One of the new faces was Prairiewind who had followed me from Nashville, as she wanted to meet these people she's only heard about all these years but who have been such a large part of my life. Meeting all my "biker" friends was good, but I think the highlight of her Sturgis visit was seeing the Budweiser Clydesdales. The hitch was camped out at the Buffalo Chip campground on the north side of Sturgis for the week long festivities, and we headed up there one morning to see them up close and personal. There are two horse vans for the boys, and one trailer contains the wagon and harnesses. This gentleman told us it takes him about four hours a day to polish the harness.
He also informed us it takes an average of 8 minutes per horse to get them harnessed and hitched and ready to perform, and although they have done it in a little as 15 minutes for all eight horses they prefer to take a bit more time
Here's Fran meeting Clyde, the 5 month old Dalmation who is in training with the hitch. He's a total sweetheart, and loves everyone that approaches him.
I'm not sure how his training is going as far as riding on the wagon and being photogenic, but he does need some work on the whole "not getting the leash tangled around posts" thing. lol Fran unwound him three times while we were standing around. He does however have the "poor me, I'm so abused and neglected, I need some love" look down pat. How could anyone resist that look?
The horses, when not attending an event, spent their day in portable stalls under a huge tent, but we were very lucky to get there as they were all going out for their morning walks. After watching them travel up and down the road a few times one handler brought the three boys in his care over to meet us. The three he had in hand were the youngest horses in this hitch at 6 and 7 years old. This hitch has over 300 engagements per year and there are 2 more hitches with just as crowded a calendar. Many people see them at football games, in parades, etc, but it's rare to actually get to see them up close, let along pet them. If they've only seen them on television and aren't familiar with Clydesdales, many people are surprised by just how large these guys really are, standing over six feet tall at the withers and weighing 2000 pounds or more.
The youngster on the left gave a big yawn as if to say he was bored with all this PR stuff. lol
Fran even managed to capture a shot of me and the Clydes... probably the only photo of myself I'll ever post on this blog. LOL
The second Oops of this post involves the campground I stayed at last night. After 2 weeks boondocking at the farm with only a 20 amp electrical hookup utilizing a 100 foot extension cord, my tiny 20 gallon fresh water tank was on fumes. Does water have fumes? Well, suffice it to say I was out of water. So, I headed into Adrian MN to dump the black and gray water tanks and take on a fresh load of water. As long as I was there I figured I might as well spend the night and get a nice long shower out of the deal. I had invited my daughter and the grands to come camping with me, but due to a mix up and faulty memory (on her part instead of mine for a change hehe) we didn't connect. However I did have a nice evening in the city campground. School has started and therefore there were not a lot of people camping. I had a great pull-through site with plenty of shade and no close neighbors.
The campground is laid out in two large concentric circles, with the shower building and a large picnic shelter in the center. The 50 amp sites are on the other side from where I was parked. The municipal swimming pool is on the road into the campground, so it's just a short walk if you want to cool off on a hot day. There is also a playground and frisbee golf in the park. What about the oops? Notice in both these pictures that the tongue jack is down. I took these photos this morning while getting ready to leave. Since I was just there one night, and the spot was very level I didn't unhook the TT from the truck, just jacked it up a couple inches so it was level. Can you see where this is going?
I filled the fresh water tank and unhooked the city water, unplugged from the electric pedestal, made sure windows were closed and everything inside was stowed for travel, double checked that the roof vents were closed. I did glance at the hitch but since I never disconnected I didn't double check safety chains, lights etc. Climbed in the truck and started out. Hmmm... it seems to be pulling awfully hard... I made it onto the road (notice in the pics just how far that is from the spot I was parked) and thought What the heck is that noise!?! It sounds like a tire/tires locked up and dragging on the gravel! Do I have a brake locked up or something?!? I put the truck in park and climbed out to check. Oh man, what an idiot! I didn't crank the tongue jack up!!! So I was digging a furrow! About 3 inches deep and all the way out of the camping spot, and 30 or 40 feet along the gravel road!!! You've never seen anyone crank a tongue jack as fast as I did, hoping all the while nobody was watching me. You would think with all the times I've set up and broken down camp that the jack would be one item I would never forget to double check, but somehow I totally overlooked it. I stopped at the office to tell them I had been plowing in the campground. Nobody was in the office but the camp host came over and I explained my stupidity to him. He said "Don't worry, it happens more often than you would think". There are no photos of this incredible act of stupidity or it's aftermath, but you can be sure I'll NEVER forget to check the jack again!!!