Thursday, January 8, 2009
John Wayne on horseback
By LINDA JONES
“I like to be on the road most days by 8:30 (a.m.) or so.”
John Wayne Haynes, 55, is moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico. But he’s not using a U-Haul to move his belongings.
John Wayne, as he’s called by most folks, is moving pretty much the same way the “real” John Wayne might have moved – on horseback with a pack horse coming along behind him.
His faithful companion, blue heeler Sheila, trots along at the horses’ heels, as the foursome move steadily on down the road.
Haynes is riding 2-year-old Misty and leading “the old man back there,” Harley, who is 23 and serving as his pack horse. The horses are both leopard-spotted Appaloosas.
He left Hudson, Michigan, on October 2, 2008, and he’s hoping to arrive in Santa Fe by Easter – April 12 this year. He rode through Marshall County and Holly Springs Friday, on his way to Helena, where he plans to cross the Mississippi River.
“I decided to make an adventure out of relocating. I quit my job at Bob Evans, where I was a sausage maker and butcher, sold everything I had and headed out,” he said.
“My youngest son recently graduated from high school, all my kids are grown and settled, so…”
John Wayne has three children, two daughters, one 30 and one 26 and his son, who was 19 on January 3.
He talked about his adventure with his children and while they were sad about him leaving, they came around.
“I talk to them two or three times a week now,” he said.
When Haynes gets to Santa Fe, he will visit with his brother and sister a bit and then look around for a place to settle down and work in ranching.
“Santa Fe is in the high desert; I’d like to live in the low desert,” he said.
He and his companions are traveling about 20 miles a day, staying on main roads and riding around eight hours – from 8:30 a.m. or so, until around 4 p.m., when he starts looking for a place to spend the night.
“I like to be somewhere by 5 p.m. or so. I don’t like to be on the road after dark,” he said.
Haynes often spends the night in friendly strangers’ barns. Thursday night, Pete and Mary Skelton’s barn was his “Holiday Inn Express.”
He carries sweet feed for the horses tied behind his saddle and stops at gas stations and such to feed himself and Sheila.
“I have ridden up to drive-thru windows,” he said laughing. “I don’t set off the system, so I have to ride up to the window to order.”
He feels fortunate to have met mostly friendly folks along his journey.
“Stray animals are a bit of a problem. And one time in Versailles, Ind., a group of young boys was harassing me. Most people are considerate and friendly though, but some drivers will fly past and not edge over,” he said.
Haynes has always been a horseman and didn’t want to trailer the horses all the way to Santa Fe.
“Everything I own is right here,” he said, gesturing toward his pack horse. “I did send some clothes on ahead.”
By Friday night, Haynes was on Hwy. 4 West, headed toward Senatobia. Several miles past Kirkwood National Golf Course, Haynes stopped at the home of Doug and Brenda Bragg.
“I was in the office next to the house and he came up to the office window. I heard our dogs barking, looked up and saw him sitting there on his horse and I have to tell you, it scared me,” Brenda said laughing. “He apologized later for scaring me.”
Haynes asked Brenda if they had anyplace he and the horses could spend the night.
“I called Doug and he said he’d seen him around town today and he let him stay in the barn.
“He is a very nice person! We really enjoyed him this weekend,” Brenda said.
Friday night Haynes slept in the Braggs’ shop. Saturday, the Braggs fed him fish and Haynes had planned to leave Sunday morning.
However, when Doug went down to the shop Saturday morning to wish Haynes well, he found him up and walking Misty, the two-year-old horse.
Misty colicked Saturday morning and Haynes spent most of Saturday walking her and taking care of her. By 2 p.m. Misty had recovered and Haynes was greatly relieved.
Monday morning, about 9 a.m., Haynes was headed back out toward Senatobia and the bridge at Helena.
“He has been worried about getting over the bridge and Doug offered to trailer them over, but he wants to do this on his own. I offered to keep his horses in our pasture until this spring, and he could take a bus to Santa Fe. Then, when the weather is better, he could come back and finish his adventure. But, he was raring to go Monday morning,” Brenda said.
The Braggs’ adult children were planning to drive toward Senatobia Monday evening to check on Haynes and Doug is going to call him every Saturday to make sure he’s doing OK.
If all goes as planned, The South Reporter will keep a box on Page 5 with weekly updates on Haynes and his animals.
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