Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019 – Ride Day With Hubby!

 

After a good night sleep, we were once again awakened by all the activity over on the other side of the campground, but it wasn't too long before they all started breaking up and going home. Hubby decided he was up for a ride after breakfast, so I saddled up the horses and planned a very short ride. He started to feel poorly after less than half my planned ride last time, so this time I planned something very short, less than an hour, essentially just down to the dam and back. He managed to climb up on Apollo with no help from me except holding him still, and off we went! Fortunately, the new trail that I took had quite a gradual grade down the hill, just right for him, and we went as far as the far side of the dam so the horses could put their feet in the water (which is how this whole adventure began almost 10 years ago!), then headed back toward camp on the red/white trail for a bit, then up on one of the black/white trails to get us back to camp. All told it was about 2.5 miles, less than an hour, but he was feeling quite strong when we got back, which is a great improvement from the last couple of rides when he was really fatigued and in pain from one thing or another, so he was a happy camper! Of course, once again, the weather forecast had predicted no rain until the wee hours overnight, but we had several storms come in throughout day, so I was scrambling to put tack away before one storm, and feed the horses before another storm. It was a tough dialysis session, too, for some reason, I suspect Hubby let himself get a bit too dehydrated, both on the trail and when we got back, so we had to deal with some issues with that, so he ended up being exhausted by the end of the day from that. By the end of the day, we finally had the place to ourselves, with all the campers (horse and otherwise) gone, and all the day riders, until the entire campground was empty. I let the horses graze on the grass for a long time before putting them away in the portable corral just before the third storm of the day passed through. Now that I've given them some of the new hay, they're not eating as much of the stuff Lisa gave me, though they were tucking in a bit on the bales under the gooseneck when they were loose, so it's all good. With them both getting a longer than usual ride in over the last two days, the short ride today must have been a relief, and tomorrow, they're going the have the whole day off as we go shopping, housekeeping and laundry, whoo-hoo! Off to bed now, though, to join Hubby is his fatigue.

Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 – Long Ride Day with Lisa and Group

 

 

All week, our neighbor Lisa and I had been trying to plan a day of riding together, and that day finally arrived today! We were also joined by a bunch of other women, some who had come in for the day, others that were camping for the weekend. We headed about before 10:30, with a plan to do as much of the inner perimeter Red/White trail that we could (a small section was closed, so we went around that on the Red trail), starting out to the north again. It wasn't long before it started raining (the forecast said rain after 3:00, par for the course this week!), so we all paused to put on our slickers. We stayed together as a group for 3 or 4 miles before Lisa and I finally outpaced them, but they seemed to know where they were going, and the trails here are quite well-marked, so we didn't worry about them. We knew they planned to stop for lunch anyway, so it was all good! Then the sun came out and we were able to put our slickers away, thank goodness. Another lovely ride, varying terrain and footing. Apollo lost one boot a couple of times, but we always picked it up right away. I kept it off for awhile when there wasn't any gravel on the trail, then put it back on again when the gravel got bad. A really nice ride again today! I really like this place, it's so quiet most of the time, and there are still miles of trails left to explore. It did get a bit noisy yesterday and today, though, as a large group of kids came into to tent camp and used the pavilion that used to be the old observatory, wasn't sure what the group was yesterday, but today they were all dressed in jungle fatigues, so I'm guessing it's an ROTC weekend for the young folks. Yesterday they played field games in civilian dress, today it seemed more like exercise and training, but they're well behaved and actually quieter today than during the games yesterday. When we left camp, Lisa had brought over her husband Jamie and introduced him to Roy, and we left them chatting away. We wondered if Jamie would pull out this afternoon (they're both leaving today), but I predicted they would still be talking when we got back, and sure enough, they were! They packed up and pulled out within the hour, though, just as a huge thunderstorm came in (well, it was after 3:00 now), with winds that blew the screen in so far we had to come inside, and then we had some hail come down as well. Fortunately, that didn't last too long, and we were able to do chores and have a nice evening, though I had to wear my Wellies to keep my feet dry from the puddles after the storm! A very nice day!

Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 – Red Perimeter Trail, Completed!

With no dialysis today, and the forecast saying it wouldn't rain until later in the day (yeah, right, like I believe THAT by now!), I saddled up Flash and headed out with the intention of doing the entire Red outer perimeter trail. After making him stand around so much yesterday, Flash was raring to go, and we set out northward at a nice quick walking pace. It wasn't long before he wanted to cordo and largo, but it was limited because of all the narrow and often rocky trails. We managed to keep his boots on (his fit better than Apollo's), but one did come off a couple of times when we had extenuating circumstances. It was a lovely ride, with all kinds of varying terrain and footing throughout the journey, and we completed the 14+ mile trip in just 3 hours and 39 minutes, with an average of over 4 mph despite the terrain. Not exactly endurance race speed, but certainly respectable. When we got back to camp, our neighbor Lisa commented that she should have warned me the entire red trail would be an 8 hour journey (with lunch stops and breaks, I suppose), and she was shocked to see me back in camp already, sure that I must have taken a shortcut back, but no, I did the entire Red Trail! I never felt like we were really rushing, though, I just let Flash go at whatever speed he wanted, which is always faster as the day goes on, unlike a stock horse that generally gets slower. Crazy! Anyway, it was a great ride, and we were very satisfied with it all around. As always, we sat in the screen room relaxing for a bit before settling down for an evening of dinner and a movie! This is the way to live!!

Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 – Boot Found, FINALLY!

Weather was much better this morning, it cleared out overnight, so after breakfast I saddled up Flash and headed back up the trail to see if I could find the missing boot. I knew exactly where the first place was we realized it was gone, and I had a pretty good idea where the last place I checked for it was when it was on, so I rode Flash all the way down and all the way and didn’t see it. Then I half convinced myself it must be in that last puddle, so I spent about half an hour reaching into every hole, re-engineering the puddle to drain off, and generally searching the entire area of the puddle with no luck. Then I thought it must have come off when we started trotting up the hill to the puddle, so I took a long stick and beat back all the long grass and ferns on both sides of the trail and still, no luck. Then I walked back up the trail, beating the bushes on the right side, where Apollo had mostly been, nothing. Finally, after almost two hours, while I was beating the bushed on the other side, there it was. It wasn’t even really hidden, it was just not where I expected to find it, naturally. Glad to have found it, can’t believe it took so long! Got back to camp in not time (it was only about a half mile out from camp), got Flash settled in, then got Hubby going on his dialysis session, and relaxed for the rest of the day. Whew!

Monday, Aug. 12, 2019 – Ride Day with Hubby!

Had a great night sleep (Lola has been sleeping in the truck lately, which could explain that!), and didn't get up until almost 8:30. Got the horses fed and the yard cleaned up, then rousted Hubby out of bed before it got too late. A few minutes to dress and a glass of juice, and he was ready! I got the horses saddled, and we headed out on what I hoped would be a ride of suitable length for him. He's been getting stronger, but he's still a long way from where he needs to be, but he managed to get up on Apollo with hardly any help from me, and we set off northbound on the red trail. Our plan was to go out past the overlook about a mile and a half away, then cross down to the red/white inner trail and come back that way. From my GPS elevation profile, it seemed like it had the most gradual grades on it. We were doing great until we got to the red/white inner trail and found another "closed trail" ribbon. I had noticed there was what appeared to be an alternate route that other horses had obviously taken, so we backtracked to that and followed it only about 100 feet, when it ended up right back on the trail that had been closed! Well, we didn't know quite what to make of that, but we kept on, figuring that maybe since we had had so many dry days, and the trail was probably closed off because of mud, that by now it would be in better shape. It was, for the most part, only a few really muddy places, but far fewer than any other trail I've been on since we left Tennessee in June! By now, Hubby was feeling a bit achey, not in his back, which is where we thought the trouble would be, but in his groin area. Guess his muscles are out of shape since he hasn't been on a horse in a while, and Apollo is really round, even though he did lose some weight this year. He's still a big, wide horse! We were doing great, checking to make sure their boots were on after every puddle, then we turned up a trail and the horses started trotting, and when we went through the next puddle and I looked back to check, Apollo had lost one of his boots, dang it! I climbed down and tied up Flash, and started hunting, walking back a long way, but no sign of the boot. I'm thinking it might have slid off when we picked up speed, but I couldn't find it. I went back to earlier puddles which I'm sure I checked after we went through, still no boot. Unfortunately, there is some long grass along the edge of the trail here, but Hubby was really starting to ache, so I gave it up and we headed back to camp, which was only about a half mile away. I guess I know what I'm going to be doing tomorrow! I hope I can find it, I hate to lose a boot, and so far, I've only ever lost one that I didn't bother to go back for, in the Badlands of North Dakota. Usually I can find them pretty easily, but this one is a bit of a mystery, or else we lost it earlier, or it got flung a lot farther off the trail than usual. We'll know better tomorrow! Got back to camp just after 1:00, I let the horses wander in the grass after I unsaddled them while I moved the corral around. I didn't want them to overgraze the area behind the highline. That done, I got the horses settled in there and started to get Hubby on his machine. Just as I was getting ready to put him on, a park employee showed up to tell me that I couldn't put the fence where I had put it, as it was too close to the pavilion, and made a series of suggestions as to where I might put it, though I had to not put it in any other campsite, not put it near the pavilion, not put it where trailers come in, which left me with either all the way on the other side of the campground, or in a long thin line along the edge of the long grass, with no way for the horses to reach water or the highline where I had hay for them. Well, I guess it's either that or back where I started from, and just let them overgraze the same area all week. What would you do? Well, eventually I decided to just put the fence back where it was and then whenever I get the chance, just let the horses wander the area grazing wherever they want. My neighbors, Lisa and Jamie, insisted it wouldn't bother them in the least, though I'm sure against some rule or another, but at least that way they'll have a chance to eat some nice clover and fresh grass for a few hours a day, which will help to not wear out the grass where I have the corral. Fixed dinner and settled down for the rest of the evening, as usual!

Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 – First Ride at Two Mile Run

By the end of the day yesterday, the campground got pretty full, and unfortunately the people that came in last parked right next to us, and they had a couple of yapping dachshunds, which woke me up earlier than I wanted this morning, and picked a fight with Lola the moment she came out the door. Sigh... But I wasn't going to let that stop me from my good mood, I was ready to go out on my first ride here. I planned about a seven mile ride, in the southern section of the park, as I had learned there was some kind of biking event on the north side of the park, and they evidently use some of the same trails, or at least cross the trails, so in order to avoid any conflict, I planned a southern route. I rode Flash today for the first time in a while, his fetlock is perfectly healed, and I put boots on his front as I heard the trails can get rather stoney, and in fact, they were! There was some mud, too, but nothing like I've been seeing in other areas, so I'm very grateful for that! We headed out on the main Red trail, which is a perimeter trail that goes all the way around the park, with a plan to just go as far as the family campground, then move on to the interior perimeter trail, which goes around the lake, and return on that. Well, my plan got a little waylaid when I came across a ribbon that said the trail was closed, so I had to improvise. Fortunately, it's not a huge park, and between the two main trails are an abundance of trails marked black/white which link the two, so as long as you don't get turned around as to which way you need to go to get back to camp, it's not too hard to get around. I did miss one turn that I wanted to take, went left instead of right, but all it did was take me back to the red trail I came in on, so no worries. Flash was excellent today, very calm in the beginning, like always, but he does tend to get a bit friskier one he warms up, but still very manageable. It was a very nice ride, only one fairly steep climb (which we had to descend as well due to the wrong turn), but not too bad, especially compared to some of the more challenging ones I've been on lately! We got back to camp at a good time, and it wasn't long before Hubby was hooked up to his machine, dialyzing away, and we were watching old movies to pass the time!

Monday, August 5, 2019 – Second Ride at Turnpike State Forest

Though we had hoped that Flash's fetlock would be fully healed by now, there's just enough trace of scabbing that we decided not to risk any setbacks, so I went out alone on my ride today, with the goal of riding all of the remaining nearby trails that were open. Trail 5, which goes off to the north, has been closed all summer because they've been working on it (which I hope doesn't include putting gravel down on it!), but all of the southern trails are open, so I designed a route to cover them all, all the way down to the other horse camp on 244. Well, I should say that it's more of an overnight stop than a horse camp, there's a big gravel parking lot there, one covered picnic table and two sets of 4 covered stalls. If you're only passing through and don't want to traverse the sometimes dubious gravel road all the way back into the Turnpike horse camp, this is a great alternative. Anyway, I headed out what turned out to be a long straight, wide trail which covered the eastern perimeter, then across the south side to the overnight horse stop, then I looped around on the remaining trails, only missing one trail marker (probably because I was busy looking at the map!), but it only led me about 100 feet out of my way. Again, it was a beautiful ride! Some of the trails were still sloppy, of course, but that's to be expected with the wet summer they've had all throughout this area, but less so on some of these more open trails, because it's been sunny the last few days and they've dried up a bit. There was hardly any grade on this section of trails, which will be perfect for Hubby next time we come here. Don't think we'll be able to ride again this week. Apollo enjoyed himself as well, though at one point he wanted to take a more direct route than me, so we had a moment of argument, but since his way had better footing, I changed my mind and did it his way. Two days in a row for him, that hasn't happened in a LONG time! Got back by mid-afternoon, then Hubby and I just sat around reading and relaxing the rest of the day. What a luxury! To just sit and do nothing extraneous! For a while there, I never thought I'd ever have a day like this, but now they're starting to come with more regularity. Wonderful! We finally went inside and had dinner and movie before heading to bed.

Sunday, August 4, 2019 – First Ride at Turnpike State Forest

Despite reading for a long time before going to bed last night, I still didn't get very sleepy for way too long. Obviously too much sugar at the wedding, what with a table full of cakes, which, of course, each one had to be tried! I tried to cut the thinnest slice possible, but with three layers, it's pretty hard to cut a tiny piece! Anyway, I woke up kind of tired, but I wanted to get a ride in this morning. We had all talked about it around the bonfire last night, and despite my getting a late start, they were even later, so I saddled up Apollo (Flash's leg is almost healed, but I'm not taking any chances, and I washed it and put more wound salve on it today), got some great suggestions from Carol about which trails would be good to ride today, and off we went. I just wanted a short and easy ride today, and got exactly that! South down the road for about 100 yards to the west entrance to Trail 4, south to Trail 1, then a quick turn onto the west branch of Trail 3 northbound to the east side of Trail 4, then a quick hop onto Trail 5 to cross the road back to camp. What a lovely ride! I didn't get lost once, even though I lost my map, but I managed to have a good cell signal and downloaded a copy of the map to my phone, something I think I'll get in the habit of doing anyway just as a precaution. It was a wonderful ride, the most relaxing ride I've been on in weeks! Though the trails were quite muddy from all the rain they've had here this summer (and everywhere in the Midwest, it seems!), there were still a lot of areas that were really nice, and Apollo was his usual reliable self, all I had to do was point him in the right direction at the intersections and let him go, he found his own footing around mud, detours around trees, he was perfect! Got back to camp in barely 90 minutes, which was fine, and started to get Hubby ready for dialysis. That got a bit delayed by my neighbors visiting, returning my lost map which they found on the trails, and buying copies of my book, but that was fine, we still got started in plenty of time. Had a little power outage problem, not quite sure what happened, but we had to end the dialysis session early, though we had taken most of the fluids off. Oh well, we'll make up for it next time! Spent the evening watching old movies, getting caught up on my computer work, and super-relaxing, since we're now on our own and it's so quiet out here, we're loving it! This is definitely a place that we'll come back to, especially now since my brother from another mother lives so close by here!

Monday, July 29, 2019 – Another Frustrating Ride at Tri-County

Map vs. GPS tracks. REALLY???

Had another great night sleep, and was up a bit earlier, so I decided I could get a short ride in this morning before dialysis this afternoon. After having my juice with Hubby, I saddled up Apollo (Flash is still a bit gimpy, but MUCH improved!), spoke to our neighbors across the way who were saddling up when I left, who said they were heading north to the country club for lunch, I told them I was going to try to find the reverse of the loop I tried to find the other day, and off I went. Once again, I'm sorry to say, the trails were poorly marked and had NO relationship to the map whatsoever! I headed out what I though was the reverse of the orange trail, only to find I was on the red trail, though they were both supposed to be combined there. After crossing the road and walking on a road to a swamp, I did my best to follow the ribbons, but never found the turnoff for the orange trail (though I learned later that two unmarked trails that I passed were the right ones, but there were many unmarked trails, and I wasn't about to guess when I had time constraints!) I ended up following the red trail, and thought I was in one place, when in fact I was in another. There was less than a mile of better marked trails in the woods, then it opened onto a pipeline easement where the weeds were as tall as my head (on my horse!), with lots of brambles, making me wish I had chaps to wear! I looked diligently for any kind of a turn-off and never found one, and the markers for even the pipeline trail were non-existent. I finally hit a road, and there were red arrows indicating the trail went straight across, so that's what I did. A hundred yards later I was looking at a river with no obvious ford to it, so I came back to what might have passed as a muddy road that had been underwater not long ago, but after 100 yards up that road I still didn't see any markers. As I headed back to the road crossing, still looking for markers, a pipeline employee came by, but he didn't know the trails either, but as we were talking, I saw my neighbors from camp coming down the same trail I had just come! That was weird because I thought they were going north, and I thought I was going south, I guess it turned out we were both going west! Well, they tried to find markers, too, with no luck, and we went for a short stretch along another pipeline easement that dead-ended, and since by now I had been out nearly two hours (which was what I had intended the entire ride to be!) I was forced to give up and make a linear retreat, something I absolutely hate to do when there's a loop to be found! I just couldn't afford the time any more, so I left the couple to keep exploring while I hoofed it back to camp. Grrrr!!! So frustrating! In this day and age, there's just no excuse for such a poor map, and equally poor trail markings. Some of the worst I've ever seen, and I've seen some pretty bad ones in my day! When I got back and overlaid my actual route over their trail map on Google Earth, literally, the only thing that lined up was the little bit of time I spent on the road. That's it. Everything else was way off! When I got back to camp, one of the trustees was talking to Hubby, and I mentioned the fact that I had been out twice and gotten lost half a dozen times on each ride, she got understandably defensive, but couldn't offer anything but some pretty poor excuses, and proceeded to explain to me that the reason I couldn't find the trail markers was because the pipeline company had put a stone wall over their trail to keep ATVers out of a cemetery, but all I had to do was turn left (the opposite of the way it shows it on the map) to go around the rocks and through the cemetery, and then I would find the rest of the markers for the red trail. Well, that's all fine, but how is someone who doesn't know that figure that out?? So frustrating!! Later, after dialysis (which was a good one today!), I went and chatted with the neighbors to see if they ever found those markers, and they didn't either, saying they turned and went down that road for a bit until they finally found where another trail crossed and picked up the blue trail, but never found the orange or the red trail as they had planned. They emailed me their GPS data and when I laid it on my Google Earth map, it left me speechless, which is saying something! There is not one bit of trail that lined up with markings on the map. Not one! Where the map shows the blue trail as a nice round loop, the actual trail is a squiggly, many sided thing that's almost the shape of an 8, and isn't even in the same vicinity as what's on the map! I've seen some bad maps, but these have to be the worst ever. I can only think that it's deliberate, that the locals don't really want casual riders from outside to come in, and if that's the plan, it's working, because no one is going to put up with being that frustrated for very long. I've vowed to ride every trail in the next three months when we come back here, and make my own map, so at least I won't get lost again, and hopefully, I can pass that along to other newbies in need. Very annoying. Anyway, after our good dialysis session and playing a bit with Lola, we settled down to a couple of short programs before heading to bed. Hoping for yet another good night sleep, but there is a line of thunderstorms coming our way, still debating where I should put Lola in the truck or not, because at the first sign of lightning, she'll be scratching at the bedroom door. Anyway, bedtime!

Thursday, July 25, 2019 – Ride on Apollo and Dialysis Day

Still didn't have a great night sleep last night, not sure why, maybe it's too cool! Wouldn't that be a switch! Anyway, I started out slowly this morning, but eventually decided to take Apollo for a ride just to get a feel for the trails and the neighborhood. Got him saddled up and headed out of the camp out the driveway and on to the orange trailhead, as I had been told the blue trail was mostly downhill and therefore much muddier than the other trails, so that's where I headed. I had estimated just a short 5+- mile around the smallest loop I could find, but naturally I got lost and ending up doing 7.75 miles instead. I swear, the hardest thing to do is to follow a map and a trail that's been done by people that have ridden those trails so long they never even think about what it's like to be a newbie. As usual, once you're on a trail the markings are generally clear, but for some reason, as the intersections, it become a whole new ballgame, there seldom seems to be clear markings as to which way to go. When I finally reached an intersection that I understood, I realized I have gone about twice as far as I had planned, and that I was on the east side of the loop when I though I was on the west side of it. Since I didn't want to have to stretch out the ride to another, longer loop, I uncharacteristically turned around to return to where I was going to go in the first place. Along the way, I passed a group of riders from a summer camp, a long string of 15+ horses with young people astride. I asked the leader if I was going in the right direction to get to back to the orange trail, and she gave me a fairly detailed description of where to find it, and off I went. A quarter mile later, a car caught up to me (several of the trails follow roads for a ways, not my favorite), and she told me the leader was concerned she had given me wrong directions and asked her to chase me down to correct it! You gotta love Ohioans, they go above and beyond to be helpful! Of course, in spite of all the help, that didn't keep me from getting lost a few more times along the way. I kept following the orange tags on the trees, and then the markings painted on the roads (which are pretty faded and covered with dirt, so they're easy to miss) and tried to follow the map, but the way the trails are marked on the map are painted with a really broad brush. When I zoom into it on Google Earth, the markings cover about 100 yards on the ground, so kind of tough to see where the trail really is. And when I finally made it back and put the trail on my overlay, in some places it wasn't even close! Guess I better have a conversation with trailmeister Ellen before I head out again! After following orange tags around in a circle of little used jungle, I opted for the more traveled path, which took me to the road across from the KOA, and from there I just followed the road home. Not what the trail was supposed to do, and even after looking at it on Google Earth I can't figure out where I went wrong. Sigh... Oh, well, never a dull moment! I finally made I back to camp, and as I was unsaddling Apollo, one of the Trustees of the club, Elaine, came over to see if I was all right. She was concerned that I went out on my own and was taking a long time to get back, so she stayed around just to make sure everything was okay with me. Like I said, above and beyond! Once I assured her everything was fine other than the occasional detour, she headed on out, promising to come by another day over the weekend. Overall a decent ride, some muddy spots like everywhere we've been this year, but mostly dirt, very little gravel, so boots were not necessary, thank goodness. I let Apollo graze on clover for a bit, treated Flash's foot again, then got busy getting Hubby on his dialysis session before finally settling down for the evening.