Monday, Mar. 16, 2020 – Paperwork and Ride Day

Hi Sweetie,
I spent the morning doing computer work and making phone calls, plus I made a quick trip to Publix to file a complaint about the cake, which ended up in a refund and a promise for another cake whenever I wanted it, even next year. We'll see! Finally, in the afternoon, Jeff, Audrey and I decided to take a ride, since she's leaving on Wednesday and tomorrow they're going fishing, so this will be the only chance she has. We saddled up all three horses and headed out the back gate, with Lola dressed up in her orange vest just in case, and went around that 5 mile loop along the canal, through the WMA and stopping at the pavilion for a little bit. After a very wet winter, we've had lots of dry weather the last few weeks, so most of the water was either gone or quite shallow, so we had only a little bit of wading to do. It was nice, though, and a good little stretching exercise for our guys. Jeff's horse Frost even behaved himself for the most part, and we were careful to keep them all apart to avoid any incidents. It was a slow pace, though, even Flash was walking slower than I've ever seen him, probably because it was almost to the mid-80's today. I'm going to have to think about clipping them if we stay down here much longer, probably should have done it weeks ago, but wasn't sure how soon I'd be heading north, and what the nighttime temps might be. When we got back from the ride, I walked down the driveway to pick up Lola's new GoDogGo machine which UPS had delivered earlier. Yes, they sent me another one! I think I'm becoming their official Beta Tester or something. I got it out and set it up, with Lola jumping up and down the whole time, then of course she went nuts when it started working. She played for quite a while, which will help her sleep tonight, because you know a little 5 mile hike was hardly going to warm her up! Anyway, it was a nice day, a nice ride, and a lovely evening, with the family gathered at the pool, which has become our habit in the late afternoon, before finally settling down for the evening. Off to bed now, so good night, my love!

Sunday, Mar. 8, 2020 – Scoping Out Possible New OTL Trail in Corbett

Hi Baby,
Well, the clocks changed last night, so it was still almost dark out this morning when my alarm went off at 7:45. I took my time getting ready, then loaded up the horses and headed out to meet Anita and her boyfriend Scott out at Camp I. The plan today was to try to find a trail that would keep us off that long stretch of canal, and the Florida Hiking Trail is probably the best option. I was prepared to just follow that, but Anita wanted to try one of the main trails, where all the swamp buggies go, but we didn’t get very far as the water was still to high, even though it had come down a lot in the areas that we rode during the OTL, so that won’t work. Eventually we went cross country to pick up the Florida Trail (I had downloaded it onto my GPS so I knew we weren’t far from it), and it turned out to be the perfect choice. Yes, there were a few sections that were cypress swamp, but we have to deal with that on the Saturday ride anyway, though not for very long, so I figured if we can handle that, we can certainly handle it on the other side as well. Anyway, at one point Anita was worried she was putting too many miles on her old horse, who had gone a little lame a few weeks ago from stepping into a gopher hole, so I headed out to finish mapping the trail while they turned around and headed back. Flash, of course, got in a hurry once we separated from the other two (Scott was riding Apollo), which was fine, as we managed to map the trail quickly, reaching the road in short order. There was a discussion at the meeting last week about how to get access, but I discovered there was already a horse gate there, so that’s a moot point, fortunately. Anyway, once we got to the gate and turned around, he really started to book, so we had a nice ride. He got a little panicky when we reached the spot where we had left the other horses, and he started whinnying up a storm, naturally, but that didn’t stop him, of course. We finally caught up with them about a half mile before we reached camp, wading through a long lake. Lola came along, and she had a great time, and has been crashed in her bed all evening! Anyway, Flash and I went about 17 miles, so he got a decent workout. Apollo kept trying to kick Anita’s horse, but not seriously, just being a bit ornery, probably jealous with Flash around, since those two got along just fine when Flash wasn’t there. Anyway, it was a good ride, a beautiful, though cloudy day, and I got the job of mapping done. Once I got back home I straightened the map out and sent it to the interested parties on the OTL board, so we’ll see what happens. The plan is to try to get permission to officially designate an OTL equestrian trail that we can then mark permanently and save us all these temporary marking jobs, scores of volunteer man hours, not to mention saving on markers. My idea for next year is to have a two person team leave out of camp about 2 hours before the riders and mark the trail on each day, with a drag team picking up the markers along the way. Makes more sense to me, but we’ll see if I can sell it. Anyway, got back in time to witness Jeff finally settling his rebuilt motor back into his van, so hopefully he can finish putting it together over the next few days. Looks like I’m going to have to start cleaning his house by myself, since he’s been so occupied. It got dark later, so my evening seemed to start later, but I’m off to bed on schedule, trying to recover from the time change. I need all my strength for the week ahead! Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 – Long Ride to Retrieve Markers

Hi Babe,
Flash and I went out to retrieve trail markers today, and boy, what a ride! About 19 miles, starting at the Cypress Creek parking lot, crossing Indiantown Rd., down to the stable where folks stayed over Saturday night, then I cleared out all of Riverbend, went as far south as almost to the Loxahatchee Slough, then north all the way to Hobe Ditch before finally coming back to Cypress Creek. Whew! Flash did pretty well, though he was a bit sluggish today, understandable since he was adding to the 65 miles he already did this week. He handled it well, though! He’s really becoming a fantastic trail horse, really doing a lot of thinking and decision-making on his own, just like I’ve been working to get him do these last 18 months or so. Got back home around 4:30, grabbed a meal, then got ready for another financial seminar down at Nova University, this time on taxes during retirement. The presenter was late, spoke really fast, and seemed a bit bored with his subject (or maybe just having to explain it to a bunch of grayhairs!), but he seemed earnest enough. The last one I went to was all about selling me insurance-backed annuities, this one was more about retirement portfolios in the stock market. I’ve made an appointment to go see them next week, still trying to figure out my best options on a whole bunch of financial topics. Had a rough week on the stock market, though, the media is trying to make out that this recent virus is the end of the world as we know it, even though only 60 people in the U.S. have it, and they’re all under quarantine. The worldwide fatality rate is only about 2-3 percent, vs. 20 percent for the 1918 flu epidemic, so it’s looking like it’s a lot more a political issue than a health issue. I wish these dang politicians would start doing what’s right for the people of this country, not for their own hides, but I suppose it has always been thus! Anyway, got back after 8:30, did my chores, heading for bed! Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020 – Day Three of the OTL

Hi Babe,
Once again, we got an early start today, though Jeff dragged his feet a little this morning and we were about 15 minutes later than I wanted, but you know me, I built a little extra time into it anyway. We headed straight for the Cypress Creek parking lot, which was going to be the starting point for Jeff and the two ladies we met last night, and for me, though I was headed in the other direction so that I could once again get out before the riders. A few had already left, but they had to stop at Riverbend to check in and listen to the riders meeting, so I jumped out in front of them, taking down some orange markers and checking on the pink. The weather was absolutely perfect today, partly cloudy, low 70’s, a little breeze, just fabulous! Most of the markers were in pretty good shape, except one entire section from Cypress Creek to the cow pastures, where every darn marker had disappeared, and I didn’t really have enough to replace them all, so I had to make the markings a lot farther apart, which caused a problem for a couple of people, but they managed to get on track again. That’s the problem with marking so much earlier, some stuff goes missing! If it were up to me, I’d just mark the trails a few hours ahead of the group, and have a drag team take them down again, it would be much more efficient, because an awful lot of time and energy is spent doing it beforehand, not to mention we probably lost 50 plus markers that I needed to replace over the three days. I thought I would catch up to Jeff et al earlier than I did, but they had a good head start, so it was only a couple of miles before the end when I finally did meet up with them. I got slowed down a couple of times because someone had come out after I marked the trails in JD earlier this week and added a few turn markers on the left side of the trail, even though the turn was to the right, so they were in the wrong place and were really confusing, so I had to pull them down. Later at the pavilion I met the woman who did it, she’s one of the original founders of the OTL, and I explained what I did, and she seemed to understand, she had just never heard of that before. Anyway, the four of us arrived at the pavilion, grabbed some beer and burritos and chatted for a long time. My truck and trailer arrived, but we soon had to unhook it and have another truck take it into an area that needed 4WD to rescue a horse that pulled a ligament or something. The next group that came in was a long time later, and the Sunday group was a lot smaller than I remember from last year, though the numbers were better on Friday and Saturday evidently. Anyway, we ended up getting drawn into a long conversation with the organizers, which was fairly enlightening, and finally packed up to leave. We had arranged to meet the ladies Jeff had ridden with at Uncle Micks for rib Sunday, and we all left about the same time. Service there was really slow again, and they were out of all but a half rack of ribs, which we let the ladies have since they’re from out of town and Jeff and I can go anytime. I didn’t really need any more food, but it was good company, and we were there for more than two hours before we finally left, getting home around 8:00. Got the horses settled in pretty quick, took my shower, and now I’m more than ready for bed! Good night, my love!

Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020 – Day Two of the OTL

Hello my love!
Well, miracle of all miracles, brother Jeff was up and almost ready to go at 7:00 this morning, as planned! He’s been working so hard on his van, he really needed a break, so I persuaded him to volunteer today as our ambulance driver, but I was a bit concerned he might not make it in time (you know, Jeff time :-), but we made it! We managed to get all the way down to Camp I just after 8:00, and again, I was on the trail by 8:30 adding markers and generally scoping out the trail in advance of the rest of the riders. There was still a lot of water on the trail, and there’s one section that really has a swamp feel to it, lots of mangrove trees very close together, it felt like being in the bayou! Flash and I had a great time, though, and we passed the halfway point on the Beeline crossing where Jeff was supposed to be before he actually got there, though I heard he got there a few minutes later. I arrived at the stable where we ended the ride in good time. There were a number of riders that rode on Friday but decided to rest on Saturday, so they moved their rigs in the morning and were waiting at the stables. I think that’s a better way of doing it, truly. Anyway, I ended up chatting with a couple of ladies at one trailer, where they lent me a halter and let me tie up to their trailer, and then sat with them for a while. Eventually a couple of riders came in, but it was a long time before the rest arrived, I guess they were really taking their time today. They took one wrong turn (because they started to follow a pink marker, which they had been warned about during the riders meeting, what can you do!), but it was only for a tiny loop near the end, so it didn’t really matter. They figured it out and ended up in camp anyway. Fortunately, they had enough volunteers so I didn’t have to take a truckful of passengers back to Corbett, and when Jeff finally arrived, before the last group came in, we ended up chatting with the ladies again, Maggie and Bev (aka Pistol). Turns out they weren’t sure if they were going to ride on Sunday, they were worried about it being too long, so I suggested they skip the Riverbend portion and start from the Cypress Creek parking lot, which is precisely what Jeff wanted to do on Apollo. I was a bit worried about Jeff being out there on his own, not knowing how stubborn Apollo might get, so it was the perfect solution! Anyway, we worked out the logistics for the morning, and went on back to the house, got my chores done, and was quite ready to hit the hay early. Another great day!

Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 – Day One of the OTL

Hello My Sweet!
What a day! Up before the crack of dawn, had breakfast since it’s going to be such a long day, and had Flash loaded up and ready to go by the time Anita’s boyfriend Scott arrived at about 7:10. We got out about 7:30 (he was admiring one of the boats brother Jeff has stored in his yard), and we were at Dupuis by shortly after 8:00. I got Flash ready to go, and by 8:30 I was on my way out in front of the pack. When my head started to get wet from a light drizzle in the air, I realized I forgot my hel-hat so I had to come back, though I hadn’t gone far, thank goodness. A nice turnout, something like 35 riders, which I’m told was a good number for the Friday ride, especially since it was a bit cool and windy as a front was just finishing going through. Glad to say most of the markers were still there, though I did have to add or replace a few just to make it to my standards :-). The rain quit before long, and though it stayed mostly overcast, I didn’t mind. I remember last year it was sunny and hot and when I went through the southern section where there wasn’t much shade, it was pretty uncomfortable, so it was actually better this way. Besides, I had my slicker on, so I didn’t get very wet, at least not until I got to Corbett, where the water was still high and there was a lot of splashing going on! There was NO activity along the canal, we were worried because they had huge machinery out there a couple of weeks ago, and at the last minute, one of the sub-contractors was going to STOP US from going along the canal because of insurance liability (good Lord, insurance will be the death of this country! Forced to raise wimps!), but we got a reprieve at the last moment, and there was no activity anyway, so it was all a storm in a teacup. Anyway, it was a great ride, especially since I didn’t have the stress of getting lost, and I received many accolades from the other riders as they came in, no one got lost. There was one group from Miami, however, who had a leader who claimed to know Dupuis really well, and he took his group on a different route (supposedly a shortcut, which added 6-7 miles to the day), and we had volunteers waiting for an extra two plus hours for them to come in after everyone else. Of course, his horse lost a shoe and they had to walk the last 5-6 miles, which slowed things down even more. Sigh. Some of the folks had just come from the Cracker Ride, and they were telling me how they move the trailers in the morning and shuttle them back to their horses, which is the same thing the Michigan Shore-to-Shore folks do, so I’m going to suggest that for next year. Makes more sense, since everyone will be arriving at their own rig at different times, and we won’t have to make anyone wait for enough drivers and a volunteer to shuttle them. Just means they have to start a little later in the day. All the delay also meant that my truck didn’t get to me until well after all the riders but that one group came in, so I had to borrow a halter and lead rope to tie Flash to someone’s trailer for awhile. He did brilliantly, by the way. Unlike last year, he didn’t get any swelling or limping at all, so he was in great shape. I took a group back to Dupuis (over an hour!), then got home after dark, got Flash settled in, and I’m not going to be long out of bed, I’ve got another early call tomorrow morning! Good night, my love!

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 – Short Ride, Euchre and Seminar Day

Hiya Sweetie,
Started off the day by giving Flash a short ride, just to keep him in shape for the big weekend. I didn’t want to take a long ride, but I did want to limber him up a bit and not leave him too many days without a ride, so we just went around the neighborhood for a little over six miles. We were actually about to head home when I saw a couple of ladies in a horse-drawn buggy, so I decided to see how Flash would react to walking near a buggy, so I caught up to them to chat for a bit. They were just as interested in seeing how their Haflinger would react, and fortunately, nobody got excited about anything, and all went well! I ended up taking them around the block just to see how things went, and learned they boarded a few blocks west, but came out occasionally with the buggy. Once I got home, I gave Flash a nice bath, hoping to make him look nice for the weekend (as if he wouldn’t roll himself dirty again, but maybe it will brush off easier!), then showered and dressed and departed for euchre. I did well today (were you watching over me today?), got some very good cards and made the most of them. Then Lola and I went shopping up in Port St. Lucie, and then went to an educational seminar that was supposed to be mostly about Social Security, but turned out to be more about retirement planning, which was fine, since I obviously am going to need help in that area now. This particular firm is actually in Jupiter anyway, so I made an appointment for Tuesday to learn more about the various options, including some that seem too good to be true, so I’ll be doing a lot more research between now and then. That went until nearly 8:00, so it was close to 9:00 by the time I got home. Fortunately, Jeff had already taken care of the horses, which I had asked him to do earlier in the day, so I only had to unload the groceries, pour a glass of wine and settle down for the evening. I was happy to receive word that Michelle is planning to come to the Celebration next month, I hadn’t expected her to travel from Tennessee, but she’s making it into a little vacation, extending her time to go down to Key Largo. It will be nice to see her, considering she’s the only person I know that knew you before I did! And of course, she’s offered to help me prepare for the day. Donna is coming down from Cleveland, too, so I should have plenty of help. Anyway, I’m headed to bed, I have a busy day tomorrow, getting the truck and trailer ready for the weekend of riding and volunteer work, so off I go! Good night, darling! Love you!

Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 – Finished Marking Trails in Jonathan Dickinson

Hi Sweetie,
Well, today Flash and I drove over to Jonathan Dickinson State Park to do the (almost) final leg of our trail marking exercise. We didn't want to do it earlier because they have so many activities in the park we were afraid our markers would interfere, so we waited until this week. Being President's Day, it was much busier than I had anticipated for a Monday, but it didn't matter, we got the job done. Apparently, the horse camping area is mostly used up by a horseback riding concession that's in the park now. When I drove by, they had built a covered stall area, and all the horses were saddled up and standing around, waiting for their next go-around. I'm not sure which trails they use, but I certainly didn't run into them anywhere. Flash was pretty good, he was determined to canter and largo at every opportunity, but there was a LOT of water on the trail, not as bad as Corbett, but lots more than I've ever seen out there. I was glad I bought that GPS unit so I could follow last year's track, if I had had to do it with just a map I would have been in a real mess! Anyway, we got it done. It was really hot today, we're in a record-breaking heat wave, in the mid 80's and up, and you know how little shade there is out there, so we worked up a sweat. Was glad there WAS so much water out there, Flash certainly didn't get dehydrated! That took up most of the afternoon, and we got back at almost 4:00. Jeff was still working on his truck, he still is no closer to finding his mysterious knocking sound, even using a mechanical stethoscope. He was even disconnecting the transmission just so he could determine whether it's a motor or a transmission problem! He's so frustrated, he has so many other things to do, but as you know, he really needs his truck, so he's sticking with it. I was tempted to take a swim, as the pool is definitely warming up with all these hot days, but by the time I got done answering emails, it was kind of late. I helped Lola play with her GoDogGo machine for awhile, then took my shower early and settled down for a quiet evening, as usual. Love you, darlin'!

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 – Long Conditioning Ride

Hi Sweetie,
Last night before I went to bed I got one of those muscle spasms in my back, so I took a couple of ibuprofen, hoping that a good night sleep would fix it, like it has in the past. Unfortunately, it was still somewhat there in the morning, and since I had planned on taking a ride today after I got back from the post office, I took some more ibuprofen. It worked a little for a while, but never completely got rid of the pain, and it really got bad once Flash and I got moving. By the time we did nearly 18.5 miles, I was really in pain. It was a good conditioning ride for Flash, though I think he sensed I was in pain, because he stayed at a walk most of the time, which made it a long ride, but a good one. I haven't had the time to work with him as much as I did last year, but I think he's doing pretty well. We saw a lot of wildlife today. A big turtle, three little black piglets, then later a bigger hog, a couple of young deer, even a racoon! Maybe it's the heat bringing them out, we've been having record highs here. I ended up having to ask Jeff to feed the horses for me. I took one of your heavy duty pain killers, and it helped a little, but not as much as I hoped. It started making me a little dizzy, too, so I'm not doing that again until bedtime! I spent the evening in my recliner, and could barely move enough to heat up some soup, though I did manage to take a shower. I put the heating pad on it, too, so I'm hoping that by tomorrow morning it will improve. I finished watching the last free season of Suits, but just like with Covert Action, they make you pay if you want to watch the last season. I started a new series, a PBS period piece that looks like it might be interesting. Now I'm ready for bed, though, hoping for a less painful day tomorrow! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 – Pony Express

Hiya Sweetie,
As usual, I spent the morning working on the computer and making phone calls, then I spent some time trimming both of the horses hooves, which took some time in the heat. We’ve been having very warm temps here lately, so I was sweating pretty good by the time I was finished. In the afternoon I needed to send a letter, so I decided to take the opportunity to continue conditioning Flash, and rode him down to the mailbox down in the Publix shopping center in front of the NAPA. It meant we had to cross Indiantown Rd. again, but he did it so well the other day, I was confident he could do it again, and there was no problem.. We came back on one of the canals, and averaged 5.6 mph for the whole trip, so we made it in good time. Once we got back, I gave him a nice bath again. I know you’ll understand when I say that I really appreciate the luxury of having time to do things like bathe the horses. I never seemed to have time before, but I’m glad now I do. You know I bought some special shampoo for white horses (though, oddly, it sprays out purple!), and I’ve used it the last couple of times, and now Flash is really starting to shine. I was glad that he didn’t run right out and roll in the dirt, but I imagine he will by tomorrow! It was so warm after that that I decided to take a quick swim, so I changed into my bathing suit and took a quick dip. The pool was cool after so many cold nights last week, but it’s been warm the last few days and nights, so it felt good to me. I took some time clearing out the pool using the net, and reconnected the vacuum, so it looked better, and will hopefully stay that way for a bit, though I’m going to start keeping the filters clean more often since Lola is carrying so much sand into the pool. We fetched for quite awhile today, too, so hopefully she’ll sleep well tonight. Took my shower early, and finally settled down for the evening. Ready for bed now, though! Good night, love!