If you read a few entries back, I was heralding the merits of the USDF instructor certification program, which I still do. But what I do not herald is the trip to the program. Now I will relay to you my experiences, which started innocently enough.
I began my travels on a Tuesday. I arrived at the barn very early, prepacked the grain for my absence and rode six horses. After I was thoroughly sweaty and dusty, I changed out of my breeches into jeans and flew like a maniac down to my home to drop of the car and meet the taxi. There was a fifteen minute buffer that I gave myself and I used that time to run into the house, snarf down some old Chinese and eat a cupcake. I mean, we all have our priorities, don’t we?
By then the taxi had arrived and with chocolate crumbs still dusted about my face, I climbed into the car and off we went. Vaguely I was thinking the cab driver might wonder why his fare was so, ahem, ripe but quickly dismissed that in favor of finding a means of paying him for his services. That would make up for my horsey smell, right?
Once arriving at the airport I embarked on a fanciful adventure of waiting in line. I waited in a line to get my ticket and check my bags, then I waited in a security line and removed my shoes, much to their dismay. Then, because for some reason they did not check me in at the ticket counter, I waited in another line to check in at the boarding gate. I decided I was thirsty so I waited in a beverage line. But, oh! It is time to embark, so let us wait in the pre-boarding line. I was, of course, group C. Then I waited in the “let’s shuffle to our seats” line and finally I was finished. From now on I think I will call lines queues. Then they are more exotic.
So off I flew, into the wild blue, for my layover in Houston and then on to Raleigh Durham. By the time I arrived in North Carolina I was worked over. I had woken that morning at five to accommodate all that needed to be done, and now it was nigh on midnight. I walked to the baggage pickup and like a scene in a bad romantic comedy I waited, and waited and waited. With dawning resignation and dread I realized that my bags had stood me up. They were off cavorting in Houston and were no doubt having the time of their life. And I was standing in North Carolina with zero toiletries and clothes that were, as I stated before, not the freshest. But above all of this with that my helmet, boots, spurs, sidereins, lunging cavesson and more were also traveling with my disloyal bags. I was left with no supplies for the event that I had traveled across the country to attend.
I filed my claim with a baggage person who talked to me with much enthusiasm about her friend’s horses that she goes to see a few times a year. She apparently did not notice it was 12:30 in the morning, or that there were thunderous clouds brewing over my darkened brow. She chatted happily away and I took it like a champion.
After I had learned all about Starlight and Dancer, I turned on my heel and waited in the cold of night for the shuttle to the rental car facility. Didn’t I tell you? The program was not actually IN Raleigh, or even North Carolina. I had to rent a car and drive an hour and a half to Danville, Virginia. Cut to twenty minutes later and I find myself in the smallest clown-car of a vehicle that I have ever encountered. Those of you who know me realize I am six feet in shoes and I can tell you, my knees were around my years as I steered a wheel the size of a frisbee. So off I head into the darkness and depths of North Carolina, with just written directions to guide me.
An hour into the trip I realize something is wrong. I feel I am driving in the wrong direction. I should be heading vaguely north and I am heading vaguely west. That is when I realize I have taken the 85 freeway instead of the 86 freeway. For the record, I feel it should be illegal to have freeways that close numerically that are in the same timezone. Lots of loops de loops and parking in Piggly Wigglys to check my map later, I finally arrive at my hotel.
Folks, the Budget Inn in Danville, VA is an experience to savor. First they will lose your reservation and only after seeing the before mentioned darkened brow will they attempt to find you a room. Then they will lead you into the most dilapidated, scuzzy, body-under-the-bed room you have ever seen. The place will smell toxic, like somebody smoked their last fifteen packs an hour before. It will have weird flowered pillowcases, like the manager had brought some from home. It will have old globules of paint running down the walls and absolutely no pictures or décor of any kind. Weird stains will grace the carpet and the microwave and fridge are relics from the eighties. But I had no choice so I locked the door, and drew the blinds. I went to the bathroom to at least take a shower but upon entering found that I was treated with such amenities as water. Just water. No little hotel shampoos or soaps. I had water and the knowledge that my toiletries were cavorting with my bags in the Lone Star State. So I brought one of the towels from the bathroom and laid in across the pillowcase, said a silent prayer that there were no lice or bedbugs in my future. By then it was two thirty in the morning. I needed to be up at six.
All of the other program participants were incredibly nice and loaned me all that I needed for the first day, which was thankfully the lunge day so my breeches were not strictly necessary. But this trip marked in my mind the SECOND most convoluted travel experience of my life. Oh! And the best part was it was unseasonably cold and I was STILL wearing my outfit from California, which was in the seventies when I left. By the time my luggage arrived the clothes I was wearing could have walked off and started a life of their own.
But I suppose we all do this, go through these experiences and ‘tests of character’ as I like to put it, for the things we love. Whether it be family or friends you are visiting, or learning more about dressage in this case, sometimes these bumps to our destination bring in to clarity the things you are willing to go through for important parts of your life. And as long as I don’t have lice, I would be happy to do it again.