Bill Inman atop his horse Blackie
as riders in Hendersonville, N.C. welcome him
January 13, 2008
An Oregon rancher who set off on a cross-country horseback ride seven months ago in search of what’s good in America dismounted Sunday, feeling encouraged by the spirit and stories of the people he met.
Bill Inman began his journey June 2 because he felt distress over how the country was being portrayed in news coverage and on TV shows. He rode his 16-year-old thoroughbred-quarter horse Blackie.
His wife, Brenda, and a four-person support crew joined him on the trip through eight states.
Along the way, Inman collected stories of hardworking, honest everyday people in rural America.
The scenery in America is changing and I’m really proud we took snapshots at slow motion of this time period because 20 years from now it will be different,” he said.
Inman talks about the retired rancher in Idaho who he considers “a true image of America with his honesty and hospitality,” or people he’s met working multiple jobs to make ends meet, or another Idaho rancher e-mailing the progress of the journey to his son in Iraq.
“There is nothing like riding across the nation to learn about the people of this country,” he said.
Among the people he met was a Wyoming deputy sheriff who drove 25 miles through a thunderstorm to bring dinner to him and his wife, and all 17 people of a Colorado town who came out to see him ride off.
An Idaho state trooper paid him $20 for the chance to sit on top of Blackie, he said.
“Sometimes, I was more intrigued by the stories they were telling than the stories I was telling,” Inman said.
Inman finished his trip riding into the southwestern North Carolina town under overcast skies. A crowd of more than 100 people greeted Inman as he ended the journey.
Crossing the plains of Kansas
“I don’t know if that’s really sunk in yet. It may take me two or three days to think it’s over,” Inman said in a telephone interview.
Inman ticked off a list of what’s been bad about the trip — temperatures ranging from 108 degrees to freezing, pesky insects, water shortages, crossing mountains and desert and riding in a lightning storm. People aren’t on the list.
“I haven’t run into any bad people,” he said.
Inman bought Blackie in 2001. The two have clearly bonded.
“I know his capabilities and I know his flaws and I think he can say the same thing for me,” he said. “Now if you think we’re constantly kissing buddies, I don’t think so.
Do I brag about him a lot? Yeah.”
Re-written from news sources: