Rev Ken Downey and his horse Pilgram
Hello everyone out there!
Today is Day 17, Wednesday, July 8. We had our trip from Dubois to Riverton, WY. The elevation in Dubois was 6917 feet; we headed into Riverton, which is 5500 feet elevation, so we are going down. Only some little climbs along the way of going down and up, down and up, but as you can see, we’re going down. So today we went 79 miles, and it was sort of a recovery ride. Normally that would be really difficult if we were doing a lot of climbing, but we were doing a lot of downhill, so it was really very enjoyable.
This morning we were supposed to start off with really frigid weather, but it was just nippy, only 45 or 46 degrees. It was a little bit chilly, but nothing like it could have been. Sunny skies, beautiful clear day, puffy clouds in the sky, really, really pretty. We headed out and our first 30 miles were absolutely astounding. Gorgeous, gorgeous views, still seeing the Tetons in the distance and these beautiful, magnificent, huge red rock formations, layers in the rocks and all different shades of red and orange, just spectacular rock formations. It looks kind of like pieces of the Grand Canyon just kind of put there for you to look at. It’s like the rock is saying, “Hey, take a look at me, aren’t I beautiful?” Absolutely beautiful.
We had our first SAG stop at 30 miles and I pretty much rode all by myself. You’re always knowing people are ahead of you or people are behind you, and a lot of times I ride together with people. But today was a day that I was fully just ready to have a beautiful, peaceful, reflective day. I’m just filled with a lot of gratitude, a lot of thanks for my health and my strength and my safety for the ride, which is what I’ve asked all of you to pray for. I really, really appreciate it, it means a lot to me. I’m very, very grateful that I’m able to do this, in a number of ways. I have great people who are on the ride, so I always know there’s going to be people coming up from behind me, and people that I pass. Between us we’re always kind of passing each other, stopping, taking pictures whenever we want and going and knowing that our SAG stop is ahead with food and drink. We all know we’re going to see each other there, which is always great.
From the 30-mile mark until the next SAG stop at the 54-mile mark, we hit pretty major headwinds. I don’t know what the mileage was, but it was probably a good 15 to 20-mph headwind. So those 24 miles were a little bit difficult. I had to put some grind into that. But still, looking back the views were magnificent. The red rock and the Tetons in the background were just breathtaking. To tell you the truth, I was going to take pictures, but the pictures just couldn’t do it justice. You can only get one small little snapshot of this whole magnificent, grandiose view that was so gorgeous, and I sort of stopped taking pictures today because a picture just couldn’t do it justice. I just knew that I would just have to kind of accept it in a postcard. I did take some pictures to be able to show you. By the way, I will be posting some pictures of these last four days. A lot of people are busy on their computers and of course I understand they don’t have a lot of time to devote to me, helping me get my pictures downloaded and out to OLT. That’s nothing rude about them, it’s just that this is their trip too and it’s taking time away from them. That’s kind of my own fault because I didn’t bring my computer and I’m not good on the computer. I really don’t even know how to download and do everything you have to do. I get some help from some different people. I think tonight I should be able to get some pictures out to all of you from these last days that have been so beautiful, from Idaho Falls up to this point.
After the headwind, we got to the SAG stop, and from that point on there was kind of a crosswind, not too bad. At times it wasn’t bad at all, really pretty pleasant, but we had to really put the effort into pedaling. There’s always the effort in pedaling, even when you’re going downhill, because that means you’re going uphill again somewhere. There’s still always a lot of up and down, up and down within a general elevation, if you know what I’m saying.
I mostly rode the 79 miles today by myself, but at the second SAG stop, my friend Patricia decided that up ahead at the 60-mile mark we would stop at this little town called Kinnear, because there was a little store there. There may be just one store for miles in these places where we go! So we had planned ahead of time, even though we weren’t riding together, that we would stop there and meet each other and grab something to eat a little different than our SAG stop food. So we stopped and went in, and there was a wonderful woman there. I don’t know if she was the grandmother or the mother of a young boy who was there, his name was Cole. He was 9 years old and I guessed that he was in 4th grade, and I was right. We had a high-five together. He was just really adorable. I had a little chat with him and gave him my OLT card and said, “If you go on the computer, you’ll be able to follow me on my ride across America.” He thought that was pretty cool. I really enjoyed meeting him, I always love to see kids. I told him how I was his age, at 9 I just used to ride my bike for fun, and I never knew that when I got to be as old as I am that I’d be riding my bicycle across America. So I said, “You know what, Cole, you never know what you’re going to do in your life. Life can be really interesting.” So it was fun talking to him.
When we came out, we started talking to a couple of locals who were there as we were eating our little munchies, we had gotten an ice cream that was delicious, and a few other snacks. We were talking to these locals and we found out that these two men live in Riverton. We were about 20 miles outside of Riverton then. We were talking about how we were riding our bicycles across America, and they said, “Hey, did you know that there’s a man somewhere around here who is riding his horse across America?” And we were like, “Wow, that’s a new one!” We hadn’t heard of that. I’ve heard of people running, I’ve heard of people walking, I’ve heard of people riding their bikes, but I’ve never heard of anyone riding their horse across America! So we were like, “Wow, that’s really cool.” And they said, “Yeah, he’s got a white beard and his cowboy hat on. We don’t know where he started from, but he’s going to be ending up out West sometime.”
So Patricia and I are riding along from the 60-mile mark, and about 10 miles down the road at about the 70-mile mark, we see this man on the other side of the road walking by on his horse. And we flagged him down and said, “Hey, are you the man who’s riding across America?” Well, sure enough, he was! What are the odds that we would have met him, out of all the possibilities in the world, that he’d be on our road, that we would see him, and that we would have talked to somebody ahead who told us about it? If the two men at the little convenience store in Kinnear hadn’t told us that this man was riding his horse across America, we would have thought he was just a local riding his horse, and we would have waved to him and said, “Hi” and kept on going. But because we had heard the story, he said, “Why, yes, I am.” So we got off our bikes and he proceeded to bring his horse across the road, and we started talking to him and asking him, “Where did you come from?” He said he came from North Carolina, he started in March, his name is Ken and his horse’s name is Pilgrim. We asked him why he was riding his horse across America. He said, “Let me give you my little flyer, I just want to tell people about the love of Jesus.” He handed us this little flyer, which I’d like to read to you:
During the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was with a Christian minister. As the story goes, the minister said, “I surely hope the Lord is on our side.” To which Lincoln replied, “I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.”
There is something else true about the Lord as well. He loves and cares about you personally. Why would He create you and not want a close and loving relationship with you? He does want that relationship with you and that is what Jesus Christ dying on the cross is all about. Jesus opened wide the door of invitation to have an intimate relationship with God as one of His children. Consider these two verses from God’s Word, the Bible:
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:11, 12.
If you would like me to speak further with you about this, look me up on the road west at noontime. I’m riding west at about 25 miles a day, and I am prearranged to speak in churches along the way. God bless you and have a wonderful day and forever.
He told us his name was Ken, but his name is actually Rev. Ken Downey. He’s with the Circuit Rider, and he’s with Pioneer Ministries Commemorative. You can write to Kathy Simmons, P.O. Box 412, Drummond, MT, 59832. It was very exciting for me to meet him. I happened to be talking to my friend Patricia as we were riding along, and we were in a wonderful conversation at the point where we met up with him. He gave us these flyers and he asked me if I would please pray for him. He plans to get into a town a little north of Seattle, WA some time in September. He really did have a white beard and a cowboy hat. He didn’t look like he had too much with him. I guess he stays at churches and places along the way, I guess he just kind of works it out along the way.
That was the highlight of my day as well as a major highlight of the trip. I count it a real privilege that God would give me the opportunity to meet up with him, because the odds of that happening were really, really rare. I was very, very blessed to meet him, and I promised to pray for him for the rest of his trip. I gave him my OLT card and asked him to pray for me and for our group as well. I told him that I was fundraising for the troops. So all you troops out there and families, you can be guaranteed that Rev. Ken Downey will be praying for you. It was just wonderful to have that awesome opportunity.
As I rode the rest of the way in from 70 miles, the 9 miles into Riverton just went by in a snap, as I reflected on the magnificent opportunities to meet people out here and the experiences that there are, seeing the beauty and meeting the local people in town, just being out here in the West. Wyoming is absolutely gorgeous and it’s been wonderful so far.
Tomorrow we have a big ride into Casper, 120 miles. The terrain is not supposed to be too difficult, but 120 miles is still 120 miles. We do have a rest day the day after tomorrow, which will be very, very welcomed by all of us, we’re all looking forward to our day off, seeing Casper and taking it easy and enjoying some free time.
My blessings out to all of you and to the troops. I hope that you get word to them that I’m continuing to ride and pray for them and think of them, pray for their safety and for them to get home to their families. For you moms out there and all of you who are doing your jobs and taking your vacations this summer, taking care of the things you need to and hopefully fitting in things that you want to for the summer, vacations and family time and different things. I pray that you’ll stay safe and enjoy the simple pleasures of life and all that God has to offer you each day. Thank you again for this great opportunity to share this with you.
I appreciate people who have called in and I appreciate all your little messages of encouragement. I especially I want to say thank you to Steve and Beth Coffey and all the Coffey family for praying for me. I want to say thank you so much to all the people from Christar Ministries and for the blessing that you are to me. I just thank you for the opportunity for me to be able to serve you in a special way. Christar Ministries is a very special ministry that reaches out to the most remote, unreached people of the world who have never heard the Gospel. It’s a fabulous ministry, you can look into that ministry.
Also for all the relatives who are down in Bowman, SC, my love goes out to all of you. I’m thinking of you, especially this day, and hoping that you’re all doing well on the dairy farm. With all the farms that I’ve been seeing, I’ve thought of you all often and I want you to know that I think of you and love you all and pray for you. Of course my children and Raymond and my parents, I’ve mentioned all of you before. And all of you friends out there I’ve known for years, even those of you who I haven’t talked to in a long time, like Judy Pulaski, how could I ever forget you? Thank you so much for your words of encouragement to me and for the “Rah-rah, Jeannie, you go, you’re finally doing it, girl!” She knows how long I’ve wanted to do this. A lot of you out there know how long I’ve dreamt of doing this, and it’s sort of like, “Pinch me, pinch me, is this really real, it’s really happening!” I already just completed Day 17 and it’s as much a thrill as the first day I started, even more of a thrill. I keep thinking every day that it can’t get any better, and every day it keeps getting better and better!
So what can I say? I don’t know if tomorrow could really be any better than this, but maybe it can be. That’s what I’m experiencing, it’s just a building up of better, better, best, best, how good can it get, I have no idea. But I’m just bursting with joy and gratitude, and it’s just pretty overwhelming, that I could be this blessed to be able to experience this. I only hope that all of you could find something in your life that would thrill you and fill you as much as this trip has for me so far.
My love goes out to all of you, and thank you so much again. God bless you, and God bless America.
Rev. Ken Downey, who has already ridden from Holly Beach, Louisiana, USA to Fort Francis, Ontario, Canada in 1999, is now riding across America to honor early pioneer Christian ministries. Ken is riding a quarter horse named Pilgrim, from the North Carolinas Atlantic coast to the state of Washington’s Pacific coast. During his journey he will be ministering in the evenings at churches, homes and public places on the route, as well as engaging people along the trail. (OLT added a link about the man riding his horse Across America for more information on his mission.- http://www.trailsideministries.com/)