Wednesday, April 17, 2024 – Things Starting to Come Together

Hey Darlin',
Another early morning, out on the trail with the final chore of finishing refreshing the last part of the yellow trail with new paint. Doing nine miles was about the shortest ride we've done yet! Was shooting to get it done by 11:00 when Patsy was due to arrive, but she ended up running late, so we took a bit more of a relaxed pace, finishing the job at 11:30. Then, miracle of miracles, I actually had almost two hours with nothing particular to do! Amazing! Though when I sat in my recliner for a few minutes, I could feel my body going into crash mode, not surprisingly. I did a little work on the driving map, but then reached an impasse, so I kept myself busy with a few computer games, just not wanting to nod off. Patsy finally arrived, and we headed out to pick up signs and other essentials, met up with Brandon, their water guy, and proceeded to navigate through the forest putting out tubs, adding signs, and fixing some of the issues I had from when I was out on the trail. Seems like it's in mostly good shape now, with a few matters to still complete. A few other people arrived include Chelle from Florida who is also helping with the FEI portion of the ride. Patsy invited me over for dinner, and now I'm ready for a shower and a good night sleep! I plan on sleeping in tomorrow, no alarms for me! Of course, if it's like any other morning, there will be dog training starting at 8:00, and gunfire is sure to quickly follow, so it may not be as late as I would like! Anyway, things are coming together, it's sure to be a busy, chaotic and exciting weekend! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Tuesday, April 16, 2024 – Busiest Day Yet!

Hi Sweetie!
I can't believe how much I got done today, though my tired bones know! I woke up five minutes before the alarm, got up right away, and went non-stop all day! I managed to get two loads of laundry washed and hung up, loaded two propane tanks into the pickup, plus all my usual chores, breakfast, even burying a poor dead bird that's ended up near the trailer, and still managed to be on the trail by 8:45. Flash and I made good time checking our final trail, the blue trail, which was mostly in good shape except for a few missing markers (though we need a sign at the beginning, I completely missed a turn!), and we made good time, getting back to camp just after noon, having done nearly 17 miles. Took down my laundry, but decided to put it away later since I was so short on time. Then Lola and I ran into nearby Society Hill, where we had a tire waiting for us to replace the one that blew on the trailer back in Jacksonville on the way up, and the guy jumped right on it. I went down to a place about a mile or two south that had coastal hay listed on Facebook Marketplace, and picked up six bales there. Believe it or not, it was on the honor system, I just had to leave a check in his box on the side of a building! Gotta love the South! By the time I finished that, my tire was done, so I picked that up, then headed up to Rockingham, NC where the Tractor Supply had managed to find a bag of Balance for me, and had even had one of their employees pick up a bag of All Life Stages (which is the new one replacing the Perform that we've always used for Flash) at another store and bring it over for me. Filled the two propane tanks, got the feed, stopped at the ABC store (in SC that's the only place to buy bourbon, for which I had a need!), got diesel at Murphy for $3.77/gal., went shopping at Walmart, and finally got back to camp around 5:30. By the time I unloaded everything it was 6:00, and I was exhausted! No rest for the weary, though, I then had to finish the map for the ride after mediating between participants, and it was nearly 8:00 before I was able to make myself a chicken sandwich and settled down for a very short evening. Managed to get in one Northern Exposure, but I'm dragging! My right knee is really swollen so I've been icing that, hope it's better tomorrow. Time for shower and bed!! Good night, babe! Love you!

Monday, April 15, 2024 – Red Trail Done

Hiya Babe,
Got up bright and early this morning in order to tackle our longest ride yet, 22+ miles. With temps heading to near 90, I wanted to get as far as I could while it was cool in the morning. We were on the trail by 8:30, headed down the usual sand roads, but were soon in some more shaded areas as we headed into the Sand Hills Forest. Lots of pine trees, and the trails were in good shape. Just had to cut a couple of small trees down that were blocking the way, torn down some vines and limbs that were blocking markers, but otherwise didn't have any problem following the trail. Flash made good time, and we were back in camp right around 2:00. I spent the afternoon and into the evening working on the map, adding layers and nailing down crew spots. Working later than I thought, gotta head to bed soon! Good night, my darlin'! Love you!

Sunday, April 14, 2024 – Green Trail Done

Hey Darlin',
Another busy day on the trails! Today, Flash and I did the 14 miles green trail, which was in very good shape except a couple of markers that had fallen down and a couple of spots that will need a little TLC with markers. There are plenty of markers out there, so mostly what I've been doing is just trimming branches and short trees that are blocking (or will soon block) markers, especially with the leaves coming out now. Occasionally, I'll move some larger limbs that are across the trail, but for the most part, I've never seen such well- marked (almost overly-marked) trails in my life! Just a couple of spots to fix and it will be just about perfect. The green trail is much more like what I expected here, only occasional road riding, the rest is through the woods, a lovely forest, mostly pine, of course, but with it's share of hardwoods as well. Almost entirely sand and grass, the footing is excellent for a barefoot horse. We made good time, out by 10:45, back by 2:00. Stopped by the office to buy a pass for Sand Hills State Forest (I need a day pass to go on the red trail), but they didn't sell them there anymore, so I went online to do it. Amazingly enough, they actually have a wifi signal here, so I've been streaming all my TV from their wifi, though my computer can't find it unless I'm sitting outside. With such a beautiful day today, I was happy to sit outside to do my computer work! Tomorrow, unfortunately, is due to be much hotter, and we have the longest ride yet to do, the red trail. The only trail left after that is the 12-mile blue trail, and I figure if I do that Tuesday morning, I'll have time to do laundry, ride, then go into town to do my shopping and getting my spare tire replaced, hopefully. Anyway, it's a beautiful evening here, but it's going to be a long hot day tomorrow, so I'm heading to bed early! Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Saturday, April 13, 2024 – Yellow Trail As Done As It’s Going to Get

Hiya Sweetie,
Another beautiful morning, albeit a bit chilly in the early hours, as I got up a little early. Since I had a twenty mile trail to do today, I wanted to get out fairly early, and did manage to do so by about 10:00. The yellow trail didn't have quite as much road riding, but I have to say, with all this beautiful pine forest around, to have so much of the horse trail on the roads is a bit disappointing. Granted, the roads are mostly sandy, only a few places with any gravel, and only for a very short time, so I'm sure the endurance folks love it, but as for pleasure riding, I prefer something a lot more like a single track, not a road wide enough for two semis to pass each other. Patsy gave me two cans of yellow paint, so I was very careful for the first ten miles, and I managed to reach the ten mile mark just as the first can was empty, but the second half needed so much attention, I was afraid I would run out, so I ended up really scrimping the last four or five miles, and only had enough to do the turns. We ended up doing about 21.3 miles, and Flash was great again! Managed to get back into camp by 3:30, so I spent a little time mending a couple of things, like the ring on my saddle bag and a strap on my wool seat pad. Finally settled down for dinner and a movie, not sure yet which trail I'm taking tomorrow, but still plan an early bedtime. Good might, baby! Love you!

Friday, April 12, 2024 – Pink Trail Done

Hey Babe,
Woke up to a beautiful, though a bit windy, morning, got my chores and breakfast done, then saddled Flash and headed out on the Pink Trail. I'm finding the trails here very well marked with only a few areas that need attention. The Pink trail started out on a couple of miles of wide, sandy roads, so not the prettiest trail, but eventually the lollipop stick gave out to a better loop through the woods. There were a couple of areas that had been logged recently, and there was some small trees and limbs on the ground, but too many to pick up. I cleared a couple of problem areas, but left the rest. I probably put up about half a dozen or so markers in places where I felt there was too much distance between them, but other than that, it was mostly a delightful pleasure ride. Flash was in good spirits after having a day off, and was very cooperative in everything we did. Got back to camp by around 4:00, got him settled, then had my usual evening of dinner and a movie. I'm planning on about 20 miles tomorrow, so to bed early! Good night, my darlin'! Love you!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024 – First Ride on Purple Dot Trail

Hey Sweetie,
Had an excellent night sleep, without earplugs, didn't hear a sound all night. Was delighted when I looked out in the morning and saw Apollo getting a drink, so I knew he was feeling better. Turned out his feed and carrot bucket was empty, and at least half the hay was gone, so he's almost back to normal. Was planning on going riding around 10:00, but Patsy was delayed, and I ended up waiting for her, then there were some issues about the ride that needed to be resolved, so we waited for Nathalie, who arrived around noon. We spent a good 90 minutes sorting out various details about how we could mesh all the rides together in the most equitable way, and we managed to get it mostly sorted out. Finally, anxious Flash was let loose, and we flew down the purple dot trail with no agenda other than to see if we could follow the markings well enough, and thankfully, we had no problem whatsoever. It was a fabulous ride, perfect weather, great trails, almost entirely pine forest (which makes sense since this ride is called the Ride in the Pines!) and Flash was definitely feeling his oats! We did over ten miles in about 90 minutes, so a respectable time. This area is known for it's dog training, and we came across some folks shooting pistols and having their bird dogs retrieve dummy birds, and I watched for a few minutes. They were kind enough to ask if I wanted them to hold on shooting until I passed, but I said, no, go ahead. I was curious what Flash would do with a gunshot that close, and not surprisingly, he was brilliant! One little twitch and that was it! Then we passed while they continued with the rest of the fetching training. It was fun to watch. Got back to camp and spent some time working on the map for various reasons, and spoke with each of the ladies afterwards, and I think we've got everything pretty well covered so far. Settled down for the evening, expecting rain to come in overnight and a rainy day tomorrow, which is perfect timing for me to finish my taxes. Good night, baby! Love you!

Sunday, March 31, 2024 – Easter Ride at Cedar Key Scrub Reserve

Hi Babe,
Had an urge to ride someplace new today, so after my Sunday breakfast of blueberry pancakes, I hooked up the little trailer again, loaded up Flash and headed for a 45-minute drive to Cedar Key, pretty much due east of here. I wasn't exactly sure where I was going, and I passed one trailhead, and after making a turn, I had just about convinced myself that I was going to the wrong place when I saw a horse crossing sign, and a small parking area with signs for equestrians, so I managed to find it after all! Some guy in a van was parked so poorly, blocking part of the entrance, so I had to go in very slowly to miss him (he was too busy on the phone to bother moving, I guess), but I managed it. Got Flash saddled up and off we went! Not a huge amount of trails here, we ended up going out numerous dead-end spurs, but managed to get nearly 8.5 miles in. The trailhead I passed had some more miles in between it and where I started, but I'm happy I started in the middle, I got a good feel for the place. It was pretty nice, though there wasn't a lot of shade. The trails were quite wide and mostly dry, just a few puddles occasionally. There were several trails that were lined with some beautiful bushes that looked like they were covered with buds that were just about to open up, but their fragrance was already starting to come through, reminded me of lilacs! Probably going to be gorgeous next week. I love this feature on my phone that lets me take a picture and then it tells me what it is! I looked up the bushes, and according to Google, they're fetterbushes. Very pretty, but also apparently very poisonous, so I'm glad didn't touch them. Learn something new every day! The rest of the area was mostly open, with some sections that were pure swampland. I heard gators growling as soon as I left the parking area. We were out less than two hours, but it was a nice ride, purely for recreation, no measuring, maps, ribbons or planning, so very enjoyable. Flash stretched out on a number of occasions, gaiting and cantering, so we were moving right along. Nice to get on some new trails! Got back to camp by 4:00 and settled down for the evening early. Won't be long out of bed! Good night, my darlin'! Love you!

Monday, March 25, 2024 – Final Fifteen Mile Pink Trail Marker Retrieval Done!

Hi Babe!
Glad to finally report that all of the trail marker retrieval is complete! I'm exhausted, but content that the job is finally finished. I can feel my body crashing, and I'm glad there's rain forecast for Wednesday, because my plan is to do as little as possible except rest and recover. Flash and I made decent time, getting back to camp by 2:30 or so, with all the horse gear put away by 3:00. I headed into town to pick up fuel, a few things from Walmart and Tractor Supply (though not the Balance I need, darn it!), and finally decided to reward myself with a nice sit-down dinner at Beef O'Brady's, where I had surf N Turf (steak and shrimp, though, not lobster) a Guinness and high calorie onion rings, just because. As much as I've liked the pasta casserole, every day was getting a bit boring, and I haven't had any beef in a long time. Got back to camp around six, fed the horses, poured myself a bourbon, started another load of laundry (my third today) and settled down for the evening. I can feel my body going into crash mode! Good thing there's no rush getting out of here tomorrow, all I have to do is pack and get back to Goethe tomorrow, and it's only a 90 minute drive, so I don't plan on getting up early tomorrow! Settled down to a little TV and a search for Balance (Rural King, Crystal River), and won't be long out of bed. Good night, my darlin'! Love you!

Thursday, March 21, 2024 – Blue Trail Done, Red Trail Re-Done

Hey Sweetie,
Another exhausting day, doing the Blue trail, which I had to reroute several times because of trail complications, and the Red trail, which I had to also reroute to get it back to where I had originally planned it, which worked out perfectly. All told, Flash and I did 26.5 miles today! Poor thing is exhausted! I have a couple of signs I need to put up on the Blue trail in the morning, for which I think I'll take Apollo, since it's not very far out of camp and he needs the exercise (not to mention Flash needs a day off!), and to get the water out. I've determined I need four water stops, hope we have enough tubs for that. I was in the saddle for about 10.5 hours today, didn't get back to camp until 7:30, it took every ounce of energy I had left to feed the horses and get my self dinner. Thanks goodness for Taste of Goethe leftover pasta casserole! Finalized the routes and the water stops, it's already after 10:00, still have to take my shower, so I'm off. Good night, babe! Love you!