Terra White, left, her husband, Joshua, second from right, and her sons, Lucus and Levi, saddle up their horses as they prepare for their next stretch of riding making their way from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean at a stop in Liberal recently. L&T photo/Robert Pierce

ROBERT PIERCE

    • Leader & Times

 

In America’s early days, long before highways became commonplace, people could be seen riding horses and camping under the stars as darkness fell upon the sky before continuing on their journey across the country.

Over the years, with the invention of the automobile, people began to use horsepower to make their way, and equine friends being used as transportation became less of a sight.

A California family started its journey in April 2022 on the backs of horses, and they are calling it a journey like no other.

“A home school journey across the United States; an epic adventure with parrels and praise,” a description on the L&L Manquest Web site said.

The site talks about the White family’s journey to cross the U.S. in four years on horseback. Joshua White said he and his wife, Terra, were looking to slow down time after living an aggressive life in the business world and not having much time with their sons, Levi, 17, and Lucus, 15.

“We had some remorse over it, and we decided we were going to dedicate four years, the formative high school years of our kids’ lives,” Joshua said. “We were going to spend as much time as we could with them.”

The family was in Liberal recently, and Joshua said the trip has been nothing but a blessing thus far.

“We homeschool this way, so our kids get first-hand experience with all the education and the history and different cultures,” he said.

The family has now made its way through Southern Utah, Nevada, the Navajo reservation, the Colorado mountains and Kansas. As of Friday, the Whites had made their way through Central Oklahoma.

Lucus said the family has encountered some inclement weather along the way.

“In Colorado, we ran into six days straight of rain,” he said. “It caught us completely off guard. During the day, it was perfectly fine. We didn’t think it was going to rain. The weather didn’t say it was going to rain, so we just unrolled our beds and went to bed. Later that night, it started off nice, and we figured it would pass. It kept getting worse and worse until it was straight downpour.”

Joshua said he has seen a complete transformation in his sons, and Terra said Lucas and Levi have learned a few skills along the way.

“They do all the navigating and all the financing along the trip,” she said.

Family members said the trip is a true depiction of their interpretation of pioneering fathers, cut from iron and cloth that is no more.

“I forged my sons in the fires of the sun, and I quenched them in the rivers of the mountains,” Joshua said. “The mold that’s come out of it is they’re strong, capable, critical thinking young men, and that’s what. That’s what our real goal was.”

Joshua said the family learned about some modern technology, as well as a part of America’s history on part of the journey.

“We learned about nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs when we stayed with a nuclear bomb tester for the federal government,” he said. “When road through the Navajo, we learned all about the Native American wars and the Trail of Tears. The Navajo changed me forever. I loved it. I loved all the people. We never paid for food once from Page, Ariz., to Cortez, Colo.”

All journeys do take some financing, and the family has had to take on some temporary work to help make their way across the country.

“We’ve been stopping and working when we need to along the trail just like the old cowboys did,” Terra said.

“The boys have been roofers,” Joshua said. “They’ve been maids.”

“Every job under the sun,” Levi said. “We break horses and sell horses, anything we need.”

Terra said Lucus and Levi have been training horses during the trip and selling them along the way.

Joshua said the family is developing a connection to the land he feels has been forgotten over the years.

“When we’re riding, I see all the prairie dogs, and I see all the birds, the dragon flies, bears and moose,” he said. “There’s so much out there, and even in the cold weather, we’ve found the most beauty. I’m a real blessed man and grateful for life right now.”

The Whites started their journey shortly after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Joshua said this was a time he felt he was in a slump, having lost some family as well.

“Financial times were coming upon us, and I realized I was wasting a lot of time with my sons,” he said. “For me, it seemed monotonous. I’m so glad we’re on this adventure. My family has a common goal, and I wish more families would get to feel that. Every morning, 13 minds wake up, and 13 minds have the common goal of heading east. Just that has saved my family, saved my relationship with my wife. My sons now know who I am.”

Joshua said many people have called him crazy for making the trip, but he feels it has helped the family build a bigger bond.

“Crazy to me would be losing my family, my sons never knowing who I am and not taking this adventure,” he said. “I could never imagine not living life to its fullest. I couldn’t live that way any longer. I’m so grateful. I conquered the fear of the unknown, and that’s all that was inhibiting me from my dream.”

When the Whites’ journey ends, the family hopes to be near the Atlantic Ocean around Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina

“The people are going to start becoming more and more a part of this,” Lucus said. “Hopefully, we’re going to start to see more of the brighter side of the human race. I’m hoping to see the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Smoky Mountains. I’ve never seen any big rivers, and the Mississippi, that’d be a real cool treat.”

Terra said the family does not have a direct route planned due to anticipated weather changes, and she said spots with grass and water are preferable to help feed the horses.

“If there is no grass and water, there is no trip,” she said.

The Whites have surpassed the 2,000-mile mark on their journey. Joshua said that alone is an achievement, and just as the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step, the family’s odyssey took a few steps to get off the ground.

“First, we got out of the driveway, the city, the county, and then we passed a state,” he said.

Joshua said he is grateful his sons get to see what they have seen and will see as they make their way across America, and he said he sees a sense of achievement as something that is lacking in many families.

“They deserve it,” he said. “They need it. All the maps are drawn. It’s going to be hard for these guys. I took this chance to show them there’s more to life.”

“And to seek the truth,” Terra said.

Above all else, Joshua said he hopes Lucus and Levi will have a sense of contentment he never had.

“The grass is always greener,” Joshua said. “I left good jobs thinking one would be another. I hope my sons have that contentment in their lives.”

Terra and Joshua both agreed life should be a little easier for their sons when their journey comes to an end.

“I would whine about being asked to work overtime,” Joshua said. “I was that guy. Now I know my sons will never complain. Everything will be easy after this.”

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