Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Well we made it!!  At 5pm on August 30, after 48.5 total hours of driving, Papa, Dually, and I pulled into the Stanford Red Barn!  Though we had originally planned to stay at Gina Miles' barn in Paso Robles for the last two weeks before school, it became clear that this would be a burden on Gina's already hectic schedule, so we decided to settle Dually in his permanent home straight away.  The folks at the Red Barn were really nice about accommodating us a few days earlier than expected, and so we've now had a few days to marvel at the luxe that Dually now has at his disposal!  Papa had never seen the Red Barn before, and so was absolutely blown away by how gorgeous the facility is: manicured green grass, big old- fashioned stalls in a meticulously restored 19th century barn, large and fabulously maintained arenas, and (Papa's favorite) palm trees shading every walkway.  There are even a few eventers at the barn, which is a nice surprise, though, as I had learned when I visited, there is no hacking out and so very limited conditioning opportunities on site.  There is, however, a very nice horse park just 10 minutes down the road, so Papa and I plan to investigate today to see if I can go there to do gallops and trots.



It's hard to believe that Papa, Dually and I started this trip 12 days ago now.  Here is a timeline to show how the whole odyssey went down:



21 Aug: Papa and I leave Black Brook Farm at 2:38AM with a very sleepy horse and everything I could think to pack for college in the trailer.  We drive for 15.5 hours straight through MA, NY, PA, IN, and MI to end up in Richland, MI, at the site of the Richland Park Horse Trials.  Dually travels very well and we go out for a nice hack and stretch on arriving.



22 Aug: Dressage day at Richland.  Dually shows no ill effects of his long travel, and we have a better than average test for us, leaving us in 3rd place overnight.



23 Aug: XC day at Richland.  We wait and wait and wait until 4:30pm to ride, but Dually is fabulous and it is in many ways one of our best xc goes.  We come in slightly over time but hang onto 3rd place after two days.


24 Aug: SJ day at Richland.  Dually and I have one of our less- than- stellar rounds, dropping two rails to fall to 5th.  In the evening, we watch as the competition slowly packs up around us, leaving Dually all alone in his section of tents.  There are a few overnighters, so we hope that Dually will use the fewer horses to get used to being alone for the next few days.


25 Aug: We come to feed Dually in the morning only to find him GONE!  I immediately assume the worst (horsenapping, etc) while Papa tries to keep a level head, but after searching 14 of the 15 tents we start to panic a little bit.  However, Dually is located at the very end of the 15th tent, where he had been shut in this morning after being found eating someone else's grain!  Absolutely mortified and now worrying about colic to boot, we take Dually back to our tent.  Fortunately, he seems to suffer no ill effects of his midnight wanderings, and we actually have a very lovely post- competition fluff and stretch type ride out in the big dressage area, enjoying having the 4 rings to ourselves!  As we are hacking back to the tent, we notice another horse stabled about 8 tents down from us... apparently we aren't alone after all!  That afternoon Missy Miller and I meet while out hand grazing.  We both agree: it's nice to have someone else to talk to!  Plus, Dually loves having a grazing buddy, and he and DC quickly become good friends.


26 Aug: Our second layover goes pretty slowly; Missy and I spend over 4 hours total in two sets hand grazing and I take Dually out for two hour- long hacks (as DC is lame, Missy can only hand graze).  


27 Aug: We pull out of Richland at 6am, saying goodbye to Missy and DC (who, after having her truck break down, are thankfully getting a ride home from a friend that day).  We drive through MI, IN, IL, and IA to arrive in Brayton, IA (about an hour east of the IA-NE border) at about 2:30 local time (with a one hour time change from MI).  The weather is excellent for the trip and Dad and I enjoy listening to the beginning of Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass on CD.  The place where we end up keeping Dually is less- than ideal, however; the barn is too sketchy for Dually to want to venture into, and while there is an ample grassy field, it is right down the road from a large cattle lot, which Dually takes no pleasure in at all.  That, combined with the utter lack of other horses, leaving Dually feeling a little frantic.  We have an ok ride but I definitely worry a little as we leave him for the night.


28 Aug: We leave Brayton at 5am and drive through IA, NE, and CO to arrive in Golden, CO, a suberb of Denver, at 3pm local time (with another time change thrown in).  The farm where Dually is at today, while a little sketchy looking, is filled with very friendly people and many happy horses.  Dually immediately settles in and eats and drinks with gusto.  Papa and I hunt around Denver for the next installments of the Phillip Pullman trilogy, having finishing The Golden Compass about halfway through the drive that day.  Luckily and the help of a friendly Barnes and Noble employee, we find both The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass to fill the rest of our travels -- yay!


29 Aug: Expecting heat in the desert, we leave Golden at 4am and head up through the mountains to Utah.  Unfortunately, this means that probably the prettiest part of the drive, the passes through the mountains, is mostly in darkness, but we do enjoy some beautiful scenery on the way down the mountains later in the morning.  There is one shock, though: we glance at the car temperature gauge and are shocked to see it reading 43ºF outside!  Dually had only his little cotton sun sheet on, so we quickly pull over and suit him up more adequately.  We head down out of the mountains and into south-eastern Utah, which by all accounts is a pretty barren and uninhabited place.  There is one stretch where there are no amenities whatsoever (gas, food, etc) for over 100 miles!  The scenery is shockingly gorgeous, though, with enormous and strange rock formations rising eerily out of the red and sand- colored rock.  It is unlike anything I have ever seen before, and, while beautiful, I admit that I find it a little creepy.  This is "Hills Have Eyes" Country for sure, and Papa and I both cross our fingers that Billie- Jean (the truck) will make it through without problem.  Billie Jean pulls through in style, conquering the mountain passes and descents without injury and keeping enough gas in the tank that we don't need to worry about the sparse amenities.  At around 2, we pull into Parowan, UT, and the farm of John Ford.  When we arrive, it seems like no one is home.  Papa knocks on the door and rings the doorbell, but there is no answer.  So, we take Dually off and put him in an empty paddock with out own supply of hay and water and wait for the owner to return.  To our great shock, after about a half hour John Ford walk out the front door, having been there the whole time!  Not a little weirded out by this, I decided to saddle up and go for a ride.  I ride out along the gravel road that faces the farm, a perfectly straight line that cuts through the high desert without so much as a curve for as far as the eye can see in both directions.  Dually is really good and it's actually one of the most fun rides I've had in a while.  When I get back, Papa and John Ford are talking and as soon as I settle D I get pulled into the conversation, too.  It seems that John Ford hates black people, illegal immigrants, and everyone that takes advantage of our health care system.  He then goes on to talk about what an idiotic idea free health care is, because people will just take advantage of it, and then uses this idea with prisons in this country too, talking about how illegal immigrants take advantage of "a free tv and weight room" of being in prison as opposed to being back in Mexico.  He calls Arnold Schwarzenneggar "Schwartzkoff" and "mini- Hitler" and then that gets him onto US politics in general, and how everyone on both sides of the aisle are corrupt and evil, and how it would have been better for our nation if Flight 93 on 9/11 had hit the white house.  He says McCain is an idiot and Obama "doesn't even know what side of the street he's on" and that the only person in the campaign with her head on straight is McCain's VP candidate (this statement alone should be proof enough of how psychotic this man is).  9/11 gets him on the subject of how its a travesty that the fallen firefighters of 9/11 are treated as heroes and that their wives are made multi- millionaires, when they were just doing their job FOR PAY (he stresses this several times).  This gets him on his own jobs as a deputy sheriff (which he did FOR FREE and was never touted as a hero for, he claims angrily) and a security guard at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, where he proudly broke a man's foot by stomping on it just because the man was swearing in public.  This gets him on unionized work, which is evil, which gets him back on the government, where he indicates to us that he has been considering armed rebellion and knows of "at least 5 people who have come through this year who are thinking the same thing."  We leave as quickly as possible.


30 Aug:  We leave Parowan at 5am and head out through the deserts of AZ, NV, and CA.  By the time we reach Las Vegas, the sun has just risen and it is already 86ºF.  By noon in Bakersfield, CA, it is 104ºF.  We cut west to the coast and the temperature mercifully drops for Dually, though the detour does eat up a lot of time.  We finally pull into Stanford at 5pm, 13 hours after leaving on the hottest and toughest day of the trip so far.  But we are home!


I'll update later on what's been going on since arriving.  We've got stuff to do!

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