Well today's the day we load up and head out. I took the dogs to Jeneé's for the weekend *THANK YOU!* and then headed for the barn to get Sinwaan ready. He had been aggressive towards Calvin earlier in the week and had chased him through a fence, so that combined with his earlier aggression towards the Morgans had led Dale and Kittee to ask me to find him a new place to live. I was able to contact a prior barn owner, Darold, who agreed to have me back, so that was squared away before we left and the timing worked out pretty well since I didn't have to pay board while we were out of town, and Sinwaan had already been acclimated back to hay.
Thankfully the weather was nice and I was able to give him a quick bath and wash out his tail. I was about half done braiding his mane when Lara showed up. She helped me and we took all my horsey things out to her truck. I did not realize I had accumulated so much stuff! Between my two saddles and the trunk from Kim it took two wheelbarrow loads to get it all. Then we walked Sinwaan down and loaded him. Dale got in just then so we said our goodbyes.
We drove back to the house and finished up the little details, like putting the cold food in the cooler and buying some ice. We realized neither of us had remembered to print out directions to the ride. So Lara drove to her house to print some out. We finally headed out of town about 1 pm. Not too bad - our goal was noon so we weren't too far off. Mom predicted we would arrive at 9 pm. I scoffed at such a notion, it was after all only a 5 hour drive according to Google Maps!
It was not long into the drive when we reached "Cabbage Hill" climb. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia;
"East of Pendleton, Oregon, I-84 traverses the infamous Cabbage Hill grade (a 6% grade). This grade is legendary for the fact that the westbound lanes switchback twice on its descent into Pendleton. Eastbound lanes feature what are the tightest curves on the Interstate system, even though those curves are on the uphill (eastbound) direction. This grade is also well known due to the fact that it features such a great distance between eastbound and westbound lanes, nearly 2 miles (3.2 km) between directions of travel at points."
Lara called us on the cellphone to ask how fast you are allowed to drive in 2nd gear because she had shifted down and was afraid she had burned up her gears, and her truck was smelling bad. So we all pulled off the road at the next exit and Matt got in her truck to drive to be sure all was well. From that point on I drove the Explorer ("Eddie") with the camp trailer. My mom sat up front and we had Levi in the center behind us in his car seat. He was such a good little traveler, either napping or babbling and pointing at things like trucks or trains, complete with sound effects.
Well I was comfortable driving Eddie and at times would be between 65-70 mph when in the passing lane. Apparently Lara tried to call us but we didn't have coverage. I guess I lost her for a little while. The camper is so wide you can't see anything behind you when you are pulling it! Well we needed to fill up after that hill so I pulled off for gas. Matt did not see me pull off and went right past the exit. I saw them cross the overpass and realized we had trouble. We tried to call them and did not get through. So we filled up and figured we would catch up with them eventually. When I was driving back up the on-ramp I noticed a state trooper pull on behind me. Nothing like a cop on your tail to make you comfortable...grin... well we found Matt and Lara at the top of the on-ramp and as I pulled in behind them the trooper passed us and made a little "wooouuuupp" with his siren and sped past us. I wasn't sure what that was about until Matt explained to me that the same trooper had stopped when they pulled over to be sure everything was ok with them and once he saw that we were reunited he went on his way.
Onward once again... we saw many people pulled over, and this time kept it to 65 mph or less for the sake of the horses and sticking together better. We only had one printout of the directions but my mom had noted pertinent information down 'just in case.' When we crossed over into the Mountain Time Zone and I thought uh-oh, there goes a whole hour I thought we had. At one point in Idaho coming off of I-84 we almost got lost, but thankfully mom was paying attention and saw the road we needed as we were following Matt down a wrong turn so we had to chase him down on a double lane road and get alongside to relay the information. So much for cell phones. We turned around when we were able to and went back down the road and discovered mom was right. Phew! This led to driving and driving and driving some more down a 2-lane road through the middle of desolation. There were a few farms here and there but mostly just sagebrush and mountains and a rugged beauty.
We passed "The Blue Canoe" restaurant and I thought surely that was a good sign since they were catering at the ride this weekend. Then I spotted some ribbons on a trail. An even better sign! Can't be far now! And yet onward and onward and onward we drove. I had to pee really bad at this point and it really seemed to take forever. I don't remember how Eddie got in the lead again but I do remember seeing a RIDE sign with an arrow pointing to the right and I took the turn but it was a loop close to the road and large enough to turn around with a trailer. I saw a road sign just a little farther down which had the name of the road we were looking for, so I took the loop to get a better look at the sign and to be sure I hadn't turned too soon. Well once the two of us got good and tangled up with our trucks and trailers on the road and the loop we finally realized the first turn was the right one. So we backed up and got realigned and headed down the gravel road. Surely it can't be far now, I thought, dreaming only of a bathroom.
Well need I say...onward and onward and further we drove? Speed limits were posted at 35 in the smooth gravel sections and in the rougher spots with corners it was 15 or 25 mph. It didn't matter, the sun was setting and it was dusty so I went about 1/2 the posted speed most of the way. We passed a couple of houses with acreage for sale, one even had a landing strip. When I was really starting to get discouraged about how long this road was (where the heck was ride camp!?) we saw some cute foals on the left at an AHA Discovery Farm. The sign read "Endurance Horses for sale" and I knew we had to be close. Sure enough, just around another corner was ride camp. It looked smaller than I expected. There was a signpost with markers for AERC (could park anywhere) and FEI (had to park in a designated area). Since we weren't FEI, I went the opposite direction and we landed a nice spot for both of us to park, in an "L" formation with the plan to set up the corral in the center.
It felt so good to get out of the car. And the horses were so glad to be out of the trailer! I glanced at the clock and it was 9 pm. Mom's prediction was right. We knew we didn't have much light left so Lara and I went to find registration. It was not far away and the lady working the computer was very nice and helpful. As I glanced around the building I saw a couple of computers and the next room appeared to have a number of people in it, socializing. I asked if this was a rider's clubhouse of sorts and the lady told me with a smile "No, this is Steph and John's house...they just happen to be really into computers." Well I was happy to see I had gotten my lucky #21 ride number and they assigned Lara #22. That was settled, now to find a vet. We saw Michael Peterson, DVM and he agreed to follow us back to our camp to vet our horses through. Sinwaan did well considering he just barely had stepped off the trailer and scored mostly A's with only one B for gut sounds.
Imaginn did well also and scored all A's with one B for gut sounds, which was expected. Matt took this fantasic low-light motion shot of Lara and Ima doing their trot-out for the vet.
After we got our horses vetted through we decided to set up the corral before we ran out of daylight. The sun was setting fast and I only got about half the posts in before darkness fell upon us. Unfortunately we picked a pretty rocky area and had trouble getting many of the posts to go in as far as they needed to in order to be safe. Lara worked for about 30 min on one single post. Because of this, our corral started to take on a funny shape. We also tried to be careful about putting the fence too close to our neighbors trailer or Lara's. Finally we got the stakes in the ground and then it was time to put up the tape. Ruth had told me, "Oh it's really straightforward and simple, you should have no problem." Well I don't know if it is because it was dark, or I was tired and frazzled from driving all day or what but I had to read the directions about 10 times before it started making sense to me. FINALLY got the tape up and plugged into the charger and it appeared to be on and working. So we put the horses in and waited to see what would happen.
Well a whole lot of nothing is what happened. Sinwaan and Ima got along fantastically well, even sharing their hay piles. What a relief. We set out two hay piles for them to munch on and two buckets of water and considered it good. Mom had cooked up some beans for haystacks so we ate that for dinner. It tasted great.
Time for bed, with an early start tomorrow!