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.
The first night was without incident. We were parked on the side of the rest stop just east of the Ukrainian village entrance. Sheila paid a visit to help with the horses and keep us company for the night, stayed the day while working on some mortgages she has on the go. Guy and Alick were up early just as any good cowboy would be. I watched through the window as they watered, fed, and brushed the horses. It is obvious they love them. I have yet to put my finger on one, as they seem like big creatures that eat lots and produce mountains.
Day one would prove to be a fiasco. Spending 3 weekends in a row checking off the many items on the list to prepare the bus and what happens the morning we leave? Trailer lights not working! What is with trailer lights? I did not want to be responsible for the delay of this trip; if the kids have to endure than so do I. I sent the cowboys heading down the road in hopes the wiring Gods would consider the gesture…. Still working on the lights.
I am getting to know these cowboys a bit as we work through the various situations that evolve. What I have discovered so far is this:
On May 9th, 2012 two cowboys and three horses set out from HWY 16 East in Edmonton, Alberta on a journey to Halifax, Nova Scotia. They will follow the Trans-Canada highway from the Prairies to the Atlantic in order to raise awareness for abused and exploited children.
Alick Brooke, 60, and Guy Bourassa, 46, have known each other for 20 years and have been around horses for over 15 years. Their journey will span over 4,000kms and will take them approximately 16 weeks. They understand that this is a long journey for their horses and intend to let Chip, Cheyenne, and Zeus (their horses) dictate how far they ride each day, taking care to ensure proper exercise for the reprieve horse and plenty of rest for their main soldiers.
Guy Bourassa has been a foster father to 35 children, and reminds us in Edmonton Sun’s report on May 3rd, 2012 that