The Book

Man & Horse: The Long Ride Across America

In 1974 a disenfranchised young man from a broken home set out to do the impossible. With a hundred dollars in his pocket, a beat up cavalry saddle, and a faraway look in his eye, John Egenes saddled his horse Gizmo and started down the trail on an adventure across the North American continent. Their seven month journey took them across 11 states from California to Virginia, ocean to ocean.. As they left the pressing confinement of the city behind them, the pair experienced the isolation and loneliness of the southwestern deserts, the vastness of the prairie, and the great landscapes that make up America. Across hundreds of miles of empty land they slept with coyotes and wild horses under the stars, and in urban areas they camped alone in graveyards and abandoned shacks. Along the way John and Gizmo were transformed from inexperienced horse and rider to veterans of the trail. With his young horse as his spiritual guide John slowly began to comprehend his own place in the world and to find peace within himself. Full of heart and humor, Egenes serves up a tale that’s as big as the America he witnessed, an America that no longer exists. It was a journey that could only have been experienced step by step, mile by mile, from the view between a horse’s ears.

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Excerpts

Chicken Today, Feathers Tomorrow [Excerpt]

I'm riding my sorrel companion down a two lane backroad through northeastern Tennessee. In Texas, they would call it a farm-to-market road. Sometimes it has a grass shoulder to ride on, sometimes not. The road has seen better days, but it retains its utility and...

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1974 [Excerpt]

It was such a long time ago. I’m old now, road weary and weather beaten. Rode hard and put away wet, as the cowboys say. The years have left their marks. This body of mine seems like it belongs to someone else. It sags where it once was drawn taut; joints that moved...

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Predators [Excerpt]

I was giving Gizmo a drink from the radiator filler hose at a run-down Shamrock station outside of Briscoe, Texas. Grain elevators rose like launchpads in the distance, towering above the flat Texas Panhandle and clearly marking the route of the defunct Panhandle and...

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Things That Go Bump In The Dark [Excerpt]

We wandered through Knoxville today. I pushed us into town as far as I could last night, and we camped out in the veterans’ cemetery. The grass had been cut pretty short, but Gizmo managed a decent meal. It's hard getting all the way through a big city like this with...

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Dead People Make Good Neighbors [Excerpt]

The ride didn’t mark the first time I had slept in a graveyard, though it did for Gizmo. I have mentioned that I did a lot of hitchhiking and riding freight trains during my youth. That activity continued almost up until the time of the ride. And during those times,...

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Shearing Sheep [Excerpt]

Gizmo and I spent a few days with Johnny and Rose Cook on the Navajo Indian Reservation, near Indian Wells, Arizona. They had graciously invited us to stay with them for a much needed rest. While we were there I pitched in to help with shearing, though I knew nothing...

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An Old Horse Trader [Excerpt]

John Becker was born in 1889 and had led an incredibly varied life. He lived with his wife, Ruth, in a small house they had homesteaded in the fifties, far out in the Mojave Desert. They invited us to stay the night, and I was glad I had accepted. I sat transfixed as...

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Desert Dwellers and Rosicrucians [Excerpt]

I sat and listened to tales of angels and helpers, natural pathways to enlightenment, and Esoteric Christian and Para-Masonic teachings. I couldn't help thinking that people drag their spiritual belongings with them no matter where they go. I didn't exclude myself...

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…captured me from the first page. A glimpse into times past, an America no longer accessible, and a journey for no real reason other than a personal drive.