Day 67: A New Approach

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty. -Teddy Roosevelt

Here is where we stand this morning. After talking with the Two T Ranch and discussing multiple options, the best and safest option for Gus is to let him heal up completely. The culprit that caused his scalding was not the heat or saddle fit but the material in the first blanket I used. The acrylic in the blanket became abrasive during the long hours and day after day riding, by the time I was able to get the 100% wool blanket I needed the scalding was already there.

We believe it could take several more weeks if not months to let Gus fully heal, that’s just the way scalding goes once it sets in. At this time I do not have a remount that I had hoped I’d have. Remember horses are not motorcycles.

This additional time down for Gus’s well being will prevent us from completing the ride by October like we had hoped and planned for.

Our way forward: Kenny and I, along with the rest of our team, have decided to turn Expedition Orange into a multi year journey for awareness. Each year we will return where we left off and complete a 2-3 week ride heading toward Washington DC. Our goal is to conduct a campaign style ride where our supporters who want to ride with us will have the time to schedule the ride into their calendar and join us on the trail. It will also give us a better opportunity to reach out to local veterans, meet them and hear their stories. In addition, it will give us more time to raise the resources necessary to properly document this journey for future generations that need to learn about and remember these heroes’ struggles and sacrifices. Remember, this ride is not about a cowboy just riding a horse across the USA, its a journey to bring awareness to an issue, an issue that has for to long been in the shadows of society,

Currently, Expedition Orange has successfully carried the message of the struggle our Vietnam veterans suffering from Agent Orange exposure are facing. We have safely ridden through two states on horseback and into a third. We have done this not on our own but with the support of people like you who follow us daily.

With that said, during our down months Expedition Orange will continue the mission of awareness. We will travel to veteran homes with Gus once a month handing out the Orange Bandanas that have been signed. I promise you this campaign will have a lasting impact on our veterans that are suffering, Kenny, Gus and I have already seen it in action out in the field.

We will also be attending events that we get invited to. Currently we have accepted an offer to attend the Buckeye Classic in Ohio hosted by the OQHA (Ohio Quarter Horse Association.) This event alone will give our Vietnam Veteran’s stories and struggles exposure to 33 states and 5 countries.

I couldn’t be more proud of my team here at Expedition Orange. Kenny, Gus and myself love you all and we hope we continue to make you proud even when we have to adjust for fire! We will continue to keep you updated every Thursday via our normal Facebook live and daily as things develop.

From all of us at Expedition Orange, Thank you and Welcome Home.

Back on the Road: Kingman

After some much needed R,R &R (Rest, Relaxation, Repairs) we are back on the road in Kingman, AZ. We are currently heading east from Kingman along Route 66 towards Grey Mountain, AZ. For the time being we are going to take it slow to ease back into the saddle.

Day 37: The Black Mountains

Gus in the Black Mountains

I had to live in the desert before I could understand the value of  grass in a green ditch. -Ella Maillart

The past few days we have been slowly progressing across the Black Mountains from Laughlin, NV to Kingman, AZ. At the moment we have set up camp up in the mountains east of the Colorado River. Our goal is to get through the initial wave of mountains and make our way into Golden Valley to rest before traversing a second set of mountains before heading into Kingman.

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Day 33: Laughlin, Nevada

Colt rides Gus into Laughlin Nevada

Once again there was the desert, and that only. – Stephen King, The Gunslinger

Over the past few days I have developed a keen appreciation for the cowboys who rode through these valleys and gulches. There is much to consider when negotiating the arid Southwest. The two things that come to mind are the heat and the terrain.

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Day 26: Rest Day in Death Valley

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing – Hellen Keller

Day 26 is another rest day, but we’re getting a lot done! While waiting to have Gus’ hooves shod, Fox Feed and Tack in Acton, CA called and said they wanted to give us a gift bucket and donate 7 bags of feed for Gus! Amazing people, we’re so thankful for their generosity and big hearts.

Jud Melville and Son Shoeing, who did an awesome job shoeing Gus, also donated a full set of shoes and labor to us. He said he’d be more than happy to meet us down the road in 8 weeks to reshoe Gus again. They’re a great father and son team, and said our ride for Vietnam vets has reached shoeing supply stores as far as Amarillo Texas! Thank you guys for the support and helping us get out the word.

We also received an invitation to meet with a Veteran Horse outfit for veterans suffering from PTSD, and plan to swing by their facility on our way back to Essex, CA where we left off on Wednesday. We’re honored by the invitation, and are taking another day off tomorrow to spend time with members of their group!

Sunday we’ll be back on the trail heading east from Essex, and continuing our ride for Vietnam veterans suffering from Agent Orange. Thank to everyone for your outpour of love and support. There’s no way we could do it without you!

Welcome Home

-Colt

Day 18: Barstow or Bust

Colt with Jessica Hankins and her son

At last there’s Barstow, and more desert until at last the mountains rise up again, the good mountains, and 66 winds through them.  -John Steinbeck “The Grapes of Wrath”

A few days ago I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica Hankins and her son at the Route 66 museum. Jessica took time to sit with me and discuss how her father struggled with a host of illnesses brought on by Agent Orange Exposure.

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Day 17 Cont..: A Change of Course

We are not retreating – we are advancing in another direction -Douglas MacArthur

While making my way through the Cajon pass I was given some good advice from members of the local park service. They convinced me to steer clear of the northern passes through the Rocky Mountains. Their reasoning suggested two points that had lingered in my mind since I sat down to plan my original route; there is a potential for snow in July in more northern latitudes of the  Rocky Mountains, and many of the mountain passes through the Rockys are now highways. Navigating this region on horse back is risky at best either along highway traffic or through circuitous routing.

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Day 17: Out of the Mountains and into the Desert

Lou Tyson and Colt sit at a booth in the Route 66 Museum

God gave us memory so that we may have roses in December -James Barrie

I want to start this post by apologizing for the delay but getting through the mountains proved to be a task slightly more arduous than I anticipated. Cell phone reception was scare and our pace was slowed by a saddle malfunction. Luckily we prevailed and I am now the proud owner of a new saddle thanks in part to the kindness of strangers. You know who you are and I can’t thank you enough.

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Day 9: Cajon Pass Continued

Colt and Phil Gibbs

Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley -Theodore Roethke

Today we pushed another 20 miles into the mountains. This far in cell phone reception is pretty limited so getting updates out has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Yesterday we camped along historic Route 66 going through the pass. Kenny and I took turns on guard duty to keep an eye on Gus overnight. We’ll do your best to get updates out to everyone whenever we have a signal.

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Day 8: Baseline Road to Cajon Pass

Colt and Gus on Baseline

In the mountains of San Gabriel, overlooking the lowland vines and fruit groves, Mother Nature is most ruggedly, thornily savage. – John Muir

Today marks one week since we set out on Expedition Orange. To date we’ve traversed over 80 miles of the entire greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. This morning we begin our trek north to the Cajon Pass, a narrow mountain pass that runs between the San Gabriel and San Bernadino Mountains just north of San Bernadino. Once we clear the pass we will make our way northeast toward Las Vegas. Soon we will be trading in LA traffic for desolate Mojave roads.

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