Wagon-rider returns to county

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The best made plans of mice and men sometimes backfire. And, when they do, the best thing to do is backtrack.

That’s the way Gene Glasscock approached the end of the 3,000-mile ride from San Diego, Calif., to the coast of Georgia on a mule-drawn wagon.

Glasscock’s journey began on Sept. 7, 2010, and ended on Jan. 6, 2012, when he set foot in the Atlantic Ocean. Or, that’s when he thought it ended.

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“At the end of the ride, I had planned to sell the mules and wagon and fly home to Oregon but I couldn’t find a buyer, at least not one that wanted to pay what I was asking,” Glasscock said, as he set up camp in a pasture on Randall and Gail Thompson’s “place” near Brundidge. “So, my plans changed. Instead of flying back to Oregon, I’m backtracking and that’s all right by me. This time, I’ve got my best friend along for the long ride and everything is all right with the world.”

Glasscock’s best friend is a purebred “guess what” and he believes that it was destiny that “Belle” rides with him.

Glasscock traveled through Pike County in the fall and made friends all along the way. His route took him along Highway 10 east from Brundidge and through Clio.

“On the other side of Clio, I overnighted on the property of Gerald Helm and he had this cute little dog that I fell in love with,” Glasscock said.

“He told me that he would hold it for me until I came back. I didn’t plan to come back this way. But maybe Gerald had a premonition. It sure seems that way.”

When Glasscock backtracked across Georgia and into Alabama, his thoughts turned to the chocolate-colored “guess what” pup named Belle.

“I just had to stop and get her,” he said, with a smile. “I’m not sure that I’ll call her Belle. I might call her “Kiss’ because she’s the very color of a chocolate Kiss.”

Instead of sharing his wagon with a dog named Kiss, Glasscock thought he would be back in Oregon now with his six children and 41 grandkids.

“Forty-one grandkids. That might be why I stay on the road all the time,” he said, laughing.

Glasscock is a longrider. A longrider is an equestrian who has ridden more than 1,000 continuous miles on a single equestrian journey.

Glasscock is the only person on record who has ridden from North to South America. In the 1980s, he rode his quarter horse from the Arctic Circle in Canada to the Equator in Ecuador.

“That was only about 12,000 miles,” he said, with a smile.

“The long ride was when I rode to every capital city in the 48 continental United States. That was about 20,000 miles and it took me three years and three months.”

So, for Glasscock, the ride from coast-to-coast and back again will be just a “short ride.”

“Oh, I don’t mind,” he said.

“I’m not one to sit around. I’d rather be riding a wagon than sitting in a rocking chair. That’s not for me.”

Glasscock said he has had many adventures along the way but the best part of the journey is the people that he’s met.

“One of the most interesting things that happened to me was on Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia,” he said. “On the island, there are horse-drawn carriages for tourists to ride. They allow horses on the beach but every horse has to be off the island by nightfall, even those that pull the carriages. But they let me and my mules stay. That made me proud.”

When Glasscock closed the door to his wagon – his home – that night on Jekyll Island, he knew that his journey was not complete. He would backtrack to California and, along the way, in a little town called Clio, he had a new best friend waiting for him and friends that that would welcome him back.”

“And that made it all worthwhile.”