From Endurance to Dressage
If we're friends on Facebook, you'll have already seen and read most of today's post. For everyone else, this will be new. Over the New Year's weekend, my husband and I flew to northern California to visit with my dad and step mom. First of all, air travel between Kern County and Humboldt County isn't an easy endeavor.
Planes don't fly from Bakersfield to Eureka, the city in Humboldt County large enough to support an airport. To get from Bakersfield to Phillipsville, we have to drive two hours south to an airport in Burbank while my parents drive north a little more than hour to the airport in Arcata. In all, it's about the same amount of time whether we fly or drive, but by doing the flying/driving combo, we spend a lot less time cooped up in a car and more time standing around. The flight itself is less than two hours.
Many of you have probably heard about the the magnitude 6.2 earthquake that struck the Rio Dell/Scotia/Ferndale area on December 20. Phillipsville, the small town where my parents live, is just 36 miles to the south. That quake rocked their house pretty good. Rio Dell is halfway between the airport and their house, so on the way home, we detoured to visit Ferndale, which was our original plan, and then we passed through the small towns of Rio Dell and Scotia to see how much damage there was. My dad was born in Scotia. Fortunately, we didn't see any wreckage, but we know more than a few people lost their homes.
On Saturday morning, while my husband and dad were down in the garage level of the house shooting pool and my stepmom and I were on the top level of the house, another earthquake struck. This time with a magnitude of 5.3. This earthquake's epicenter was just 9 miles southeast of Rio Dell. I've been through plenty of earthquakes; most Californians are pretty familiar with the sensation. This one felt pretty strong though since we were on the third floor of the house. My dad and husband didn't get quite the sense of movement that we did upstairs, but we all agreed that it was loud. Unfortunately, the people in Rio Dell had yet another mess to deal with.
Besides experiencing the earthquake, we spent several days visiting with my parents and enjoying the beauty of the area. Not many kids grow up with giant redwood trees in their actual back yard. Despite the persistent rain, my dad, husband, and I crammed into the mule and drove down to the redwood grove just below our house. I hadn't been inside the grove in two decades. I spent every summer day there because it was always at least 20 degrees cooler under the canopy than it was anywhere else. Of course, I always had a horse with me back then.
Besides hiking through the grove, we also watched my dad's goats, Casper and Figgy. Dad uses the goats to keep the brush under control. Goats will eat most anything, so my dad turns them out twice a day to graze on the brush that threatens to consume the property. Rusty, the dog, stands guard over the decorative foliage as well as keeping the chickens in check. Rusty also runs off the wild turkeys and does general guard dog duty as needed.
We always enjoy visiting with my parents, but we only see them about once a year as it is a full day of travel just getting there. When we drive, we get to see all of California's varied landscapes. For this trip, we flew from Los Angeles's city skyline and landed in northern California's temperate rainforest. Unless you already knew that both are part of California, you'd swear you had landed thousands of miles away.
It's good to be home, but I wish we all lived closer.
A Long Weekend in Nashville
We are recently back from a five-day weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. We have NEVER visited an out-of-state destination more than once until now. Nashville has so much to do that we decided to go back this summer.
The main part of our trip was to be the NASCAR race just outside of Nashville in Lebanon. We went last year and had so much fun that we decided to repeat the experience.
Getting to the track is a challenge. Last year, it took three hours to make the 40 minute drive. Things were supposed to be improved this year, but we never got to find out. Since we had hired a car service, we were to be dropped off for the day and then picked up later that evening.
On race day, the weather called for thunder and lightning with rain a sure thing. They don't race in the rain; we decided not to go. As it turns out, we made the right decision. The race did start but was then delayed twice for 30 minutes each time due to lightning. The rain followed. By the time the race got started again, it was 9:00 p.m. Our pick up time was 8:45. Had we gone, we would have spent a very long and hot day walking around only to sit soaking wet for two hours while we waited for our car service, all without even seeing the race.
While it was disappointing (and expensive) not to see the race in person, we're very flexible travelers, so we filled our day doing other things. This year, we toured the city via the Hop on/Hop off trolley. The trolley is a guided tour with 14 stops. You can hop off at any stop and then hop back on when the next trolley comes by. We were able to get out of downtown and see some other parts of the city without having to Uber or walk.
Of course, race day wasn't the extent of our trip. We also spent time touring the Tennessee State Museum and Opryland. In California, nothing is free despite the exorbitant taxes we pay. Tennessee also has some steep taxes - the tax on liquor is really high, but many of the public spaces are free, like the museum. On the day we visited, three members of the Nashville Opera performed eight pieces from a variety of musicals. We heard pieces from "I Could Have Danced all Night" from My Fair Lady, "I Am a Pirate King" from Pirates of Penzance, and "Habanera" from Carmen. And it was all free.
If you ever make it to Nashville, don't miss a walk through the Opryland resort. If we go back, I definitely want to stay there. It is spectacular. We spent nearly two hours just walking around the huge atrium exploring the three main gardens, and we never even saw the water park. We ate a decadent dinner in one of the gardens before taking the short walk to the Grand Ole Opry. We did that last summer, but each performance is new, and this time was just as good as last year.
Monday was a very full day. We spent the morning at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. We have now seen the resting places of nearly ten presidents. I think it would be safe to say that we enjoy history.
As a teacher of US history, I know that Andrew Jackson's presidency was filled with controversial policies. His treatment of the Native Americans was nothing short of heinous. Even taking into account those actions, Jackson's leadership was pivotal in keeping the union together. While I am no expert on the 19th century, the Hermitage's portrayal of Jackson's life seemed quite honest including both the good and the bad of his life and presidency.
After visiting the Hermitage, we had our Uber driver drop us off at 6th and Peabody for a tour and tasting at a moonshine distillery. We toured a different distillery last year, but it was fun to taste some new spirits. The moonshine was actually quite tasty - not the make you blind variety. The Ole Smokey distillery also distills some bourbons as well as brews beer. We tasted a bit of everything.
Since it was a bit of a walk back to the hotel, we stopped yet again at Nashville's giant food court, the Nashville Assembly Food Hall. This place has awesome junk food, fine dining, shopping, and live music. We stopped there at least five times between our two visits. We sat at the bar for a drink and used the restroom before walking the last few blocks to our hotel for the final time. They have the world's best bathroom signs. Forget gender neutral or family friendly. These guys tell it like it is.
If you're looking for your next getaway, try Nashville. You won't be sorry.
It's that time again. We are flying out early tomorrow morning for a NASCAR-filled, long weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. We went last year at about this same time. Here is the post I wrote the day before we left, and here is the one I wrote after we came back. This will be the first time that we've gone back to someplace that we've already visited (other than here in California). We enjoyed Nashville so much though, that we decided to go again.
Like last summer, we have tickets to Sunday's NASCAR race as well as tickets to the Grand Ole Opry. Even though we hit most of Nashville's highlights last summer, there were a few things we missed that we'd like to get to this time. We have tickets to visit Andrew Jackson's Hermitage as well as a moonshine distillery, Ole Smoky Distillery. We are also planning on visiting Opryland for dinner before the show. I am also hoping to see a little more live music as well as the Tennessee State Museum. Of course, all of this means that I will not be posting for a bit. So ...
See you all next week!
We're finally back in town, and boy, has a lot happened over the past two weeks. First ...
It's no secret that I am a very frustrated Californian. Don't get me wrong; California is spectacular - our mountains, beaches, forests, and even our deserts are simply breathtaking. Our climate is perfect, and it's hard to find fresher produce, fruit, and nuts. But, and it's a big one. Our political climate is horrific. Our governor has gone crazy as have most of the legislators. I am aching to join the thousands of others fleeing the Golden State. Since we can't relocate quite yet, we decided to at least go on vacation.
Before deciding where to go, we looked at all fifty states - we worried about being denied re-entry if we left the country, and then we looked at how "open" each state was. Tennessee checked all of our boxes. The state is completely open, and all of the things we wanted to do welcomed visitors and spectators.
While I've heard about southern hospitality, I've never actually been on the receiving end of it. Whether the fine folks in Nashville actually wanted us there or not will forever remain their secret because Tennesseeans are the friendliest people in America. I have never felt so welcomed in my life. Even though it wasn't actually anyone's fault, anytime there was a delay or a product was sold out, we were given the most genuine apologies I have ever heard. The people of Nashville clearly wanted us to think well of their city and state, and they went out of their way to make us feel at home. It was so refreshing.
The truth is, there wasn't a single thing that I disliked about Nashville. Every time I turned around I found something else to admire or appreciate. At one point, I told my husband that everything about Nashville was just right. Nothing was too big, too small, too pretentious, or too overwhelming. It was as though the city was truly meant to be lived in like a comfortable pair of sneakers. Some places are meant to be looked at like a fancy piece of glass kept in a curio cabinet. You wouldn't ever use it, it's just nice to look at. Not Nashville. I even enjoyed the weather, hot and sticky as it was.
While we were in Nashville, we did most of the things that one should do while there. I am sure we missed a few attractions, but we made up for them by doing unexpected things. We had a hilarious time at the Ryman Auditorium sitting in all of the seats blocked by the pillars used to hold up the balcony. It felt a little sacrilegious to poke fun at the Mother Church of Country Music, but we figured a little goofing off had to have been done there long before us. While the acoustics may be fabulous, not all of the seats are equal.
All joking aside, the Ryman is definitely a must-see while in Nashville. The video shown before you go into the auditorium itself tells the Ryman's story and left both of us feeling a bit awed by the history that place has been home to. I can see why the place is called the Mother Church.
We also went to the Friday night performance at the Grand Ole Opry, another fantastic experience. Among other performers, we saw and heard Tommy Emmanuel who is arguably the world's best guitar player.
We visited the Johnny Cash Museum ... It was small, a bit over-priced, but still interesting.
We toured the Corsair Distillery whose home is in the Marathon Motor Works building which also happens to be the home of the Tennessee store of Antique Archeology (American Pickers). When we heard the store is really just a glorified gift shop, we skipped it. After the tour at the distillery, we also did some tasting. Who knew I liked Tennessee whiskey?
Unlike anything in California, many of the state museums are free to the public. We walked right into the capitol building and even had a peek into the Governor's office. The doors to the House of Representatives and Senate were wide open. No one hassled us or assumed we were intent on bringing down the building. We walked around peering at what interested us and never once were we made to feel like we were breaking any laws. California should take a page from Tennessee's play book.
On Sunday, we took a drive to Lebanon to watch our first in-person NASCAR race. We're dedicated fans, but we had never actually been to see a race in person. It was loud, but we knew that. The 40-minute drive to the track ended up taking 3½ hours due to traffic. While it was a bit disappointing, we still made it in time for the green flag to drop. It was also about a billion degrees with 80% humidity, but we enjoyed ourselves even so.
On our last full day in Nashville, we braved some pretty extreme heat (high 90s with 80% humidity). We walked back to the Capitol building to explore the Mall. It was one of the most beautiful city parks I've seen. Everywhere we looked there was something new to see. Each county had a large "seal" laid into the sidewalk describing it and showing its place on the map of Tennessee.
At the end of the park, we came to a large circle of towers. After walking around them for a few minutes trying to figure out what they were, we heard bells begin to chime. We looked up at the towers only to discover that they were actually bell towers. The towers surround the Court of 3 Stars which represents Eastern, Middle and Western Tennessee.
There is a bell for each of the Volunteer State’s 95 counties. Each quarter hour, the carillon plays a portion of the Tennessee Waltz. At the top of every hour, the 50-tower carillon plays the entire song. A 96th bell on the capitol grounds rings an answer symbolizing the government answering the call of the people. After hearing the bells ring at 10:45, we decided to wander around the park waiting to hear them play their full song. It was a very powerful experience.
We love to travel and have been to many countries and US states. While I haven't been to all 50 US states, I think that Tennessee is my favorite. In many ways it reminded me of our nation's capital. Like DC, Nashville has filled every nook and cranny with symbols of its history. Their willingness to wear their heart on their sleeve made me love the place even more. As we sat eating dinner on our last evening there, I asked my husband if he could see himself living in Tennessee. He didn't say yes, but he didn't say no either.
Tennessee, thank you for a fabulous time. We will be back.
And We're Off!
Good-bye, California, and hello Tennessee. Yep, we're off to the Volunteer state this morning. We have a house sitter to take care of our two dogs, and both horses have been safely tucked into the barn at STC Dressage for the next week and a half; they got there on Monday.
We have tickets to a NASCAR race as well as to the Grand Ole Opry. We'll do all of the things that there are to do in Nashville. We chose Tennessee because it's one of the many states that is no longer in lockdown. We're sick of California's governor's "policies", so we decided to go somewhere with a healthier "climate."
See you sometime next week!
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%: