The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

The Road Trip-The Planning

 

January 19, 2022



Well, here we are all hunkered down again in the cold and nastiness of winter. To cheer you up, I thought I would relate a true story. Hopefully, you will get a laugh out of this, even if it’s at my expense. This first article is laying the groundwork, so to speak; the next two will give you your laughs and chuckles at my expense.

It all began in Arizona. I was living alone on an acreage thirty miles from the school I was working at. My husband had been killed in a hit-and-run accident, so I was a Lone Ranger. I had horses, dogs, cats, and twenty-two exotic birds to care for. As a result, I was up early feeding before I left for school, and supper was late, again due to animal care. I had two good friends, but they lived around the school and had young families, so there were many times they couldn’t meet up. I was managing, though, when all of a sudden, things took a turn for the worst.

It was February the 14th, and I felt restless in the house, so I decided to drive out to my trainer’s place. She lived behind the mountains near my school. I had trained with her, and she had become a friend. Deb had about ten of her own horses and maybe twenty she boarded. Deb could do anything around horses, and I learned so much from her. Anyway, this particular day she was just about to set off for a trail ride with people who had never ridden before. Deb asked if I would like to ride along, and of course, I agreed. I was given a horse I hadn’t seen before—a tall, rangy bay. However, I trusted Deb not to put me on some wild idiot. We were traveling along what was known as the beginner trails. I rode extensively around that area, a mile from a state park where it was absolutely fantastic riding--just watch for the snakes. Anyway, this was an easy flat trail, and I had my mind on other things and moved along nicely when my cell phone rang. Deb always told us to ride with a cell in case we got into trouble when on our own. This rangy horse I was riding hadn’t received that email. He went ballistic. It turns out, for some reason, he hated cells. Who knew? Not me. So, he proceeded to crow hop pretty much in one spot. Over and over and over. I did not fall off, I will add; however, afterward, I wondered if it would’ve been better if I had. Once I got him stopped and got off, I realized I was in a fair bit of pain. The ranch truck picked me up, and I drove home from there. I found that if I sat a certain way, I could tolerate the road’s bumps. I decided I’d pulled muscles and booked a massage the next day. I was worse after the massage. The next stop was a chiropractor. Thankfully, he x-rayed, and it turns out I had two cracked vertebras. Sit tight and heal was the advice of the doctor. I got a nice guy outside Walmart to load dog food into my trunk where I could scoop out bowls. I got the penitentiary guys( from the State Pen in Florence) to load hay into the back of my pickup for me. They ran a farm there, and that’s where I got my grass. I found I could kick bales off the back of my truck without too much pain. I had to move hay a tiny bit at a time. I took two weeks off school.

I was alone for those two weeks. No one made it out to help, and it was a case of survival. I reflected that maybe it was time to move back where I had family and more friends during this time. The planning began. If World War Three were planned, it would not be more complex than this expedition back to my homeland. First up was the realization there were many birds I could not legally take across the border. So, I began finding good homes for all but two. I was pretty lucky to find good people willing to pay a reasonable price. However, I hit a snag. I had a Red Mc Caw named Sinbad. Red Mc Caws are about 35 to 37 inches long with 41 to 49 inches wingspans. Naturally, their cages are enormous. No one wanted this poor bird.

I was panicking as I couldn’t take him and had no one who would care for him. Out of the blue, I got a call from a fellow with a thick accent one evening. He explained his family were from Puerto Rico and had had a bird just like Sinbad but couldn’t bring him into the states with the family. He further explained they couldn’t afford my bird but would give it a good home and, in exchange, would trade me one of their purebred Papillons. Well. I needed another dog like, well, not at all. However, I met this fellow, and he, his wife, and his kids turned out to be nice people. So, a deal was struck. I got calls later from him telling me how much they were enjoying Sinbad. I still have my Papillon, little Flossy.

Now to find a horse transporter. I went online and ended up getting a guy, Randy, purely by chance. He was able to come to Arizona to get my horses and take them to Canada for me just two days before I was leaving. I liked Randy because he’d been doing this for twenty-five years and liked horses way better than people. (A horse transporter takes care of all customs issues with your horses, you just need to supply the results of a Coggins test.) In the meantime, I called a farmer I used to know to see if my horses could stay at his farm till I got settled somewhere. Gerry said that would be no problem, and he’d keep an eye out for Randy and my horses. Randy arrived in Arizona, and after chatting a bit, I found out he lived about twenty miles from my daughter in Saskatchewan and just a couple of miles from my farmer friend Gerry. A huge surprise to both of us--what were the chances I would find someone like that with just a random online search? His booker was based in B. C., so I’d just assumed he was from there. Things were falling into place after many sleepless nights.

Now, I just had to pack up a whole household and work. I put the house up for sale, and at the same time, I got a great idea. I called a friend, Shirley, who was relaxing at her cottage in Saskatchewan. Was she up for an adventure? I offered to fly her out to Arizona, pay for all her expenses while she was there, and take her to places she wanted to go on weekends. In exchange, she was to pack all my everything. Crossing the border (the northern border), you have to have a list of every box’s contents and a master list of each box and its contents. It was a huge task, but she accepted happily. Next was how was I getting all my stuff to Canada? That’s when J.C., my late husband’s father, offered his services. He was a retired trucker and had been all over North America. We sat down and made a trip plan, careful to find motels that would allow animals to stay overnight. (The motels never knew how many pets, I might add). One can’t always be truthful, and one always books rooms at the back for the fast ins and outs.

At this point, I had four dogs, two parrots, a cat, and a goldfish. Things became a little more complicated when I decided a dog who was being mistreated would make the trip with me also. It was neglected and had been for some time. I nabbed it one afternoon and took it to the vet. She got her shots done for the rabies certificate for crossing. The examination discovered she had been spayed, but the owner had never taken her back to get her stitches out. So Santan had some infection. She got an antibiotic shot, and I got pills to give her on the trip. Yeah, I know, I know, but I haven’t regretted it for one day. No dog left behind!! So, Shirley and I were

departing in my Mustang convertible with five dogs, and a goldfish, long-suffering JC was taking the cat and parrots.

Shirley filled her part of the bargain in the month leading up to THE BIG TRIP and wrapped and packed every darn doodad and item in my house. I, in turn, took her to lots of places with my two pals, Darcy and Eppie. Shirley saw lakes, caves, deserts, mountains, Sedona, of course, and Jerome. We shopped all over in the wonderful malls and ate at the restaurants Canada doesn’t have. I look back on that month as stressful, but we packed a lot of fun into the time too.

My next article will be about THE TRIP. Now comes what will be for you, a humorous story. Given what you know so far, what could possibly go wrong?

 
 

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