FROM: Sally and David Gray
Many of you will remember David hanging out our car’s passenger window with a camera while Sally drove alongside the riders. Our adventure had its beginnings in 2009 when Sally had a particularly troublesome cancer. She read about a geocaching challenge to find certain Pony Express related geocaches in each of the states through which the original riders carried the mail. She read several books from our library detailing the history and locations of the trail and the stations. She could not rise to the challenge then, but she followed the progress of other geocachers on their website. She learned about the NPEA Re-Ride early this year and proposed to David a trip in which we would accompany it, and David would take photographs. Afterwards, we would visit cousins in California and Washington before returning to our home in Wichita, Kansas. All this before making our annual summer family trek to Maine!
The Re-Ride was intriguing for the history as well as photographic and geocaching possibilities, but this adventure far exceeded our expectations. We followed the Re-Ride each day until nightfall and then drove several hours to stay the night somewhere near where a rider was expected to arrive the next morning. Then we faced the challenge of finding that rider. Several times we were directed to the correct turn by hoof prints and fresh horse droppings!
David took 7,826 photos, which he has been very busy editing. A few of them appear in this article. When the editing is complete, many more will be posted on his gallery, and we will let you know how to request copies. Sally found her geocaches.
We were very impressed with the monuments, remains, and recreations of Pony Express stations and the additional history we learned. But what impressed us the most was the friendliness and cooperative attitude of the present day riders. We were impressed by the family and even generational nature of the participation. We were amused by the neighborhood horses and llamas that paid such enthusiastic attention to the Re-Riders as we passed by, while the cows took no notice at all.
We were impressed by the riderless horse ceremonies and how even the horses themselves seemed to understand the solemnity of each occasion. We were of course impressed day after day by how lovingly all the horses were handled. We were impressed with how the clouds of dust raised by each galloping horse lingered as the horse sped past. We are happy to have many pictures to help keep the memory of this wonderful adventure from fading. Thank you, everyone!