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Dusty Trails

by Paula Cushman 4 months ago in Teenage years
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A young cowboys dream

As a writer, I often get asked to retell a story because it's a favorite of someone. It's nice knowing that what I wrote could become that one that someone would remember me for in the years to come. Many good stories start with "remember when" or "remember the time." I had good subjects to write about; they were easy prey, I could count on them, they never failed me. My children, like circus clowns, were the victims of some classics; I'm a Blind Date Magnet, The Fight Between the Donkey & the Pig, A Horse in the House, Who Ate My Pizza, and My Ass Is Going Down the Road. I have my favorites too. What would usually be Big Week here in our neck of the woods, I noticed son Monroe had rodeo withdraws with the pandemic shutting everything down. It reminded me of the time of a young cowboy who made the trip of a lifetime on the back of a horse.

I don't think Monroe missed a rodeo. When we lived in town, we would ride our horses from the stables to the parking lot to Valley Center and rode through the horse parade. It was the one week out of the year that you could ride your horse through town. But all good things come to an end and the notice to move our horses eventually resulted in the new soccer fields and our move to Arroyo Seco. Those kids rode out there almost daily; they had acres to explore. They would pack saddlebags with water and snacks, and off they rode. With one pitbull named Chocolate trailing right behind.

When Monroe was 14, I had to tell him that I didn't have access to a horse trailer, he could still go in for the rodeo, but I had no way to get him and a horse into town. He started throwing out names of folks with trailers, and I had to tell him that I had checked with them already, and their trailers were full. They will let me know if anything changes, I told him. That's when I saw the light bulb go on above his head.

"What did they do before horse trailers?," he asked.

"They rode them," I answered.

That 14-year-old son of mine was determined to get to the rodeo.

I explained the work he would have to put in to get a horse ready for such a trip from Arroyo Seco to Salinas. We decided out of the horses we had Dusty Rose, a white Appy would be the best one to make the trip. Now it was planning the route. I knew there was no way he could do this in one day, and keeping him and horse off the freeway was another. I trusted horse and rider; I didn't trust the drivers of the cars that would whiz past them. So the backroads of Arroyo Seco Road with an overnight stay at the Vosti Ranch in Gonzales. Thanks to Dave that following morning, he made sure that young cowboy and his horse made it safely over the overpass and watched him as they trotted off onto Old Stage Road.

I worked for a local radio station in King City, KLUE, and our format was country music; I did the morning drive time slot. I was able to talk about Monroe and Dusty, and it just spread like wildfire from there. I had calls coming in that I would put on live, and they would give me updates on where they were. How cool they thought it was, how cool I knew it was. Interviewed by the local newspaper Monroe and Dusty even made the 6 pm news. Several folks looked for him and gave him road snacks; one guy stopped him and gave him a cassette player with a few country tapes. Monroe was so thankful for that and was even happier to find a George Strait tape Pure Country included.

Monroe and Dusty continued down Old Stage Road while Monroe sang along with George, then it was down Williams Road with a right onto Laurel, a left on Towt, and a quick right onto Oregon Street. He had made it to his dad's house. It was a two-day ride from Arroyo Seco to Salinas by horseback. He called to let me know he had made it. I had planned to rent him a stall at the rodeo grounds, and his dad was going to park an old van with all the other campers and decided that we would give Monroe the whole experience of rodeo life. I realized he had made celebrity status when they told me that Dusty had a barn stall waiting for her, free, no charge. He shook the hands of some world champs that year who admired him for what he did, and we also made some great friends that have lasted a lifetime. With social media, I can stay in daily touch with Crystal Sellers, who had just a tad of a crush on Monroe that year. But one friend he made was a little alarming.

"I got to hang out at Peter Parker's campsite," Monroe told me when I went to check on him that next day.

"You met Spiderman?" I asked him.

"Peter Parker," he nodded yes.

"You met Spiderman?" I asked him again.

"Yes, I met Peter Parker, he invited me to his campsite," he answered.

I did check on this Spiderman the following day; he even showed me his identification. He was Peter Parker. That's a whole different story, but they have become lifetime friends.

My son and his horse made it home safe and sound after four days of "hootin and hollern," thanks to a friend of his dad.

"I thought I'd give that horse a ride home," he said. "I also brought that kid home too."

Monroe was all tuckered out. But he still had chores to do and a tired horse to put away. About a week later, I ran into one of South County's old ranchers; we bought our hay from him. He told me to let Monroe know that his ride brought back memories of his young years when they would make that ride from Arroyo Seco.

Two years later, Monroe would again catapult to celebrity status; not many 16 years old win cowboy poker, but then that's a whole other story.

Teenage years

About the author

Paula Cushman

I am a former news editor and currently a freelance writer/blogger. I live on a small farm along the coast of the Monterey Bay area. As the single mom of four they made great subjects to write about.

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