Thursday, October 31, 2013

Moab - A Most Excellent Road Trip - Part 1: Getting There

This was one of the more successful trips I've ever done - not quite sure why, but it seemed to go seamlessly with no real difficulties - and the problems we did have were pretty much non-events*. The driving was zen-like, travelling with Renee was fun, the pones seemed to thrive in each others' company despite long hours in the trailer, and the scenery was spectacular.

(* she said, clutching her iPhone, after shredding the trailer tyre on the way home) 

Friday 18th:
Having spent the previous weekend and all week putting things in the trailer, predictably still not everything was packed when I was finished with work on Friday afternoon. I'd managed to work at home that day and ran out around midday and to give both pones a bath - large amounts of scummy pink water came off so I was glad I was able to get that done. Afterwards they got put in sheets to try and stay clean. Uno looked quite smart in a large purple number that I'd acquired for Fergus, while Roo looked ridiculous stuffed into a tiny red sheet that was supposed to be for Small Thing. Lots of bucking ensued as soon as I put them away again (wondered if maybe those leg straps were just a little too tight for Roo) and both predictably rolled excessively but only managed to re-coat the bits that stuck out (more bits on Roo than Uno), not the all important saddle area.

Finally got done and loaded them up around 9 p.m. We arrived at Renee's in Reno at 11:30 p.m. to below freezing temperatures - erk - but the pones seemed pretty smug in their new temporary digs (plenty of food to eat, sand to run around on) and Uno had an admirer in Renee's new pone Jiffilube.

Uno and Jiffilube compare notes. Why does Uno look so butt-high? I swear he isn't.

Saturday 19th:

Being dynamic, Renee and I finally got going around 9:00 a.m. after installing her stuff, loading up the three horses, and filling up with diesel and Starbucks. We took nearly seven bales of hay with us... and came home with two and half. Apparently you don't need as much hay when Fergus isn't joining us.

We then proceeded to drive and drive and drive and...

I-80 headed east isn't exactly stressful driving - there's very little traffic and very little steering involved.

We got to watch the scenery go by - such as the interestingly-named "Pumpernickel Valley" which sounded like it should be full of dwarfs but in reality looked fairly barren (plenty windy on the way home, though):

and Death Star Valley (this I read while not wearing my glasses and thought "really?!?"):

A little east of Battle Mountain, after 260 miles, we stopped briefly at a rest stop to let them out to graze and walk. Unlike those in CA, NV rest stops don't have a manicured lawn on which to parade the horses and let them roll, so this was the best we could do, dodging the trash:

Although lacking in running water (trying to stuff a small bucket under the tap in the bathroom kind of worked, but in any case only Bite sipped from it), we did come across this interesting marker which made the stop worthwhile:

We stopped in Wendover, on the edge of the Great Salt Lake, for diesel and the pones got a drink and some carrots. The ag station was just after Wendover and we were duly weighed (I think 9600 lb ish for the trailer) and went inside to fill out the form for our Coggins information.

The Great Salt Lake is a strange source of fascination - something so big and alien. Whenever I've crossed it, I always think of the con-man Landsford Hastings telling the Donner Party "It's just a day's wagon ride to get to the other side"... yeah, right (it's 80 miles, give or take). 

By 7:30 p.m. the pones were safely ensconced in the free corrals at Cabelas in Lehi - perfect (we had a contingency plan to continue on to the fairgrounds in Spanish Fork if necessary, although the guy told us we needed to pre-book since they keep their corrals locked. We figured at worse we could pull in and hang the pones off their spring-ties). Staying at Cabelas was totally stress-free and they have running water right there. It was well-lit and there were maybe a dozen or so RVs also camping out, so we weren't isolated. In the morning we took the pones on a tour of the deserted parking lot before re-loading them.

Renee surprised me that evening by whipping up a supper of tortellini and I thought "I could get used to this" - and - amazement of amazements (and one of the best parts of the trip) - she did the cooking the whole trip. It was wonderful. I don't think she has any idea how grateful I was that she did this. Thanks Renee!!

Sunday 20th:
After a detour to "the last Starbucks in civilisation", off we went to find hwy-6, the road that cuts through the mountains towards Green River. I'd never gone that way before and it was absolutely beautiful - definitely the best time of year to take in the good colours.

Interesting sights along the way included:

Gorgeous tapestry of colours (somewhat muted by the grubby windscreen. We stopped at the first available opportunity to clean it, but those bugs were stuck on there pretty good.)

Wind turbines just outside Spanish Fork. We are pretty sure Siri on iPhone gave us bum information regarding the turn onto hwy-6 - telling us one exit number, then quickly changing it the moment we got to the inauspicious exit, but not soon enough to prevent us having to make a 3 mile detour south to turn around.

This was near the curiously-name Starvation Road

We saw a livestock guardian dog by the side of the road. Initially, Renee, who was driving, thought it was an abandoned dog and wanted to stop... but as we got closer we saw it was enjoying a hearty meal of road-kill deer entrails, totally oblivious to its at-risk flock on the opposite side of the road,  milling about by a steep creek bed and getting closer and closer to being obliterated on the highway. 

After Price, the road opens out onto a huge plain surrounded by high mesas.
Nearly to Moab - what a most excellent place!

Finally at Christoph and Dian's place in Moab

Stats (Mileage/Diesel/Driving Hours):

Garden Valley - Reno
130 miles
11.1 mpg (up over the Sierra)
12 gallons diesel

Reno - Lehi
565 miles
13.4 mpg
42 gallons diesel

Lehi - Moab
231 miles
13.2 mpg
17 gallons diesel

Garden Valley - Moab = Total 16 hours driving

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Packing for Moab

Currently in the midst of packing for the upcoming ten day trip to Moab. This is harder than usual—not just because we'll be gone for ten days—but also because there will be three horses in the trailer, so no front stall to dump "everything else" into. And the entire truck bed will be full of bales of hay (how much hay can three horses eat?).

Renee and I decided we needed to morph our trucks and trailers - I need her trailer hay rack, she needs my three Spring-Ties; I need the whizzy-doohickies* on her truck for better fuel-mileage, she needs my longbed for extra hay haulage. Anyway, it turns out my truck and trailer are the ones that fit everything we need, so that's what we're taking.

pft has been busy this week rigging up a cigarette lighter socket-thingy* in the trailer so that we can charge our phones in the comfort of the housie instead of having to leave them in the truck, and replacing the hinges on the housie door. We already did the tack-room ones a year or so ago when they disintegrated. Now the housie door ones are starting to "feel funny*" when you open and close the door. Anyway, as usual, the trailer gets its upgrade mere days before its due to do the latest long trip and I thank pft kindly for his time.

(* technical terms)

Yesterday Uno and Roo got their health certificates at the vet in Auburn - $53 each - ca-ching. Today the freshly-blued portapotty got packed, along with boots, blankies (one has gone AWOL... no idea where), and bags of shavings (and I also found—score—a new set of Skito pad foams in a defunct Woolback pad while looking for the AWOL blankie, which is good given the state of my current foam inserts - can you say "past their sell-by"?). Tomorrow I visit the library for a big pile of books-on-CD, and fetch suitable food items from the supermarket. And pack clothes. And...

We've got plenty of contingency plans about where to overnight and when, depending on how far we want to drive each day. I know Uno doesn't eat great in the trailer, so we'll need to stop periodically for him (although the other times I've hauled him long distances he was on his own, so maybe having a couple of buddies will help that). Roo, I'm not concerned about. He just seems to do well regardless.

It is 900 miles from my house to Moab, via Renee's house.

Our current plan (assuming we stay awake long enough) is for me to drive up to Reno after work on Friday evening (130 miles) to pick up Renee and Bite, then on Saturday we drive to a-bit-south-of-Salt-Lake-City (550 miles). Then on Sunday, we'll have a mere 220 miles to drive (through gorgeous Utah scenery, hopefully) - which sounds like a cinch.

Once we get there, it'll remain to be seen which days I actually ride. Ideally all three—endurance gods willing, Roo gets do Day 1 and Day 3, with Uno getting his turn on Day 2. But I still worry about Uno and whether I messed up his feet getting too ambitious over bar removal and that's why he's feeling a bit sluggish... Or is he just unfit... Or is he just not motivated... Or does he have some dread underlying disease... etc, etc... In reality, he was always sluggy when first being brought back to fitness and it miraculously disappears at rides (to be replaced with an "oh my" horse), so I should probably just ride him to get over that hump. This will be his first ride back since being pulled from NASTR 75 in 2011. Given the fact that Roo only just did his first 50 after a three and half year layoff, this probably makes me the slowest person ever to get around to bringing horses back from injuries (I get distracted).

* * *

In other news, my Yarn Bag Thingy™ is crawling along at a rate of about a row a week. It has about 250 stitches per round and will need to be about a foot tall. Once felted, it will shrink to the size of a Barbie shoulder bag.

But I'm sure I'll love it.

Assuming it ever gets finished.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sockses Report

About 45 minutes after completing the 50 at Red Rock on Saturday, Roo and I were both in the middle of our suppers when I remembered that I'd forgotten to "wrap his legs" - i.e. put on his new sockses (they arrived on Thursday).

So I popped back to trailer, whipped out* the ziploc bag containing the Special Plastic Bag (comes with) and the Sockses and put them on. 

* (from the very small storage space required to store them)

The good thing about the Special Plastic Bag is that when you take off the Gloves-that-went-through-the-cow-swamp, you cover the mucky hooves completely so you don't get goop all over yourself and the new sockses. ...well, OK, I did get some on me, but the sockses stayed clean.

The back sockses are easiest to put on - mostly because the back leg measurements are larger, yet the hooves are smaller. I ended up sort of wadding them up and sliding them over the bag-encased-hoof, then yanking up the wad to the top of his leg and smoothing it down. The front legs were only slightly harder, with the smaller leg-tube/bigger hoof combination (the biggest problem was having to avert my eyes from the offensive not-terribly-attractive "green" colour*).

* (the "green" colour would be fine if Roo wore earth tones. However, he does not.)

Funder-pic from the finish
I deliberately didn't walk him that evening (he was on his Spring Tie, however). The temperatures weren't freezing but it was chilly. Around 4:30 a.m. he woke me up banging around, so I got up and gave him a mush and checked his legs. Looking good. 

The following morning one of the front sockses had slipped down slightly (an inch or so) so I adjusted it, but the others were all where they were supposed to be. He had some light filling in the back legs and even lighter filling in the fronts. We walked around camp a couple of times before being put in the trailer and taken home. 

On the way home I had to stop at Starbucks to try and get rid of a nasty headache. And I had to stop to get NV-cheap diesel. And I had to stop at Cabela's to buy things because the last time I was there was a long time ago. And I had to stop at the Ag Station to fill out the quickie paperwork (more about that later). And I had to stop at the top of the canyon to make myself a sandwich because I was falling asleep.

So in all, it took me about five hours to get him home. 

He hopped off the trailer looking good, with almost no filling. Took out the Special Plastic Bag and removed them from his legs while he grazed in the orchard (had to get pft to hold him still because he kept wandering off) - legs look good and weren't warm the way they sometimes feel after being unwrapped.

My conclusion:
  • Super easy to use - take five mins to put all four on, and five minutes to take them all off again
  • Appreciate that you can check their legs while the sockses are on by feeling through the sock (or you can peel it up/down to inspect the leg)
  • Don't overheat the legs
  • When you take them off, you just stuff them back in the ziploc bag - no rewinding necessary
I'm not convinced they'd work so well with a horse that fills a lot after a ride. Be interesting to try them on Uno who is more prone to filling, but as far as offering light support, as well as massaging my guilty conscience, they did the job perfectly.

Monday morning, Roo's legs didn't look like they'd done anything. 

I'm a bit pathetically hobbly, though.

* * *

The Ag Station experience was interesting. I quizzed a bunch of people extensively beforehand about what was required, and was reassured it was all OK (despite dithering on my part). And sure enough, I pulled up to the Ag Station 'gate' and the lady said:

"D'you have livestock?".

"One California horse," I said.

"OK, she said, I just need a health certificate or a Coggins, and fill out this information [hands me a slip of paper on which to write my truck-n-trailer licence plate numbers, my name, address, and a contact telephone number] and take it into the office."

The man in the office was nice as can be - transcribed my information into his big book (presumably this is so when there's a major outbreak of horse-leg-falling-off they'll be able to contact me to tell me about it), stamped my Coggins with his dated Ag Station stamp, handed me back my slip of paper "for next time" and off we went again. 

It was the "health certificate OR Coggins" that was the important part. Up until then, I'd decided that my days of popping over to NV to ride for the day were over. 

Good to know.