Asheboro, South and North Carolina: 29th Jan 2004

Well, hallo folks. At last it is my chance to have the honor of saying a few words on our tata site. My name is Camanchi; I am an Appaloosa and the property of Todd and Maria Merritt from Albany, Georgia. They are the wonderful couple mentioned in Toto’s previous entry who were so kind to loan me to Miss M so that she can finish her journey in comfort, with peace of mind and above all safely. And I am happy to say that with me she has found all of the above and more. Yes, that snigger you hear is Toto but don’t mind him. He KNOWS it is the truth.

Speaking of my companion. It has taken me a while to get used to this equine creature who has a lot of attitude and basically thinks he owns the world. I have a few scars on my neck as evidence to demonstrate this but now I give as good as I get. He is not too bad really but lacks a bit of refinement. And he eats like a horse! Fortunately my own appetite has improved hugely since I had my teeth floated (not a very nice experience even with the best expertise) and these days I can chew comfortably and not worry about sharp points cutting into my cheeks. I would really like to urge all horse-owners to have their horses’ teeth checked regularly as it really makes a big difference not to be sore when munching on your food.

Miss M calls me a great all-rounder and I can’t really argue with that. I am a good ride, I am alert and conscious of what is happening around me, I don’t spook outrageously, I am great on the rope (in fact at times, it is ME that pulls Toto when Miss M is on his back and not the other way around) and then to top all of that, I’ve also heard that Miss M thinks I am extremely photogenic! I know the pictures will speak for themselves.

This diary entry is really to cover our sojourn through South and North Carolina but I can’t continue telling you our story without mentioning the enthusiastic and caring Tommy Lee from Wrens, Georgia who had really taken Miss M and us under his wing. He really couldn’t do enough for us and through him, we were sure of places to stay and people to help up into South Carolina. We also met his lovely wife Barbara with obviously strong Irish blood and their hospitable friends Ellen and Klaas.

Brooke, Tommy’s daughter gave Miss M a bed for a couple of nights in her cosy apartment on top of the stables of Stonewall farm where she works and Barbara made sure that everybody at her hunting club knew about our travels across the Americas. We were truly amazed when Miss M told us about the quick fund-raise at the Belle Mead Hunt in Thompson where a few hundred dollars were raised in no time. Thank you to all who contributed so generously! Oh yes, and thanks also Mr Epp Wilson who arranged the lovely green jacket for Miss M!

Polards Corner was next on our route, followed by Modock. Just before the latter, we had to cross the bridge going over the huge J. Strom Thurmond Dam. A very friendly fella called Hezzie Hall on the South Carolina side approached us. He was even so kind as to make a contribution towards the fund.

Unfortunately the space is too small here and time too short to mention everybody, but we want to say a big big thank you to Joe and Lib Willis, their daughters Hope and Andi and her son Trent, for their kind hospitality. Also to Brenda and Calvin Nix, Irma King, Clyde and Frances Brown and their sons Chad and Brown for all their help and assistance. Oh yes, we had a very exciting day with some very friendly lads who spent a whole day with us, shooting some footage for the ABC National News. Kip Grosenick is the President and CEO of Robin Hood video Productions (kipgtv@yahoo.com) and with his camera and soundman team they did a very professional portrayal of our travels across the Americas. More script about this interview can be found HERE. Ms M featured as person of the week on ABC.

In Salem Corner we were invited to the house of Lou Ann and David Coleman and Miss M felt at home straight away. They are Harley Davidson fans and even before we had our dinner for the evening, we saw Miss M on the back of one of these iron horses, revving off into the sunset! She loved it so much and couldn’t stop talking about it for the next few days! The Colemans had a lot of contact with us for the following few days and we just loved their company. In Winnsboro Miss M stayed with their friends, Mark and Karen, and Toto and I were kept at the barn of Morris Douglas and his son-in-law, Rick. About 18 miles from there we arrived at the house of Dalford Wilson and it is also here that Miss M decided to take a rest day. Our first in about 10 days. Dalford did all he could to make us feel comfortable and the stay with him was indeed very nice and easy-going. Our Sunday rest-day however was quite busy with two newspaper journalists talking to Miss M whilst we got new shoes. There were also people coming and going all day and by the end Miss M was exhausted.

In Lancaster we stayed with the Harley friends of Deena and Glen and that evening Miss M had a lovely meal at their house with the Coleman’s attending too. Our last stop before we entered North Carolina was with Boyce Presley, the father of Mark Presley. We heard he was a great host and cook and he even gave up his bed for the night (with entertaining fish tank in the room!) so that Miss M could sleep in comfort. We also got to meet Geena, Mark’s wife, who was very hospitable and she and Mark tried to help wherever they could. Mark also organized a police escort for us across a busy road in Monroe and on the way we were approached by a friendly woman who had seen us on ABC. She invited us to stay with her but Miss M had to decline as something else was already organized. The woman insisted though that we stop on the way and while Toto and I were treated to apples and water, Miss M was spoiled with a hot chocolate drink, a bag full of fruits and nuts, lotion for her hands and Vaseline for the lips! Lee Ann and Sam were our hosts outside Monroe and that evening Miss M had a mobile home all for herself on the farm where they live. We couldn’t help but laugh though when the sign on the gate of our paddock read: “don’t mind the dogs, beware of the kids”!

Sam and Lee Ann had made sure that we were set for the next couple of days and had arranged for us to stay with Patti, Neal and Elizabeth outside Mount Pleasant. Patti and Elizabeth are both very good with horses and had won numerous showing competitions in all kinds of categories. Neal, a horseman himself makes sure that everything is running smoothly on the farm and that nobody goes hungry. We stayed an extra day and a Chiropractor friend was arranged to come out and look at Toto’s legs. She thought he was very stiff in his hips and hind legs and after some treatment and manipulation he seemed better. Unfortunately though, he was still not perfect the next day and at the moment Miss M is looking at all kinds of alternatives and options to establish what his problem is. He trips over quite a lot and also seems to be uncomfortable walking downhill. She is also trying out different kinds of shoes to see if this will make a difference but more about that later.

From Mount Pleasant we continued on to the beautiful farm of Annette and Gary Fazio. I was so excited when I saw this lovely spot as we came up the drive-way and immediately went into a canter to get to the barn sitting on a hilltop, as fast as possible! Our planned one-day resting spell (because of bad weather), turned into five as it got really cold and in no time, the world around us was a magical white! Miss M and ourselves had a very memorable stay with the wonderful effervescent Annette (her husband Gary went to the Superbowl in Houston and was here for only one night) and Toto and I had never heard her Miss M laugh and giggle so much. In fact, we knew Miss M could have stayed much longer was it not for the fact that New York that was calling.

No horse would get anywhere without proper hoof and foot care. We want to extent a hearty thank you to Darin Thompson from the Whippoorwill Stables Farrier Service in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina, who came out in very bad weather to see Toto and I on two occasions to make sure that we got shod in the most appropriate way. He is a very kind and friendly man and both Toto and I were talking afterwards about how comfortable he made us feel and we were not afraid of him at all.

We also got to know Harry and Libby who own the local estate agency and it was Harry who managed to get the a TV station out here to shoot us being “stuck” in the snow. I won’t say much about Miss M’s appearance on the 6am news that evening apart from the fact that you would have thought she and I were twins! And off course we would like to say thank you to Chano for looking after Toto and me so well, feeding us everyday and making sure our stalls were immaculately clean.

Missy and Sam Rankin were our very kind hosts at our next stop and whilst Miss M had a lovely cottage all for herself, we also had great stalls and a pasture which we took turns to share with Fergie the sheep. We also feel very fortunate to have met the very serene Nancy and Fernando Rojo and Tom Simons and his family at Lincoln Hills Farm. With the help of Tom who is a fantastic horse-trainer, Toto seems to be sorted from his recent bouts of spooking for nothing at all (he caused both Miss M and I some grief). Nancy and Ferdi also helped Miss M very generously with a few things she needed.

I know that Miss M is going to give out to me for forgetting to mention everybody but we have so much contact with so many people on the way, that it is impossible to remember them all. So for those names we have not mentioned and those who helped or donated so generously towards the fund or assisted in whatever way, thank you very very much! Now that everybody is updated more or less with our travels, I will say farewell until next time. More words will follow in a couple of weeks from Virginia. Just keep your fingers crossed that the weather will stay okay so that we can continue the last stretch of our journey in the manner that we would like to.

And as mentioned in Toto’s previous diary entry, please read about Tish our friend at www.sharvell.net/Love.htm who, with her family near Wrightville, Georgia, helped us a lot.

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