Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 – Great Long Ride at O’Bannon

Hi darlin’,
Woke up with the alarm this morning, since I had arranged to go riding the Bob and Ginny and I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be late. We left right on schedule at 9:30, but I couldn’t put Apollo’s boots on because one of them had a blowout, so we just had to deal with whatever rough ground we came across. Fortunately, most of the trails were actual trails, dirt and mostly single track, just like I like them! We went over 12 miles, and it was a terrific ride. We covered a lot of ground, and ended up at a picnic table sitting on the edge of a bluff for lunch. A long ride for Apollo, but he did brilliantly! They both ride quarter horses, so they were all perfectly matched speed-wise, though Apollo was slow starting out, but warmed up quickly. This was truly the nicest ride I’ve experienced since I’ve been here, and I’m glad of it, though I never would have found some of these trails on my own, since a few aren’t on the map. We went cross country a couple of times, and crossed the Blue River coming and going, as we made out way to a section of the forest known as Little Italy, then Loudon’s Ridge. We were out nearly six hours, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. Got back, gave Apollo a bath, then spent a few minutes clearing out the horse wash area. I had a nice concrete pad, but it was so covered in mud you would hardly know it, so I cleared away the mud and used the hose to clear out a drain area, which improved it a lot. Then I headed up to my hotspot to check my email and solve a few more problems, and had to wait a long time for my two rides, yesterday and today, to upload from my phone to the cloud, then pull it back onto Google Earth. I wanted to see the GPS tracks from those two days of riding, but it took a lot of time. I finally finished and headed back to camp, but when I got here and opened up my computer, the darn thing had decided to shut itself down and reboot (probably because of an upgrade), so all the work I did on Google Earth disappeared, and so did a weeks worth of my diary! I have no idea why it did that, it usually asks me to close those programs before it restarts, but it did it all on it’s own today, and it ticked me off, since it’s made a lot more work for me, grrrrr! Anyway, got back to camp, made some dinner, went and chatted with Bob and Ginny for a bit, then came back to settle in for the night. Evidently there’s a big event here this weekend, so the place has been filling up all day, and it’s likely to be even busier tomorrow. No more riding for me, though, I have to start packing, plus sorting out all the stuff I need for my trip to Arizona next week. It’s going to be a busy weekend, what with driving to Tennessee on Saturday, then figuring out what to do with the trailer (still working on the logistics of that!), packing, shopping, getting a hair cut etc., and being ready to fly out on Monday. Whew! I’m going to be exhausted in a few days! Anyway, enough, time for shower and bed. Love you, babe! Good night!

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 – A Rocky Ride on Flash

Hey Sweetie!
After my usual chores and hotspot drive, I saddled up Flash and headed out to knock out some more of the trails here. Well, a lot of it wasn’t exactly trails, it was more like gravel road, probably 80 percent of them. I wish they wouldn’t call a gravel road a trail, but what are you going to do? I had his boots on, but he still wasn’t happy about it, but he did great anyway. There was maybe a mile of the kind of single track dirt trail that I liked during the whole 10+ miles, but at least I was on the back of my horse! Got back to camp, gave him a bath, then settled down for the evening. Such beautiful weather, though it’s been cool the last few evenings and I’ve been putting their light blankets on to prevent them from growing a winter coat, though it’s warming up this week so I shouldn’t have to keep doing that. Anyway, it was a lovely day despite the gravel, and I made some progress on a few things logistically for my upcoming trip. Time for shower and bed! Good night, babe! Love you!

Monday, Sept. 21, 2020 – Busy Ride, Hay and Productive Day

Hi Darlin’,
Had a wonderful night sleep last night, I’m so glad I brought the quilt down, it kept me nice and warm and cozy all night! The problem with the throw is that it’s too small and when I moved I get uncovered, then wake up cold. Didn’t have that problem last night! Woke up refreshed and raring to go! After chores and breakfast I ran up to a spot near the regular campground where I discovered I can get 3 bars of 4G, and made relatively short work of a whole list of things I needed to do, phone calls I needed to make, questions I needed to have answered, pictures and diary entries I needed to upload, all of which happened pretty quick. I was back down to camp by about 1:00, so I saddled up Apollo as planned and headed out on a route I had figured was a little over six miles. Not a terribly enjoyable ride today. The footing here is just so inconsistent! One minute you’re on big creek-like rock, the next you’re sinking in mud, the next you’re on a gravel road (really big sharp chunks), then you’re on gravel covered with green growth, and occasionally you end up on a stretch of nice dirt single track, but nowhere near often enough. Apollo had a tough time. I started out without boots, but when we hit our first gravel road I stopped and put them on, then we started hitting bogs, and when we were climbing a hill he lost one, so I decided to take them off again, because once they get that muddy they don’t stay on very well, and we didn’t hit any water where I could wash them off, then shortly after that we hit another gravel road, and he wouldn’t stand still long enough for me to put them back on again, so he minced his way up the road in obvious discomfort, then on the last mile home we finally had a nice stretch of dirt for a bit, before going back to rocky creek bed. So, it was as enjoyable as it could be (always being on my horse is enjoyable!), but the trail detracted from that enjoyment. We got back to camp about 4:30, I put him on the highline and gave him a flake of hay, then I took some pictures of the damage on the trailer so I could email them to the repair place I found, changed my clothes and headed up the my hot spot again, sent the pix off, then headed down to pick up some hay. I had found a woman selling hay that’s only about 13 minutes from here! I think that’s the shortest trip for hay I’ve ever taken! She was advertising 1st cut, but they were bringing in 3rd cut, so she let me have that for the same price. There’s no alfalfa in this, just orchard, clover and fescue, but it’s so fresh I think the horses won’t have a problem with it. I’ve got to get them off the alfalfa, though the last batch, with 70% alfalfa didn’t seem to bother them as much as the 100% did, but I’d rather get them back to regular hay as we move out of alfalfa country. Got back in no time, fed the horses, had dinner, and settled down for the evening, feeling like I had a really productive day! Time for shower and bed now, so good night, my love!

Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020 – Second Ride at O’Bannon Woods

Hey Babe,
Got quite a bit colder last night than I thought it would, SO glad I decided to put the blankets on the horses last night! Just 47 degrees when I got up this morning, good thing I remembered to bring my heavy robe up to bed, happy I did that, too! First thing I did this morning was start a load of laundry, something I wouldn’t normally do on a Saturday because it’s usually the busiest day for the horse camp, but there’s still almost no one in the primitive camp, and I really needed to do some wash. By the time I fed the horses and did my few chores and got a line up, it was done, so I put it out to dry, even though the sun had barely topped the trees by 9:00. Got Flash saddled up and was just about ready to go when Trish and Janet arrived, so we took off shortly thereafter, heading out on the Idlewild Trail, out Fox Hollow, then out to Coles loop and back, A very nice ride, though sections of it were rocky. I started out with boots on Flash, but took them off since the rocks were mostly big enough not to cause him a problem, and there were quite a few bogs, and I didn’t want to worry about losing boots. We were out for over 3 hours, I did eleven miles, and got back to camp just after 1:30. Grabbed a quick sandwich, then drove into town again to try to solve my manure rake problem. Went to Tractor Supply again, looking for a different handle, even took the old handle and tines in to make sure, and also bought an assortment of jigsaw blades since I wore the other one out. Topped off with diesel and got back to camp around 4:30, and promptly discovered that the new handle didn’t fit either! It looked like it would in the store, but it had a lip on it that prevented it from going in, darn it! So Plan B was to get out my jigsaw again, and with the new metal blade I was able to quickly remove the metal shroud that was on the handle I bought yesterday, and it was still too big! A quick change of blade and I whittled down that handle until it FINALLY fit, drilled a hole through it and bolted it up, and AT LAST I have a working manure rake! At least I was finally able to get it right, and I can take back the latest handle. By now it was almost 5:00, so I headed up to the ladies’ camp for dinner again, and learned that they had decided to leave tonight. Trish’s horse Breezy was getting some bad chafing from her girth and she didn’t want to ride again tomorrow, and Janet agreed, so they headed out right after dinner. I got back to camp, finished putting away all my tools and stuff, then settled down for the evening. Just downloaded a new book, a courtroom drama, that I’m looking forward to getting into, after watching an old Mae West-WC Fields movie that we had on DVR for a long time. Probably going to take the day off tomorrow, could use a break. Anyway, it was a lovely day, perfect weather once it warmed up a bit, but it’s supposed to be even colder tonight, so blankets are back on the horses! Headed off for shower and bed now, so good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – First Ride at O’Bannon Woods

Pix to follow.

Hi Sweetie,
Had a great night sleep, woke up to the alarm, since we had agreed I would meet them up at their campsite at around 10:00 and didn’t want to be late, so I fed everyone, including me, got ready, and was leaving camp on Flash by about 9:35. I found the trail Ginny told me about and it was almost exactly one mile up to them, so I made it just about on time. Of course, they weren’t ready, but it didn’t take them too long, and we were leaving camp by 10:35. We got on Trail 10 right next to the bathhouse, which interestingly, isn’t on any of the maps, new or old, so we were off-track right off the bat. We got completely turned around when we reached a trail that was closed, but in the long run, we didn’t get lost, and got right back to camp in just about three hours. What a beautiful ride! It took us right along the Ohio River, then the Blue River, which is a tributary, along gorgeous trails, some with tons of flowers, lots of great old trees, some gravel but mostly dirt trails with the occasional mud bog, but not enough to lost boots or get covered with mud. Really enjoyable! Unfortunately the gravel is big chunky gravel, but there wasn’t too terribly much of it, so we managed okay. A very pleasant ride! After I left the ladies at their campsite, I headed back to mine, made a quick sandwich, then headed up to pick them up, as we had agreed we would all go to town, me for propane and a couple of other things, Ginny for a new microwave, as the one in her trailer died, and Trish for a couple of things for her horse. It was too late to ride again by the time we got back, so I left them, primarily because I had broken the handle on my manure rake and had bought a replacement and wanted to get that fixed. Well, the best laid plans… Turns out the handle I bought wasn’t the right size, but it had a casing around it, which I though was rubbed, and I thought if I could get that off it might fit. Turns out it wasn’t rubber, it was metal, and I tried everything to get it off, but didn’t succeed. So now I either need to get new blades for my jigsaw or find another handle that might fit, though I hadn’t seen any yesterday, they were all for other implements. I was mad because this handle specifically said it should fit a manure rake, and I didn’t see anything else that might work, but I guess I can make a shovel handle work or something. Anyway, that’s a problem for tomorrow. I fed the horses and drove back up the their camp for dinner, and didn’t get back until nearly 8:00. Watched a Wagon Train, got caught up on the email I had downloaded while I was up there, made a new map for tomorrow, and now I’m headed to shower and bed! Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 – Final Ride at Shirley Creek

Pix to come.

Hey darlin’,
Last full day here. I had some computer work to do for a bit this morning after my usual chores, then eventually saddled up Apollo for a short ride. Yesterday on Flash the saddlebags got loose and I had something fall out, and I found it right away, but I thought maybe something came out earlier and I wanted to check on it. Problem is, I reorganized my saddlebags not long ago and I can’t remember everything I’m carrying these days, so I was pretty sure I hadn’t lost anything, and I never did find anything else on the trail today, so that was good. It was only a short ride, just over 5 miles, but I managed to get him to jog a bit more than usual, just trying to get him in shape. When I got back, I put him on an anchor and started packing up a few things in preparation for our departure tomorrow. I dawdled over that most of the rest of the day, reading a little, watching a little TV, you know, the usual. By 7:00 I had fed the horses and put everything else away that I could, so it shouldn’t be to bad getting out of here in the morning. I’ve planned a route that will take me through the nearest town where I can stop at Tractor Supply for propane, Walmart for just a few odds and ends, and a post office to ship out a book order I got last night, where I hope there will be enough street parking for me! It’s only about 65 miles, and that’s going a bit out of my way in order to get to a US highway, since the rest all look like pretty tiny roads and I don’t want to take any chances. One thing I forgot to do was send an email to your sister to wish her a Happy Birthday, but I’m sending one now so she’ll have a belated one in the morning. I’m hoping to Skype with her over the weekend, if I have a decent cell phone signal. I’ve run out of trails here and I’m ready to move on, though I did enjoy the place a lot. Anyway, time for my shower and bed! Good night, hon! Love you!

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 – Another Ride at Shirley Creek

Pix to follow.

Hey Baby,
Another late start this morning, mostly because I wanted to finish the last few chapters of the series I’ve been reading, but then I got up for chores and breakfast. I spent over an hour on the phone with one company, then another 45 minutes on the phone with another company, then back on the phone with the first company for another half an hour, all trying to follow up on stuff I’ve been trying to accomplish for a long time and getting nowhere. Not sure I got anywhere today, either, but we’ll see. Very frustrating. I seem to remember that in the “old” days, keeping someone on hold for more than 5 minutes was considered terrible customer service, but it seems these days, it seems half an hour is the minimum! Twice I got hung up on, twice more my phone dropped the call, and one time I went through four different people, then waited for 20 minutes, only to learn I was still talking to the wrong department! Grrrrrr! Anyway, I finally got as far as I could go with it all, and needed some quiet time, so I saddled up Flash to do the rest of the trails I hadn’t done here yet. Again, it was a lovely ride, really easy and beautiful trails here, very enjoyable. Did just under eight miles, got back a bit after 4:00, put Flash away, got a beer and went to talk to the neighbors for a bit. Not a very stimulating conversation, so I didn’t stay long, and they were so worried I’d get a ticket from a forest service ranger (whom I haven’t seen any of since I’ve been here) about my fence, I decided to take it down and put the horses up on a high line that I strung between two hitching rails. I was hoping to have the place to myself at some point this week, but they’re still here, and so are the other group of non-horse campers, who dress like old-style gypsies. The next few weeks are going to be busy as I get ready for my trip to Vegas and the Grand Canyon, lots of prep work to do. Eventually settled down for the evening to an old Wagon Train from the PVR, but I’m planning on getting to bed early. So, signing off! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 – Second Ride at Shirley Creek

Pix to follow

Hey Sweetie,
Slept so late this morning, I couldn’t believe it! Didn’t crawl out of bed until nearly 10:00, surprised the horses didn’t wake me up, considering they’re right outside my window! Anyway, got up and did my chores, had breakfast, then saddled up Apollo and got on the trail about 1:00. Today’s goal was the “inner loop,” and it had a lot more gravel than the outer loop, but still all small stuff so it wasn’t much of a bother. This was a very easy trail, not even rising to moderate, in my opinion. It’s interesting, there are nice hills here, making for a varied terrain, but the trails are cut in such a way that the riding is really easy. The steepest hill has such a gentle series of switchbacks you hardly know you’re climbing. Really perfect of Apollo, we did over 6 miles and he did just fine, though when I put him back in the paddock, he didn’t move for quite a while, I don’t know if he just went to sleep in situ or what, but he was stiff as a board for a bit. I spent the rest of the day mostly reading, grilled myself a nice pork chop on the grill, then settled down to watch a movie on the Dish PVR. The night’s are starting to get a bit cooler, which I’m looking forward to, it’s been kind of hot here, but no where near as we had a few weeks ago. Been keeping my generator use down to about 30 minutes twice a day, so far that seems to be enough. We finally got a little sun today, been cloudy since I got here, but more sun is forecast, so that should help me conserve propane, since the solar panel is out and I’m in a clearing. We’ll see! I’ve had other days in the past when I only had to run the generator for 30 minutes once a day, hopefully that will be the case for the rest of the week. Anyway, I took my shower early, so I’m off to bed now. Love you, babe! Good night!

Tuesday, Sept. 8. 2020 – Ride and Kayak Day

Hey darlin’!
A decent night sleep, this time I thought I’d try it without earplugs, and I woke up a time or two until the workers came in and started using their heavy equipment to haul more gravel out to the trail repairs. Made a final plan for the rest of the few trails I haven’t done out here yet, and saddled up Apollo after breakfast. He’s such an old slug these days, a four-mile trip took nearly two full hours, the slowpoke! But it wasn’t a bad ride, and Lola got some exercise. We were back just after noon, so after a bit of a rest, I loaded the kayak, which I had inflated this morning while the horses were eating, into the back of the truck and headed down to the boat ramp. They have quite an extensive marina here, with scores of docks full of pontoon boats and sail boats, some of which were very nice, and rather surprising considering how small this lake is! If every sailboat in the marina was out on the water, there would be enough wind to go around! I headed upwind to the dam that makes the lake, thinking I would be able to drift back, but it turned out the wind was more of a crosswind, so I had to paddle both ways, over two miles each way! Four miles of paddling should do my arms wonder, get me in good shape for the rafting trip I’m hoping to take in the Grand Canyon in a few weeks. Didn’t get back to camp until after 6:00, over four hours on the water. I removed the kayak from the truck and loosened all the valves, because I’m not going out again tomorrow, so by morning I can fold it up and put it away, along with everything else, since I’m leaving Thurday and heading out to Shirley Creek Trailhead in the Hoosier National Forest south of Indianapolis. I really worked up an appetite, so after taking care of the horses, I grilled myself a nice Angus burger, made some rice and sweet corn, and even had a shrimp cocktail for starters. Of course I had to top that off with some of that wonderful brown sugar bourbon ice cream, so I’m finally sated for the day! Finished off the ST Voyager series, a nice way to end it, so now I’m going to do movies for a while before I find another series to delve into. A nice day, very summer-vacation-y, but now I’m bushed! Time for my shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 – Labor Day Ride

Hi Babe!
Another great night sleep (this is starting to become a habit!), did my usual morning chores plus a few extra jobs that have popped up. Somehow the screen in my bedroom window had started to escape the rubber track bushing so I got my special screen tool and rolled that back in to place. Then I did some overdue housework, dusting and mopping the floor, then I finally settled down to the real business of the day, taking Flash for a ride on some of the few remaining trails I have yet to record via GPS. I was actually waiting until it seemed most of the camper had come back from their morning ride and were packing up because I didn’t want to be on the trails with Lola with so many young people and kids on the trail, should they not be used to dogs. But by 2:00 it seemed most folks were pretty much getting ready to leave, so I saddled up Flash and we headed out, with Lola in her new and improved orange safety vest. I had the same problem, though, one of the trails was closed so I had to find an alternate route, but then I decided to go my planned route backward just because it seemed to work out better that way. Still managed to get lost a few times, the trails are really poorly marked here, especially the intersections, so I kept my Garmin GPS on the whole time to make sure I didn’t miss any turns (for long). It was a beautiful day, a very nice ride, Flash was on good behavior but needed a rinse off when we got back, naturally. I actually gaive them both a bath yesterday, which I forgot to mention, so Flash was nice and clean when I left, not so much when I got back. While he was tied up by the spigot, I decided to go ahead and move my highline between the posts of different campsites, something the manager said I could do once the crowd left. Someone was supposed to be in the spot next to me but never came in, so I could have done it last Friday when I took the fence down, but who knew? Now they’re both on a true highline, and one of the first things Apollo did was roll! Point made! Filled there water buckets, had a nice chat with a woman who had been working on the trails and stopped me from going down one that had huge chunks of a base layer down, but I managed to find a way around, and she later stopped by to apologize for yelling, which of course was no problem, I just had to find an alternate route. The camp was pretty empty when I got back except for a big group (whom I had passed on the trail), and of course, Lola wandered over to say hello to the kids over there, so I had to go retrieve her. With the forecast saying that rain is likely this evening (I’ll believe it when I see it!), and with my neighbors gone, I moved the truck and transfered the eight heavy bales into the stud stall. The first six aren’t bad, but those last two take some real strength and cunning to get them up top, but I managed it. These bales are nice and heavy, especially compared to the last ones, which I swear couldn’t have been more than 25 lbs. She had no right to be asking $5 for them, not very fair. Lesson learned, I won’t accept bales that light again! Meanwhile, the horses are loving this new hay, and they’re loving being on a highline instead of a hitching post. Everything’s put away in advance of the supposed rain, but it looks like it’s all going north of us. The campground is empty now except for one camper all the way on the other side, love it when it’s this quiet! Anyway, I’ve had my shower, my fill of TV and now I’m headed to bed. Love you darlin’! Good night!