From Endurance to Dressage
Lately, taking Newt for a fill-up has been a ginormous pain in the you-know-what. First of all, the price for diesel has been even higher than for gas which has sky high. Here in California's Central Valley, diesel was running about a dollar more per gallon than regular unleaded. I think gas has started to come back up though, so now the difference is less, but diesel is still more.
The second reason that I hate to get fuel is that it always takes more than one stop. Many stations around Bakersfield run out of diesel which means I have to choose another station. This happens more than you think. It would help if instead of flashing that green $6.09 indicating the price per gallon, they would instead flash the word OUT.
My third complaint about filling up is that the pump shuts off at $99 which means I have to go in to pay because $99 only gives me about 14 gallons. That won't fill up most tanks, and it comes nowhere near to filling up Newt's 48 gallon swimming pool of a tank. Normally, going in isn't that big of a deal, but occasionally - like last week, the employees are new and simply don't know how to move through customers. I spent fifteen minutes in line on one particular day and finally had to leave. There were still 5 or 6 customers ahead of me.
My last, and biggest, complaint about pumping fuel is that the cheapest and most convenient stations on my route have only one or two pumps that contain diesel. The Fastrip above used to have a diesel handle at nearly every pump. There is now only one. This station is large and accessible from both directions which makes it convenient for trucks with trailers - it's where I used to fill up with Blue Truck. Guess where the one diesel pump is now located. Yep, the pump closest to the front door which has the smallest amount of space. In the photo above, the pumps way out past the roof are really easy to use if you're hauling any type of trailer. That's not where the diesel is now located.
On Monday, I stopped by the pharmacy which shares the same asphalt as the gas station. On my way out, I thought I'd top off my tank. The station was completely empty except for one car. And that one car was parked at the one diesel pump, and the driver was nowhere in sight. F&ck me.
And that's why I hate to get fuel.
I can't think of five things to splurge on for myself, but when Newt needs something, I can't whip out my credit card fast enough. Since Monday, Newt has cost me $504.02.
#1 Oil Change and Transfer Case Service
Every single time I take that truck in to get the oil changed, there is always some extra service required. I have never had a vehicle that required so much "service." Sheesh. This time it was the transfer case. Knowing it is a part that needs service but not know exactly what it does, I both authorized the work and Googled it. As I paid the $210.39 - they always give me a 15% discount, the technician warned me that next on the list are the differentials. Sigh ...
#2 Partial Fill Up with Diesel
I know gas prices are high, and I feel for you, but diesel is even higher and has been so for more than a year. Not just a little higher, but usually around a buck or so more. Since I was near a quarter of a tank and heading to a show tomorrow, I went inside to pay because the pump shuts off at $99 and no way is $99 going to come close to filling my tank. I should say that I have a 48 gallon tank, so filling it costs more than filling most tanks just based on its monstrous size. Anyway, I paid the $200.35 (there is a fee) hoping that the pump would click off around $180 but knowing that it wouldn't. It didn't. It got close to filling the tank, but I bet Newt could have guzzled another $25 bucks.
#3, 4, & 5 Newt is DEF
I got diesel on my way to work which meant I was wearing a dress and heels. It was also 5:45 in the morning, so my patience for vehicle maintenance was at its lowest. As soon as I started Newt up, my DEF indicator screen lit up. For those of you who drive gas powered vehicles, DEF is diesel exhaust fluid. I don't know about other states, but here in California it is a required "solution of urea and water that's injected into the exhaust stream of diesel vehicles to turn NOx gases (harmful emissions) into nitrogen and water." Newt will run for a few miles if the DEF is low, but eventually, you can't drive if you ignore that warning light..
So, on my way home that afternoon, which was just yesterday, I stopped by Auto Zone and loaded up on 7.5 gallons of DEF fluid to the tune of $93.28. I drove out to the ranch, used my backseat as a changing room (while avoiding the three big boxes of DEF that were perched on the seat), and then started filling the DEF tank. It took two of the boxes with no issue, but I saved the third box for later next week. I'll top the tank off after I get home from the show.
While I am grouchy about spending so much just to be able to drive, I should be thankful that I had the money to pay for it.
You all know how much I love owning a trailer. Being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want means freedom. Freedom always comes at a price though. In the case of a truck and trailer combo, the price is literal. A new truck with a living quarters trailer can easily run a hundred thousand or more. Besides the actual price tag, the maintenance on both also costs time and money.
When I came home from my three-day boot camp at STC Dressage, I decided to take my trailer home for the night so that I could clean it the next morning. It had been at least a year since I had done a deep cleaning. With the trailer in front of my house, I can clean without tracking dirt in and out, and I can pressurize the water and use real electricity.
The first thing I did was strip the bed of sheets and blankets and emptied all of the towels out of the bathroom. I did all of the laundry on Sunday night so that it would be clean and dry once I finished cleaning out the inside of the trailer the next morning. I spent a good two hours scrubbing every surface of the inside, especially the shower and toilet. I also oiled all of the cabinets, and scrubbed both screens and doors.
Last summer, a friend (THANK YOU, Aime) shared a YouTube video that showed an easy way to remake the bed in a gooseneck trailer. I can't find the video, but I didn't forget how to do it. I started off by "making" a bed in the house, and then rolled up the bedding from the bottom to the top and then folded it into a roll. I placed the roll on the trailer's mattress, scooted it to the top, and unrolled it enough so that I could tuck the fitted sheet around the top two corners of the mattress.
Once the top two corners of the fitted sheet were tucked under the mattress, I kept unrolling the package until I could tuck the bottom two corners of the fitted sheet around the mattress.
It changes a horrendous job into one that takes less than two minutes. And, it looks much smoother when made this way versus yanking things around while struggling to avoid banging your head on the ceiling. Once everything was cleaned, the carpets vacuumed, and the linoleum mopped, I let things dry before putting everything back.
I love having a trailer; I hate taking care of it.
Excuse me for a moment as I lament over my First World problems. I have much for which to be grateful; I know that. I suppose that makes large bills easier to stomach, but still, they sting.
Way, way back in 1999, my husband and I did a special order for our (my) dream truck. We bought a 2000 Ford F250 Triton V-10 Super Duty Crew Cab with 4 wheel drive. That truck was a beast, and I loved it with all my heart. Blue Truck was the most reliable thing I have ever owned. Other than a few batteries, tires (LOTS of tires) a fuel pump, and hoses and belts, nothing ever went wrong with that truck.
You have all heard this story before, but in 2019 with less than 150,000 miles on her, I decided to trade in Blue Truck (along with unlucky Juke) for a new truck, Newt. Newt is a fine lookin' hunk-a-burnin' love, but cheap she is not. Newt is a 2019 Ford F250 with a 6.7L Power Stroke Turbo Diesel that I bought in 2019 with 22,000 miles on her. She hauls my three-horse living quarters trailer like nothing is behind her. All of that power has come with a very steep price though.
In the two and a half years since Newt joined Team Speedy/Izzy, she has racked up quite a list of repairs. At this point, I don't even want to think about what else can break, wear out, or fail. Here is the current list excluding oil changes and required service maintenance like fuel filters and the like:
I am not kidding. I have had all of this done in two and a half years. And really, nearly all of this was in the last year because Newt was pretty solid for the first year I had her. The batteries, glow plugs, brakes, tires, and shocks all went kaput in the past 10 months. I get it. Owning a four-wheel drive truck is more expensive. Diesels just add on to the cost of ownership. Add the two together, and what should be a manageable bill ends up costing 50% more than your standard daily driver.
At times, I regret buying such an expensive truck, but then I haul over the pass into Ventura or LA and remember why I need such a heavy truck. For nearly fifteen of the nineteen years we owned her, Blue Truck was used only to haul the trailer or other truck necessity, and even then we often used my husband's truck. It ended up being cheaper for me to have a day-to-day car to drive around while Blue Truck sat parked. I have three and a half years left before Newt is paid for. You can bet I'll be looking for something a lot smaller and a lot cheaper to drive around when that payment is made.
Let's hope Newt feels like she doesn't need any more spa treatments.
Not every Friday is as needed as others. This is one of those Fridays that came almost too late. Had there been one more day in the week, I would have had to call in sick. There's only so much a person can take.
The instigator was Newt of course, but when you're stretched as thin as you can get, it doesn't take much to create small holes in your well being. While I waited for Newt's glow plug to be replaced - I know, I'll get there, a few parents in my classroom jumped on the crazy train. For the love of God, people, I am trying to help! Blaming the teacher or insinuating that she is being unreasonable - it does not take 15 minutes to get a tissue, does not help your kiddo succeed. So there was that.
I am also coming off a six-day work week - remember, I work for pills, Speedy's that is. One day off a week is not recommended. On Wednesday, I attended a very, very after work meeting. It didn't start until an hour after my contracted day had ended. You gotta love unpaid over-time. All the while, I have been waiting for Newt to again be road worthy, and I use that term loosely when applied to my less than reliable ride.
So where was I? Oh, yes, Newt and her many issues. I took Newt back to the Ford Service Department on Tuesday morning. I waited all day for a call back with at least a diagnosis. Without the On Board Diagnostic port functioning correctly, it's hard to diagnose a problem. By day's end, I finally got a call saying the mechanic had replaced the blown fuse, but one of Newt's glow plugs had failed. I almost screamed into the phone, I ALREADY TOLD YOU THAT WAS THE PROBLEM! So yes, all they did that first day was pull and replace a fuse. Once again I got a Lyft and the world's smallest rental car.
The next afternoon, after not hearing anything all day, I finally called and asked if Newt was ready to be picked up. "Your vehicle is ready ma'am. You can come by anytime." I don't know if it is just Ford, or are all service departments the same? Why don't they call to tell you your vehicle is ready. Why make me bother them? This was at 2:30. The service associate confirmed that the failed glow plug had been replaced, but again, there were no extras to replace the final glow plug that I was willing to pay for.
I was able to get to Ford at 5:15, and the service associate greeted me with a huge smile. After working an eleven hour day, I was not. In. The. Mood. "Guess what?" he says. "There has been a miracle. We replaced BOTH glow plugs." Pause for just a second here. At 2:30, my vehicle was ready with one glow plug replaced. Less than three hours later, BOTH glow plugs had been replaced? If it is so easy to replace them, why couldn't they have done it the day before when they had my truck the ENTIRE day? Whatever. I pulled out my credit card ready to pay for the last glow plug but was met with a no worries, Ford has agreed to pay for that last glowplug. Apparently, there had been some miscommunication between the service associate and the parts department. There had been a second glow plug all along.
Don't get me wrong, I was very grateful to be finished with this mess - no fewer than three trips to the service department for one failed glow plug after another all in less than three months, but come on, Ford, get your shit together. Here's the funny-not funny part. Ford comped me the glow plug, but charged me $3.81 for the fuse.
Life is weird y'all. I need a drink.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: