2015 Year in Review: I would drive 5,000 miles

Hard to believe that a year ago today, I was preparing to move to Amarillo, Texas, in 3 days. Okay, so I didn’t walk 5,000 miles, but over the course of the year I have traveled approximately 5,268 miles by car, and to or through 17 states plus Canada.

It’s been a busy, awesome, fun year – sometimes stressful, but filled with incredible learning experiences.

I had the fantastic opportunities to live in both Texas and New York (about as polar opposites as you could possibly get). I saw mountains, valleys, prairies and big cities. I missed my family but met new friends and other memorable people in the process. I represented my college riding team at the IHSA Zone 7 Championships. I saw Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and worked at Saratoga Racecourse for The Saratoga Special.

Here’s a bit of a timeline and year in review of my 2015.

January 1

I loaded my car with practically everything I own, less the kitchen sink (I’m a terrible over-packer) and departed for Amarillo, Texas. Throughout the spring 2015 semester, I worked for the American Quarter Horse Association as the online communications and publications intern. I learned about blogging (that’s how this blog came to exist) and became more adept at social media. I also represented AQHA while helping at the 2014 AQHA Racing Champions Announcements, and wrote for the America’s Horse Daily blog, America’s Horse and the Q-Racing Journal publications.

In the midst of my internship, I flew home to Minnesota twice to compete with my college equestrian team at our Regional Championship competition and Zone Championships.

Here’s my first “AQHA Intern Experience” blog, originally published on America’s Horse Daily: Appreciating the Unpredictability of Life
To see more of my AQHA blogs and stories, check out my portfolio.
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First day I arrived in Amarillo, it snowed…

May 25

My mom flew back down to Texas on May 22, my final day at AQHA. We spent the weekend adventuring around Amarillo before heading home through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and back to our little hobby farm on the Minnesota border.

I documented our trip home through these travel blogs:
Weekend in Amarillo, Amarillo to Santa Fe, Santa Fe NM to Lafayette CO, Lafayette to Home
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Breathtaking view of the Rio Grande in New Mexico

June 4

Nearly as soon as I arrived home from Texas, my mom and I packed up our ponies and headed to 4-H horse camp. I volunteered as an intro to jumping instructor, and my mom helped as my assistant. We’re kind of a dynamic duo, if you haven’t figured that out.

While I was at horse camp, I watched American Pharoah win the Triple Crown on a Dairy Queen TV in a nearby town, because the camp didn’t have television. An entire crowd of random people gathered to witness history, cheer and cry tears of joy. In a Dairy Queen. And it was so cool.

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Cyclone Larry and I teaching the kiddos at horse camp

June 18

Took my fist solo mini “business trip,” to Canterbury Park. I spent the weekend helping the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association with their “Youth Day at the Races” scholarship competition (I was the MQHRA’s summer intern), and interviewing a number of people for articles (some of which I still have to write!).

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“Youth Day at the Races” participants strike their best lawn jockey pose

July 5

The Fourth of July weekend was my last hurrah at the lakes with my family for the summer. I also made another trip to Canterbury on July 5 to help with the MQHRA 2014 Awards Banquet.

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I was at Canterbury for the Quarter Horses, but I loved this Thoroughbred filly

July 12

The big day finally arrived. The car was loaded, this time with a lot less luggage than what I brought to Texas, and I headed to Saratoga Springs, New York. My mom is always my partner in crime when I go on trips, while my dad stays home to care for my horses and morally support us on our journey.

Our voyage to New York took us straight across Minnesota, into Wisconsin, crossing through the northern peninsula of Michigan and over the Mackinac Bridge. We drove through a small portion of Canada and emerged into New York. Along the way I saw Niagara Falls for the first time. If you haven’t been there before, you should start planning your trip, because it was marvelous.

I documented the trek through my  #FargotoSaratoga travel blogs:
Day #1, Fargo N.D. to Ironwood M.I.Day #2,  Ironwood to Port Huron;  Day #3, Port Huron to Farmington; Day #4, Farmington to Saratoga Springs
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My mom and I riding the “Maid of the Mist” boat to the base of Niagara Falls

We hit Saratoga Springs on July 15 and I started working for The Saratoga Special around the 20th. After blogging about my trip to New York, I took a month-long hiatus from blogging due to all the writing I was doing for The Special.  During my time in Saratoga Springs, I witnessed the greatest horse racing I have ever seen, and rubbed elbows with both equine and human celebs of the racing world. It was pretty much the best summer of my life, so you can imagine that it was very difficult to leave.

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Saratoga Sunrise

August 21

*Cue the tears* — My last day at Saratoga arrived, and it was time to head home for school. But only temporarily, because I flew back for the Travers Stakes the following weekend. When I heard that American Pharoah would be there, I booked my return flight to the Spa for the following Friday.

My mom and I took a different and far less exciting route home from New York, this time driving through Chicago so we could hit up Arlington International — a very posh and modern-looking racetrack. While I slept, my mom made the 1,500 mile trip in record time, getting us home by the afternoon of Sunday the 23rd.

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The beautiful Arlington Park paddock

August 28

While my bank account cried tears of sadness with the sudden depletion from my plane ticket purchase, I laughed and skipped joyfully to the airport to catch my flight back to Saratoga. I couldn’t resist covering the races for The Saratoga Special at least one more weekend. And what a weekend it was. Definitely #Pharoahtoga at it’s finest (the hashtag was popularized by American Pharoah’s visit to Saratoga Racecourse).

Travers Day blogs: Part 1, Part 2

When Monday the 31st rolled around *cue more tears of sadness* I boarded a plane back to North Dakota and made it home in time for my first class. Dedication? I think so.

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Keen Ice enters the winners circle after winning the Travers Stakes

remainder of the year…

The rest of my year has been filled with IHSA horse shows for the equestrian team, homework, more horse shows, and even more homework. It was a blistering semester both in speed (I don’t think a semester has ever gone so fast) and the brutality of the workload. Not including the weekly blogs I somehow managed to squeak out, I calculate that I wrote more than 50 pages worth of papers.

Right now I’m relaxing, accomplishing unfinished tasks, and plotting my next move. And if my neck of the woods warms up a tish (it was -5 degrees on Sunday), I’ll ride my horses in the snow.

Happy 2015, folks! Don’t forget to be thankful and count your blessings. In my own summary of the Fleetwood Mac lyrics, don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow, ‘cause yesterday’s gone. But cherish the memories and appreciate every moment.

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That’s all, folks!

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