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The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America

de Elizabeth Letts

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2952689,834 (4.32)33
Biography & Autobiography. History. Nature. Nonfiction. HTML:NATIONAL BESTSELLER ? The triumphant true story of a woman who rode her horse across America in the 1950s, fulfilling her dying wish to see the Pacific Ocean, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Horse and The Eighty-Dollar Champion
??The gift Elizabeth Letts has is that she makes you feel you are the one taking this trip. This is a book we can enjoy always but especially need now.???Elizabeth Berg, author of The Story of Arthur Truluv

In 1954, sixty-three-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins embarked on an impossible journey. She had no money and no family, she had just lost her farm, and her doctor had given her only two years to live. But Annie wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. She ignored her doctor??s advice to move into the county charity home. Instead, she bought a cast-off brown gelding named Tarzan, donned men??s dungarees, and headed south in mid-November, hoping to beat the snow. Annie had little idea what to expect beyond her rural crossroads; she didn??t even have a map. But she did have her ex-racehorse, her faithful mutt, and her own unfailing belief that Americans would treat a stranger with kindness.
Annie, Tarzan, and her dog, Depeche Toi, rode straight into a world transformed by the rapid construction of modern highways. Between 1954 and 1956, the three travelers pushed through blizzards, forded rivers, climbed mountains, and clung to the narrow shoulder as cars whipped by them at terrifying speeds. Annie rode more than four thousand miles, through America??s big cities and small towns. Along the way, she met ordinary people and celebrities??from Andrew Wyeth (who sketched Tarzan) to Art Linkletter and Groucho Marx. She received many offers??a permanent home at a riding stable in New Jersey, a job at a gas station in rural Kentucky, even a marriage proposal from a Wyoming rancher. In a decade when car ownership nearly tripled, when television??s influence was expanding fast, when homeowners began locking their doors, Annie and her four-footed companions inspired an outpouring of neighborli
… (mais)
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    The Salt Path de Raynor Winn (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Faced with the loss of their farm home and Moth's newly-diagnosed degenerative brain disease, Moth and Raynor Winn set out to walk the 630-mile south coast path. Sixty years earlier, Maine farmer Annie Wilkins made a journey on horseback from Maine to California under similar circumstances. Both are stories of resilience.… (mais)
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This true story of feisty 62-year-old Maine woman who embarked on a horseback journey to California in 1954 tells the remarkable tale of Annie Wilkins, whose hardscrabble life on a remote farm was snatched away by a combination of bad weather, bad luck, bad harvest, and failing health. Unable to pay the taxes on the land that had been in her family for generations, and faced with the medical opinion that she had less than two years left to live, her options were few.

The one she chose was one no one could have seen coming -- she took the few dollars she could scrape together, bought a nondescript ex-riding-stable horse and set out for California, taking only what she could carry and accompanied by a pup of questionable lineage but charming personality.

Author Elizabeth Letts has re-told this remarkable story, based on Wilkins' own book about the journey, but enhanced by additional research into Wilkins' life and adding the perspective of 67 years.

The point of the book is not merely that this uneducated, unsophisticated woman, who seems to have had little comprehension of the true scale of the task she had set for herself, and even lacked decent maps to plan the trip, survived and succeeded. Equally important is that the journey occurred at a time in American history when the legacy of the wandering rider was not just disappearing but was being rendered impossible by the onset of the superhighway; more importantly, the era of easy hospitality for itinerant travelers was being replaced by caution, suspicion, and even hostility.

It seems utterly unbelievable that Wilkins could ride up a country lane, knock on the door of a strange farmhouse, and ask for a night's shelter in the barn for her animals and herself -- and almost always receive not only that, but an invitation to dinner and a layover if weather or health issues seemed to call for it.

Local -- and eventually, national -- news outlets picked up on the story, and during the later stages of the journey, Wilkins was often made the guest of whatever local Chamber of Commerce or booster organization saw the opportunity to get exposure for their community. Wilkins rode in the Cheyenne Frontier Days parade and appeared on national television with 1950s talk-show superstar Art Linkletter.

But she remained to the last just what she had always been -- a plainspoken, independent woman determined to make her own way. Her remarkable story is a look not only at the strength of the human spirit, but at an America that was vanishing even as she rode through it. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Apr 23, 2023 |
Facing a dismal future both from financial and life expectancy viewpoints, Maine farmer Annie Wilkins set out with her dog Depeche Toi and a sturdy Morgan horse she purchased named Tarzan to travel across the United States to California. She didn't leave until late in the year and failed to adequately plan a route. She knew the general direction she needed to head and often got directions from those who welcomed her in her travels. When she first began the journey, she mostly spent the nights in jail cells unless invited to sleep in someone's home. She usually found a barn or pasture where her horse and dog could sleep. Tarzan and Depeche Toi often fended for each other. As Annie made progress in her journey, reporters began covering her story. Many towns anticipated her arrival and paid for hotel and meals. Someone created a way Annie could make money selling postcard autographs. By the time she got to Tennessee, she saw the need for a second horse to relieve some of Tarzan's load. She was able to acquire a Tennessee walking horse named Rex. I don't want to give away too many details of their cross-country journey, but sometimes Annie didn't make the wisest route decisions. She often went to out-of-the-way places she was invited. I don't want to reveal too much of the experiences and thus spoil it for future readers. I enjoyed the story of Annie's travels. The author primarily used Annie's own memoirs and newspaper accounts to document the journey. The book concludes with Annie's appearance on Art Linkletter's television program and then an epilogue summarizing Annie's later life and that of her horses. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 8, 2023 |
When a doctor tells Annie Wilkins, a poor Maine farmer in her early 60s, that she has only a couple of years at most to live, she has a choice to make. She can either take the place the doctor offered her in the county home, or she can strike out on her own for the place she’s always wanted to see – California and the Pacific Ocean. Annie finds herself a sturdy Morgan horse and, with her dog Depeche Toi, she sets off for California. In November. The trio meet many kind strangers along the way, while Annie’s health gradually improves throughout the journey.

The author captures the mood of a vanishing era. Annie’s cross-country journey began in 1954, less than two years before President Eisenhower signed the legislation creating the U.S. interstate system. The author is occasionally a little too heavy on the trivia, straying too far from the central narrative. Letts appears to rely heavily on Annie’s book about her journey. As much as I liked reading about Annie’s journey in this book, I would have preferred to read the account in her own words. Sadly, Annie’s book is out of print. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jan 7, 2023 |
Wonderful story, well written. ( )
  CasSprout | Dec 18, 2022 |
Crazy true story! Interesting bits of history regarding the people and places that Annie interacted with on her trip.
Audio was pretty good. ( )
  carolfoisset | Dec 12, 2022 |
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Biography & Autobiography. History. Nature. Nonfiction. HTML:NATIONAL BESTSELLER ? The triumphant true story of a woman who rode her horse across America in the 1950s, fulfilling her dying wish to see the Pacific Ocean, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Horse and The Eighty-Dollar Champion
??The gift Elizabeth Letts has is that she makes you feel you are the one taking this trip. This is a book we can enjoy always but especially need now.???Elizabeth Berg, author of The Story of Arthur Truluv

In 1954, sixty-three-year-old Maine farmer Annie Wilkins embarked on an impossible journey. She had no money and no family, she had just lost her farm, and her doctor had given her only two years to live. But Annie wanted to see the Pacific Ocean before she died. She ignored her doctor??s advice to move into the county charity home. Instead, she bought a cast-off brown gelding named Tarzan, donned men??s dungarees, and headed south in mid-November, hoping to beat the snow. Annie had little idea what to expect beyond her rural crossroads; she didn??t even have a map. But she did have her ex-racehorse, her faithful mutt, and her own unfailing belief that Americans would treat a stranger with kindness.
Annie, Tarzan, and her dog, Depeche Toi, rode straight into a world transformed by the rapid construction of modern highways. Between 1954 and 1956, the three travelers pushed through blizzards, forded rivers, climbed mountains, and clung to the narrow shoulder as cars whipped by them at terrifying speeds. Annie rode more than four thousand miles, through America??s big cities and small towns. Along the way, she met ordinary people and celebrities??from Andrew Wyeth (who sketched Tarzan) to Art Linkletter and Groucho Marx. She received many offers??a permanent home at a riding stable in New Jersey, a job at a gas station in rural Kentucky, even a marriage proposal from a Wyoming rancher. In a decade when car ownership nearly tripled, when television??s influence was expanding fast, when homeowners began locking their doors, Annie and her four-footed companions inspired an outpouring of neighborli

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