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New Bloomfield pair travel with horses

New Bloomfield pair travel with horses

Eddie Stafford and Nancy Clardy head to Texas via horse-and-wagon

November 12th, 2017 by Jenny Gray in Local News

Courtesy of the Parsons Sun Eddie Stafford and his traveling companion Nancy Clardy pose for a photo while on the road in Parsons, Kansas.

Eddie Stafford and his traveling companion Nancy Clardy have seen practically every roadside weed between New Bloomfield and the Lone Star State, the slow way.

"We're headed to southern Texas," he said Monday. "We don't know where we'll end up."

The point of their back-road trip isn't where they're going or how fast they get there. They don't even have a plan for where "there" is. Stafford and Clardy said the point is to just mosey on down the road, following the noses of their trusty ponies.

"Little Joe and Hoss — they're paint-quarter horse types," Stafford said. "I've had them a couple years. They were broke to drive when I bought them."

He said a few test runs from New Bloomfield were made before they hit the road Oct. 11. The horses took them and their 16-foot wagon to the Thirsty Hog for dinner and into town a few times.

Stafford, 69, went to high school in Fulton and owned Callaway Auto Parts for years. Now, he's semi retired. He owns Tow Pro in Holts Summit, but for now, he's content to be towed behind Hoss and Little Joe.

"I wanted to do this all my life," he said of his southbound horse-and-wagon trip. "I decided I'd better get it done while I could."

He's not really keeping track of the number of miles they've journeyed.

"No idea. Maybe 400 miles? We're making about 100 miles a week," Stafford said. "We have no real destination. We're just hoping to go until winter."

On Monday, he and Clardy were 8 miles north of the Red River on the Oklahoma/Texas border.

"We're on a little black top road — Spicer Road," Stafford said. "Near Calara, Oklahoma. Right near the border."

This site is just east of Lake Texoma (the subject of Blake Shelton's new album). He and Clardy have everything they need in their wagon.

"We have a stove, a porta pot, a shower and a bed," he said. "We're carrying our food and feed and hay — everything we need."

They've attracted some attention along the way.

"We've talked to three or four newspapers and a TV station," he said.

Wherever they stop, people gather. Recently, Pat Reeder arrived for her work day at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and Birthplace Ranch in Claremore, Oklahoma, to find Stafford and Clardy on site.

"They just showed up to tour the museum," she said. "The day before, I was at home. I live on Highway 88, between the Memorial and the ranch, and I saw slow traffic. They camped out less than a mile from my house. When I got here (to work), they were tied up to a tree out there."

Reeder said it was fun talking to them.

"They were such a nice couple. There were people stopped along the road talking to them. They were a very popular stop for awhile," she said. "He told this great story. The reason why he decided to do this is somebody left a horse and buggy at their house and he drove it to town. He said he saw things he'd never seen before."

"It's just like you're walking to Texas," Stafford said of the journey. "You can see everything in people's backyards. There are a lot of beer cans along the road."

Clardy, originally from Audrain County and Fulton, said she urged Stafford to make the trip sooner rather than later.

"I think I just convinced him," she said. "We knew each other years ago and we got reacquainted."

She said she loves animals, but she didn't know much about horses until this adventure.

"I'm loving it; it's been great," Clardy said. "Just getting to see the countryside and meeting people. You see things you wouldn't see traveling 70 miles per hour down the highway."

Once they get to wherever they're going, they will turn around and mosey back home.

"We're driving back," Stafford said. "I'm kind of looking for some real estate, too."

They might end up in San Antonio, a distance of about 850 miles. Stafford said the reality of the trip has met the expectations of the dream.

"It's everything I wanted it to be," he said. "I wanted to do it before I'm too old. I'm still healthy, still good. You never know about tomorrow."