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Winding River Resort Trip - Travel Adventures

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

Summer vacation August 2021: Grand Lake Colorado

Today was a long day. We headed out for Winding River Resort in Grand Lake, Colorado at 6:30 am. narrowly missing a severe thunderstorm on our way out of Paola. Lightning forked across the sky when I went to catch and load the horses and big fat raindrops slowly began to fall, plopping down every few seconds or so. Both horses loaded without question and we were on our way. Because we planned to ride in Rocky Mountain National Park all week - we were required to transition the horses over to weed free hay. Of course I couldn’t get ahold of any weed free brome - and have yet to prove that it even exists - so we began the forage transition in transit, filling their hay bags with an alfalfa timothy mix. I was more concerned for Jake, our gelding, during the adjustment period. He is known to have bouts of stomach upset and runny poo even simply after a rain and the grass greens up a bit in his pasture. At every fuel stop (every couple of hours) we would check the horses. I was monitoring poo - amounts and texture (oh joy!) while also keeping an eye on how much hay and water they were consuming. We can’t travel with water in front of them while we travel so it has to be offered at every stop. I had a five gallon jug which is adequate but not enough for true emergency situations, as we discovered later, so I will be putting a 50 gal water tank in the bed of the truck on future trips. Should have known and now I do!

Things were rolling along smoothly. Tim and I alternated between talk radio podcasts and some stories on tape to pass the time. We were both so excited about the trip ahead and discussed our plans for splitting up the riding over a few days instead of riding every day.

We pulled into Oakley, KS at the Travel Center. I checked the horses again and they looked great. Good appetites and both of them were enthusiastically drinking the molasses water we offered. It was about 95 degrees out but the inside of the trailer was staying cool so we opted to let them stand still for a half hour while we went into IHOP for lunch. We come back out and jump back in the truck, start it up, throw it into drive and it stalls out after not quite making it out of our parking space. Tim and I look at each other. What just happened? Tim tries to start it again and it won’t turn over. We immediately spring into action and luckily there was a diesel shop at the travel center. We walk over to see if they can help us and it turns out they only do semis.

I immediately jump on to Facebook and put out an SOS to see if there's anyone close to come and help us. It turns out that Brittany Harpool, a trainer from our area was two exits away. She wasn't in a truck but was able to come quickly and she stayed with us until help arrived.

In the meantime, my Facebook SOS is starting to yield some serious results and Stephanie Manhart, who happens to live 20 minutes from Oakley is at the gym and happens to glance at her Facebook and sees my post. We apparently were Facebook friends which before today neither of us had realized and we had never met in person. She reaches out and within 45 minutes of us initially realizing the truck wouldn’t start, she showed up with a trailer to grab our horses. She had a pasture for them to overnight in and offered for them to stay there as long as was needed for us to get the truck fixed! Once the horses were dropped off, her and her husband grabbed a second truck with a flatbed, unhooked the first truck and returned to the Travel Center to grab our truck and then pull our trailer back. We got back to our rig and the truck started. Of course. This didn’t really make us feel a whole lot better because we didn’t want it to randomly die while we were driving in the mountains so we went ahead and drove it over to Stephanie and Doug’s farm. Doug had a fantastic shop to work out of and he and Tim worked on the truck for hours working to recreate the problem so they could pinpoint it. Meanwhile Stephanie and I swapped horse stories and realized we know a lot of the same people though we are in different parts of the horse world! The crazy part is she grew up in Johnson County, KS and her mom still lives in Olathe! We will definitely be reconnecting with both her and Doug in the future.

After working on the truck for quite a while, Doug and Tim decided that it didn't need an immediate repair. We decided to take a slight risk and go ahead on our trip. We were exhausted by this point and trying to figure out what to do with our food in the trailer fridge (which is electric and needed plugged in) and what to do with us for the night. They let us plug in at their place and crash in their spare bedroom and picked us up dinner. We actually had an enjoyable time meeting them though under less stressful circumstances would have been nice! Tim and I laid in that bed and stared up at the ceiling that night, both of us about ready to pull our hair out on the million ways the day could have gone wrong.

God was watching out for us getting all the right people’s attention and our faith in humanity has been restored. There are some good people out there. Here we were: every single problem of the day had been solved by complete strangers who would barely let us pay them back for the pizza we had for dinner and everything was ok. Wow.

As it turns out, Stephanie is quite the horse person. When we walked into the guest room we got to see some of her accomplishments over the years. We are so grateful that she and Doug took the time out of their day to rescue us!
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