Aside World Magazine
Summer/Fall 2021 Issue
On the Road to Camp Leaping Horn
Article and Photo's by Pat Blaire
When the word came that Camp was open for registration, I got out my maps and gassed up the truck. After months of quarantine my adventure genes were in overdrive and a cross country drive was just what I needed.
Since Interstate 80 is a straight shot from Oregon to New Jersey, the planning was easy.
Driving offered the conveniences of bringing saddles to and from camp, no baggage restrictions and a chance to visit museums and antique stores to my heart’s content. To save time and energy, I camped in my truck eliminating the hassle of carrying luggage into a hotel each night. KOA campgrounds offered modern conveniences, drive through meals were fast and highway rest stops provided breaks to stretch my legs while learning local history.
Six days of driving brought me to my New Jersey hotel with plenty of time to rest up for a
week of great lessons and fun with friends
At camp I met up with my good friend Susan from California. Our post camp drive home was mapped out to leisurely indulge in touring, shopping and Americana. So the day after camp ended, we headed southwest
towards I-70 and two weeks of adventures.
Being from the West Coast, we were fascinated by the common sites and scenery of the Eastern and
Midwest states. Barns, cornfields, and sunflowers were a must for our photo album.
We found small towns off the main highway that are living museums of American history and culture….
Stops at brick and mortar museums revealed side saddles tucked into every corner, and living history artisans who gladly showed us how their antique tools and materials were used in the crafting of side saddles over 100 years ago.
Buffalo Bill’s ranch and home in Nebraska had a treasure trove of antique saddles in the barn and
Annie Oakley featured in the pattern of the dining room wallpaper.
Amish country was a bit like time traveling to the 19th century.
Amish country also proved to have the best antique and “collectables” stores. Since we had switched to hotel stays after leaving New Jersey we turned my sleeping bags and pillows into padding for our multitude of purchases.
Small towns also had the best old-fashioned diners and burger stands. Heartland staples like biscuits and gravy, homemade cream pies and green beans with bacon were always on the menu along with sweet tea and full pound burgers.
When playing tourist it is absolutely required to take pictures with statues of famous people, dinosaurs and
destination signs. And riding a Jack-a-Lope side saddle is a once in a lifetime opportunity!
The most unusual event on our way home was a stop out in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming. After two hours of
desert driving we saw a sign for a pottery studio. Not exactly a tidy place but definitely intriguing.
The “studio” was an old gas station with an eclectic assortment of pottery, paintings and junk covering every inch
of every room. The artist, who was friendly, fortyish and probably a bit high told us his life story before showing us
his secret stash of rocks that he knew was really jade worth $40,000. Since he trusted us enough to show us his treasureand swore he had been clean for several years, we bought some pottery, wished him well and climbed back into our truck.
Suddenly three guys in bullet proof vests and carrying very large rifles were peering at us through the windshield.
As their attention switched to the front door of the gas station/studio we headed for the highway. Our exit was blocked by a barrier of cars manned by armed State Troopers. While conducting a warrant search on us our Oregon plates were noted and questions arose. So began the saga of our pilgrimage to Camp Leaping Horn to learn to ride horses sidesaddle while wearing long skirts and top hats. As my story continued the trooper began to smile, then broke into laughter.
I’ve never been in a raid before but I took this as a good sign and am sure this was the most fun that trooper ever had while doing a drug bust. As he handed us back our IDs he warned us not to take pictures with the camera sitting in
Susan’s lap. But as we drove off we managed to sneak one from the car window.
The ride home through the last two states was more along the typical site seeing agenda. Utah has amazing scenery and historic towns while Idaho was pretty much a border to border sprint (lots of coffee required) through the desert.
Driving west, the smoke from the Pacific Coast fires was more evident. But as we crossed the Oregon
border after four weeks and driving 6000 miles, it felt good to be home.
See You All Next Year at CLH!
Thank you Pat!
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