Seeing America by horsebackMEDORA — It looked like a scene out of the old west — A posse of people on horseback, moseying into town, looking for something to eat and a place to lay their head.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
MEDORA — It looked like a scene out of the old west — A posse of people on horseback, moseying into town, looking for something to eat and a place to lay their head.
But this just isn’t any posse.
About 40 riders with the Best of America by Horseback group have been making their way from the border of Mexico to the Canadian border, taking a few days in Medora to see the sights and meet the people. The group arrived in the area Wednesday and rode their horses into Medora Thursday.
Barbara Buckley, a 56-year-old recently retired postal worker from Florida, took her mule “Scarlett O’Hara” on the trek. Though Scarlett hasn’t been on the road for a few days due to a swollen leg, a fellow traveler lent Buckley a horse.
“This (ride) is my dream of a lifetime,” Buckley said of the adventure. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get home, but I don’t want this to end. I do want to get back to my grandchildren, though.”
The visit through North Dakota was a first for Buckley, who said she’s going to enjoy the landscape.
“I am drinking it in, there’s not an adjective to describe it,” Buckley said. “I don’t want to forget this.”
Starting in April in Santa Teresa, N.M., the group rode to the fence that borders the U.S. and Mexico and made sure they got their fingers on the wall before heading northward about 2,000 miles. The group wants to make it to the Canadian border around Sept. 5.
Tom Seay, trail master and host of the TV show “Best of America by Horseback” which airs on RFD-TV, said this is the second of the cross-country trips he has headed and said it’s a unique opportunity to see “the real America”.
“We’ve seen really the heart and soul of America,” Seay said. “So far, people have come from 42 states and seven countries. Every walk of life, they just want to see America as it is. These people in my opinion represent the best of America.”
Seay, a Virginia native, said he quietly drove through towns last year to pick sites that would be good to visit.
“Being in Medora, we have picked the route that would best represent the best of America,” Seay said. “We liked the people in this area so we altered the route to come through this area.”
The group has participated in events along the way, such as parades. Riders in the group are followed by an entourage of trailers and other vehicles.
Dickinson resident Don Mayer, The Maah Daah Hey Trail Association president, said he helped coordinate the ride through southwest North Dakota, planning so the group would ride through the most scenic aspects.
The group is comprised of a mixture of “long riders,” or those that make the whole trip and “short riders” that catch up with the group and ride for a week or two at a time, Seay said.
The group made it to Medora Wednesday and plans to stay through the weekend before continuing on its trek.
Bobby Horton of Cleveland, Miss., said it was never his goal to do the whole trip.
“I thought I’d just enjoy trying it and then when all the fun was had I’d just quit,” Horton said. “I’m still here, so obviously there’s still fun to be had.”
Medora Mayor Doug Ellison took the opportunity to ride 10 miles into town with them Thursday.
“This is great, I told all the guys I’m envious,” Ellison said. “They get to do this everyday for four or five months. I love (horseback riding). I grew up on a ranch but I don’t get to do it much anymore, so I jumped at this chance.”
He said he isn’t sure if he could make it from Mexico to Canada.
“Boy, I’m feeling these 10 miles,” Ellison said with a laugh. “I think I’d have to get some practice in before I’d try this trek.”
Ellison said this is the first time the group has stopped in Medora and the town is looking forward to hosting them for a few days.
“They’re gonna see the (Medora) Musical and get acquainted with the town for a couple of days,” Ellison said. “The businesses are helping them out and trying to welcome them into town.”
Some group members will ride across the stage of the musical tonight, he added.
The group rides about 20 miles at a time with rests and stops when appropriate.
“My job is to get them from where they start to Canada safely and that’s what I’m going to do,” Seay said. “I try to let them ride and visit — do whatever fulfills their dream.”