Thursday, January 6, 2022 – First Ride Day at Dinner Island Ranch

Hey Darlin’,
A nice, quiet night sleep, then I woke up relatively early, did all my morning chores, and before long, was saddling up Flash for our first ride. The map indicates one large loop of roads that would be about 16 miles, with a bunch of little spurs and one small loop off of it, so I decided the explore the main road first, then do the spurs later. This is an interesting place, inasmuch as the road is fully lime-stoned, and mostly long and straight, so the actual riding is pretty boring, but we saw more wildlife here than all of the wildlife in the last few months combined! Birds of every size, shape and color, from wading birds to hawks. Saw an otter hop across the road. Saw a baby gator peeking out of the water, an adult sunning on the canal bank, and a dead one on it’s back with crows and buzzards making a meal out of it. Saw a deer running across a field, and saw scores of cows, since this is mostly leased ranch land, lots of calves of every color and type and even crossed some open range where the cows all ran away from us. Lots of birdcalls made the sounds rich, some lovely fragrances from somewhere, too. While it was mostly open plains here, there were thick copses of cypress, live oak with moss, magnolia trees and palms. We were making great progress, and had just about reached the halfway point, when we were suddenly stopped dead in our tracks by a cattle guard on the road with no bypass gate! We had gone through one earlier, so I just assumed they would all be like that, but nope! Had to turn around and go all the way back on the same track, with the exception of that one small loop, and you know how I hate going backwards! We stopped at the hunt check station for a quick rinse off, then I put Flash away and rested for a bit. Then I decided I needed to find out if it was possible to go in the opposite direction all the way to that cattle guard, so I jumped in the truck and headed around the road in reverse. Turns out there are several other cattle guards with no gates, so that severely limits our trail choices! I can’t even get to a lot of the spur trails because of that. Crazy! I’ve never been anywhere that had cattle guards without a bypass gate! Starting to rethink going to Okaloacoochee Slough, which is essentially on the northwest side of where I am, as their map looks like it might have more trails, but I’m going to drive over there and check it out first. No sense staying here if there’s no real riding. Got back, met another camper who happened to also be from upstate NY, so we chatted for a bit. Then, just as I was making dinner, the people who had reserved this spot showed up. Oh, well. At least he didn’t insist I move immediately, said we could do it in the morning, so that’s my first exercise tomorrow. After dinner, I attended an OTL meeting by phone, think we made a lot of progress, got most of the Volunteer list filled with names, so at least we know where the blanks are, and there aren’t too many of them. The biggest gap is shuttles and drivers, Anita still hasn’t confirmed a bus she thought she had procured, so we’re starting to look elsewhere. I’ve had a pretty good response for volunteers since I posted just yesterday, so I have high hopes it will all come together in the end. I have a very busy day tomorrow, I’m supposed to be meeting brother Glenn and wife and maybe Jeff for lunch tomorrow, but at a place that’s 80 miles away, farther than I thought when I suggested it, mea culpa. So off to shower and bed early, long day ahead! Good night, babe! Love you!

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