Tuesday, January 11, 2022 – Short Ride on Apollo, Then OTL Work

Hi Babe,
A great night sleep and a morning full of computer work, then I saddled up Apollo for a long overdue ride. I had planned to take the last long trail I could reach out here, but decided that a shorter ride was better, because he’s such a slug these days, so I headed through a gate that was supposed to be a “trail” but was nothing more than an access to the multitude of cow pastures out here. We followed it about as far as we could, and yes, we got to go through a stretch of cows and the many babies, but it was really a boring ride. Might have been more interesting if I actually had a job to do out here, but just walking through a cow pasture isn’t much of a ride. When we got toward the end, though, it seemed as if Apollo got the scent of something more alarming, maybe a panther? We are kind of in panther country out here. In any event, he kept stopping and shying and it was getting rather annoying, so rather than go through another field that was full of cows, I decided to head back. Well, Apollo took that as a sign to bonkers on me, and he took off at a gallop like he hasn’t done in years! It caught me by surprise, and I couldn’t get him to stop, so I just grabbed the horn and hung on, figuring he’s wear himself out before long. You know I’ve never trusted his gallop, since he always tends to make sudden sideways moves and I usually end up on the ground, and these days, that seems a lot farther than it used to be! Well, once I got myself in control, I was able to finallly get him to slow down as we approached, but I was pretty nervous for a minute there! He was still a bit antsy, but at least he behaved himself the rest of the way home. It was only about an hour, but it was enough. This place is really boring, I can’t wait to get back on some real trails. I think it’s going to be a LONG week here, which is an unusual feeling for me, most of the time it goes by so fast! So now there’s only one more trail that I can take, and I’ll do that on Flash, then I’m going to let them rest until we get to Dupuis next week, where I expect to run them both ragged, hopefully. Flash is getting restless, he ran around the paddock like a mad horse when we got back, which I’m glad about because he’s been a bit sluggish lately, too. The rest of the afternoon was mostly me doing a bunch of messaging to folks who had indicated an interest in the ride but who weren’t on my mailing list, hopefully that will stir some more interest. Pretty boring day, actually. Then I watched a very funny short series on Prime called Jean-Claude Van Johnson, which literally made me laugh out loud more than I can remember any series doing in a VERY long time! The self-effacing and “inside the entertainment industry” pokes at himself were hysterical, almost melodramatic. I wish there were a lot more episodes, it was very clever! So now I’m ready for shower and bed, and a bit more reading. Good night, my darling! Love you!

Monday, January 10, 2022 – More Relaxed Day

Hi Babe,
Slept nice and late this morning, did my basic chores, then decided to take a drive over to Okaloacoochee State Forest, which is on the west side of Dinner Island Ranch. I wanted to see what the horse camp looked like over there, to see if I could fit in it okay, and what the trails are like. Half considering moving over there, since riding is so limited here because of all the cattle guards with no bypass gate. I went down a long but good limestone road to what’s called Hunt Camp #2, where they had recently built four nice big stalls. There are only four official sites, but other than one small tree on Site 4, they’re all wide open, so no real shade. The trails look nice, grassy and well-mowed, not a lot of them, but more than where I am now. The only water is a hand pump, though water came out immediately when I pumped it, so that’s a drawback. I had spoken to a man name John the other day and he said he could arrange for me to fill up my tank at the ranger station, and I actually ran into him doing some work nearby, they were putting in a few more sites just up the road. A very nice young guy. He even appreciated my suggestion about getting a solar pump on a hydrant, said he’d bring it up at their next meeting. Seems they’re doing their best to upgrade the place. Anyway, I don’t think I’ll bother moving this time, but would be a good place to try next time I’m in the area. Got back to camp and spent most of the afternoon on the computer. It was very humid today, supposed to rain but never did, but ten degrees cooler tomorrow, so I think I’ll take Apollo for a ride, there’s one trail I think I can get to for a shorter ride, might as well make the most of it. Otherwise, a relatively lazy day, which felt needed after the last few busy days. Settled down as usual, about to head for the shower and bed. Good night, sweetheart! Love you!

Sunday, January 9, 2022 – Busy Puttering Day

Hi Sweetie!
Fortunately, I woke up still in the mood to putter today, so I got busy right after breakfast with all kinds of little odd jobs that needed doing. I started with patching the sheets that Lola ripped, I had to get the sewing box out of the attic and used patches that are probably from the 60’s, but they still worked! I put up a hook for a tie-back for the curtain in the bedroom, put a better hook in the shower caddy, hung up some pictures that I’ve been meaning to do for ages (like two from Goethe 2020!), fixed the trailer jack again, Pistol’s friend actually stripped the bolt on it the other day, so I had to put a washer in it to fill the gap, hopefully that will solve the problem of intermittent power and occasional sparks! I changed the batteries in the recliner chair power, not convinced two 9Vs are enough, they’re struggling, and probably won’t last long. Put epoxy on the handle of the sliding window in the living room, that had come off again awhile back, though the one in the kitchen seems to be okay from my last repair. Sewed a velcro tie back onto a solar cable, just a bunch of little stuff that needed doing. Felt like it was a pretty productive day! Lola spent the day sleeping in the gravity chairs outside, it was a beautiful day. It would have been too hot out in the field normally, but it was overcast and windy all day, so the temp was perfect. A cool front is coming through tomorrow, so it’s going to be a gorgeous week. Just wish I had better trails to take advantage of it! Finished off the afternoon with a lovely bacon-wrapped filet, a couple of hours of TV and now I’m ready for shower and bed. Good night, my darling! Love you!

Saturday, January 8, 2022 – Busy Computer Day

Hi Darlin’,
Woke up refreshed and ready to tackle a whole lot of puttering jobs today, but then when I got on the computer to send out an email for the OTL first, I realized I had more problems with my mailing list than I thought, so I spent the day sorting that out, just finishing up at 9:00 pm! Got a couple of more registrations and another volunteer today, so it was productive even if it wasn’t what I started out the day planning to do. Spent the whole day in my chair working, except one short trip over to the hunt check station to fill up my tank with water for the horses. I drained as much as I could out of tank into the trailer before that, since that was more potable water, the stuff here definitely has that Florida well-water smell to it. It would have been very warm today, but there was a lovely breeze that kept it down a bit. Sorry that the horses are out in full sun, with only one tiny scrawny tree that doesn’t help much, but at least they have a lot of room to roam around now. Forgot to take pictures of the new site, I need to remember to do that tomorrow. Not really much else to report today, just that the mailing list is now as accurate as I can make it, I did get a mailing out, plus some others to old addresses that were messed up, so hopefully that will help get more sign-ups, though frankly, I’m quite pleased that we’re this far along with still more than a month to go. Judging by what I heard at the meeting last night, I think we’re going to have a LOT more people than they may be ready for, but we’ll just have to rise to the challenge! Looking forward to getting to Dupuis at getting the ball rolling. Anyway, I’ll soon be done with my Sleepytime tea and my French lesson, and off to shower and bed! Speaking of, Miss Lola somehow, while I was gone yesterday, managed to move the bar stool I put in front of the bedroom steps, got around the wastebasket I had ON the steps, pulled the partition apart and crawled in. If that wasn’t bad enough, she ruffled up the bed so hard she actually ripped my sheets! And they weren’t that old, I think I just bought them last year, so they were certainly not threadbare. Needless to say, she was in the doghouse last night, and now I’ve got sheets to repair or replace, which WAS on my putter list until I got on the computer. Maybe tomorrow! Good night, babe! Love you!

Friday, January 7, 2022 – Second Anniversary of Remembrance, Lunch with Brothers

Hi Sweetie,
Hard to believe another year without you has flown by! I had a super busy, so I haven’t had as much time for remembrance as I would have liked, but maybe tomorrow, I have no real plans. Got up at the crack of dawn and started packing up, since the new resident of this site showed up yesterday, and managed to get everything packed moved and unpacked again in less than two hours. That included setting up a whole new, much bigger paddock for the horses, with lots of fresh grass to munch on. They’re pretty much ignoring the crappy coastal I bought at the nursery in Naples. I had to take two runs at getting in the driveway in this new field camping area, big ditches on either side of the entrance, almost didn’t make it, but finally managed it. Changed my clothes and headed out to Okeechobee, where I filled up three propane tanks and got a bag of horse feed, then stopped at the feed store for six bales of hay, somewhat better quality than I have, but not much. We’ll see how they like that. Finally arrived at Indianwood Country Club where we all agreed to meet for lunch, and amazingly, brother Jeff was the first to arrive! We went in and got a table at the Outpost Grille, a nice little place overlooking the golf course. Brother Glenn and wife Dena arrived shortly afterward, and we had a very nice lunch, Mahi-Mahi sandwich for me! Not a bad reunion, probably won’t see Glenn again for awhile, though, I’m not making that nearly four hour round trip just for a meal, and he’ll be gone by the time I get closer. Stopped at Walmart for fuel and a few groceries, and got back to camp just before the sun went down, long day today! Lola made friends with big chocolate lab named Riley a few sites away, they romped for a bit. Then my new friend from Rochester came by and we chatted for a couple of hours, much in common! Finally settled down to do a little OTL work, got another rider signed up today. Had my Sleeptime tea tonight, I’ve been missing that, now I’m headed for shower and bed, though I still have a French lesson to do. I love you, my darling, and I miss you, but all my thoughts of you bring smiles to my face, not tears to my eyes, which I know you appreciate. I miss your off-the-wall take on things, I miss hearing about your vivid dreams, I miss the other half of this conversation we started in 1986, I miss you washing dished for me (sorry, couldn’t help myself on that one!), I miss your hugs and kisses, of course. Carry on with your exploration of the undiscovered country, I’ll be along before you know it! Love you!

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!

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 – Travel Day to Dinner Island Ranch

 

Hey Babe!
Woke up just before 8;00, skipped breakfast, got loaded up and was on my way out before 9:00. A very straightforward trip on back roads for just over an hour, arriving at Dinner Island Ranch safe and sound. There are two campgrounds here, one is in a big field, the other is tucked away in what they call a “hammock”, which is an area full of trees, lots of live oaks and palms. I scouted around and found one spot in the hammock that would fit me, and I managed to back up into it and get settled in pretty quickly. After getting the horses out into the portable paddock I put up, and got everything else out, I took a short walk over to a kiosk just to see what it said, and lo and behold! It said I needed a reservation! I swear, I looked on the website and all it said was no day permits were necessary, and when I spoke to a ranger a few weeks ago, I got the impression it was first come, first served! Oh, dear. So I got online, and after more copious research, did, in fact, find the reservation page, and discovered, much to my dismay, that the site I’m in is supposedly reserved already, though there was no one here when I got here, and it’s reserved for over two weeks, which I didn’t think was allowed anyway. So I spent the afternoon on tenterhooks wondering if someone was going to show up and kick me out. I was hoping for a no show, or maybe someone reasonable who would be willing to swap sites with me (since I’ll have to get a permit for another site here), and fortunately, nobody did show up today. I called the ranger station and left a message about my mistake, but no one called me back. I was holding my breath for a minute when someone showed up in the dark around 7:30, but they went into another site, so maybe I’ll get lucky. Anyway, I spent the afternoon relaxing a bit (other than the tenterhooks, of course!), doing a little OTL work and some reading before settling down for the evening. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of trails here, just a bunch of spurs off a main driving road, but Flash and I will check it out tomorrow. Meanwhile, time for shower and bed! Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022 – Frustrating Day On So Many Levels!

Hi Sweetie,
Well, several things happened to get me upset today, even though I managed to sleep late. Last night after 10:00 some guy in an RV, without horses, tried to park right next to me. I went out and asked him when his horses were coming and he said he didn’t have any, so I mentioned the fact that the sign said Horse Trailer Parking. He said the Forest service guys just told him to park anywhere. Guess the signs meant nothing to him. Not really my place, but it is so frustrating! I mean, this guy can park ANYWHERE, with plenty of space elsewhere in this campground, not to mention the dozens of campgrounds around the area, but he wants to take up on the of maybe eight horse camping sites here at this campground. The nearest other horse camp is more than fifty miles away, but we’re supposed to be okay with someone taking up ONE of the EIGHT campsites within fifty miles that are designated for us. REALLY? Well, no matter, I’m leaving tomorrow anyway. Then I did a search to see where the book package that I sent last week was, and whether it had made it to Wisconsin, the according to the USPS tracking site, they never got it! So unless it suddenly shows up (which I doubt, since it’s been since last Tuesday), then I can only assume it was stolen out of the box it was put in (not by me, I never would have left it in a regular mailbox of a stranger on a busy road, but that’s just me!), or the post office has lost it, which doesn’t seem likely. Anyway, I drove over there to see what might have happened, and the box was full of incoming mail, but no sign of my package. Who knows what happened to it. I’ll wait a couple more days to see if it surfaces, but it looks like I might have to replace it, so now I’m out what little profit I make on these books, plus I’ll have to send another one. Grrr! I should have just done it myself, and put it in a post office box like it should have been in the first place. Oh, well, water under the bridge. I ended up running into a nursery for some hay, figured while I was out I might as well make it worthwhile, and picked up four bales of crappy coastal, which is all they had. Frustrating! Got back, put the hay away, washed the truck because the road here is so dusty and the truck looked truly terrible, though it by the time I get out of here tomorrow it probably will be just as bad, got the trailer hooked up and put most of my stuff away in anticipation of my departure tomorrow. Apollo was back to his old tricks, intentionally knocking over his water, I had to fill his bucket up three times! And I’m not talking little bucket, he’s knocking over the whole 15 gallons, silly boy! Guess he’s bored. I had been hoping to take a quick ride with him today, but too many things got in the way, starting with a load of laundry this morning. I filled up the truck tank and the RV, though I don’t usually like to travel with those full, water is going to be more difficult at the next place, so I’m doing what I can to prepare. Plus it’s only about 50 miles, so I figure it won’t hurt anything. Anyway, the evening is over, time for shower and bed! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Monday, January 3, 2022 – Trail Finisher Ride at Picayune

Hi Darlin’,
Had a good night sleep, did quite a bit of work on the OTL today, then saddled up Flash so we could finish off the few official trails I missed. I also took a lesser “official” trail, a single track that leads right out of the campground, and which I thought was a hiking trail, but there was no sign prohibiting horses, and there was certainly a lot of indications that horses were regulars on it! So I tried that out today, and that was very nice. A bit tight in a few places between the Areca palms, but MUCH better because it paralleled the limestone road, so we cut a big section of that out, which was great! Someone hung a little horse ornament on it, too, so that confirmed for me that was the way to go! Another nice section, and it suprised me, was a long straightaway that on the map I interpreted to be another stone road, but turned out to be a trail right through a cypress swamp, but with all the dry weather, most of the trail was pretty dry as well, so it was lovely! Flash and I did a nice run through there, although it was beside a barb-wire fence. Anyway, it was a good ride, exactly fourteen miles, and that finished off the official trails, like I wanted to do. There are actually a lot of other non-motorized vehicle tracks that would make trails if they wanted to develop more here, and there’s a sign on the paddocks that the forest service is looking for input for an equestrian plan, so I may get in touch with them to see what they have in mind. Meanwhile, I settled down for the evening, the usual, and will soon be heading for my shower and bed! Good night, babe! Love you!

Sunday, January 2, 2022 – Breakfast with Friends, Shopping, Lazy Afternoon

Hey Babe,
A good night sleep, an early morning wake up, a lovely breakfast with Jane and Bob, then a stop at Rural King to pick up four bags of horse feed that I ordered online a few days ago. Odd, that, because I had called them about Nutrena Perform and the guy sounded like they never carry it, or at least he hadn’t seen any in a long time, but when I went into the store, there was a stack of at least eight bags there. Don’t you love it when that happens? Grrr! Got two bags of Perform and two bags of Balance, but they were out of Senior, but I still have plenty of that left, no worries. Then a trip to Walmart for a few things, back to camp in no time. Spent the afternoon mostly working on OTL stuff, had dinner early, watched some episodes of Expanse, so overall, a relatively quiet day, which feels good for a change. Heading to shower and bed before long! Good night, sweetie! Love you!