6th Annual Hassey "Goat Vacation"
I'm not going to make a proper write-up tonight since we just got back this afternoon and I'm tired, but suffice to say that the 6th Annual Hassey "Goat Vacation" was a screaming success. You may have seen some of the photos from the International Goat Days Festival last weekend, but that was only a small part of our trip. I'm also hoping to get my hands on a video of our chariot race! It's been posted to Facebook but I'd like to get a copy that I can actually link non-Facebookers to. 

I'm only going to post one sneak-peak photo this evening because it's my favorite. Not overly exciting perhaps, but certainly different. We encountered this old graveyard near the ghost settlement of Erbie, Arkansas. It is inside National Park boundaries now and so has been abandoned to Time. It was peacefully haunting and a wonderful place to take a lunch break during our last day of hiking. 

I'm glad to hear you made it home safely and had a great vacation. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it and seeing your photos AND the race video!

I can think of a number of captions for this photo.....
Goatberries Happen!
I want to hear your captions, Taffy!
On this particular trip, the journey there and back was half the fun. We got a late start on Wednesday and drove well into the night. Although we captured no photos, watching the full moon rise in front of us as we headed east across Kansas was breathtaking. There were windmills on the horizon and the blades cut black and sharp across the enormous orange globe as it came up.

The next day was a lot more fun for us, but I'm not sure about the goats. They adamantly refused to drink any water during those first two days of travel even after I added a strawberry flavor packet to it. But the days were very cool and they had plenty of hay to eat and straw to lie down in, so riding in the trailer and waiting there while Phil and I made a couple of tourist stops was not unpleasant for them even if it was somewhat boring.

The first stop was totally impromptu. I saw a billboard by the highway advertising "Moon Marble Company". Phil began collecting marbles soon after we got married so the Moon marble factory and museum was a necessary detour. It turned out to be a wonderful hour-and-a-half diversion in which we were given a personal tour of the marble factory by the owner, Bruce Breslow.      

Turns out he has a similar sense of interior decoration as Phil and I. 

We got a photo of Bruce and Phil standing with some of Bruce's personal art marble creations. Phil and I bought one to take home. 

The shop was not devoid of goats either! Not only did I purchase a small goat figurine to bring home, we also saw a vintage "Old Hogan's Goat" marble game among the museum pieces. 

After our tour of the Moon Marble Company, Bruce came out to meet Finn and Sputnik. 

We left Moon Marbles and drove on to Kansas City, MO where we ventured downtown (always harrowing with a horse trailer in tow!), miraculously found someplace to park, and then took a two-hour tour of the Arabia Steamboat Museum. The pictures we took are not worth sharing, but it was an incredible display of wonderfully preserved pre-Civil War artifacts. The steamboat Arabia, loaded with merchant goods, was headed to the frontier in 1856 when it struck a submerged log and sank very quickly in the shallow, muddy water. The top deck remained above the river so no lives were lost except that of an unfortunate mule which was tied on the lower deck. The steamboat sank completely by next morning so none of the goods were ever recovered. However, the legend of the steamboat loaded with Kentucky bourbon continued down through the years and several unsuccessful recovery efforts were made before the Arabia was finally uncovered in 1988. It was half a mile from the current course of the Missouri River and 45 feet down in a place where the water table is only about 15 feet below the surface. Water pumps had to run round the clock during the dig, but the steamboat was brought to light with all its treasure intact. 

No bourbon was found (it was probably on the deck so the barrels would have floated away), but many other things came to light that were still as new as the day they were packed in crates and barrels for the journey. Hundreds of pairs of boots, tools of all kinds, nails, dishes, washtubs, pickles, ketchup, preserves, perfume, saddlery, glass for windows, medicines, buttons, beads, flatware, coffee and coffee grinders, bolts of cloth, coats, hats, and even the materials for a "pre-fab" house were on the boat. All the bottled food items are still as good as when they were first put down in jars. The cotton and paper goods did not last, but leather and woolen items remained intact. It was a fascinating display, and at the museum store Phil and I bought a couple of replicas of the bells that were found among the Arabia goods. They have a very pleasant, cheerful ring and are the perfect size for goats to wear.
Our trip from Kansas City to Millington, TN was not entirely devoid of adventure. We cut through the northeast corner of Arkansas on our way to Memphis and came across a roadside "antique store" that we could not pass up. There were signs plastered across every building, and there were a LOT of buildings! It was impossible to capture the entire spectacle in a photograph, but let this one small shed speak for the remainder.  

It was called "Dear Crossing". I'm not sure why. 

There were a lot of artifacts from old garages and gas stations. Inside the "main" building we found an enormous collection of matchbox cars from the past five or six decades in addition to a lot of old junk labeled "antiques". The man who ran the shop was a character and he let us wander around his property with our goats in tow. 

He also had these set pieces from the live action "Flintstones" movie made in 1994. 

Phil and Finn were very disappointed that this lovely vintage restoration project was "Not 4 Sale". 
We arrived in Millington, TN early in the afternoon, got the goats settled, fixed up our costumes and our chariots, and drove in the "World's Greatest Goat Parade". I already posted about that in the "Carting and Pulling" section a while back, but here are a few more photos of us and our goats all decked out. I think our chariots came out rather fine. Kudos to Phil for making the awesome hub caps using some cheap pizza pans we found at Wal-Mart. 
I still don't have the video or photos of the chariot race and cart rides in Millington, so I'll skip ahead to Sunday when we drove back into Arkansas for the actual goat packing part of our trip. Laundry snafus got us off to a late start, but we were in no rush. 
The gas prices in Arkansas were phenomenal.  

Our photo, alas, cannot capture the sheer grandiosity of this enormous American flag. This display of patriotism pretty much dwarfed everything on the horizon, including several billboards. I'm pretty sure this bank does not need air conditioning because of the shade cast by their flag.  

Late in the afternoon we stopped to stretch our legs at a trail near Marshall, AR which was part of the Buffalo National River system. This homestead was built in the 1930's and the goats were rather suspicious of it.  

A short hike took us to an overlook where we enjoyed a lovely view of the Buffalo River valley. By the time we got back from our hike, both goats were completely covered in burrs and they weren't happy about having them removed. This was the first lesson we learned about Arkansas: There are burrs everywhere and they come in all shapes and sizes. The only thing that was fairly efficient at removing them was a stiff-bristled brush I had in my tack box. That brush came with us on all future excursions. 

We got to our cabin early in the evening and the goats made sure to inspect the porch first thing. It met with their approval, but they were not allowed to linger. The cabin was surrounded by woods and undergrowth, so our boys were happy to be allowed to putter around sampling the various tastes of Arkansas. 

Finally, this photo can't hope to show anyone what it was actually like, but our cabin had a steep gravel driveway with a hairpin turn on it. We were advised to leave our trailer down near the country store, but stubborn Coloradans that we are, we had to at least try to park our trailer next to our cabin. Although our trailer has a lock and our goats would be just as fine 1/8 mile down the road as they would be outside our bedroom window, we hovering goat lovers feel better when our "babies" are within yelling distance. So I braved the driveway.  

First of all, I had to put the truck in 4WD low to make it up the steep grade without spinning. In fact, the road was 4WD even without the trailer. The hairpin turn was interesting. We could just make it without having to back up, but the ruts in that section of driveway were almost too deep for our low trailer. However, we made it without scraping metal and then the real fun began. There is a nice flat parking area big enough for a trailer to back in, but backing in a bumper pull trailer with a long bed truck was a real picnic. The driveway turned off to the cabin, but the road continued its steep trajectory above and behind the cabin, so I pulled well up it, then cranked the wheel hard over and basically jackknifed the trailer to get it around the tight curve. We made it about halfway before I ran out of room to maneuver the truck. The trailer was now stuck in a sideways position across the driveway--right angles to where I wanted it. Had it been a fifth wheel we'd have made the turn easily, but bumper pulls are not so forgiving. I jammed down the parking brake and I got out so Phil and I could have a conference. If we unhitched the trailer, I believed I had just barely enough room to squeak past it in the truck. Then I could back down the driveway, turn around, and come up backwards to re-hitch and push the trailer into position from the downhill side. It was worth a try, and long story short, it worked! We had our goats snugly settled in their mobil home right outside our bedroom window at night, and our truck was unhitched so we could properly explore Ponca, AR.
Its funny how often having awkward vehicles/trailers causes us stress on our expeditions. Motor homes dragging on tree branches hanging over roads in neighborhoods... Difficulties at smaller gas stations, parking at hotels.

My plan right now is to find an extended Chevy work van for goat transport-- The kind with a barrier between the cargo area and the front seats. I'll probably give it a 4 inch lift to help with going over gulches, but it wont be as good as a pickup truck. Chevy has an actual longer wheelbase, while Ford and Dodge have the same wheelbase as a normal van and a section welded to the back. I figure the Chevy design would be better for not tail-dragging and the Ford would be better for tighter corners. But the longer wheelbase will be better for towing a horse trailer in case I'm doing a riding expedition, so thats the main reason I'm going with Chevy (That, and I don't like the Ford Triton motors).
I don't drink beer, but if I did, I'd prefer Dos Equis.  Stay thirsty my friends!
We took it easy our first day in Arkansas. The lady at Lost Valley Canoe & Cabins was very helpful with trail suggestions and sent us to Whitaker Point, also known as Hawksbill Crag. It is one of the iconic hikes in the area but not very long or strenuous--perfect for warming up. We saddled the goats even though there was nothing to bring on such a short hike. We figured it would make them look a little more "legitimate" in case anyone gave us grief about bringing goats into the National Forest (we'd heard rumors that the park rangers might be uptight about them). 

Although devoid of any heart, this tree was still thriving with no more than a half-shell of outer bark to support it. Yes, I'm sticking my hand (and foot) through the tree and Sputnik thinks I'm a complete idiot. 
"I don't know her." 

"Aw, you do too know me, Sputnik. Just admit it and gimme some sugar."  

There were some cool alien rocks along the trail. Or maybe it's the fossilized tentacle from a giant squid. See the suction cups? 

Some of the rocks were anti-gravity! 

"What's over there?" Sputnik never did quite match my enthusiasm for this hike. Or maybe he didn't match my enthusiasm for Phil's camera. Either way, he appears very long-suffering. 

Fake Hawksbill Crag. Or maybe "practice" Hawksbill Crag. Either way, it's a nice place to take a brief pause before the real thing. 
Finally, the real Hawksbill Crag! Phil and Finn checked it out first. I had a hard time getting pictures of them because people kept walking into the camera view and I was too far away to ask them to please move back.   

They cleared out for me and Sputnik. Not sure why. Maybe we needed a bath.  

Yeah, we might have gotten a little bold there, but it didn't look as scary from where I was standing. 

We got back to our cabin early enough to take a dip in the Buffalo River near the bridge at Ponca.  

The water was a delicious temperature (probably near 80 degrees) and so crystal clear it was difficult to gauge the depth without stepping in. 

We made the goats practice their swimming skills in a deep hole near the bridge. They weren't real happy with us, but I feel it's important that they are at least familiar enough with swimming to negotiate a deep crossing if they have to. Last time Sputnik went swimming was over two years ago and he kept threatening to drown himself if I didn't hold him afloat. He was much more proficient this time and didn't scream once, but he still didn't like it and was happy to run ashore at the first opportunity.

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)