Tuesday February 20 2007
Ride day # 3 was not on a horse for me, it was a hitched ride in a truck to Arizona with my load of bags and my Raven. I was headed for Scottsdale and the Teeters (who are squatting there with their horses for the winter in the back yard of endurance riders Rusty and Kevin) for a weeklong stopover before my world wanderings.
Now that I’m really a truckless, homeless vagabond, I’m a ride hitcher and dwelling drifter. And so last week I called up Michelle Mueller, an endurance rider from Arizona, and asked if she could give me a ride to Prescott after the Eastern Mojave, which she was coming to. Not knowing me from Adam, and being a typical fellow endurance rider, she said, “Sure!”
But she was leaving for home Monday, Day 3 of the ride… which worked out well for Gretchen and me. After Day 2, Raffiq was a little stiff in the left hind – I think it’s all the sand we went through. This has happened to him a few times before, and in fact it happened at this ride 3 years ago after spending 2 days traversing a lot of sandy washes. And we weren’t sure about Spice’s metabolics Day 2 at lunch. She finished the ride fine, but since Raffiq was off, and Michelle was leaving, and since Gretchen would have had to pack up right after the ride and fight her way home through the holiday traffic, we decided not to ride Monday.
As the rain clouds gathered all around Monday morning, especially in the Mescal Mountains where the day’s ride was heading, and dropped a few sprinkles in camp, we figured we would have gotten pretty wet. Not that we’re wimps about the rain, (after all, there was no lightning involved, and I’m a Pacific Northwest native, so I love rain), and I’m certainly not becoming a fair-weather rider, but, you know what I mean.
And so, I ended up having an enjoyable ride to Arizona with Michelle and her husband Bobby Foxworth. Turns out Michelle galloped racehorses on the track, and when I was a racehorse groom I had wanted to be an exercise rider, till I discovered it scared me too bad and I didn’t have the nerve. Michelle did have the nerve and galloped for Neil Drysdale, and she once exercised Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm. We traded scary racehorse-galloping stories (I had one to contribute – the one that convinced me that galloping was not for me). Bobby kept us entertained with stories of his career as a Hollywood stuntman and stunt coordinator.
John Teeter picked me up in Dewey in the evening at their house, and hauled me to Rusty and Kevin’s awesome place in the Sonoran Desert. This is Rusty and Kevin: strangers that welcome me into their home and their lives like they’ve known me all their life. And they put me up in a horse trailer palace.
Today I took my first ride ever in Arizona, just a short ride down a wash to the Rio Verde river and back up, but it was so beautiful everywhere – surprisingly green desert all around, saguaro cactus framing the skies with layers of the purple Mazatzal and Superstition Mountains in the near distance. I was fed some great homemade tortilla soup by another endurance riding visitor Victoria. Get a group of endurance riders together over dinner and wine, and try to not have a good time. Hmmm, I think I could become a fixture here. (Well, at least until about April, when I’d start whining about the heat, when I’d probably be loaded up and sent somewhere north.) Anyway, Rusty and Kevin decided they aren’t letting me leave Arizona to travel and work for Steph and John.
But then there’s horses to ride in Malaysia and New Zealand and Australia. Maybe they’ll keep the horse trailer plugged in for me…