A mix of snow and rain swirled in the air as Angela Wood and her horses, Renegade and Buck, plodded to the shoulder of U.S. 23/441 just south of Dillsboro last Thursday.
The trio are on a 7,000-mile journey to bring attention to child hunger in the United States, Wood said.
A barn at Country Roads Nursery awaited them, just one of many free shelters Wood has sought out while traversing the country at 15 or so miles per day.
“I’ve stayed in parks, in people’s back yards, on farms and ranches, wherever I think I can find a place,” she said. “I don’t call ahead. A lot of times, somebody will know somebody and they will call ahead and recommend me to them, and that’s awesome because I love having a place to go to.”
Sometimes she has to knock on doors. Four out of five say “no,” she said.
Wood, 51, had an accident that required a hospital visit on Wednesday, Nov. 21, while she was on Overlook Road in Asheville.
Wood was out of the wagon feeding the horses and was walking around to get their water bucket. On the way, she reached inside the wagon to put a blanket over her traveling companion, a small dog named Schatzie.
“I did a stupid thing and stepped between the horses and the wagon,” she said.
Ambulance sirens spooked the horses and they bolted, pulling the wagon over her.
“I got caught by the back wheel, which rolled over my chest. Thank God for rubber wheels and the fact that God had his hand over me,” she said. “I got stitches in my head and abrasions across my chest because they drug me about 15 feet.”
Undeterred, Wood and her wagon carried on west on their mission.
“Will you guys stop fighting?” she yelled to her horses as they jittered by the roadside last Thursday. “You’re like a couple of teenage boys, I swear!
“Since the accident, they’ve been a little bit hot-headed, a little bit high-strung,” she said.
“I’m raising awareness about childhood hunger in America,” she said. “We have so many homeless and so many hungry children here in this country and it shouldn’t be that way. We’re the land of plenty.”
Wood carries food with her and is often fed by the kindness of strangers.
A woman in Sylva bought her a hamburger and coffee when she came through town, Wood said.
“Lots of people I stay with feed me,” she said.
Her horses eat 12-15 pounds of grain per day and more if they travel further. She carries the water and feed they need on her wagon, though some people are happy to donate, she said.
Wood and her animal companions are on their own.
“We’re solo,” she said. “No support, no chase vehicle.”
Wood started from her home in Science Hill, Kentucky and traveled east to Sunset Beach on the North Carolina coast. She’s working her way westward to the coast of Washington state, though she is not sure exactly where or when she will get there, she said.