One fraud or two?

That Richard Fipps made up the tale of his ride from Mexico to Canada earlier this year has been well established. Along with neighbor's accounts of Fipps at his Las Vegas home during the supposed trip the Las Vegas Sun reported last week that the owner of the stable where Fipps' horses are stabled stated they hadn't been gone for more than a long weekend during the ride.

Three years ago Fipps also claimed to have made an epic trip. Much of the documentation of that trip has disappeared from the web but The Cullman Times has an article from the following summer with extensive quotes from Fipps.

When he reached Colorado, Fipps had decided to rest a couple of days and enter a rodeo. He ended up winning the rodeo and staying for a week.

He helped a local rancher push cattle. He helped a patrol officer herd escaped cattle off a road.

When he neared Grand Junction, Colo., Fipps experienced the only scary part of the trip.

"I had packed for four days and told my rig to go on ahead of me, I'd meet it in Grand Junction," he said, planning to ride across some mountains.

Instead of crossing the mountains, Fipps got disoriented and ended up riding around the mountains instead.

"By that sixth day, I was really getting worried for the horses," he said. "They hadn't seen water in two days. I was half starved. I lost 40 pounds on the trip. I got up that morning and caught something out of the corner of my eye. About 200 yards to my right was my rig. Here I was half dead and had camped 200 yards from food."

A year before the story was a little different when he relayed it to the Vernal Express in Utah. Their account of the story goes like this "He most embarrassing time on the trail was traveling from Grand Junction, Colo. where he was going to meet his rig after three days packing on the trail. On the third day, he couldn't find his rig, so he just kept going. On the fourth day there still was no rig so he set up camp and spent the night. When he woke up in the morning he was surprised to see that his had camped just 40 yards from his rig."

In the retelling to the Times Fipps accounts for at least 13 days in Colorado. That does not include the time to get from Grand Junction to Utah or the "rodeo" location. No mention is made of stopping by any rodeo or resting for any time during the Colorado portion of the journey.

What his web journal said of the July 22 ride:

Crossed the Colorado River at the Plato Indian Reservation waterway and rode into Grand Junction. Mike Ferguson joined me at our camp at Douglas Pass, ele. 8,268 ft. Just to the east was East Salt Creek. For the first time on this trip I got lost! I came out of the mountains and saw a town that I thought was Meeker and that I was way off course but was actually Rangely. I could see it from a distance from a ridge on the side of a mountain close to where we camped.

Several possibilities exist, such as Fipps having decided not to recount his six-day ordeal during the trip and only telling of it later. However, according to the online journal within four days of riding into Grand Junction Fipps notes riding through the headwaters of the Arkansas River with several companions.

Considering the strain a 1,900-mile trip places on horse and rider it is remarkable that anyone would compete in a rodeo in the midst of such a trip. Notably at the end of the ride, a year earlier, Fipps told the Vernal Express that his time as a professional bull rider had ended years earlier because of injury. The Vernal Express article makes no mention of Fipps' rodeo performance during the trip.

Even more remarkable that with these delays the trip was completed in exactly 90 days as predicted at its outset of the journey.

In the Cullman Times article Fipps cites The Association of Gospel Rescue Missions as the beneficiary of the Alabama to Utah voyage. A source familiar with the trip tells Adding Understanding that the Association discontinued their sponsorship after Fipps confirmed riders were riding drunk.

All the information that Adding Understanding has been able to verify suggests that Fipps did ride at least portions of the Alabama to Utah trip. Many other claims made in the Times story don't pass the sniff test. Among those claims is one of being a guest on Larry King Live, though the show's own online history of guests and topics does not include anyone matching Fipps' description.

Another portion of the yarn spun for the Times includes Fipps' account of the run-ins with the Memphis police about crossing a bridge over the Arkansas river. In the tale Fipps recounts the waiting Arkansas police escort at the middle of the bridge. Somehow this too didn't make it into the day-by-day recounting of the journey.

With a long string of at best half-truths or stretched stories it becomes very difficult to place much credibility in the accounts of the first trip.

As CuChullaine O'Reilly told the Las Vegas Sun's Jen Lawson "We've never seen anyone take horses and equestrian travel and cowboy mythology and children and Christianity and create such a poisonous brew."

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