Backfill: June 6
It isn't every year that an agility National Championship is within 2 hours of your home. In fact, the CPE Nationals have been in Elk Grove once before, 2 years ago. AKC Nationals (which we don't do) have been in Los Angeles at least once. USDAA Nationals were in San Diego twice (2000, 2001)--about an 8-hour drive-- and Scottsdale, AZ twice and will be again this November--about a 10 or 11-hour drive. I don't know whether the NADAC Nationals have ever been west coast. So it's a treat to be able to relax about going.
However, for some reason, packing for a 3-day Nationals event is so much more traumatic than for any other 3-day event (such as the Haute Tracs event in April or the Bay Team Labor Day trial). You want your stay to be luxurious, in keeping with the idea that it's a special event. You want to take any clever clothing or decor to really get into the spirit of the weekend. This year I also had a phone meeting Thursday morning and some documentation work to do before I headed out the door. Also, I hadn't packed anything the day before, so I had to do at least an hour of packing, probably more. Plus my canopy top's seams had come apart a couple of trials ago and I had been meaning to try running them through my sewing machine to fix them.
The sewing machine kept jamming the bobbin thread for some reason. I just forced it to keep going (probably a bad idea, really, in retrospect, but sometimes you know inanimate objects just respond better to brute force. If I'd have had a hammer, I'd have used it). Just about the time I had almost finished the main seam, there was a loud thunk and the tip of the needle had been broken off. The bobbin side of the stitches had gobs and gobs of extra thread--not pretty but who cares. But I still wanted to finish that seam and do another one. So I replaced the needle--and the machine wouldn't sew. The needle thread just wouldn't pick up the bobbin thread at all. I must've taken everything apart that was takable apartable a dozen times & cleaned & such, but no go.
So now I'm going to have a probably expensive sewing machine cleaning & repair when I get back, and I can only hope that the fix I managed to do will suffice for 4 days at Elk Grove. Crud.
I was aiming for an 11:30 departure to allow me time to get money, ice, and lunch on the road and arrive at Elk Grove right at 2:00, because the preliminary paperwork said in huge type, larger than anything else on the page:
Absolutely no exhibitor setup or arrivals prior to 2PM Thursday.
In a frenzy of time optimization and prioritization, I managed to even squeeze in a 3-minute shower. I had decided to forgo it because time was moving along apace, but at the last minute decided to go for it. Good thing I did, because while I was toweling off, I noticed all of my shirts for the weekend neatly lined up on the dresser--and my suitcase was already packed in the car with the rest of my clothing. I managed to get out the door not much after 11:30. Traffic out to Elk Grove was lovely the whole way.
Arrival and Setup
There are 6 of us who want to set up our canopies together, to house a total of 7 people and 18 dogs. (That's Gwen's 3, Jennifer's 4, Jackie's 2, my 3, Arlene's 2, Deb's 3, I think, and Jean's 1?. That would be--if I'm counting right--2 Border Newfs and 3 other All Americans, 6 Border Collies, 2 French Bulldogs, and 5 Aussies.) We really want to be in the original outside grass ring area, right next to the arena, and we know we'll have to be there right at Minute One to be able to get it, with 300 competitors scheduled to appear.
|They really dolled the place up for the nationals. Just in case you were confused about which state you're in--|
I take the Hood/Franklin Road exit from Highway 5 to head in to WAG, and it's still 10 minutes before 2, with only 2 or 3 miles to go. The speed limit on the first part of the country road is 55; I do about 35. The second stretch is--well, who knows any more, it's not posted, but probably somewhere between 45 and 55. I cruise at about 25. There is no one behind me in either case, thank goodness. I arrive at WAG on the dot of 2:00. There are several cars driving up the long dusty drive ahead of me, and Lo! There are already a whole lot of canopies set up in the distance! Argh!
I make a comment about "so much for 2:00" to one of the parking attendants (WAG doesn't usually have or need parking attendants; most trials are much, much smaller there). I find out that all the committee and primary volunteers were allowed in earlier, and apparently right before 2:00 the driveway was filled with people waiting to get in. I drive around to the back behind the other new arrivals, grab two mats, the plastic contractors tape that I brought, and a tape measure to measure off space for 10'-wide canopies, and race around to the lawn--and there's a huge spot marked off as available for setup that's in a perfect location and has room for 8 canopies! What awesome luck. So I start flinging my mats around and criss-crossing the area with tape. Someone else arrives almost instantly and claims the other 2 spots. Arlene arrives right about then with her mats and we stake out the signs with people's names and start setting up our own canopies. Jackie arrives pretty promptly, too, and that's all we're expecting until at least dinnertime or later.
|Home away from home. My canopy is on near left.|
By the time we've got our stuff pretty much set up, every canopy space in sight has long since been claimed. I'm quite pleased about our location.
I did forget my new slip-on shoes that I scotchguarded specially for this weekend and left in the middle of the kitchen floor, and I forgot to Advantage the dogs (and this is tick country). I hope that's all I forgot.
Afternoon and Evening
There's lots of time to exercise the dogs and hang out and chat, although canopies are spread out so far around the site that it's hard to find anyone and you're not likely to just wander by and see your friends. This happens all weekend--if people you want to see aren't in your specific rotation group, you just don't see them.
It's quite warm and humid. Probably near 90 midafternoon. So much for showering.
|Freebies part 1|
There's early check-in available after 4:00, so we pick up our registration packet and check-in goodies. And what a haul! Clickers, dog and people treats galore, plush doggie toys, plus the big prize, each dog gets a 6x6-foot shade cloth! These things aren't cheap. They won't cover an entire side of a canopy, but each will easily cover even a large crate, and since I have 2 dogs, two of them *will* cover the side of a canopy. With my existing 10x6, I'm set.
Jackie and Arlene and I decide to go out to dinner around 5:00. Right about then, Gwen arrives. So we wait for her to start getting set up so she can join us. About 5:30, Jennifer arrives, so we wait for her to get minimal set up so that she can join us. But then someone backs out, so four of us head out in one car to a not-too-distant fast-food Mexican place with tables to sit and relax. We leave the dogs in their crates and pens at the agility site because, even at 6:30, it's too hot for them to be in the cars for any extended period.
|Arlene and Jennifer hanging out. My sweaty jeans sprawl across my chair. Jenn uses my cooler as a handy extra seat. How many unused chairs are there?|
Jackie and I are staying at the Amerisuites about 30 minutes from the show site; we don't get there until after 10 pm, then we have to haul our stuff up from the car, set up an x-pen barrier between her dogs' half of the minisuite and my dogs' half, shower, etc. Not in bed until after 11, I think. So much for a leisurely day and being well rested! Because--
We need to be up by 5:00 to get packed up and back to the site by (our guess) 6:00 to get a decent parking spot close to our setup rather than out in the boonies.