Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What You Need for a Trans-National Voyage

Ugh. If there is one thing I am really good at, it is procrastinating. If there is one thing I am really bad at, it is organizing. In this moment of desperation to fulfill the first activity, I am resorting to the second. Dear God, it must be bad.

The good news is that I'm down to my last final in American Architecture, tomorrow at noon. I've done two finals and a term paper, and I've reviewed my slides for this exam and just have to take a tour through the reading list before I'll feel ready. Then, I'll be done with my sophomore year at Stanford!! What a strange concept. Of course, I only completed two of the three terms this year and since I've been toying with adding a second major I might have to stay an extra few quarters anyway, so I don't think that I'm exactly half way finished with my undergraduate experience, but it's still very strange to contemplate the fact that (with my trip abroad next year) I may only have one spring left at Stanford. Those feelings, coupled with the fact that I turned 21 on Sunday (!!) and that a lot of my friends from high school graduated from college in the past few weeks (I took a year off between high school and college and so should be a junior, and many of my friends in high school were a year older than me), have been making me feel very old! I still can't really believe I'm in college, let alone a good deal of the way through it.

But that's neither here nor there. The major excitement of the next few days is that I'm GOING HOME! Yes, in seven days I will be (hopefully!) laying my head to rest in beautiful Grand Island, Nebraska, on my way back to the Good Coast for the summer, with both ponies in tow. It's going to be an insane trip and we're attempting it in fewer legs than we did last time, but I think Pa and I are up to the task. He'll be flying out on Sunday to help me drive.

So, ever wondered what goes into a trip like this? Let's see. First there are:

The Logistics. Namely: route, legs, timing, horse stops, human stops.

Here's our route for this year:

(It looks so easy on the map!)

It follows basically the same route Pa and I have taken before, except that we will be on I-80 from the start instead of detouring south through California and then joining back up with I-80 in beautiful Ogallala, Nebraska. I'm excited because I've never been to Wyoming before; successfully stepping foot on Wyoming soil will put me one closer to my life goal visiting all 50 states. I'm currently at 36 so I'm getting close! If all goes according to plan this summer, I will be at 43 by October... but that's a story for another day =)

The legs this year are one of the big x factors. We decided to condense into one fewer day, with longer legs than we've ever strung together for four legs at a time. I'm confident that we can do it, but it's also going to be an all new test of road endurance by the time we get to, say, central New York and are still 7 hours away on the last day!

The reason behind the longer legs? Timing. Pa has to be back for a wedding and couldn't come sooner than Sunday, so we've got a very narrow window of driving time. The good thing about waiting until Sunday is that, with my exams over tomorrow, I'll have a few days to get all packed up and organized so that all we have to do on Monday morning is load the ponies and go (I'm chuckling even as I write this... but hey, a girl can dream, right?).

On previous trips, I've left the reservations of both Horse and Human stops up to my dad, but this year took over the equine half. With one leg still somewhat holding out on me, I'm stressing a bit. But, that's part of growing up and taking responsibility, right? Anyway, I will be excited to roll into each day's stop without histrionics, and am holding out confidence until then.

Ok, so, logistics are done. What next? Most certainly, Packing. Namely: dorm room and barn to disassemble, trailer to assemble, extra stuff to be stored.

The Dorm Packing has yet to even have a trace of beginning. I'm currently lying in bed surrounded by two weeks worth of detritus, the sort of nest that rightfully earned me "Messiest Girl" in my freshman dorm last year. I've got like 18 million loads of laundry to do, books to sort and pack, and a King's Ransom in "borrowed" cafeteria cups to return. At least I'm going to have a few days to do it!

Barn Packing is pretty much in the same place, with the added problem that I will be using a lot of that stuff right up until the last. However, it's not as if this will be my first major pack up, and fortunately I don't have a huge amount of stuff in the barn right now outside of essential tack and equipment (and like 15 Smartpak boxes... yeah).

The Trailer is currently in a working state of order. Things will need to be moved around and space made, but in general it's looking pretty damn good compared to how sketchily I usually roll. The facelift I gave it in the spring with the stacking towers has definitely done a lot to clear up more space.

I'm hoping I'll be able to store the Extra Stuff in the same place I did last year, which was the attic of the Red Barn. I haven't confirmed this, but I'm pretty confident. It will just be a matter of endless boxing and labeling (and even deciding what will stay! I always seem to be able to convince myself I'll need my winter coats in Massachusetts in July).

Ok, so packing hasn't really been done yet, but I've got the semblances of a plan. Since I've moved 16 times since December 2007, I know that I can do it... but I also know exactly how tedious it will be, especially if it stays as hot as it has been of late.

Next? Horse Preparation. Namely: pre-shipment schedules, vet papers, thoughts on feeding and shipping strategies, general worry.

This is definitely the part of the trip that I've given the most thought to. It will be both Ringo and Kiki's first cross country voyage, and I'm a bit nervous for both of them (though I also think they'll both do fabulously).

With Dually, I tried all sorts of pre-shipment schedules and none of them seemed to make a whole lot of difference. Ride hard before, taper, full days off, whatever; the Dude was pretty chill. With Ringo and Kiki I think its a bit more important, especially as they both will have Groton House just over a week after I get back. So, I've gone with the strong work schedule in the week before (waylayed somewhat by the inclusion of shots into the mix yesterday) and then a very light day on Sunday to conserve their energy before the drive. Since the legs are longer this year I don't know how much riding I'll be able to do en route, but I'll definitely be getting them out stretching a bit every night. Given their current fitness, I'm not too worried about 4 days missing, but it is still definitely something to think about.

The vet papers are, thank you Jesus, I think sorted out with minimal fuss and muss. I hope. They definitely got shots and their coggins were picked up to be processed; I'm just waiting for my hard copies of the vet certificates.

The biggest concern I have, feeding-wise, is obviously centered around hydration. Kiki drinks quite well on the trailer but Ringo is notoriously fussy. He'll be getting his beet pulp with sugar throughout the trip to get some water in him, but I'm also considering doing what I did with Dually, which was to feed him a slurry of about a handful of sweet mixed with water every 6 hours or so that I dilute down continuously as the horse drinks it, so that by the end they are basically drinking straight water without realizing it. I think it genuinely helped Dually, so I'm seriously considering it for Ringo. I'm also definitely going to have them both on gastrogard for the whole trip, as I saw a noticeable improvement in Dually's shipping before and after beginning to use it. This is the one part of the trip I find truly worrying, because I've heard so many dehydration horror stories over the years, and between Ringo and Dually I think I've had two of the fussiest drinkers known to man. I've got to think over some more possible strategies in the next few days, in case Plans A, B, and C fail to do the trick.

Last, and definitely not least, is the question of Entertainment. I will come right out and say it; when it comes to movies, books on tape, and most other aural media, I am an incredibly dull person. I was the kid who rented the same one or two movies from the movie store every weekend for weeks, months, maybe even years at a time (Balto and The Secret of NIMH: two classics!). Growing up, I watched episodes of The Simpsons and listened to the Harry Potter books on tape over and over again until I could repeat them basically verbatim. Today, I fulfill this part of my personality by having a selection of exactly 4 books on tape that I listen to in the car for every road trip (or even short car ride, when I'm not listening to the same 3 CDs of music... really). Ever. They are: the three books of The Golden Compass series, by Philip Pullman, and Harry Potter 5, The Order of the Phoenix. Yes, we do mix it up occasionally on big trips, and have listened to all the Harry Potter books in their time, but those are the four that really stick around. Unfortunately, the complete Golden Compass series will not be adequate for a trip of this length, and even I am getting a bit sick of HP5 (since I can now speak pretty much entire CDs aloud with the narrator in his exact rhythm and inflection... a fact which I found extremely depressing when I discovered it was true), so we will be looking for new fodder for the trip. Namely... Harry Potter 3. Yes, I am horribly unimaginative. Yes, I question how my father has put up with listening to these tapes even a fraction as many times as I have. No, I have no plans whatsoever of changing my routine any time soon.

I'm very excited, but also a bit nervous! It will be good to finally be done with school and get to focus a bit on the things I've been neglecting, like laundry and packing. Perhaps I should start studying for that last final. . .


Rachel said...

all i can say is WOW.
A) I dont think I realized that you brought not 1, or 2 but all 3 horses to college.
B) How freakin lucky are yoU! I had to sell my 1 horse when i left for college (only 5 hours away) bc my parents couldnt afford to keep her at home and I couldnt work enough hours to support her while in school.
C) thats a long ass trip with your 3 babies.

I wish you much luck and patience. Can't wait to hear about your european adventures either!

Megan said...

you should really think about the Chamber of Secrets. Gilderoy Lockharts voice is hilarious. also, i am incredibly jealous that you can afford two awesome horses. and of your skill. jealousy is eating me up these days since i am out with a back injury! (thanks to Tom and his giant bucks)

Country Sporthorse said...

Wow what a trip!! You seem very thorough and if I might say so, organized when it comes to carefully planning the trip :).

Do you plan on blogging during your adventure across the country? As if you don't have enough to deal with already, but it might be neat to be able to look back on the experience.

Mikaela d Coston said...

Hahaha Kate I am the same way... i watch movies over and over and over the same ones as well as books. HP being my top. The 5th is my favorite and my poor dad as well as had to listen to it too many times... I like the 3rd one- maybe the 4th one will be long enough for the whole ride lol. Im going home to CT on Monday and maybe will have to stop by Groton so I can see your new guys!!! Although Dually will always be Zammys twin :)

Katherine Erickson said...

Thanks guys! I'm super excited =) And yes, I'm going to try to keep up the blog during the trip, and at the very least will take tons of photos for a post-trip recap!

And Mikaela, you read my mind: Pa is bringing HP3 from home to add to the arsenal!

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