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Keeping the lines of communica-

tion open makes life on the road a lot more enjoyable. Years ago a mar- ried couple, traveling with us on an extended trip, discovered they had totally different ideas of how their “adventure” should be conducted. Life became more intense with each hour, day and week of close contact. Reality hit, aſt er many disagreements, when their independent marriage lifestyle had caught up with them. Soon it was discovered they didn’t enjoy being together and, in fact, although they loved each other, they just didn’t like each other. Jim and I already had a strong line of communication and had been

spending almost all our time together for years. We enjoyed each other’s company. We also made a pact, while we were planning our new adven- ture, that if at any time during our travels either one of us was growing tired of the lifestyle, and aſt er talking it over, we still had the same desire to call it quits, we would start looking for a place to set le down. It made good sense to us to have an exit strategy in place before we hit the road.

GETTING STARTED We did our best to combine packing, planning and research along

with shopping for equipment in a relaxed manner. Starting the process before the house even sold gave us the time to get a jumpstart. We didn’t

❶ Find you are carrying more weight than you should be while traveling over a long, steep moun- tain grade? T ere are a few things you can do to lighten your load. Don’t fi ll your water tank com- pletely, dump your black and grey tanks, and if you can calculate your fuel need for this leg of the trip, wait to fi ll your tank until you get over that mountain.

❷ Do you fear you may run out of hay or get stuck somewhere without provisions? Carry a bag of certifi ed weed-free hay cubes or pelletized com- plete feed. It can be tucked away, and it keeps for a long while.

❸ Do you have nightmares about get ing to your destination, even with reservations, to fi nd no one there, that your reservation can’t be found, or that you just can’t fi nd the place as if it doesn’t exist? Well, don’t panic. If there is someone around the area, instead of wondering what to do next, just ask if they know of another place you may be able to spend the night. Or, stop at the fi rst place where people may be—in their front yard, a feed store, veterinary clinic—any place where you see horses. One time we stopped at a local pizza place, the owner made a call and we were off to a very nice place with the most gracious host, adding to an even greater adventure. We always carried some lit le thank you giſt of sorts for those occasions when our host didn’t want payment for their kindness. A lit le basket of fruit, fl owers or even a box of chocolates along with a card. T e hosts are always happy to be appreciated.

Jim Wilder comes up a rise in the Badlands of North Dakota.

want to fi nd ourselves in a bind or rushed for time. We didn’t set a defi nitive date for our departure, as we planned to leave when ev- erything came together. Our schedule usual- ly consisted of packing boxes in the morning when our energy levels were at their highest, then continuing our research (mostly on the Internet) or going out to browse the many choices for motor homes and trailers.

Check out all your options, such as your choice between Class A

and Class C motor homes and the diesel pusher. T en go to as many dealerships as you can, and drive the ones you like to help you make the right choice for your kind of travel. Be sure to research and compare towing capacity, payload and hauling statistics. T ese are important facts to heed and should be considered carefully in your decision. Make sure you know if the engine is powerful enough to get you where you are going. Carrying too heavy a load is a major issue in stopping safely.

DO YOUR RESEARCH Research is very important, especially for the “how to” aspects of

your upcoming journey. T e Internet is a treasure trove of informa- tion, and fi rsthand knowledge is priceless. If you want to know the ins and outs of traveling full time you need to research RV sites. Traveling the county in a RV is the same whether you’re a horse person or not. Problems encountered, equipment knowledge and life in general are

❹ Finding your fuel mileage is dropping? T ink

about removing anything you are carrying on the outside of your rig that could be causing wind resistance, thus producing a drag and consuming your fuel. T is might include hay on top of the trailer, full water barrels even heavy corral panels (panels can be replaced by lighter weight and easy to store electric fence). It is not a good idea to carry heavy loads, such as barrels of water, on the tongue of the trailer, which will add unwanted tongue weight.

❺ It may take you longer to travel to point A than you were planning and you could fi nd yourself in the middle of nowhere. You can avoid this scenario if you start looking for a place to stay via the Internet or your smart phone long before you are exhausted, when everything becomes more complicated. T ere are lots of overnight stabling facilities that aren’t ad- vertised on the Web or in traditional stabling guides. But they may be found on the Internet for that town you fi nd yourself close to. Try calling stables, horse facilities and regular campgrounds. If you have done your homework/research, you will know the rules that govern overnight stays on Federal land and that information will come in handy many times over.

❻ So, are you on a long trip and looking for a safe place to unload your horse to get some exercise? It is not necessary to take your horse out of the trailer. On a normal trip you will fi nd that when you stop every few hours for fuel, to eat and for bathroom breaks—this also gives your horse a break. Actu- ally, taking them out of the trailer may cause more


problems than you bargained for. T ey may refuse to get back into the trailer. T e grass they nibble on may have been sprayed with chemicals, especially at roadside rest areas. T ey may get away from you and you could be spending hours looking for them. Actu- ally, the safest place for your horse is in the trailer.

❼ Should you take an extra horse as a backup mount? In fact, an extra horse can be more trouble than he’s worth. You will need to bring more equip- ment, buy more feed, he will add more weight and your overall costs will increase quite a bit. T e truth is you will spend more time ponying the horse around which can turn into a real hassle on the trail. If you leave him back at the trailer, he will most likely fret the whole time you are gone, he may get out of his enclosure and there is always a possibility of him being stolen if there is no one there to watch him. If you need another horse, say to pack in, they are easy to fi nd. Or if need be you can buy one while you are on the road.

❽ Be aware of a frequently overlooked option. No doubt you will have your rig, its contents and horses insured. In addition I would advise towing insurance. An equestrian towing service can save you big bucks if you ever need to be towed. When an unexpected problem arose with my rig, I had to have it towed to the nearest town to the tune of over $1,000. T e repair bill was several hundred more. T e cost of the added coverage, which paid the total towing bill, was well worth the small (in comparison) cost of the service. Safe travel!

Eight Tips for the Road

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