The Times They Are A Changin’.

A lot can happen over time. Time changes a person. That’s the biggest attribute to change, time… and pressure. It’s not any one thing either, it’s a culmination… we don’t actually notice it happening, it just does. One day, we wake up different. We go from loving the fast pace of our lives to wanting the moments to tick by slowly. So when the opportunity to make drastic changes pop up, we take them.

I’m not entirely sure when it happened but over time, there was a change. A shift occurred and I no longer wanted to live the life I had been living. I needed to mix it up. Even in my fast paced career, I felt stagnant. You can plateau easily if you don’t pay attention. I had maxed out in my training & earning potential, there was no room to grow or move up. With the new idiot in office (Agent Orange), I knew that my job was going to become infinitely harder. The man was going to start monkeying around with NAFTA and I moved commodities internationally for a living. I needed out. There were other factors involved as well, such as natural disasters (wild fires) which greatly affected my company’s ability to thrive, much less survive. So when I was presented with a severance package with three months wage, I didn’t see a reason not to accept. I had other pressing matters on my mind. If you aren’t aware, Devon & I own thoroughbred racehorses. Horse racing has become a passion of ours and we are almost always at the track on the weekend. We even have an oddball family of misfits that we sit with and we look forward to seeing on race day. Because I genuinely enjoy horses, becoming a groom seemed like a natural transition for me.

Walking back to the barn with Lady.

If there is one thing you need to understand about Devon, it is that she is loyal… incredibly loyal. I watched her work for a company for twelve years and for twelve years, I watched them walk all over her. She was good at this job, almost too good. She didn’t need anyone to help her with any aspect of it and she often took time out of her day to help others who seemed lost in their antiquated computer system, hello 1977. While I won’t divulge too many details, I can tell you this… she worked in plumbing & lighting, was the warehouse manager (though not paid for it) and literally everyone in three branches went to her with their issues. She flew back east to help convert two new stores into their system and every employee who met her, loved her. They were shocked when she didn’t yell at them for making small mistakes or not knowing how to do something. Her easygoing style made working around her relaxed and fun, and she knew just how to motivate people. So when the rumblings of her maybe leaving came to light, nobody believed it. She was a “company man”. But what the company didn’t know was there was another place willing to not only give her the same amount of holidays but pay her a fair wage as well. This would be the first time in her professional career that she would actually make the amount of money she should have been for all those years. And you know what? That felt good. If there is something else you need to know about Devon, it’s that she hates knick knacks, literally loathes them. You can imagine my surprise when she came home and told me she’s now in charge of a warehouse full of touristy baubles. I was proud of her, for taking the interview, for accepting a new position in a different industry, for leaving that abomination of a company in the dust. She too, felt something needed to change. The “lifer” had been paroled.

We had been horse owners for about four years before we seriously started taking a major interest in our “investments”. We don’t see horses as commodities, we see them as… well, horses. Each one has their own personality, their own set of quirks. Like humans, they differ. No two are alike. Every weekend, we’d go to our barn to visit the boys before heading up front to watch the races. Barn K has a special place in our hearts. In many ways, we grew up there. Personal growth comes in many forms and there’s nothing more personal than the relationship between man and animal. Horses, like dogs, choose who they show certain parts of their personality to. They are honest creatures and trust wholly. Barn K is affectionately known as the Barroby barn. Hall of Fame trainer brothers Frank & Harold Barroby have been mainstays at Hastings Racecourse since the 1970s. There’s not one person at the track that doesn’t know who they are or what they’ve done for the sport.

Francis Emry Barroby didn’t choose a life at the racetrack so much as the life chose him. Born in Saskatchewan, one of twelve children, including horsemen brothers Harold & Larry. Frank started galloping horses at 15 for his father and it just steamrolled from there. He traveled all over the east coast, from racetrack to racetrack, excelling at each stop. His natural ability as a jockey on display, he won 78 races in 42 days at Assiniboia Downs. His wins total kept increasing yearly and he seemed to have few equals as a rider. After battling the scales, he retired from riding in 1978 and transitioned to training. He remains the only person to be both leading jockey and trainer in the same season at Hastings Racecourse.

Frank Barroby.

Fast forward many years and each time we walk down the shed row, we briefly stop and say hello to Frank. If you didn’t know him, you would think he’s a gruff individual. Upon chatting with him and observing him around his horses, you quickly deduce he’s a giant softy. When it comes to people at the track, there is no one warmer than Frank Barroby.Around October of 2017, I was no longer gainfully employed in an industry I was simply burnt out in… and so I found myself with tons of extra time on my hands. It was the end of the race season at Hastings and I knew that only a handful of trainers would still be there, cleaning up and shipping out. On a whim and advice from Devon’s aunt, I wandered down to barn K to see if anyone needed a hand. I noticed that Frank’s “help” was nowhere to be seen and he still had ten head. While this man has endless energy and can run circles around anybody half his age, I still offered my assistance… and to my amazement, he accepted.

I started off by mucking one stall, then walking the horse that belonged to that stall. And such was the routine for the next ten days. These were the best ten days I had enjoyed in quite some time. I am not a morning person. That doesn’t mean that I’m in a bad mood, I rarely am. I wake up happy… but I am not alert. I must admit that getting up before the sun was difficult… but so very worth it. I got to spend quality time with ten very sweet horses who were only too happy to be walking about in essentially, an empty barn. I was able to walk them from the top side, down into the bottom half of the barn (which is something you don’t usually do during the season unless you have permission). Lady Cash, in particular, enjoyed these walks. She’s a pretty big mare, about 16.2. She’s the kind of horse who knows what she wants, when she wants it. As mares go, she’s pretty nice. Most mares are ornery but Lady was always patient. You could tell she was humouring you. She never wanted to go back to her stall, she’d pick up the pace when you started to approach it. She is clearly in charge when it comes to her walks. Captain Jones is just as nice and about the same size. He has an even temperament. He does a good job at making you feel in charge… even though you really don’t need to be there, holding the shank. He knows when to turn and how much water to drink. For him, having a human hold the shank and walk beside him is just a technicality. He’s basically on autopilot when it comes to the shed row. The one with the mildest manners is the Texas Kid, the grey. He’s only about 15 hands so he’s an easy walk, and I mean easy. He doesn’t pull, waits his turn and enjoys the pace of it all. He likes to pause at the top of the barn and look out, which I oblige. The sweetest one in the barn is Goldie. She’s the puppy of the group, not a mean bone in her body. A chestnut mare, standing 15.2. I haven’t met another horse as laid back as she is. Nothing fazes her. She doesn’t mind if you brush her, pick her feet, put ice boots on her. She cares not if you’re in her stall with her. She’s truly a good girl. She’s also the hardest horse to get out of the water bucket after a work. She goes from 1000lbs. to 10,000lbs. Frank thought I was kidding, until he walked her after the track. Remarkable how fierce a drinker she is. If ever there were a horse that Devon would adopt… it’s Goldie.

Last year was my first full season as a hot walker and a groom at Hastings and I learned a ton. Frank is a man of few words… he doesn’t have to say much at all. You learn by observing him with the horses. He’s different with each one, as they are with him. Each horse has its own personality and they act accordingly. I learned more from watching him do his thing than by actually asking him questions. He’s a patient man with sharp wit. He loves to joke and loves a good joke. I don’t think I’ve ever met a more humble human being. I am lucky that he selected me over others to work with. I asked him why once and he told me “I’d rather work with someone who’s green and don’t know anything than someone with experience that thinks they know everything”. I took that as a compliment. I told anybody who would listen that I know nothing and am willing to take any and all advice. I think people appreciated my honesty.

On my down time throughout the season, I cleaned and conditioned tack. My predecessor either didn’t believe in cleaning tack, or didn’t know how. As a ball player with 38 years under my belt, I am no stranger to oils & conditioners. You could say, I took a shine to it. There is something calming and transfixing about cleaning tack. There’s a definitive beginning, middle and end. You see results and its instant gratification. I limped in easy, starting with shanks and halters. They seemed easy enough and, they were. I graduated on to harder items, such as exercise saddles. I like a good challenge and you really have no idea how much leather you’re working with until you work on a saddle. There’s the underside, which never sees the light of day and is dryer than a popcorn fart. You need to clean it once with saddle soap, rinse well, then hit it once with neatsfoot oil, remember to thoroughly dry it, then go over it with a good conditioner like Lexol or Fiebing’s Aussie Leather Conditioner with beeswax. It’s the beeswax that’s the not so secret ingredient which locks in the moisture, keeping the leather supple and adding a buttery softness to it. I was surprised when, several times, people stopped and informed me that “that wasn’t something you saw very often anymore” when I was cleaning saddles, shanks and halters. I still don’t understand that. What else was one supposed to do when you didn’t have any other work to be done? I like keeping busy and cleaning tack is right up my alley.

As long as the season is (it runs from April to October) it went by fast. We only got in about three races a month which made the season fly by. Before I knew it, we were halfway through and it felt like it went by in the blink of an eye. We had five babies to work with and let me tell you, you haven’t worked with horses until you’ve worked with babies. Fast, unpredictable and downright adorable. Each day presented you with a new set of challenges. We had two colts and three fillies. The boys, Soldier & Mander, were polar opposites of each other. Soldier is a massive chestnut, bum high, aware of his size but a giant wuss. Mander is much smaller, a dark bay and has zero clue how strong he is (thank Jebus!). The girls, Zee & Little B, are quite sweet and like to keep eyes on each other. Zee is a bigger chestnut, is in her head too much and spooks easy. Little B is a smaller chestnut, sweet disposition and takes everything in stride. And then there’s Sweetheart. You would think she was a mare, she’s so huge. This filly might very well be the biggest horse I’ll deal with. Thankfully, either she doesn’t know her own strength, or doesn’t care. She loves to run. She’s a smart horse and enjoys being on the track. I cannot wait to see what she’s capable of doing. There was also Violet… sweet, misunderstood Violet. A three year old, named after Frank’s sister who passed away. Violet is a headstrong horse, who isn’t very sound. For a very brief moment, we had Quinn. He was a sweet natured bay, well-mannered and enjoyed attention. He suffered an unfortunate accident during training… and we enjoyed his presence in our barn for just nine days. He is deeply missed.

Mariano Ascencio coming back with Violet, post race.

The off season (or winter if you’re fancy like that) is a short one, but it feels much longer than it is. It’s getting close to racing season and I, for one, cannot wait to get back to the track.I’m not sure what others do in their off season but Devon & I have kept ourselves busy. It has been our goal for the better part of a decade to travel around in a big rolling turd (that’s RV to you). Well, we have been working on a project that’s nearing completion. Come season’s start, we are hopeful that we’ll be rolling up in our very own travel trailer, built from the ground up with our very own hands. The only thing we didn’t fabricate ourselves is the frame. In upcoming posts, we will be filling in more of the missing information on this build. For now, just know that we have learned more about ourselves and travel trailers in the past six months than we have in the past twelve years. If you can build a travel trailer with your partner, you can achieve anything.

I am excited for the new season. I am excited for the new travels in our future.

I am excited.

  • Devon & Jade
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So… We Did a Thing.

I have written and rewritten a blog post nine different ways from Sunday and it’s still coming out wrong. It’s clunky, bulky and doesn’t flow the way I’m used to.

So… we did a thing.

We have this project in an undisclosed location that have worked on with every minute of our “spare” time.

It’s now in the final stages as we’ve thrown a few coats of paint on it. It’s definitely looking like something and I keep shaking my head because I cannot grasp that we made something from nothing… with our own bare hands.

After many years of research, planning, mock-ups and the like… we bought a trailer… frame. A fifth-wheel trailer frame which we stripped down to the metal so we can design it from the ground up. A nice, clean, jet black, shiny slate.

Instead of inheriting a plethora of mistakes from previous owners, we just dove right in and made our own “oopsies” along the way.

If life has taught us anything, its that it’s an adventure and it’s never about the destination… it’s about the journey.

Come join us.

  • Devon & Jade

Curses! Foiled Again.

Oops, we did it again. This wasn’t something we did intentionally and now we’ve gone and done it again. We’ve managed to miss an entire calendar year’s worth of posts. Oh the humanity.

Life went and got in the way again. Things came up, stuff happened. That’s usually how it goes, stuff happens and things get in the way, get in your way. Mostly though, you get in your way.

We’ve been busy little bees while we were away. I thought about blogging and I had some things to talk about too, in many ways, I still do. We’ve started the process again and would you believe it, there’s ten drafts in here already, eight of which I can stomach. Shoot, we’ve even been to Mexico in our time away.

Look, all I can tell you is this… I still like writing, I still like travel and I still like this blog. I’m hoping that I can polish up and post at least two of those blogs by early next week.

We’ve had a ton of personal changes since we’ve been gone. I’ve suffered a huge personal loss (and I’m not ready to discuss it yet) and life still goes on. We both made some massive changes in our professional lives, both of which were definitely for the better. We’re both more relaxed now and we can enjoy ourselves in our downtime more. There’s definitely less stress in our lives. Leaving major corporations does something to you… it makes your blood pressure drop back down to normal.

Even though life moves fast, you still need to slow down and enjoy the ride.

We don’t plan on taking such long breaks from our blog again so look for new posts in the near future and come back often. Remember, we love comments so drop us a line some time.

Fingers crossed we don’t run into any more oopsies from here on out.

Yak later.

  • Devon & Jade

Best Laid Plans.

It’s an often repeated partial quote from a famous poem. I’m betting most people who use it have no idea of its origins or that it’s been adapted to suit modern english which lends to its applicability.

“The best laid plans of mice an’ men often go awry.” – Robert Burns

Translation: Even the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong.

We all know how much I love planning things… I’d rather have someone ram bamboo chutes up my fingernail beds. I have struggled for years to understand people’s need to have everything planned out to the millisecond in their day. The only people who thrive on that are military personnel and prisoners (and maybe Devon). I find the process both painful and completely unnecessary.

I’m quite random. I’m known for spouting off random tidbits of knowledge at any moment for no apparent reason known to mankind. I like random. Random keeps people on their toes.

Some people are fixated on needing to know absolutely everything at all times. It’s just in their DNA. I’m so very thankful that I do not have this affliction.

I have an aversion to instructions that the common man blindly follow without question. Why can’t we buck the system? Everybody has a schedule. We all have daily obligations; be it work, school or other. You’ve got to get your kids up for school, feed, clothe them, walk the dog, clean the litter box… did you remember to shower? Too late, time for dropping the tiny humans off at school. You have a huge meeting at work that you might be prepared for, if you brought the right flash stick with the powerpoint presentation on it. After work, it’s grabbing the kids, dropping them off to their after school programs then off to your hot yoga class. Damn, you forgot your yoga mat, you’ll have to borrow one from the instructor. Then it’s back across town to pick up the offspring, make dinner, bath time for the kidlets followed by bedtime… you might have an hour of “me” time to finally start reading that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand for six months. You pick up the book, open it and… your eyes are far too heavy to read through… and you have to do a similar routine the next day. This sounds like my personal hell. We’re already stuck in a structured timetable weekly. The system is oppressive enough. Why then, would you do the same to yourself on vacation?

Road trips were invented as a means to get out and see the country. They came about during the late 1800s, early 1900s just as the birth of the automobile came to fruition. Think Jack Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson. Ultimately, there shouldn’t really be a destination, it’s about the journey. Your goal should be to relax, see something you’ve never seen. We should guffaw schedules. Ball up blueprints and light a campfire with them, toast some marshmallows over crumpled up, outdated maps.

To quote Bob Ross, some of our best road trips came about due in part to “happy little accidents”. We didn’t mean to turn left off of the highway three miles back but what’s this cool little town we’ve stumbled upon? We were just helping a little old Navajo lady get back to her tiny town after church… didn’t mean for it to become a six hour detour through a huge chunk of South Eastern Arizona which culminated into a huge traffic jam because of the annual Navajo Winter Fair (true story, that was our first road trip). We would have never experienced some of the greatest gifts the road has given us if we had stayed the course and followed the plan.

Devon used to get lost in the minutia. She NEEDED to sit in front of her laptop for hours on end, staring at her calendar with several websites open. She needed to call tons of places and email reams more about availability and cost. She had to scribble down copious amounts of shorthand notes that only made sense to her. This brought her a mix of great joy and grief. Grief for the workload she had dumped on herself in preparation for her vacation and joy upon completion of all the planning. She could relax knowing that everything was taken care of. All we had left was to make it to her checkpoints on schedule. I would watch her get agitated if she didn’t drive as far as she had wanted to. She would get tense if these micro milestones weren’t met and only found relief when she was “ahead” or “on time”. If she could “make up time”, even better.

Then, something changed for her. Maybe it was my influence. Perhaps my random is contagious. Mayhaps my relaxed and easy going nature rubbed off on her. Don’t get me wrong, she’s very laid-back, just never in the planning or executing stages of road trips.

Now, she’s less structured about it all. If we make it to a certain state or city on the way, sweet. If not, that’s okay too because maybe we can find some cool little place to chill for the evening until we start fresh the following day.

As we prepare ourselves for this next adventure, our only goal is to enjoy ourselves.

We’re heading down to Mexico… you read that right, Devon & Jade are going to Mexico! This was a last minute, three weeks out, thrown together trip. We want to kick back by the pool, read a book or two, maybe grab some massages at the spa.

This trip came about through a series of back & forth texts between my father-in-law’s girlfriend and Devon. The only message I got during the whole “planning” stage was: “Pack your bikini, grab my sunblock, we’re going to Mexico… are our passports still valid?” *Editor’s note: I do not wear bikinis… please give your head a shake to rid your mind of that image.

Doesn’t really matter to me, the only thing I’m planning on is doing some exploring… and plenty of relaxing.

I’m thinking the best laid plans belong on the bottom of a fire pit, under some kindling.

Adios.

– Jade

Happy You Year.

Well, we did it. We managed to completely fall flat on our faces with regard to writing, blogging and posting anything for one calendar year. That’s a super shitty new personal best.

I’m not one to walk away from projects… or anything for that matter. I’d like to tell you that after an exceptionally challenging 2016, 2017 was stellar in comparison. I’d like to tell you that… but I can’t. That’s not to say everything went to pot, far from it. Like all things, everything did not go according to plan.

We made massive changes near the end of 2016 which changed the trajectory of 2017 as a whole. We swept away a lot of dirt and not under the carpet, mind you, more akin to an archaeological dig. If 2016 was the year of change, then 2017 was the year of sweeping changes. We used the widest brush with which to paint the broadest of strokes. The white board was not only erased, it was then disassembled and repurposed altogether.

If you’re just joining us, a little background information to bring you up to speed. We moved from an apartment building (which was a pretty sweet setup with a sweet deal) to a hundred year old house (which was another hook up). Robodog finally had his first yard, albeit a modestly sized one. Devon finally had front, side & back yard space for planter boxes to grow everything and anything under the sun… and grow she did! They say that your first year in immature soil is your hardest as it gives you your weakest yield and your shortest season. Even though she was frustrated with the quality of dirt and quantity of crops, I was blown away with what she was able to grow. I have never had a garden so I looked strongly to her for guidance. I ended up pulling up root balls while weeding so I was quickly demoted to just watering (which was closely monitored as well). It’s safe to say I have nary a green thumb to be found. I did find the clearing, demo and building of higher planter boxes fun. We even managed to create a berry patch for Jacke, complete with strawberries too. If I never see another knotweed or morning glory again, I’ll be a happy clam. We also found living in an older character home not without its own set of challenges. We were able to do our own repairs, but the upkeep for a house that was aging faster than the maintenance could handle became insurmountable. The neighbourhood was charming. A complete 180 from our last one… people actually looked you in the eye and said good morning! Come to think of it, I never did see any garbage laying around. Jack & I only ran into one skunk and one raccoon in an entire year. And let’s not forget our ridiculously sweet neighbour, who made us feel like family from the get-go. Alas, all good things must come to and end and we found ourselves closing that chapter almost one year to the day. Some places/situations run its course, then it’s time to shuffle off.

Which brings us here. We humans must continue to grow, mature and evolve or we’ll plateau and burn out. It’s astounding to think of the number of people who do not recognize this in themselves and stay stagnant. We were not designed to stay stationary. Sure, certain things stay fixed but we are in constant need of movement, personal growth.

One major, now semi-permanent change is we no longer over-extend ourselves helping others. Yes, it’s rewarding… in a very selfish way. We do this to make ourselves feel better, better about our lives, our jobs, our “insert something needing improvement here”. But… what if we just did the things that make us feel better for ourselves? It’s good to be selfish. We have zero issues with being self sufficient… but self love, self care, self maintenance? Societal taboo.

None of this “New Year, New You” BS. No… This will be our You Year. The year we take care of ourselves… and each other. We’ve made it a priority to put our own needs in front of others. Will we still be helpful? Still donate time and money? Still volunteer? Undoubtedly. But we won’t suffer personal set backs so those around us can move forward.

Our ultimate goal has always been to travel full-time with our fur family in a big rolling turd, with the end result of buying a farm for all of our creatures to live out their golden years in complete bliss.

Life isn’t linear. So… why should our story be any different?

Some chapters are roughly outlined, shelved for a time, to be reviewed at a later date.

Let me be clear, our story isn’t spectacular or remarkable by any means… and our vision remains focused.

Sometimes mixing the order of these chapters improves the story, ten-fold. Like all great chefs will tell you, some recipes can’t be put down on paper.

So when Devon sent me an ad about a property listing in the valley with a note to “just message them, for shits and giggles”, there was no way we could know that this would start a ball rolling down a different hill in another direction. Generally, these types of things don’t go in our favour, but, we’ve also had buckets of luck tossed in our vicinity a handful of times in the past few years. A divine bone being thrown at us dogs, if you will.

The application for the listing seemed jokingly easy… and when we were told that the last people “didn’t pan out”… we thought aloud “did they fill this out in crayon??”

If you’re still following along then you know that we both have a huge affinity for all animals, big and small.

Who would have known that the key to approval would be a handful of pictures of horses?

Absolutely zero of our references were contacted. None. Nada. Zilch.

We used to worry about where to park our RV without getting dinged for huge parking bills in the city. Now, our biggest concern is what corner of our property will it look best on.

We still love traveling, road trips and vacations and that will be featured here as well. But there will also be sweeping changes on our blog as we start to share our new way of living.

Our life on a farm.

– Devon & Jade

The Year That Was.

If you ask anyone, last year, by and large, was a write off. It was one of the toughest years for everyone I’ve spoken to. We are no different.

It was filled with trials and tribulations, ups and downs. Friendships were ended and people moved on. We moved on. Literally. We moved from an apartment to a house (#robodog has a yard!) in a completely new neighbourhood. We’ve benefited greatly from this change. Our mental health & general wellbeing have improved tenfold and we are more at peace than ever before. You don’t know how toxic certain people are until they are no longer in your life. The neighbourhood we live in is ridiculously clean and crazy quiet, and Jacke is in love with how many new squirrel friends he has now.

Absolutely every travel goal we had for 2016 did not come to fruition. We aim to remedy this by taking more time for ourselves, both as individuals and as a couple. (A couple of what, I don’t know.)

While I could sit here and point my finger at a singular catalyst that turned our year upside down, I’m not one to dwell on the past and I definitely don’t let it dictate my future. I’m grateful for the healthy changes we’ve made and I look forward to moving on.

We hadn’t planned on dropping off the face of the earth but we’re definitely back, up and running.

– Jade

New Year, New You.

Ten days into the new year and the cogs are already turning, getting the creative juices flowing and aligned with our renewed focus on all things travel.

For the majority of the past year you’ve seen a significant decline in our online prescence. Do not adjust your screens… this was intentional. We took a step back from writing and traveling and turned our energy toward ourselves, our friends and family.

We envision new adventures and challenges for 2016.

Some of these include:

  • Wyoming – Spending more time poking around.
  • Montana – Exploring the terrain in great detail.
  • Utah – We missed our favourite state in 2015.
  • California – We’re looking at seeing more remote locations.
  • Hawaii – This is a bucket list locale for us. Fingers crossed!

Some parks we’d really like to investigate:

  • Yosemite – Because.
  • Yellowstone – Bison, baby! (Ole Faithful too.)
  • Bryce Canyon – Slot canyons and all the reds!

Devon got herself a shiny new camera and I cannot wait for her to flex its muscles on some crazy, beautiful subject matter. It’s far too much camera for me and I’m not ashamed to admit that. She says my photography has vastly improved but I’m sticking with my trusty lil EOSm. I’m giving myself the challenge of understanding all of my settings and how to use them properly. Small victories in my near future!

image

We already have a fun trip in the planning stages for the end of February, beginning of March (for my birthday).

So, stayed tuned…

We’re baaaaaaaaaack!

– Jade