Not often one sees a horseman riding on Highway 1.
Not often, as in, Never.
Almost 100 years ago, J. Smeaton Chase, an Englishman who lived out the second half of his life in California, started from San Gabriel Valley, then rode south to San Diego, to then ride north to Mendocino.
But now we have Matthew and Hampton, our current equivalent of Chase and Chino (later, Anton, when he traded a tired Chino in Jolon). Matthew and Hampton are traveling the California Coast Trail, aka State Route 1, but their mission is not a horseback tour to see the sights. Matthew and Hampton are riding the coast to raise awareness for the Akha people in northern Thailand who are being displaced by Thailand’s Queen and mistreated by the police. Matthew first learned about the Akha in the early 90s when traveling Thailand. He was disgusted by the treatment of the Akha by their fellow countrymen, the policemen, who take ownership of Akha lands in the name of the Queen of Thailand.
Matthew and Hampton are the rider and horse who were turned back from the Golden Gate Bridge last week. This post is a week old from when I crossed their southbound path on Highway 1 near Pomponio State Beach. That night, Matthew planned on bunking down in Pescadero after finding pasturage for Hampton. Matthew’s family was with their bus in Half Moon Bay, so after securing a place for Hampton, Matthew was going to hitchhike back up to Half Moon Bay, load the family in the bus, then drive south to overnight on the side of the road in Pescadero. Matthew would have passed through Santa Cruz and Monterey this week, and by now, surely he must be well into Big Sur.
Matthew’s enjoying how much countryside the California coast provides. I warned him, “That’ll change once you hit Santa Barbara and southward.”
“Yeah,” Matthew acknowledged. “We’ll find our way through.”
“Where are you headed?” I asked. “Around the U.S.?”
“To the Thai Consulate on Larchmont. We’re going to ask the Queen to stop harassing the Akha peoples.”
What’s needed, you might wonder? Matthew needs a safe, comfortable spot to board Hampton each night. He needs grain and hay donated to feed Hampton. Around Hampton’s neck is a leather donation box for anyone who’d like to contribute a few dollars towards Hampton’s feed. You can contact Matthew via his website if you have a place to offer Hampton.
I need to message Matthew to be careful riding at dusk. At the San Gregorio Store the other night a local told me, “Oh yeah, I saw that guy! He’s wearing all black, riding a dark horse, at night and I almost didn’t see him! He needs reflectors if he’s going to be riding in the dark.”
In 1913, when Chase rode the California coast, he’d need to stop every so often to replace supplies and have worn gear fixed. Throughout Chase’s record of his adventure he remarks on the kindness of the Californians who would cook him a meal and provide for him a place to sleep the night. (Sometimes the best a family could provide was the straw pile in their barn, next to Chase’s horse.)
The only location Chase encountered hostile locals was near Point Conception where a family went inside and closed their door at his approach. Point Conception won’t be a problem for Matthew since Vandenberg AFB prevents any access to everyone.
For the next week, as Matthew winds his way south to the Thai consulate, keep an eye out for him. Give him a wave, a place for Hampton to stay, a donation, but please, don’t honk or you’ll frighten Hampton.