Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Travel Tails

What can go Wrong

Travelling with Trudy is often an adventure. Although we prepare for any instance, for any possible breakdown or happenchance, things will still happen. Before leaving on any significant trip, not only does the horse trailer get a good going over, the camper van would as well. Bearings, floors and fluid levels are checked. Everything that can be seen to … is. As hubby rarely went along, I liked to be equipped to do small repairs on the road, and carried all sorts of tools and supplies. After all, when it comes to me, what can go wrong, usually will. As a matter of fact, it often did, so it was always best to be as prepared as possible.
There was a young, black Morgan filly to deliver to the States, so off the kids and I went. We started off pretty well, had our usual aggravation at the border but were off and running in no time at all. I loved taking the kids along. Travelling is like getting a real world education. They would bring along a week’s worth of homework, and away we’d go. Because we hauled with a camper van, there was a table to do their work at, comfortable places to sleep, and it was a pretty comfortable ride as well. Small enough to fit anywhere a pickup truck could go, it was great not to have to worry about height or length. Pulling a two horse trailer, it was no problem to negotiate any road we came upon.
So leaving hubby at home, the kidlets and I were off on another adventure. We were delivering the lovely black filly by our stallion Charco, to her new home. This was a rather special sale, as the filly, Maneline Midnight Express, or Essy as we called her was going back to Charco’s roots. Her new owners had wanted her because their family was the original breeders of Charco. In a way, it was like the old boy was going home through his daughter.
My habit when travelling long distances with horses is this. Though I make many stops to water, check on the horse and feed, we travel until about an hour before dark. I make no plans ahead, as I don’t want to be committed to make it to a destination by a certain time. All sorts of things can happen to throw a wrench into plans. The van or trailer can break down, there can be road and traffic delays or any one of a number of things can happen to ruin plans and cause a late arrival. On that same train of thought, if I’m making great time, I don’t want to stop before I have to. If I can put on more miles, I most definitely want to. If one has made plans to stop and has someone waiting, then that’s what must be done. I prefer to stop about an hour before it begins to get dark, and find someplace to stop just ahead.
Because of this, we’ve met some wonderful people and enjoyed seeing some lovely farms. On this trip, we were fortunate to end up at a lovely farm in quiet countryside. Essy was comfortably settled into a roomy boxstall with fresh water and a good feed of hay. We parked right at the front of the barn, and settled in for a well-earned rest. Sleep didn’t take long to claim us, as it had been a long day of driving, and there was nothing but the quiet night sounds and horses to lull us.
Startled awake by the sound of buckets being clanged against each other the next morning, we were surprised to find that it was a good hour later than we wanted to be on the road. Quickly dressing, we stumbled out of the van to find our host just by the barn door, a sheepish grin on her face. She’d obviously made noise to wake us, as I’d mentioned that we wanted to be away early. We learned that she’d been up and done all the chores, including caring for Essy, an hour earlier. Not only had she taken care of everything, she also had fresh, warm, giant muffins for us to take along, which was pretty wonderful. She was wonderful and ever so welcoming, and we wish we could’ve spent more time there, but the road was calling and Essy’s new owners were anxious to meet their new horse.
We loaded up and with our warm muffins filling the small space with delicious aroma, hit the road again. We hoped to make it all the way to our destination by the end of this day, but this was not to be. There was a bit of road construction that slowed us down, yet that wasn’t the biggest problem. We lost our trailer lights. It was dark when they began flashing off and on as if affected by a short. We were on a very busy highway, with nowhere to pull over and check things over. It was the blackest of nights as well. Pulling over onto the shoulder wasn’t a good idea, and probably riskier than carrying on until we could find somewhere to pull off.
As anyone who reads my stories already knows, I drove semi for many, many years. I started when I was eighteen years old. Of course, there was a cb radio in the van. With it, we could listen to the truckers talk about the road ahead, as well as learn about weather conditions and anything else that might affect our travel. As we were motoring along, we heard a couple of them discussing us.
“There’s a van pulling a trailer without lights,” one warned.
“I see that,” another pipes up, “they’ve got a bit to go before they can pull off.”
Seeing an opportunity, I got on the radio, “That’s me. I’m sorry, but we’ve lost our lights on the trailer and I can’t find anywhere to pull off.”
“We’ll help you,” the first trucker immediately offered, “I’ll lead,” he flashed his trailer lights, “and he’ll follow so no one runs into you. There’s a Truck stop up ahead. We’ll take you there.”
“Thanks so much,” relieved to receive the help, I was more than happy to ride the rocking chair. That’s what it’s called when you’re between two semi units with no room for another vehicle to squeeze between. “I really appreciate this.”
“No problem at all,” the first trucker said, “we’ll get you off the road, no worries.”
I was grateful for a few things that night. I was grateful for the truckers who willingly helped us out, for the fact that Essy was used to travelling and wasn’t fussing at all, and that my children thought it was all a great adventure. When we reached the off ramp to the Truck stop, we followed him off the highway then they carried on while we turned into the well-lit lot.
“Thanks so much,” I said and surely meant it.
“No problem,” he immediately said, “we hope you get your light problem fixed, and have a safe trip without more problems. You should be able to get everything you need here.”
“Thanks and we’ve got this,” I replied, “have a safe trip as well.”
With that, we parted ways. They had loads to haul, and I had trailer lights to figure out. On top of that, I had to phone the new owners and explain that we wouldn’t make it this day. Though only a couple of hours away, we wouldn’t arrive until the next morning. I couldn’t be helped.

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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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 Oakbank, MB