Monday, March 26, 2012

Trip to San Juan Capistrano complete!

This year I opted to split up my trip to the Festival of the Horse CDI in Southern California into two days. Normally the show has been held in Burbank, which is a good 15 hours from Boise. This year it was moved to San Juan Capistrano, a little bit further south and more west (through LA). The travel time wasn't significantly longer (only 16 to 16.5 hours) but enough that I decided to split it. Those last few hours on a super-long trip get exponentially worse; it is rather like the Richter scale that way (the difference between a 1.0 and 2.0 earthquake is much smaller than the difference between an 8.0 and 9.0).

So Leg #1 took place yesterday. Mom and I drove (actually, I drove) from Boise to Bishop, California, and overnighted at the Tri-County Fairgrounds, home of the Bishop "Mule Days". The facility was recommended by some eventer-friends of mine, the Culligans, who live right next door to Once Upon a Horse. Several event riders from the Boise area travel to a big event in Temecula, and regularly use Bishop as their overnight rest stop.

The first part of Leg #1 was beautiful, southwestern Idaho and northern Nevada were in the 60s with bright sunshine and clear skies. Ironically and irritatingly enough, the weather deteriorated as I traveled south; a fairly nasty spring storm came through Southern California just in time for our trip. It started with wind, the rain picked up, and eventually we started getting snow flurries as we climbed in elevation. We had a surprisingly high mountain pass to cross in western Nevada (elevation 7600 feet) which was getting pretty significant snow flurries that was even sticking to the ground. We got through just fine, although I'm always a little nervous when the snow starts sticking! It is a fairly desolate two lane highway, literally you can drive for an hour or more and not see a car or any evidence of civilization. Just lots of sagebrush.

We arrived in Bishop after about 11 hours. Ironically enough our eventer friends also happened to be overnighting the same evening on their way to Temecula. The Culligans came through the same route a couple of hours after us, and evidently the snow had gotten significantly worse. Kevin said it was near white-out conditions with visibility of only a few hundred feet. He white-knuckled it at 15 miles an hour. Nevada driving can become very scary in a quick hurry--it is not a nice feeling to be out in the middle of nowhere, not a soul or car for the past hour, no evidence of civilization, and snow coming down.

I destroyed the rear window in my truck that evening, trying to turn my trailer around in a very tight spot. The trailer is not easy to maneuver around; particularly on a rainy, dark evening after having driven for 11 hours (yes, it was raining in Bishop; we even got some hail). I was focusing too much on where I was putting the trailer and not enough on how close it was getting to my cab. Ooops. Mom and I spent the rest of the evening fashioning a make-shift window with plastic and duct tape (which does not stick to the outside of my truck, by the way).

Leg #2 of our trip took place today; we traveled from Bishop down here to San Juan Capistrano. It was a relatively short trip, only about 6 hours, but seemed quite a bit longer. I think it was partially because I'd driven 11 hours the day before and partially because much of it was through various (busy) suburbs of Los Angeles. The roads are also total crap, particularly in some of the more traffic-laden areas, so the truck and trailer are bouncing all over the place as we're careening down the freeway. We also had the plastic window making a boatload of noise, and no way to keep out all the extra road-noise! The plastic window held surprisingly well on the entire trip.

We found the facility, settled the horses in, and got ourselves settled into our hotel. I'm exhausted tonight and I'm sure Mom is too. It is very hard to maintain concentration for that long and not be totally worn out. My body isn't very happy about sitting in a truck for that long either. Here's hoping a couple of beers and a good night's sleep will help me be rested for tomorrow!

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