Owego, NY

We boarded a ferry off of St. Thomas, flew to NYC, hopped on the city bus, ran under ground and boarded the subway, sprinted (literally) through the NYC bus terminal to catch our ($1!!) MegaBus, slept our way back to Binghamton, hopped into the car with my brother, and ended back up in my (Liz) hometown area.

While we were in the B.V.I.s, Dyna was in the engine shop. And when we returned from the B.V.I.s, she still needed to spend some time in the shop – and then would need to move to a different shop. So we took back up at my mom’s and brother’s homes for a few days.

Which is cool. Because my mom lives at my mom’s house. And she has bunnies. And I love bunnies. And I love my mom.

And my brother has Dexter. And also he had Lucy, because it was their lot in life to care for Lucy (the cat) while we were in the B.V.I.s. And my brother is a dingleberry. And also I love my brother the dingleberry.

Lucy gained at least 2 lbs while we were gone, just FYI. Which is a lot when she typically weighs about 11 lbs. The good news is that she and Dexter have formed a new friendship. I guess if you feed Lucy enough she will decide to like you – even if in a previous living situation (aka, when Dexter lived in the RV with us) she spent her days giving him death stares.

So we did more home things, like play (‘violently’ if you are Jake) on playgrounds, create front porch breakfast nooks, and ride bikes to baby donuts (Dunkin’ Donuts in town). We had wine and movies nights with my mom, and Star Wars marathon afternoons with my brother.

Fun fact: did you know that Jake had never watched the Star Wars trilogy? You’re welcome.

We swam in the local pools. When it rained, we swam indoors at the school. And when it was sunny, we swam outdoors until it rained – which seemed to happen pretty freaking frequently during our summer month in Owego.

We went to help out at Second Chance Thoroughbred’s Jubilee Fundraiser where Dexter put his photography skills to use, and my sister and I put our ribbon handing out skills to use.

Warning: this post will devolve into a post about horses in a few paragraphs, so if you hate horses, it might be wise to stop reading once you hit the horizontal line. Also, if you hate horses, I find your character to be questionable. (Full disclosure: some of my favorite friends hate horses. And they are wrong for it.)

We went to observe the newly minted Binghamton Rumble Ponies (formerly the B-Mets) play some baseball. I mostly like the hotdog portion of baseball games, but my brother likes baseball ‘the game’.

We ran on backroads. We caught pokemon and met some new local pokemon friends who helped us catch bigger pokemon. We ate pizza. And wings. (Dexter really loves chicken wings.) We went to Owego’s version of first Friday, which I’d like to deem as ‘up and coming’ (they could use some work on their snack allocations). I ran into old friends. And I spent too many mornings at The Kitchen (slight obsession), and ordered too many (is that possible?) Jamaican Me Crazy iced coffees. (Sidenote – why is Jamaican Me Crazy not a thing outside of Western NY? The rest of the US needs to get on this level.)

We waited for the shop to be done with Dyna so we could reclaim her as our own.

And then we got the call. She was ready! Well, mostly. Dyna was ready to be transferred to the chassis shop to fix a large dangling tag axle component. And also to weld some brackets for the overhauled engine. Did we mention that we had to do an engine overhaul? Oh, we did?

Since it was the Monday before the July 4th holiday, and we damned well knew that nobody would be completing chassis work on our beast the day before July 4th holiday (we sure as hell don’t blame them either), we decided to test out Dyna’s new engine with a trip to Olean, NY.

Jake spent many of his best childhood years in Olean, NY being raised by a saintly man named Fred. We love Fred. A lot.

So, we packed my brother, Dexter, and ourselves into our repair ravaged home on wheels and pushed her two hours to Olean.

And the engine did great! Responsive, powerful, and most importantly – no engine puke all up Dyna’s rear! Yay!

When we got to Fred’s, he had an idea that we could get up onto the empty lot behind his apartment building. Well, let’s just say that plan didn’t quite work out. We did score a nice chunk of asphalt which our tow hitch dug out of the road. Fred insisted that is why he pays taxes. I tried to pat the asphalt back into the road a bit later on. We ended up parked on a dead end street across from Fred’s.

It was all good in the end.

We spent the 4th celebrating America by eating at the always awesome Sprague’s with Fred (is too much maple syrup a thing?), and then napping on a blanket overlooking the Olean wading pool. Dexter did no napping. I don’t actually think he left the water except to use the bathroom. For 6 hours. It was awesome.

We watched fireworks and lit sparklers with Fred and family on the empty lot that we couldn’t get Dyna up into  the day before.

And then we returned Dyna to Elmira, where she had a hot date with a man in a chassis shop.

Luckily, the date was short. We got to pick Dyna up two days after drop off, all spiffed up.

We grabbed a spot at Hickories Park in Owego, which is not too far from my brother’s place, and is on Dexter’s top 3 list of favorite local playgrounds to chill at. We spent a full 8 hours scrubbing Dyna’s internals down. Engine overhauls are messy jobs. And our fridge (even empty) is apparently an amazing petri dish. Hello bleach!

And then I spent the rest of the month hanging out with or riding ponies at one barn or another. I don’t even really know what Jake did most of the time. Because: PONIES. I love them.

My friend Shannon invited me to tag along with her on a trail ride, and her friend (and now my friend too!) Skye and her steed in training, Edgar met up with us too. Now, Shannon’s version of a trail ride is mostly just traversing through the woods and sometimes walking along something that almost resembles a trail. So it’s kind of like being in Lord of the Rings on horseback. About 45 minutes into our Lord of the Rings style trail adventure, I found myself on the ground, when I should have still been in a saddle. Chalk it up to some weak riding muscles and a very terrifying swampy area on the ‘trail’ (full disclosure: terrifying swampy area is only terrifying to Shan’s thoroughbred). It was still an awesome ride. And I can declare that it was the first and last time my ass hit the grass via horse assisted ejection throughout the summer, as I am writing this blog at a decent delay.

I spent a few hours nearly every other day up at Collette’s (my high school era riding instructor / horse woman extraordinaire) getting in some quality time with a few different thoroughbreds who were learning ‘how to horse’.

Collette,  (Shannon and Skye also take part in this endeavor) started a thoroughbred rescue of mostly ex-race horses, Second Chance Thoroughbreds.  Many of the horses come straight off the track – some with successful racing careers, and some without. Some of the horses are donated from stables who adored the beasts and trust that Collette & Co will give them a good start in a new career. Some come after some negotiation on the backside of the track. Others are found in auction pens – often at risk of being sent to slaughter. Some have crazy stories that are way too lengthy for their (often 4 year old) age.

All of them need time, patience, and love. And Collette & Co gives them a gentle place to regroup.

After giving the horses some time off to relax, heal up from any injuries they may have garnered in their short lives, and put some groceries on their bodies (aka, fatten up), the horses begin to learn a new job.

A job that doesn’t involve running around an oval at top speed.

And then, when they are ready, each horse is put up for adoption. So, if you’re looking for a horse buddy… I might know a place.

I got lucky this summer! Because Collette was a bit short on humans to spend time working with the baby beasts on new job skills. And hey, I’m a human. And I know how to ride (although I will not pretend that I am well-practiced or exceptionally skilled). And I am more than willing to stand beside or sit atop a 1,000lb mint loving baby beast while he or she decides whether or not the light shining through the arena door is dangerous.

The horses and I ate many mints up at Second Chance Thoroughbreds this summer. And made many decision regarding the level of danger that a blanket hanging on an arena rail presents.

Later in the month my sister’s good friend Kylie contacted me and asked if I could cover her at work for a few days so she could go to the Adirondacks. Kylee is a groom at a trotter/pacer racing stable. Look at that – more horse time! Yay!

Covering for Kylee was a hoot. And a shit ton of physical work. I learned pretty quickly that racehorses in training get the elite treatment. It sort of made me wish I was a racehorse in training.

There are individualized feed blends. And fresh water. Supplements. Finely picked and heavily bedded stalls. Pre-workout brush downs. Post workout bubble baths. Fresh water. Leg massages. Wraps. Day off pasture time. Swept stall aisles. Clean tack. And a mint snuck in here and there. And then the rest of the day is spent on napping. Being a racehorse sounds pretty cool.

So, like I said, I’m not totally sure what Jake was up to while I spent numerous hours a day at one barn or another. But I do know some of it involved tinkering with Dyna. Because I came home more than once to scenes similar to this:

And I noted a few upgrade to Dyna – like shiny new headlights. And a working rear slide (yeah, that decided to stop working at some point during our stay in Olean).

I did spend some Owego hours not at a barn. Typically with Dexter and / or Andy.

Ok, in full disclosure, I did take Dexter up to the barn a few times. He likes to ride horses too.

But we also partook in the other things the Owego area has to offer. Although I would argue those things aren’t nearly as great as being at a barn. Jake would disagree. He says I smell like horse shit when I get back from the barn.

One of the perks of sometimes living at a county park is the frequency of old car shows. Jake and I have found ourselves at many more vintage car shows that we ever would have considered attending since we started living in an RV. We’ve learned a lot about the importance of chrome and where you get it.

My dad (PopPop) wanted to go bet on the trotters at Tioga Downs. (Oops, more horses). He didn’t win any money.

We cooked out often while Dexter played on the playground or in the puddles that frequently formed at the park we were staying at. The weather in the Owego area was pretty dismal for much of the summer. And by dismal, I mean awesome if you are 6 years old. Rain creates giant puddles for scootering through.

Oh, and also minor flooding. We had to move campsites because the one we were in decided to puddlize itself. And let me tell you, no puddle was going to be permitted to touch that shiny, revamped debt engine of ours.

And because Ithaca is Gorges (haha) and is also close to Owego, we joined my mom for a trip to Taughannock Falls and traversed the stream up to the falls. We did the falls traverse decently often when I was a kid. It hurt a lot less when I was a kid. Shorter fall distance I guess.

And then, to wrap up our time in Owego, I slapped on a riding kit I borrowed from my sister (thanks Kay) and dragged Jake to suffer revel in watching me and a thoroughbred named Turtle show off our skills at a small horse show. I got to hang with Shan & Skye & Collette, and almost die one time via lack of a chin chain (my fault), and school horses in the pouring rain.

And then I got to dress up and frolic about an arena while a judge decided the worthiness of Turtle and I’s partnership.

Jake reported that watching my classes was a semi-terrifying experience for him, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Turtle is a baby horse who is learning how to horse. And I am an out of practice rider who is re-learning how to guide said horse. And that means that sometimes we did dumb horse stuff (“Oh shit, I swear those bleachers were going to attack us! My bad” -Turtle, probably). But mostly we did awesome horse stuff.

Turtle jumped every jump I pointed him at – whether or not I had us lined up or spaced out enough. He waited around for the other (million) horses to frolic about the ring, and found that fences are a great place to rest your large horse rump. He remained decently chill in our flat class with 15 other horses flying past us and our slow, but very aware of any looming possible dangers from birds or barrels selves. He sneak attacked the garbage can to see if there was anything good to eat in there (he didn’t find anything, but we did share our french fries with him to make up for that). Turtle was a #goodboy.

Thanks for trusting me to show off Turtle, Collette. It was a good day.

And because I am writing this blog at a (severe) delay, I am able to oh so happily report that Turtle found a (hopefully forever) home and partner. He is such a deserving sweet boy – and I am so glad someone saw that he is worthy of their affections. Yay! Turtle got adopted!

And with that, we decided it was time to move along to the place where Jake and I met. And the place where a shit ton of our friends live. And also two of our sisters. And also a place that has garbage plates. And Wegmans. And a plethora of Jamaican Me Crazy coffee.

Yep, we’re talking about Rochester.

Beep-beep! Here we come Rochester!

2 comments on Owego, NY

  • Aimee

    Turtle says come see him at Jubilee!

    • Liz (author)

      Oh my gosh! I would love nothing more! If we are in town I am most definetely coming to see Turtle and meet you!

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