In the days leading up to the NVSDC Classic, I knew we had a problem. J had been battling a bad cold for weeks, and right before the Classic, it took a turn for the worse. I won't go into gruesome details, except to say snot, snot and yet more snot. The day before the Classic, we faced up to the grim truth - if I wanted to and compete, I was going to have to go alone. I've never been the sort of girl who sits back and demands that the men folk do all the work, but the trailer was designed for J's six foot height and there are some things I just can't manage.
Next morning, J was still crook, so I got myself organised to go. Things that were too heavy, like the full esky, J helped me load up and they were stuck in the trailer for the duration. No canopy, since I didn't need the extra space. Only three dogs, because I need a step to reach the top berths. I left J with his piles of tissues, cough syrup and antibiotics and headed north. I think we were both looking forward to some space, him to cough and toss and turn, and me to sleep through without interruptions.
Of course, I didn't need to take three dogs, since I was only running two, but, since I was taking Czar and Mischa, that would have left Bolo home alone. Bolo, alone in the back pen, would have howled the rest of the neighbourhood to distraction. Bolo, alone in a crate in the kitchen, would have broken more teeth trying to pry his door open. He might even have managed to get the door open, and then he would have run amok in the kitchen. Last time that happened, he got his head jammed in a swinging bin lid and emptied the bin over the floor in under 3 minutes. Leaving Bolo home without Czar meant J would be house bound for the weekend. So Bolo came too.
The NVSDC Classic is held every Queen's Birthday long weekend in the Moira Park Scout Camp at Kialla West, near Shepparton. Once clear of the Melbourne traffic, its a nice smooth 2 hours north of Melbourne. Even towing the trailer, I should be able to go through in one shot, not needing to stop to toilet dogs or get fuel. I waved goodbye to J, Ishka and Frankie and headed off. Ilistened to music, I listened to a couple of pod casts, and the k's flew by. Once the GPS had me within ten minutes of the site, I rang a friend to see where there would be space for me and the trailer. I wanted to find a long enough spot that I didn't need to unhitch the car, and some kind folks to help me back it in.
The chat was cut short when I saw enormous clouds of thick white vapour pouring out from under the bonnet of the car. I pulled over and switched off. Steam! I could hear bubbling in the engine. The steam kept pouring out. I rang J, to check the details of the roadside assist, and then I called it in. I felt really proud of myself that I thought to look at the map on my phone to give them a precise location, and I remembered the registration of the car (it does have personalised plates, so it's not too hard). The steam was still pouring out. I rang my friend back and told her I was fine, I just had to sit and wait for the RACV. I rang another friend, but before I could say I was fine, she said "the cavalry have just left." So shortly I had quite a rescue party gathered, looking rather blankly at the car. Even the mechanically-minded couldn't see any obvious problems. That suggested getting towed. Oh dear. We detached the trailer and hooked up to another car and our friends took the dogs back to camp before their easy two hours in the trailer stretched into three. It wasn't as simple as it sounds, working with different hitches, along the side of a busy highway, having to push the broken down car along the roadside and then reverse another back, around and onto the hitch. I have amazing friends!
Eventually the roadside assist man came, topped up the radiator and got us to take a test drive. Everything seemed fine, but it was a touch nerve wracking driving around the rest of the weekend. Of course, my effort at directions turned out to be wildly wrong, sending the poor mechanic into town rather than down the highway. He said the worst he'd ever had was standing at the arranged point and calling the folks to say he couldn't see them, only to find out that they weren't in Shepparton at all, but Castlemaine, a couple of hours away!
Once I got into camp, I found the trailer and checked on the dogs, who all had water and shade and seemed happy enough. The camp was buzzing with people, tents, trailers, caravans and cars with number plates from all over - Vic of course, but also SA, NSW, ACT and even one Tasmanian! I checked in with the race organizers and enjoyed chatting with friends as we waited for dark.
One of the highlights of the big races is catching up with friends from interstate. This year, I got to meet a few Facebook and blog followers too. HK and MA had both come down from NSW after a hectic weekend with the NSW Siberian Husky Club Specialty, a massive conformation show, with an international judge. Several friends, Snofall Siberians, Alpison Kennels and Idigadog Kennels, had all had wins in the show ring, with lean, fit racing dogs, rather than the fluffier, plumper show dogs I'd seen at the Royal Melbourne last year. Congratulations, guys!
The comment ringing back and forth across camp was how warm it was. Most people were enjoying wearing t shirts and shorts in the sun, despite it being the first official Saturday of winter. This did not bode well for the temp dropping enough to race the first heat that night. At Driver's Meeting, we had roll call, trail discussion, officials were introduced, and then a discussion of the temperatures. This discussion continued off and on for the rest of the day and into the evening. Eventually it was decided that it wasn't worth risking the dogs' health, and the night heat was cancelled. We all went off to eat dinner around the camp fires.
Mischa's mummy had rung several times during the day, trying to work out the best arrangements for the weekend. She was battling a few factors, friends, family and work, so it took a few goes to decide what to do. Eventually she rang to say she'd arrived, but her GPS had taken her to the back gate of the property, which was locked. It was my turn to head out on a rescue mission - I suggested that we meet in town and drive back in convoy. We picked McDonalds as our meeting point, not realizing there were actually three in Shepparton - best laid plans. Once we found each other, it was easy enough to head back in to camp and reunite Lync with his sister and friends. Yay!
Mischa's mummy helped me hook Bolo up and we went for a short run before dinner. It was still a bit warm, so Bolo just trotted for most of the track, but he was so happy to be out there that I couldn't help but smile. Until he saw a rabbit and tried to dump me in a puddle!!! I got back feeling muddy but happy with my problem child and his joy of getting out after a day in the trailer.
Finally, it was time for dinner. The trailer felt a bit lonely without J and it was a struggle to organise things without unloading heavy items from the trailer. However, chicken stir fry is nearly as good as chicken soup for cheering a girl up - that and having her snot monster on the other end of the phone. I took my bowl and cup and went to join friends round the campfire for the evening.