Blue Ribbon Perspective
Bernice Ende calls Eureka "a blue ribbon town". Bernice has been the Lady Long Rider since 2005 when she set out on her first trip from Trego, Montana to Edgewood, New Mexico. She did the trip with a horse and a dog and a whole lot of courage. And she liked it. I mean there aren't many of us who could imagine riding a horse thousands of miles, not knowing where you might be spending the night or what the next day would bring. After that first trip, Bernice had a better sense of what was needed for her, the horse and the dog. She set off again in 2006 and rode over 5,000 miles out to Minnesota, down through the southwest, up through California and Oregon. It was quite the trip and took nearly two years. And here we are in 2015 and Bernice is still on the trail. Last spring she left from Eureka and made it all the way to Maine. Now she travels with two horses. Claire, her dog, has gotten too old for such goings on and decided to just stay put in Eureka this winter. But Bernice went across the country, actually sent photos home of her and the horses prancing in the Atlantic Ocean. She is wintering in upstate New York and will very soon, begin her ride back hoping to get to the west coast by next fall.
I know this is a hard life style to imagine. Fortunately Bernice keeps up a website so its fairly easy to follow along with her adventures. And she is a great letter writer especially when she is wintering in whatever place she happens to be. So I have been having a discussion with her recently about what makes a town special - or as she puts it, "a blue ribbon town". She says that in all her travels that she hasn't seen many but she knows one the moment she rides it. People seem to walk a bit straighter, are friendlier to those passing through. There are touches like flowers on Main Street or banners. When you ask people about their town, they are always pleased to tell you what makes it special. I have to agree that Eureka is indeed "a blue ribbon town." No question about it. How it came to be one is more of a mystery though. I suspect because there are enough individuals in the town who take pride in this place; who recognize that making this town as great as possible is good for them and their children and eventually for the grandchildren.
About the Author: Rita Collins. I am a believer in the power of community and for now I call the Tobacco Valley home. I have lived in nine states and three counties and this community here amazes me - how people reach out to neighbors and even travelers. I've never lived in a place that demonstrates people caring for each other so well. And I've never lived in a place that has such a high percentage of talented musicians and artists. I work with the the Sunburst Community Service Foundation, a nonprofit that began in Eureka twenty years ago and now serves numerous communities in western Montana. And I just started a new business, St. Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary. I never could have imagined life being this exciting in my sixth decade.