October 19, 2011

Well, Howdy!

"Lucy, I'm home...!" (And if you're familiar with that phrase, you're either my age or you like old TV shows.)

I'm home. Really, truly, home. Back on the farm in Tennessee where I grew up. It's fifty-four acres of pure heaven. Most of the property is in 50 year old pecan trees but we have a good two acres for gardening, and a pond that's about an acre or so. Jeff calls it a pond - to me it has always been a lake and when I was a kid it was a lot bigger than it is now although it hasn't actually changed in size. Must be me.

Our cross-country move was exhausting and
problematic. Our caravan consisted of our neighbor Kevin driving a 27 foot U-haul, towing Jeff's 49 Dodge pickup on a trailer.

It took three people to get that U-Haul door to shut and we still left things behind! The 49's cab was crammed full, as was the bed, tastefully tarped in blue & brown vinyl and plastic baling twine. (We took this pic after we arrived.)

Jeff drove his 69 Dodge pickup, towing the remodeled ancient horse trailer with Max the mini on board. Poppy the beagle kept him company in the cab. (Jeff was REALLY happy about that because Poppy is a fruitcake. What can I say? She's a beagle.) We frequently had to wash the dog spit off the inside of the window and the windshield ...

Again, the bed of the pickup was crammed full and oh-so-tastefully tarped. (This was my view all the way across country, LOL - the ass-end of the horse trailer!)

I drove my Subaru Outback wagon. With four cat carriers. And four extremely miserable cats. The vet gave me some tranquilizers (well, she didn't GIVE them to me, they cost a buttload of money) and on the first day I think I overdosed everybody. They slept all day so that when we got to the motel, they woke up and freaked out. Teeth and claws came out of those carriers, with some fur and glowing eyes attached.

Every day of the trip we had to dig them out - from under the bed, from behind the bed, from the top shelf of the "closet", and even once from inside the box springs. (I don't know if one of them made a hole or if it was already there.) After the third or fourth day we had a system - Jeff would pick up the bed and I'd crawl under it and grab a cat, cram a pill down its poor throat, and thrust it unmercifully into the hated carrier. (Repeat three times.)

In addition to the cats my car had all of our trip necessities - suitcases, munchies, drinks, pet supplies. And last-minute "Oh my God I couldn't possibly leave this!" stuff. A lot of that stuff is still in the car, 6 months after arrival. Oh, well, it will get cleaned out eventually. I found my work boots in there last weekend. I could've used them when I was helping Jeff cut wood last summer.

Let me tell you folks something. The "Wild" West ain't so wild. In fact, it's downright boring (except for snow on the few mountains we drove through and some cool wind farms). If I never see another tumbleweed or sagebrush bush in my life, I'll be happy. We traveled through Washington, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. (I think I missed a state but I'm not sure - they pretty much all looked the same.)

We made an unscheduled 3-day stop in a little town in Utah when Jeff's 69 pickup broke down. That pic of the horse trailer with the snowy mountains was taken just outside of Tremonton, right before the axle seized or whatever happened. (I can't remember exactly.) I have to admit - the people in that little town were so nice, and much more friendly than I expected. We stayed in a nice motel - the kind that's a single-story U shape, with chairs out front of your room fer sittin'. Seriously, it was nice - more expensive than Motel 6 but cozier, too.

Max the miniature horse was not happy although he was nicer about it than the cats. For such a little guy he's got a big mouth, and I often heard him bugling (aka cussing Mom out) whenever we hit a bumpy stretch of road. He's too short to see over the trailer doors, really, but whenever we stopped I'd run over and stick my hand in the trailer to scratch him (and check on him, of course). We removed the divider and left him loose so he could move around - after all, he spent 8-10 hours in that thing every day.

Oh, Oregon! That's the state I forgot to list. Here's what I saw of Oregon: The ass-end of the horse trailer and a glimpse of the U-Haul in front. While holding my breath, crossing my fingers and praying we'd make it through the treacherous weather on the pass. We did stop somewhere along there, though, and even though it was cold and snowy it sure was pretty.

And here's some cool ravines in Wyoming:

That's it for the trip pix. I had the camera and for some reason I just couldn't take good pictures through the car windows while driving 55 mph on bumpy interstate. And when we stopped it was to a) go potty - us or the dog or both, b) check on the vehicles, c) unload the horse for the night, or c) to sleep. I don't think Jeff or I ate more than 6 or 7 real meals the whole trip. We were too tired when we got to the night's stop. Unload, undress, sleep. Shower, well, maybe. Sex? Forget it!

I had the whole trip planned. I spent literally hours online, planning our route because I had to find a "horse motel" for each night's stop and there had to be a Motel 6 nearby (where pets stay for free). Each pair had to be approximately an 8 hour drive apart. We got really lucky when the truck broke down so early in the trip. The horse motels down the road, and the Motel 6s, were all helpful and even U-Haul gave us a couple of extra days to get there even though it wasn't their equipment that broke down.

We made a detour into Oklahoma to pick up an engine for Jeff's 49 (the one on the trailer). Can't beat $150 and we were going to be relatively close anyway. Loading the engine into the back of the 69 was a major pain - we had a come-along but no real ramp to drag the thing up with. It was hilarious! Everybody was cussing and grunting and shoving...but we got it in there. Now Jeff looks wistfully at it every now and then, wishing he had time to start the process of putting it into the old truck.

And let me say this: the "horse motel" we stayed at in Tulsa was AWESOME. It was actually a house, we had it all to ourselves, and Max had a large paddock right outside. For $70/night, it was cheaper than most other nights' stays, and the people who owned the place were wonderful. We got there late, and the Missus even stayed on the phone with me to help us find the place because Google maps didn't have it right. We weren't too tired that night to sit on the screened porch and enjoy a little peace.

So now we're home. Jeff is as happy to be back as I am, although neither of us is very happy about having to work - off the farm, that is. We love the farm work and wish we could dedicate ourselves to it full-time. (We think that with planning and a little luck, that day isn't too far away.)

Next up: the passing of a giant...see y'all later!

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