Archives for October 2020

Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020 – Work Day at McClellan, Fun at the Campfire

Hi my love!
Had a great night sleep, but was awakened by a knock at the door at 7:00 am by one of my neighbors, Kathy, with Apollo (aka Houdini) on a lead. Apparently he had escaped and gone over to visit her horses, so she caught him and brought him over. She was nice enough to put the fence post back in and get him in the fence before I even had a chance to get dressed and get out there, for which I thanked her profusely. I got them fed, had breakfast, and arrived at the gathering point of the work crew that I had volunteered to help today, so it wasn’t long before we were of picking up limbs of the trees that had fallen while the guys manhandled their chainsaws throughout the campground. That kept us busy most of the morning, then eventually pizza arrived, then after lunch we headed out on the main service road and started clearing trees from out there, keeping busy until nearly 5:00 before we headed back to camp. It may have been exhausting, but it was very satisfying, we got a LOT of work done, making a big dent in the trees that came down from the tropical storm. When I got back to camp, though, once again my clever Apollo was missing, though Flash was still inside the fence, and I knew that Apollo had done one of his fence-pulling tricks, when he grabs the top of the fencepost with his teeth and pulls it out. There was one post down, but that was enough for him. Anyway, someone had put him in the round pen they have here, so I collected him and put him back, then I got the rubber mallet out and pounded every post down as much as I could, so I’m hoping that’s the last time he escapes. If not, then I’ll have to put them on a highline just to keep them safe. After I got them fed and settled, I headed over to my neighbors again, and a few other folks that had spent the day working stayed around, and we ended up telling stories and laughing harder than I have in a long time. Lola and I stayed out there till after 8:30 before finally coming back to the trailer, under the brilliant light from a full blue moon. It’s also Halloween, of course, and one lady showed up this morning in a one-piece mule pajama outfit, which was quite funny. Anyway, got back to the trailer, warmed up a piece of leftover pizza, had my nighttime tea, now I’m ready for shower and bed. I have no doubt I’ll sleep well tonight! Good night, babe! Love you!

Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 – Busy Day of Socializing at McClellan

Hi Darlin’!
Woke up to a chilly morning, stayed in bed longer than I should have just to keep warm, though thankfully I brought my heavy robe to bed last night for when I finally got up. Had a hot breakfast for a change, did my morning chores, did a few computer jobs, followed up on the long-awaited refund from the Grand Canyon Caverns Inn, which still hasn’t sent me my money after almost a month, then people started arriving to do some odd jobs around camp. I met a lot of people today, and made some new friends. Two ladies took me to lunch at a Mexican restaurant, which was a lovely change of pace, I haven’t done Mexican in a long time, and we had a very nice time chatting. When I got back to camp, one of the ladies I had lunch with was going over to the mounting stairs, which I apparently inadvertently clipped when I came into the camp, which broke a board and twisted it around a bit, but she was with a man who was here to fix it, so I helped him put in the replacement board, then we enjoyed a glass of wine together before he headed home. Then I met some more women that had arrived that are just camping and riding for the weekend, and we had a chance to chat as well, ending up drinking wine around the campfire. Then a latecomer arrived, and it turned out she had been at Guntersville when I did my Snowy River last week, and they all ended up asking me to do it, so I obliged. We spent a couple of hours sitting around the campfire chatting, it was very nice. Now I’m back at home, warming the trailer up a bit (it’s supposed to get down into the mid-40’s tonight, and is already well on it’s way!), and settling down for the remainder of the evening. Tea is on and I’ll soon be on my way to shower and bed! So, good night, baby! Love you!

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 – First Ride Day at McClellan

Hey Babe!
Despite the fact that a waning tropical storm came through overnight, I never heard a thing with my earplugs in, and the trailer never shuddered in the wind, so it didn’t seem too bad. There were some limbs down around the camping area, but not much. I did my chores, worked on my computer for a bit, then the skies cleared up and it turned into a beautiful day, so I saddled up Flash, who seems to be back in fine condition, and we headed out on one of the trails. I quickly abandoned it, however, because even though it was designated a major trailhead, I only got about 100 feet before the trail petered out to nothing, and I wasn’t in the mood to go cross country, so I decided to go back and stick to what are essentially forest roads. The map is very detailed, with elaborate names for every side trail, but every one of them is marked as yellow. The intersections are well-marked, with names for every trail and a letter for every intersection, but I found that I had to keep my map in my hand the whole time just to keep track of where I was, and that became a bit tedious after awhile. I would like to have just said I’m going to take the blue trail to the green trail, etc., but that wasn’t possible. Again, the locals that come here a lot would find it very easy to learn, but for a newcomer, it wasn’t quite as enjoyable as I would have liked. Most of the roads I went on had quite a bit of gravel (Flash had his boots on, of course), and there were quite a few trees down, so I guess the wind was stronger than I thought, or maybe some were down before, I don’t know. Just before I reached camp, though, there was a massive tree right across the main road that looked like it brought a couple of other trees with it, and that road goes down to the area where they’re doing a lot of the work of clearing, so I imagine that will be the one they’ll have to tackle first. It was a nice ride anyway, Flash did just fine, and was full of energy after having so much time off, so we made good time. Once I put them away, fed them, and put their blankets one (it’s supposed to get down to the low 50’s tonight), I settled down for the evening. I finished off the rest of that limited series Queen’s Gambit, it was quite an enjoyable piece of entertainment, but of course, the main character had to go through a bout with drugs and alcohol before she achieved success, which seems to be the only plot Hollywood can come up with these days. But it’s over now, and it’s time for shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 – Rainy, Lazy Day

Hi Darlin’!
Had a lot of rain come in overnight, so I had to put my earplugs in after a while, then got up at a good time, had breakfast and did my chores, then headed out to the grocery store for propane, only to discover that the one guy at the store that works the propane doesn’t work on Wednesdays! Would have been nice if the girl I spoke with last night had mentioned that! Anyway, the next nearest Tractor Supply ALSO didn’t have propane, so I ended up going to a hardware store for it. All this took time, so it was awhile before I got back to camp. I had some lunch, then was reading for a bit when I started to feel very tired and started to fall asleep, so I crawled into bed and had a nice long nap. There’s a tropical storm making landfall near New Orleans, and it’s supposed to arrive here overnight with strong winds and rain, so I figured I’ll have trouble sleeping tonight anyway, so a nap would do me good. It’s supposed to be gone by morning, so maybe I’ll ride in the afternoon. Flash’s ankle seems to be just fine now, so I might take him for a change. I started watching an interesting limited series program on Netflix about a girl chess prodigy, and now I’m ready for shower and bed. Good night, my love!

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020 – Travel Day to Camp McClellan

Hey Babe!
Getting used to getting up earlier, was out and about by 7:30, a quick breakfast and packing up. I didn’t do hardly any last night, left it all until today, since my next stop was only about 60 miles away, though I took a longer route to avoid climbing mountains, so it took me about two hours, I found it with no trouble, and I chose a spot the looked a little slope-y but not too bad, set up the horses’ fence and got them out so they have a nice little paddock. There are plenty of trees to highline, but I decided the fence would give them more room and be easier to clean up. I had a long chat with a local legislator about all their big plans for the place, and met the president of the local Backcountry Horsemen chapter, then set about finishing my setup. Unfortunately, that little slope turned out to be pretty deceiving, and though I got the trailer almost level with three boards under the jack, the step out of the trailer, even to the top of my two-step mounting block, was too high to be comfortable. I didn’t want to risk it, so I ended up moving to a different spot that was close by but more level, though I left the horses where they were. Once I got settled in, I ran down to the post office to make sure they would accept the General Delivery package I have coming, which they will, then went to Tractor Supply to fill up with propane, only to discover they don’t have propane at this branch, darn it! The only other place in town I could find was a grocery store, but there’s only one person that knows how to do it, and they won’t be in until morning, so I had to skip that for now. Walmart was right next door, so I ran in and grabbed a few essentials before getting back to camp. I settled down for dinner, watched a great movie about Cornish folk singers, now I’m headed to shower and bed. Water may be a problem here, their only source are a couple of tanks, so I’m not sure how long I’m going to stay. I’m feeling a bit tired, and my back hurts for some reason, so I may take tomorrow off rather than ride (other than the trip to get propane, since I’m down to my last tank, and I’m in the shade so I don’t think I’ll gain much from my solar panel, even though I set it up), but we’ll wait and see how I feel. The remains of a tropical storm is supposed to come in tonight, and there’s rain forecast for the next two days, so I may just take it easy and rest up. I have a decent cell signal, so there’s some computer work I can do that will take some time, this is a good opportunity to do it. Anyway, I’m off to my shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Monday, Oct. 26, 2020 – Longest Ride Yet at Guntersville

Hiya darlin’!
Despite my best intentions, I ended up not going to be early. Just as I was ready to shuffle off to my shower, I got a message from the guy in China about the Beatit battery charger. It fell over one day awhile back, and the casing cracked just enough so the screws wouldn’t hold, so now it won’t charge up properly. I tried to tape it, but to no avail. Anyway, they said they’s let me replace it for less than half the price I’d have to pay for a new one, so I needed to chat with him on Messenger to make arrangements for that. I’m having it sent General Delivery to a post office nearby my next stop, so hopefull that will solve the problem. Meanwhile, my generator just doesn’t seem to want to start up no matter how many volts are in the batteries, unless I use the charger, so I hope I get it soon! Anyway, I got to be later than I have been, but still woke up before 7:00, stayed in bed a bit longer, then got up and started the day. My plan was to finish off the rest of the marked trails (I can’t go chasing all the renegade trails here!), so I saddled up Apollo and was out by just after 10:00, but not before doing a load of laundry and hanging it out to dry while we’re gone. Flash is a lot better, is putting weight on his foot, and when I pressed around it looking for any pain, he never flinched, so I’m guessing he’s almost well, but this was a long and rocky ride today, so I didn’t want to set him back, so I took Apollo. Since he’s had two days off, it should be good for him. Anyway, we went out the old trailhead and headed out the white trail, taking it all the way to the end to Callahan’s Cave, another one of these interesting rock formations that has a spring emerging from it seemingly out of nowhere. There were a few interesting features along the way, several picnic areas, a duck blind (there was a big turtle sitting on a log just off the shore that never moved as we came by) and the cave itself. On the way back, I stopped at the turnoff to Kirby Cemetery, tied up Apollo and walked up the hill to see it. It turns out it wasn’t a cemetery, which connotes several graves, but in fact just one grave, a civil war soldier from the Confederacy. It’s surprising someone went to all the trouble to bring a headstone way out here, he must have had a loving family or some realy connections of some kind. It’s just up on a hill, and you can clearly see the indentation in the ground where he was buried. Anyway, after that we veered off onto the final trail, the purple trail, which Janet had described as “serene,” and it was rather nice. It was a climb to get up there, but once you reached the old wagon road, it was pretty smooth as it paralleled the white trail. There are lots of old wagon roads in these woods, but some are cordoned off as private property, which is a shame because they would make great carriage roads. Any, we got back just before 4:00, having done over 12 miles in just under six hours, just about what I expected. I’m tired, but satisfied I got all the trails mapped. I wasn’t going to head down to McClennan until Wednesday, but there’s rain coming in that day, so I’ve decided to move tomorrow instead. I spoke to the club President down there, and he seems very welcoming, I’m looking forward to meeting him and his group, which are evidently extremely active since they acquired the property a few years ago. They’ve even got that TV show, the Best of America by Horseback coming in a few weeks, so I volunteered to help them as they get ready for that in exchange for camping. It’s a primitive camp, so I sure hope my charger comes soon, or I may and up having to use the truck to jump start my generator! Finally settling down for the evening, having fed the horses and getting my laundry in, ready for my ice cream and shower and bed! I don’t even think I’ll try to watch a movie, the cell signal is so poor here I’ve been having trouble streaming anything, and of course there’s no broadcast TV anywhere close by. So off I go! Good night, my sweet! Love you!

Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 – Lazy Day, Dinner at the Lodge

Hi Sweetie,
Another good night sleep, with only a few campers left this morning, and most moved out by mid-day. A couple of the women went for a long ride, but Flash is still favoring a foot (though it’s much better now, just not quite there yet), and it was pertty cloudy, just not the greatest weather, so I decided not to ride today. I mostly read during the afternoon, but then one of the ladies, Janet, invited me to join her for dinner at the state park Lodge, so we went there meeting at 6:30. It’s been awhile since I had a nice restaurant meal, and this was a lovely piece of salmon, all very nice. Janet was picking my brain about traveling, it’s a desire she has, too, to just travel, but she’s got a house and a business, so it’s hard for her to get away. We had a nice conversation, though, and I expect I’ll see her again, and hopefully ride with her as well. She had a mule, so that would be interesting. Anyway, I got back around 8:00, fed Lola (I did the horses before I left), and settled down with a little ice cream and reading. I’ve been bingeing on James Herriott’s series All Creatures Great and Small, about a Yorkshire-based veterinarion in the 1930’s forward. You would have loved these books, there are so many references to things I’m sure you would have recognized from your childhood growing up in England, I can almost hear you laughing at some of the clever writing. I know I’d be asking you a lot of questions about some of this stuff, I’m just guessing at some of its meanings, and you could have filled me in! Sorry you didn’t get a chance to share this with me. Anyway, once again, I’m heading off for my shower and bed, early! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 – Rainy Day

Hey darlin!
Getting the hang of getting up earlier, I woke up around 7:00, though I stayed in bed a little longer. Heavy rain came in overnight, and though it stopped for a bit, a lot more rain came in through the day, so the ride was kind of a washout. There was only a 40 percent chance forecast, so I can understand why they didn’t postpone it until the rain date next week, but only about half the usual numbers showed up for this ride, and they all got wet. I didn’t ride because Flash still is still favoring one hind leg, and Apollo needs rest after two hard days of riding, and you know me, I’m a fair weather rider, so rain was not very appealing to me. Instead I helped the club (it’s a Backcountry Horsemen’s Chapter, you remember how great those groups were out west for improving horse camps!), by doing a few odd jobs for them, then later helping to serve, then after everyone was fed, those still remaining for the raffle were treated to my Snowy River again. I didn’t have a raffle ticket, but they ended up letting me have my choice of door prizes anyway, so I chose a nice teal halter and a green scoop. The old scoop was a little cracked, and of course, I’m using two feed cans, so that extra scoop will come in handy. I spent most of the afternoon hanging around over there, then finally came back to do some work. That battery jumper that we bought fell over and the casing where the screws went in cracked, and now it won’t take a charge, so I either need to get a replacement under warranty (doubtful), or buy another one. The trick, of course, is getting it delivered in time somewhere. Well, that’s another challenge for another day. Fed the horses, put a blanket on Flash, because it’s damp and there’s a breeze, and he takes a chill pretty easily, even though the temps aren’t supposed to get below 60, but I don’t want him to be uncomfortable. Settled down for the evening with a movie, and I’m heading for a shower and bed early again, to read for awhile. This schedule seems to be working for me, I’m actually waking up pretty rested these days. I may go for a ride tomorrow, but I’ll see how the horses and me feel in the morning. Good night, babe! Love you!

Friday, Oct. 23, 2020 – Long Second Ride at Guntersville State Park

Hiya Sweetie!
Woke up right at 7:00, the perfect time, just before the sun rises, but light enough to see by. Of course, when the clocks change in two weeks, that will screw it all up again! Anyway, it was a nice morning, and after breakfast I saddled up Apollo again. I was originally going to go riding with the mule folks, but decided I didn’t want to be restricted, and frankly, was concerned one of the mules might kick Lola, or that she would get confused with a big group and head back to camp, which I didn’t want her to do since we’re right on the side of a busy road, especially with a lake over on the other side where she might wander off to, so I left on my own about 10:00. I had two trails I wanted to get in, neither of which was on the map, the pink trail and the extension of the yellow trail. The pink trail was really nice, had a nice stretch where you could see the lake down below, and once you climbed the hill it was pretty level for a long time, a nice change over the other trails I took yesterday. There was also a nice overlook on a spur trail with a picnic area and highlines, which is where the mule folks caught up to me, as well as a couple of other gals on a horse rental ride. Then I headed out on the yellow extension, which I thought would be fairly straight forward. I knew it ended up on the blue trail, and thought it would be a parallel to the white trail, but NO!! It meandered around for miles into the wild. It’s so new it was almost raw, and the markings were few and far between most of the time, but then suddenly you’d get a spot where they’d have large yellow paint splotches, a fanfare of ribbons, and a sign with a horse on it with an arrow. Then you’d go half a mile without hardly anything again! It was kind of strange, but it did end up taking me to the blue trail, but it took a lot longer than I thought it would. It was over eleven miles by the time I got back to camp, but Apollo did great, though it took about five hours to do it. Lola had fun, too, and I’m sure she’ll sleep tonight! After rinsing Apollo off and putting him back on the highline, I rested a bit, then walked Lola over to the lake for a little swimming frisbee, then settled down for the night. I had a trailer move in right next door to me, one that had their awning on the opposite side, so they’re facing my porch directly, and they were gone all day, but left their generator running! I have no idea why people do that! I sat outside reading for a while, but I had to listen to that all the time. They finally got back just before sunset, and I asked him why he kept it running, and apparently he left it on to run the AC, which evidently wasn’t working anyway, so the whole exercise was pointless. Crazy! Nevermind, they seemed like nice people, and the woman thought running the generator when they weren’t there was just as crazy as I did. Anyway, I eventually wandered over to Bubba’ trailer, where many of the group had gathered, and after a lot of chitchat, I did my Snowy River for them just before dinner. I’d already eaten, so I left just after, came back to the trailer for a bit of ice cream and a movie before shower and bed. Heading there shortly, so good night, babe! Love you!

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 – First Ride at Guntersville State Park

Hi Babe!
Woke up at the crack of dawn this morning, which is what happens when I get to bed at a decent hour! I would have read in bed for awhile except I looked out the window and saw Flash laying down, and he was completely motionless. I kept looking for some movement, but he wasn’t even flicking his tail, so I was worried, and got up to check on him. Turns out he was fine, he got up as soon as I came out, but he’s still not putting any weight on one of his back feet, so I’m going to let him rest some more to see if it straightens itself out. I went ahead and fed them, and got my day started. Had breakfast, read for a bit, then started saddling up Apollo for our first ride here. I was all mounted and ready to go, then Lola rolled so hard the velcro on her vest tore off, so I had to dismount, get out my sewing kit, sew up the velcro, then finally hit the trail about 11:15. I had printed a map, but understand there have been a lot of additional trails made that aren’t on the map, so I was hoping I don’t get lost. I had been told by a neighbor here that it’s not too rocky here, so I didn’t put Apollo’s boots on, but I did take them with me. Turns out there was quite a bit of rocks along the White trail and I stopped once to put the boots on, but the new (used) boots that I had bought from E-bay were almost new, and nowhere near stretched out (which made me realize just how much my old boots HAD stretched out!), and there was no way I could get them to fit. Fortunately the trails improved, so we managed okay. We took the white trail to the blue trail, did that loop, discovered that the yellow trail had evidently been extended to meet the blue trail (which was not on the map), but passed it for now, got back to the white trail, then picked up the yellow trail. I was really pleased with the way the trails are marked here, plenty of signage and paint on the trees, and a clever idea I hadn’t seen before, where they had put wood squares painted the color of the trail with numbers on them, increasing about every quarter mile, with the smallest numbers closest to camp, so that you could tell right away if you were going in the right direction. They also had a lot of arrows with “camp” written on them, so there wasn’t much chance on not finding your way back. I did have questions at one spot, though, when the yellow trail made a sudden right turn, which would have been away from camp, and I figured that must have been that new trail that led to the blue trail, so I turned left instead. Though there was a lot of horse sign and hoof prints, and was heading in the right direction, there were no markers at all for quite a ways, and just as I was thinking I was on the wrong track, I finally came upon a marker that indicated I was almost back to camp, yay! The trails are interesting, inasmuch as the lake is in a basin, so most of the trails are on the hillsides, but many are fairly easygoing switchbacks, which keeps it from being too steep. But they are mostly linear with small loops, so it won’t take too long to finish off what trails I didn’t take today, which is probably good, since I’m not loving living on this slope. When I got back into camp, I discovered a number of trailers had come in, including one with Bubba, the guide I met at Loretta Lynn’s back in June, along with several other folks who were there, including the older fella that was dumped in the creek on one ride, the one who I helped get back up when he had trouble standing. When he realized that it was me, he thanked me profusely for “saving his life.” I wouldn’t go that far, but I was happy Flash moved where I wanted him and stood still when I asked him, well enough for him to hang on to his lead line till he got himself back on his feet. Anyway, Bubba made a skillet of dinner and invited me over for some, and a few other folks joined us for a bit of chit-chat until it was mostly dark, then I came back and fed Lola, then settled down for the evening. I’m watching the final Presidential debate as I’m writing this, I haven’t watched the others, and I’m pretty much wondering why I’m watching this one, it’s so absurd. Don’t think I’m going to stay with it for long. Anyway, I still have to shower and I want to get to bed early, to keep my new habit going of early to bed, early to rise, so off I go! Good night, darlin’! Love you!