Sunday, August 08, 2004

Tevis Bound - Evelyn Hartman

Evelyn Hartman

Ten years ago when I first started my business I had no idea what or who an Endurance or CTR rider was, nor did the Tevis mean anything to me.
I went to many horse shows selling the things I made. My first encounter with an Endurance rider was when I met Becky Hackworth at one of the shows where her daughters were showing. That chance meeting led to my now almost famous (grin) Trottin' Bra...see website for complete story, and an explanation of what Endurance and CTR was. At about this same time Elfta Hilzman, whom I had known for some time began riding Endurance.
Both Elfta and Becky encouraged me to go to the rides and sell my clothing. The first ride I went to was the Warner Springs Ride put on by Terry Wooly-Howe. I was so well received and everyone liked my things that I decided to go to more rides.

Over time I kept hearing about "the Tevis". Always mentioned with such a reverence, mystic and awe of being someday able to ride in it.
Fast forward to 2004. We decided that we would go to the Tevis as vendors. There was much preparation to be done. Riders and their horses spend literally years training for this one special day. This year made even more special as it was the 50th anniversary and a beautiful buckle was to be given to those that completed.
We had gotten a trailer and had been pulling it to the rides but due to a back injury Pat was often very uncomfortable with this arrangement. I had been thinking about getting a motorhome so that he would have a place to go inside and rest rather than sitting in a chair all day. Oh, but how to do it financially was another matter.

In December of 03 a very good friend of ours passed away. He was a very large man and he had bought a motorhome and had many modifications done to it for his comfort. Long story short we decided to buy it from his widow in late June 04.
Unbeknownst to us a "friend" that had been helping her and helping himself had sabotaged a number of things on it in order to tell her they didn't work and get it for little money. We spent almost $2000.00 on it before we even left San Diego and because of these repairs we didn't even have time to take it out on the road. It is a small 23 ft. one and with careful thought and planning I was able to get all my inventory and my booth set up in it with room for us and the two dogs.

We left San Diego on Monday morning, the 26th. I had been running on adrenalin and frazzled nerves trying to get everything packed that we might need for the trip. As with the horse and rider teams, going to the Tevis, much thought must go into the adventure, especially when you are traveling long distances to get there.
Shortly after we stared the dash air conditioning quit working. Now any other time of the year this would not have mattered, but coming across the High Desert and the San Joaquin Valley in mattered. Complicating things was the tremendous engine heat coming from the cowling (doghorse). Hot weather outside and even hotter heat coming off the engine inside made for a sweltering ride. I had at the last minute grabbed a little item called a "Misty Mate" that sprays a fine mist. This proved to be a godsend, using it to wet us all down, kept us from becoming toast.

Pat had planned our trip, where we would stay each night, that is before we started. We soon found out that the gas tank overflow recovery tube had a leak in it thus limiting how much gas we could put in it making it necessary to stop for gas more often.
We stayed in the KOA campgrounds in Lost Hills, just outside of Bakersfield on Monday night. The campground in Auburn was where we stayed on Tuesday night. Wednesday was a very exciting day for me.....that night we would be at the Tevis.
We headed for Truckee to get the last of our groceries and stock up on ice. When we left the store parking lot my heart was singing.....only a few more miles and we would be there. I was so looking forward to seeing all of you, making new friends and renewing others.
We followed the directions printed off the Tevis website and turned off on Mt. Watson Rd. and started up the hill. Got about 2 miles up the hill and the engine vapor locked causing us to loose all power, brakes, power steering, everything. Nothing but the incredible driving skills of Pat, who has been a Professional Truck Driver all of his life, saved us from a horrible crash. As luck would have it, the grace of God, or our Guardian Angel, he was able to steer the motorhome onto a small gravel area at the side of the road.

When we finally came to a stop our hearts were in our throats with fear and disbelief at what had just happened. What to do now? Pat opened the hood to let the engine cool off although the gauges weren't reading hot.
We sat there for over an hour trying to think of what to do. I got out and walked aways up the hill and could see that it just kept curving and going up. We got it started again and decided to try it one more time. Got only half as far as the first time and the same thing happened only this time there was a car coming up behind us and one coming very fast down the hill at us. We were both screaming, STOP, STOP, as Pat once again managed to maneuver us back to the wide spot down the hill. Neither of the cars stopped.
We sat some more. Beautiful setting, blue skies, warm breeze, orange butterflies flitting all around us, but for our situation a very frightful place to be. One man stopped, nothing he could do...didn't even know what Tevis was.

We got the motorhome started again and managed to turn it around so we were facing down hill. 2 men with a horse trailer, going to Tevis stopped, said to go back down into Truckee if we could get there. Didn't get their names but thanks to who ever they were just for stopping when others didn't. A local stopped, having talked to the two men in the blue Dodge truck with the two horse trailer and said the same thing about going back into Truckee, he couldn't help as he had wife and 3 big dogs in his little car.
We took a chance and started for Truckee, all downhill and got to a service station. Checked the transmission and the fluid was OK. Both the mechanic and Pat believed it to be a vapor lock which could have caused the gas tank to implode.

We started for Reno, as there were no places in Truckee that could help, all down hill. On the way up we had hit a chuck hole in the dark and the front end bottomed out, just made for a bumpy ride but something had happened when we rolled back down the hill and now the ride was terrible.
We went to the KOA campground at the Reno Hilton and spent Wednesday night there. Started calling and looking for a repair place...finally found Reno Sparks RV and Auto Repair. We can recommend them highly as they took really good care of us during the time we were there. We had them fix the gas tank, and found we needed a new spring that had broken and new shocks as one of them was broken also.
Pat had told me that we would go back and get to Tevis on Thursday but when the transmission start acting up and slipping like crazy on the way back to the campground it then become my need to explain to him that I was no longer thinking of being there so that he would take on no guilt for us not getting there.
We had borrowed the money from Pat's Aunt to fix the shocks, spring and the gas tank but now what do we do?????? We just sat and stared at each other, fear choking off our voices. I already had people waiting to get their items from me at Tevis but that didn't help the money situation now. I come from a very small family and only have one brother in AR that I haven't seen for 17 years, my children and parents are gone. Pat's Aunt was his only source and that had already been used.

The business of, Just for "horsin-round", started 10 years ago and in that time I have made many lasting friends, some I even consider as family. There are several whom I have been privileged to have been let into their lives during divorce, rebirth of personality, deaths, and severe medical problems. I feel very touched that I could encourage and uplift them just by being available and listening, that they wanted my presence in their lives at such trying times and that they gained some comfort from me. It was to one of these friends that I now turned to in my time of need.
It wasn't till I heard Lee Vallone Beveridge's voice on the phone that I cried...till now I had shed no tears...numbness, disbelief and fear had kept my words and tears under tight control. Now the flood gates opened at her response to my tail of woe. Her answer.....".Are you and Pat Ok?....then the monies the easy part...sure". The relief and draining away of tensions...there are no words to describe our gratitude.

Now begins the next repair process. The parts had to be ordered (transmission, radiator, water pump) and would be in on Monday....long weekend at the KOA with nowhere to go, one didn't come in so we stayed at their lot (Reno Sparks RV) and they gave us power for the motorhome. A new radiator was ordered and when it came in was too big, so the old one had to be sent out for recoring. We will spend another night here in their lot and hopefully be able to start for home Thursday morning.
"Home", that place seems such a great distance away in both mileage and in attainability. It is now 7 days since we broke down. I am feeling like Alice and falling down the rabbit hole, a step on the other side of the door that leads to the Twilight Zone, hoping to wake up and find out this is just a nighttime nightmare instead of a daytime one.
The physical and mental toll is great. The waiting, waiting with nothing to do. We, most of our lives, live with someone, work with others and have things happen in our daily lives that we can talk about to others. When you do nothing and see no one and there is nothing new to say.....this lack is weighing heavy on both of us.
Oh goody, the owner just gave us the morning paper to read. On
Thursday last week the crank for the TV antenna fell out of the ceiling so we can't even watch TV. Pat is a consummate TV watcher.....can you imagine the withdrawals he is going through?????

Pat and I are both HAM Radio operators (w6pea/w6ome) and there are two radios in this motorhome. One VHF and UHF bands and the other radio is HF bands. There is an electrical problem with the HF rig and he was unable to get it to tune the screw driver antenna. The VHF/UHF rig works fine but were unable to program local repeaters as Pat had forgotten his repeater directory at home. Our means of communications was very small. If he had been able to get the radios to work he could have been talking all day instead of fuming.
I brought 5 books with me and they have long been read. I bought a small crossword book and it is almost finished. I am writing this saga when my emotions will let me as my pen won't hardly write for some of these statements.

Our dogs, Keaton and Lenny, have been just wonderful during all of this mess. The oldest one (Keaton) got real sick with separation anxiety the last time we boarded him so we brought both of them with us. At times things would have been so much easier and less stressful, no walking the dog for one, if they hadn't been with us but as animal lovers and those that bond with four-legged creatures, I know you understand when I say they have brought us many times of levity and distraction that have helped turn our minds away from our reality.
We have been here in Reno 3 times for the convention, while here we never got a chance to explore the city as we needed to get back to our regular jobs. Reno this time stayed unexplored also. The campground is on the Reno Hilton's property and they do have a shuttle service to and from. We used it twice to get a bite to eat at one of the restaurants.The repair shop is in an industrial complex and at 5:00 everyone leaves, no stores, no restaurants, no one here but us....kind of scary. We are about 6 long blocks from the Hilton and no shuttle service.

Patience at this these times is sorely tested, waiting on others, a feeling of helplessness. For Pat, this is driving him crazy. He is also a Diabetic and stress causes his Blood Sugar Readings to go wild. I try to fix correct meals for him but we are running out of food and money to buy it.
There are a lot of recriminations....should have done this, should have done that. Knowing the repairs are literally costing us more than we paid for the motorhome in the first place and that our debt will take forever to be paid off. Wanting something to make your life more comfortable and having it turn out this way, makes for a very bitter pill to swallow.

I am by no means complaining, just explaining our situation. I keep seeing in my minds eye that tee-shirt with the "No Whining" logo on it. Real hard not to invite everyone to my pity party but I know we will get through this, just need to be patient, remember not to explode, knowing there are those worse off than we.
Last night I got to looking through my kit bag just for something to do. Low and behold I found us some goodies. A hand held poker game and a hand held Yatzee game. The poker game had been my daughter's and she played it while at the rides with me for something to do. After she passed away I found it among her things and put it in my kit bag, taking it out several times to play but soon putting it back as it made me sad, knowing it had belonged to her. The Yatzee game I had bought at the store one day and only played one time.
Finding these two items has been like a breath of fresh air and a lifting of our spirits. Something to do, bringing laughter, lite cursing ( you know the kind I mean) and something else to focus on rather than just staring out the windows at nothing. Conversation again, gentle voices, making decisions together as to what numbers we should play.
When we went to the Hilton to get something to eat it felt strange to be in a Casino and not have any money to play. So here we are now playing games of chance with no money.

Knowing Tevis has come and gone is frustrating as I have no idea who won and of those that completed were any of them my clients? I tell my clients that I will never ride the trails with them but if you know me and are wearing something I have made then my sprit rides with you.
Bobbie Lieberman wrote a great article about the outfitting of a horse and rider for the Tevis. It came out on the 27th of July in the LA Times Outdoor Section. My tights were featured along with the other items used. Nowhere while traveling on the 27th did we find a copy of the Times. I have paid for several copies and have them on hold for me when I get home. We told everybody and his brother about the article and they are saving it for us. Pat's Aunt said she had a dozen of them as her neighbors saved them for her. Getting so close to Tevis and not being able to see the article has been hard to deal with. Can go to Tevis next the article when I get's dealing with the here and now that has me "chomping at the bit and more than a little jiggy". Grin.

Oh, oh, how good it is to be moving again. We left Reno at 1:30 Thursday afternoon. The people at Reno Sparks RV did really good for us, costing us much less than we had figured.
Now we exchanged one stress for another...will the repairs they made get us home? We are fighting such terrible winds, even signs saying no high profile vehicles or trucks next 9 miles......what to do? Trucks are passing us like crazy going in our direction so we just follow. Nowhere on our drive do we not fight the winds.
For the most part our journey home (love that word) will be going down hill but must still pull some major grades. The country side looks different than when we travel here for the convention. Hills and mountains that were covered with snow, majestic and awesome, are now just big hills and mountains, dull and ugly without their coats of winter snow. We saw many areas that had been ravaged with fires. Encouraged by the new green growth ringing the black sticks pointing to the skies.

Several grades give us fits as we go slower and slower up them. I keep repeating to myself the Little Engine That Could's confident refrain.......I think I can, I think I can, then down the other side with big sighs of relief and then repeat again with the next grade.
We stopped in Bishop to get some groceries and then continue on to Coso Junction, just north of Ridgecrest, to spend the night at the rest stop. I slept for 7 hours without waking up from dreams of rolling back down that road. When we left this morning I waved at Mike and Sue Benson and Jackie Baumgartner....strange to be driving by and not stopping for a ride.
Not getting to Tevis this year has been a disappointment for me but I didn't realize how much Pat wanted to go also. After we had rolled down the hill the second time we each just sat there staring out the side windows. All of a sudden Pat pounded his fist on the steering wheel and said, "I'm so sorry, Evelyn, I really wanted to get you to Tevis this year, I am so sorry. Don't worry I'll get us home somehow."

In the 16 years we have been together (Aug.9 1988) Pat has always been my hero. He was been through this ordeal and I have every confidence that he will be in our future.
I know very little about cars and their needs so for me there was very little help or suggestions I could offer. Doing what was asked, keeping us fed, doing everything that I could to keep us comfortable while Pat saw to getting our motorhome repaired and on our way became my job. For Pat having to depend on others to do something he knows how to do but is physically incapable of doing is.....well you know what I mean.

Oh look the sign just said it's only 80 miles to San Diego. Yeah!!!! About another 2 hours and we will put this thing back in the storage lot. No more listening for every little noise and wondering what is causing it. I packed really well and nothing has fallen or come down while moving...pat, pat, on the back. Once your trust in a vehicle has been tested its hard to not to be leery of each and every new sound.
In August, Reno and surrounding cities go wild with "Hot August Nights", a salute to all things from the 50's and 60's, old cars and Elvis especially. While staying at the KOA we saw many rigs either towing old cars or trailers with the cars inside them. The Hilton puts on a big car show. We even got to see "Big Foot" being let out of its trailer on its "Little Feet".......tractor tires. What a funny site...that big truck up in the air on itty, bitty tires. We could see the big feet still in the trailer, filling it from floor to ceiling.

Leaving Reno and driving south we were treated to the site of many, many old cars being driven to their respective shows. Many brought back memories of the cars that our grandparents, parents, and we drove....some I know we will never see again.
Oh my, just drove south of Escondido and came around a curve and got hit with the most wonderful cool ocean breeze, can see the fog bank off the coast of San Diego. We just might make it. Close my eyes and let the breeze blow over me as the jets from Miramar fly over head.
Just a few more miles to the storage lot, transfer only necessities to the truck and fire it up. A mile and a half later, open my front door. Driving through my town I am wondering ...did last week really happen? Reality will convince me soon enough with phone bills, gas bills and money to be repaid to 2 very wonderful people that helped tremendously in our time of need.

Slept in my own bed last night, felt wonderful. Now I must start plowing through our emails..over 3000 of them....notices of bounced ones so if you have emailed me last week please do so again.
Congratulations to whoever won and to those that completed the Tevis this year. Just know that those of you that didn't complete for whatever reason and those of you that didn't get to go for whatever reason.....try, try again...I plan on it.
One bonus to this adventures is that I lost 11 lbs but am NOT endorsing this diet!
That's my story......and I'm stickin' to it....big grin!

Evelyn and Pat

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