Day 18: Waking at 2pm, I see there is no moon due to clouds - it's a very dark night, far too dark to travel, so I go back to sleep. I wake and check several more times but with no luck. So I get up at 4 and harness Reba (she was laying down sleeping, and is jumpy when I lead her into the area between barn buildings). I harness and hitch her, and we set out at first light. We go out of town via side streets, then through the high school parking lot to enter Maple Hill Road, follow it to Sandy Hook Road, follow it back to Maple Hill road, and proceed towards the Maple Hill Bridge that crosses the Kansas River. This bridge has been my biggest worry from the beginning of the journey. I have seen it with Google Maps, so I know it's a long narrow bridge with low guardrails, and that means if Reba panickes, we could go over the side.
Reaching the bridge, Reba is afraid to cross the steel transition joint that connects road to bridge. I get off the wagon and, once Reba sees me step across the joint, she follows. I then get back on the wagon and we begin onto the bridge.
To view video of bridge crossing, click on following links:
Bridge Crossing #1:
Bridge Crossing #2:
Bridge Crossing #3:
Dial up users, see pictorial below:
Approaching Maple Hill Bridge
Reba is afraid of the steel transition.
Safely across transition, beginning on bridge.
Long way to go.
Without blinders, Reba can see all.
The only traffic we meet.
Jill wants to know if we're going to make it.
Looks like we're going to make it.
We made it!
Safely across the bridge, we continue for a short distance before pulling into a large ranch yard to ask for water. The rancher’s wife comes first, and is positively interested in what I am doing. She then leaves before her husband arrives in his truck, and I guess he was having a bad day (we all have), but in any case, he said I could get some water for Reba. I was angered by the way he treated me, and sharply told him I would pass on the water. He sharply said that was fine, and that was the end of that. I proceed several more miles to the town of Maple Hill where I get water from the first man I see. He’s in his yard with his wife and small kids, and also gives me an extra water bucket, for which I thank him kindly. Two older gentlemen have stopped in their truck, and I also tell them what I’m about. In turn they invite me to church. I reply that I will try to get my chores done in time to be at the service (the service starts at 10:30am, and it’s currently 9:00am). I drive by the church and note a phone pole on the shaded side of the road to which I might hitch Reba. From there I proceed to drive down the main street of Maple Hill, through the business district until I see the town’s policeman, whereupon I stop to speak with him. He says I could stay in the town park if I like, but that I would probably find someone in church to help me. We speak about the heat and other things for awhile before parting with thanks and well wishes. I then drive around town on the outskirts once to see what’s there in the way of places to keep Reba, and head for church.
In church, the two gentlemen that I’d previously met stand up during announcements, and pointing me out, tell how I’m traveling by horse and wagon. I have to stand up (and it’s funny because I don’t want to stand, but in fact, standing up is what my mission is about), and the congregation starts clapping. I thank them, and ask that, if anyone there has a place for me and my horse, I would appreciate speaking with them after the service. I am learning to live in a state of exhaustion, but I am not as exhausted as the Sunday before, and that makes things much more enjoyable. After the service, folks come out to see Reba and Jill. One little girl hugs Reba. One kind fellow brings her 5 gal of water. Other folks take pictures, and we all then go into the fellowship hall (located beside to the church) for cakes and refreshments. In the fellowship hall, an excellent group of men and women set out to help me. Lanny, who is the deacon, has a place for me to camp with good grass, shade, and water. Neil says he lives in the area I will soon be traveling into, and sincerely asks me to call him so that he might help. Lanna makes copies of my card and passes them out. Lanny, Neil, Shawn, and others help me plan a route from Maple Hill to Eskridge by gravel roads, which being a little complicated, makes their knowledge all the more valuable.
Leaving the fellowship hall, more folks come to see Reba, and during our conversations, Sid asked me if I would like to eat lunch. I hadn’t eaten that day, and was extremely hungry, and equally grateful. Sid and I then walk to the café in town where he treats me to lunch. I have half a fried chicken, mashed potatos, salad, and bread. Man did I need that! Sid and I then return to his place (next door to the church) and Sid’s brother comes by to say hello (also, the two men in the truck were Sid’s brothers). Mary Ann from Delia comes by and I am glad to see her (she goes to church in Maple Hill). Lanna comes, and has obviously taken up a collection for me, or at least I would guess she has from the money she gives me. I tell her it’s too much, but she insists, saying I needed it, and I do. Lanna’s father Larry is also there, and shortly thereafter, her husband Kent comes along. We have good conversation, and then, with many thanks and well wishes, I depart, driving south towards Lanny and Judy’s place. Lanny and Judy have an air-conditioned cabin on their property beside a stream with a waterfall, and they set me up in there. Lanny helps me put up Reba’s portable pen, and fed and water her. Then, after washing up, we go to Shawn and Renee’s for dinner with a group of folks whose names I wrote down for memory, but then lost the paper I wrote them on. Darn! After returning to my cabin, I brush Reba down, then worked on my computer in the cabin until midnight, catching up events in this journal while memories are still fresh in my mind (I’m still trying to catch up events from ten days before!).
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