Beware the Rides of March
(originally posted by Katherine at 23rd March 2012 at 02:43)
Well, what happened to my February instalment? As one of the two regular readers of my blog noticed (yes, I do pay her) I have been noticeably quiet these past few weeks. So what have I been up to, you might ask? Let’s see…
There was that minor geographical move (1200 km); helping my dad out with his business while he recovers from his surgery; training, training, training…I seem to have just lost track of time and here we are at half-past March already. Only four more months to Mongolia! Approximately 19 weeks! Yikes!
So the details, you say: Well, being bored with the never-ending beauty and interesting terrain of Alberta, I have switched provinces for a bit – to the never-ending beauty and interesting terrain of the west coast of British Columbia, near the capital city of Victoria, on Vancouver Island.
Having trekked a bit in this neck of the woods and surfed the outskirts of the island at Tofino, I thought what the heck! Let’s take advantage of the superlative weather (more on that in a bit) and the ridiculous abundance of horses on the island (as one of my brothers would say, “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a horse out there!”) Oh sorry, sorry, no offense to all you cat-lovers; not sure where that particular expression originated, probably just another remnant from redneck Alberta. Really, I have a fondness for cats, own two of them, drove 1200 km with the both of them – one of them even had a minor bathroom accident in my bag of Ghirardelli chocolate and survived to tell the tale. But I digress.
And yes – the horse population out here is phenomenal and the people I have had the fortune to connect with are lovely. What a new concept to me though, to go out to a paddock and have a horse greet me at the gate – you mean I don’t have to chase one around 160 acres before I get to go riding? Hmmm…
I have picked up riding with at least four horses, and have been out hitting the seemingly never-ending trails whenever the March weather allows. Oh yes, the March weather – or as everyone who has ever seen a west coast weather forecast says – “It sure can be wet!” Oh wet, schmet, I thought, big deal. What’s a little moisture when compared to a howling Alberta blizzard? Well, the other day, I took my new partner “Domingo” (a lovely paint gelding) out to the round pen for some work and had to evict a couple of people who were using it for mud-wrestling practice. (Not really.)
So aside from settling in, riding when possible, mourning my lost bag of good quality chocolate, I have been hitting the ‘net, brainstorming for sponsorship, assessing the logistics of getting myself to Mongolia and not forgetting something vital – like a Chinese visa (if I care to pass through Beijing.)
The reality of this adventure has really sunk in this month I think; when I got past looking at the Chinese visa application (it was in Chinese), I began to realize (again) what an incredible opportunity this is. Not only do I get the adventure of a lifetime, but I can hopefully use the force of my personality (ie. badger people into donating) and do some significant good via Mercy Corps. Therefore, I have some things in the works with possible sponsorship - that's right Viterra, I know you were just bought up by Glencore International, but I am sure they left your coffee fund untouched - and I hope to have some names of people to thank in my next instalment.
In the meantime, I will mention a few people I have run across in the last few weeks:
There’s Lisa MacGregor at High Horse Tack – her tack store is like a candy store for horsey people. I went in for a girth for my saddle and lost myself for at least an hour in her wonderland. I’m pretty sure I saw a member of Billy Miner’s outlaw gang in the back near the six-shooters; he’s been lost for a couple of hundred years. (Not really.) Lisa was quite receptive to my Mongolian tale, and we are going to discuss some kind of sponsorship. Thanks Lisa!
My new horse compadres – Tanya and Jan – giving me access to your equine buddies and pointing me in the direction of the trails – thanks so much.
As mentioned, I am working diligently on sponsorship/donations, and in the spirit of "you never know unless you ask", took the time to pen an eloquent email (ie. filled in a form on a website, limited to 250 characters) to one cool guy who also happens to be one of Canada’s iconic businessmen/philanthropists/Dragon’s Den dragons – W. Brett Wilson. So in the off chance you are reading this, Brett – I know your website said you were too busy to even READ my email, and overrun with requests, but if you change your mind, the invitation to check out Mongolia still stands.And you probably already have a Chinese visa.
And finally…an update on my Dad. As previously mentioned, he came through his knee surgery with flying colours. Unfortunately, he contracted Norovirus while in the Germ Factory – er – hospital, and developed complications as a result (anyone who’s had Norovirus can attest to the fact if it doesn’t kill you, you kind of wish you were dead. I had it. I know. ) A couple of months after his surgery found me and a few of my siblings at his bedside in emergency, wondering if we were about to become orphans. However, he’s back home and when I talked to him last week, he was out looking at his cows with his ranch foreman…”I think I can drive a tractor pretty soon!” he reported. Oh boy.
And no, I haven’t told him about Mongolia. He’s worried enough about me moving so far away, what’s he going to say about that one eh? And as far as I know, he’s cell phone savvy, but his tech skills don’t extend as far as the internet, slim chance he’ll ever read this. So I’m safe. For now.