Shhh....keep this a secret.
Well, sort of. Fortunately, the person who we're trying to surprise isn't on the internet, and hopefully won't have anyone ruin the surprise.
On Friday, April 12th, Villi Poni volunteers Luana, and I (Amanda), along with Villi Poni's director Emily, went with adopter Mary to Mendon, NY to pick up "Gaffer", a registered Newfoundland Pony gelding whose previous owner was downsizing her farm. The owner, located in Michigan, reached out to Villi Poni to help find Gaffer a new home.
Mary Dawson, a displaced native of Newfoundland herself, heard about Gaffer (whose registered name is Deerfield's Gaff Topsail) and fell in love at just the pictures. Gaffer is going to surprise Mary's father, who grew up with the Ponies on the Island before they were carted off by the truckload, when next he visits. They still make the trip to Newfoundland every couple of years for vacation, but moving back is unlikely, thanks to the current economic recession. This is Mary's way of having a bit of her old home with her new, for both her and her father, who still tells stories of the ponies from his childhood.
So at 8 o'clock Friday morning, the four of us piled into the Silverado with trailer in tow and headed off to Mendon, which according to the GPS was only six and a half hours away. At most, we expected it to take 14 hours - factoring in food, gas and rest stops, and the fact that we would be towing a trailer.
We. Were. Wrong.
We took the Gilligan's Island 3 Hour Tour route to Mendon, which involved the very, very scenic route through western Mass on route 2A. It was lovely. Mountain views as far as the eye could see. A rushing river beside the road. Cloudless blue sky that looked so close, you thought you could reach out and touch it.
Hairpin turns that took complete 180 degree switchbacks on 45 degree declines down.
Fortunately, we didn't have anyone in the trailer at that point, but it was unanimously agreed - we were taking the highway back. We made it just across the New York border before having to fill up the tank, even though we started full at the beginning of the journey. As amazing as the tow capacity is for a Silverado 2500HD, less amazing is the gas mileage. On the flat, it gets a whopping 12 miles to gallon. On those roads? InstaEconomy says 4mpg.
I'm also never letting Emily live down the fact that she took us in the wrong direction no less than four times in the course of this road trip. In any future trips, we're using my GPS.
But, a journey shared is always fun, especially when you travel with the Villi Poni ladies. We had smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers on Triscuits (courtesy of our Newfoundland native Mary), a box of Dunkin Donuts coffee, fresh baked muffins, fresh strawberries the size of melons, and of course, chocolate.
On our way, we stopped at a rest stop and Zoltar the magnificent was there, so we decided to seek his counsel. We didn't like his answer, so we penciled in our own.
We got to Mendon, to a beautiful farm, Hillrose Morgans, who'd been nice enough to pick up Gaffer at his last way point and get him closer to us than Michigan. We got to learn about her wonderful foundation Morgans who were so sweet and friendly, and the foundation breeding that she was doing with them, working with the old lines that Justin Morgan's Figure (or, Little Bub if you read Marguerite Henry's Justin Morgan Had a Horse) to keep the working lines instead of the show Morgans. But, with a loooong road ahead of us, we only got to stay for half an hour before loading Gaffer on the trailer to be off again.
Who's up for a little math? Going out, we took from 8AM until 4PM - eight hours (give or take 30 minutes at the end there). Want to guess what time we got home at night, traveling on the highway instead of the super scenic route with four wrong turns?
We pulled into Gaffer's driveway at 2AM. Ten hours. We have no idea what happened. Did we find the opposite of a wormhole? Did we somehow defy physics? Who knows. But this made it all worth it:
Mary's husband and even her kids stayed up so they could greet Gaffer in his new home. For being on three trailers over the span of a week and going half the length of the country, Gaffer stepped off that trailer as if he'd been here his whole life.
Gaffer is now settled in at his new home with his new buddies, and we're all anxiously awaiting the surprise when Mary's father comes home and sees a part of his old home here at daughter's home.
And, even though the rest of us got home later than Gaffer (Emily didn't get into her driveway until almost 4AM), wrong turns and 'scenic routes' and all, we would all pile pack into the truck to go and get another pony in need of a place to call home. It was a group effort too, and we are very thankful for those that go Gaffer as close to us as they could (at the rate we were going, we probably would've wound up somewhere in Bermuda two weeks later instead of Michigan). Thank you to Cheryl Yelle of Hillrose Morgans for giving Gaffer a soft place to land until we could come and pick him up!
Amanda pope and Emily chetkowski
Hello, and welcome to the (mis)adventures of the Villi Poni Farm family! We hope to be able to post weekly (or bi-weekly as the summer starts up) about all the great things going on here at the Farm! Feel free to share, leave a comment, and let us hear from you!