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the road to nowhere^h^h^h^h^h^h^hSilverton, OR - Ambar
August 10th, 2006
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the road to nowhere^h^h^h^h^h^h^hSilverton, OR
Day 0: Tuesday (1 August 2006)

Today was for getting the flat tire on the trailer fixed, and for removing tarweed from mares. The former was more successful than the latter -- Petit Point, meeting the hose for the first time in years, danced around and generally objected vigorously to being separated from her herd and sprayed with water. Because the trailer wasn't in its usual spot, I couldn't just tie her up and get on with it. I rinsed her until the water ran clear (no soap), did a little work on her face, and mentally excused her black legs with the observation that *Muson, in his pictures with Buffalo Bill, had black points. The two chestnut mares (En Pointe and Recap) didn't get any cleaning at all. Tarweed is a nuisance.

Michael Bowling kindly turned up at about this point, at my request since I was fairly sure if I didn't have company in the packing process, that there would be stages at which I would be tempted to turn the mares back out and unhitch the trailer. :-) We discussed what would constitute the "greatest moments in Davenport history" of the last century and went to sleep, as 4am comes early.

Day 1: Wednesday

Four AM comes early. Michael proved again (as if it were needed) that he is worth his weight in gold by wrangling a strange air compressor around a strange trailer in the dark. When the battery in said air compressor proved not to be charged enough to deal with the tire that had a slow leak, we enlisted my Prius as a big rolling generator. Oops, the cord is 2 inches short. We wound up opening the door and running it underneath instead of through the open window -- that was enough.

Tried a new (to me) method for hauling the horses, which worked pretty well. Instead of tying them, we hung water buckets under the hay nets and left them loose (in a 3-horse slant, with screened drop-down windows and partial dividers). The mares went on hydrated and came off looking pretty much the same, which is a nice change for a 13.5 hour haul. Unloading the last mare was a little fraught until we cottoned onto applying the lead rope through the screen before the divider was opened.

Collected Betty Ball (who would be playing Annie Oakley) on the way and made relaxed progress. We practiced the Craver maxim (new to me) "Never miss an opportunity to visit the bathroom." Having people to swap driving duties with is a wonderful luxury. There was a hilarious moment at a fuel stop when we wanted to top up the water buckets, only to find someone had stolen the handle to the water tap. (what?) Betty swung into action. First we tried using the claw of the claw hammer as a handle, but that was the wrong size. Then she retrieved a Subway cup we had tossed out mere moments before, and made creative use of the sink in the bathroom. Hey, the mares got their water.

All was peaceful until 30 minutes out of Salem, when a tire on the trailer delaminated. Rats! It was on the driver's side. Double rats! It was the tire I had had repaired yesterday. Triple rats! However, you would think the three of us had practiced synchronized tire changing (the next Olympic sport?) -- out with the jiffy jack, the lug wrench, and the spare, and we were back on the road in jig time (no thanks to one passing semi, which came so close we were almost blown into the road). Not a peep from the mares through all that, and we pulled into Geercrest Farm in Silverton at 8:00pm.

I hadn't had a clear idea of what would be done with the horses at Geercrest. The setup was a half-dozen scenery flats scattered across the grounds, with four horse pens near them, and the balance of the horses in a single pasture by the road. The sight of twenty Davenports in a pasture was literally stopping traffic, even before the huge "Davenport Arabians" banner was hung on the fence.

Unloaded and settled the mares, greeted friends, and were led off to find first the motel in Salem, and then dinner. Agreed that 8am was plenty early enough to get up on Thursday.

Day 2: Thursday

Eight AM comes early. We puttered in circles until we found a suitable place for breakfast (so suitable we returned every day thereafter.) Today's agenda was to get Betty and Petit Point (who probably hadn't been ridden in 2 years if not more) acquainted, visit Carrie and Diane's farms on the other side of Salem, and return in time for the 4pm dress rehearsal at Geercrest. Oh, and drop the trailer off for some wholesale tire evaluation and replacement.

A little excitement when we arrived at Geercrest -- Recap was wearing a halter clearly not her own, and there was fresh manure outside her pen, and a fresh scrape on Petit Point's shoulder. Apparently my three-year-old engineer-to-be filly had let herself out in the middle of the night, and had to be containerized by Jim Toller. We tried to remove more tarweed from Petit Point's face, but when we started removing hair and skin as well, we decided to quit while she was merely sticky instead of raw. (This is the same mare who has to have fake fleece wrapped around her halter while hauling, or she will unload with sores on her face. Voice of experience...) I think we did succeed in getting En Pointe's blaze white.

Nonetheless, we succeeded in accomplishing our to-do list for the day. Petit Point, ridden, acted as if she'd been worked 5 days a week for the last 2 years instead of managing her own life agenda in a pasture the entire time, and graciously tolerated a western saddle that was just a tad bit too long for Miss Short Back of 1993 (I couldn't see Annie Oakley in an all-purpose saddle made for Icelandic ponies....) Carrie's new filly out of Nuance was every bit as beautiful as Carrie had said, and I duly apologized for doubting her. :-) (I was quite sure that Carrie would consider Nuance's first foal beautiful even if it had been born with 3 ears and 2 tails. Well, she wasn't, and to my considerable delight, she resembles Palisades to boot.) We enjoyed too short visits with Carrie, Diane and their stallions (most all the mares being out at Geercrest). Betty also got to reunite with Dubloon.

Getting lost in Salem on the way back from Dallas and then having to pick up the trailer made us a bit late for the rehearsal, but Betty was on time for her part. We found the mares moved to their permanent location for the event, in a lovely shaded pen in an apple orchard. (This proved to be a mixed blessing, as it's very hard for horse-loving visitors, faced with scattered apples on the ground, not to feed them to eager horses. One apple per horse per group of visitors times one group per hour makes for stuffed horses, especially those unaccustomed to such a diet. Fortunately there were no unpleasant consequences.) We also discovered how the littlest engineer got out (did you know that if you bounce the top of a bungee-secured panel vigorously enough, you can bounce the bungees right off?), and tied the top of the gate down to ward off any more unscheduled equine strolls.

After that, we convened at a nearby grocery store for dinner fixings and headed for Lori Webb's to work on the displays for the tent tomorrow (yikes! this all starts tomorrow!) Anita Enander, Fred Mimmack, and my mom (introduced as Margaret Tierney to the rest of the crowd -- she decided to celebrate her 60th birthday by flying cross-country to meet up with us at the shindig) arrived from the airport and the display-building began in earnest, although we scheduled an early bus to the hotel for those who were fading. This was when Brad Washburn, owner of Gee Gee LD, presented me with a nose flute, gave me a short lesson and inducted me into the Near to Neverland Nose Flute Band. I was far from the only person so honored this weekend -- in fact, my last sight of Mom, before she headed for the airport, was of her playing a yellow nose flute. But I digress.

Day 3: Friday

Eight AM comes REALLY early when you went to bed at 1:40am the night before. But we convene, consume enough coffee to get us going, and split off in different directions. Anita and Michael are on duty at the tent in the park, with Daniel LD serving as chief Davenport ambassador, and periodic performances by Bedouin native dancers to keep people coming by. Mom and I head to Geercrest with Betty, tend mares and get Petit Point saddled up. Betty installs herself in a beautiful custom-made costume while Mom weaves blue beads into three mare manes.

Digression: sometime in early July, I had inquired of various Davenport historians just what these blue beads woven into manes and tails looked like, and got a detailed response (with pictures!) from the ever-reliable RJ Cadranell, who included the remark that when he had visited with Joyce Hampshire once, she had had a keychain with just such a bead. I duly acquired 26 blue faience "donkey beads" (eBay rides again) and had planned to decorate each horse mane with a bead. Well, beading 20 mares out in a pasture seemed like decorating on the wrong scale, so after Betty and Petit Point were set up with shade, water, hay, and a couple of motivated young helpers ("Can we pet her? Really??"), Mom and I went off on a mission.

We found a good bead store, laid in a supply of keychain rings and cord, and spent a pleasant afternoon making 20 keychains instead. These were presented over the rest of the weekend, whenever I succeeded in finding another Davenport owner. I think I missed Sabrina Osgard(sp?), who flew in for a brief visit and I didn't get to meet her, and Marge Smith. (Sabrina! Send me your mailing address!)

The five of us reconvened at the tent in the park in time to break it down for the evening. This was my first look at the finished displays, which should gladden the heart of any Davenport enthusiast. I hear the photo displays, at least, will be heading to Illinois for the Al Khamsa convention in September -- if you couldn't make Oregon, make sure Illinois on your agenda! (Many, many, many thanks to Jeanne Craver, Anita Enander, and her daughter Erica Tucker for hard work above and beyond the call. If I told you what Jeanne did to get these pictures to us on time, you'd ask to check her temperature.)

We enjoyed dinner at the first restaurant in Silverton we passed, which proved to be quite good Mexican, with a nice horse mural facing the door for spice.

Day 4: Saturday

Today is the parade, so we need to have our trailer lined up with everyone else's at Geercrest at 8:15, which requires getting up too early to remember anything. We loaded horses until the trailers were full and rolled into just one of the several parade staging areas in Silverton. Many Davenport eyes bugged out at the unaccustomed sights (I recall remarking "Darn, I completely forgot to pack tinsel") although the most unusual item, according to most of the horses, was not the fire engines with wailing sirens but the placid draft cross pulling a creaky, jangly buggy (with two very happy, relaxed Corgis riding in the back seat). I reminded Betty several times that she was not required to ride Petit Point :-) but she did and they looked just lovely (as did everyone in the parade, especially Marge Smith on Pal-Ara Sensation, with a dramatic native costume.) We had banner carriers, the actors and dancers, led horses (including yearlings!), ridden horses, and the obligatory poop patrol.

The rest of us joined the half of Silverton who were perched on the curbs, cheering loudly while watching the other half of Silverton throw candy. A good time was obviously had by all (not least by the Pomeranian puppy in front of us who was perfecting his impression of a baby shark.) Many pictures were taken, although not by me.

We slowly filtered through the post-parade traffic jam to get back to the park to unload Daniel LD for his second day as petting horse extraordinaire, and RJ for his and Michael's first day of radio interviews. While I hate unloading horses on asphalt if there's a choice, there wasn't a choice, and Daniel stepped down like an old pro. Then back to Geercrest for Petit Point's second day playing *Muson.

We gathered as many Davenport people as we could for dinner after the tent closed, and enjoyed excellent Thai food and even better conversation with some of the folks from other parts of the country. Afterwards we taxied folks to where they needed to go. RJ and I got so wrapped up in discussing I-now-forget-what that we went an extra 20 minutes or so towards Salem before we remembered we needed to double back to get him to his car in Silverton.

Day 5: Sunday

Today we get to sleep (comparatively) late -- no parade, and the first show at Geercreest is at 11am. Breakfast is especially lively, with much swapping of photos. Today's plan is for RJ to ride Petit Point, if her back isn't unreasonably sore from the Western saddle. It's not, and RJ and Petit Point both appear to enjoy themselves (someone has pictures of this), although Betty decides to do her piece with "*Muson" on the ground today to spare the mare's back. Then one of our young volunteers, who did yeoman duty as a runner during the entire event, got a ride. Then the first group of spectators came through. After they got their fill of petting "*Muson" and went off, Petit Point's back was looking awfully inviting... so I got on bareback. There are pictures of this somewhere, although I haven't inquired into how high the bribes will be to destroy them. :-)

Into Silverton to spend more time in the tent (and finally meet all the Davenport people who were down at the other end of the table the night before), and finally to take the tour from the beginning (complete with stamped passports). I don't spend enough time in the Silverton museum, as our ride (the "La Lorraine") shows up almost immediately, but I can see that it will repay more time spent on some future visit.

Mary Gills was the docent on this particular trip, and did just a terrific job with a full bus and fielding questions (my favorite was "How can you continue a group of horses for 100 years without inbreeding?" Her answer: "You can't." :-)

The six dramatizations of scenes from the Quest were just charming, although occasional liberties with the source material (clearly made in the name of good theatre) had certain spectators, not to be named, choking back laughter. The spirit of the Quest came through, however altered the details... I found the blood-brother ceremony particularly moving. And, for those who are more moved by visual stimulation, we had TWO rounds of Bedouin dancing girls. (Since one of these performances was right by the pen where Recap and En Pointe were dwelling, I am pleased to report that they now are completely bored by loud hand drums, jingling costumes, and whoops of Opa! Should we meet a troupe of belly dancers out on the trail, there will be no shying. :-)

By the time the final performance was complete, everyone (except possibly Petit Point, who had obviously enjoyed all the petting and fussing from her audience and was clearly available for more) was ready to hitch up the trailer and help move the first load of horses back to Dallas. This also allowed RJ to come see Nuance's filly in person. We adjourned to dinner, waved goodbye to RJ, and then tried to get back across Salem without getting lost, since we had to get back to Geercrest to unhitch the trailer before we could sleep. I am 0 for 2 in crossing Salem from west to east without mishap. I did, however, promise to locate a Starbucks that would be open at o-god-o-clock, since we didn't expect to have time for a sit-down breakfast.

Day 6: Monday

Up, acquired caffeine and fast food, off to Geercrest, hitched, loaded, and promptly hit the road. (He actually did the work on Sunday morning, but here's where I thank Bill Brendle, Dodge mechanic extraordinaire, for unsticking my front passenger seat so that the folks in the back could get in and out without practicing airs above the ground.) We had left time to visit Jannelle Wilde on the way south. Her place was easy to find, and each horse was more charming than the last (if only my pockets were bigger...). However, my attempt to violate the laws of physics on the way out failed, and I jacknifed the loaded trailer. So we were there for longer than initially intended. Did you know you could jack an (unloaded! please!) trailer up and then push it off the jack to move it? I had never seen or heard of that little trick before, but it did the job -- kudos to Anita Enander for sharing that one, as it would have been a long wait for AAA.

A long drive and many vigorous discussions later (I particularly remember tackling the question of how to teach people how to think about creating new subgroups... don't know that we came to any conclusions, though), we were dropping Betty off with her husband, and then talked Anita's 17-year-old daughter through finding Linden, CA in the dark (hey, you look it up -- it's not THAT easy :-) Finally made it home and unloaded mares into the pasture. All safe and accounted for, and a wonderful time had by all!

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