One woman. One horse. 48 states for Domestic Violence Awareness

Check back often for the latest updates and stories from Meredith and Apollo as they journey 10,000 miles on a four year ride around the USA.






You're Invited!


Mark your calendar for an exciting evening with me!

The Nevada County Library has invited me back to give another presentation in their "Travel Talk" series.  It will be 90 minutes of photos and stories about this year's ride, and (time permitting) an opportunity to ask your questions in person.

December 10
5:00 - 6:30 pm
Madelyn Helling Library, Nevada City CA

This event is FREE! 

Hope to see you there!

The 2018 Centauride by the numbers


Route Data


125 days

1816 miles

9 new states travelled: MO, IA, NE, SD, ND, MN, WI, IL, IN

Supplies (used up, worn out, broken, or lost)


My boots - 1 pair

Apollo's boots - 3 sets

Socks - 4 pair

Other clothing - 6 items

Donuts - lots

Protein bars and granola bars - way too many to count. Estimate of 150

Pens - 2

Batteries (all sizes) - 6

Tubes of sunscreen - 3

Journals - 2

Books (read) -  about 30



See how this compares to 2017 by clicking here!

Announcing the new and improved Centauride route!


I am excited to be able to share with you my new route map!

The orange line indicates where Apollo and I have already travelled, and the purple is what we have left to visit at this point.

Due to my current progress, I have had to change my map significantly from the previous plan.  Now, instead of ending in Maine, I plan to end in Kentucky.  The remainder is still expected to take a similar amount of time, so my end date should be 2020.

The map and a complete list of states with new approximate month-year ETA's can be found by clicking on "Route and Schedule"  For those of you who are relatively new to following along on my journey, this is a handy place to catch up with the early ride news and photos: each completed state on the list is a link to a summary of that state's photos and story.

Are you along my remaining route or do you know someone who is? Learn how to be a "hosting helper" by clicking here!

Time for a break in Indiana


Winter is starting to set in around the Midwest.  That means it’s time to stop for the year (I won’t ride when it’s too cold - it wears me out, and is too hard for Apollo to keep up with the increased calorie needs).


We made it over the Indiana border and into our 23rd state. The morning that we entered the state, this is what the grass looked like two hours after sunrise.  Brrr!


The little bit of time we spent riding in Indiana before stopping was pretty.  More flat farmland, and some small towns.  The blue skies and fluffy clouds were picture perfect!


I spent my winters at home, while Apollo is boarded at a full care stable where we stopped riding for the year.  I got him all settled in at his winter home, and he seems quite happy there.  I’ll miss him lots, but I’m sure he’ll be well cared for while he rests up for next year.


There was a big list of things to do before I could fly home.  But I also spent some time playing, too! One afternoon I took a break from packing and errands to drive minis with my host around a local park.  Too much fun.... I’ve been saying that Apollo needs his own mini friend (he loves them all), but now I want one so I can do this again!


I had a lot of errands to run to wrap up my year.  Does stopping at a candy factory count as an important errand? I’d been told about Albanese Candy, and how awesome their gummy bears and chocolates are, so of course I had to include that in my to do list! So hard to choose, especially since I had limited suitcase space to pack up my sweet souvenirs.


Fingers crossed for a short winter, so Apollo and I can get back to riding quickly! 

Domestic Violence is Also This - Not Your Typical Physical Abuse

This is part eight of a series. It contains details of my own experiences and other potential ptsd triggers which may be disturbing to read.

The term “domestic violence” is in some ways misleading, the words themselves reinforcing the misconceptions and myths about this extremely common issue.  What do you think of when you hear the word “violence?” Probably the first word that came to your mind, as with most people - even many of those who have been abused  - is physical violence of some kind.  Hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, shooting, stabbing.  Something visibly violent.

But domestic violence does not start and end with physical violence, and many people have been victimized without having a hand laid upon them.  So many women (and men!) I have talked to have expressed the belief that they were in a “bad” relationship, but it wasn’t abusive because their abuser never hit them.  For this reason, I have come to prefer the term “domestic abuse,” which more easily is understood to include other abuses than just physical.  

It’s time that everyone understood that domestic violence, or domestic abuse if you prefer, is more than just physical violence.  It also includes financial, psychological, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and technological abuse.  For this October’s domestic violence awareness month, I will be discussing each one.  Most abusive relationships include a combination of several types of abuse; many of the types have overlapping characteristics.  Only one type is needed for a relationship to be called abusive, though; experiencing only one type is just as difficult and damaging as going through them all.

Not Your Typical Physical Abuse

We all know what physical abuse is, right? Hitting, kicking, slapping, pinching, biting, choking...

But there are other kinds of physical abuse that are perhaps less obvious.  Did you know that physical abuse can occur without the abuser laying a single finger on their victim?

* Denying the victim food, water, or sleep
* Locking the doors so the victim must stay outside, which is especially dangerous or hurtful in bad weather or at night
* Driving recklessly while the victim is in the vehicle, with the intent to scare or harm the victim (ie, not just your average bad drivers)
* Preventing the victim from seeking medical attention
* Preventing the victim from calling the police
* Forcing the victim to use drugs or alcohol
* Abandoning the victim in an unfamiliar or dangerous place

My story

I could fill a book with a list of the times I was beaten... when he used a heavy flashlight, when he crammed my head between the furniture, when he duct taped my hands together and my mouth shut and I tried not to cry because I was sure I’d suffocate if I did, when he kicked my shins so hard I couldn’t stand up, when I ran through the cactus in flip flops because it was less painful than what I was running away from.

But I too sometimes forget that there are other ways to be physically hurt without being hit.

The list of times he drove recklessly down the road while I screamed and cried in terror would be almost as many pages.  A vehicle is a dangerous place to be alone with an abuser, because when they’re behind the wheel you are completely at their mercy.  And in easy reach for a backhand slap or pinch, and unable to leave when the verbal abuse starts.

I don’t drink much hard liquor anymore, as I have too many bad memories of having a bottle of rum or whisky forced in my mouth and being made to chug until I was dizzy.  For a short while, he also forced me to take excessive amounts of Benadryl.  There was no logical reason for any of this; it was all just a way to control and hurt me.

He was obsessive about healthy eating, but often not in a healthy way.  I was forced to follow whatever food obsession he was currently on. It was his under his orders that I became vegetarian (but I actually like it - but not for his reasons - so I still am a vegetarian).  For a while we subsisted largely on canned peas and corn, straight up (I still have a hard time eating these now).  He would decide the portion size too, and it didn’t matter whether it was too much or too little for my appetite, I was expected to eat it all and not complain.

And I was never allowed to get medical assistance when I was hurt, or even annual checkups.  He would not chance me being alone with someone that could recognize abuse and report him.


How to get help

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, contact your local shelter or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (visit their page here).  Support for survivors is also available. 

Wonderful welcomes in Illinois


We reached Illinois, our 22nd state, in the middle of October.  It was cold when we got there, and it stayed that way.  The first snowstorm of the year happened while I was here, but otherwise I had almost two weeks of riding in beautiful clear autumn weather.


The best part of Illinois was the friendly, welcoming people.  Something really incredible happened here - before I even crossed into the state, I knew every single home that I’d be staying at throughout the whole way to Indiana! I’ve never had such an easy time arranging my overnight and break stops.  And they were all awesome stops, too! So many wonderful people who were ready to make Apollo’s and my last few weeks of the 2018 ‘Ride as comfortable as possible.


The other best part of Illinois was going into Chicago on a day off to be a tourist, and to see the musical Hamilton! It’s my favorite music, and basically all I ever sing to Apollo on the road, so I was beside myself with excitement that I could schedule a trip into the city to see it.


The other, other best part of Illinois was the pizza.  My food goal for this state was to eat as much deep dish pizza as possible.  I must say I did an excellent job of meeting this goal.  On average I had some every day that I was in the state (average, because some days I didn’t get any, and some days I had it for lunch and dinner).  The best pie, hands down, was Georgio’s in Crystal Lake.  But most of the pizzas I had were better than the so-called deep dish served in other parts of the country.


The donuts in Crystal Lake were also worth mentioning...  Best known for their apple cider donuts, but I don’t think there is a bad choice here.


Of course I did more than eat and play (and eat some more) while I was in Illinois.  My route took me through the edge of the rural area around Chicago. Lots of flat farmland!


Being on the edge of the more populated area, there were also several days that I could take nice bike trails.  


One of the more interesting bridges to cross was in Saint Charles, where the pedestrian and bicycle (and thus horse) bridge was directly below the vehicle bridge.  It turned out to actually be a very nice bridge, but it was a little intimidating looking when I first saw what I had to ride across!


We had company for part of one day’s ride, when Cindy and Syndiego joined us for a few miles.  Apollo and I always enjoy having someone else ride along - it always makes the ride more memorable!


Apollo also had some fun when we weren’t riding, too! Most nights he just settles down to eating or socializing, but one evening he was very playful and funny to watch as he cavorted and raced around just for the fun of it!


We loved Wisconsin!


Apollo and I had a great time in Wisconsin! It is one of the most beautiful of the 21 states that we had been to up to that point.


From the first day I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this part of the country.

 

Many of the areas I rode in were covered in forested hills which were just beginning to show their fall colors.


Tucked in between hills and forests are beautiful farmland. More corn and soybeans, as I’ve been seeing all year, but much prettier than the flat gridded farms of other parts of the Midwest.  It was harvest season, and I never tired of watching the combines gobble up the acres of corn.


Of course Wisconsin in best known for its dairy industry, and there were certainly plenty of dairy barns.  We had the pleasure of staying at one... can you find Apollo amidst his cow friends in the photo above?


Being in the state of cheeseheads, I took every opportunity to eat as many cheese curds as I could.  Squeaky and fresh, or battered and fried... they’re all delicious.


 I learned that it’s also a large producer of cranberries! I arrived in time to spend a fun day at the CranFest, where I tried cranberry beer and other cran-infused goodies.


Wisconsin is also the home of the first Rails-to-Trails path in the country! It runs through Sparta, and I was able to follow it for a few miles into town.  Rail trails are my favorite place to ride, so I was thrilled to be able to include the very first of them on my route.


The most interesting of towns that I travelled through was Mount Horeb, the “troll capital” of America.  They have troll statues scattered all over town along a “trollway” (like tollway, get it?) as well as other celebrations of their Norwegian heritage.  Also, friendly people, good cheese curds, locally brewed beer, and the best hot chocolate.


Unfortunately for me, Wisconsin was having one of its rainiest Octobers ever, and there were many days of bad weather.  The waterways were all swollen and some bridges and roads were closed due to flooding.  Apollo and I made it through safely with the help of many new friends.


Even with all the bad weather, Wisconsin was one of my favorite states so far.  I hope I can get back here to visit some day, and explore even more of its beautiful hills! 

Domestic Violence is Also This - Technological Abuse

This is part seven of a series. It contains details of my own experiences and other potential ptsd triggers which may be disturbing to read.

The term “domestic violence” is in some ways misleading, the words themselves reinforcing the misconceptions and myths about this extremely common issue.  What do you think of when you hear the word “violence?” Probably the first word that came to your mind, as with most people - even many of those who have been abused  - is physical violence of some kind.  Hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, shooting, stabbing.  Something visibly violent.

But domestic violence does not start and end with physical violence, and many people have been victimized without having a hand laid upon them.  So many women (and men!) I have talked to have expressed the belief that they were in a “bad” relationship, but it wasn’t abusive because their abuser never hit them.  For this reason, I have come to prefer the term “domestic abuse,” which more easily is understood to include other abuses than just physical.  

It’s time that everyone understood that domestic violence, or domestic abuse if you prefer, is more than just physical violence.  It also includes financial, psychological, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and technological abuse.  For this October’s domestic violence awareness month, I will be discussing each one.  Most abusive relationships include a combination of several types of abuse; many of the types have overlapping characteristics.  Only one type is needed for a relationship to be called abusive, though; experiencing only one type is just as difficult and damaging as going through them all.

Technological Abuse, also called Digital Abuse

We all have heard news stories about cyber stalkers and online bullying.  But technological abuse is not just perpetrated by strangers, creeps, and schoolmates.  It can also happen in domestic violence.  This may take the form of:

* high-tech eavesdropping
* tampering with or reading personal emails
* listening to voicemails and reading texts
* monitoring a victim while she is in her home, or tracking her with phone gps
* looking at a victims internet and call history
* uses social media to keep constant tabs on the victim
* tells the victim who they can and can’t be friends with online
* sends negative, unwanted, explicit, insulting, or threatening messages in any digital format
* steals or insists on being given passwords and account access
* constantly texts or calls, and makes the victim afraid of being unable to reply immediately

My story

Technology did not play a very big part of my abusive relationship, however digital abuse certainly did happen to me.  These abuses didn’t occur until later in the abuse cycle, when I was otherwise more or less a prisoner in my own home.

I was “not allowed” to have my own social media account.  He had a facebook personal page as well as a business page, and would chat with people on messenger; I could not use his account.  One the rare instance that a customer wanted to discuss something with me instead of him, he would watch over my shoulder and interject what I should type, or just respond on my behalf.

I had my own email account, and also managed the business email. However, he had full access to both accounts.  When I left, he hijacked my personal email and sent out a message to all my contacts telling them lies about me, and then changed the password so I couldn’t access my account.

He installed security cameras all around the property.  I knew that he could and probably would keep an eye on me, such as if I tried to take the car to leave him.  I sometimes would attempt to get in front of a camera when he started hitting me so it would be proof against him, but he was too clever to allow that.

I could not make a phone call without his supervision.  If I did, I would be punished when he found out (and he would find out).  On the rare occasion that I made a personal call, such as to my parents, he would listen to my end of the conversation.  If he didn’t approve of what I said (and he never did), I would be punished.  I had to watch everything I said to them very carefully, and certainly could never ask for help while he was hovering nearby.  Those calls became fewer and fewer over time as it was not worth the stress involved. This was also a form of psychological abuse, by making me feel isolated from other people.

Any time I would try to leave him (and that happened numerous times over the years), he would text me in constantly until I responded; some of the texts were apologies and promises to change but others were threats and other hateful things.  Early on, when I still had most of my freedom he would text me at work or school, and expect an immediate response.  It was not yet a physically violent relationship, but I feared the emotional and verbal repercussions of not replying right away.

You might be wondering how I could still have a web presence as I do, without being afraid of continued digital abuse.  Without going into detail that could affect my online security, I do know the risks - some of which I try to minimize (such as with good account security) and some of which I simply must accept (for example, I know for a fact that he still monitors my social media and blog posts).  Because I need to connect with new people and raise public awareness with the Centauride, I cannot make my posts “private.”  This is a risk that I have to accept in order to accomplish my personal goals, and I will not let him continue to control my life - which would be the effect if I was to avoid all other risks of digital abuse.

How to get help

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, contact your local shelter or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (visit their page here).  Support for survivors is also available.