My adventure wouldn't be complete without a quick bit of background on how I gained the opportunity to ride with Walter Zettl. I also need to briefly introduce the ladies that I am traveling with to Canada.
I met Heidi W. and Bobbi J. in the fall of 2008 when I rode with Walter at the McPhail Center at Michigan State University on Alie W, a client-owned horse. They are both from the Chicago area and after the clinic we kept in touch. Heidi had contacted me in the spring of 2009 to ask if I'd be interested in riding with Walter in Canada, but circumstances didn't allow it at the time.
However, since my farm was on the way to their destination in Canada, I offered to let them stable their horses overnight. So this year when Heidi contacted me, I jumped at the opportunity to join in the experience.
Heidi and Bobbi arrived at my farm on Wednesday evening, along with Lisa J. and Ary, also from Illinois. The four horses were able to stretch their legs in one of the farm's pastures while their owners did a bit of relaxing and visiting with Brian (my husband) and me. Heidi brought us some Bailey's Irish Cream that her husband made, and Ary brought cookies. Brian took both bottles of the Baileys, and I later found out one was supposed to be for me and one for him. I did, however, take most of the cookies for the trip in the trailer. HA HA!
So off we went at 8:56 a.m. on Thursday morning. We were to meet Lisa G. and Elissa S. about 45 minutes east of us off of I-69. Then off to the border. I was in the lead trailer, thus I was the first to cross the Blue Water Bridge. The plan was once we crossed the border we'd all stop at the Welcome Center to exchange our American dollars for Canadian dollars. The line on the Canadian side wasn't too long and I had my passport and Ike's international health papers ready to hand over. The border agent was pretty pleasant, asking the normal questions; Where do you live? (Gosh, doesn't it say so on my passport?), What is your license plate number (I don't know, I just drive the truck—do you want me to get out and tell you?), Why are you going over to Canada (to train horses), Where are you going in Canada (Welland, Ontario) and Who are you training with? (Walter Zettl).
Once she was satisfied, I pulled through and headed for the first exit where the Welcome Center was located.
This is where it became very frustrating.
There is a ton of construction as you cross at the border, and the signs for the Welcome Center weren't there. So I passed the exit. OK, not a big deal, I'll just get off at the next exit and turn around. Nope, wasn't happening. The next exit was closed, so I had to drive to the next one after that—about 2½ miles farther. I exit on the ramp and find there is NO WAY TO GET BACK ON the highway.
So I do a major U-turn and eventually make my way back onto the 402 West. As I'm getting back onto the expressway I see Heidi and Bobbi heading east. Great, so much for our plans to meet at the Welcome Center. I call Heidi, and we get cut off about six times before we finally connect. They also missed the exit, along with Lisa and Ary so they are just going to drive out of the construction and find an exit we can all meet at. OK. So then Lisa G. calls me. Apparently she DID get off and was at the Welcome Center. BLAH! I told her I would try to get there. But my efforts failed, despite the Garmin navigator installed in my truck. So I turned around AGAIN and headed east on the 402. Yes, I am a blond at times.
Needless to say I caught up with the two trailers from Illinois at a truck stop past London, Ontario. The speed limit is 100 km (about 65 mph), and I know I was going faster than that, but heck, so were many other cars and trucks.
I have to compliment the Canadian road commission for having WONDERFULLY smooth roadways! Why can't Michigan have highways like that? The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. As we were driving through part of St. Catharine's I did manage to take some photos of Lake Erie out of the driver's side window of the truck. Other drivers must have thought I was nuts—a woman driving an F350 Diesel, pulling a 32-foot horse trailer with her arm stuck out the window with a small pink camera snapping shots. It had to have been quite a sight, especially at 60 mph!
We arrived at Knights Gate Hanoverians about 2:30 p.m. The horses were quite ready to get out of the trailers! Leslie Bockus met us and directed us to our stalls. Leslie owns the farm along with her husband, David. I managed to get my trailer parked and set up, then took Ike for a walk around the property to stretch his legs. Luckily he settles in very easily so it was a pleasant hack.
I turned in pretty early after making sure Ike was comfortable and relaxed. A big day ahead of us on Friday!