Thursday, June 9, 2022

Silver Linings and Silver Hair

God is pretty amazing! I know that there are lots of parts of this that suck. Dan being out and not being able to ride him. The exhaustion of dealing with stall rest while working. The fear and worry about whether he will recover. And on a bigger scale, the reason we are taking this trip... losing my friend Peri at some point to cancer. The trip itself was a bit chaotic and stressful. There was some serious trials and tribulations planning and executing this trip. And the worry that I might kill Fleck by overdoing it. BUT.... BUT GOD! He is so amazing. And looking back, even only as far back as last week... God orchestrated things so beautifully. Whether He planned it this way all along, or just fit the pieces together for our good... it's a beautiful puzzle. We are so blessed. The silver linings are just... beautiful. We had a lovely wonderful day at the beach and were able to get Peri on the beach, bareback, with her heart horse. We got some amazing photos and I can't even wait to see the professional ones that Kathy took. We had a great time with the four of us and while we didn't get as much time to catch up and hang out, we did get lots of friend time. And I got to spend some quality time with Flecky. I had been praying to God about how I was feeling awful for being so busy all the freakin' dang time that I hadn't been able to spend any time with him. I know his time is limited. And I don't want to regret taking him for granted and not spending any time with him. He's my buddy. And this trip was a perfect way to spend time with him. And truth be told... it worked out so much better than if Dan hadn't been hurt and I had taken him. And I'm so glad that I got that time with Flecky. I think he quite enjoyed himself too! (And obviously...... I'm so grateful for the time with Peri. But this is my horsey blog, so... back to Fleck!). 

So... orchestrating this trip was tricky. We knew that Hunting Island was only open for horses Dec through January but Peri doesn't like the cold and there was a little bit of pressure to go before we couldn't go. And with Liz teaching, summer was the easiest for her. So we had to coordinate Liz's schedule, Peri's schedule (around chemo timing and horse shows) and then make sure I could swap patients to another day so we could go. We decided that we could still stay at Camelot and just ride the local beach, which isn't nearly as long or pretty, but still a beach and still pretty. But then of course when we finally picked a day.... Camelot's guest house wasn't available. Well poo. The other beaches were too far and problematic because of stabling. Well then we decided that since Liz was buying the house in Aiken at hitchcock woods we could stay there and just go to the beach for the day. Which meant no sunrise or sunset photos, but... still beach photos. So we decided on that. And then Liz's closing day got pushed back. But she worked really hard to make it work and luckily she bought the house from a friend so we were still able to get it for that weekend. Liz worked really hard to get it furnished for us and ready for us all. And then, Granny and PawPaw came to visit so I had to wait til Sunday to go instead of going on Saturday. So Peri and Liz left Saturday and got there a day early. Except Zoe had a seizure that morning so they left later than they wanted. And of course add in Dan's surgery and stall rest and I had to figure that out. So I got Elizabeth to come do stalls and fill hay nets and water buckets. Mike was supposed to feed and check waters. (Which, sadly... not sure that happened quite like I meant it to because when I got home they had zero hay and not much water. But it wasn't only 2.5 days and they survived and I know they got waters filled and hay at least when Elizabeth came and the hay nets were stuffed full when I left. Plus they had the timothy hay that they didn't want to eat that they could have eaten, so... not as bad). So anyways, point is... it was a little chaotic and stressful. I did call Camelot earlier in the week to make sure we could park the trailers there and they said we could, and could use their water and such. I told them we wanted to ride on the beach and he didn't say anything about not being able to. So, Kelli and I left Sunday morning, after I had been up til midnight trying to finish up and up at 6 am to do stalls and walk Dan and bathe Fleck before we left. 

We got to Aiken and got the ponies unloaded and settled. Liz's house is soooo cool. It's got 4 stalls, 3 with little runs. She has a big pasture. And a guest house (which is currently being leased by someone who is taking care of the place for her) and the big house. And most importantly, she can ride out her back pasture straight into Hitchcock woods!! We had planned to do a short hack in Hitchcock but opted to do lunch when we got there. We went to downtown Aiken and had a yummy lunch at a cool hippy restaurant. Then we came back to the house and chatted for a bit waiting for it to cool off. We then decided not to ride after all. Peri was afraid the sand might be too deep for Cuart and didn't want to risk re-injuring his recent injury. But then she was upset because she really wanted to. But we all told her that it wasn't worth it. And honestly, Fleck probably didn't need to do it either. So we went back inside and made a lovely yummy charceuterie board for dinner and chatted and played dress up to help each other figure out our outfits for the beach. Then we headed to bed. 

We had made plans to leave at 8 am, but it ended up being 9 before we left for the beach. Liz had to get gas so she stopped at a gas station 10 minutes into the trip. Unfortunately they had a sign that said diesel but didn't actually have diesel gas. She ended up putting 2.9 gallons of the non-ethanol gas into her diesel tank. OH NO!!! We had parked across the street as the gas station parking lot was tight and I didn't need gas right yet. She came running across the street and told us that she wasn't going to the beach and I would have to take Peri. Wait... What?!?! She explained what she had done. So... we went into "figure it out" mode and called around, trying to find a mobile mechanic. We thought that if we could get someone to come drain it, we could then fill her back up and be on our way. And then Peri informed us that she left her phone at home and didn't tell Kathy we were already an hour late. So I texted Kathy and sent her a FB message but didn't think to call her. We finally found a mechanic who was super nice and told us that realistically... if Liz filled her truck up with diesel she should be fine. She didn't put enough gas in to create an issue as it would be diluted out with diesel and should run fine. Except this gas station didn't have diesel. So... Kelli and I took my rig and went to find diesel and gas cans. We ended up driving for 20 minutes to a gas station and luckily... as soon as I walked in there were gas cans right there! Thank you God! I ended up spending $50 on gas cans and then also getting gas, but at least the gas was cheaper there. Diesel!! Not gas. I got diesel. :) So then we headed back but we realized we didn't know which gas station we had been at so we couldn't find it. And Liz wouldn't answer her darn phone... and when she finally did she told us the name but we ended up getting waze directions to the wrong one. So finally we got back to the gas station and put 5 gallons of diesel in her truck. Luckily it started up fine and we drove to another gas station (much closer than the one Kelli and I went to) and filled her up to the brim. The truck ended up driving fine and we continued on our way to the beach. Yay! Crisis averted. Thank you God! At that point, we still hadn't heard from Kathy but again, I still didn't think to call her. (I'm blaming lack of sleep). 

We were now running about 3 hours late. And shortly into our drive... Kathy replied. Whoops. She didn't get the message until she got there. We apologized profusely. So then... she messaged and said that the guy at Camelot was a real jerk. Ugh. Then he called and he was a jerk in the beginning. He was like "There's some lady here who says she's taking photos of 4 riders and... who are you?!". I was like "hey dude, we spoke last week and you told us we could park our two trailers there and ride to the beach". He then remembered he had talked to me and realized we were just there for the day and got nice and told us that it was fine for us to come park. I explained that we had truck troubles and were way later than we wanted. Kathy said she had gone exploring and was looking for photo places but mentioned that it was drizzling a little there. Of course... because... ugh! Anyways, we continued on our way and as we got close we had Kathy check to see if we could park the rigs at the beach. That way we could change clothes in the trailers and not have to hack to the beach, which would save us time. She said we could, so I called Camelot back and told him that we were just going to go straight to the beach. He didn't say anything about us not being able to park there or even not being able to ride. So phew! 

So, we finally get to the beach and there is a good place for us both to park. We got us changed and were almost ready to go out to the beach and a golf cart with "turtle patrol" pulls up and basically starts to yell at us and tells us we can't be there.. the beach is closed to horses. The poor dude. All 5 of us rounded on him and were like "Buddy.... this IS happening... we've been through heck and high water to get here, so... it's happening". We politely explained the situation and showed him our pooper scoopers and muck bucket and he aquiesced. They were worried about the turtles and people. So... apparently... according to the turtle people you can't ride there between May and Oct, but according to state law, you can't ride unless its' Dec through February. BUT... the camelot people ride year round, which pisses off the locals. So... yeah. He even told us that the locals may call the cops out to arrest us. Yeah... sorry dude. Kathy is ex military ex police, so... you don't scare us. He ended up being pretty nice about it and as we were carrying a bucket of poop off the beach the locals were super sweet and nice and appreciative. We were good people and didn't harass anyone.. didn't run anyone over... didn't disturb any turtle nests or turtles, so.. it all ended well. But jeesh! 

We all got in our dresses and walked the ponies out to the beach. We went to the right because there weren't any people that way and the ponies all got used to the waves. Marvin, surprisingly, was the first one in the water. Granted, he was also aced. ha! It took Fleck a bit to remember what the waves were, but once he got in and had the waves go past him, he embraced it and went out into the tides. :) The others didn't go very deep but did really really well considering it was their first times (and G's second time). We got some amazing photos and had a blast. I took a ton of photos and videos with my phone so we had some instant gratification. Kathy's photos are going to be amazing! We did some group shots and Liz shared a photo of 4 riders together forming the word LOVE with their hands. Like the YMCA idea. So we did that. I joked that perhaps we should also do ARGH or even F*^K. ha ha. We only did LOVE though. ;) We had also made a pact that we wouldn't trot or canter, but.... someone did a trot through the water for Kathy. And then I had to do it too. And then... I couldn't help myself. Fleck's trot was so awful that I let him canter in the surf. And.... the second time... I threw my hands up in the air and we cantered in the surf with no reins and no saddle. It was so cool. We didn't have much beach space so it wasn't but a few strides, but it was so sweet. I felt a little bad after because Peri said she had wished she did that. But Liz and Kelli pointed out that they didn't canter either and I was allowed to do it because Fleck and I had a 19 year relationship and previous experience at the beach. :) 

After we did photos and all played a little bit we headed back to the trailers and gave the ponies some water. Fleck had drank some beach water and was super thirsty. He was pawing a little bit too so I was a little worried he had a tummy ache. But I took him into the woods and he peed and then drank some. Liz gave him some outlast cookies and then he seemed to feel better. Phew. Peri was a little tired so we let her sit and made her eat and drink. She had mangos, which turns out... Cuart loves. Ha ha. We were feeding him some and he was slurping them down like crazy. hee hee. We talked about doing photos down the road at the Avenue of the Oaks. Peri initially said no, but Kelli convinced her that she would regret not doing it. Plus we could tack up for it. And Kathy had found a beautiful white skirt that she wanted photos of someone wearing, so Kelli convinced Peri to wear it. Liz and I tacked Cuart up for her. And Kelli tacked up. Liz and I rode bareback. We hacked the mile-ish to the Avenue of Oaks. It was fun. I told Peri "See, you got your trail ride after all". And we got some beautiful photos in the Oaks. Then we hacked back. Fleck was getting a little antsy at this point. He wouldn't stand still. But he was game and kept going. But I do think he was getting tired, mentally and physically. We finally got back to the trailers around 7 pm and got them untacked. Unfortunately we were out of water, so we drained the cooler water and they each got a few more sips. We hugged Kathy and thanked her and told her we really had wanted to take her to dinner, but not at this point. We stopped in Beaufort to get gas and found water and were able to give the ponies water. Fleck drank about half a bucket so yay. I ended up driving in the lead on the way home so Liz could follow, which was much better for her. She doesn't do well driving at night and given her brain injury and the fact that she had been having some issues recently, it worked out well. We pulled into the house at 11 pm! The ponies got dinner and Fleck got to stay in the pasture again. We were all pooped so we went to bed pretty quickly. And we all slept in a tiny bit the next morning. Then we helped Liz clean up and did the barn and headed home. Peri had to get home in time to get blood work because she had chemo the next day and I was anxious to get home and walk Dan. And I knew Fleck was pooped. 

So yep.. quite the adventure, and quite the trip, but totally worth it. God helped us get through it and made it amazing. And we got to spend time with Peri and I got to get one more amazing beach trip with Flecky. God is so good. Oh, and... Fleck and Marvin were quite happy to be friends and Cuart was enamored with G, and all four of them were good together. We even rode 4 abreast and they all stayed together politely. And Fleck didn't eat the sprinklers in the pasture or chew on Liz's truck in the pasture, so again... a much better choice all in all than Dan would have been. :) 

Flecky at home the next day. TIRED PUPPY!

And... a sneak peak from the fabulous Kathy Schultz!!! it's low resolution so she could share it with us, but isn't it amazing?!?! I can't wait to see the others!