When last we left off I was panicking realizing I didn't have 'enough hay' for the trip for the quantities I expected the animals to consume. Wonderful old owners of our house, the Mauzy's, offered a couple bales in a very generous gesture. Problem: Solved. As it ended up though, they didn't eat as much as I anticipated. At least they'll have some to transition over to hay in Washington.
The day Cheri was going to arrive, she texted me that she had missed her flight. Her arrival suddenly got switched around, but that was okay because I realized I never registered my horse trailer in Michigan under my name... And I needed to register it in order to easily register it in Washington. So that prompted a trip to the SoS office as it opened where I was 16th in line before the doors opened. A hit to my wallet later, I had my temporary title in my name, albeit with my typographed middle name that I never bothered to fix.
Cheri's flight snafu ended up being beneficial in that I wasn't rushed waiting in line. When I did get to the airport, however, her flight was WAY delayed. So I got to sit around for over an hour waiting for it to arrive. When it did, though, it was wonderful to see her again. I got her back to my house where Gwyn definitely remembered her.
I spent the rest of the night prepping grain for the trip and finalizing the packing of the truck and trailer. I was up super late. Cheri needed a minimum of 8hrs sleep with her medicine, so Eric helped me out because he's the best.
The next day I got my next lesson in "Be Flexible" as it is ridiculously
hard to wake Cheri up. After the house fire in 2011 (which is what led to me getting Gwyn) Cheri developed fibromyalgia and is no longer as mobile as she used to be. Her stamina is shot as well.
Note: She will easily discuss this and gave me strategies to help her get going in the morning.
So my grand plans of leaving by X time went out the door. We were on the road by 11am however. I hadn't planned for very long days of driving so our arrival wasn't too late in the evening despite the later than intended start. We made sure to stop at a Tim Horton's for Cheri to experience before we left Michigan, easily navigated outer Chicago suburb traffic and then it was flat land and farm fields as far as the eye could see.
|Hay bags kept the tiny donkey from escaping forward.|
Saffron was my biggest worry for loading, and the reason I wanted to have an equine saavy assistant on this drive who could read her body language and apply pressure as necessary without getting hurt. However, we loaded Gwyn first and Saffron, with a little coaxing, did actually want to go with her. I think with time we could get her to be a trail companion because she really doesn't want to miss out.
|Suddenly dubious about this whole trailer thing...|
At our first rest stop after Chicago I discovered that Gwyn had yanked an entire bale of hay under herself. This proved to be a reoccurring item.
|Blinking in the hot sun in Illinois.|
The farm land we saw in Illinois and Iowa was incredibly flooded. Rivers were well over their banks and low spots just weren't draining. We saw many river front homes that were either close to or flooded. It was sobering.
|Crossing the Mississippi River!!!|
We crossed the Mississippi into Iowa and were close to our destination for the night!
There was very little in the way of Horse Motels for this first leg. This was, as a result, my most expensive stop, at $40/animal. However, Gwyn and Saffron got to share a little paddock that was great for stretching legs and rolling and laying down. The mosquitoes were AWFUL. This was at a dressage and eventing facility that was a bit run down but had good bones. All of the horses looked well cared for.
After nearly 8 hours in the trailer, Saffron did NOT want to be parted from Gwyn and Gwyn was similarly bonded.
We got them tucked in with soaked grain and hay bags and I dropped my payment off in the owner's office. Then we were off to find a grocery store and the hotel!
We each snagged a salad, though mine ended up having bleu cheese (which I'm allergic to) to my dismay (it was hidden by the label) and ate back in the hotel. Our room was 'pool view' which meant it opened to an inner courtyard and we could walk right into the pool. I had neglected to bring my bathing suit but decided a camisole and underwear were sufficient for the uninhabited pool.
We slept fairly well, this time I factored Cheri wake up time into my morning plan, we grabbed breakfast and coffee from the hotel breakfast and set off to load up the animals. Iowa City, Iowa is apparently on the list of 'giant roadside attractions' for a giant wooden nickel that was erected in protest of some tax. So we stopped to tourist at it, then hit the road. We had all of the rest of Iowa to get through!
|It was still decorated for christmas, with a giant snowman on top.|
|Saffron: "Look, I know I said I wanted to go with Gwyn, but don't you think this is taking things a LITTLE FAR?!?!"|
We reached the edge of Iowa and followed the river border with Nebraska until Nebraska ended and we popped over into South Dakota (nothing like a road trip to teach geography) Cheri was thrilled to see Sinclair gas stations so we turned into one to fill up. Their logo is a dinosaur and she hadn't seen them since her childhood. So we had to give a hug to the dinosaur, like tourist idiots, LOL
|I wish these gas prices were in Washington...|
South Dakota was pretty flat and uninteresting and we were both eager to see the Badlands, but were unsure at which point we would reach them. Everything was super green and lush and agriculture as far as the eye could see. Eventually, we reached Mitchell, SD for our second night.
|Giant sculptures off the highway. You can visit this place (we did not)|
I had technically reserved two pens, but neither animal wanted to be apart from the other, so they shared this pen. It was narrow, but sufficient for over night. There were other horses nearby so they could have buddies, though they were gone by the time we got to them in the morning.
|Distant alpacas in the pond|
|Gwyn notices the alpacas|
They both settled in nicely and Saffron laid down immediately. She was so tired. We ended up giving her bute that night just in case she was sore from all the driving.
|This cool lion artwork was on a Tesla in the hotel parking lot|
|The cool barn set up in SD|
Saffon was unhappy at the prospect of getting back on. But would step up once the person behind her stepped away to go get treats. Donkeys.
|Taking in the sights of the Badlands (and I-90)|
|Saffron also takes in the sights|
There was a scenic overlook in South Dakota that Cheri and I agreed we needed to stop and see. It made for some epic photos. I busted out my good camera for them but you'll have to wait until I've moved to Washington to see them. So not until July when my stuff gets delivered.
We met a lady at the scenic overlook who said that the intensity of the green
was because they've had unusual amounts of rain lately. This should be much drier and browner.
|Coming into Wall Drug|
|The Black Hills!|
We drove through (and stopped for gas) Rapid City, SD, the gateway to the Black Hills. The last time I was there I was a kid on vacation with my family. My memory of the place is spotty, but driving through, now paying attention to where things were, I felt unusually disoriented because my memory of the place didn't match up to what my map was telling me. However I knew that since monuments don't just up and move, that it was my memory to blame. Funny how those things fade and morph over time, and how kids just really don't pay attention to where they are.
Just over the line into Wyoming we stopped at the welcome center for a potty break and to check out just how much of a re-route it would be to go see Devil's Tower. I have hiked around it (again, on that vacation) but Cheri had never seen this part of the world. And to be honest, I kind of wanted to go there again too.
We figured out that detouring up to Devil's Tower would only add about 40 minutes total to our driving that day, not including a stop for souvenirs. We decided it would be worthwhile. It ended up timing perfectly with more bathroom and snacks.
My horse went to the KOA at Devil's Tower 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
After we rejoined I-90 we went through the most harrowing stretch of Wyoming. A super long bit where there were no gas stations. I had 5 gallons of gas in the back just in case, but I was running low and we had to go through a small canyon/valley thing. Thankfully Cheri had an app which told her where the next gas station would be so there was more peace of mind than normal and we made it through okay. But that was probably the closest I cut it the whole trip in running out of gas.
We had some gorgeous views of the Grand Tetons and the Yellowstone area (from afar)
The equine accommodations that night were near the Montana border and on a private farm. The gentleman was extremely nice. We made sure to clean up as they were at church when we packed up and left. We did make sure to do a photo shoot with Gwyn since his farm had an amazing mountain view. Again, gotta wait for the good camera.
Then it was into Montana and Big Sky Country! Boy were they right! There's practically no trees anywhere so it's just giant rolling (or not so rolling) hills of grass and scrub and the sky feels heavy on top of you. It's amazing. I want to go back.
My friend Dave recommended that we stop at a steak house (no services...) off of I-90. For a hole in the wall it was PRICEY! But oh so delicious. Cheri and I shared a giant steak and split the generous sides that came with it. I was stuffed full of amazing beef. We had enough for dinner leftovers that night.
Our final stop for the night was in western Montana, in the mountains. It was by far the biggest paddock and our favorite (except for the gopher holes)
We had a cabin all to ourselves with beds in the loft. It was peaceful.
|So peaceful. Even with the trains|
|I'd live here.|
|Trout Aquarium in St. Regis|
We hit Idaho in less than an hour. The truck handled the steady climbing with aplomb and has automatic trailer grade braking that kicks in when you hit a certain percentage of downhill grade. My mantra was "steady up, slowly down" and while I was white knuckle when idiot sedans flew past me or when I was passing semis, it wasn't that bad at all. It was helpful to have Cheri there next to me for extra eyes.
We hit Washington quickly and were back to lowly rolling flatland. Once we hit Washington though, we fought the wind the WHOLE WAY. It sucked down my gas and I had to have an extra gas stop more than I predicted because of it. Ridiculous.
Driving down into the Columbia River Gorge was harrowing, more so than the passes through the Rockies, which my husband told me had the worst of the climbs and grades. The wind was worse in the river gorge. And then the climb back out was just low grade and FOREVER. But my baby held steady and the temperature gauge never wiggled. I will say that I was worried about having only a half-ton truck in Washington, but this trip has definitely proved that she can handle the hills and elevation fully loaded with gear. The new trucks are just fantastic.
|Gwyn: Wait... I know this place. I KNOW THOSE PEOPLE|
We unloaded near dinner time in Duvall, WA. They will stay here until I find a place for Gwyn to live. There are other horses they share a fence line with, but they are in a pasture with several calves, cows and two surprisingly sweet bulls.
|Gwyn: Saffron! THERE ARE COWS OUT THERE!|
|Also, look at how SHINY she is!!!! 🥰🥰🥰🥰|
|A BULL! RUN AWAY!|
So far I have already received several phone calls from their temporary Mommy to ask me how I prefer things done. She is taking very good care of them and I hear that Gwyn has already lost her fear of cows enough that she is bullying them away from their beet pulp at breakfast because she figured out they get fed first.
I just got notice today that we were approved/picked to lease a house in the Bothell/Everett area. It has a fenced backyard and tree house, is within easy walking distance of two elementary schools, a park with splash pad, and grocery store. We are also only a short drive away from my college roommate, Cheryl. We move in on Kaylee's 7th birthday.
I am leaving Gwyn in Duvall until our house sells here in Michigan, as our budget will be pretty tight with the rental choice we have until we get to stop paying mortgage too. I think that will also mean showing is not in the cards for a while. But I'll have Cortney to trail ride with again. And I can get Gwyn legged up for fall endurance rides with actual elevation. It might be the best thing for her SI and canter.