MATADOR, Tex. A West Plains Missouri cowboy who fell in love with a Silver Dollar City stagecoach and dreamed of taking it on trips out west has come to the end of his latest and possibly last journey.
"I feel a little bit like when we get to Matador the sails are coming down on a ship but I'm still on the ocean of life," said Rick Hamby. It's the last day on the trail for Hamby, his crew and his stage coach. And he says, after 15 years of trips across the American West, this is his last journey.
His story goes back to when he was five years old. He rode it at Silver Dollar City as did tens of thousands of youngsters.
18 years ago, he found that very stage, bought it and began taking journeys. Destination this journey: Matador Texas. It was the last of eight days through historic Texas countryside. The town turned out to welcome them.
"If one of your goals in live is to make a difference in people's lives, the last stage to Matador allowed me to look at just a little window of some of the fruit that's grown in people's lives because of it. The crew, myself, I don't want that to stop, I want to keep growing," said Hamby.
On this trip and the ones before, at every stop along the way, school students got letters from kids in the Ozarks.
In an age of smart phones and messaging, Rick Hamby believes in the value of pen pals.
"We visited with teachers on this end who are now pen pals with the teachers who helped the kids write the letters."
It's the end of a journey for Rick Hamby… a journey that began as a youngster riding a stagecoach at Silver Dollar City and ends with the last stage to Matador. "Of all the trips, this is probably the most emotional, impactful one of them all. And now that I look back and I see how it's ended, I really see a fruitfulness of all these years."
Hamby is seeing to it that his stage goes on display at Silver Dollar City this fall.