In 1954, at the age of 63, Wilkins had plenty to worry about. A destitute spinster in ill health, Wilkins had been told she had less than two years left to live, provided she spent them quietly. With no family ties, no money, and no future in her native Maine, Wilkins decided to take a daring step. Using the money she had made from selling homemade pickles, Wilkins bought a tired summer camp horse and made preparations to ride from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific Ocean. Yet before leaving she flipped a coin, asking God to direct her to go or not. When the coin came up heads several times in a row, one of America's most unlikely equestrian heroines set off.
What followed was one of the twentieth century's most remarkable equestrian journeys. Accompanied by her faithful horse, Tarzan, Wilkins suffered through a host of obstacles including blistering deserts and freezing snow storms, yet never lost faith that she would complete her 7,000 mile odyssey.
"Last of the Saddle Tramps" is thus the warm and humorous story of a humble American heroine bound for adventure and the Pacific Ocean - written in her own words; a matter-of-fact account of a practical woman on a mission.
Attention older horsewomen: if you ever feel unconfident and discouraged concerning your interactions with your horses... this is the book for you. No one told Mesannie that she needed to condition herself and her horse before attempting such a trek. Never mind that she hadn't even ridden in 30 years. She went to a local stable and bought a bargain horse from a rental string. No one told her to choose a breed that would be tough and have endurance for such a long trip - but her naive description of her new mount sounds like an old-time Morgan. No one told her that she needed special tack for such an arduous journey - and she used what she had; an artillary saddle that had seen better days - and was older than she was! She prepared herself, her mount, and her equipment as best she could - and set out to leave Maine in November. (Before the bad weather hit.) Read how this decidedly unglamorous, rather portly woman (dressed in men's clothes) traverses the United States, and ultimately ends up in California. You will be inspired.