The Long Road to Wichita Falls

Rain along the Wichita River

She said…

I have spent most of my life in the high desert, so the concept of complaining about precipitation is foreign to me. Even when I lived in Portland Oregon for 7 years, I pretty much ignored the rain and just went about my life. (In Portland, people even ignore dangerous freezing rain in favor of freaking out about a little snow!) When we crossed over the border into Texas and the rains started, I was at first prepared to enjoy them, stay home and warm and dry. After a while, it became necessary to purchase rain parkas so we could continue our daily walks. I am fondly remembering the two really nice hooded mountain parkas we gave up in the purge because we hadn’t used them in New Mexico for over 10 years.  Some people we have talked to from here say that this is an unusual amount of rain, some people say this is just Texas in February. Whichever, we are developing a whole new skill set for living in an RV in the wet.

After leaving the Livingston Escapee park we were scheduled for two weeks at Lake Tawakoni Thousand Trails, east of Dallas. From that home base we were going to visit some of Shannon’s family and spend time doing Shannon’s genealogical work. However, we got a phone call from Lake Tawakoni the day before we were supposed to arrive saying that the whole resort was flooded, and we would have to make some other arrangements.

Since our Thousand Trails membership expires on April 1st, we want to take advantage of the time we have left, as, with the exception of boondocking, there is no cheaper camping for us, and while we don’t participate in all the activities of resort camping, we do appreciate the amenities. So, we got busy and re-routed ourselves back toward Houston and up the west side of Fort Worth, where there is a string of Thousand Trail resorts, to spend the last 14 nights before we checked in at our first NOMADS job in Wichita Falls.

Whispers of Hope Horse Farm

Whispers of Hope Horse Farm

Our first NOMADS job for the year is at Whispers of Hope Horse Farm in Wichita Falls, Texas. Whispers is a beautiful riding facility for emotionally and physically challenged kids and adults. The entire place has been built by volunteer labor, a true testament to the power of volunteerism in our country. The director of the non-profit, Mary Elizabeth Pearce, is a woman of relentless drive and vision. The mission of Whispers of Hope is “to assist mentally and physically challenged individuals through therapeutic riding at no cost.” In addition to those with impaired mobility and learning and mental disabilities, Whispers of Hope provides services for wounded warriors.

The staff here is all volunteer as well, and each of them has a remarkable story. There is also a Jr. Volunteer program where kids can come and work for 4 hours per/week and receive a riding lesson in return. I would have loved to have this opportunity when I was growing up!

One thing we have seen with non-profit organizations is that they run on donations as well as grants and volunteers, and a lot of the stuff people donate really needs to skip this step and head straight for the trash, but because people are so generous, the recipients feel that they can’t discard the gifts. This is also true of every church I have ever attended. One of the things we were able to do at Whispers was to clean out several sheds and the volunteer break room and get rid of lots of non-functioning appliances, furniture, toys and games. Old ice chests seem to be a frequent contribution as well, and we were able to discard and/or re-purpose a lot of those. We also did wiring, plumbing, road construction, scrubbing, painting, built a dock, and built a shed that Mary Elizabeth got a good deal on, and we were able to spend a day with the whole team finishing that project before the rains hit again.

Whispers of Hope NOMADS team, minus Judith and Reid, who had to leave the site early.

Here are some pictures of the beginnings of our projects.

And of our team in action.

And some of the end results.

Wichita Falls has some great bike trails, and on one of our days off we dusted off the cycles and spent a day riding along the Wichita River.

I am so grateful for NOMADS and the opportunities they provide for us to be of service, to work together with Christian brothers and sisters, and continue to build our on-the-road family.

Sunset at Whispers of Hope



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