Thursday, August 6, 2020 – Ride Day, Apollo Much More Energetic!

Hi Darlin',
A great night sleep last night, finally. The air did not seem to go down at all on the other side of the bed, so maybe I've solved that problem. But I must have done something to twist my back getting the mattress in and out, because when I started moving around I was in agony. Breakfast and three ibuprofen later I was starting to feel better. I finished sending links to the videos from yesterday, and was determined to get a ride on Apollo in today, so just after noon I saddled him up and started a circuitous route trying to hit almost every trail we missed on Tuesday. What a beautiful ride! Trail 7 goes through some lovely pine forests, Trail 6 goes along a cattail-strewn marsh, and most of the rest go through truly beautiful woods. Apollo had more get up and go in him than he's had in a LONG time! Whether it's the sandy footing, the alfalfa, or that whatever problem's he's been having has remedied itself, I don't know, but he was walking fast and trotting out fast, with no hesitation and hardly any urging on my part! I might have even been able to get him into a canter if I tried hard enough, but I decided not to push my luck. About 2/3 of the way around I temporarily lost my GPS, the back came off and the rest of it dropped, but I managed to find it after a few minutes. I tied Apollo up to walk on foot, and he whinnied like a mad horse after me. Does he really think that after almost twenty years together I'm just going to abandon him in the woods? Crazy horse! When we got back to camp, he and Flash whinnied at each other the whole way across the campground! After I got him put away, another family of campers showed up at a site two down from me, and they had three horses in a LQ livestock-type trailer, and the one in back was absolutely refusing to come out. I watched for well over half an hour while they tried to coax this horse out. I eventually took pity on them and asked if they needed help, and they wholeheartedly agreed. Apparently this horse is a well-trained barrel horse, but he is usually at the front of the trailer, and just did NOT want to make the tiny turn to get his butt out the door from the last stall. I took my little crop over there and we had a firm discussion, but he was really reticent. Eventually I had one of the ladies pull his lead rope around his back legs to turn him while I grabbed his tail, and we pulled and pulled until he had no choice but to come out. Once he was out, he was fine, you'd never know he was making a fuss, but the young girl who owned him was very distraught, she thought she had done something wrong because the horse wouldn't listen to her. They were all very grateful, which I appreciated, and the rest of the horses came out with no trouble. I went back to my camp and enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous afternoon and evening, had a nice dinner, watched TV, you know, the usual, and now it's time for shower and bed! Good night, darlin'! Love you!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020 – Work Day

Hey Sweetie,
Well, despite my hopes to go riding on Apollo today, work and other chores got in the way. I did have a good night sleep, though, so I felt pretty good this morning. When I put the generator on I decided to do a quick load of laundry (getting short on underclothes!), but the rest can wait until I have electric next week. After breakfast I started to edit the videos from the workshop last week, and even though I have a good cell phone signal here, it was still taking almost half an hour for each video to upload, so that turned out to be an all day job. While my computer was doing it’s uploading thing, I decided to see if I could find the leak in the air mattress. I found the stopper and cap for it, filled it up with air, closed it off and brought it outside on to the picnic table. I sprayed with soapy water over and over again and couldn’t find the leak, even though I know it has to be pretty bad since it goes completely flat within 20-30 minutes when there’s weight on it. I tried using Lola’s little wading pool and that didn’t work, so I finally got into some swimming gear and drove it down to the Tippecanoe River access point where we had lunch yesterday. Even then, I had difficulty finding it, until I finally found a problem with the seam on one of the corners, but it only leaked when it was held a certain way. At least, I hope that’s the only leak! It makes sense, though, because there aren’t any holes that I could find anywhere else. I marked it and brought it back to camp, pulled out my Airstop glue and put half a dozen layers on it over the course of an hour or more. Hopefully that will do the trick! After it dried I put it back on the bed, filled it up, put the bed back together, and now I’m crossing my fingers that it will last. I discovered that the company that makes these is no longer in business after the owner died and the son didn’t want to have anything to do with it, so my only option if this doesn’t work is to get a new, more expensive mattress, which is frustrating since these are just over a year old! Well, the Airstop has worked before, hopefully it will again. I sat outside reading for awhile until all the videos finally uploaded, by then it was about time to feed the horses, finish taking down my laundry off the line, and get on with my evening. Tomorrow, definitely going riding! Well, I have a bit more work to do writing comments and disseminating the videos tomorrow, but hopefully that won’t take too long. Meanwhile, it’s shower and bedtime for me! Good night, babe! Love you!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020 – First Ride at Tippecanoe

Hi Darlin',
Finally woke up feeling refreshed after a great night sleep! I could have slept longer but I had set my alarm because a bunch of folks I met down at Loretta Lynn's back in June decided to come ride with me, so I had to be ready by 9:30, which I was. I decided to leave Lola home when I knew there was such a large group, she doesn't always stick around when there's that many horses, but one of the gals had brought her dog along so we still had canine company. We did a couple of long loops in the morning, really nice trails! Mostly sand, so even with the rain over the weekend there really wasn't any mud, just a few soft spots. The trails are mostly fairly wide and well-groomed, albeit mostly flat, so it's very easy riding. I started out further back, but after awhile Flash was getting antsy because I was having to try to slow him down, and eventually we got out front where he immediately calmed down. A couple of times I had to take him for a long canter and back again, just to keep him happy, but everyone seemed fine with that. We came back and grabbed some lunch to take with us down to a new, short trail they had recently put in that led right down to the river, and by then, I had decided to bring Lola along for the rest of the day. I found her up in the bedroom again, so I expect to see dog hair and probably footprints when I go to bed tonight. Despite the fact that the entire park is centered on Tippecanoe River, there was no access for horses until last week. Evidently there's a small patch of land that's privately owned, but they reached an agreement to let the park manage it, and they turned it into a nice picnic area with about 100 feet of shoreline. There was only one hitching post, though, so some of us had to tie horses on to a small fence and a couple of trees. We all had a nice lunch, and Lola had a nice time fetching, including a few swims in the river before we mounted up and headed back out on the trail, doing another few loops. The morning ride was nearly 10 miles, the afternoon ride about half that. My phone died so I didn't get a GPS map of the whole thing, unfortunately. Anyway, it was a wonderful ride, a fabulous day, with lots of good company. I think it actually did Lola a lot of good, because even when she fell behind me she stayed with the pack until she caught up again, and she may have learned a bit from watching the other dog, too. Oh, I forgot to tell you that when we were in Michigan, my hosts had a Newfoundland named Angus (with a Mohawk haircut-really!) that Lola liked so much she actually tried to get him to play with her! It was so much fun to watch her jump around trying to coax him into play! So uncharacteristic for her. She didn't try that with Ellie, the dog that was with us today, but they did seem to get along all right. Got back to camp after 4:00, sat under the awning for a while (haven't bother to put the screen room up this time) before finally coming inside and settling down for the evening. A fabulous day, perfect weather, actually a bit cool, and it's supposed to get down to 49 degrees tonight! I had to close all the windows, and I suspect I'll be pulling my extra throw over me at bedtime. Speaking of, it's about that time anyway, so I'll say good night! Love you, babe!

Monday, August 3, 2020 – Another Rest Day, Sort Of

Hi Babe,
As tired as I was last night, it still took me awhile to get to sleep, even after reading for an hour. Finally dropped off, though, and eventually got a decent night sleep. I spent most of the day catching up on bookkeeping, then zombied out watching some more Voyagers. The last two campers left today, so as soon as the last one left, Lola and I took a walk around the campground, sans leash. There's a small playground with swings and a single slide, and I had her go down the slide a few times. She's such a quick study, I only had to encourage her once, and she did it a couple of times, even climbing UP the slide instead of the stairs! Silly girl! Settled down for the evening, took my shower early, and am heading to be shortly. It seems really weird to be going to bed just after it gets dark, truly, I feel like I'm revisiting my childhood. That, combined with feeling like I'm on summer vacation, is reminding me of all kinds of nostalgic moments! I have some friends I met down at Brown County coming up to ride with me tomorrow, I'm sure Flash will be raring to go after being in a paddock for more than a week now. I'm going to leave Lola home, though, she doesn't do well with a lot of horses, and it looks like there will be 5 or 6 of us. I'll take her out on her own the next day. Anyway, time for bed, Good night, my love!

Sunday, August 2, 2020 – Rest Day, Sort Of

Hi Sweetie,
It rained all night, but I had my earplugs in and slept pretty well, though Lola woke me a couple of times. Despite opening the pantry, she still managed to climb the stairs and scratch at the door, and one time I woke up, she had somehow crept into the bedroom and was at the foot of the bed! Not sure how she managed that, but you know how sneaky she can be when she wants! She finally settled down, though, thank goodness. My plan was to rest all day, but then I saw a book order with Priority mail came through, so I packed it up and drove to the nearest post office, which fortunately is only about 8 miles away. I also filled up with diesel and picked up some milk at the only supermarket in town (unless you count the two Dollar stores). Then I binge-watched Voyagers most of the rest of the day, reading and napping occasionally in between. I did fill up the water tank in the truck to simplify watering the horses, but that was about all the energy I had. Even so, I’m still feeling tired at the end of the day, obviously I’m more exhausted than I thought. Maybe a good night sleep will help tonight. Most of the campers left today, but there are two more still here, but I suspect they’ll be gone tomorrow and I’ll have the place to myself, which Lola will appreciate. It cleared up nicely and I managed to harvest some energy from my solar panel this afternoon, and there’s only a few hours of rain in the forecast tomorrow, the rest of the week looks clear, so I should be able to continue to benefit from that. Anyway, I’m heading off to shower and bed, hopefully I’ll be more recovered after a good night sleep. Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Saturday, August 1, 2020 – Exhausting Travel Day to Tippecanoe

Hi Babe,
What an exhausting day. I got up just after 7:30, started packing away everything, though I had trouble with pulling the slide in, as I was sloping too much to the right. I broke the hook I had put up, so I’ll have to fix that. Meanwhile, I had decided that I needed to adjust the brakes on the trailer, so I went on to do that. It took a little longer than I hoped, and I wasn’t sure I was doing it right, it just seemed like I couldn’t turn the star wheel the way it was suppose to go. But I did manage to bring the slide in without help by doing it when the Jiffy Jack was on the left side, that put enough weight behind it that it came in with just a little help from a rope around the cupboard above the chairs. Anyway, I finally headed out, right on schedule at 10:00, and had a relatively uneventful ride. I managed to dodge all but a few raindrops, truly missing everything that was out there. But once I got off the freeway and had to go through small towns, I knew there was something not right about the brakes, it was almost like I didn’t have any on the trailer at all. I drove extra careful, and arrived safe and sound just before 2:00, glad to find the site I had reserved for tomorrow available today, and got backed in without any trouble. It’s a nice campground, but there’s less than a dozen other campers here, and I’m sure it will be mostly empty by the end of tomorrow. I set up a nice area with the electric fence (even though, once again, they had hitching posts on site) and got the horses squared away, filled up with water and so on. Well, I was already tired from the workshop, and from all the energy getting ready today, but I was kind of in autopilot, so I decided to adjust the brakes again before I disconnected from the truck. I made a quick inquiry on the internet and found that I had, indeed, gone the wrong way with the brake adjustment (pushing UP the wheel tightens the brakes up), so I redid them all. That seemed to work better, but I won’t know for sure until I leave here. I got the outdoor rug out under the awning, then pulled out the solar panel, since there’s no electricity here. It’s cloudy, so I wasn’t expecting much, but I wanted to get it out to be ready for tomorrow. Well, then the fun began. I couldn’t get my key to turn the lock on the battery/propane compartment. After several other unsuccessful attempts, I finally had to unscrew the frame of the entire compartment in order to get to the lock inside and open it. Not sure how I’m going to make a permanent fix, especially since the lock is held in by the silly 8-pointed star screws for which there is no wrench, and I couldn’t find a four-sided square that fit. At least I was able to get the door open, since there is a manual lock on the inside. Then I decided to do a long awaited job, and connect the proper fixture for the solar panel to the batteries. You remember there was the alligator clips which I’ve been using, but there was also another on for attaching directly to the terminals on the battery, so I decided, since I was autopilot anyway, to just get that done. Fortunately that worked okay, except there was still no connection when I finished, and when I looked, I found a loose connection on the wires directly to the terminal on the solar panel, with a flathead screw deep inside a narrow space, and, of course, I didn’t have a screwdriver the right size to fit inside it. I finally ended up using the bottle opener end of a small folding tool that was in my driver door in the truck. Geesh, when it rains, it pours! Every job seemed to lead to three other jobs. I finally stopped, put all the tools away, and called it quits, but by then it was nearly 6:00. No wonder I’m exhausted! Watched a few Voyagers and had a bowl of soup followed by ice cream, but now I’m MORE than ready for a shower and bed. Thankfully, it’s pretty cool out, albeit damp and rainy, but at least it should be good sleeping weather. I’ll take pictures tomorrow, I’m too tired to do anything else today. I’m definitely crashing tomorrow! Love you, sweetie! Good night!

Friday, July 31, 2020 – Day Two of Workshop

Hi Sweetie!
Workshop went well, interesting group, lots of challenges! Ran a bit late, as usual, but got back to the farm about 6:00. My hostess was nice enough to keep Lola busy today, since yesterday she went nuts, managed to claw her way into my bedroom, and scratched the bed up so bad she ripped my sheets up. Glad I had an old pair as a standby! Anyway, I was planning on resting tomorrow and leaving Sunday, but there seems to be a couple of days worth of rain moving in tomorrow evening, so I’ve decided to leave tomorrow in order to miss it. Then I’ll have a nice rest day on a rainy Sunday, and maybe even Monday, too! Only problem is my next campground doesn’t have electric, and with no sun, I’ll be running the generator a bit more, but no big deal. That’s the plan! Exhausted, going to be early. Good night, babe! Love you!

Thursday, July 30, 2020 – Day One of Workshop

‘Nuff said! Love you, babe!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 – Meeting and Errands

Hi Babe,
No earplugs and I still had a great night sleep! I was surprised that some of the free-range roosters didn’t wake me up at the crack of dawn, but I either slept through it or they were quiet. I did a few things to prepare for Day One of the Workshop tomorrow, including having a meeting at the hospital, seeing the room, solving a few technical and room layout issues, in other words, the usual! After that I ran down to Tractor Supply in Albion to fill up two propane tanks, get some shavings for the floor of the horse trailer, and get a new indoor-outdoor thermometer, since the last one gave up the ghost. Had a pretty quiet day other than that, well, except that the air mattress on my side of the bed has been going flat the last few days. I tried resetting and tightening where the clamp goes on the air pump, but that didn’t work, so for the time being, I just switched the mattresses around until I get a chance to take a closer look. It’s been barely a year since I bought those, and I’ve already contacted the manufacturer, but I have to follow up with them as to what the warranty is. Anyway, time for my shower and bed, early, since I have an early morning! Workshop starts at 8:00, I want to be there by 7:30 to make sure everything’s on track. So, good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020 – Travel Day to Michigan

Hey Sweetheart!
Woke up a few minutes before my alarm, had a quick breakfast and finished packing in no time. Flash got in the trailer the fastest he’s ever been so far, less than a minute, so I was able to get out right on schedule. I got a little delayed looking for a vet that could do a Coggins test on my way out of town, but was fortunate to discover one in Niles, MI right along the way, called River Valley. I arrived there within the hour, though there was a lot of construction blocking roads and creating detours, and Google was no help. I was a bit worried driving in, I had asked if they could fit a rig my size in and was assured I could, but when I turned it, it was REALLY narrow, full of trees and I had to go around a building and I wasn’t sure I’d make it, but fortunately there was just enough room for a road veteran like me, barely. Ashley took great care of me and my guys, and we were out of there in no time. The drive was uneventful, but I had forgotten how terrible the roads in Michigan are! So rough and bumpy and potholed, lots of shaking going on! I arrived right on schedule at Coats of Many Colors in Springport, a huge Centennial farm (been in the family for 100 years!), farming 1400 acres. The boarding stable aspect has only been around for a few years, but they have a nice facility. Laura greeted me like family, showed me where to set up and then left me to my own devices. It didn’t take long to back in next to the barn, unhook the truck, fill up with water and get electric out to the trailer. The horses have a nice little pasture all on their own that I can see right out my side windows and they settled in quickly. We’re so far off the beaten track here, Lola’s been exploring everywhere. Fortunately, she doesn’t seem at all interested in Laura’s chickens, though they’re free ranging all over, which I’m very glad of! This is perfect, less than 20 minutes from my job site, exactly what I needed. Once I got settled in, I did some computer work, had a nice meal of fresh cucumbers that Laura just picked off the vine and some fresh cherry tomatoes that Trish had given me over the weekend with some cottage cheese and bleu cheese dressing, hmm hmm good! I’m eating healthier these days, which is a good thing! Finally settled down, watched a few more Voyagers, but now it’s time for shower and bed. Good night, baby! Love you!