TODAY | September 24, 2012
>>> back now at 8:51. in requested today's american story with bob dotson ," comes from a place where 70 miles is not an hour but three days. bob is here to explain.
>> good morning, everyone. on a dusty road i came by a woman who was traveling so slyy will she could see the rows between the corn, and she was a retired schoolteacher who has learned a lot about us.
>> just look at that. that's just spectacular.
>> bernice ende set out seven years ago to see america at four miles an hour.
>> you know, those peaks up there, it's like, come on, see if you can come up here, and i would go to the next one and i'd want to go to the next one.
>> 18,000 miles, so far. if you flew from the north pole to the south pole and back to the equator, that's about 18,000 miles.
>> easy. easy.
>> our paths crossed just north of glacier national park in canada.
>> okay, let's go.
>> a beautiful place like this would be on anybody's bucket list, but bernice prefers the journey, not the destination. she was born on a minnesota dairy farm , taught ballet, and when she retired decided the only rocking in her future would be in a saddle.
>> okay, claire, you ready.
>> she's breaking in a new horse this fall, her fifth.
>> how are you doing back there, claire, okay? her dog found nearly frozen in a ditch, has been with her the entire way. the two set out on this long ride in 2005 . they have been looping around the country ever since.
>> you can't do this without having the faith in others.
>> they help her find her way.
>> can i go down this instead of going around this way?
>> but she rarely accepts invitations to spend the night in their homes. when was the last time you slept indoors?
>> i don't know. four months ago.
>> during a flood. what was your scariest moment?
>> a black stallion tried to steal my mare and tried to kill me.
>> tessie, be careful.
>> you're always right on the edge. you're riding that wave of uncertainty. it demands that i be bold. it demands that i have skill and attentiveness and caution t.demands that, or i'd be dead.
>> most people who wander off on quests finish them and then dine out on what they did the rest of their lives. but bernice just keeps going.
>> i don't go home. i'm home. everywhere i go i'm home. you need more?
>> such freedom is hard work.
>> how thirsty can one horse get?
>> animals need to be fed, brushed. shoed and bandaged. repairs and camp chores take --
>> four hours a day.
>> bernice was divorced and in her 50s when she started this long ride. no kids.
>> i just didn't want to go home and be alone anymore.
>> spirit, come on.
>> so she left to find another kind of family.
>> don't we have children that know how to hold horses?
>> i do.
>> oh, very good, here. you take care of this horse, would you?
>> it's an in-your-face kind of life, no cell phone , no computer, just neighbors she's never met.
>> oh, look who is coming.
>> they ride into smiles. do people turn you away?
>> never, and the kindness that i have experienced is nothing short of phenomenal!
>> folks help her find firewood, food and a place to camp every day.
>> you ride in a stranger, but in just minutes you're friends.
>> oh, my goodness, nice to meet you. nice to meet you.
>> i wish you could just come and see what i see. you would think so differently about our country.
>> a place where good and generous people still pull together to sustain this remarkable journey.
>> i've got thousands of spirits in my saddle riding with me, thousands. happy trails.
>> for "today," bob dotson , nbc news with "an american story" from the slow lane.
>> bernice will soon head east to watch the leaves fill with color and figures she will arrive here next fall.
>> tell her to stop by and come visit her. we want to meet her.
>> it's fascinating because she didn't watch this story.
>> i had about to put a gps in her saddlebag to track her because she doesn't carry a cell phone . not even in a cell phone area.
>> wow, great story. got to bump into more people like