Tuesday, August 12, 2003

2003 Helldiver, eh?

On Behalf Of 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

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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