Thursday, September 28, 2023 – Nice Ride On Starr Mountain w/Linda and Friends

Hey Darlin’,
Up before dawn even broke this morning, days are getting shorter very fast now! Was ready to go well before 9:00, I remember Linda came early last time and wanted to be ready. This time she was a few minutes late, but no worries, we got to the trailhead in plenty of time. There was a good crowd, and one girl showed up even later than we did, but Linda was ready to go, so she and I and one other woman, Terri, started off with Lola and Linda’s dog Annie. The rest of the group caught up eventually. We began at a small trailhead that barely had room for all out trailers, and started climbing. There was a lot of stones and rocks, but Flash’s feet are so hard these days, he doesn’t seem to be the least bit bothered. I did a little rasping on that one hoof that used to be split, and it’s almost perfectly back in shape again. After climbing to the top, then we went back down again at a slightly less grade until we came to a little bridge where we watered (Flash was the only one who drank, the other two horses didn’t), then came back a bit to pick up another uphill climb. The rest of the group caught up to us several times, but then Linda or Terri or I would start to move out. How wonderful that was to actually do some nice gaiting! After last weekend, where all anyone wanted to do was walk, walk, walk, it was fantastic to actually be moving again. Flash was a much happier camper being able to go at his own speed! Eventually we reached the end of that loop and started back toward the trailhead. If I had wanted, I could have ridden back to camp at one point, as the hill that runs the crest of the mountain eventually hooks up with the trails that come out of Lost Corral, but that was not in the plan today. We made it back to the trailhead no problem, with only one stop long enough to drop a log that was across the trail. Everyone got over it, but it was still a bit high for comfort, so they dropped it down. It was a nice ride, about 9.5 miles, with lots of mountain climbing, though I have to say, it wasn’t nearly as pretty as the Lost Creek trail that we did in the Spring when I came up north. Linda’s already enticing me with some other rides for the next time I come through, and if I wasn’t in a hurry to get down to Florida to help with the hurricane cleanup, I would have stayed through the weekend and done another ride with them. It was a beautiful day after the rain we had yesterday evening, starting out with some mist and fog which cleared up nicely, not too hot or cold, just right today! After the ride, we all went down to a nice Mexican restaurant in Etowah where we sat out on their patio, with Lola sleeping nearby, and had a great meal with a nice cold cerveza! I don’t eat out much these days, so it was a nice change. Got back to camp around 3:00, relaxed for a few hours before packing away the few things I had taken out, ready to get out bright and early in the morning. Long drive tomorrow, nearly 400 miles, I’m figuring it will take me about eight hours, but you never know what the traffic in Atlanta will be like! I’ll be up even earlier tomorrow, so I’m signing off to head to shower and bed. Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Sunday, September 24, 2023 – A Short Ride on Apollo Alone, Quick Trip into Town

Hiya Sweetie,
Another good night sleep, it’s amazing what earplugs can do! Jumped out of bed when I heard Trish leaving, said good-bye to her then went about my usual morning chores. Doug and his group fed me breakfast again (I’m afraid I’ve set back my cholesterol goals by a large margin this weekend!), then watched everyone pack up to leave. Got a little help moving my hay from the truck into my trailer, which was nice, then watched as everyone finally left. Started a load of laundry, then saddled up Apollo, boots and all, for a short five mile loop just to give him some exercise. He was a bit slow at first, but managed to warm up enough to move along a little. Trails here are a bit rough, lots of rocks and downed trees, so it was challenging, which for him is a good thing, it keeps him engaged. Took about two hours for that five miles, though, still a slug! Arrived back at camp and gave him a nice rinse and some extra hay, then jumped in the truck and drove into nearby Corydon. I had arranged to meet someone from marketplace that was selling an Etrex GPS (my old one has about given up the ghost!), but unfortunately, it was some weird model that didn’t have a cable to connect to my computer, it needed some special cable that was “optional” and hooked to a serial port on a pc. I wasn’t even sure if I HAD a serial port on my laptop anymore, and the fact that I would also have to buy a cable? That was a bridge too far for me, so I turned it down. Turns out I do have a serial port on my pc, but it was just too much trouble to convert over. I managed to get online and find another one in GA where the buyer was willing to mail it to me, for a reasonable price, so I bought it sight unseen and he’s mailing it tomorrow, so it should be waiting for me when I arrive in Florida, which I’m now scheduled to do on Friday. Staying here one extra night, leaving Tuesday for Tennessee, hopefully riding on Thursday with my buddy Linda, then heading to Florida on Friday so help do some hurricane cleanup. Settled down to some homemade dirty rice, ate way too much it was so good, now I’m not long for shower and bed. Considered riding tomorrow, but decided I’m not that enamored with the trails out of here, so I’ll wait until next time I come to O’Bannon State Park and stay at the primitive horse camp, which is right in the thick of things, although with no real facilities other than water. Or I might check out the modern camp at the top of the hill to see if they’re not too expensive. Anyway, a good day, Apollo did a good job, didn’t lose a boot, and didn’t stumble as much as he had been, so I guess he enjoyed himself. Another beautiful day with perfect weather! Good night, babe! Love you!

Saturday, September 23, 2023 – Another Fifteen Plus Mile Ride with Group

Hey Babe,
Had an excellent night sleep, thanks to my earplugs, and slept a little later because we had already decided to take a shorter route today. Was fed breakfast by Doug, our main camp cook (nice to not have to cook or clean up a meal!), then got on the trail about 11:30 or so. Today was a shorter ride, but we had a couple of folks that didn’t usually ride much, and should have probably been on a much shorter ride than the one Doug had planned, but at least today I had put his proposed ride into my GPS so I felt a little more relaxed about the trip. We started out with boots on Flash, but he kept losing the one where his hoof is flat in front, so I finally just took them off. He didn’t seem bothered after all the gravel and stone from yesterday, so I guess it was okay. He didn’t seem too bothered today either, but I was just trying to make him more comfortable. We took the trail down to a different river crossing, the eventually out to what’s called the Twin Chimneys, which are the remnants of a homestead house that’s been gone for, I’m guessing, at least 150 years, though, as the name suggests, two chimneys and a basement of stone remain. The newbies were suffering by that point, being a much longer ride than they should have attempted, so the going was pretty slow. As usual, Flash was impatient, and a couple of times I had to run him out to keep him from bunching up on me. It was a nice ride, of course, and I arrived back in camp around 5:30, just ahead of the rest of the group, since I had to let Flash finish the ride at his own pace. Got everyone put away, and once again got fed by Doug and Jason and some other contributions by folks, a lovely potluck. Lola was brilliant, laying down on a mat by their trailer door while a couple of the other dogs sat and begged. She’s such a good dog, and I’m very proud of her! Finally headed back to the trailer around 9:00, dealing with my website still being down, and considering staying here an extra day just to finish off a few trails I haven’t done yet, possibly on Apollo for a short ride. Found someone selling a Garmin GPS locally, my old one keeps fading out and turning off without warning, planning on meeting him tomorrow, I need to solve the problem since I rely on my GPS so much. Anyway, time for shower and bed! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Friday, September 22, 2023 – Nice Long Ride with Group

Hiya Darlin’,
Ended up having a lousy night sleep, woke up around 3:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep until almost 6:00, after three aspirins and putting in my earplugs. Amazing, it was such a long drive out in the boondocks, I never imagined I would end up a stone’s throw from an interstate, with traffic all night, but that’s what happened! Finally fell asleep for an hour before the alarm went off. We were scheduled to start the ride between 8:30 and 9:00, but it was more like 9:30 before we finally hit the trail. I had been under the impression that our guide for the day knew these trails really well, but that didn’t turn out to be exactly the case, so we ended up taking a few wrong turns and misjudging several distances, so we ended up going over 26.5 miles. I didn’t really mind, since Flash hasn’t been asked to do any long distances since the Shore to Shore, so it did us some good. Of course, I was fighting him every time other horses were in front of us, but before long, we were in front, and he relaxed and all was good. We crossed the Blue River a couple of times, and we were supposed to get down to the Ohio River, but never made it that far. Didn’t meet any other riders on the trail, but there were a lot of folks camping down at the O’Bannon primitive site, where I stayed last time I was here. The trails were a lot rockier than I would have liked, but Flash seemed to handle it all okay. At one stop, I checked his feet, and there was no sign of heat or bruising, so I guess his feet are hard enough to take the rocky ground. I’ll know better tomorrow when I check him again, but for the entire 26.6 mile ride today, he was barefoot. The last couple of miles I finally let him set his own pace, to get it out of his system, which has become our habit whenever we ride with other people, so we arrived back at camp a good ten or fifteen minutes before everyone else. Got him put away and fed, then we all gathered around a central trailer and had a fabulous meal of deep fried pretzels, pork tenderloin steak, breaded fish and a bunch of sides. I ate too much, but it was wonderful, especially since I didn’t have to do any cleanup afterward! Finally got back to the trailer at 8:30, headed to shower and early bed tonight, have to make up for the hours I didn’t get last night. Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 – Mostly Movie-Making Day, Took Apollo For A Ride

Hiya Babe,
Glad to say I got my eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in last night, yay! Started my morning off after chores and breakfast with finishing off the rest of the movies I’ve been making of the two Shore to Shore rides in June. I’d forgotten how much I love doing production work, I had a blast doing it, and I think they came out pretty well, if I do say so myself. I’m hoping that the horse camp I’m going to tomorrow has a good wifi signal, or at least good cell service, so I can get them loaded up on YouTube. I finished around 2:00, so I saddled up Apollo, he hasn’t been ridden in a couple of weeks and he needs the exercise! There are no short loops here, at least none that don’t take you on a road, and since Lola came along, I didn’t want to do that, so we just took the trail to the first road and turned around, which made it linear, but it was almost five miles, so it was just the right length for him. I let them graze the rest of the afternoon, and put almost everything away. I don’t need to leave too early tomorrow, the next camp is only an hour away, but I have an appointment to pick up some hay at 4:00, and I want to get my shopping done before then, so I don’t want to leave too late either. Anyway, settled down for the evening, a nice meal, a new British series on TV, now I’m ready for shower and bed, nice and early. Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Sunday, September 17, 2023 – Nice Ride and Some Computer Work

Hey Babe!
Sleeping so well lately, feeling really refreshed! Had a nice ten mile ride of Flash, today we did essentially the entire outside perimeter loop, and it was another beautiful ride. It’s quite a nice unit of the forest, with enough variety to make it interesting, and the trails were dry and pretty nice. They’ve fixed quite a few sections with small gravel, but with boots on, Flash didn’t seem to mind. There’s still a lot of down branches and roots that make it slower going, but not bad, just not wide open for a lot of fast riding. Of course, that didn’t stop him from speeding up once we hit the halfway point and started heading back to camp! Still, it took about 2 1/2 hours to do, very nice ride. When I got back, I started to do an exercise I had been thinking about for awhile, taking all the pictures from the Shore to Shore ride and putting them together into a slide show. I’m actually thinking about doing that with every ride somehow. I haven’t worked with this movie making program before, so there was a learning curve, but very easy to learn, and I had the first day finished in no time. The time consuming thing will be uploading them to my Equicamping Youtube page, with I discovered I haven’t done anything with since our trip to Costa Rica back in 2012! I almost forgotten I had it! But I figure now that I’m essentially retired, it’s time to figure out how to either monetize my site or get sponsors to help keep us going. There are a lot of ways to do it, I just have to take the time to get it started. Had a nice stir fry dinner, watched the last Jack Ryan episode, then decided to watch all the Jack Ryan movies in chronological order, if that was possible. Not when they were released, but technically Ryan’s life, although there is quite of bit of theatrical license taken in intermingling the stories. The first one is actually the latest movie, Shadow Recruit, with Chris Pine as Jack. I hadn’t seen it yet, and it was a thrill a minute, so it was a nice way to spend the evening. Anyway, done with that, so now I’m getting ready for bed. Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Friday, September 15, 2023 – Truck Repair and Ride Day

Hi Sweetie,
Another late morning, but loving it! After chores and breakfast, I decided to fix the window on the rear door of the truck. For the past month or two, when I opened that driver side rear window, it wouldn’t always go back up right, getting stuck about halfway. I figured a screw got loose or something with all the bad roads I’ve been on, so I took off the door panel to take a look. I didn’t find any loose screws at the bottom of the door, but I soon discovered the problem. The bottom part of the window slots into a track, and then a screw tightens to the two sides of the track, and that had, in fact, loosened up a lot, just not enough to fall out, but the glass wasn’t between the tracks. A little jiggling and loosening of the other side, and pretty soon I was able to slide it back in and tighten it back up. I had to be careful not to go too tight and break the glass, but I did managed to get it just right, I think. Anyway, that solved the problem and only took me about half an hour. After that, I saddled up Flash and fully outfitted him with boots and breast collar and we took a nice 9+ mile ride, going backward from Wednesday’s ride, and hitting a different section of the south loops than last time. These trails were in better shape, a lot wider in most places, and a bit steeper on a few of the grades, but a lot of long straightaways, too, so it was a nice variety. I read somewhere that these trails are supposed to be more difficult because they’re steeper, but I haven’t really seen anything extraordinary yet, at least not as far as I’m concerned. There were a few with some grade to it, but nothing like some other hills I’ve seen. Flash lost his boot a couple of times, from the foot that has the square front to it, which I think might be the reason. This was the foot that had a split in it, and then we put a horizontal dent in it to stop it from going higher, and then that dent chipped as it dropped down, and now it’s almost reached the ground, but it’s still a little flat on front chip. Hopefully it will resolve itself as the hoof keeps growing, and meanwhile, I’ll just have to keep an eye out for missing boots! Anyway, it was a lovely ride, Lola came along and enjoyed flopping into a couple of creeks along the way (or what’s left of them during this dry season), and a very enjoyable day! To make things even nicer, I was finally able to watch a couple of Jack Ryan episodes with no interruptions! Whoo-hoo! The only big problem today was that I was trying to fix my Equicamping website so I could start doing more with my Maps page, and I ended up screwing it up so bad the whole site crashed. So I’ve had to call in the experts, hopefully they can get it resolved. It’s so frustrating, since no matter how well I get everything working, then someone updates a plug-in and the whole things quits working. Oh well, a minor inconvenience for the moment, hopefully it will result in bigger and better things. Meanwhile, time for shower and bed! Good night, babe! Love you!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023 – First Ride at Youngs Creek, IN

Hey Darlin’!
Another goodnight sleep, so happy to be on the end of a quiet, dead end road! Took our first ride today, not exactly the one I had planned, but the trails here aren’t very well marked, so it’s not too surprising. We ended up going about 7.5 miles, so it was fine. We started off without boots, but we kept running into small pea gravel, so I ended up putting them on just to keep Flash from getting ouchy. I should have put his breast collar on, and will from now on, because there were a few good hills, and I expect more on the other trails we didn’t get to today. Heavy deciduos forest here, with some trails not very well maintained, but quite beautiful. There’s only about 12 miles total here, but they wrap around in a couple of figure 8 loops, so I can get creative on future rides. Before we left, a forest service guy, Fred, showed up and tried to tell me all the nonsensical reasons they don’t have threads on the spigots here, but in the end, he rigged up a hose end and clamped it onto the pipe so now I can run my hose. He also told me I needed a trail pass, so I got on and bought a one-day pass for $5, but then after I did that, he told me that the trail pass was necessary for every day I was here, whether I rode on the trail or not! Their website and the national website are in total conflict with each other. The national site repeatedly says there’s no fee here, and nothing about a trail fee either. The Hoosier forest website says there’s no fee to camp here either, but it does say something about a trail fee, then refers you to another paragraph on the next page, which also says a trail fee, but then says if you have a horse at the horse camp, there’s a fee, too. It’s not very clear that the trail fee and the horse fee in camp are the same, but evidently they are. So there’s no fee at the horse camp, unless you bring a horse, then there’s a fee. It’s all very confusing, really poorly communicated. Anyway, I had to go back on and buy an annual pass for $35, which, if I had gotten in the first place, would have saved me the first five bucks. Oh, well, it’s still cheap to stay here, and now that I have easy access to water, I’m a happier camper. There’s beautiful weather forecast for the rest of the week, and I’m looking forward to exploring the rest of the trails here. After we got back from the ride, I let the horses graze again, Apollo on a long line and Flash wherever he wanted to go, which is never too far, though he started down the road again, just about ten yards, then wisely turned around and came back. There’s only one other non-horse camper here, but there were two trailers of day riders here, which rather surprised me, being the middle of the week. Did some bookkeeping work on the computer, linking my old brokerage account to my new one (TD Ameritrade was bought out by Schwab), so that took some time. Settled down for the evening, had a nice dinner, finally managed to be able to watch some less interrupted TV (off and on), and soon off to shower and bed! Love you, sweetie! Good night!

Saturday, September 9, 2023 – Fabulous Thirteen-Plus Mile Ride on Flash

Hiya Darlin’!
Had a good night sleep, think I’ve finally got the air pressure just right in the bed, slept very well. Woke up to a misty morning again, though you could tell it was going to be a nice day once the sun dried the mist off. Called the post office first thing, since they’re only open for two hours today and I wanted to make sure I got my package from Florida, but it hadn’t arrived yet. Apparently it goes to Battle Creek first and then a carrier brings it out, so the postmaster offered to call me when it came in. I love small town post offices! By 10:30, I decided to head into town, and I hadn’t quite left the park when he called to say it had arrived, in the nick of time! Picked it up, then headed back to camp, stopping to fill up the truck tank along the way, since I’ll be doing a couple of loads of laundry tomorrow. Wasn’t long before I was saddling up Flash to take the long western loop here. What a lovely ride! Such a nice variety! Some deep, dark, creepy woods (my favorite!), a nice pine stand, some wide open fields where we got in some good canters around the edges, then one place where it was five foot high grass mowed where the trail was, almost felt like going through a tunnel! It weaved all around the western side of the park, and it was very nice. Thoroughly enjoyed it! I didn’t take Lola along because there were quite a few other riders out there, and I don’t like to do that on the weekends when it’s busy, so she was pouting a bit when I got back. Ended up chatting with some ladies that I had met on the trail in the pavilion for awhile, the finally settled down for the evening. Still have a very slow internet connection, so watching TV is painful! Won’t be long out of bed tonight, I have a busy day tomorrow. Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Friday, September 8, 2023 – Ride Day on Apollo

Hey Sweetie,
Woke up to a wet, misty day, very glad I put the extra canvas tarp over the three bales in the back of the truck last night! Decided to do some other stuff waiting for it to dry out. My plan was to take Flash and do the long ride, but the mist held on for so long, and you know me, I’m a fair weather rider, so didn’t much feel like going out in a misty cold rain. Did some planning for the next few weeks and a few other computer chores, until it finally dried up and lightened up a bit in the afternoon. Decided it was too late to take the long ride, so I saddled up Apollo, who needs some exercise, he’s getting fatter and fatter sitting around here, and took the Blue Trail, making a figure eight so we could do the whole thing. Another lovely trail! This one is multi-use, so I ran into hikers and bikers along the way, but everyone was cordial and cooperative, just like it’s supposed to be! It was still less than five miles, but it was a beautiful ride, weaving around a couple of lakes and wetlands, through some pretty dense and scenic forest with lovely footing despite the dampness, so a very nice ride. Apollo kept trying to brush himself (or me!) into the bushes along the side of the trail, not sure what that’s about. There were a few short sections with some small rocks, and even though they were smooth, he behaved like he was ouchy on those, again, not sure what his problem is. Got back to camp around three, and spoke to some new neighbors a couple of sites down from me, a woman named Amber. Got Apollo put away and settled down for the afternoon and evening. Made some dirty rice (over tortilla chips), that should last me the next few days. Watched a few more Jack Ryan’s, though I’m still plagued by buffering and interuptions, and heading for bed soon! Just heard Taps from the government facility nearby, so I guess it’s time! Good night, babe! Love you!