Ridecamp at the Bare Bones Endurance Ride is a large open field rented from the Evergreen Gun Club. The field is FLAT (excellent for parking rigs, even the big 'uns) and conveniently located only 10 minutes from the freeway. However...
...the booking manager at the Gun Club didn't notice (until too late) that the site had been double-booked: for the endurance ride and for
|An endurance rider gets a shooting lesson. Photo by Rhonda Guildford.|
a group of blackpowder "mountain man" reinactors.
|"Mountain Man Ladies" in costume. They shoot too! Photo by Rhonda Guilford.|
Umm, we mostly coped. I admit that the gunfire noise, plus the noise from Mimsy barking and Hana hollering when I took Fiddle away for her vet-in did induce a minor meltdown. I really don't handle noise very well, especially when almost all of the disturbance was coming from my own camp, and I felt very responsible and not able to control the chaos. In cases of emotional meltdown, I gotta recommend the help and support I get from my ridecamp buddies, like Pickles' Fairy DocMother:
Aside from the noise, life in camp was pretty normal.
We ate the usual decadent breakfast on Friday morning:
While Patty worked on the underside of her parents' rig,
|When a tire blew, it took out parts of the plumbing. Dang.|
Karen wanted to know how to teach the "look away" trick that Fiddle does, because Cartman is pretty food-motivated...
so I showed her!
|"Cartman wanna cookie?"|
|"Get your nose too close to my hand, and I bonk you."|
|"Even shifting his eyes away from the cookie is a good first step. Good boy!"|
|"NOW you can have the cookie!"|
|Pretty leaves, dry trails. Cue the ominous music.|
Here's a photo from the first loop on Saturday morning:
|Welcome to the Swamp.|
Some of the trail was gravelly-dirt:
|gravelly dirt + rain = mud|
|red clay + rain = slime and puddles|
Cricket, however, was slipping and sliding through the first leg of the ride. It was scary and no fun at all for Sky, and she decided to rider-option pull at the 8-mile trot-by. That was a huge disappointment for her and for me; we had planned to spend the entire day together, and we only spent 2 hours of it, mostly worrying about Cricket. I think she made the right call, and she was pretty satisfied with her decision.
After Sky dropped out at the trot-by point, she loaned me her chaps. Those things saved my butt...or at least, they kept my legs from freezing off. My riding attire in the morning was a cotton t-shirt with a new Helly Hanson raincoat over my usual riding breeches. You know how "there is no bad weather, only bad clothing choices"? Well. I had some really bad clothing, and much sadness. The raincoat completely failed--it wasn't even water resistant, despite the manufacturer's claims. Yeah, I'll be sending THAT back.
Meantime, I was cold and wet...and all my gear was back in camp, 10 trail-miles away.
Fortunately, Jim met me at the out-check, and loaned me his windstopper-fleece jacket. After a few moments contemplation of the wet clothing on my body and the options available, I scampered into the portajohn and removed the drenched shirt and "raincoat", and put on Jim's jacket over my bra, then put the chaps (wet, but lined with wool so they kept me warm) over my wet breeches. While I was swapping dry clothes for wet clothes, Jim vetted Fee through and found a pile of hay for her to cram in her maw. He is the best crew.
|Endurance riders = fashion disasters. But at least I was warm! Photo by Rhonda Guilford.|
(I ordered a set of the chaps for myself, BTW--in purple, of course! They are handmade by a lady here in the Swamplands, and are sold by American Trail Gear. I don't see them listed on the ATG website, but if you call and talk to Sherri or Diana, ask them about the chaps and tell them I sent you.)
Fee vetted through with flying colors, and then Willy took her back to our camp and stuffed her full of hay, beetpulp and carrots while I made a cup of hot tea (remember, hot tea is restorative!) and some soup and fixed my clothing.
Fortunately, I had a complete change of attire in camp, including clean dry socks, my own windstopper jacket, and dry boots!
|An inch of water inside the muddy boot (top); clean dry new boot (bottom)|
|Our signature exit strategy: b a c k w a r d s.|
The afternoon trails went faster than the morning trails, partly because the fog had lifted and we could find ribbons more easily. Also because Fee was completely focused on the task at hand: trot where we could, walk where we must. She was a rock star all day long.
The cheering crowd (not exaggerating!) at the finish line was absolutely terrific. My whole family, plus a bunch of Pirates and Fish were there to get Fee and me finished and vetted. Wow.
|My vet card, only barely legible.|
After the ride, we all relaxed.
|Mimsy doubles as a laundry tree.|
|Luna would prefer not to have socks on her head, please.|
|Pickles Marie Tinydog, only barely awake.|
is all over the house, trying to get dry.
Life in the Swamp. It's wet. It's good, though.