10 Days to Run Away: A Vermonter Flies South to Florida

How to quit your job(s) and run away in 12 days


10 days to insanity


Diary of a run-away


The 12 days of Quitsmas

First let me say that all of this didn’t actually happen in the last 10 days before I left; it was really more of the last three weeks but they were really long to live through and would be even longer to write about so please honor my poetic license and don’t be too hung up on dates.

Wednesday, Nov 21: Record setting cold all over Vermont. I think it may be my fault that January is making an appearance in November. Don’t worry mother nature, I know what I’m missing, you don’t have to remind me.

The person I’d been in contact with about Kissa and I staying at her place, just down the road from Tik’s has just messaged saying, “BTW your room is unfurnished. I have an air mattress.” That seems like it would have been important information to know when we were discussing arrangements. It also makes me wonder what other things I was assuming that aren’t true. So I asked for the contract she mentioned once before. She sent a photo of the blank contract. Not quite what I meant.

Someone got in touch with me online about a ride for her gelding from Virginia to Georgia. It’s roughly along my route. She’ll pay me and help find a spot for Kissa to spend the night on both ends of that day of the trip. Seems like it will work out well for both of us.

Thanksgiving morning: -3 degrees is not OK in November. It’s not really even OK in January but at least it’s expected then. And my friend’s horses, who I’m taking care of, don’t have blankets, and their water trough only has a small thawed hole. Lots of hay and everyone’s OK.

Thanksgiving dinner, in which I bring my husband to crash my friend’s family’s party for about the fifth year in a row, is very yummy. But then the chunk falls off my molar. Yup, chunk. Gone. BTW, I don’t currently have dental insurance; good thing it doesn’t hurt.

I spent an hour making a road trip/warm weather/you go girl/follow your dreams playlist from my iTunes. I have more than 12 hours of listening fun waiting for me. The young dog is not acting quite right — found a tick on her a few days ago. Probably has some kind of virus. No emergency so call the vet tomorrow.

Friday, Nov. 23: Last day of work at Job #1. Found the sewing machine needles that I bought a week ago and then lost. Fixed the couch covers, my quilt, my husband’s pants from the dog bite hole (he’s a mail carrier), and put the trim back on Kissa’s Rambo rain sheet. That seems like a normal sewing pile doesn’t it? It worked. I’d really like to wash the sheet too (and believe you me, the fact that I have a top load washer which does all my laundry doesn’t stop me from washing rain sheets) but in true New England style, it will be raining soon and she’ll need to wear it.

My husband got his knee replaced in September and we hadn’t gotten a bill yet, which I’ve mentioned seems weird numerous times. “Oh yeah,” he says, “I signed up for paperless billing.” Oh that lovely patient portal. It does not require 20 years of math teaching experience to know that $16,000 is greater than a supposed $600 deductible. And the billing office is on Central time. And they are only open during regular weekday business hours. Puppy still isn’t quite right.

Saturday, Nov. 24: Busy day of work at job #2, but it’s a tack shop so still a good day. Horse has six weeks since last shoeing but her feet aren’t at all long and I usually go at least eight weeks at this time of year. But I don’t really want to go to a new place on old shoes. But she might be able to go barefoot in the sand down there. I guess I should figure this out before he comes; but since I haven’t texted him yet … maybe it won’t be an issue.

Another reminder and still no contract. When I talked to her on the phone she laughed and said, “Oh, ha ha I bet you want to be sure you have a place to live when you will have driven so far.” Yeah, not laughing. I have a sleeping bag, a tent and a lawn chair. I’ll be fine.

Another person might want a ride for a horse from Massachusetts to Virginia. That might work out too. She wants to know what’s the latest she can tell me. At this stage, pretty much at least one exit before I pass your exit. If I ever actually had any plans, most of them are shot, so whatever. 

Sunday, Nov. 25: Delivered ponies to their winter home. They walked into the paddock and directly to the hay pile to munch. Her horse was a bit afraid of them so she backed off to the other end of the paddock. Meatball promptly walked to her hay pile, straddled it and peed. Little boys, am I right? Good thing he’s adorable.

Do you see why he’s called Meatball? Don’t worry I can pretty much count the number of grains he gets in that bucket — just enough to take his meds.


Spaghetti and Meatball the morning before they left.

Vet might be able to come today for the puppy buts she’s actually looking better. Shoer can come tomorrow. Still raining and 32 degrees. Looks like I’ll have to shovel ice and snow out of the bed of my truck in order to pack. At least I have two days off to finish packing, clean out my barn, etc. Notice you haven’t seen hide nor hair of my horse in the description of these last few days, neither have I. She’s had six weeks off riding and pretty much I feed her, clean her stall and leave her. She spends most of her time hanging out by the bathroom window whinnying to anyone who goes by. It’s very sweet and pathetic.

Monday, Nov. 26: Since the shoer showed up in the car only ready to pull and trim (which is what I told him I wanted despite continuing to waffle about whether to reset), that’s what she gets. The goal for today was to have all things that are going with me assembled in piles in my house. That means I’m ahead of the game since I decided I can pack the back seat of the truck because the front bench seat is just as comfortable to sleep on as the back. Of course I decided to rearrange how I’ve packed everything before putting several boxes in the truck.

Truck in to get the slow leak tire checked; only a $75 sensor so no big deal. 8” of snow predicted for tonight and tomorrow. Puppy totally better but vet came anyway; it’s fine because we needed meds and she has my old horse so I wanted to give her money toward his winter upkeep. My tooth started feeling sensitive to pressure and cold today. That’s going to be fun.

But the good news is that she furnished my room.  If she could tell me what size bed it is, I could bring sheets and blankets.

Tuesday, Nov. 27: It was supposed to be last day of work at job #2. But then there was this:

And then the power went out. Load of laundry with the blankets I wanted to take in mid-wash. Load of all the clothes I’d been wearing recently still to go.

I win at Truck Bed Tetris.

Wednesday, Nov. 28: I think I did pretty well packing; I saved room for the stuff that goes with the horse I’m shipping from Virginia to Georgia. The Massachusetts to Virginia horse is lame so it can’t travel. Snowing a little again. Good news is that, since the power is still out and it gets dark at 4:15, I went to bed at 7:30 last night and got a really good night’s sleep. But since I can’t make coffee with no power it’s sort of a wash for productivity. Is it OK to load everything and just leave instead of waiting until tomorrow? I’m very done with this.

Got everything packed. Was just debating about going down to the local laundromat when power came back on. Wahoo for linemen. Finished laundry and packed it in a laundry basket (that could come in handy anyway) since all the other things were tucked into the truck bed.

Showered and went out to a very nice dinner with the very understanding husband.

She knows something’s up.

Thursday, Nov. 29: Finally time to be out of here!

We skipped all the east coast megalopolis by heading out I84 and down I81. Somewhere in Pennsylvania, Kissa schmoozed a random stranger into buying her a bag of peppermints. Seriously, this horse. I opened her door and went to the bathroom. When I came out, the woman was at the register asking me if it was OK to buy my horse a bag of peppermints. It was very cute. The score for the day was 13 hours, eight states, four tanks of gas.

Stayed at a very cute place in Ashland, Virginia, where we were picking up the other horse tomorrow. Kissa slept well in a snuggly stall; I slept in my truck out behind the barn. Turns out my sleeping bag is perfectly warm in the mid 30s. However, if anyone knows any auto engineers could you please ask them for me, “What idiot makes a bench seat truck with seat belt receiver thingies that don’t fold/push/retract down?” Seriously people, what do you think a bench seat truck is for?

Heading out on day 2 with Mylo. I missed the pic in which they were both putting their noses in the same water bucket.

Friday, Nov. 30: Drive went mostly smoothly although it appears that the entire length of I85 is under construction and everyone else on the planet is driving to Florida.

Somewhere in South Carolina at a gas stop, a preacher came to chat with us and tell me about the horses she used to ride when she was a kid. Then she blessed both horses. They seemed unimpressed by the honor. I’m realizing that I always have to plan 10 extra minutes at gas stops to chat with people and let small children and scared adults pet the horses. These two love it anyway.

Got in to the very fancy place outside of Atlanta and unloaded which of course meant that she had to be separated from Mylo. She ran around the field for 15 minutes screaming with no response from anyone. She settled a bit so I gave her dinner but then she ran for another 10 minutes. She did settle down eventually but was sweaty since it was a balmy 65 degrees. I figured she was fine and would walk herself cool anyway. I realize that I’m a bad mom and you all can report me to the authorities. She had shelter, water, grain and hay.

I spent the night on a lovely air mattress in the apartment of Mylo’s mom. She just moved in today so she gets major credit for having me in her place with all the boxes, etc. but that shower felt really good.

Saturday, Dec. 1: Last day of driving and it should be a short one. Arrived at the barn in the rain to see that my little princess was not using the shelter and was now wet and shivering. OMG, I am such a bad mom! Put her in the trailer with two coolers and most windows closed and gave her breakfast. I would have let her chill there for a little bit but then they started bringing other horses in for breakfast so she started fussing and pawing which resulted in dragging a bale of hay under her which resulted in kicking. So I headed out.

Downpouring rain and slow driving the whole time. Stopped every hour to check on her, peal cooler layers off, etc. What should have been 6ish hours ended up as 8ish. 

Not what I was envisioning for my Florida welcome.

Got in to Citra and following GPS directions ended up at a dead end a mile down a dirt track. Did eventually find my way back around the other way and arrived. Rain had slackened a little so I was able to unload her and some stuff without having a meltdown.

Not looking our best but we made it.

Bed is queen sized and I only brought double sheets. Headed out to Dollar General where I got some groceries, sheets, etc. and it took about 25 minutes to check out. The machine froze and they restarted it. It wouldn’t read my card, then the card reader froze and had to be restarted but it wouldn’t restart, etc. etc. At this juncture I realized that I had been hitting the gummy bears a little hard on the drive and was crashing off a sugar high so I was a little shaky from low blood sugar. I adulted well and didn’t meltdown but it was close. Headed home, heated up some mozzarella sticks, put the sheets on the bed — they have a hole in them. I decided I didn’t care so I went to bed anyway.

Sunday, Dec. 2: First full day in the sunny south. Goals: bathe and body clip the woolly mammoth. Bathed her reasonably successfully but it took her so long to dry that she was already starting to sweat while her belly was still wet. Started clipping in the backyard while holding her because that’s the only place there’s a plug. She’s being a moderate ass so I’m starting at the front where I can hold better while clipping. I used the wide #10 blades until they wouldn’t clip anymore then I used the regular ones until they wouldn’t clip anymore. Then I had this: 

I gave up, showered, lunched and napped. I decided I’d go out and find Tik’s place and then the tack shop. I went in circles trying to follow GPS directions that didn’t lead me anywhere for a little while.

GPS says to turn here to get to Tik’s place. Ummmmm.

Decided that I would go on to the tack shop. But then I realized I had a hitchhiker.

Tried to remove it but saw that there was another one and gave up and drove on. Acquired a third set of clipper blades, headed home. Since it was storming and she was soaked, there was no more clipping.

Exchanged my sheets at Dollar General and had the rest of the Kraft Mac & cheese that I started for lunch. Once again, early to bed.

For a happy ending, I’ll just let you know that I made moderate progress in at least finishing clipping her body, got to Tik’s place Tuesday morning and started fixing fences. (The deal is I work 15 hours a week in exchange for two lessons), got lessons Wednesday and Thursday, and things are starting to settle down. I’ll report again when we have made some progress toward some goal.