Friday, January 8, 2010

The Adventure Continues.........Heading for the Mountains

The Adventure Begins

Looking back at this, I have to be honest. I was so sleep deprived I'm not sure that my reasoning skills were all that good. My driving seemed to be ok and in retrospect, I still believe that. But this next leg of the trip really took it (whatever IT is) out of me.

I had told Jesse I would stop if I felt I was too tired to be driving. The problem was I was worried about my horses in the heat of the California afternoon. The roof of my horse trailer is black and I've learned from experience that makes it much warmer than other horse trailers. I could not stop somewhere the horse trailer wouldn't be completely in the shade without putting my horses at risk.

It's also been my experience that rest stops do not have that kind of shade. I wasn't sure about the rest stops in California but to this point in my trip through the state everyone I saw was pretty much wide open spaces. if there were trees, the were little saplings.......nothing that would give my horses relief from the sun.

Somewhere outside of Sacramento, I pulled off to get fuel. The station turned out to be a little mom and pop kind of thing. It had a single row of pumps and driveway in was too steep. I dragged my hitch across the asphalt breaking the connection to one of my safety chains.

Once in their little lot I found I couldn't make the turn to get to the diesel pump on the correct side of my rig. I had to drive down into the adjacent vacant lot to turn around and get lined up correctly with the pump. Once there I couldn't even get the card reader to read my credit card right. I got some kind of beep but couldn't read the screen that was giving me instructions what to do.

Guessing what was the correct thing to do didn't work and somehow I ended up starting all over again. I never did get that reader to work for me. I had to go inside to get help. There I was told they'd have to do the transaction because of an error code. My double attempt had triggered some kind of warning that maybe I wasn't really the card owner. The only way the transaction could be completed was through their main terminal.

The young man helping me got everything working properly so I went out to pump my fuel. I don't know if it was me........or the pump or what.....but I could not get it to pump fuel for me. I ended up back inside with the worker. It took this young man coming outside and starting the pump for me to get my fuel pumped........and at that , he had to help me twice because I screwed it up.By this time I was pretty sure I really needed a nap.

I also need to water the horses at this stop. I hadn't been able to find water. It turned out that wasn't totally me, the water was up near the store right in front of the rest rooms. I had to haul it to the trailer but that was ok. At least I had water for the horses.

You're probably wondering about Gypcy. By this time the filly had made peace with the horse trailer window AND the water bucket. When I offered her a drink, she practically knocked me over trying to get her head into that bucket. She drank two full buckets before she was through.

I had noticed as I turned around in that vacant lot a semi truck was parked off to the freeway side. All along that edge of the property were these huge poplar trees. The semi was in total shade.

Now that I was done with refueling and watering my horses, I noticed the semi truck was gone. That left plenty of room for me and my truck and horse trailer to pull into the shade.

I dropped the horses windows down and feed them lunch. Then I spent some time readjusting my load. I'd feed a couple of bales of hay by this time and the tarp covering the rest was beginning to flap. Since I knew I was driving into rain in Oregon and Washington, the tarp was still necessary.

That job ended up being more extensive than I'd hoped. I moved a couple of things trying to get weight onto my tarp only to find I"d created a situation where my load could shift. Fixing it seemed to be beyond me. By the time I finished I was sweaty and even more exhausted. If I hadn't needed the nap before I'd tackled this little task, I sure needed it now.

I can't even tell you how relieved I felt to sit back down in my truck and pull off my shoes. I grabbed my pillow and got comfortable hoping to get a pretty good nap. Just as I nodded off to sleep my phone went off. It was a text message from Richard. "Where was I?" I answered.........and he was gone.

That was it for me. I am a light sleeper......and when I say light........I mean light to the point it is ridiculous. Once I am awakened, I cannot go back to sleep. It has never mattered how desperately I need sleep and it didn't matter now. I could not get back to sleep. I tried.....but my mind had now kicked into high gear. It was time to get back on the road.

I was really frustrated I hadn't gotten a nap. I was even more frustrated that it was my phone and Richard that had awakened me. I had spent over two weeks by myself with little communication from the outside world, my family or my friends. I would have welcomed some kind of contact. Now at this time when I really didn't need anything but sleep, contact is what I got. Guess this line of thinking tells you how very very tired I was..............

I pulled back onto the freeway into rush hour traffic. The presence of all those dive bombing aggressive drivers was enough for me to understand why some people fly off the handle into road rage. With little sleep pulling a horse trailer was a difficult task and the lack of courteous drivers wasn't making it any easier. I resorted to deep breathing exercises to keep myself calm. It just was not pretty.

When I finally got through all the crazy traffic, it was beginning to get dark. I'd had it in my mind that I wanted to spend the night at a rest stop in Oregon. In the dark I lost my sense of where I was and how far it really was to Oregon. Not being accurate on how many miles there still were to the border meant the estimated time before I could stop was off as well.

By the time I realized my mistake, I was in the mountains. The night was pitch black and the roads slick and twisting. There wasn't a huge amount of traffic but what there was wasn't consistent. There were vehicles flying way too fast for the conditions and others crawling along like snails. I was trying to travel someplace in the middle between these two because that is what was best for my truck with this load.

My truck has a 5 speed manual transmission. It has a big powerful engine but going too slow on a steep grade can strangle that power. Trying to find just the right speed for this kind of load on these steep grades is a guessing game........... one done much better by a rested person than one like me.

There were times crawling around dark tight curves I worried about those speeding drivers rear ending me. There actually were a time or two when I was still in the mountains of California I heard the squeal of tires behind me. One time I even heard what sounded like a pretty powerful crash but I could see no evidence of one in my rear view mirror. I found myself praying I would make it to Oregon.

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

A Little Hitchcock

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  1. Sounds like the ride from hell. At least we all know you did make it back, but not without a few nightmares along the way I guess.

  2. Not a good ride , gotta go back and read more . Sounds like quite the trip

  3. Are you sure you made it home with those lovely horses? Maybe you are still dreaming...

  4. OH MY! You need to find a companion to take with you on these extended trips. Perhaps a cool college student or horsey gal who can help you stay sane and even do some of the driving? I don't know how you do it all by yourself! I would certainly offer to be that person, unfortunately I can no longer just leave my life to go on cool trips whenever I want to!!! ;( Oh yeah, and did I mention I don't drive humoungous rigs of horses up steep crazy mountains with insane drivers all over the road? I would need a Valium! Woman, you certainly have guts!

  5. Oh man, I'll bet you were like Dorothy, murmuring, "there's no place like home, there's no place like home!" and probably, "Lord, just get us home!"

    That must have been terrifying driving through the mountains at night with such a big rig and precious cargo.

  6. Oh man, I'll bet you were like Dorothy, murmuring, "there's no place like home, there's no place like home!" and probably, "Lord, just get us home!"

    That must have been terrifying driving through the mountains at night with such a big rig and precious cargo.

  7. I am speachless and biting my nails with anticipation again!