My kids have ridden horses for about 10 years. When we began riding horses we rode whatever was available. Old lesson horses with hearts of gold, borrowed horses from friends, anything would do. As their passion grew we looked for horses of our own. During this search we found a magical unicorn. A pony named Maddy came to us. She was a wonder. A beauty who taught my youngest daughter the ropes. They grew together, learned together and became a great team. We set our eyes on some lofty goals and before we knew it, we were meeting those goals. We travelled out of state to horse shows. I decided early on to learn how to pull a horse trailer and drive ourselves to the shows. It was a great way for a poor horse show mom to save some money and it gave me some time with my girls. We would laugh and talk. We would plan our next adventures and set future goals. Now it was on a trip to a horse show near Atlanta that we had our most memorable trip ever.
As we pulled out headed to the show I realized we would get quite close to Atlanta. “Ugh, we are going to be in some traffic Emma” As we neared the horse show I told Emma to take charge of the GPS. We were in the thick of Atlanta traffic with a truck, trailer and my precious pony. We had brought a little friend along as well. She and Emma chatted and laughed. I sweated and refrained from cussing due to the presence of our young friend! I finally screamed as the 3rd person cut me off at 70 MPH “OMG, I am going to vomit!!” Now that got the girls attention. “mom, its ok. We are almost there.”, Emma sounded calm and confident. Our friend piped up from the back, “Mrs. Julie, you are doing great! My momma cussed in traffic once. If you need to its ok. “I thanked them both and was relieved that if I let a bad word slip it wouldn’t be the first one she had heard. We arrived after a while and I swore I would find a different way home.
When we were packing up at the end of the weekend I charged Emma with the task. “Now Emma, look in your phone and find us another way home!” “Mom, I am on it! I already looked and have us ready to go.” Awesome. We were set. No more Atlanta traffic for me. After a successful weekend were feeling good as we climbed in for the haul home. Now, you may think at this moment that I was slightly foolish to allow a 13-year-old to take charge of the route home. I realize how it sounds but at the time it seemed normal. As we drove, I was relaxed. “Wow, this is nice” It was rural roads and country scenery. Nobody was whizzing by me at 83 MPH and life was good. I noticed it was taking a while but wasn’t too concerned when I saw traffic and people lining the streets up ahead. “I wonder what is going on up here?” I drove ahead and fell in line behind a fire truck. I noticed a sign “welcome to Rome Georgia” Hey Emma, “I don’t think we should be in Rome Georgia. Check that GPS for me, would you?” “Nope, mom…. it’s all good. We are right on track for the scenic route” SCENIC? OOOOKKKK. It was about that moment I saw people waving. I looked around and it became clear. We had fallen in line and were smack dab in the middle of the Rome, Georgia Christmas parade! My sparkling white pony peered out at the cheering people. Clearly, she deserved the praise. So, her pink nose sniffed and she tossed her head. “ummmm, wave Emma. We are in a Christmas parade” WHAT?!?! “Yep, a Christmas parade. Wave dang it!” We wave and smile. Just as I tell Emma to start throwing the leftover pony peppermints I find a side street to duck out on and we quietly exit the parade route. We both burst into laughter and couldn’t believe we just crashed a Christmas parade. We were a few miles out of town when I noticed the fuel light was on.
We needed fuel. Now, if you have never driven a diesel you need to plan for these things. “Shoot. We gotta find fuel! Where are we? Find a gas station” The first 3 we found had no diesel. I felt a knot in my stomach and Emma started to whimper. “Mom…..what if we run out of fuel?” “We are NOT running out of fuel Emma” I confidently proclaimed. We are going to find some in just a minute. Now I didn’t believe that any more than I could fly to the moon but that wasn’t the time to share. I was imagining us riding into the next town on the back of our show pony just about the time I saw a flashing sign ahead. “Coldest Beer in Town!” the sign proudly flashed. I saw they had diesel and loudly exclaimed “Look! We are saved!” We pulled in with our little trailer and out of town truck. Men in chairs lined the outside of the store. I immediately recognized their stares as “you ain’t from around, here are you?” Emma’s little worried face is a mixture of funny and pitiful, “Momma, this place is sketchy” They had diesel though so sketchy would have to do. I really needed a restroom break so I fuel up and decide to brave the deliverance style group in search of a restroom. Just about that time a man gets up like he might walk toward the trailer. Emma screams out! “Momma don’t leave me with sketchy people!!” I decide to abort and jog back to the truck. We laugh again and continue down the scenic route. Somehow, we appear in Gadsden before I know where we are. We get home safely and that’s all that mattered. I have talked to people since who have no idea what route we were on or how we could have possibly ended up in Gadsden.
Since then we have had many adventures. I have felt just as lost and almost out of fuel so many times in these last couple of years. Each week brings new challenges in pepper farming and small business ownership. The road seems long. Often, here lately, I am not sure where I am. On these hardest of days, I try and remind myself that once I ended up in a Rome Georgia Christmas parade by accident and it all ended up ok.