On a Charity Ride Down East Coast, Horsemen Find Traffic Hard to Tame
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
As it turns out, two horsemen riding through the District on their way from Maine to Florida ran into the same problem as commuters driving into the city every day.
Amid a steady stream of cars, trucks, cabs and tour buses, the pair and their horses sauntered through 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW yesterday, taking a break on the lawn just beside the Washington Monument.
"Traffic's been crazy a lot of places," said Carl Morris, a rodeo promoter from Upper Marlboro. "I think the traffic might have startled me more than it startled my horse."
Morris, 47, and his riding companion, Ray Charles Lockamy, 45, arrived in the District yesterday on their way from Portland, Maine, to Jacksonville, Fla., a 1,600-mile trek, by their estimation, meant to benefit three charities.
The horses, Rudy and Scotch, munched on carrots and appeared unfazed by the constant flow of tourists coming to snap photos and ask questions.
"Do you need a permit to be here with that?" asked George Young, a high school teacher from Tuckerton, N.J., who was in Washington planning a field trip for his students. Young, 55, said he was impressed by the horses' durability and poise "out here in the middle of all this noise."
Morris and Lockamy, who lives in Calvert County, left Portland July 1, coming all the way down Route 1 with no map and no definite itinerary. They camp out at night, staying in the woods or back yards of people they meet along the way. They carry all their gear and the horses' food. They shower and wash their clothes whenever they find people willing to let them into their homes.
When their horses get tired, they replace them with new ones hauled to them by friends. When they see a sign prohibiting them from riding on the road, they veer off course, heading into the woods and listening to the sound of traffic so they don't get lost.
"All we do is ask people, 'Is this Route 1 south?' " Morris said.
Along the way, Morris said, he is trying to raise money for Doorways for Women and Families, an Arlington County nonprofit organization that helps domestic-violence victims and the homeless. He said he also hopes to benefit the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo scholarship fund, which provides money to black students pursuing careers in rodeos or animal science. The causes are personal: Morris said his mother was a victim of domestic violence, and he works as a local organizer for the Bill Pickett rodeo.
Lockamy said he is trying to raise money for Hands and Hooves, a Calvert organization that helps troubled young people by giving them jobs taking care of horses.
So far, the pair has raised about $200.
The riders plan to remain in the Washington area with their horses for a few days -- mainly because they can stay at Morris's home.