Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Adventure Continues.........Getting to California

The Adventure Begins

There were lots of culdesacs and many dead ends in this Albuquerque neighborhood. I was pulling my horse trailer in places we just did not fit. After three or four times turning around and changing directions, I came upon a school. Down past it I managed to find a road that looked promising.

It appeared wider and had a different type curbing than this neighborhood, I was hoping it was my way out. I turned down the road and snaked around a bend. Then I could see it went to a T with a 4 lane road. Just at the corner of that T there was a gas station AND they had diesel. I was beginning to think I was saved.

I pulled into station. Then I realized there was no one in the store. While I was trying to figure out what to do next a car pulled in to the pumps and began fueling. I figured out it was a card only station so at least I could get fuel. The problem was did I really want to get out of my truck in this neighborhood.

My fear of losing Jesse won out over my fear of getting out of my truck. I decided to get fuel while I could. By the time I finished refueling that car had gone but another had pulled in its place. This one was driven by a woman who didn't look scary so I asked her for directions to I 40.

I was thankful this woman knew more about giving directions than me. I can never remember the names of street signs or even the numbers of state highways where I live. When I told her I 40, she smiled and said that was easy. Would you believe, once I turned left onto this road, it would take me straight to the interstate.

I did have problems getting onto the 4 lane road from this side road from a stop sign. The road was very busy and the timing of the lights at the intersections I could see wasn't leaving me the kind of room I needed to pull out safely for both me and the horses. When it was clear one direction, it wasn't the other. I sat there long enough the horses began getting antsy.

I finally did get on that road and had to drive several blocks before I could see any sign of I 40. Then I realized that finding the right lane for I 40 West wasn't going to be that easy. The early road signs only told of the interstate. When I got closer I could see there were several lanes that exited to the interstate but I still could see which lanes went east and which west. Since I had no idea which direction I was coming from at this point, I had not even a guess which lanes were the ones for me.

I ended up in the wrong lane, of course, and nearly missed my on ramp. Fortunately the driver behind me was courteous and slowed up for me when I signaled I need to get over or I would have been toast. I was one of those drivers crossing the scored portion of the turn to make my on ramp but at least I was no longer lost and I was heading the right direction.

Now I really had not idea if Jesse was in front of me or behind me. I drove for a while and decided to call Jesse again. He didn't remember what the last signs he'd seen said so I still didn't know where I stood.

That's pretty much the way it went most of the day. I never did see Jesse in the daylight hours. It was only when it got close to dark I took matters into my own hands. This time I called Jesse and told him where I'd wait for him. I wasn't driving in the dark without them.

As it turned out, Jesse was planning on refueling in the same town where I was thinking about stopping. I told him which station I'd be at and I waited for him there. After I finished refueling, I pulled aside and waited for Jesse. It was a good twenty minutes before his rig pulled into the station. Between that and the amount of time I'd spent lots, I figured that Jesse was a good two hours behind me most of the day.

I can't even tell you how glad I was to see Jesse' rig. I had passed and been passed by dozens of rigs I recognized from the horse show. I'd even driven by a broken down rig that was one of those. Something I would not normally do........except I was so worried I'd miss Jesse. I'd driven the better part of the day stressing over the prospect of making this entire trip home by myself. I was very relieved that I was no longer travelling alone in this land I knew nothing about.

I knew I didn't want to hit those mountains by myself. After the trip here, I was particularly worried about the mountains. I knew I didn't want to be navigating them on my own. I wasn't taking any chances I might need help........AND more importantly need to know WHERE to go to get it. I didn't want to end up like I had way back on that first Sunday were finding a tire store felt like looking for a needle in a haystack. At least now I knew if anything happened there was hope I'd find the right kind of help.

For some this may not seem like much, but for me it was and IS a really big deal. I am NOT an adventurer.......I might be when it comes to starting young horses.........but not when it comes to travelling. I'd never leave home if it wasn't for horse events. '

Travelling around to parts unknown is not my cup of tea. I do not want to take things as they come ...........flow with the adventure when I'm on the road. I want to know where I can safely stop and where I can find good diesel AND I want to get THERE! Safe, sound and with as little drama as possible. Having someone to follow who knows where they're going, does this for me.

Even though it was now dark, I was much less stressed than I'd been the rest of the day. Following Jesse I didn't have to worry about the navigational stuff..........although I did have a few flashbacks of what might have been over my lost time in Albuquerque. For several hours it was just quiet time as we travelled down the road.

Just like on the trip coming, Jesse told me we could stop for an hour or two when I got tired. Sometime around two I made the call to let him know that I needed sleep. Fifteen minutes later and we were in a crowded truck stop where we found room for both rigs together wedged between the semis.

Two hours to the minute we were back on the road. I felt rested and was ready to handle the couple of hours before dawn. What I hadn't counted on was the time changes as we drove west. It would be several hours before the dawn.

We were well off Interstate 40 and making our way through the portion of this trip I still don't get when I realized my mistake. I knew we would travel through Arizona and into California but I couldn't tell you what roads to take. There was no way, I could find my way home from here without Jesse. I was counting on him getting me to Interstate 5. Then and only then would I be secure that I could find my way home.

I was going to have to push through the bleary eyed stare that was trying to swallow me up to keep following Jesse. I tried to focus on the landscape to see if I could relate it to the trip here. I kept looking ahead for some sign of sunlight. I rolled down my windows and turned on my air conditioner to freeze myself awake. If I could make it through til dawn, I'd be ok for the day light hours.

It was during this time I decided I just could not handle all the miles still in front of me. I needed to cut some of those out if I was going to make it. If I didn't go back to Jesse's place, I could do that. I could cut off those extra miles from I-5 to Santa Rosa and then back to I-5 again. If I did that the horses wouldn't get out of the trailer and I probably wouldn't get as much rest........but the allure of cutting off what I guessed was two or three hundred miles won out. I decided when Jesse left I-5 heading for San Francisco, I would stay on it and head towards Oregon and home.

I breathed a sigh of relief when we got through the mountains where I'd had my second blow-out on the way to Tulsa. The next milestone in my mind would be reaching Interstate 5. Once on my own the next big milestone would be the Siskiyous Mountains. Breaking the trip up in chunks like that was helping me stay focused and not give myself over to how tired I really was.

It seemed like the sun was never going to rise. Even after we got into what looked like grooves of citrus trees, there still was no daylight. I was really struggling with keeping my eyes open but I kept clinging to that thread........the sun had to be coming soon.

I don't even remember what time it was when the sun did rise. I still had not set my watch to Pacific time so maybe that's why the lapse. The first time we stopped for fuel in the daylight, I remedied that situation and I began thinking how many hours until home.

When we did finally pull onto Interstate 5 I was relieved to finally be someplace I was familiar with. While I haven't travelled up and down that interstate much, the few times I had were enough to be some comfort.

The next time we stopped for fuel, I told Jesse my plan to stay on I-5 to drive home. He didn't say much but later I learned he thought it would be too much. He worried about me getting home safely. Maybe if he's said so I'd have rethought my plan. As it was when I saw the first signs for San Francisco mentally I prepared myself for being on my own once again.

Of course, it was miles from those first signs before Jesse's rig actually pulled off headed towards San Francisco. I was surprised by the lump that rose in my throat as I saw them leave. I still had lots of road I was unfamiliar with and the security of that rig was hard to leave.

I called Jesse and thanked him for all his help. He asked me then what I planned to do about rest and I assured him I'd would stop if I felt like I was unable to drive. I figured I'd be fine until dark.......but if that wasn't the case, I would most definitely find a rest stop.

To be continued....................

Heading for the Mountains.

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  1. I feel your pain about getting off of the highway and finding yourself in an area that isn't what you expect! This happened to G and I once. We were supposed to be following a paid leader who was paid to lead us and some other vehicles out of Mexico City and back to the states at the end of our 'stand' there. People in Mexico city drive -very- crazy and we were hauling stock so you know the routine, you can't jerk them around with fast lane changes or stops *sigh*. Anyway, to make a long story short, we got cut off by a driver, there was a LOT of traffic, and we didn't see where the guy exited. We thought we were getting off at the right place, but ended up in an area of Mexico city that 1. We didn't know, 2. was residential and 3. Had NO place for a rig the size of ours (Duely w/8 horse trailer) to turn around. We got in to some areas where I didn't think we would make it thru. Two very nice men actually helped us get thru one area where it took them and me guiding G to get him thru a bunch of cars/trucks parked haphazardly on the street. Remember, in addition to being on a residential street that was NOT a good place for a rig that size, we also speak VERY little Spanish and are in a foreign country. YEEPS! I think I aged 20 years before we finally got back to the Arena (the only place we were familiar with) and joined another section of the convoy going out. (They were taking us out in groups of 10 or so and luckily since we had gone out with one of the very first groups there were still people waiting at the arena for their turn)

    Someday I will write a whole entry on what it is like to travel into a foreign country, stay for 2 months, and travel back out.... We had several 'adventures' ;)

  2. Glad you found your way out of Albuquerque without a problem.

    I think you probably have a touch of adventurous spirit or you wouldn't have left home in the first place. Hope the rest of the ride home is uneventful.

  3. Being trail riders, most of our long trips include ME getting the trailer ready for 4 horses and 4 people and a dog or two! When I have traveled on my own, it's a "fist in the air" feeling of freedom! One horse & her feed & just me, me, me! And luckily (knocking wood very hard), my solo trips have been successful, albeit the farthest I've traveled alone has been less than 300 miles.

    As I read about your trip half way across the country, my heart is in my throat. Your trip there & now the return has had me on my seat moreso than the show itself. We are very vulnerable in our big rig & one wrong turn.... well, you know...

    I asked for and got a Garmin GPS for Christmas. I can easily find diesel, tires, food and anything else I may look for on the road. It also tells me what lane I'll need to be in, so that will be helpful when pulling the big rig.

    Since I am traveling more without my husband, I am going to enroll in US Rider this year, too. Call me a wuss, but the idea of changing a flat tire with cars flying by me 75 mph is NOT my idea of fun. I hear their service is priceless.

    I'm glad to hear you are taking the shorter route, even though it is solo. Hoping the drama is over.... Looking forward to the next installment.

  4. I don't know how you stayed awake! I would have been a mess trying to keep going but if I stop I sleep for 5 or 6 hours, can't seem to do just a power nap like the Hubs can. Hope the rest of the trip goes better!

    We got home from Nick's surgery and he is doing well. Thanks for the advice about the leg wraps, we put them on him before and he acted like he'd worn them forever so we put them on when we were leaving and he was fine. Being shown as much as he was before we got him they must have wrapped his legs. I took pictures of the surgery and it was fascinating. To think something as small as a bone fragment as small as a cooked piece of rice could cause all that trouble is just amazing! We are glad to be home and so is Nick!

  5. This sounds like a mega crazy trip! Hope you arrived home safe!