Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Texas - the Road Trip

Texas - the Travel

Texas - the Tournament

I awoke to my Dad tickling my face in the early hours of the morning. This was the wake up call he had used many times as a kid growing up under his roof. I blinked the fog out of my eyes and looked outside. It was still dark. What time was it? I fumbled for my phone and saw it was just past 5:30. Dad and I were heading to the National Reined Cow Horse Association's World Show in San Angelo today, some four and a half hours away. We needed an early start since we would be making the same trek home from the show this evening. I heard some muffled movement at the top of the balcony stairs. A little giggling girl peered from around the wall, and stared me down. I wasnt sure if she knew that I saw her or not, but I pretended not to notice her and rifled through my bag for some clothes.

I got dressed in the guest bathroom and opened the door. Directly in front of me was the bottom of the staircase, and the same little girl sitting on the bottom step looking at me. After making eye contact she giggled, and raced up the stairs.

"Is Kaylee ready to go?" I asked my Dad after finishing my glass of Emergen-C. Just before leaving home I had felt a scratch in my throat and started loading myself up on the cold prevention. This morning it so happened, my throat felt worse.

"No, she is going to stay home and go to church," was the reply, and a small wave of relief came over me. I wasnt sure I would have been able to handle the long trip with Kaylee's constant babble, or the hand holding at the horse show, or the continued loud questioning when watching the classes. Finally my Dad and I could have some alone, quiet time, to catch up on some needed adult conversation. I was looking forward to the trip when I sat down in the black Mountaineer, but wasnt quite sure how the conversation would go, being as I usually only get a five minute conversation on the phone when I can. Not quite enough time to really expand on any conversation, especially with loud kids echoing in the background.

We hit the road, but stopped at Dad's auto body shop. The reason why they moved down here in the first place, Dad had gotten an opportunity to manage a body shop down in San Antonio. He had dabbled in a few other professions the last few years, but his really specialty, and joy, was in managing body shops. When the shop in San Antonio just wasnt working out with the owners anymore, they moved to Dallas and got in on a sweet deal for a mange-to-own situation for a Maaco business. The shop needed a lot of improvement to it as the previous owners didnt exactly know how to run the business, but in the short three months that Dad and Rena had taken over, the building, the business and the employees were greatly improving.

We walked into the office and the all to familiar smell of "auto body" hit me. I had grown up with this dusty, stinky atmosphere, suddenly remembering the old body shop Dad and my Mom had owned back when I was only a few years old, playing in the upstairs with my brother and sister and watching Disney movies. I suddenly was taken back to the memory of playing in an RV in the back parking lot, and forgetting my much loved teddy bear in it for the night. I was convinced I would not be able to sleep that night without him, and was so relieved the next afternoon to retrieve him from the clutches of the RV.

Countless weekends of riding on Dad's GoldWing across the Puget Sound and onto the other side in Seattle were re-awakened as I continued to smell this familiar paint scent. McDonald's and coloring were typical events for the Saturday trip I would make with him. Jolting out of my walk down memory lane, my Dad asked me to type in the address of the horse show so we could print directions.

Printed and ready to roll, we locked the gate of the yard and got back into the car. The sun was starting to come up as we hit the highway again, but after about forty five minutes on the road, we werent able to find highway 20 that we needed. The map showed that 35W would intercept directly for 20, but it just wasnt the case. Hungry anyways, we went through the drive-thru at Jack-in-the-box, and asked the hispanic girl serving us which way to go. She recommended highway 35W to get to Fort Worth, not totally understanding that Fort Worth was just a pass-by on our way to San Angelo. We thanked her anyways and decided we needed to find 20 still.

We continued down the direction she didnt advise for about ten minutes, then finally found the on-ramp for highway 20. Now the map started looking correct. I ate my mini pancakes carefully, trying not to spill the syrup I was dipping them into. It wasnt until I was finished with my pancakes and orange juice that I discovered a huge glob of syrup had landed squarely on the center of my new shirt. I used some water we had in the car to try and scrub the sticky mess of my shirt. It only worked somewhat.

Dad and I chatted lightly about things; the body shop, my job. But my eyelids were getting heavy again from the lack of sleep I had gotten on the couch last night, as well as the rough day of travel I had had the day before. I leaned back on the seat and nodded off, feeling bad for my Dad who I was sure must too be tired, but needed to stay awake and drive. He was in a talkative mood as well and I didnt want him to feel that I was hushing his conversation. But I slipped off into a brief sleep rather quickly, waking to a sudden feeling of cold air blanketing over my legs. I stirred as I came back more upright and looked at the clock; about forty minutes had passed. We had been driving now for about two hours, but with the breakfast stop and some of the turning around we had made trying to find highway 20, we were still probably three hours away.

Dad and I chatted a little more, still keeping it light, and I felt only slightly uncomfortable. I dont usually take long road trips, and when I do, it is with my Boyfriend whom I feel totally comfortable with. It felt like I hadnt caught up on things with my Dad, and wasnt sure what all he knew about going on in my life. We saw a rest sign two miles ahead and decided to stop. Relieving ourselves, we looked at the large map. We were just outside of Fort Worth, but were heading in the right direction. The directions printed from Google still seemed correct, so we continued to follow them down the highway.

The four lane highway turned to two, and the sides of the road were becoming more barren; we were starting to make our way into the smaller towns of Cross Plains and Coleman. We were just over halfway there. I felt a bit guilty as my Dad read a sign stating the miles of how far away San Angelo still was. He finished with a very quiet sigh, and I felt guilty knowing he would never had made this trip without me. The horse show, after all, was for me and my Dad was simply acting like the taxi for me to get there. Although I was really happy to be spending this alone time with him, I still felt that the long drive, the gas needed to get there, and the whole event was not going to be as fun for Dad as it would for me. For him, it was just another horse show, he had seen plenty of those back in Washington watching me compete in 4H and the County Fair. For me, this was more than just another horse show. This was a National Association's World Show. Some of the best of the best would be competing, trying to make it into the finals later on in the week. These were big named people I only recognized from watching the Association's webcasts online. Plus, this was my event. There are never any reined cow horse competitions held at home, certainly not of this caliber. I would never again have an opportunity to watch one of the NRCHA's shows live, at least not until I would compete in one. :)

This thought process led to a long conversation about horses between Dad and I. Dad was always the supporter of my horse endeavors, not like my Mom who thought it was nothing but a money-pit. Only until a few years ago did I finally feel as though my Mom finally came to terms with the knowledge that this obsession and lifestyle was not going to go away. Now she seems to whole-ly embrace it, not look down upon it. Although my Dad is not horse-savvy, only in the small details he had learned from me over the years, he said he was happy to take me to this important horse show because it meant he would be able to spend time with me.

I continued to drone on about saddle fitting, body mechanics, things I felt were ary in the horse industry, horse ailments, lessons from my trainer, philosophy and training practices, and more. I knew I was starting to babble on as there were fewer and fewer interjections and questions being asked by my Dad. I feared the conversation on horses got too deep for his uneducated self on the topic, like sitting in a classroom listening to the process of the scientific method describing black holes or something. I shut myself up really quick at this realization and tried to wrap up the final thoughts. We sat quiet for a few minutes, I wasnt sure where to direct the conversation next.

Dad did though, lightheartedly, and commented on the condition of the highway, although it seemed more of a back country road now. Only one lane in each direction, bumpy conditions, and no traffic, he questioned if this was the right road. The map said it was and we continued on to the single stop light ahead. We were only two towns away from San Angelo now.

The miles shortened rather quickly, and we reached the city limits of San Angelo. I looked at the Googe directions in my hands again, and directed Dad which turns to take. We took 43rd street as Google said, but didnt see any big signs or obvious buildings. The show was held at the 1st Community Bank's Spur Arena. There had to be some sort of sign, or visible horse trailers. Suddenly I feared that we had made this long trip for no reason. Maybe Google had taken us to the wrong place, it had happened to me before.

We pulled up to a lonely looking building with about four horse trailers parked in front of it and a cowboy on his cell phone. Maybe I had overestimated the caliber of this show. Maybe it was just a backwoods kind of event. We got out of the car and walked into the building. There was a small arena directly inside with two riders in it. There were no bleachers or people watching, just a single lady sitting in what looked like a judges booth. I walked down the stall aisles a bit, trying to find someone. Sad simply walked up behind the lady sitting on the stand and poked her. "We are looking for a big horse show," he said. Oh my God, I thought, how embarrassing. Trying to cover it up I said, "the NRCHA show. Is this the right place?" The lady smiled and said it was in the big building next to us. I felt like an idiot.

Dad and I walked out of the building and suddenly saw a huge one with tons of horse trailers. "I can't believe you poked her." I said to him. He laughed.

We entered the backside of the building by the cows. This was starting to look more like an event. Lets see if there were bleachers and things inside. We didnt see a big main entrance, but walked through the man door which brought us right into the holding pen. I looked around to see if anyone would tell us to leave. There were only a few people standing around and a couple guys on horses. But we were definitely in the right place now; there was the competition arena and the bleachers and judges stand right across from us. Dad and I walked through the holding pen and found our way up the bleachers to watch the show. I sighed a breath of relief.

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