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Moonlit Drive & Book Writing


8/28/10, San Luis Valley, CO - This was another busy week, but one where I also took some time to do a little horse driving.

Early in the week, I hitched up the Belgians to wagon and took Hannah and Maggie for a two hour spin.  While the Belgians were glad to be out of there paddock and having a little fun, Doc was delighted to have Hannah ride him out front.

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Maggie enjoying her copilot status as the lads pulled the wagon.

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Doc is a really great riding horse.  There’s nothing he likes better than riding out in front of the wagon - especially he has a nice soft hand on the reins. Of course, I got the idea that Hannah was having a good time too!

Last night, we decided to take advantage of the nearly full moon and go for a little moonlit drive through the countryside. With the headlights and flashers on the wagon, and nearly empty back roads, it was both safe and fun.

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The lads pulling the wagon with the rising moon just above Bob.

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Maggie, enjoying her evening ride, all comfy in the back, with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.

Everything is going great here in the San Luis Valley. I’ve even started writing my next book.  ‘The Biscuit Wagon’ will cover the whole 2 years of travel, but will concentrate the most on trips 2 and 3. If you’re bored and need something to read, here is the second chapter:


Getting Started

 Perhaps once in a lifetime, someone is given an opportunity to truly follow their dreams.  My fantasy was to hitch a team of horses to a wagon and travel around the United States, meeting people and seeing this wonderful country at a comfortable pace of three miles per hour. Recently divorced, with the kids nearly finished with college, I decided to go for broke and set off on a marvelous journey. I began my adventure with a horse drawn recreational vehicle, pulled by four horses. The next two years would see me driving horses throughout much of the United States.  Along the way I have experienced a lifetime of sensations. There were times of deep emotions, friendships, adventure, hardships, adversity, despair, triumph, humor, struggle, and glee.  Shakespeare never wrote a play that more completely delved into the comedy and tragedy of human existence.  Through it all, the most memorable moments were the children’s smiles and the warmth of all the people I met.

 Three separate trips were made during two years of travel.  The first was from Deerfield, New Hampshire, south to Mississippi, where tragedy struck. While traveling down a highway in the middle of the state, the wagon was rear-ended by a truck. The wagon was destroyed, two of the horses were killed, and I was severely injured.  After being released from the hospital and a brief convalescence, I was off to Indiana to rebuild and get back on the road.  The second journey was made in two parts, the first of which was to attend Horse Progress Days in Southern Indiana, while the second part was a drive north to Michigan. My third trip had the wagon traveling southwest to Texas, then westward to Colorado.

 Getting started on an adventure of this magnitude is not easy.   I originally planned on a departure date in June of 2008, but it wasn’t until August that I was finally underway.  In order to get on the road, with most of the summer months left for travel, I had an impressive laundry lists of tasks to accomplish.  First, I had to prepare to sell my house and most of what was in it.  I knew that the only way I could make the adventure a success was to get underway with no bills.  My second task was to construct the wagon. Since I planned on using three draft horses to pull it, I wanted a comfortable home on wheels.  Finally, I had to train and condition the three mares that were to pull the wagon. 

By the middle of May, the wagon was more than half completed.  This was also the time I chose to quit my job as an Electrical Maintenance Instructor at a nuclear power plant. Up until this point I could have easily backed out of the whole venture. Once I pulled up stakes at work, I was fully committed.  By closing my eyes and charging ahead, I turned in my notice and sent off a ‘Goodbye’ E-mail to the employees at the plant.  Most of the responses that I got from my coworkers were very encouraging. Chief amongst them was one I received from a gal in the engineering department.  Beth was a horsewoman that was so intrigued by the idea of my adventure, she wanted to meet me. She agreed to come out to the farm for a training session with the three mares. Over the next couple of months before my departure, Beth and I grew quite close.  Sadly, after I started on the journey, time and distance would soon act to separate us.

My first departure date in June was delayed when I had a heart attack. I was coming back from driving Dolly and Deedee, when I kept having recurring indigestion.  When I got back to the house, I barely had enough strength to unhitch the team. When I started getting the sweats and numbness in the hands, I realized that these symptoms weren’t from stomach acid.  I had a dinner date on the way over to the house. I called her up and asked her if she could drive me to the hospital instead. After I was in the ER for about an hour, the doctor said that I just had a heart attack.  The cardiologist was there five minutes later.   Fifteen minutes after the heart attack, I was already getting a stent put in my right coronary artery. My date, Teresa, was fantastic.  Up to the point where they wheeled me out of the Emergency Room, she held my hand the whole time. It’s a comforting thing to hold someone’s hand when you have a good chance of dying.  That night, as I was freezing my butt off in the Intensive Care Unit, I was already scheming how I was going to continue with the trip.

Undeterred, I set July as a new goal.  So I wouldn’t rip the sutures holding my femoral artery together, I took it easy for five days.  After that I was back to shoeing and training horses and working on the wagon. The stent allowed more blood flow to the heart, so I actually felt much better than I did prior to the heart attack.

Finally, the day arrived.  With a “get up” I set the three mares off on our grand adventure. Hanging a left at the bottom of the drive, I started the girls up the first hill.  I was full of confidence, as I had just returned from a two day shakedown cruise.  When the team balked halfway up the first hill, I knew something was wrong. I had failed to account for an additional 1500 pounds of supplies, loaded aboard for the actual adventure. A mile from home, I pulled into the yard of a friend’s house and did some serious thinking. The way I figured it, I was either 1500 pounds too heavy for three horses, or I was a horse short for the load I had to pull. 

Since I knew that it would be a daunting task to strip 1500 pounds from the wagon weight, I went In search of an additional horse. What I found was ‘Doc’, who turned out to be the most amazing horse I have ever known. I wasn’t aware of it when I bought him, but Doc would turn out to have the strength of an elephant, the heart of lion, and the kindness of a lamb.

The only good way of to have four draft horses pull a wagon down the road, is by running a four-up configuration. This setup has two horses tied to the wagon pole, and another two running out in front of the pole. Each pair of horses has a set of driving lines leading to the teamster’s hands.  Since I had never driven more than three horse side-by-sides, with a single set of driving lines, I knew I needed help.  Big horse hitches were not common in New England, so I was relieved when I found a Teamster, Lloyd Perkins, who was experienced and agreed to help. With Lloyd’s assistance, I got all four horses hitched up and pulling the training wagon. During the next few days, three additional four-up training sessions followed. Even with four practice hitches, they still weren’t hitched to the journey wagon until the day the trip was to begin. By that time, I was so far out of my comfort zone, the only way I could keep moving forward was to close my eyes and charge.

No matter how much effort I put into preparing for this event, I knew that there were going to be problems or shortcomings that I hadn’t foreseen. My biggest worries were about the team.  I knew that their conditioning and training wasn’t nearly at the level that it should be. I also knew that I had some serious shortcomings when it came to my abilities as a Teamster. 

A month later, shortly after I crossed into New York State, I met Ernie Bessette, a very experienced Teamster, who twenty years earlier had completed a cross country horse and wagon journey.  I admitted to Ernie, “I’m by no means the best Teamster in the world”.

He replied, “Don’t worry; by the time you complete this trip, you will be”.

That day in August of 2008, when I finally pulled out, I was relying on my dreams, determination and blind faith to carry me through. What I hadn’t counted on, but also received, was a lot of help from some very good people. The key missing ingredient that I hadn’t counted on, but that I was later to find indispensible, was the kindness and generosity of the American people.

The physical act of preparing to undertake this adventure was very hard, but preparing myself physiologically was the toughest thing I had to do.  Security, luxury, and existing in a comfort zone are kind of a ‘default setting’ for human beings.  Moving away from these things requires a dream, determination, and sometimes ‘ultimate audacity’.  There are techniques that successful people use to pursue a dream.  Months after I started the journey, I wrote the following article on how I achieve difficult goals:


Like a Steely Eyed Missile

 Large accomplishments require pursuing a dream or objective to completion. Due to difficulties along the way, it’s often hard to keep the end in sight. Dreams are the building blocks of goals. They are also what keep us steadfast in the pursuit of the desired end result.  Being faithful to a dream is what keeps us on track with the intensity of a “Steely Eyed Missile”.  I’ve been asked, “With the wreck, injuries and everything else, where do you find the strength to follow your dreams?”  This is how I do it!

Building a Dream That Will Stay the Course

Most of mankind’s creative thinking is done is a semiconscious state halfway between consciousness  and deep sleep. It’s there, that we come up with most of our dreams. Since the semiconscious state does a lot of good work, it’s important to write down the details of your dream so you don’t forget important information later on.  Once you’ve settled on a good dream to follow, don’t be afraid to modify it to find something better or more workable. Make sure you have a clear vision of your dream!

Make a list of steps necessary to achieve the goal

Achieving the end objective is best accomplished by starting at the beginning and working towards the end. Never voice the negative when making this list.  For instance, if you say to yourself, ‘I don’t have enough time or money to do this’, you defeat yourself before you even start.  Negatives should be treated as roadblocks to be overcome or as sacrifices you have to make.

Can I make the sacrifices necessary to achieve the goal?

Before you start working your list, you’ll have to ask yourself, ‘Can I make sacrifices necessary to achieve my goal?’  It’s best to write down all of the sacrifices you would have to make (monetary, time, emotional, family, physical).  For each sacrifice list how and if you could deal with it. Look at the objective and the sacrifices together to determine if you really want to pursue this dream.

Start working the list

Difficult goals require extra effort to reach. They need the most will power to carry on, and require you to be steadfast as you overcome obstacles. You have to pursue your goal with the determination of a heat seeking missile.  This is where having a good dream is essential.  The clearer the dream, the easier it is to stay on track.

Often, you will have to use the deep well of inner strength that each person has, but seldom draws on. Remember, when you think you’ve given it all you have, there’s always some more you haven’t yet tapped. Long distance runners are good at this.

It gets harder to hang in there when you hit a major stumbling block.  Treat these as roadblocks to be overcome.  Modify your list of tasks to navigate around or through these obstacles. Never voice the negative.  If you remain positive and work towards the solution, you’ll make it. When you fall on your butt, dust yourself off and keep on going.  Expect a sore butt on occasion, it’s inevitable; just don’t treat it as a defeat. You can’t stop a person that keeps on coming.

Don’t be afraid to take occasional small breaks from pursuing your dreams. You need this for your own mental and physical health, but also for the people around you. 

When things get tough, remember, you have the heart of a lion, and the strength of a bull!

Don’t put off your goals too long

You may get 50 years of good health as an adult - if you don’t take advantage of them, opportunity will slip away. Rather than saying, “Maybe one day”, try saying, “Today”.


On August 16, 2008, I set off on a 6000 mile odyssey.  For company, I only had four horses and a seventeen year old poodle. I didn’t know where my journey would lead me, who I would meet, or what joys and hardships would come my way.  But, I did have a dream; and with that, anything is possible!