Archives for April 2016

Friday, April 30, 2016 – Travel Day to General Coffee State Park

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Got an early start on the day, opting to get breakfast, and even coffee, on the way to save time. We did our final cleanup and packing, headed down to the dump at the other campground, which was farther down the road than we figured, then headed north on US 27. We stopped near Leesburg to get fuel and to meet up with our other set of friends, as she wanted to get a copy of the book, which I gladly gifted her. We thought that gas station had a Dunkin Donuts, but they didn't have sandwiches, only donuts, so our first stop after leaving there was a DD at at place called Paddock Square, a cute little "town" that is part of the famous Villages here. They discontinued what we wanted, breakfast burritos, so we had to get the croissants, which were frankly the worst ones we'd ever had from DD. Dry and pretty tasteless, overcooked, etc. Anyway, it still served it's purpose, and we were on the interstate by 10:30. One stop at the Ag station and we were on our way! Arrived at General Coffee outside of Douglas, GA, and after some finagling, got check in to the horse camp. Evidently they don't have many horse campers, as it took the woman quite a while to get the rate straightened out. Can't say I blame her, it was confusing! $12 a night for the campsite, which included water and electric (though the website says 15 amp, it's actualy 50, thank goodness, so we'll be able to run our AC!), then a one-time $5 per vehicle entrance fee, then a one-time "second horse" fee of $8. So $30 for the first night, $12 for every night after that. We paid thru Monday, not sure how long we'll be staying, though she assured us we could extend it on Monday without paying all the extras again. We left the trading post, went back out on the road, east to the next entrance, then up to the horse camp, which is just after the ranger residence. Once we got there, we started to remember our previous visit, which was 5 years ago, picked the same site, #1, highlined the horses in the trees next to us, and even managed to get a decent satellite signal (well, on 119, anyway, couldn't get 110, and 129 was just tiny signal we may have to revisit later) before we settled in for the night. It was great to have AC overnight, we're looking forward to a great nice sleep!

Thursday, April 28, 2016 – Work Day

Our original plan had been to leave and start heading north today, but our most recent client wanted to meet us in Orlando today, so that’s what we did instead. Spent the morning with them, then found a nice little Thai restaurant for lunch, then went to a party we had been invited to that was being held at the house of the first friends we visited when we arrived here. Didn’t think we’d still be here, but when our schedule changed, we decided to participate. It was a potluck karaoke gathering of women, something I can’t say I’ve ever experienced before, but it was fairly entertaining. During one break, Hubby performed a couple of Shakespeare monologues that were VERY well received, so we left as heroes by the time we departed at 4:00. Being the only man there helped, of course! Stopped on the way back to camp to do all our shopping, then started putting things away and doing cleanup in anticipation of our departure in the morning.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 – Another Great, Long Ride at Lake Louisa

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As is my wont, I planned to ride as many of the trails here as possible, so today's ride was designed to map out nearly all of the remaining trails, which estimated to be just under 13 miles. We set the alarm in order to get out early, as the temps were forecast for the low 90's. Managed to get on the trail by 9:30, but this time we left little Billy home, which he didn't like, but he had trouble keeping up with us on the last ride, mostly because of the heat, and we knew that this would be too much for him today. We headed south to the first intersection, then made our way north and eventually to the east side of the park, which opened up into a lot of fallow fields, many with some gorgeous wildflowers, not to mention the occasional cactus in bloom. When we got close to the road, I stopped to put a leash on Lola, didn't want to be too far out of compliance here, anyway. 🙂 The trails that went around the edges of fields gave us a good opportunity to trot and canter, but got a little boring after a while, and then hot as there was no shade and the temps rose. At one point, near the farthest point from the camp, of course, Hubby's mare Clio shied at some approaching hikers, which she seldom does but we hadn't seen anyone else on the trails here at all, so I guess it startled her, and she went sideways unexpectedly. Hubby couldn't hang on (his hands just aren't as strong as they used to be), he lost his balance and took a slow motion fall, landing a bit on his shoulder. Clio didn't go anywhere, she just stood there wondering what happened. The hikers were very apologetic, though it wasn't anything they did, but we appreciated their concern. After a few minutes of rest and recovery, Hubby got back up in the saddle with the help of a nearby fallen log, and we were on our way. We took a couple of rests on the way back, especially at the bridge where Lola and I tossed a stick in the water, which had quite a good current going, and she got some swimming in. Hubby was too sore to do anything but walk all the way back, so it was nearly 3:30 by the time we got to camp. Fortunately, the west side of the park is mostly wooded, so the shade helped, but it was still hot. Can't wait to get back north in 70 degrees!! Anyway, Hubby helped a little, but his shoulder hurt him too much, so I sent him in and finished up with the chores. We put ice packs on his shoulder during the evening, and that helped some, so hopefully he'll recover without too much fuss. In any event, it was a very nice ride, 13 miles in all, and I managed to get a great GPS map out of it, which I've passed along to Trailmeister (along with the one from earlier in the week), and have both available if anyone wants them!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 – Shop Day and Gator Day

Did a few chores around our site, then I ran out to do some shopping. On the way back I decided to check out the entrance to Bear Lake which is on the way to the equestrian area, to see if there was an opportunity to bring down our hyper dog Lola for some exercise, with swimming being her favorite option. Turned out that there was an entrance to Bear Lake that was proclaimed as a place to launch boats, and when I checked it out. I found a nice floating dock that went out into the lake about 15 yards, but it was heralded by a sign “Gators, no swimming.” When I looked around I didn’t see any sign of them, and I expected they were talking more about people anyway. After getting back to the camp and having dinner, we decided to bring the dogs down to the dock for a bit. I looked around carefully and still didn’t see any gators, though granted, it was very weedy from the end of the dock back to the shore. First, I tossed the ball just a few feet of the dock to see if Lola would go after it, and sure enough, she didn’t hesitate to jump off and retrieve it. We discovered it was quite deep there, and she needed help getting back on the dock, so I grabbed her and pulled her in , no problem, Then I tossed the ball out about ten yards, and she jumped in after it, and swam like the trooper she is out and back. I was ready for her, and hauled her back in again. As I turned to throw the ball again, I saw the head of a gator pop out of the water about 10 feet from the dock. Good timing that he did that then! I guess our splashing served to attract him, so that was the end of our swimming expedition. We headed back to camp where I tossed the ball for a while in the field next to the camp before retiring for the evening.

Monday, April 25, 2016 – A Fabulous Ride at Lake Louisa!!

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What a very nice ride at Lake Louisa today! We got up a little early to try to beat the heat, but still didn't manage to get out until 11:00 (we got so lazy hanging around in one place all winter! 🙂 Over the weekend I had taken the trail map and marked off two routes that would allow us to cover as many of the park trails as possible, and downloaded Day One into the GPS to make sure, which ran just under 9 miles, saving the longer 12+ mile one for later in the week. We headed south through the youth camp, down to Dude's Loop, then north for a bit to the link to the east side of the park, which let us cross over a creek where the dogs had a great time splashing around, even little Billy took a voluntary swim across the creek to cool off, even though there's a bridge! Went north over the Sandhill Loop, then came back over the bridge where we rested a few minutes at the picnic table and hitching rail there, then did a sort of figure 8 along a bunch more trails that ended up taking us to the loop around the north side of Bear Lake and south back into the campground, all told, just over 3 hours. The weather was pretty hot (in the mid-upper 80's) but not too humid, cloudy enough to keep it from getting too bad, there was a tiny breeze occasionally that helped, and at one point, a few drops came out of a cloud, just enough to subdue the increasing heat. Hubby had a lot of great canters, as his mare Clio was walking slower than usual, and he had to keep up. She's starting to get a bit of arthritis in one of her knees, so we'll have to keep an eye on that, though he's been spraying it with Absorbine everyday. But a gorgeous day all around! The trails were marked brilliantly, and the map corresponded perfectly (a rare combination!), and we never felt lost, making the day even more enjoyable! Looking forward to our next ride here, probably Wednesday. A great start to our re-kindled journey!

Sunday, April 24, 2016 – No Ride Today

Hubby decided he didn’t want to ride today, and I agreed, because the park was pretty crowded and there was a lot of foot, bike, road and even some horse traffic. We wanted to take the dogs along, but was concerned about all the distractions, and besides, we were both tired from all the activity getting ready to move out, and not really stopping since we got here. Of course, I decided to do some repairs on my desk, and ended up having to run out for a few things, so I didn’t actually get a chance to rest much until the evening. A nice dinner at home, a fairly early evening, and most definitely plans to ride tomorrow!

Saturday, April 23, 2016 – Lunch with Another Couple

Today’s primary focus was on lunch at a local Asian restaurant with a wonderful couple we hadn’t seen in about twenty years, would you believe! We met them at 12:30, and didn’t separate until 3:30! Another great time, a great reunion, great conversation, everything just perfect! But enough visiting, it’s time to hit the trail!

Friday, April 22, 2016 – Some Shopping and Dinner with Friends

After sleeping deliciously late this morning, I did some computer work before we headed out to the store to pick up a few things. Then we went over to a friend’s house for dinner, a couple we met in Texas and befriended, who later moved near Orlando. What a fabulous evening! Excellent meal, great conversation, stayed until nearly 11:00!! Way past our bedtime! But every once in a while you just have to say, “What the heck!”

Thursday, April 21, 2016 – On The Road Again, AT LAST!

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After a couple of days of packing up and getting organized, visiting with brother Jeff and his vacationing girlfriend, and working ourselves to exhaustion, we FINALLY got out this morning, at the rather late hour of 11:00, but it took that long to make sure we had everything. Made several stops along the way before arriving at Lake Louisa State Park around 4:00. Filled up with water at the ranger station (because one of the rangers said we could, though after we started, another ranger came out and said that technically we couldn't since we were camping in the primitive area), and found out there was also potable water available at the dump down by the regular campground. Slow pressure made that a half hour job, before we moved on to the campground area. It was fully paved until the turnoff to the equestrian area, then it became a hard sand road for the last mile of so. The camping area is lovely, with 5 separate corrals scattered around under trees large enough to provide considerable shade, for which we were grateful as the temps are supposed to be in the mid-80s over the next few days. Corral 1 was a double corral, with plenty of space for both the horses, so we got them quickly put away before we began setting up, which despite the fact we were so out of practice, didn't take us long. Satellite dish took the longest because of some trees, but even so, we were fully settled in, with animals fed, long before dark, and fell exhausted in our recliners. To bed by 8:30!

Sunday, April 17, 2016 – A New Trail with New Friends

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For some time now, we've known about the nearby Loxahatchee Slough, but have only ever reached it's trailhead after a long ride from brother Jeff's house, so we had never actually been on those trails. At Dupuis a few months ago, I met a woman named Valerie who was kind enough to invite me to ride with her today, so we packed up the horses early and headed over to another one of her friend's house named Nancy. From there we quickly saddled up and headed west along the canal at a nice easy walk so the horses could get used to each other and the surroundings, and of course they had issues with a pig in someone's back yard, but it wasn't long before we all settled down. Just as we reached the trailhead we were joined by another rider, Bob, who decided to tag along with us. We took a very nice loop of about 4 miles, part of which went along one of the big canals, and there was one stretch that had standing water we had to wade through for a bit. Otherwise it was a lovely day, a very nice trail and a very nice ride, and we all took turns chatting amongst ourselves. We mostly walked and jogged, though Hubby got in a couple of canters catching up several times, as our pace was a bit quicker than normal for us (their horses are younger :-). We passed one property that had a rather emaciated looking horse in the yard, I took note and looked it up later, passing the address and owner along to Val in case she wanted to report it. With us leaving in a few days, it doesn't make sense for us to get involved, hopefully the ladies here will follow up on it. In any event, it was a lovely ride, about 7.3 miles all told, just over two hours, just right for the busy day we all still had left in front of us. Hubby and I expressed our thanks and goodbyes, made short stop at Publix for a few things before heading back to the "ranch," did some chores before settling down for the evening.