Seasonal Work on a Horse Farm

My life is always in a state of fluid movement. So, when a friend referred me to a woman looking for some live in farm help I jumped at the opportunity! My best friend laughs at me because one of the main reasons I ‘jumped’ at the opportunity was because Cardin came to me one morning and asked how much a horse was, he had had a dream that we lived with a bunch of horses. When I woke up and checked my Facebook, sure enough there was the referral. Instead of dumping my money into an RV, which was my initial plan for my tax return, I instead fixed up my car and drove us to Louisiana; 1,855 miles. The drive took us 3 days, and I wish we would have taken more time to really take in the places we were travelling through, maybe even camped along the way; lessons learned from travelling. This said, the land was pretty much barren, dirt as far as the eye could see, and driving through the state of Texas was somewhat torturous; are we out yet, are we out yet? I can’t even describe the look of joy on Cardin’s face when we got closer to Louisiana and he started seeing trees!! He was born in the Seattle area and hikes in the Hoh Rainforest or up in Snoqualmie were a weekly adventure. He misses the trees, well missed the trees, I can’t get him out of them!

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We have been here since February 11th and are leaving on April 28th. Our time here has been exciting, trying, heart breaking, eye opening, loving, wet!, and many other things that have enriched our lives and spirits. We have made life long friends of humans and animals here. I was contemplating staying long term, however I can’t seem to quiet this need to be nomadic. Our home base for now is still in Riverside, CA, but we don’t plan to be there for quite some time. Kansas is next on our list, but before I get to that bit (in another post) I want to continue on with Louisiana (I am very easily side tracked).

We came at a very crazy time of the year for this area, Carnival (Mardi Gras). I have always wanted to go to Mardi Gras, at least once. This experience was quite different than what I had ever imagined, especially since I was a part of the parades. Hours of walking with the horses and dancing down the parade routes, and days in rows of getting home around 2am to get up early and get the horses and gear ready for the next parade; it was a time full of stress, sleepiness, angry words, hard work, and fun (usually all in one night haha). Watching all the different types of people, young and old, screaming for throws. When I say screaming, I mean literal horror movie screaming, I was a bit terrified the first big parade I walked in. The trash, booze, and debauchery flows thickly and I found it hard to choke down at times. I don’t think I would ever ‘willingly’ just go and be an observer of one of these parades, but I will work them for the money! Hypocritical I am sure, but I am okay with that for now; we shall see how I feel in a year or two. All this being said, I don’t really care for Carnival, but like I said it is good work.

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I still haven’t had the chance to ride yet, might not get the chance this year and that is ok; we will be back in November. Caring for the horses was some intense work for me at first, especially since I spent the whole last year sitting around at my Dad’s house. I have lost a lot of fat and gained a lot of muscle over the last couple of months. I have a deep love for the horses here, and I will admit that at times they scare the crap out of me. I have made some realizations that I prefer to see horses running freely in the pasture than I do when they are all tacked up. There is such a peaceful elegant presence about horses that can calm the soul, and a healthy respect that they can bust me up if they feel they need to. The Saddlebreds especially freak me out, I have to move very slow and cautiously to not spook them too badly, as well as keep a watchful eye on where I am in orientation to them in the stall. But, even though they are jumpy, I love them all. All the different personalities, and the ways they show their emotions. I can see why she surrounds herself with these majestic animals. Also, the biggest animals I have ever really been so close to and cared for; especially the English Shires, Izzy is 17.3 hands tall and she is so very beautiful. When I watch her out in the paddock she looks like something from a fairy tale dream. One of the amazing experiences I have had here that I will never forget was helping birth a baby goat, I actually had to reach my arm up into the beautiful Buttercup (Nubian Goat) and help her with her babies. Very slimy but such an amazing experience that I am so happy to have experienced.

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As time has gone on here at the farm I am made aware that I really don’t want to do this work on a long term basis. Each day is harder and harder to get out of bed, I am tired and worn down. I love it here but cannot stay forever, so we made the arrangement for seasonal work and that works perfectly for us. Allows us to continue travelling around this crazy US. As for Louisiana itself, we are still exploring but have learned quite a bit. We recently went on a swamp tour and took a hike through what used to be Logtown. It is a very interesting world down here, in about a week will will go and explore New Orleans (without parades haha) and I will devote posts to each of these places, but this post is just more of an update and little peak into our lives here so far. I am excited to see what other years bring for us here.

Sedona and Back Again

The crisp early morning air of Southern California should have been a clear sign that further down the road would be very much cooler, but it didn’t stop or deter us from starting on our journey at the beginning of December. I was bound and determined to get to Sedona, Arizona, come hell or high water. I had wanted to go, and spend time there, for years, and I plowed my way there without much planning or stopping. I learned a lot from this first trip, which was supposed to take 3 weeks but ended up around 4 days.

We drove through all the familiar places, passed through Palm Springs (which was the furthest we had been in that direction) and found ourselves at our first stop, the Salton Sea. It was a very interesting place. Many warned us about the smell, but we arrived on a cool day and there was almost no smell at all aside from the smell of salty water, like the ocean. We enjoyed lunch here among the birds and the beach. It didn’t have sand like a standard beach would have had, although from a distance it looked like it was endless white sand, upon further investigation I found that it was tiny pieces of dead barnacles and fish bones. Like an aquatic graveyard, both surreal and a bit horrifying as I crunched over millions of little ‘dead bodies’ to get to the water, where I snapped some pictures of the hundreds of birds that flew and swam around the water. Β *Don’t let my edited pictures fool you, there were hundreds!! I edited a bunch of them out of some of my shots because I was trying to focus on one certain bird.* It was a peaceful afternoon and I will most definitely be going back there again soon, in the early morning air though πŸ˜‰

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We piled back in the car and continued on our journey. I wanted to make it to the Petroglyph Site in Southern Arizona before night fall. What was supposed to be a 6 hour drive was closer to 10!! I was ready to get out of that damn car! I had had just enough in cash for 2 days (this was including a ton of change) but we decided to stay only one night. First lesson learned, if you can stay somewhere longer, do it! I attempted to erect our tent in the evening wind, and the whole damn thing actually flew away from me a few times! I am sure if there were anyone else around I would have been very embarrassed, along with amusing as it would have been a silly sight for sure! The Petroglyph Site was interesting but we were expecting a lot more than a huge pile of volcanic rocks in the middle of a vast nowhere. There were some large mountainous hills in the distance, which if we stayed we probably would have tried to go up and explore them, but I let Cardin talk me into heading out the next morning. 2nd lesson, take in consideration the wishes of a 10 year old (almost 11) but don’t base decision solely on that! I think if we had stayed that 2nd night I wouldn’t have been as ragged, because I would have had a chance for a bit of rest.

After trying to get a good nights sleep on some pointy rocks the morning came and we ate some rice from the night before that tasted like dirt… Won’t be buying that brand again (also didn’t help that Cardin got some dirt in the bowls haha :D) packed up the tent and headed toward the Sonoran Desert National Monument, which I was never able to find. I drove and drove all over that damn place and I couldn’t figure out where the hell it was! So we kept driving, and when we reached a town I got gas and pulled out the trusty road map to figure out where the hell we would go next. I decided on the Petrified Forest, mind you it was now mid day and we were a good 5 hours away, but we went for it anyway. After endless driving through the Tonto National Forest I started to realize that we wouldn’t make it there by night fall, or it would be pretty damn close. So I looked where we were and realized that Sedona was the same distance as the Petrified Forest! 3rd lesson, take time to smell the roses. I should have just found a spot closer to where we were and enjoyed the area we were in. We pulled into Sedona after 5pm and it was pitch dark, I couldn’t find camping anywhere! It was too dark to see anything, I felt defeated and exhausted after driving around for a couple hours, we finally made ‘camp’ in the car. We have a very little car, after maneuvering items, Cardin had the back seat and I tried to sleep in the front seat in a seated position. Needless to say, I didn’t get any sleep. 4th lesson, make sure that, whatever vehicle we may be traveling in, we have equipped it for more comfortable emergency car camping.

(picture from another adventure, just to show how small the car is)

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As the morning crept in, we sat and waited for the sun to continue rising and for the defrost to completely dry out the windows. I searched on my ‘not so reliable’ phone for nearby visitors centers, only one open for the season. We drove all the way there for it to be closed until 9 am…. Not knowing the area and stressing about cash flow I was leery on just going into some diner for warm drinks. Lesson 5, don’t think so much. Sometimes you have to let go and go with a peaceful flow, knowing everything will be alright, even if you have just one little decadence, like a warm morning drink until the center opens. When the visitor center opened we were told that the pass we needed could only be purchased from a ranger, and that they only came into the city during certain times. So, we drove a while longer to the nearest ranger station that was open to get the Beautiful America Pass (which also got us our campsite for half the price). Finally, pass in hand, we made our way all the way back, near the place we ‘car camped’, and setup camp at the Manzanita campground. Campfire roaring we made breakfast and then headed for a couple hikes.

I am not sure why the Manzanita campground got voted most beautiful campground. It was very pretty, but very small and there was no real way ‘out’ of the grounds. There were no hikes close by and we were sandwiched between two bluffs, so it was cold! Since we exhausted the extent of ‘hiking’ around our campsite we decided to try out one of the hikes that was further up the road, The Midgley Bridge trail. There were a couple different options to take with this trail but as it was nearing 2pm and the sun would be going down in a few hours we decided for the shorter loop. It was amazing, and so very beautiful. The hike also got our blood flowing so we were all nice and toasty! Which didn’t last long when we got back to our camp. We headed to bed as soon as the sun went down, so pretty early, which was fine because we were both exhausted! However, it got below freezing that night so Cardin and I tried to share sleeping bags with not much luck. We were both freezing all night, Cardin more than I as he decided to sleep in his undies. Β Lesson 6, when it comes to warm clothing more is better, especially in terms of thick socks and super warm fuzzy pajamas! Maybe even a two person sleeping bag would be a good idea, since body heat is what got us through that night with a tad of sleep.

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The morning sun began to illuminate our tent, not bringing warmth but fear. Neither of us wanted to crawl out of the somewhat warm blankets and sleeping bags to brave the crisp frosty air. We quickly dressed in all of our coats and laced our shoes, and exited the tent with already frozen toes and fingers. Cardin was NOT happy, not one little bit. I did my best to start a fire quickly, but it wasn’t big enough to really heat us up, and he began to breakdown. Every two seconds he complained about how cold he was, and that his feet hurt so very badly. I didn’t know what to do, he wouldn’t stop. He started crying, so I finally decided to put him (along with Luna, who I have found also needs warm weather gear and doggie boots) in the car and turned on the heater. But that took a while to heat up and the entire time he wallowed in the car. Screaming and crying. I felt like I was going to lose my mind, I am very sad to say that I didn’t handle this situation very well at all. And to make matters worse the campers next to us were looking at me like I was some sort of child abuser. It was not a very good morning at all. Lesson 7, breathe and don’t get so upset. Try to be more understanding and compassionate, being tired and exhausted is no excuse. I packed the tent as best I could, put out the fire and decided to call this adventure done. Β Feeling defeated, we started our journey back home. We stopped a couple times for gas and to eat but we made it back that evening. And I would like to add that the stretch of highway 10 from Arizona to California is the most torturous stretch of flat nothingness road I have ever been on, it felt like it would never end. I was so relieved when that stretch of road was done! 280 miles of straight dessert and very small towns about every 60 miles or so. This was by far a huge learning trip for us and a great reminder that we need to slow down, slow down a lot, and know that it is okay hibernating our traveling shoes for the Winter, and that planning needs to be more thought out and more in depth. We are going to be heading out again for Arizona and Utah mid April. Until then, we will be exploring Southern California a bit more ❀ I would also like to say thank you to Hanna Elaine Harmon and Ian Catchpole ❀ your donations covered most of our fuel cost along the way, we love you!! ❀

Torrey Pines State Reserve and Beach

August 23, 2013

Most of Southern California has been so overpopulated and over-developed that all the beauty that once lied at it’s shores is no longer. However, Torrey Pines has been rescued from this fate. Within the San Diego city limits lies 2,000 acres of land that shows what the whole area looked like before the development of San Diego and nearby cities. It is the home of the nations rarest pine tree,Β Pinus torreyana (hence the name Torrey Pines),Β which only grows in the park and on Santa Rosa Island.Β DSC_0276

We arrived at Torrey Pines about 30 minutes after dawn, it was the end of August so the morning air was still very warm. We were greeted by the salt water marsh, which we later found out is one of the last in California.

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As we made our way to the beach the fog engulfed the cliffs and ocean like the heavens came to earth and made a city. It was an ethereal experience, and so very beautiful. It felt like were walking in a dream.

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As we made our way to the steps that led up to the park we often stopped for drawing in the sand, and taking in the beauty and of the beach. Along with other shenanigans πŸ˜‰

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The cliffs along the beach were breathtaking! The sandstone cliffs rise up to 300 feet (roughly 91 meters)!

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About a mile down the beach we found the stairs to the park!

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As we made our way up the stairs we were delighted by the views. The sun was really beginning to shine down on us and the last of the morning fog was burning off. Here is the view from the top looking out toward the ocean.

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After we hiked through all the trails we finally made it to the visitor center. We sat and watched a video on the natural salt water marsh and also learned about Ellen Browning Scripps, who was the woman behind the saving of Torrey Pines back in the early 1900’s. Cardin also got an ocarina (small terracotta flute), which he played the remainder of our trip πŸ™‚

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If anyone is ever near the San Diego area you HAVE to visit the Torrey Pines Nature Reserve. We will definitely be going back soon!

Seattle to Riverside

We have been in Riverside, CA for about 2 weeks now, so I figured that this was a good time to indulge the joys, and the trials, of our trip. After getting our engine squared away with my brother and visiting with my sister and her family we began our journey toward California. It was my original intention to travel the coastal highway 101 all the way down from Washington to California; But, as I had driven the 101 along Washington countless times before I decided to just get a kick start and go down Interstate 5 until we got into Oregon. I drove into the wee hours, ok it was like 10pm, and we rested for the night at a rest stop near Portland, Oregon. The next day we made it into Salem and decided to head over to Highway 101, and I am so happy we did! The Oregon coast is breathtaking!




Seeing the endless expanse of salty ocean water and the bluffs with waves crashing into them like an ancient battle between the ocean and the land was a sight for the soul.Β We must have stopped a hundred times just to go run on the beaches and take in the beckoning waves.

We spent most of our nights on the side of the freeway, just staying long enough to get some sleep and eat for energy. I am trying to recall when we actually left on this adventure… It has all seemed to blend into one long day with intervals of sleep. Yes, found it on a gas receipt, we left on September the 11th 2012.

The last big place we stopped in Oregon was the Sea Lion Caves. The second we entered this establishment I had to peel Cardin away from the gift shop to go into the cave! Silly boy wanted to stay and drool over the super shiny pyrite they had for sale (which he ended up using some of his allowance to buy a piece). The price to enter was less than desirable, $17 (with a discount because there was only one sea lion in the cave) but the grounds sure showed that every bit they made went right back in. It was beautiful, and the cave itself was pretty amazing. You take an elevator down, if I remember correctly, 200ft; might be 150ft. You exit the elevator into a section of the cave that has a lookout into a larger part of the cave. The waves collided on a large rock in the middle of the cave where all the Sea Lions lounge about when weather is not sunny and warm as it was that day. So, we had the pleasure of the one Sea Lion upon the rock, like a perch, resembling that she was guarding it for the lazy loungers that lay in the sun outside. The cave was a beautiful sight but nothing compared to the views that were outside. Ocean as for as I could see, bluffs, waves, and a bunch of lazy Sea Lions taking in the heat of the sun. It was well worth the $17 to get in.

After our Sea Lion adventure we made our way toward the Trees of Mystery, and after a few beach pit stops we made it to Paul Bunyan and his blue bull Babe. I love places like this, one because of the fantastic memories. I will never forget seeing Cardin standing there talking to Paul Bunyan for almost 30 minutes before we actually went into the trail, and then the almost 2 hours as we left (he even ate his lunch on his shoe, as they continued to chat). The second were the trees themselves. I have a deep love and respect for trees. They really put into perspective how small we are, some towering above at almost 300ft; Strong, undying beauty. Trees teach us to be still and that if nurtured you can reach the heavens. Such amazing and beautiful trees, we even got to experience the Sky Trail. We were as high as the trees and could see across the entire mountain; Endless trees and mists of fog. The third reason is the sense of peace I have after leaving a place like the Trees of Mystery; knowledge, peace, and a happy calmness.

After the joyous time we had at the Trees of Mystery we then made our way down a scenic route that was called Avenue of the Giants. Winding roads of gigantic Redwoods! We stopped a couple times along the way to bask, and gaze up at all of their giant glory; a good description of them, Gentle Giants. As we made our way through the Redwoods we found a little homemade tourist attraction in someones yard. They had a bunch of wood carvings, a huge shell of a Redwood that you could drive a small car through, and a couple of really cool tree stump houses that they carved. You could go into them and sit with a book if you wanted! They were pretty awesome. There was one place we didn’t get to go into that I was a little bummed about, I can’t even remember the name but there was a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex outside. It was some sort of dinosaur safari, unfortunately they were closed when we made our way by them.

Sadly this was the last “big” attraction we saw because as soon as we made it into the warmer California weather my engine started having troubles. And to make a very long story short we ended up breaking down at a rest stop about 30 miles from Fresno. We spent almost 3 days there. We met an amazing family who helped us more than I could ever repay. He rebuilt a lot of my engine, replaced things, and rescued us more than once. The gas he spent alone in rescuing us was quite a bit. He even set us up in their guest bedroom at their house and we stayed with them for 3 days. Scott, Derek, and Anastasia Black will always be friends in our lives. They are amazing people with amazingly huge hearts. I don’t know what we would have done without them, especially since everyone else we asked helped from turned the other way.
I ended up being able to drive the RV through the night, cooler, without over heating. I drove all through the night and made it to Riverside at 6am on the 19th of September. And I spent about 4 days after that just recouping from our adventurous drive!

Anna
The Hippie GypSee