The “road less traveled” for Gene Glasscock is the one most people don’t get to see: America by horseback.
With more than 10,000 miles under his saddle and about 10,000 still to go, the 70-year-old Glasscock is just now beginning the toughest stretch of a quest to visit every state capital in the lower 48.
The missionary and horse advocate had already visited 35 capitals by the time he emerged from Genoa on Wednesday to reach South Lake Tahoe by midafternoon. Today he will head over the Sierra Nevada to Sacramento.
His children remain divided on how their dad has spent the last two years on the road with two more to go.
“One daughter said to me, you don’t need to be out on the road. You need to be at home,” he said. “My son says I should do what I want.
“Both views are opposites and yet they come from love,” he said.
The 4-year, 20,000-plus mile trip is Glasscock’s effort to raise money to send young, impoverished Paraguayans to college.
The quest began in September 2002 when Glasscock left Denver with two horses and headed east. Along the way, he’s endured snow, sleet, hail, rain and heat.
But it’s the people he’s met along the way that has made his trip worthwhile. Prearranged through the national horse community, he has lined up hundreds of families with whom to spend the night during his journey.
And he’s seen and heard a thing or two about America that is as hopeful as it is alarming to him.
There’s a sense of helplessness about the way the country is going, Glasscock said, recalling family conversations at dinner tables. From farmers and ranchers of rural towns to gas station owners, the people he met along the way are not as divided as one might think.
“Democrats, Republicans, Independents – they are flustered as far as politics are concerned,” he said. “From what I’ve gathered, it’s the political system. The political parties are controlled by the corporations, not the people.”
The poverty in America is not what he imagined it to be. It’s worse. Jobs are lost because of corporate downsizing, while farmers who try to survive see their crops and livestock undervalued, he said.
One man he met has a 1,600-acre ranch but can only afford to farm 100 acres. He makes more money selling the produce off the side of the road than he does to grocers.
“I’ve seen it all across the country,” he said.
On the other hand, Glasscock has seen another kind of America that is reassuring.
“No matter where I go, I feel like I’m loved,” he said. “The people that I’ve met are good, hardworking people. They look to improve their lives and are strong.”
– Tribune News Service reporter Cory McConnell contributed to this story.