Friday, Oct. 23, 2020 – Long Second Ride at Guntersville State Park

Hiya Sweetie!
Woke up right at 7:00, the perfect time, just before the sun rises, but light enough to see by. Of course, when the clocks change in two weeks, that will screw it all up again! Anyway, it was a nice morning, and after breakfast I saddled up Apollo again. I was originally going to go riding with the mule folks, but decided I didn’t want to be restricted, and frankly, was concerned one of the mules might kick Lola, or that she would get confused with a big group and head back to camp, which I didn’t want her to do since we’re right on the side of a busy road, especially with a lake over on the other side where she might wander off to, so I left on my own about 10:00. I had two trails I wanted to get in, neither of which was on the map, the pink trail and the extension of the yellow trail. The pink trail was really nice, had a nice stretch where you could see the lake down below, and once you climbed the hill it was pretty level for a long time, a nice change over the other trails I took yesterday. There was also a nice overlook on a spur trail with a picnic area and highlines, which is where the mule folks caught up to me, as well as a couple of other gals on a horse rental ride. Then I headed out on the yellow extension, which I thought would be fairly straight forward. I knew it ended up on the blue trail, and thought it would be a parallel to the white trail, but NO!! It meandered around for miles into the wild. It’s so new it was almost raw, and the markings were few and far between most of the time, but then suddenly you’d get a spot where they’d have large yellow paint splotches, a fanfare of ribbons, and a sign with a horse on it with an arrow. Then you’d go half a mile without hardly anything again! It was kind of strange, but it did end up taking me to the blue trail, but it took a lot longer than I thought it would. It was over eleven miles by the time I got back to camp, but Apollo did great, though it took about five hours to do it. Lola had fun, too, and I’m sure she’ll sleep tonight! After rinsing Apollo off and putting him back on the highline, I rested a bit, then walked Lola over to the lake for a little swimming frisbee, then settled down for the night. I had a trailer move in right next door to me, one that had their awning on the opposite side, so they’re facing my porch directly, and they were gone all day, but left their generator running! I have no idea why people do that! I sat outside reading for a while, but I had to listen to that all the time. They finally got back just before sunset, and I asked him why he kept it running, and apparently he left it on to run the AC, which evidently wasn’t working anyway, so the whole exercise was pointless. Crazy! Nevermind, they seemed like nice people, and the woman thought running the generator when they weren’t there was just as crazy as I did. Anyway, I eventually wandered over to Bubba’ trailer, where many of the group had gathered, and after a lot of chitchat, I did my Snowy River for them just before dinner. I’d already eaten, so I left just after, came back to the trailer for a bit of ice cream and a movie before shower and bed. Heading there shortly, so good night, babe! Love you!

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 – First Ride at Guntersville State Park

Hi Babe!
Woke up at the crack of dawn this morning, which is what happens when I get to bed at a decent hour! I would have read in bed for awhile except I looked out the window and saw Flash laying down, and he was completely motionless. I kept looking for some movement, but he wasn’t even flicking his tail, so I was worried, and got up to check on him. Turns out he was fine, he got up as soon as I came out, but he’s still not putting any weight on one of his back feet, so I’m going to let him rest some more to see if it straightens itself out. I went ahead and fed them, and got my day started. Had breakfast, read for a bit, then started saddling up Apollo for our first ride here. I was all mounted and ready to go, then Lola rolled so hard the velcro on her vest tore off, so I had to dismount, get out my sewing kit, sew up the velcro, then finally hit the trail about 11:15. I had printed a map, but understand there have been a lot of additional trails made that aren’t on the map, so I was hoping I don’t get lost. I had been told by a neighbor here that it’s not too rocky here, so I didn’t put Apollo’s boots on, but I did take them with me. Turns out there was quite a bit of rocks along the White trail and I stopped once to put the boots on, but the new (used) boots that I had bought from E-bay were almost new, and nowhere near stretched out (which made me realize just how much my old boots HAD stretched out!), and there was no way I could get them to fit. Fortunately the trails improved, so we managed okay. We took the white trail to the blue trail, did that loop, discovered that the yellow trail had evidently been extended to meet the blue trail (which was not on the map), but passed it for now, got back to the white trail, then picked up the yellow trail. I was really pleased with the way the trails are marked here, plenty of signage and paint on the trees, and a clever idea I hadn’t seen before, where they had put wood squares painted the color of the trail with numbers on them, increasing about every quarter mile, with the smallest numbers closest to camp, so that you could tell right away if you were going in the right direction. They also had a lot of arrows with “camp” written on them, so there wasn’t much chance on not finding your way back. I did have questions at one spot, though, when the yellow trail made a sudden right turn, which would have been away from camp, and I figured that must have been that new trail that led to the blue trail, so I turned left instead. Though there was a lot of horse sign and hoof prints, and was heading in the right direction, there were no markers at all for quite a ways, and just as I was thinking I was on the wrong track, I finally came upon a marker that indicated I was almost back to camp, yay! The trails are interesting, inasmuch as the lake is in a basin, so most of the trails are on the hillsides, but many are fairly easygoing switchbacks, which keeps it from being too steep. But they are mostly linear with small loops, so it won’t take too long to finish off what trails I didn’t take today, which is probably good, since I’m not loving living on this slope. When I got back into camp, I discovered a number of trailers had come in, including one with Bubba, the guide I met at Loretta Lynn’s back in June, along with several other folks who were there, including the older fella that was dumped in the creek on one ride, the one who I helped get back up when he had trouble standing. When he realized that it was me, he thanked me profusely for “saving his life.” I wouldn’t go that far, but I was happy Flash moved where I wanted him and stood still when I asked him, well enough for him to hang on to his lead line till he got himself back on his feet. Anyway, Bubba made a skillet of dinner and invited me over for some, and a few other folks joined us for a bit of chit-chat until it was mostly dark, then I came back and fed Lola, then settled down for the evening. I’m watching the final Presidential debate as I’m writing this, I haven’t watched the others, and I’m pretty much wondering why I’m watching this one, it’s so absurd. Don’t think I’m going to stay with it for long. Anyway, I still have to shower and I want to get to bed early, to keep my new habit going of early to bed, early to rise, so off I go! Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 – Travel Day to Guntersville State Park

Hi Sweetheart!
No alarm this morning, but I still woke up around six, read a little, fell back to sleep, and got up around 7:30. Not in a big hurry, only have about an hour and fifteen minute drive to the next place. Had breakfast, got everything put away, had no trouble pulling out since now the ground is so dry, loaded up the horses, stopped at the dump, then headed south just before 10:00. While this place is in the state park, it’s not like an official campground, there’s no registration process. It’s more like a state forest, with an iron ranger where you put your money in, all $3 a day of it! There’s two water spigots here, with threads, as promised. There were a couple of cars and a livestock trailer here, and I soon discovered that a young couple runs horse rides out of here. There were hardly any level sites, and the few that were had highlines with cables on them already, the kind I don’t really like, but I found a nice spot with two trees where I could highline the horses with my own line. Unfortunately, it was on a slope, and even with three boards under the front jacks, I couldn’t get it anywhere near level, so I’m walking around like I’m at sea in rough waters! The nose is much lower than the back end, which at least made it very easy for the horses to unload! I arrived by 11:30, and was pretty well set up by 1:00, though I didn’t put the screen room up. The horses settled in nicely, but I’m afraid they don’t much like the hay I bought yesterday, and I can’t say I blame them, it smells rather musty. They loaded me in such a hurry I didn’t even have time to check it, and I’ve bought from him before, but I don’t remember it being this musty-smelling before. Oh, well, I’ll see if they get used to it (they’re spoiled from the last stuff that I got right out of the field!), and if they don’t, I’ve found a couple of other sources around here. Hate to waste it, but if they won’t eat it, what can I do? One other trailer with an older couple came in shortly after me, we chatted briefly, but then I spent the afternoon doing some overdue bookkeeping and opening the mail I got from the post office yesterday. I finished up around five, then I leashed up Lola (we’re on a busy road, so she’ll be tied up the whole time we’re here, except when we go riding), walked across the street to the lake, and we played swimming frisbee for awhile, which she enjoyed very much. Back to the trailer, took my shower early because it’s 10 degrees above normal here, in the 80’s, and I worked up quite a sweat setting up. Then dinner and a movie, now I’m off to bed early, as is (hopefully) becoming my habit. So good night, babe! Love you!

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 – Another Busy Day

Hey Baby,
Got up at the crack of dawn to get this busy started. Once I got everyone fed and made sure the paddock fence was secure so the horses wouldn’t escape during my long day out, I packed up Lola and we hit the road. First stop was the post office in Altamont to collect my mail and put in my official change of address card, then over to City Hall to cast my early vote in the election, then up to the house to meet with the new owner and pick up the last two pieces of furniture and a couple of boxes of stuff I left behind from earlier this year. From there it was up to Sparta to drop off the loveseat, for which I FINALLY got a buyer, and who even paid me a lot extra to deliver, thank you very much! From there I headed up to Cookeville ast there were a couple of consignment shops, and I finally found one that would take the desk. I just hated the idea of giving it away, and they’re not sure they can sell it, but at least they’re willing to give it a try. Better than nothing! Back down to Morrison to pick up ten bales of hay, though I’m sorry to say they’re not as good as I remember them being, they smell a bit musty, especially compared to some of the better stuff I was getting in Indiana, but it will have to do. Then I headed to the Tractor Supply in Manchester to return a handle that I had bought some time ago and kept forgetting to take back, then Walmart where I filled up with fuel and picked up a few other essentials I needed, then back to Circle E, where I arrived right around 5:00. I loaded the hay into the front stall of the trailer, then finally sat down with a glass of wine for a few minutes to catch my breath! While the horses were eating their dinner, I broke down the chairs and outdoor carpet (I hadn’t bothered to put up the screen room this time), and put a few more things away, then cleaned up the paddock area as it grew dark. I must say, I like having the sunset around 6:00, so that it’s dark by the time my day ends. I didn’t much like going to bed while there was practically still daylight, even though it was nearly 10:00! I took a minute to try to put the spigot back on, it had come loose somehow when it was at the trailer place, but I only managed to get one screw in, it will take a bit more effort to fix it right. I noticed a little drip start on it, and now the pump is coming on more often, so I’m going to have to find that leak and fix it, too. I finally was able to settle down for the evening, but I’m going to bed early again, because I am knackered right now! So I’m off to do dishes, take my shower and head to bed, don’t think I’ll get too much reading in before I’m sound asleep. Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Monday, Oct. 19, 2020 – Busy Productive Day

Hi Sweetie!
Well, a day’s true rest and a good night sleep put me in exactly the right frame of mind for all the work that needed doing today. After feeding the horses, I got down the pressure washer from the attic, and after breakfast, I proceeded to clean out the water tank in the back of the truck. There’s a place I’m thinking about going that has an unreliable water source, so I figured I better be prepared to fill the tank if I decide to go there. After that I put all my tack away and cleared up the back of the trailer, then after a short break, did a nice, thorough housecleaning job, in between did a couple of loads of laundry, prepared the Certificates for the students in the last workshop, had a little scare when I went out to get a big envelope from out of the back of the trailer and the horses were gone! It was windy again today, and I think the wind might have blown the tape off one of the posts and a bunch more followed. I hollered for them, but there was no response, so I hopped in the truck and looked all around for them, couldn’t find them, until I parked the truck back at the trailer then took a short walk to another trailhead and lo and behold, Apollo was standing under a tree and Flash was laying on the ground sound asleep. They were certainly within earshot, so evidently Apollo just didn’t want to be found, but once he saw me he walked right over, and I grabbed his halter and walked them both back to the paddock after fixing the tape. Glad they didn’t go far, just wish Apollo had answered me like he usually does! Anyway, I finished off a few more work items, then finally settled down to dinner and a movie. Now I’m off to my shower and bed. Good night, babe! Love you!

Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020 – True Rest Day

Hey Babe!
After a pretty good night sleep, I was up with the alarm for my last breakfast as part of the Circle E Fall Ride, so it will be back to cooking and washing dishes again after this! I felt pretty tired from the long ride yesterday, so I ended up not doing too much today. I figured I needed a true rest day to recharge my batteries, then tuck in tomorrow and get the housekeeping and a few repairs done, as well as a little computer work. I did a pretty good clean up of the paddock, but other than that, it was a lovely day of reading, watching TV and playing the occasional computer game. Heading to bed early, though, but tonight, I’m not setting the alarm! I’m curious what time my body will wake me up in the morning. With the days getting significantly shorter all the time, I figure I’m better off getting up early as well as as going to bed early, if I can just stick with it. I’ve already showered, so now I’m off! Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020 – Longer Ride Today

Hi Darlin’!
Coldest night yet, it got into the 30’s last night! Maybe I’ve stayed too far north for too long… Though fortunately it’s warming up again in the next few days, so maybe not. I blanketed the horses last night, so they were good, but it was a frosty morning. At least yesterday’s cold wind had died down, so it warmed up quickly by the end of breakfast. I had asked about going on the long ride and was told it was leaving at 9:30, so when a group went by at 9:15 I thought I was going to miss it, so I quickly finished saddling Flash and ran after them, only to discover they were the “short” ride today, so I went back to camp and joined the long ride, which didn’t end up leaving until nearly 10:00 anyway. It was supposed to be 19 miles but ended up only being about 12.5, but it took nearly six hours, not counting a lunch stop. We started out with probably over 20-25 riders, most from a local barn coming in for the day to trail ride, and frankly, some just weren’t suited for it. One woman was in tears barely 100 yards onto the trail because her horse was acting up. We ended up splitting the group on occasion to take easier trails vs. harder trails, and poor Lola got so confused she ended up giving up and going back to camp. Fortunately there was a woman in camp that we met on the cattle drive that she went to, and she put her in the trailer, which I learned a while later when she texted me, thank goodness! Then some of the group turned around and went back at one point, then another bunch turned back a bit later, until we ended up with barely half a dozen riders plus the trail bosses, which was a much more manageable group anyway. They were sturdier riders, but they were drinking beer non-stop, and one woman was vaping away, which was fine when she was behind me, but at one point she took the lead and I had to keep pulling Flash back so I wouldn’t have to breathe her second-hand cloud of smoke, or vapor, or whatever it was, because it wasn’t agreeing with me. Of course, we had to stop every 15 minutes for people to relieve themselves, what with all the beer they were drinking (remember what time we left? Beer for breakfast, really?), so it was a very long, slow day. I mean, if it were just Flash and me, we’ be done with 12 miles in three hours, not the nearly six that it took us. The only advantage was I didn’t have to worry about getting lost, and frankly, that’s a big concern for me out here. The trails are only marked so-so, and the map is terrible. It has all the contour lines on it, which just makes it hard to read, the trails are dotted lines, not solid, which also makes it hard to read, and they absolutely do not match what’s out there. I’ve tried to line up the actual rides with the trail map overlay on Google Earth, and it’s not even close! It would be nearly impossible for someone NOT to get lost out here with the situation as it is right now. I couldn’t plan a ride with this map without some serious reservations. That said, they have some beautiful scenery, but so many of the trails are so rocky, it makes it very challenging. Fortunately, Flash’s feet have hardened up pretty nicely, and he didn’t seem to have much problem even though he didn’t even have boots on, no injuries at all that I could see, so I’m happy. Anyway, it was a good day’s ride, followed by a nice dinner, then a heartwarming movie called the Peanut Butter Falcon, now it’s off for my shower and bed! Good night, babe! Love you!

Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 – Rest/Work Day

Hi Babe!
After a very cold night that led into a very cold morning, I decided it was too cold to ride, plus I had been putting off some followup work from the Workshop last week, so I took the day off to mostly work on the computer to get all that done. I needed the rest, though, I was tired from all the exercise from yesterday. Barely had enough energy to do up to the dining hall for meals, then a quick shower, one short hour of TV, and to bed with me! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 – Double Rides Today

Hey Sweetie!
Busy, busy today! When I went to bed last night and set my alarm, it said 9:14 until my alarm would go off. Ridiculous, right? I tried to read for a bit but fell completely asleep in moments, then woke up once or twice when Lola was really restless (which surprised me, I thought she would be tired from the ride yesterday!), had some weird dreams, but didn’t wake up until the alarm went off! Obviously, I needed it! Had a bit of a scare first thing, though, when I went out to feed the horses, the gate on the electric fence was on the ground and the horses were gone! I called but got no answer, so I jumped into my truck and started heading to the back of the campground, and there they were, just meandering up from the trailhead! I thought they’d be on the grass eating, but they evidently decided to explore the woods, too! I led them home and gave them breakfast, and tightened the handle on the gate. It was really windy last night, so I though maybe the handle had swung loose, so I tightened that up. After breakfast, I saddled up Flash, and I was going to meet my new friends from Alabama and ride with them, but I missed them, so I ended up with the group ride, catching them just as they were heading out, I only just had enough time to get Lola in her orange vest and catch up with them. It was another lovely ride, a lot of variety of trail surfaces, but this was a group that really wanted to move out, so Flash got a good workout whenever we were on roads where they could stretch out. There was another dog with us, Waylon, and they got along fine, but at one point, one horse kicked at Lola because she got too close (she’s gotten over her fear of being in a pack of horses, too much so), so it was a good lesson. She didn’t get hurt, but she spent the rest of the ride paralleling us in the woods rather than being on the trail with us, so lesson learned! When we got back to camp, I called out Apollo’s name, and when he whinnied back, it came from the barn rather than the pen! Lo and behold, the gate handle was on the ground again, and upon further examination I found the ground clamp had come undone, so there was no current going through the fence, so that explained part of it. I fetched Apollo out of the barn (my neighbor put him away for me, thank you very much!), and I rinsed down Flash and put him away, then saddled up Apollo for the second ride of the day. After all, I came to ride, so I’m going to ride! I had mentioned to one of the guides that I kept seeing this sign for the waterfall and cave but hadn’t been there yet, so it was decided the afternoon ride would take us there. Another lovely ride, and the cave and the waterfall were beautiful, and Apollo had to work hard at keeping up with all the gaited horses, which was a good workout for him. Got back with him, rinsed him down and put him away, gave them some hay, put my tack away, emptied the back of the truck with the feed I bought yesterday, got that put away, cleaned up the manure in the paddock area for the first time in a couple of days, I’ve been so busy! Headed off to the dining hall for dinner, met up with my Alabama friends and got their contact info, something I should have done this morning, though from what I heard they had quite a rough ride, so I’m guessing I was better off on the group ride anyway. Tried my hand at a game of poker (the poker run kept getting postponed so we had it tonight), lost with a pair of twos, then headed back to camp to feed everyone and put the horses’ blankets on. Rain is coming in, and colder weather, highs only in the mid-50’s tomorrow, quite a plunge from the upper 70’s we’ve been having, going to have to wear my long underwear tomorrow! Anyway, even though it’s not even 8:00 yet, I’m going to take my shower, maybe watch an hour of TV while I have some Sleepytime tea, then head to bed again nice and early. I took Lola on the morning ride, not the afternoon ride, but I’m hoping it’s enough to keep her sleeping through the night. Heading off now, so good night, babe! Love you!

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020 – Second Ride at Circle E and Errands

Hi Babe,
Had a great night sleep, but still doesn’t seem like I’m entirely catching up. Maybe at my next stop I can actually take a whole day off! Had a nice breakfast, then saddled up Flash because I wanted to go on the longer morning ride today, and arrived at the meet point on time at 9:00. No one else showed up until almost 9:45, apparently everyone was talking at breakfast and got delayed. Most folks here all know each other, I’m the odd woman out, but that’s okay, I’m making friends. Once woman on the ride today has a winter home near Vero, and we had met her on the cattle drive. I remember getting her information, but never got around to calling her to ride. Maybe this year since I’m not so busy. Anyway, it was a fabulous ride, about eight and a half miles. Some of it was on gravel, but most was better footing, though there were a few stretches with a lot of rock. The round natural rocks don’t seem to bother Flash too much, it’s the rough-edged cut gravel that he hates, so he was mostly in good shape today. He got so beat up by the herd at the boarding place, he’s got cuts and scabs all over him, but they seem to be healing. Though it was only 8+ miles, we were out nearly four hours, these groups tend to do a lot of stopping and chatting, plus a stop for a munchie. I hadn’t brought anything, but one of the wranglers had plenty, so I got fed. We went through some very nice areas, typical Tennessee with lots of cliffs and crags and Indian caves and the occasional waterfall, and lots of fall wildflowers. Some of the trees are changing, but not too much yet. As soon as we got back I started calling around all the Tractor Supplies for horse feed, and practically no one carries the Perform or the Balancer anymore, but I did manage to find some in Tullahoma. I headed up there and bought enough to stock up, but hadn’t gotten my coupon for a discount until I got home. I knew I should have checked my email on my phone, I would have had it then! Anyway, now I’m set for awhile. Went to the Walmart in Winchester, filled up with fuel and shopped for some essentials. I didn’t bring Lola with me because the people that board her forgot to give me her leash, harness and vest back, they’re supposed to be sending it to me today but it hadn’t gotten there before I left. The package was sitting on my chair when I got back, and when I opened it, I discovered they had only sent the vest and the harness, not the leash! I have no idea why they would do that. Anyway, before dinner I did a few quick chores, then headed over to the dining hall for another nice meal. There was enough of a crowd over there (though still pretty small) that I decided to do my Snowy River for them, and most of them were very attentive, especially two little kids that sat right down front. After that they were doing karioke, so I headed back to camp to feed the horses. I’m feeling tired and am hoping to get to bed earlier tonight, so I’m getting this done early, and hope to get everything else done early, too. So good night, sweetie! Love you!