Thursday, 22 January 2009

Here I am again, at long last

After a far too long rest and recovery period, here is the long promised blog to update you on the rest of the adventure in El Paso.

Bob and I were treated like royalty the whole time we were there, and something seemed to have been planned for us every day. Bernie and Melissa acted as our unpaid chauffeurs ......bless them....I should think they were quite relieved when we eventually boarded the plane for England. Thank you to Candy for coming to see us off, and driving us to the Airport ........ I think she wanted to make sure we left !!!!!!!!!!

As well as all the events I have mentioned previously, Bob was guest of honour at several presentations.On 8 December 2008, he was presented with a Resolution from the El Paso County Commissioner's Court acknowledging and praising his ride, and a certificate was presented to him. The press and Television were there to interview him again. Also, he was given a document to certify that the Star on the Mountain was lit in honour of him on 2 December, when he rode into El Paso. This Star is situated on the South side of the Franklin Mountains which surround El Paso, and is 459 feet in length, and is lit by 459 light bulbs. It can be seen all over the city, and was first built in 1940. It is visible from the air for 100 miles. El Paso is proud of its image as the "Star City" in the Lone Star State, and quite rightly so.

On December 9 , Bob was presented with a signed proclamation from the Mayor of El Paso, stating that December 9, 2008 will be known in El Paso as "Long Rider Bob Jones Day". He was also presented with an authenticated Texas Flag, and a certificate to confirm that the flag had originally flown over the Capitol Building in Austin, Texas. What an honour ......... I know Bob felt quite overwhelmed by all the recognition and acknowledgement of his achievement, and all the above certificates will be on display on our walls at home once we have got them framed.

We later visited the Railroad and Transportation Museum of El Paso, who also awarded Bob a Certificate of Achievement.

I cannot speak highly enough about the hospitality we received whilst in El Paso and the wonderful friends we have made there. Special thanks to the management and staff at the Holiday Inn for all the gifts and the attention you gave us....... and particularly for giving us a courtesy room for the duration of our stay. We were forced to go out and buy some more suitcases before we left for England, as we were given so many gifts by everyone.

Now to the most important part of the saga ......... our boys, Cody and Tigers. As you know from my previous blog, it had been arranged for them to be stabled at the Sheriff's Posse Arena. We went to visit with them most days, and I think they were quite enjoying the rest, as the latter part of the ride, for about the last 100 or so miles, had been tough going. I'm sure you will all be happy to know that they are going to be homed together, and we have been assured that they will live out their retirement together, which is what we wanted all along. These two horses have served Bob so well , and gave him their all .........never letting him down. Because he owed them so much, and had developed such a deep and unique bond with them, we wanted only the best for them. They are going the the ranch of Tom Moates, a well known author of horse books, who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia ........... and you will be thrilled to know, as we were, that they will be doing another Long Ride from Virginia to the Quarter Horse Museum in Texas next year. Tom has told us that ,once the ride is completed, they will all three retire to his ranch back in Virgina. We spoke with him the other day, and he anticipates the Boys being trailered to him within the next day or so. Melissa and Bernie have been visiting the horses at the Arena, and Melissa has been bringing them home made "horse Biscuits", which she said Cody loves, but Tigers prefers carrots. They will be supervising the move for us, and I hope we can keep in contact with Tom, so we can find out how they are getting on.

I cannot tell you how emotional Bob and I felt when we had to leave them. We were so concerned that they go to the best home possible, after all they had done for Bob, and we were very happy to let Tom have them, as this is the sort of life that they enjoy, and something we could never have given them in England ........although I never gave up trying to persuade Bob to bring them back ........ he was right though, and we had to think of the Boys' welfare first , and be practical about it all. So watch the Long Rider's Guild Website, and you will no doubt see mention of Cody and Tigers again, next year, when they set off on their next adventure. As for Bob..........I think at the moment he is trying to come back down to Earth, and is struggling with that, as am I..........which explains the delay in updating the blog site.

My next task is to go through the thousands of pictures that we both took, and put some of the more interesting ones on the blog site, just to finish it off. So be patient, dear viewers, and I will be back with you as soon as possible with the photos. Thank you to everyone who sent messages of support and encouragement to us both over the last six months ......... this has been the experience of a lifetime. Roll on the next adventure !!!!!!!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Journey Complete

I'm not going to bore you with details of my horrendously long journey to get out here, but glad to say I've arrived safetly, albeit a bit shell shocked ! In case anyone is wondering what the Knicker mention is all about ............. In their wisdom, at Washington Airport, Customs decided I looked like the typical middle aged drugs smuggler from England, and had a good search of my suitcases..........these had to be abandoned to their mercy, as I was in danger of missing my connection. All was well that ends well, and when I arrived at El Paso....lo and behold there were my suitcases safetly on the tarmac. What a fantastic view of El Paso, as you arrive on the rickerty 40 seater plane over the snow capped mountains. Although my heart was in my mouth, I had to keep on looking......... The passenger next to me sang hymns all the way over, which speaks volumes !!!!!

I've had a fantastic welcome from Candy, Bernie,Melissa, and numerous friends who have been looking after me fantastically well, as well as taking me out and about, and were waiting to meet me at the airport. Until Bob arrived, I stayed at the beautiful home of Bernie and Melissa, and their Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy,Kinja, who is an absolute sweetie...........I want to kidnap him and take him home with me, not forgetting to mention,Peaches, the smaller than life cat. I was totally in my element, playing with animals the whole time. I cannot thank Bernie and Melissa enough for all their hospitality........ they made me feel so at home, and even though I had never met them before, I feel as though we have made friends for life.

Anyway, enough about my exploits, and on to the important bits of the blog. Bob had been steadily riding towards his final destination when we last spoke, without mishap, and as I was unable to maintain any sort of contact with him before I left, information has been very sparse. Lois and John Carroll very kindly put him up for two days, as well as all the running around they had done prior to that .......thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we would have been lost without you. They had also been keeping me informed of his whereabouts, as had Chip, so I knew he was safe. I hope I can meet up with them before we return to England, as they have done so much for Bob.

Bernie and I drove out looking for Bob on 1 Dec, late afternoon, but had no joy for a long time, and it was dark by the time I spotted Cody and Tigers tied up next to Lois and John's trailer, with Bob cosily tucked up inside, down a dirt track. As there was no room inside the trailer, and it was freezing cold outside, we had a quick ten minute hello, and then went back to our home comforts. Bob looked well, and the horses looked fantastic, and we arranged a rendevous for the next morning when Bob was doing the final ride to the city limit .............needless to say, by this time, El Paso TV was on his trail, as were inumerable reporters.

On 2 Dec, we drove out out meet Bob late morning, and spotted the boys riding up the very busy Highway on the hard shoulder, pursued by the TV cameras and reporters. He was looking remarkably cheerful, and I've got to admit I shed quite a few tears when I saw them coming towards me. As Bob had to cross from one side of the Highway to the other, the El Paso police blocked the road for a safe crossing into the Sheriff's headquarters. The next hour or so were taken up with us being interviewed by the press and TV,and people milling around wanting to congratulate Bob. As the city boundary sign was about another half mile up the road, Bob then decided he wanted to ride up to that with Cody and Tigers.........I would mention that he was unable to ride right through El Paso, because of safety and traffic conditions, and we were planning to ride to the city boundary, and then ride from the Sheriff's Posse area, the following day to the border. Friends of Bernie and Melissa had brought their trailer along, and the horses were then picked up and we drove the remaining miles to the Sheriff's Posse area, where the horses were corralled, fed and watered. They will remain here for the duration of our stay.
Can I say a heartful thanks to Bernie's friends for trailering the horses for us, and Keith at the Sheriff's Posse Arena for all his help in looking after Cody and Tigers.I have taken loads of photos, and the cam-corder has had a lot of use, so when I have free time will be doing photos on the blog.

Bob and I were then taken to the Holiday Inn near the Airport, where we were given a fantastic courtesy room for the duration, with drinks and gifts in the room. Our thanks to the management and staff of the Holiday Inn for their generosity. That evening the Hotel held a reception for us, together with a competion to make the best Margaritas......Bob didn't win. Bernie and Melissa belong to a Western re-enactment group, called Six Guns and Shady Ladies, and a lot of their members turned up that evening to meet us. A good night was had by all, and thanks to everyone for a warm and wonderful welcome.

The following day, we decided to take it easy, and do the border ride the following day, so that we could both do catch up. So , on 4 Dec Bernie, Melissa, Candy and myself drove out to the Sheriff's Posse Area, saddled up the horses, and Bob and Bernie rode to the Mexican border. Due to the unrest there, the border patrols are in high profile, and would not let him actually ride over, but we both quickly walked over to take some photos, while the patrol car was out of the way. Just for the record, I had a quick "leg up" on Tigers, and we rode around for a while, but I decided not to ride him back to the Posse arena .........what a wimp I am ! Melissa and Bob did the return trip, and I think Bob felt quite emotional as this was his last ride on the boys.

I have been taking loads of pictures, and due to the time factor of downloading them to the internet and the blog site, am leaving posting them until I return to England after 16 December. However, I would like to put some on of the final miles, and everything that has happened since.

We are now busy looking for a good home for our boys, and have several people interested, so will keep you all posted on this........our concern is that they are homed together, preferably for the rest of their lives, and that they will have the sort of life they are used to .........riding in the great outdoors. Bob and I are quite choked up at the thought of saying goodbye to them, as we know it will be very difficult, particularly for him. When we go to visit them at the Arena, they are following him and watching him the whole time, and you can see the bond that has formed between the three of them. I dread the day they go, as I think we'll all be in tears, but we must think of them first.

Anyway, enough of all this emotion.I thought I would fill you in on a few things that have happened during our stay..... most importantly of all, we visited Rosa's Cantina, and what a welcome we had. The place was filled with people and they applauded Bob when we arrived...they were all taking photos and asking for his autograph, and a customer who had come in the day before had paid for our meal. Thank you so much to Mac and Enedina Snodgrass for your generosity. We were also given sweat shirts from Rosa's Cantina (not forgetting to mention sweatshirts from the University of El Paso, Texas,which we had been given previously.)
Needless to say, Marty Robbins was playing............ El Paso City. What a lovely welcome, and what lovely people.

I shall be blogging periodically with information for the next week until we leave America, and will let you know everything that is going on.......... I'm already feeling quite sad that it is all coming to an end. Roll on the next adventure, we can't stop here !

In the meantime, my sincere thanks to everyone in El Paso who has helped us so much, particularly Candy, Bernie, Melissa, Leesy and all the other people too numerous to mention that we have met, who have given us such a warm and openhearted welcome. Thanks, everyone who has been putting messages on the blog site, and for all the support we have been given throughout this trip. I love you all !

Keep watching, and I will post again with the closing entries before I leave to follow from England. In the meantime we are sightseeing in El Paso and enjoying ourselves.

Message to my kids.Thanks for the e-mail, Liz. Cannot e-mail you back, as the hotel computer won't let me in to send e-mails. But everything is ok this end. See you on 16 December.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Goodbye England

Hooray, we're off.............speak to you next from El Paso

Bob has been spotted

Chip Clemmons who was on his way to El Paso kindly e-mailed me this morning to say he had met up with Bob. He found him near a ruined motel in the Guadaulpe Pass close to the Salt Flats, brewing a cup of tea.....and there's me thinking he's roughing it !

All three boys are fine, and Bob is looking forward to El Paso. The saddle seems to be bearing up, so let's keep our fingers crossed. It also looks as though Bob has got out of the mountains just before the bad weather hit.

Most importantly of all, Chip delivered him a supply of candy bars, so everything is fine, as long as Bob gets his chocolate buzz.

Many, many thanks to Chip for keeping our boy going. Have a good Thanksgiving, everyone we have met in America .........enjoy the Turkey.

Alos, many thanks to everyone who has helped Bob on the ride to El Paso........ I know the last part has ben quite tough for him,and he would have struggled without the likes of Lois and John....not forgetting Chip with the candy bars ! Bless you all.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Bob is fine

I'm unable to get contact with Bob....three days now ! Do you think he's been eaten by a big brown bear..............No, I've had an e-mail come through from Lois and John Carroll, who have been kindly driving up with their trailer every day, and also bringing water and food for the horses, to advise me that everything is ok with my boys. He will probably not be able to contact me now until after Dell City Junction, and by then I will be in El Paso.

The weather is very cold and windy, and I should imagine it felt even colder when he was in the Guadalupe Mountains. I don't know if the snow has materialized, but have been told by El Paso that an extremely cold front is moving in, so I'd better take my woollies with me. I thought I was going to get a bit of sunshine !

Chip Clemmons whom Bob met when he was in Dexter, is driving along Bob's route today, to meet with his folks for a Thanksgiving dinner and family get together in El Paso. He reckons he will be passing Bob, and after reading my blog when I said Bob had run out of candy bars, he has bought him a large stock to keep him going. He said he will also take some bad weather gear for him to wear, in case of need. We don't want my man freezing to death on the last leg.

Well, my last day.......tomorrow I drive up to London, and catch the plane out early Friday morning. So the next blog will come direct from the horse's mouth......El Paso. It's all getting very exciting now, and once I can get over the mental block of packing my suitcase (yugh, that means I'm going on a plane, which frightens me to death ), I will be ready to go.

Keep looking, as I should be able to continue with the blog soon, and hopefully catch up with Bob's news in the next few days.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Pictures of Bob sent today from Wray , Colorado

No news at all from Bob as cell phone reception is dead whilst he's in the Gaudalupe Mountains. I have received an E-mail from John and Lois Carroll, who have been kindly going out every day with their trailer for him, and feed and water for the horses , when necessary. They reassured me that all three boys are fine, and they saw them last night with the Park Rangers up in the foothills . Apparently the weather is very cold and windy now, and when I checked on the forecast, it looks like snow is on its way.

Plans are going apace in El Paso for Bob's arrival and Bernie and the gang there are currently trying to work a route for him through the city, with the help of the Border Patrol, Police and Sheriff's department. We have worked out which part of the border he is going to cross on, that will be away from the busiest parts .........trouble is, Bob doesn't know this, as we can't contact him !!!!!! Let's hope we can resume contact or we could be in one part of El Paso, and Bob in another.

Susie Bruggerman from Holyoke kindly sent me some photos that her mother,Dorothy took when she met him in Wray,Colorado, which are shown below. Thank you Dorothy and Susie.

I'm hoping that when I get to El Paso, I will be able to download some of the photos we take there onto the blog site straight away, so you can all join in the celebrations. I think Bob is getting really tired now, and he's having trouble with his back again, which makes it all a lot harder.

Last blog in England tomorrow.........El Paso here I come !

Monday, 24 November 2008

About 15 miles after Whites City

The weather was quite hot today (23 Nov), and by midday Bob was down to a T shirt, after wrapping in several layers this morning to keep the frost at bay.

The roads are pretty quiet now, so the journey from Whites City was uneventful, except Bob's back is giving him trouble again. The horses will have to be tethered tonight as there is no corral or fenced in areas. Bob has stopped near the entrance to some sort of oil place, that has a permanent guard there, who lives in a trailer there, and opens the gate to let the traffic in.

John and Lois Carroll arrived with their horse trailer, which has a bed in it, kitchenette, shower and toilet, which will be lovely for Bob, as he will be able to get out of the cold, and make himself hot drinks. Lois told me that it can get quite cold and windy there. They put the trailer in a wide ditch , so that it's off the road, and the horses were tied to the trailer. The man at the entrance to the oil place also gave Bob some chocolate cakes,books to read, and mango squash, which was very kind of him. Thank you very much. John and Lois are proving a godsend to out traveller, as they are making his journey so much easier. I notice on the weather tonight that snow may fall in the Guadalupe mountains.

Bob has now left New Mexico and is back in Texas. On the 24 November he starts riding into the Gaudalupe mountains, and will be in there for 2/3 days. It is possible I will not be able to contact him, but will find out tonight. When we spoke last night, we lost a signal 5 times, and I had to keep ringing him back.

Only three more days, and I will start my journey to El Paso to meet Bob at the end of his Long Ride.