The ride of her life : the true story of a woman, her horse, and their last-chance journey across America

by Letts, Elizabeth,

Format: Print Book 2021
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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, they 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 neighborliness in a rapidly changing world.
Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Letts (The Perfect Horse) inspires in this miraculous true story of one woman's trek from Maine to California on horseback. In November of 1954, after a health scare revealed she only had four years to live, 63-year-old Annie Wilkins bought a horse, grabbed her dog, and left her tiny hometown to ride west. Along the way, she went viral--at least by 1950s standards--thanks to an AP reporter who found out she was meeting the governor of Idaho. On her journey, Wilkins slept in police stations and the homes of kind strangers; charmed famed American artist Andrew Wyeth; was hosted by a small-town sheriff in Tennessee; acquired a second horse (but lost him to tetanus); rode in the country's largest rodeo; and nearly drowned in a flash flood. She crossed California's state line in the late afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 26, 1955, and, blowing past her doctor's projections, lived to be 88. Letts's attention to detail and clear admiration of her "funny, quirky, and bold" subject light up the narrative and make it hard to put down. This story has it all: bravery, determination, and a whole lot of heart. (June)"
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Additional Information
Subjects Wilkins, Mesannie -- Travel.
Wilkins, Mesannie.
Horsemen and horsewomen -- Travel -- United States -- Biography.
Travel with horses -- United States.
Overland journeys to the Pacific.
HISTORY / United States / 20th Century.
NATURE / Animals / General.
NATURE / Animals / Horses.
Travel with horses.
United States.
Publisher New York :2021
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description 272 p.
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 9780525619321
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