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November 2, 2011

Rocky Road Trip

Photo by Coree Reuter.

Monday 7 a.m.: I'm watching my local news channel's coverage of the ridiculous snowstorm that whomped the East Coast. "Huge snow!" the reporter laments. "New England a disaster! Connecticut devastated! And in New Jersey… 2-4 inches!" And I'm thinking, “What a bunch of pansies.”

Between the news and the text I'd gotten the night before from Becky, one of Michael's assistant trainers, that the snow was melting and everything was looking good, I pack my stuff and load Midge up. We're on the road by 9.

9:30: I'm about to turn onto the interstate when I get a text from Michael. "Lots of power lines down here. Maybe you shouldn't come." I'm way bummed—I was supposed to go two weeks ago and something came up, so it's been three weeks since I've seen Ella, and I'm twitchy. So I call.

"Hey, I'm already on my way. Is it really bad?" We go back and forth, but in the end, I say, "It has to be better in five hours, right?" And Michael agrees. So onward we go.

2 p.m.: Smooth sailing, smooth sailing. I turn off the interstate, make my way through the beautiful North Jersey woods, until… a road block. Downed power lines, road closed. I'm three miles from Michael's.

"Go back to the interstate and up one more exit. Turn left and come at us from the other side." No problem.

2:45: Crap. I'm eight miles from the farm, and I hit another road block. What the heck, I think, let's see what Mr. GPS says. I take an early left.

2:52: This'll be fine!

3:01: Wow, it's really pretty down here. Down. In the valley. Where the trees are awfully close to the power lines, and the roads are really tight.

3:03: *!@$*!

3:04: It should go without saying that I really have to pee.

3:05: Road block, road block, road block. And no cell service, so I'm not sure what to do. I'm jammed into a corner, cars everywhere, no room to turn around, and total chaos. And Midge is starting to fret. OK. Breathe.

No, wait. I need to punch the bajeesus out of the seat next to me for a minute.

3:06: Much better! Game on. I jump out of the truck and start getting the huge line of cars behind me to turn around and get out of the way. And somehow, by the grace of all that's holy, I get the rig turned around without any loss of fenceline. And I'm headed back to the highway, or at least higher ground.

3:20: Michael says that if I can get to Gladstone I can get to the farm, so it's to Gladstone I go…

3:45… where I am stuck behind a school bus. I swear to God, I'm thisclose to parking the trailer and riding Midge to Michael's.

4:14: Midge is twitching, my bladder's about to leap out of my body, and the truck's on fumes, but we're here! Midge decompresses while I ride Ella.

4:30: Ella looks amazing! I think I can do this!

4:40: I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I'm a terrible, horrible rider, and I should sell the horses and quit and go back to graduate school and become a nun.

4:50: Ella's amazing! And I can do this!

5:45: Ella's happily back in her stall, and Midge is a wild lunatic. Fortunately I'm good at wild lunatic, and he's back to himself, if a hotter and tighter version of himself, in fairly short order. We do pirouettes and the half-pass zigzag, and stretch, and he's done too.

7: Back to the house for a shower… where I learn that the storm knocked out the heat in the house. Maybe I don't need a shower. So much for pansies.

Tuesday 6 a.m.: Turns out I sleep AWESOME in the cold. I feed my guys, have two SUPER lessons where I don't think I sucked, load Midge up and…

10:15 …. we're on the road.

10:20: And we're going to run out of fuel any minute now.

10:21: And the first gas station we come to, the only one between the farm and the interstate that's big enough for a horse trailer, is closed.

10:25: Having flashed "0 miles to empty" for the last 3 miles, I shoehorn my way into a gas station. Where I get to wait in line. And where I don't even get the satisfaction of pumping my own fuel, because in New Jersey, you can't pump your own gas. Seriously weird. Whatever, how long can this take?

11:10: 45 MINUTES TO GET FUEL. OMG. The poor passenger seat is taking quite a beating. But I somehow squeeze us back out on the road. And once I'm on the interstate, it'll be smooth sailing.

2 p.m.: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Here we sit, somewhere in Pennsylvania, close to nowhere, stuck on the interstate for no apparent reason. For HALF AN HOUR. In PARK. I check on Midge, who just rolls his eyes at me and eats his hay. Good boy.

2:15: It should go without saying that I really have to pee.

2:30: FINALLY back on the move, having bust through the traffic jam (Truly, no cause. Too weird.), refueled, found a ladies room, kissed Midge for being the most perfect travel buddy. I'm running so late at this point that I have to call my 4 p.m. lesson at home and cancel. Bummed, but Helen understands. (Thanks, Helen!)

4:15: Ah, my exit off the interstate! I'll be home in a jif.

4:17: Oh no. No no no. They are doing lane line painting, which means going 10 miles an hour behind a big, slow VDOT truck. Please, someone just shoot me. I am 8 miles from home.

4:18: It should go without saying… you know the drill.

4:19: You know, I don't think these guys are actually painting. The paint on the road looks old and quite dry. There's nothing coming out of the side of the truck; they just appear to be going ridiculously slowly. What the heck?

4:22: I can't take it anymore!!!!!! In spite of the double yellow, in spite of the road being awfully narrow, and in spite of the big flashing sign on the back of the truck that says "DO NOT PASS"…. I pass them. Because I am truly going to die, or kill someone, or kill someone and then die.

No honking, no swearing, nothing happens. Good grief.

4:31: Finally home! I pop Midge back in his stall, unload my stuff and take a big deep breath. Note to self: Next time your trainer says, "Maybe you shouldn't come…" he's not kidding!

4:33: The phone rings. It's my 5:15 calling to let me know that she's stuck in traffic on that road off the interstate. Apparently someone else tried to pass that slow moving truck and somehow hit a school bus. Everyone seems OK but there's about 10 gagillion police, fire and ambulance guys mulling about. My wave of traffic-ular destruction appears to be contagious. I think maybe I'll stay home for a while.

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