Horses, Friends and Border Crossings

When we left Chris and Ferd’s cottage we didn’t have too far to drive before reaching our next destination. The next two stops on our journey both involved horses and both involved very special people Suzanne met while working on Mackinac Island. The first stop was Big Rapids, MI where we visited Chris and Wendell Weber.

Suzanne met Chris when she was working on Mackinac Island and Chris signed up for one of her carriage tours. The two of them got to talking and there was probably more to the conversation than this, but this is how Suzanne remembers it:

Chris: “My husband is a veterinarian and we raise Belgian draft horses on our farm in Big Rapids. You should come work for us when you’re done here on Mackinac Island.”

Suzanne: “Okay.”

A few months later Suzanne was living above Stone Hill Vet Clinic in Big Rapids and working on the farm. We use the term “working” very loosely. She mostly just spent her days riding and driving and grooming the Webers’ beautiful horses. It was less like work and more like being given a place to stay that feels a little bit like heaven.

During this most recent visit Kevin had a chance to meet Chris and Wendell and he also experienced his first horse-drawn wagon ride. Wendell hitched up two of the horses and took us for a ride through the woods on a beautiful summer evening. Suzanne fell in love with the farm and the horses and the Webers all over again and remembered why this is one of her favorite places in the world. 

During the wagon ride Wendell took us to see one of his more recent projects. It was a log cabin that he built out in the middle of woods and he and Chris use it when they take the grandkids out on horse camping adventures. When we say he built it we don’t mean that he hired someone to build it. We don’t even mean that he drew up a plan for it or had guidance on building it . We mean that he envisioned it in his head and built it with his own two hands. (This wasn’t his first project. He also built both of his vet clinics and his horse barn all on his own). With Kevin being the resourceful and inquisitive and talented guy that he is, these two had a lot to talk about. Kevin later described Wendell as “resourceful in a you-really-want-to-hang-out-with-this-guy-during-the-zombie-apocalypse kind of way.”

We had a great couple of days on the farm but were soon back on the road heading east. We spent two nights near Detroit because Suzanne had to make a quick daytrip to Atlanta for work and needed to be near a major airport. While we were there we had dinner with Kevin’s friend Joe and his wife Anne. We also crossed paths with the Michigan 3-Day walk where we had a chance to catch up with our friend Carrie Taylor, who was staffing the event. We loved seeing Carrie and are excited that she’s moving back to the Pacific Northwest this month!

We headed east out of Michigan on a Friday evening and took this whole RV trip to an international level when we crossed the border into Canada. Our destination was the Ancaster Fairgrounds in Hamilton, Ontario where Suzanne’s friend Erin and her horse, Jetta, were competing at the North American Appaloosa Championships. We mentioned Erin recently in our Mackinac Island post when talking about how she and Suzanne were roommates on Mackinac Island and she met her sweetheart, Darren, while they were driving horse carriages. Ten years later they are all still as cute as ever.

We parked the RV at the fairgrounds and had a great weekend with Erin, Darren, Erin’s dad, Vance, Erin’s mom, Kathy, Jetta and the family dog, O’Riley. Our great weekend was made even better when Erin and Jetta ended up winning the whole horse show. It seemed like each class ended with the announcer saying, “…in first place, #108!” “And in first place…#108!” “In first place again, yep you guessed it,  #108!” Erin’s dad rode Jetta for his division and he won too! We were proud to be part of Team Jetta. In fact, Suzanne was so proud to be part of the team that she made her own Team Jetta t-shirt so people would know who she was there to support. (You can place your orders now for when we monetize the Team Jetta brand and start selling t-shirts, hats, dog bandanas, etc. It’s going to be big time, trust us, you want in on this action).

We packed up the gypsy wagon on Sunday morning and said goodbye to the other members of Team Jetta. It was a great weekend with a very special family and it’s always wonderful to see someone you care about excel at something they enjoy. We are already looking forward to the next Team Jetta reunion!

From Hamilton we headed east to Toronto and found a great little park right on the water and set up our home for the night. The dogs were exhausted from all of the horse show excitement so we left them home to nap and we headed out to check out the city. It was another great weekend for Vaya con Perros. See you on down the road!

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