Wednesday, August 13, 2003

2003 Helldiver, eh? - Heidi Smith

With all the ride cancellations in the NW, hubby and I got a streak of adventure and decided to make the trek all the way from the SE end of the NW region to about as far away as we could get and still be in our region--to the Helldiver ride on Vancouver Island, British Columbia! That's right--up in the land of the eh!

Of course, this wasn't quite a last-minute decision--we DID have the lead time to get Coggins tests, Canadian health papers, health papers on the dog, certified weed-free hay, and all that good stuff that we have to get for crossing the border. In addition, I found the website for the BC ferry, so that we knew how much it was going to cost us to take our LOOOONG rig over on the ferry.... (I can recall chiding my dog that if not for him, we could have a regular truck instead of the extended cab with the doggy bed in the back, and just LOOK what we could have saved! ) We decided to make a bit of a sight-seeing trip of it, so went to the ride on the Washington side, and came home on the Canadian side, and saw lots of great scenery. And for those of you who have not been on the BC ferry--they are really nice folks, and if you get there at least 30 minutes before sailing with livestock, you are guaranteed on, even if there is a big line. :-) (I DID learn that one has to cover one's hay on the ferry--flamable and all that--thank heavens there was still a stray tarp under the seat in the living quarters of the trailer...) Oh, yeah--and the food is good on the ferry, too! So after all that driving, we got to kick back and enjoy ourselves while BC ferry did the driving....

From the ferry, one drives partway up the island, just past Courtenay, to the ride site in a meadow that is a part of an equestrian center. Lots of room, good directions, plenty of water, plenty of outhouses, and lots of friendly Canadians! As we were pulling in, I turned to my husband and said, "Gee, I wonder if we should have asked before we came just what Hell we are supposed to dive off of?"

The ride was VERY well organized--with some of the best-marked trails I've seen in a long time, water on the trail, well-organized vet checks, and lots of friendly and efficient vets. It was 50 miles with no returns to camp and very little repeat trail (what there was consisted of some two-way going out and coming in)--so for those bored with repeat loops, HERE'S ONE FOR YA THAT DOESN'T HAVE ANY!! :-)

And they fed us not once but TWICE--barbequed burgers right off the grill with all the fixin's the night before, and a REALLY big feed the night after with awards....

But speaking of food--one question I've ALWAYS wanted to ask--maybe one of the Canadians on the list has the answer, eh? WHY do you have to rub it in by having a grocery chain called "Overwaitea?" I've wondered that for years--I mean, I KNOW I'm "overweightea" but do you have to call a GROCERY STORE that?? I mean, gee, that's how I GOT to be a heavyweight after all... Anyway, Overwaitea donated the food for the big feed (thank you Overwaitea for making me even more overweightea...), and ride management had also drummed up lots of good support and donations for some GREAT awards--including--get this--a SADDLE for BC on the 50....

We had one small mishap--hubby's horse took a bad stumble, and although he seemed fine, he started to go off about 5 miles before the finish, and despite walking the rest of the way in, was not quite fit to continue. (The good news is that he is pretty much better after some icing and wrapping and ionizing--just sore and bruised from hitting his fetlock on the rocks.. ) My own horse sailed through with flying colors--rack up one more 50 for the tubby lady making a comeback... :-)

And as we've mentioned before--the real successful ending is coming home and having the horses feel so good coming off the trailer that they go bouncing out to prance and trot and gallop with their tails up over their backs, telling their pals all about it... Tudor didn't slow down for half an hour, I don't think. (Guess that means I'm not riding him hard enough, eh?)

But back to the ride--this is one that any of you within range should put on your calendar next year--take an extra day off, enjoy the ferry ride over, and ride the Helldiver, eh?


PS: Turns out Helldiver is a lake up there--yeah, pretty lakes along the trail--and we didn't have to dive into Hell after all.... :-)

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