From our upcoming book:
Taking off in the morning is sweet. The road ahead beckons. You know you and your horse can do it….
Once you’re on the road the day is wide open. I usually started by walking beside Roxy. I’d walk to loosen up the beast, and see how she was moving.
I’d look at the map and route selected from MAPS.me (an offline map app), then after 5-25 minutes I’d get on her and ride… Throughout the day I’d walk beside her up to 10 times.
One of the cool features of MAPS.me is that you can choose from 3 route options: Car, bike, walk. After dinner or early in the morning, I would check all 3, then make my route from the combined data. I basically chose the best route for non traffic, that still got me where I wanted to go. That meant I was on roads that even the locals would rarely travel, as they were windier, without a paved surface, or narrow.
I chose the most back roads possible, whenever possible. If I’m going to spend a year of my life riding my horse somewhere, do you think I want to see cars?
We travelled on every road, including toll highways, to paths even goats may fall off of. I rode thru Oaxaca City and ordered an espresso in the town square. Sometimes I rode all day without seeing anyone…
My most preferred road was a back woods middle of nowhere dirt trail. Next up, a paved road with dirt shoulders. Dirt surface was the least hard on Roxy’s feet or her Easyboots. Worst was pavement, then gravel, then rocks, then sand, then dirt. Mud wasn’t very fun either. West Virginia mud was slippery, and Mississippi Delta muck sucked you in. I’d take the Easyboots off in that terrain as they could come off when wet and muddy.
Sometimes there weren’t many route options and I had to go along busy roads. This happened alot, and made for stressful days. After lamenting the fact that beautiful, friendly Kentucky never got the memo on road shoulders, I was excited to enter Tennessee. That state had fantastic shoulders, but that was cancelled out by the angry drivers, at least close to Nashville…so I don’t know which was worse for safety.
Oaxaca also was terrible for dangerous roads. From Oaxaca City down to the coast, there were no shoulders combined with stupid fast drivers. AND no other route options. When I saw a dirt trail beside the main road after about 2 weeks of pure curvy, no shoulder cliff roads, I swore, sang a song, AND took a picture!
There were 2 major route choice blunders I made in 375 days of travel: Oaxaca in Mexico and the back trails inbetween Quetzaltenango and Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
On top of these 2 dangerous and desolate areas, there were many places along my route I can’t recommend for horse travel, because of the danger Roxy and I faced from traffic. I can only imagine had I taken 2 or more horses. In traffic, I always had to be vigilant and practice defensive riding! Once I got on to quiet roads, it was always more enjoyable, and it made everything worth it…
Take a look at this photo album!
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