My speech at the Derby Closing Ceremonies started like this:
“Sometimes the adventure you start out on, isn’t the one you end up on”
This is the start of Adventure #2 – The Party Van / Mongolian Safari/Food and Airag Tour
I was offered a spot in what Maggie called the “Blood Wagon.” And the good news about being the first to pull was I would hold rank and have first pick of the seats. Yes! I was also consoled a bit when told they would do their best to get me riding again, if only just for fun. Yes please! Even better, the crew member I would be shadowing for the next week or so was Chloe Phillips Harris – a veteran from 2013, but also the reason I first learned about the derby… by being a regular blog follower. Very cool!
We set out in the van to horse station 4. Our job in the better named “Party Van” was to just be there to help out when needed – particularly in the department of rider morale boosting. We camped out on top of a hill, and I started taking photos of the riders as they passed us. Usually they stopped and asked for my story – to which I was supposed to shoo them on. No stopping to talk to me! I will tell you all about it at the finish line, don’t panic I am ok!
That night we slept at HS5 with the back of the packers. This horse station had 2 real beds which were occupied by Musse and Per. Per told us that at one point, there was a goat attempting to share the bed in bunkbed style. Too funny!
I grabbed a spot on the ground beside Katharine, who was going through her stuff looking for pain relief after her fall on day 1. Apparently, she had forgotten to pack advil, and I clued in… Oh, I likely won’t be needing mine! Per also offered her some paracord. Combine those two things with some tasty mutton rice, and she was one happy rider!
Just before bed, I had a mild celebration as I was able to muster up enough liquid for a trip to the bathroom (well… hole in the ground). After 2 dry days, I was pretty happy to see that body was beginning to function again.
I think this is a suitable moment to tell you about the bathrooms as I am sure many 2015 Derby riders will be coming to read this and want to know what to get themselves into. The basic bathroom was a rectangular hole dug in the ground about 4-6 feet deep, with a few stakes holding up a tarp on one to three sides. The stakes generally seemed to be in the ground enough that you could hold them for balance if you are a nervous or inexperienced squatter. The Mongolians must know the perfect distance from bathroom to civilization to sufficiently ensure no “details” are seen, I never measured it out, but I would guess it was about 100m from the ger, road, or whatever. If you got a luxury facility, 2 boards of wood were wedged on either side of the hole, making it a little less slippery I suppose. Occasionally you would see wildlife inside the hole, and just pity them beyond belief – sorry Mr Frog! Don’t you bring valuables (like your spot tracker), but do bring toilet paper and hold it ever so carefully.