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Travels with J

Altho I can't spend my life traveling, I do like to document the travels that I am able to do.

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 06 October 2010

Location: Kentucky Horse Park, USA

Para dressage is held in a small arena that takes us some time to find. Cyndi wakes up feeling rather ill, and blames it on the fish sandwich she had for dinner last night.
She does not have tickets for either event today, but buys a vaulting ticket and we agree to meet after the dressage.
We do not sit through all the dressage. It is great, but every test is the same, and a couple hours are enough. We leave at 11, split and agree to meet at the Vaulting venue.
I make my way to the dressage association, thinking Cyndi might be there but no sign, I tour through a few of the association pavillions which all have a permanent home here. Alot are giving freebees such as water, candy and snacks.
This is good as a bottle of water is 5 dollars at a vendor.
The vaulting is in a different area then either the jumping or the dressage, and mom and Michelle are already there when I arrive. We check our section, but no Cyndi. Strange. Since this is compusaries, every ride is pretty much the same. We again leave after a couple hours and tour some more, we see several breed demonstrations and a very good proformance by the top four hunter riders in the US. Finally we have had enough, and decide to shuttle back. We are concerned about Cyndi, since she did not show up for vaulting, and check with the medics who are sympathetic, but have no word of her. We finally took the shuttle back to Lexington and walked to the truck thinking maybe, feeling ill, she was lying down in the truck. Nope. We waited at the shuttle stop and she finally arrived. She gave us the news that the ticket she had bought for vaulting was for the morning proformance. She had asked for afternoon and did not realize, so did not attend the morning, was not allowed into the afternoon, and therefore wasted thiryfive bucks.
She is still feeling somewhat ill, and we have an early night, since we are facing that long drive outta here tomorrow.

Tuesday, 05 October 2010

Location: Fort Boonesboro State Park, USA

Well we did see a few oppossum eyes glowing, and scared ourselves a few times in the pitch black so our little midnight hike was fun. We took a gander at the halloween display at our campground. It consists of trees draped in orange lights, blow up cartoon characters and hundreds of glowing plastic pumpkins.
I don't see the point. Maybe kids like it.
We shuttle in to WEG in the morning, after a full breakfast. We don't want to be forced to buy any overpriced food on the grounds, and outside food is forbidden.
Since we have to be at WEG for 8:30 AM paradressage tomorrow, we take photos at thoroughbred park in Lexington this morning.
Here there is a lifesize sculpture of a horse race. The detail in amazing, right to the muliple goggles around the jockey's necks, and the tendon wraps on the horses. Each horse and rider is in a different moment of suspension, and adorned with different tack, saddlecloths, bits, bridles. It is quite something.
I forgot to mention that there is "Painted Pony" art display in Lexington and on the WEG grounds. These are life size fiberglass horses decorated in different art themes. They are all over the downtown area and we see more as we enter the tradeshow at WEG.
There is no lineup to get in today. The cross country day was by far busier, but I think it was unlimited tickets for that, and by far the most exciting of the disiplines. It would have been great to stay to watch the driving cross country, but that runs after our time here is over which, sigh, is over way to quickly, considering tomorrow is our last day here.
We wander the grounds looking at the various booths, and make our way to the main stadium for the jumping. All the jumps are themed for Kentucky landmarks, and we spend an enjoyable afternoon.
I root for my favorites, Hickstead of course, and the american, Mclain Ward on the mighty mare Saphire.
We decide to return to the pub we were at yesterday for dinner, and stop in at the equifair in this mall, which seems to have better deals than WEG. We pick up dog food samples, and some neat natural mineral rocks, as well as watch a few demonstrations; youth vaulting and the breed Akhal-Teke, a rare Asian breed. Recent DNA studies at the University of Kentucky confirm Akhal-Teke as the earliest domesticated breed of horses.
They are a tall slender breed with a very shiny hair coat.
One more sleep then our last day at WEG, where we have tickets for paradressage and compulsary vaulting.

Monday, 04 October 2010

Location: Lexington, Kentucky, USA

The Vet Clinic tour was a nice facility, but not much was going on. We saw the finishing touches on a tendon surgery, but no one on the treadmill or in xray.
The Hydro Therapy Clinic was much more interesting as we saw horses swam, and on an underwater treadmill. Most of the workers appeared to be Mexican, although our tour guide said that anyone could apply and work there for six months with no prior experience required. They appeared quite expert with the handling of the mostly racehorses, and when one did not want to swim professionally backed him down the ramp and then quickly turned him about in the water. The horses were washed before and after every water treatment, so would finish well adapted to water.

Another therapy offered is an Equine Hyperbaric Chamber, where horses can have therapy for chronic injury, or just to speed recovery after strenuous exercise.Apparently some of the Eventers came here for a session after cross country. The benefits of this oxygen enriched environment include healing of injuries that do not respond to other treatment, burn therapy and treatment of infection.
In a corner of the barn we were treated to an actual glimpse of the work of a genetic genius, who was there to passionately explain his research. There were three examples present of cloned horses. Each original was there, with his clone.
Most candidates are geldings whose genes would otherwise be lost. The clones are not yet old enough to prove the proformance of their twin, which included a grand prix jumper and a championship barrel racer.
We asked if Ian Miller had Big Ben clones, but he said they could not discuss clients, so does that mean that Ian is a client?
Time will tell.
One interesting thing was that the clones did not have the same marking as the original. Apparently the gene tells white to go the extremities but does not have a set pattern of how much or what extremity. They gave us a very detailed brochure with a card portraying every clone with his details on the back.
When we returned to Lexington, we found a pub that was broadcasting the first of the show jumping which was great, so we spent the remainer of the afternoon in there, having a few beers and then dinner. We have tickets for round two tomorrow afternoon, so will do our first real tour of the WEG site in the morning. This will be our earliest day returning to the campground, so Michelle and I are planning to hike down the road on an oppossum hunt!

Sunday, 03 October 2010

Location: Cave City, Kentucky, USA

It is another early start this morning as we have a 2.5 hr drive, and a cave tour booked at 10:30AM.
As we take the exit to Cave City, the first thing that stikes us is how touristy it all is. DinoWorld-and the area is not noted for dinosaur fossils, Rock Shops-but they are not found in this area.
We are not disappointed as we drive into the park however, as we see several deer and beautiful scenery.
We make our way to the visitor center and get our tickets, and that is when we make the discovery that the time changed half way across Kentucky and we have an extra hour to kill. If we had known we could have stopped for breakfast, but instead we do a hike and see the natural cave entrance and the native flora.We travel down a long paved trail that ends at the River Styx!
No food or drink is allowed in the caves unless in a mesh bag as they are justifiably protective of the fragile environment.
We opt to buy the bag lunch available underground at the snowball cafe, so named for the snowball like formations on the ceiling. The cave is covered in graffiti but it all dates back to the 1800's before it was protected. It was owned and exploited back in those days, with several entrances blasted out, and an actual boat ride available on the river far underground.
There are 12 miles available for touring, but the system itself has almost 400 miles of charted passages and many more yet to be discovered. The hollowed chambers are all caused by the flow of water over eons of time.
We see cave crickets, stactites and stalagmites, and it is wonderous.
There is a guide in front who turns on lights and a guide behind who turns them off, to preserve the natural state of the caves.
If you are more adventurous you can spelunk, wearing coveralls, helmet, and squeezing through tight crevices, but our whole tour is quite civilized with wide tunnels and stairs.
It still takes about four hours and seven hundred stairs. The guides warn all participents at the start that if they think they will not be up for the physical exercison, to drop out now. No one does, but near the end, an annoying Southern Lady who has been loud all trip starts complaining she can't make the stairs-why won't anyone come back to help her! The rest of us feel like pushing her off, and a guy behind us sums it up when he mutters under his breath "shut the F up!" Those within hearing all laugh. We are not a sympatetic bunch.
Mom does a shorter tour in another section of the cave, where there is no lighting and the group travels carrying electric lanterns.
It must have been frightening back in the 1800's where they would have had no electricity and probably used oil lamps. God forbid if you lost your light; our guides turned out all lights for 30 seconds and the dark is absolute.
The best part is near the end when we travel down to view the frozen Niagara, a stone waterfall. I take a bizzillion photos, and am annoyed to be husled along by the guides.
We stop on the way out to see more fearless deer grazing in the verges, and a flock of turkeys stops traffic as they parade across the road.
When we left the park, we stopped at a tacky tourist shop and I bought some postcards to send home. The place was full of junky stuff including XXXXXL underwear with funny sayings that we all had to pose beside. The caves are big business for this area as the locals feed off the visitors they attract.
Tomorrow we are spending the day in Lexington, we are going to visit an equine hospital, a hydro therapy clinic, and explore the Equifair.

Saturday, 02 October 2010

Location: Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Saturday morning bright and early the excitement builds; it is cross country day! This is what we all really came to see, nothing beats the thrill of high level cross.
The road to WEG was jammed and even with a very early start we miss the first few riders. There are lots to go however, and the weather is wonderful and warm, this will prove to be the warmest day of our trip.
We rush from jump to jump so we can see someone go over all them. You can barely get near the main water jump, but we do see them all, and there are some very technical questions.
All our Canadian riders go clear, which is a phenomenal result. We see trouble at a few places; a very precise and wiiide stone wall corner, and a 4 part obstacle consisting of a narrow brush, one stride to a dropped section, a stride or two to an out and then another narrow brush.
There are three water jumps, and many related distance questions. One is really neat where they jump over a carved fish in the water and out over a carved Kingfisher.
The main water element has a couple big drops into water, including one off an island.
After the last horse, we tour the course and see just how big some of the jumps are. It is amazing that the horses jump so effortlessly over these enormous obstacles.
Michelle and I wander by the stabling area, which has no security whatsoever. We see Jill Henselwood riding in a warmup area.
All the arenas have a synthetic footing that is remarkably light and cushiony. Oh to have the money to truck that in at home.
I was able to string together all the video and picture footage to show a horse at every obstacle. Tommorrow we are doing our one non-horse related tour. Mammoth Caves!

Friday, 01 October 2010

Location: Lexington, USA

We left that campground behind as soon as possible and went out for breakfast. We had a farm tour booked for the afternoon, and did a little exploration of the area. It took us forever to find parking, which we finally did on the street. We then had to wait a half hour for the other attendees of the tour, while they found parking.
The farm tour did not impress us. We basically drove past a bunch of horse farms and made a few stops.
Keeneland was great, but open to the public so we could have visited that on our own and not been rushed out the door like we were. The 2 farms we did see were alright but there were others we could have seen just as easily without spending the 45$ each for the van, having to tip the groom and our tour guide...
aw well, we were newbies, but if we went again-you can get a map that gives details of 2 or 3 different driving tours, as well as other farms that you can tour on your own.
When we got back, Cyndi had tickets for dressage at WEG, and Michelle went with her to tour the grounds. Mom and I stayed in Lexington as a street fair was going on in conjuction with WEG, offering live music, lots of outdoor vendors, food and pubs.
One bonus was that when we went to feed the meter, it was out of order-we ended up parking in that spot for free, whenever we went to Lexington for the remainder of our stay.
The dressage was supposed to be telecast on a jumbotron set up downtown, but it was not on. We actually talked to the mayor, who said they were only getting live feed during the day. That was disappointing, but we toured the area, and sat and listened to music, had a few beers, it was all good. We got a free WEG mug, I bought a CD from one of the proformers, and you could walk around anywhere carrying your beer. You could even purchase individual beer packaged in an aluminum can, with a twist top, similar to a water bottle. I have never seen those in Canada.
At WEG, Michelle had to pay 25$ general admission to visit the grounds. This was at about 6:15 and they did not tell her everthing shut down at 7. She did manage to find a tent where she could watch dressage on TV, so all was not lost. It was pretty annoying that the gates keepers could not have told her that the displays and vendors were closing in 45 minutes.
We discovered a shuttle bus service from Lexington as well, that was only a dollar each way, so that was a money saver for us as we parked at our broken meter daily and took the bus.
Mom and I went to the truck at 10PM to await the WEG goers, who unfortunately did not meet up with each other, and Michelle did not arrive back until after the last shuttle.
The country roads here are narrow, with the trees and multitude of dry stone walls almost touching the pavement. It makes for a real tunnel effect, especially driving after dark.
It was close to midnight when we arrived back at camp and fell in bed.

Friday, 01 October 2010

Location: Kentucky, USA

Hello from Kentucky!
Our gruelling trip began at 5:30am and did not end until 1:30AM the following day. We then had to struggle to set up our borrowed tent trailer for the first time, in the cold dark. We must have been annoying to our elbows distance neighbours as we clanged and cursed and banged.
Our trip had been extended when we drove past the main entrance and went several miles out of our way; we knew we were staying at a state park, and could not believe that the garishly lit trailer park was our destination...
Oh well, we got an introduction to the local wild life on that road, seeing several deer and oppossum.
We were rudely awoken at 4:30 AM to a siren and then constant grinding and banging noises that did not cease. When daylight broke, we saw we were packed in like sardines with other RV's and directly across from the wash and shower building. This proved okay as we were only here basically to crash.
As we drove away that first morning we saw that the source of all that noise was our nearest neighbour-a large and busy gravel pit..
I am sure the park was here first, so what polical decision allowed that zoning. This was the only camping within a half hour of WEG, but I can't imagine anyone coming here for the peace and quiet of nature!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Location: USA

Too soon, my visit is over and I am headed back today. I am undecided where to spend the night, leary of my restless camp sleep on the way here. Fred has improved on my maps, and we have written out directions and taped them to my gas tank. This works far better, and I take a route directly south to the border, then back along the scenic route through Vermont and New York. It is much nicer not raining.I make much better time, and I pass where I camped on the way here, and decide to continue on to visit my other sister in Battersea, north of Kingston, and spend the night there.
Remembering some of the scenery, I take some pictures of the bridge crossing between Vermont and New York, and also of the windmills. I cross back into Canada at the Thousand Islands which is much better, even though I am on a pretty major highway for a short while, and the 401 for one exit. I had no trouble at any border crossings and at this one they don't even ask me to remove my helmet.
Cyndi and Mark are not expecting me of course, and are on their way out for dinner. They generously invite me along and I get to spend the night in greater comfort than I had anticipated.
I need a thermarest that will fit the bike!
Following the pattern, the next day it is pouring rain. But it is a short trip back home and I am greeted by some pretty ecstatic dogs. All in all a great trip. I think I spent about 35 bucks in gas and it would have been less if I didn't get lost a few times.

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