Saturday, September 3, 2011
Waiting Out The Heat
The temperatures are soaring and tempers are growing short for almost the 100th day in a row here. The brilliance of the sun pounds the asphalt at 325F/162C degrees lifting mirages off into the distance. The temperatures have been in the triple digits (and for my Celsius friends that’s upward near 43 degrees) and has been doing so consecutively for more than 90 some days. It started back on June 22nd and has been relentless since then. Indeed it’s hotter than 14 Hades.
I remember those days riding in the thistle torn desert amongst hot thirsty cattle wondering when we would arrive safely at camp as we rode hearty horses to our next host’s destination. I learned to never dip my hat into a cattle trough full of algae and put it on my head as it made me smell like “cow” the entire day. Sweat less heat took our breath away as the oppressiveness of it rose to greet us by 8am. Hotter than 127F/50C.We shut our horses and ourselves down by nine a.m.
The desert is different; reprieve from heat comes on the heels of amazing sunsets. Not much but enough to bear it. Beautiful weather by 9pm and then easy sleep. We looked forward to that promise day in and day out. Eventually after riding 3 days on and one day off, it wasn’t enough rest for my horse and me. One of us went to the hospital, one of us was feeling pretty puny and even though I was drinking 2 gallons of water a day, my body needed more than water and rest; it needed a break from the heat and some electrolytes. Gatorade didn’t work. Then I started to notice the stagger in my horse. My black horse, Fancy. I went home.
We didn’t have to carry any gear; we had a support vehicle meet us every two miles for water breaks for the horses and for us. I remember those 212 miles in the desert.
In Western Oklahoma there is no promise of reprieve when the sun sets and begins a new day for my friends in Australia. The heat stays heavily and lingering with its boa constrictor grasp on its inhabitants like a constant unwanted blanket wrapping us too tightly near our throats. Our skin feels like fire and our eyeballs parched with screaming heat. Our lips cracked like the land itself separating as it begs for rain as this drought threatens existence as it did with the Maya.
With horse travel, I promised my horse and myself that if I didn’t have to subject my horse and me to the extremes of life, don’t do it; only if it’s a life or death matter.
An amazing offer of kindness came from my friend Anna on the way to Oklahoma. Anna wanted to go on this ride with me but for family reasons she is unable to go with me. Anyway, after looking for about 5 weeks for transport without success, her father offered to transport Evangeline and me ALL the way back to Louisiana so we can start there instead. Ironically, this long ride was happening partly to a true need of transport. The rates were outrageous and I figured I could ride Evangeline back for half the cost. Yes, horses truly get better gas mileage!
Usually I have no pace and no rush… but this time I have to be back by January 1st to start school. Anyway, Anna’s father is able to take us back on Sept. 24th.
There is a time for all of us to realize what is just good common sense. I hate that I have to wait until Sept 24th to begin this odyssey. While in Oklahoma though I can work with Eve and help around the ranch there until that time comes. I will continue to assess Evangeline and get her more back up into shape, shots, coggins done and etc..before we depart.
That look in her eye says she is ready to go like I am..but I just have to wait out the heat and do what’s smart for BOTH of us. I have a feeling this heat won’t break until mid October. My original plan was to start on October 28th so I am still ahead of the game.
Whether I leave now or in a few weeks or October 28th, the point is that I am leaving and continuing to live my dreams.
Over and out for now – September 3, 2011