Texan stops in Natchez during journey

Published 12:02 am Sunday, June 10, 2012

NATCHEZ — Leslie Fender wanted out of Dublin, Texas, and he was willing to drop everything to leave.

Fender sold nearly all his belongings, packed up what was left into two saddlebags and hopped on his horse, Angel, to start a journey that would take him around the country.

“I had (gone across the country) every other way,” he said. “And (on horseback) is the way I wanted to do it since I was 12 years old.”

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Fender’s first destination was Pensacola, Fla., where he wanted to visit his sister, Jan Ganske. On June 1, he was having a bad day dealing with traffic near the Louisiana/Mississippi border and decided he wanted to take a break and get a drink.

“Up here people are very nice, except on the road,” he said. “On the road they are really cranky. I almost had a lady run over me today, and that’s when I decided to get off U.S. 84 and cross the bridge and stop.”

Fender said he did not have any trouble crossing the bridge and then he ended up whetting his whistle at the Silver Horse Saloon in Natchez.

“I talked to a guy on a (motorcycle), and he said to go here,” Fender said.

Fender’s stay in Natchez was brief, but he still has a long way to go before he reaches his final destination.

After Pensacola, Fender plans to head up the Atlantic seaboard with at least one scheduled stop in Washington D.C.

“I want to get a picture in front of the Capitol on the horse,” he said.

He also hopes to visit Gettysburg, Pa., he said.

Fender then will head to Birmingham, Mich.

“I have to go see the doctor,” he said. “I had a stroke 7 years ago, and (my doctor) put a stint in my brain that’s 8 inches long. I have my seven-year check-up.”

Fender said he did not expect his doctor to be angry about his method of transportation.

“He’ll probably think it’s cool,” he said.

After his appointment, Fender hopes to leave Michigan and head to California to find his new home.

“I want to take the horse to California,” he said.

Fender said Angel is a 6-year-old quarter horse, and it took him two years to train her to be a perfect mode of transportation as well as perfect companion.

“Most people can’t let their horses run free, but she runs free, and she doesn’t leave me,” he said. “That’s the way I trained her.”

Fender said he does not have to tie Angel up when they stop, and she is content standing and waiting on him.

The companions travel approximately 25-30 miles a day, and Fender said they generally sleep by the side of the road. Once a week he treats himself to a hotel room.

Fender keeps in touch with his mother and two sons on his laptop, he said.

“My mom and sons said I have to have it or I won’t go,” he said. “I would have went anyway, but I talk to them on Facebook.”

Fender said he has had little trouble traveling with Angel, except for the occasional hotel that is not accepting to a horse staying overnight.

Fender said since he was a boy he has loved travel and seeing the country. He made his first cross-country trip at the age of 15 when he hitchhiked from Michigan to California.

Now at 54, the retired butler spends his days listening to Jeff Beck and Deep Purple on his iPod and taking in the sights of America while riding Angel.

“We just walk, ride and look at the scenery,” he said. “It’s bee a great trip.”