Happy Fourth of July, a day for appreciating our freedoms, which include making our own choices, deciding what we want to do in life.
Lee the Horselogger is a Montana native who chose nearly seven years ago to leave his home and become an honest-to-God traveling horselogger. He travels from one logging job to the next with his five Suffolk Punches - Dink, Fey, Alice, Fred and the newly retired "Tom the Wonder Horse." They pull his makeshift Conestoga wagon, his "mobile home," and work alongside him.
He lives on the jobsites and travels year-round, despite the weather.
Amber Faith Waggoner with Lee the Horselogger
Lee Crafton had left Illinois after finishing a job there and was on his way to the next one in Waynesburg, Pa., when he made some stayover stops in Jefferson County last week. That included in Richmond behind the old Richmond Elementary School and then in Steubenville, to the park-and-ride lot at the intersections of state routes 7 and 213.
You can read about him in the story I wrote, which appeared on the front page of the Herald-Star on June 28 or catch it online at www.heraldstaronline.com.
You also can like him on Facebook at Lee the Horselogger, where it notes "Lee has no agenda, is not endorsing or protesting anything. He is not raising money for a cause or selling anything. He is just living life to the fullest."
Naturally, a person such as this traveling through Any Community USA attracts attention and that included at his Richmond stop where Amber Faith Waggoner of Bloomingdale was among those who wanted to learn more about him.
Amber just graduated in May from the Buckeye On Line School for Success, better known as BOSS. She was in the National Honor Society and volunteered a year of her photography work to the United Way of Jefferson County, working with its executive director, Beth Rupert-Warren.
The 19-year-old took photography classes online, then took a class her senior year at Eastern Gateway Community College. She has since started her own photography business called AFW Photography.
Amber said Lee the Horselogger allowed her to take photos and also video his story.
Plus, he allowed her to accompany him as he traveled from Richmond to Steubenville, leaving around 1:30 p.m. on June 28 and arriving at the park-and-ride later in the day.
Amber's observations after hitching along for the ride?
"I found Lee to be a very knowledgeable and insightful person," she wrote in an e-mail to me.
"In a world where people are so into acquiring material things, Lee is focused on just making a living and loving his work. He told me he went to college for five years, but chose to live a simple life.
"Riding from Richmond to the park and ride off Route 7 gave me a whole new perspective about what life is really about. In the busy world we live in, rarely do we stop to smell the flowers along the way.
"That day, I not only got to smell the flowers, I got to see the world through the eyes of Lee the Horselogger. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that I shall never forget, and I am very honored he asked me to see a small part of his world."
Here's to freedom!