Thursday, 8 December 2016

Depressing Delays

I had timed my autumn schedule so I could attend the Pony Express National Convention which was conveniently being held in mid September, just before I hoped to set out on the second leg. It would be a chance to meet up with old friends and make new contacts for the route ahead.  Nevada were hosting the 2016 weekend convention, so on Thursday September 8th Mike and Bonnie Robinson drove out to Fallon with me in the back seat.  En route I succeeded in ticking off yet another Pony Express station which has been moved from its original site, this time Ruby Valley station which is now in front of the museum in Elko - here are Mike and Bonnie in front of the old log cabin. 

  I sat in on a couple of the more relevant convention sessions and gave a slide show presentation of my world ride, but by and large the non riding members (which included me) were left to their own devices during the day, though there were a couple of organised outings which included a trip to a local winery on the Saturday. Social occasions comprised a BBQ on Friday evening, and dinner on Saturday evening. It was great to catch up with some of the wonderful people who had hosted and helped me in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming, and also meet in the flesh Petra Keller who had sent me an invaluable digital file of the re-ride route several months previously.   I was also able to pick brains, identify problem sections and identify those who could give a helping hand through remote waterless stretches in the desert area ahead.  This promised to present a real challenge in places as we would be relying on my support driver Lucy Badenhoop's two wheel drive camper which might struggle with some of the non-asphalt roads.
A colourful phalanx of Pony Express riders accoutred in the official uniform of cowboy boots and hat, blue jeans, red shirt, brown waistcoat and yellow neckscarf!
On Sunday September 11th it was back to Mike and Bonnie's house at Eagle Mountain, where Lucy was waiting in the dark having taken a couple of days to drive over from her home near Sacramento. 
I had planned to spend the morning of Monday September 12th in preparations before riding the short leg to Camp Floyd in late afternoon.   It was a flurry of activity as Lucy and I rushed to do last minute food shopping, stocking up with horse feed, and organising satellite phone hire among a myriad of other things, but the best laid plans of mice and women go awry.  We both had interminable technological problems. My email account had been blocked since I arrived in the US, and all efforts to unblock it failed. This had the inevitable knock on effect on further planning.  The GPS programme on my laptop refused to work properly so I was unable to download a file of GPS points I had been given by a HAM operator, or even enter points manually, which meant I was going to have to rely on paper maps across some very remote country. In the end Lucy bought a printer and I printed out satellite maps from Google Earth with my planned route across the most remote sections.    HQ at Mike and Bonnie's, with Lucy poring over her laptop.....
I eventually managed to get away in the afternoon and set off along the trail from Eagle Mountain to Fairfield/Camp Floyd, ponying Mo behind me.
The small settlement of Fairfield is the site of the former Camp Floyd, which was a short lived US army post established here in 1858 at the time of friction between the US government and the Mormons.  Little remains of it now, but across the street from the commissary (now a museum) is Carson House, a stagecoach inn built in 1858 and subsequently serving as a Pony Express station...... 
Lucy walks over to visit the inn, which is now part of the Camp Floyd State Park museum.

View from the inn to the Camp Floyd commissary and Pony Express monument.
Mike had found a place to leave the horses, so Lucy and I could return to HQ and continue with preparations, but I then went down overnight with a violent vomiting/diarrhoea bug. It meant taking another day out to recover, but at least it gave me more time for planning once I was less green.

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