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Donald McCaig

How far is "far" and how do you get there?

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Last weekend I drove 7 hours each way to do 2 non compete open runs (our first) and 2 pro-novice runs. Next weekend I will drive 6 hours each way for 2 pro novice runs. Anything within 3 hours or so I consider local.

 

Every weekend that it is available (either I am not trialing or my instructor is not trialing) I drive 2 hours each way for high quality instruction. Sometimes I stay over and get a second day but not usually. Any time I get a chance to sneak away mid week I make the same trip.

 

We have not moved up to Open - hopefully we will but I made a rule of thumb for driving to trials. 1 day of driving (each way) for 1 run. 2 days of driving for 2 runs, etc. So far I have not done any three day drives but I have done a couple two days. And those multi-day trials are carefully selected to offer something needed in our training (big or challenging field, challenging sheep, good level of competition, great atmosphere). If and when we move up I will have to reevaluate the criteria for which trials deserve the long trip but I expect it will result in more - not less - trials.

 

 

I usually stay at the cheap motel because (a) they will take dogs and (:rolleyes: the extra gas to drive an RV or haul a trailer (neither of which I have) generally seems to pay for the hotel room.

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Lots of interesting posts since my hasty one last night. I could slink away in silence, but...

 

I'm a little shocked to see so many people bragging...

This was a poor choice of words on my part, and I apologize to those who took personal offense. I myself had just gotten home from a trial for which I drove 5-6 hours each way, and while I greatly enjoyed the trial and learned a good deal there, I also spent much of the drive home mulling over whether I could really justify such an expedition for what is for me a hobby, when there are other activities I enjoy with my dogs that can be practiced much closer to home. Under those circumstances, it's not a stretch to say that I truly was "shocked" to see post after post describing how people chose to drive that far and more, and at least on my first reading, I was surprised that no one seemed conflicted (as I was) about these long journeys.

 

On more careful reading and rereading, I now see that there was more in some of the initial posts than I saw the first time around. More to the point, Don McCaig specifically asked how far others drove, and people answered his question. It's not clear to me how this information is useful to those already trialing, but it is certainly of value to those considering getting involved, as Julie P concluded:

 

What folks could take from this topic is that if you don't have the financial wherewithal or are morally opposed to the cost to the planet required to engage in stockdog training and trialing, then perhaps another activity that can be found closer to home is a better choice.

But does anyone else think it's worth discussing other alternatives, like the suggestion kelpiegirl offered?

 

What I would love to see, are folks who live in a "region" get together and host small trials, not official sanctioned trials, rather trials where folks get together and honestly work their dogs to see where they are, with no pay back, no ribbons, just a bit of competition, and fun. Lest anyone suggest otherwise, of course, there would be a minimum standard of work, like any trial. If we could have more of these, then we could travel less, spend less, and enjoy more.

For my part, last weekend I spent a good bit of time talking with the trial organizers about ways to get a better geographic distribution of trials, and I learned quite a bit. Such as...venues that are well suited to dog trials (of any kind) are rarer than one might think. Onsite camping is a requirement, as are nearby dog-friendly hotels. In the case of arenas, footing that is well-suited for horses is not so good for dogs (too soft). And one must be careful not to schedule a trial that might lure entries away from an existing trial. At the start of the discussion, I figured all I had to do was volunteer to organize and I could have trials closer to home. Now I know that others have already scoured the surrounding counties and failed to turn up a suitable venue, but I have my marching orders and the specific requirements, and as I pursue my closer-to-home activities :rolleyes: over the coming months, I'll be keeping a sharp eye out wherever I go.

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Alaska asks if anyone is conflicted about driving such long distances when other activites are so much closer.

 

Well Alaska if you and your dog enjoy those activites great and more power to you. In my case my dogs were bred for only one purpose..to work sheep. They don't play with toys they don't fetch they have no interest in it and neither do I.

 

So I make sacrifices. I camp at trials, I set out sheep..some trials pay..Pack my own food etc. At home I do without..chalk up another southern without airconditioning, I don't by fancy clothes, don't have cable, not even a GPS, in fact my tv has a converter box..does that tell you something??

 

I would love to organize trials close to home. I live in a herding wastland, there would be no one to help, and not enough sheep. Hey at least I would win..

 

So I continue to trudge along..it's something I love, my dogs love, and I must say that I have fallen in love with the people who do this. I've done lots of things in the past with my dogs and have never seen so many people willing to help and pass on their knowledge as this sheepdoggers do.

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Re: Julie W's suggestion: I think many people already host fun trials and schooling trials, if they have the sheep and property to do so. Others of us just get together and have fun dog-working days where we take turns holding sheep, critiquing, advising, etc. These are all very valuable, but they still don't equate a trial; that is, the pressure to perform just isn't there the same way.

 

I think it's a good suggestion if folks in your area aren't already doing stuff like that. But as Alaska notes, often there are limitations to putting on a trial, even a non-sanctioned fun trial, that don't exist for just getting a group together and working dogs.

 

So my suggestion is this: if you have sheep and a suitable field, invite folks over to work dogs. Make sure some are more experienced than you (for the value of their knowledge) and include some newbies if you can, so they can gain valuable experience with more experienced folks. Make it a potluck and make sure you have enough sheep on hand so that everyone can work their dogs without overstressing the sheep. All it takes is one interested person to start the ball rolling....

 

J.

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Julie P:

Please introduce me to the "many people" who do this. Mary B has some schooling trials, which are great, but 3 hours away, and with a car with over 100K, I can't be driving those distances much. I also get together holding sheep, working dogs with folks, and the like, but that is not the same. Maybe I should have used the UK as an illustration- LOTS of trials, EVERY WHERE, and the ability to run depends on you getting there early. I disagree about the pressure, unless of course it is all about the ribbons/money. Those don't really mean much to me. Seeing my dog work well is reward enough. Maybe I am too simple minded about it all.

 

My field is not suitable at this point (God help me, I am tired), but yes, you can bet your bippy that I will invite folks over to use it, and my sheep, as I plan to give back to all those who have helped me so much.

 

 

Re: Julie W's suggestion: I think many people already host fun trials and schooling trials, if they have the sheep and property to do so. Others of us just get together and have fun dog-working days where we take turns holding sheep, critiquing, advising, etc. These are all very valuable, but they still don't equate a trial; that is, the pressure to perform just isn't there the same way.

 

I think it's a good suggestion if folks in your area aren't already doing stuff like that. But as Alaska notes, often there are limitations to putting on a trial, even a non-sanctioned fun trial, that don't exist for just getting a group together and working dogs.

 

So my suggestion is this: if you have sheep and a suitable field, invite folks over to work dogs. Make sure some are more experienced than you (for the value of their knowledge) and include some newbies if you can, so they can gain valuable experience with more experienced folks. Make it a potluck and make sure you have enough sheep on hand so that everyone can work their dogs without overstressing the sheep. All it takes is one interested person to start the ball rolling....

 

J.

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I also get together holding sheep, working dogs with folks, and the like, but that is not the same.
But these get togethers could be the same as a fun trial. Next time instead of just "holding sheep", set-up a course and designate one person to be the judge for one round and another person to judge a second round. This will force handlers to push themselves to be better (to not loose points) and better still judging (learning how to judge) will teach handlers where they are loosing points.

 

To kick things off your group could hire an instructor (i.e. Mary) to give you a judging clinic or you could all attend a judging clinc (i.e. Cheryl Williams). Both of these instructors will do a very good job teaching you where you're losing points, how to score runs, and how to avoid loosing those points (this is based upon my personal experiences with both).

 

Mark (one of Mary B's past students)

 

BTW Mary B's fun trial is exactly what you are looking for. The format is "training". The handler tells the judge/instructor what class they will be running and you can tell the judge how much help you would like to recieve during your run. Thn while your running the judge (at your request) will be telling you where you're loosing points and may give you suggestiosn on how to minimize additional point losses. Followling your run you and the judge can discuss issues during your run and what you could have done to avoid some of these losses. At least this is the way I did it.

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Julie P:

Please introduce me to the "many people" who do this.

Wow, Julie. Sorry to have upset you with my comments. The fact is that everywhere I've ever lived, we have had people who at least get together and work dogs for the purpose of improving everyone's skills. If you are limiting yourself by the fact that your vehicle has more than 100k miles on it (maybe we should do a poll and see how many others are in *that* boat; I know I am), then there's not much I can say to help.

 

I also get together holding sheep, working dogs with folks, and the like, but that is not the same. Maybe I should have used the UK as an illustration- LOTS of trials, EVERY WHERE, and the ability to run depends on you getting there early. I disagree about the pressure, unless of course it is all about the ribbons/money. Those don't really mean much to me. Seeing my dog work well is reward enough. Maybe I am too simple minded about it all.

 

This is completely contradictory. If getting together isn't the same as a trial and yet you don't care about pressure and don't think it exists at a trial (unless you're all about ribbons) then why the need for actual trials?

 

You know as well as anyone that the US isn't the UK. Sheep everywhere; suitable fields everywhere; tiny distances to travel (I traveled from the south of Wales to Scotland in less than a day, and that included a 5-hour delay for a wreck on the highway).

 

It makes no sense to me to complain about *other people* not holding fun trials close to you when you have said yourself that you don't have the set up or sheep to do the same yourself. Do you think there's a bunch of folks out there nearby who are quite capable of holding fun trials and are just refusing to do so?

 

Mark makes some good suggestions, though having clinicians come in costs money, so there's that consideration. But some of the best training I got was after driving 3 hours to Verna Krammes' place in Palmyra, VA, to attend a judging clinic by Tommy Wilson. We ran dogs while other people judged, and then after each run discussed how we judged and why. Money and time well-spent. But note that there's always money and time involved no matter what.

 

I have no idea where you live (beyond the state anyway) and what resources are available there. But if you want other people to put on fun or schooling trials, then you need to get the folks together to do it. In other words, don't expect other people to do it, unless you're willing to do the legwork to get the ball rolling.

 

J.

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Mark:

Thanks for the idea (hiring someone to come to my place). I think that would be great. I have always wanted to go to Cheryl's judging clinics. I have been to Mary's fun trial and enjoy them immensely. Someone get me a plane :rolleyes:

 

 

But these get togethers could be the same as a fun trial. Next time instead of just "holding sheep", set-up a course and designate one person to be the judge for one round and another person to judge a second round. This will force handlers to push themselves to be better (to not loose points) and better still judging (learning how to judge) will teach handlers where they are loosing points.

 

To kick things off your group could hire an instructor (i.e. Mary) to give you a judging clinic or you could all attend a judging clinc (i.e. Cheryl Williams). Both of these instructors will do a very good job teaching you where you're losing points, how to score runs, and how to avoid loosing those points (this is based upon my personal experiences with both).

 

Mark (one of Mary B's past students)

 

BTW Mary B's fun trial is exactly what you are looking for. The format is "training". The handler tells the judge/instructor what class they will be running and you can tell the judge how much help you would like to recieve during your run. Thn while your running the judge (at your request) will be telling you where you're loosing points and may give you suggestiosn on how to minimize additional point losses. Followling your run you and the judge can discuss issues during your run and what you could have done to avoid some of these losses. At least this is the way I did it.

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BTW our van (rolling kennel & tow vehicle) has >100k miles and my commuting car has >100k miles and my previous commuting car had >200k miles when it was retired. It's not about the mileage it's about the reliability.

 

Another suggestion is to split the cost of driving with someone and rent a cargo van for the trip.

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At the clinic I talked to people about having a fun trial with my friend's 150 goats.

 

And getting my cattlemen friends involved in a fun trial. (Diane I gotta talk to you about that I was told! :rolleyes:

 

I am always up to people coming over.

 

But I use my open level friend as a screening as our sheep are loose.

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Dear Sheepdoggers,

 

Julie wrote: " my suggestion is this: if you have sheep and a suitable field, invite folks over to work dogs. Make sure some are more experienced than you (for the value of their knowledge) and include some newbies if you can, so they can gain valuable experience with more experienced folks. Make it a potluck and make sure you have enough sheep on hand so that everyone can work their dogs without overstressing the sheep. All it takes is one interested person to start the ball rolling...."

 

Lovely practical suggestion. I travel to friends often and hold an informal dog school for less experienced neighbors.

 

Donald McCaig

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My field is not suitable at this point (God help me, I am tired), but yes, you can bet your bippy that I will invite folks over to use it, and my sheep, as I plan to give back to all those who have helped me so much.

 

Julie-bippy, my Dad says that all the time and I've never heard anyone else use it before. :rolleyes:

 

It takes time to build up a group of people. I think that once you invite people to come work at your place, those that are able will reciprocate. Do you belong to a club, does anyone host fun days or clinics already?

 

Laura

Proud driver of the clown car-1991 Ford Festiva with 200,000+ miles, still getting 35 miles to the gallon.

It's gone out to Idaho twice (picked up 2 LGDs one of those times),

been to Vermont and New Hampshire and came back thru Canada,

a couple of trips to Pennsylvania...and it goes back and forth to work 5 days a week.

Do you know how much you can get in this baby if you take the back seat out?

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Julie-bippy, my Dad says that all the time and I've never heard anyone else use it before. :rolleyes:

 

I wondered who the H-LL Julie Bippy was. LOLOLOL. I've heard "you bet your sweet bippy...", but haven't heard it said for years. First time I heard it was on Laugh-In. Loved that show.

 

Back to the subject at hand. I always referred to NE Ohio as a working border collie wasteland. There is one good all breed trainer in the general area, but if you're interested in going beyond PN, then it's a matter of 100+ miles one way. I've often doubled up with others and that helps, but in order to get anywhere with a promising dog, that commitment would have to be made on a regular basis. When I lived in the city, eventually that became harder and harder to do, and so now, I have 2, 8 yr. olds and a 10 yr. old & my old geezer Tam, all from nice bloodlines, but wasted.

 

Now that I'm out here in Hooterville, the place is being fenced in and I hope to have sheep by next month. That's what I moved out of the city for -- long overdue, but better late than never. My dogs will get to work on a regular basis and the thought of a nice group of people gathering to work their dogs sounds like something I'd like to do. I'd like to host some clinics as well, but the place is kind of rough around the edges --- but it's something, more than what I had before. And for the first time in years, I feel some hope for my dogs. I got lots of good ideas and insight from this thread.

 

Wonder if I'll be on that "too far to travel" list. Might be for some, but after all of these years, I can roll out my back door and work my dogs. I can die happy.

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I am sorry if I riled you Julie P. You can rest assured that I will invite (and have already done so) folks to my place, once the field is set, which should be soon. We've got many many acres, and the only limitation is how much sweat, and a bit of money, we can swing to get it going.

 

My complaint is.... that it is expensive to trial, and many trials are many many miles away. I believe I am not alone in this opinion.

If you don't believe it holds water, that is your opinion, which you are entitled to.

 

I simply don't have an extra ..... sum of money laying around, but I do like the trial atmosphere, and would love to get out more. Unfortunately, I have all I can do to attend a very few trials, pay the mortgage, and other assundry bills and well, survive.

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Glad you liked it :rolleyes:

 

Sounds like you have the same goals as me with your place :D Rough around the edges? Well, so is ours, but edges? I worry about the middle!

 

 

 

I wondered who the H-LL Julie Bippy was. LOLOLOL. I've heard "you bet your sweet bippy...", but haven't heard it said for years. First time I heard it was on Laugh-In. Loved that show.

 

Back to the subject at hand. I always referred to NE Ohio as a working border collie wasteland. There is one good all breed trainer in the general area, but if you're interested in going beyond PN, then it's a matter of 100+ miles one way. I've often doubled up with others and that helps, but in order to get anywhere with a promising dog, that commitment would have to be made on a regular basis. When I lived in the city, eventually that became harder and harder to do, and so now, I have 2, 8 yr. olds and a 10 yr. old & my old geezer Tam, all from nice bloodlines, but wasted.

 

Now that I'm out here in Hooterville, the place is being fenced in and I hope to have sheep by next month. That's what I moved out of the city for -- long overdue, but better late than never. My dogs will get to work on a regular basis and the thought of a nice group of people gathering to work their dogs sounds like something I'd like to do. I'd like to host some clinics as well, but the place is kind of rough around the edges --- but it's something, more than what I had before. And for the first time in years, I feel some hope for my dogs. I got lots of good ideas and insight from this thread.

 

Wonder if I'll be on that "too far to travel" list. Might be for some, but after all of these years, I can roll out my back door and work my dogs. I can die happy.

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Choices. It's about choices.

 

I refuse to believe I'm going to cause the destruction of the planet if I drive my honking F150 (with 173,000+ miles on it) to Maryland to hang out with Jack Knox, who flew in from Missouri to Maryland just to earn his living educating us. I don't have a fuel efficient vehicle, but I do turn off lights and recycle my trash. I have every dog I ever bred unless someone else still wants it more.

 

I would think NOTHING of driving down to hang out with Julie (south 3+hours?) or Donald (west 3 hours?) and swap lies about all kind of stuff and watch THEM work dogs. This is my life, and I believe in doing what I want with it as long as I can give back to the Lord, and not hurt anyone. If I can earn the money to buy the gas, I will buy the gas and go on more trips.

 

Please, don't stop doing what you love just because you feel like you have to justify the expense, and for heaven's sake, the political correctness of it. No shame in setting limits if you can get what you want closer to home, but now that I have met these people, I intend to keep on trucking up the road to be with them, as often as they'll have me.

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Actually Julie, I'm not really riled; I just don't get the complaining. No one said trialing was cheap or that trials were always--or even *ever*--nearby. I am *unemployed* for doG's sake, but I recognize that the world isn't going to turn around and start providing me with trials close by and with low entries so that I can get my dogs qualified for the finals the one year they're within reasonable driving distance.

 

I don't--and never did--disagree that trialing is expensive and that one most devote time and travel distances to participate. But you know what? That's life. Sorry to be trite, but complaining doesn't change that. So you make choices like the rest of us do. I've been to something like 5 trials this year and had to pull from the Bluegrass because I simply couldn't come up with the funds to go. But I don't expect anyone here to somehow be able to change things so that *I* can trial more.

 

As Debbie says, we make choices. If you like the trial atmosphere, then choose one or two trials that you really, really like and save your money to go to those. Or do like I do and hire yourself out to set sheep or work the pens. No, it's not quite the same as trialing, but at least it gets me out and I do get to see my friends after hours even if I don't get to hang out with them during the trial. But it certainly pays my expenses to go, and if I choose to do so, the host will let me run my dogs too.

 

Really, if you want any sort of trial closer to home, you're going to have to spearhead it. Here's a way to start: invite folks over for a work (sweat equity) and dog work day. In exchange for working dogs on your large field (for example), have people help with fencing, clearing, set up of pens, or whatever. Or get folks to help set things up so you *can* hold a trial at your place. When Robin decided to hold a trial at her farm, a group of us went out and helped build set out pens, painted pen and panels, helped clear tree limbs, etc. Among all the physical work we worked dogs too. And in the end the time we put in helping meant that we could have another trial venue nearby. If there are other trial-minded folks in your area, they'd probably be more than willing to help with the labor aspect of things in order to ensure a place to trial in the future.

 

J.

 

 

I am sorry if I riled you Julie P. You can rest assured that I will invite (and have already done so) folks to my place, once the field is set, which should be soon. We've got many many acres, and the only limitation is how much sweat, and a bit of money, we can swing to get it going.

 

My complaint is.... that it is expensive to trial, and many trials are many many miles away. I believe I am not alone in this opinion.

If you don't believe it holds water, that is your opinion, which you are entitled to.

 

I simply don't have an extra ..... sum of money laying around, but I do like the trial atmosphere, and would love to get out more. Unfortunately, I have all I can do to attend a very few trials, pay the mortgage, and other assundry bills and well, survive.

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My own personal standard about how far is too far was decided when I drove to the 2000 finals in Oklahoma. I decided that if you had eaten all the food you brought, worn all the clean clothes you brought, and used all of the water in your camper before you even get to the trial, then the trial is too far away :rolleyes:

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If we travel 300 miles and that is far. We travel in a 5th wheel. DH isn't big about going with me so the RV makes it easier for him.

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I am lucky to have a good trainer who is an hour's drive away. I go a couple of times a month, and would go more if 1) I could afford it, 2) I had really good dogs, and 3) her schedule permitted it. But, it works for us! I do have a fuel efficient car, but honestly, I'd do it regardless of what I drove.

 

Trialing with any of the dogs I have now is not an option, but if I ever do end up trialing, I'd be willing to drive long distances to get there. Everyone has to decide what's worth it to them. The dog stuff I do is my "hobby" and where I prefer to spend what play money I have. The longest I've driven for a flyball tournament was about 4 hours, and agility about 2, definitely would go further than that for a stock dog trial. :rolleyes:

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I'd be interested to hear how far others will travel and how they overcome the limits.

 

I'm somewhat limited by the high mileage on my only vehicle (I'm trying to make it it last, and we're upwards of 200K miles now). I live alone, so everywhere I go my entire kennel has to go (haha, all six of them, so not tons, but they won't fit in a Chevette). I feel comfortable driving the CrazyMobile up to five, maybe six hours one way to trial.

 

When I lost my job, Julie P and I doubled up and each of us would leave dogs at home and make arrangements for the ones left behind so that we could make some day trips. I didn't really have the expendable cash for trials, but I did manage to get out and see friends some, work dogs, and hang out. My mobility was severely limited though. Life goes on. I managed to feed the dogs and put food on my table, and that was enough.

 

Now that I'm employed again I can hit a few trials this year. However, it'll take a while to recover for me financially, so I'm going to carefully pick and choose the trials that I either a. can afford to get to or b. really, REALLY want to go to. Or both. Once I get back on my feet I'll have more options, but for now it's still living lean.

 

It is about choices - deciding what is important to me. I try to make it happen, and if it can't then there's the next thing.

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Sort of tangential to the turn that the discussion has taken, but I've found that while (obviously) people's individual sense of near and fear is relative, there is a definite geographic component to it. I grew up in the Mid Atlantic and Northeast, where everything is close together. You can take a single train from Washington, D.C. to Boston and make stops in 3 other major cities, plus two international airport, and still not miss a single meal. And yet the idea of traveling from Washington to Boston seems like a big trip - one that you have to really plan ahead to make. Growing up in NJ it seemed like the entire world existed within a 50 mile radius, and anything trip longer than an hour required an overnight stay.

 

My old college roommate grew up in Nebraska, and she would tell me stories about driving 6-8 hours for a high school volleyball game, just to turn around and drive right back afterwards. Trips like that were no big deal, because that's just how far away everything was. I'd also say, though, that driving on the east coast is, overall, a much less pleasant experience than driving out west. Between faster speed limits, better views, and less traffic, an 8 hour trip in Nebraska is waaay less stressful than a 4 hour trip from Washington to NYC.

 

I don't trial, but even if I did I don't think I'd drive more than 2 or 3 hours. Of course, that's mostly because I absolutely HATE to drive. The 1000+ miles I drove to pick up Seamus from the rescue was the worst experience ever. Not even the joy of a new puppy could put me in a good mood during that drive.

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My old college roommate grew up in Nebraska, and she would tell me stories about driving 6-8 hours for a high school volleyball game, just to turn around and drive right back afterwards. Trips like that were no big deal, because that's just how far away everything was.

 

Imagine living in Alaska and needing to fly in a bush plane to get ALL games!

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