.
Zeus and Chip were well rested and ready to hit the ditch this morning, Guy was saying the horses are pack animals and were looking forward to being escorted out of town by a couple of lovely ladies. The truth is the cowboys were just happy that they weren’t being run out of town by the police which is the norm for these guys. (Kidding of course) I have to say it was pretty cute watching the little pony legs running to keep up with Zeus. Maddi is a competent little rider and the envy of Hannah and Harmony.
Another windy day for the cowboys who tried to ride as far into the ditch as possible to avoid the gusts. The silver lining to this windy, cloudy day is the warm greeting we received at the Innisfree Recreation Park. The folks who were running the campsite, Mr. and Mrs. Weder , had heard about the ride from the local news the night before and offered the local corral/ ball diamond for us to rest the horses and a site for us to set up camp. The real love comes from the fact that they allowed the cowboys to have a shower. I will never forget Mr. and Mrs. Weder, and the gratitude sure is felt throughout the bus.