Sunday, June 4, 2017 – Calamities on the Road Home

Though I had the alarm set for 6:50, I actually woke up just after 6, so I got up and started getting ready to leave. I checked the radar and the rain was coming in earlier than we thought, so Hubby got up early, too, and we packed up and were on the road by 7:45, stopping to dump at the exit to the campground, and relieved no one was there ahead of us. I was worried that with literally hundreds of RVs in the campground there would be a line at the dump, but we were first, thank goodness! We headed out, once again stopping at the Wendys at the Pilot in Dickson to pick up breakfast, but just as I was pulling out of the truck stop into the driveway of a motel next door, which was the easiest way back on the road, my truck suddenly quit. It behaved like it was out of fuel (I had ¾ of a tank), and I couldn’t get it started again. The only thing we could think of was that it was the fuel filter, so Hubby ran up the road to O’Reilly’s, who happened to be open already (yeah) and had the part we needed, and was back pretty quick. We struggled through the process of replacing the filter, keeping our fingers crossed that that was the one and only problem, and sure enough, after some good cranking for about 30 seconds, the truck started up. We were back on the road again by 10:30, having lost nearly 2 hours, and the rain lurking nearer, in fact there were showers all around us. We made one more stop at a Tractor Supply off I-840, running into occasional showers along the way. I stopped under an underpass in order to keep my hay from getting soaked once, and started to do that again under another one, but for some reason it was actually more narrow under the underpass than on the road, and it was way too dangerous to stay there, so I pulled back out when I could. Unfortunately, when Hubby pulled out to follow me, he just clipped the wheel well of the horse trailer on the guardrail, and just bent the aluminum enough to turn it into the tire, which was just enough to brush against the tire, taking a chunk out of the sidewall and making it go flat. We had only traveled a short way from the underpass when we stopped to check on it, and sure enough, flat as a pancake. I threw the tarp over the hay to keep it from getting any wetter (it was still raining, but starting to taper off), and proceeded to get the trailer up on the Jiffy Jack, get out the brand new spare we had just bought last month and get the tire changed. We were back on the road again in about 15 or 20 minutes, having changed the tire and pulled out the wheel well so it wouldn’t scrape the new tire. From there, we were only about 45 minutes from home, the rain had stopped along our route (though more was coming in soon) and we finally made it home around 1:30, many hours past our scheduled arrival, but home, safe and sound, nevertheless. We covered the hay, put the horses out in the pasture, brought in the essentials we needed from the RV, took a shower and crashed for the rest of the day, exhausted from all the calamities we had encountered. As I had mentioned in my clinic on Friday, you need a Plan A, a Plan B, and sometimes even a Plan C, and even then, there are times when you just have to wing it. Still not sure why the fuel filter went bad, it had been changed in July last year, and we had only put 9000 miles on it, supposed to be good for 15K. So now we need a new wheel (the rim has been irreparably bent) before we can go on another trip, and Hubby thinks something else is wrong, as the wheel doesn’t seem to be running straight. Something else for him to look forward to doing after he gets his heart back in rhythm! Crashed the rest of the day and evening, to bed early!

Saturday, June 3, 2017 – Another Ride with Callie, Watched Other Clinics

As Callie was leaving today, and Hubby still didn’t feel up to it, I arranged to take her for another ride this morning, though I wanted to go early enough to get back for two other demonstrations that were planned, one on packing for back country trips, and another on the wild mustang program, so I was up early, and had the horses saddled and ready to go by around 8:30. Today we headed out on the yellow trail, which took us out along the southern side of the resort. I have to say, I was rather disappointed. It seemed that they once had really nice trails here, but for some unknown reason, they had decided to maintain their trails with a bulldozer, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the fastest and surest way to ruin a trail. So instead of winding our way through pleasant woods, we were following bulldozer tracks that had all but destroyed the trail. There were a lot of other, nicer trails weaving through the woods, but they were all unmarked and not on the map, so we didn’t dare take them. We still enjoyed ourselves, but the trails were rocky, wide and ugly, so it was only being on a horse that made it worthwhile. Callie enjoyed herself, though, and that was more the point than anything. She did much better today, even cantering up hills a couple of times, so she was obviously getting the hang of it. We did managed to get back by 10:30, and I made it over to the packing demonstration by 11:00. Turned out to be a very casual, almost unofficial packing demonstration, no mule or horse involved, instead using a barrel with a saddle on it. If it hadn’t been for a young lady named Mickie who was determined to master the art of packing, it would have been a really lame demonstration. It was mostly just answering her questions that made it interesting. I mean, how are you supposed to ask questions about something you don’t know anything about? I didn’t even know where to begin! Once that was finished, I went over to watch the mustang clinic, and even though the set up was a bit more professional, I didn’t find the demonstration particularly interesting. Didn’t really learn much about the program, didn’t really learn much about the clinician’s training philosophy, didn’t really learn much of anything except the names of the horses he had brought with him and where they were from. Sorry to say, it just wasn’t very interesting or informative, not quite sure what the point of it was. Sigh. I really wanted to learn more about it, but again, how is one supposed to know what questions to ask when one has no foundation to know what to ask? Guess I’m just a bit picky when it comes to watching presentations, as would be expected from someone who teaches people how to make presentations… Anyway, got back to camp around 2:30 and felt so tired I took a nap, then relaxed the rest of the day and evening, putting away as much stuff as I could. We’ve decided that since there is rain coming in tomorrow, that we’re going to leave very early in the morning and try to get home before the rain builds up too much.

Friday, June 2, 2017 – Clinic Day

Well, today was the day! I had worked diligently on putting together what I thought would be an informative clinic on Horse Camping Across America, Top Ten Things You Should Know When You Hit The Road, and at about 2:15 I went over to the pavilion and started to get set up. There didn’t seem to be a lot of publicity or communication going on, so I wasn’t sure what kind of crowd would turn up, and it did turn out to be small yet enthusiastic. I thought it went very well, managed to sell a few books, and chatted for quite a while after I finished. I had kept Hubby in the dark completely about what I was going to do, although I did let him see my outline, and he thought it was very well done (not that he’s the least bit biased :-). It served its purpose, though, letting me get it on its feet and see how it went, and it was well received, so mission accomplished! Spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging around, nothing else really remarkable happened today, though I did walk over to the pavilion once the music started for a few minutes, but didn’t find that particularly intriguing. There was probably only about 30-40 folks in the audience, if that many. Surprising considering the crowd that’s out in the campground, the place really got packed today! Hardly any room to turn around. Not my favorite kind of “camping,” actually, my least favorite, to be honest.

Thursday, June 1, 2017 – Busy Day at the Doctors

Got up early, stopped at Wendy’s at the Pilot in Dickson to pick up breakfast, then headed to our first of three doctor’s appointments today. Started out with a sonogram to check Hubby’s neck, he’s had a blockage in his artery, but it hasn’t changed in 10 years, and it didn’t change this time either, so we don’t have to come back again for another two years. We grabbed a quick nosh at a cute little restaurant next to the hospital, then headed over to Vanderbilt for another appointment where all went well, then finally to St. Thomas for a device check, where we learned Hubby has been in A-fib for 29 days! That coincided exactly to when he started feeling so poorly, but for some reason, his defibrillator alarm had been turned off, so we never knew! So now we’ve scheduled a procedure to shock his heart back into rhythm next week, which answers the question about whether we would go to a horse camp or home after finishing here, guess it’s home! As there was a back up on the freeway, we took some side roads, with a stop at the Walmart in Waverly for a few things, before finally getting back to camp quite late. Had just enough energy left to feed the horses, have a beer, and settle down for the evening.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 – Ride with Birthday Girl Callie

Woke up to a beautiful morning, fed the horses, and while I was waiting for them to finish their breakfast, played fetch with Lola as is our habit. After getting some amused looks from our neighbors across the road (Lola can be very entertaining to watch), I crossed the road for a chat and met, Max and Tracy and Callie, who's celebrating her 17th birthday today. We had a nice chat, and Callie took over throwing the ball to Lola for a while, until dirty looks from Apollo reminded me I had to take off his feed bag before he could eat his hay, so what are you standing over there for, Mom? As it turned out, Hubby didn't quite feel up to riding today, so I offered to take Callie along, since I didn't want to ride alone. She had never been on a horse in her life, though she had been planning on taking the ranch ride later this week, so it took a little extra instruction. After she helped me get the horses ready, we went through some basics, but I wasn't too worried, Clio is pretty much bomb-proof, at least usually. Of course, as we were walking past some corrals toward the trailhead, one of the horses kind of jumped towards us, and Clio stepped into a trot, then a bit sideways, not much, but just enough for a newby who forgot to hold onto the saddle horn as she had been instructed to lose her balance, and she did a slow motion fall onto the dirt and gravel road. She brushed herself off and immediately was ready to get back on, with just a scrape on her arm to show for it (more will come out later, I'm sure! 🙂 ). But she was actually glad it happened so early, it was the lesson she needed to learn how important balance is! We headed down the trail, around a field, then across the road to the REAL trails, which turned out to be a lot more challenging than I thought they would be, especially for a novice like Callie, but she had learned her lesson, and listened well to what I told her about going up and down hills, so we headed into the woods with confidence. The trails here are not very well marked, especially at the intersections, we got lost many times throughout the ride. I had made a GPS trail to follow, but there was one intersection (at least it looked like an intersection on the map) that we could never find, so we missed the trail we wanted several times. Our mistake actually turned out to be fortuitous, as it actually brought us past Loretta Lynn's actual residence, a beautiful, bucolic setting with a very modest house (for a star like Loretta!), guest house, barn, cows in the pasture, a really nice spot. Again, we couldn't find a trail marker, until we turned around and finally saw a sign across the road indicating a one-way horse trail. We headed down that, which followed along the river in the right direction, and finally came out at the end of the field where we had started. It was a great ride, beautiful country, though the trails were quite rocky (and naturally, one of Apollo's boot fell off and had to be re-installed), and even Clio's boot turned sideways at one point and needed to be fixed. There were some pretty good grades, which made it interesting, and Callie certainly learned a lot about balance today! No more falls, though, as she remembered to hang onto the horn! We were gone more about two hours, going just over 5 miles, just right for a determined novice, though I suggested she take some aspirin as a precaution tonight, as she was going to be sore! By now the hip where she landed hurt more than the arm scrape, as I suspected it would, but nevertheless, she was a trooper and was glad it happened as it did. She helped me rinse the horses down, and came over later to help me feed them as well, so I think she might be hooked! Hubby, bless his heart, had a cold beer waiting for me in our lounge chairs when I finished, and we sat and chatted with Cali for a while, until it was time for dinner when we all went our separate ways. She came back again, though, when it was time to feed the horses, and helped me with that as well. It's so refreshing to meet a millennial who is grateful and appreciative, and not afraid of work! Nice job, Mother Tracy!

Monday, May 29, 2017 – Travel Day to Loretta Lynn Ranch, Hurricane Mills, TN

After several weeks at home completing doctor's appointments, picking up furniture and alfalfa and doing other odds and ends, we were back on the road today, heading for the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills. This place is an attraction all by itself! Camping, tubing, kayaking, riding, a little Western town to visit, restaurant, concert venue, gift shop, you name it, this is a country paradise! The trip, thankfully, was uneventful, and we were eternally grateful, as Hubby has only just started to feel better. It's been a long recovery for him, but with the help of a new special shot from his nephrologist, he should continue to improve in coming weeks, fingers crossed! Anyway, we made it safe and sound, got set up in a large clearing in Area 2 where the Legacy Rendezvous 2017 is being held, got the horses high-lined between a couple of trees across the road, and settled in for the evening. I had a brief conversations with one of our neighbors, a man who railed about the brand new RV he had, but was falling apart (he was going to take it back to Oklahoma, it was that bad!) Sat outside and enjoyed a cold beer, met Randy the Wrangler who was running an upcoming trail ride, and generally soaked in the atmosphere. Eventually it was time for dinner for all, and then we settled down for the evening.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 – Travel Home

Sorry to say we never got another ride in at Owl Creek, much as I would have like to, but Hubby started to develop a serious breathing problem on Monday last week and it never improved, so we slowly packed up last night and headed home today. Didn’t even stop to shop as we usually would, he just wasn’t up to it, but we still had plenty of groceries to get us through the next few days, and we have a doctor’s appointment on Friday, so we can shop then, and hopefully find out what’s going on with him. An uneventful drive home, thank goodness, and the house was even in pretty good shape when we got here, no evidence of the meeces taking over like they usually do, guess our pest control guy is doing the job well. Got home around noon, so took a slow afternoon to bring in what we needed. Glad to be home, but still not sure if we’re going to hit the road again this summer (which we would like to do) or stay home and get some work done here. If Hubby’s health improves, though, I definitely think it will be a summer on the road!

Friday, May 5, 2017 – Rainy Day

Rain came in overnight again, and filled all my buckets once more, and the temperatures dropped dramatically. I had changed the fence around the horses’ area again yesterday, I’m trying to do a little pasture management, but with all this rain, the grass around us is starting to get a little sad looking. It’s made a bit worse by the racing around and leaping and jumping Apollo has been doing the last couple of mornings, I think he’s just trying to keep warm during the cold mornings we’ve been having! Even through they’ve had rain sheets on, it’s been still a bit chilly with a cold breeze. Anyway, it was the kind of day where you just want to stay inside and keep warm (we even had the furnace on a good part of the day!), so that’s what we did. In the late afternoon, we had visitors, Meredith and Steve, who live nearby, and read on my Facebook page that we were here at Owl Creek, and Meredith insisted Steve come out with her to meet us, and because she wanted to buy a copy of our book. We had a lovely visit! He’s a nearly retired rocket scientist, so he and Hubby had a nice chat as well. It’s great to hear from fans, and to make new friends along the way in our travels, and I really appreciated the effort they made to come and visit! After feeding the horses and changing them into their winter blankets, we settled down for another quiet evening, though we had a number of other campers come in. We even had a couple families that were here last week, and the kids came over to ask if Lola could come out and play! Of course we said yes, and off they went with tennis ball and chucker, which kept her busy until dinnertime. It started to clear up in the evening, so tomorrow looks like it’s going to be a lovely day!

Thursday, May 4, 2017 – Shopping Day

Well, not surprisingly, Hubby overdid it a little yesterday, and the pain in his shoulder was back, so he took the day to relax while I drove into nearby Moulton to pick up groceries and gas for our extended stay here. The original plan had been to leave yesterday, but with cold rainy weather at home, we decided to stay here a few more days, as it is generally going to be 8-10 degrees warmer down here, and less rain over the weekend. That’s what we love most about this life of freedom, to just be able to change plans at any given moment! It took me most of the afternoon, then on the way back I was delayed on a forest road by emergency vehicles, someone’s truck caught fire and they had to come out and put it out. They were almost finished when I reached them, so I only had to wait a few minutes before being allowed to carry on. Got back to camp, and we settled down for the rest of the day, with Hubby improving as the day went on.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 – Another Ride Day from Owl Creek Horse Camp

Hubby woke up late, but feeling better this morning, and decided he was up for a ride, so after breakfast we saddled up the horses and headed back out on the orange trail, this time going in the counterclockwise direction in order to learn where we missed the trail last time when we took the wrong trail out of the picnic area by the bridge. The weather was perfect, the trail (except for the occasional patch of unnecessary gravel) was in good shape, though there was one large tree that had recently come down that we had to circumvent. This is really a beautiful area, single track trails that weave around in the forest, with some moderate grades, lots of small creeks, just a really pretty area. There is one section where there had been a fire that wasn't too pretty, and where they also seemed to have put more gravel down, so that was the only unenjoyable part of the trip, but fortunately that was short-lived. Unfortunately, one of my Cavallo boots kept coming off, and eventually the strap holder completely broke off the boot, making it only hanging on by the velcro ont the body of the boot, and that started slipping off, so I eventually just had to take the boots off. I hate to say it, but I've always been a fan of Cavallo's, but not so much lately. I don't know if they've stretched, or if the fit just isn't right anymore for some reason, but I've the boots have been falling off pretty regularly lately, and I'm getting a bit tired of it. Will have to look at my other options. I had originally bought Size 2 in the new Cavallo Treks for Apollo (because my previous regular Cavallos, the one with the double straps, were 2s), but they were too small and I had to return them for a 3. The 3's seemed to be a bit big, but unfortunately, last I looked, they didn't make half sizes, so it was the best fit I could manage at the time. When I get a chance, I'm going to trip Apollo's feet really well and try to fit on Hubby's 2's just to see if it's possible, otherwise I'm going to have to look for an alternate brand. Anyway, today we packed a lunch and reached the picnic area in due course, and stopped for lunch by the picnic area next to the bridge, enjoying a nice relaxing 15 minute break. Hubby was starting to feel a little bit pained in his shoulder, but he was determined to carry on, so that's what we did. It was another great ride, though, we really enjoyed it, even though Hubby really had to brave the pain by the time we arrived back in camp. It started to cloud up as the day went on, with rain in the forecast again, so we were so happy we were able to get a ride in before that happens! Another fabulous day on the trail!