Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Travel Tails

The Adventure is Getting There

Travelling with me is rarely ordinary. It seems I can never go any distance without something happening. These somethings usually end up as memorable times to share with a grin and a chuckle. They were often when hauling horses as well. There are so many that come to mind, but this was an extra amusing trip where the girlchild and I delivered a horse to its new owner.
The horse was small, the trip was not. It’s about eighteen hundred miles from our farm to Sacramento California, and we had Maneline Beckon Me, a lovely Morgan colt, to deliver to his new home. I planned on four days to get there, so as not to overtax the little fellow. With lots of stops to make sure he was drinking, an hour ‘off the trailer’ time about halfway through each day, and stopovers for the nights. Though the divider would be out of the trailer, and the space would be similar to that of a boxstall for a yearling, I wanted him to have the opportunity to stretch his legs.
Bloodwork was done. International health papers sorted, it was time to hit the road.
As I didn’t have a trailer at the time, I rented one from my boarder. The trailer wasn’t the fanciest, but hubby checked it out mechanically, the lights all worked and the floor was sound. The tires had good tread on them, but were a little weathered looking, so I decided to take along three spares. The bolt pattern was a common Chevy one. We’re Chevy people with a few spare tires hanging around. It made sense to take extras along since we had them. Better safe than sorry, I figured. Besides that, if you took them along, if you went prepared, the odds were that nothing bad would happen. It was Murphy’s law, pure and simple.
The trip started out most predictably. I had to caution the security officers at the United States border to be careful when checking the trailer. There was a loose colt in there. I wasn’t going to be responsible for anyone startling him and getting kicked. Not that he was a kicker, because he wasn’t, but then again, you never did know. Even more worrisome was that they might accidentally let the little guy out. That would be a travesty of horrible proportions. Those checks, the ones where we have to wait inside the building, while border officials crawl all over the vehicles are always the most stressful for me. I’m always concerned about the horse, and what might happen. When we’re given the good to go, my relief is probably evident. No one kicked, no horse was accidentally set loose, another successful border crossing was soon behind us.
The first day of travel continued without incident. We found a nice farm to put up Beckon for the night and there was no issue with us parking near the barn for the night either. After a peaceful night, we got an early start to the day. The weather was beautiful, the day was young, we had miles to put beneath the tires. Speaking of tires, as we motored along, there was suddenly a big bang of sound. The view in the van’s side mirror told the story, we’d blown a tire on the trailer.
Oh well, it wasn’t the first flat tire I’d ever changed and it was unlikely to be my last. A trailer tire was no big deal. A semi tire was way heavier, way more work. This would be a piece of cake. Between the girlchild and I, this tire was but a roadbump in the trip that would be sorted in no time at all.
There’s no better helper than one who predicts what’s needed, and my sweetpea is a great helper. She had the jack out of the tack compartment and under the axle, before I had the nuts loosened. As she jacked up the trailer, a semi began to slow down and pull towards the side of the highway. You know what felt good? Being able to wave him on. Thanks but no thanks, mister trucker. We’ve got this.
We had the tire changed in no time flat, the ruined tire stowed away with the jack, checked on Beckon another time, then were on our way again.
The drive all the way to Reno was mostly uneventful. The mountain crossing was a bit hairy, because just like previous times, there was heavy fog to deal with. Heavy, pea soup thick fog that made you feel a bit sick to the stomach, even as you tried to pierce through, with a headache causing gaze. Eyes straining to keep glued to the taillights of whatever semi we were following, it was a relief to reach the border crossing into California. Once through that, we were home free.
Driving down the other side of the pass was pretty amazing though. The fog disappeared as we drove down the mountain. The view was incredible, awe inspiring and after the stressful stretch of fog, a most beautiful sight to behold.
Beckon was delivered to his new owner who graciously hosted us for a few days, and after taking in a day of touring around San Francisco and Alcatraz, we bid them all adieu and headed home.
We were motoring along, making excellent time, when a most awful, metallic sound came from the front end of our little camper. That ominous noise was coupled with a terrifically bad wobble that spelled big trouble.
“Oh no,” all wide-eyed, sweetpea looked at me, “What’s that?” she asked, though I could see she already had a pretty good idea what the problem was.
“I’m not sure, tie-rod, wheel bearing, could be either.” I tried to remain upbeat and logical, though my mind was already racing to figure out the jam we were in. We were in the middle of the Nevada desert. The last city we’d passed was many, many miles behind ius. The next one was a long way ahead. It wasn’t looking good. We were up the creek without a paddle, if there’d even been a creek to be up. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but dry, empty desert. The landscape reminded me of the gravel pits back home. Nevada was like driving through one massive, endless gravel pit. We parked on the shoulder, checked to see what we could see, only to find the problem was indeed, the wheel bearing.
Being a trucker myself, of course I had a cb radio in the camper. I got on it and asked for a little help and information. Thankfully, one trucker answered. He said we weren’t far from Winnemucca, where there weren’t any services, but possibly, just possibly, we would be able to find some help there. We had no choice but to try Winnemucca.
Limping along on the shoulder of the highway, we kept our fingers crossed that the wheel wouldn’t break off as we wobbled along. Finally making it into the road leading into Winnemucca, we tried to decide what our options were. We could see a vehicle approaching, and for the briefest moment, I contemplated flagging them down. Then as they drew nearer, I swiftly changed my mind. The pickup truck was loaded to capacity with rifle toting, young men. The cab was full, the box was full, and my blood ran cold at the sight. Avoiding their stares as we met and passed by, I was scanning for somewhere to stop and ask for help. Then I saw it. What appeared to be a bar, or what once was a bar, as it was clearly closed down now. The most important detail about that bar is that it had more derelict Fords in the yard than you could shake a stick at. The camper we were driving was also a Ford. Things were looking up, I hoped.

  1. I missed this story so I had hto find it on your blog. Interesting time.So glad all work Ed out!

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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