Friday, April 6, 2018 – First Day of Hoosier Horse Fair

Lola woke me up at 4:00 in the morning scratching at the door, which she never does unless she's desperate, so I had to get up, dressed and take her for a walk out in the freezing cold. Naturally, I couldn't get to sleep again after that, so I tossed and turned until the alarm went off. Got Hubby up and moved to the dialysis center again, got him hooked up to his dialysis machine, and still managed to make it back to the fairgrounds before it opened at 8:00 a.m. It was fairly slow for the first few hours, as expected, and I had to slip out just before 10 to pick up Hubby (and take him off the machine with supervision), back before 10:45, just as the crowds started coming in. I did a presentation at 2:00, sold a few books throughout the day, talked to a lot of folks, and generally had a good day, though tiring. The building we're in is the coldest of them all, people keep opening and closing the overhead doors, which empties every bit of heat out in just a few seconds. Wrapped up in parkas and wool hats we did our best to stay warm, but I still had a sore throat by the end of the day. Once we closed up when the crowds were gone, and headed back to the trailer, only to find that Lola had had several bouts of diarrhea during the day, so I had an hour of cleanup to do before we could sit down and eat the salads we bought at the fair. A short evening, as we were both exhausted, hoping for a great night sleep, at last!

Thursday, April 5, 2018 – Busy Day Setting Up for Hoosier Horse Fair

Up bright and early (or should I say I dark and early, pre-dawn!) to get Hubby over to our prearranged appointment at the local Dialysis Center, where the nurses were absolutely fabulous. When they learned Hubby just had to have an emergency catheter put in because his arm graft had clotted, and that I have never really worked with that type of fixture before, they walked me through to confirm the information I learned in the crash course our own nurse gave me on Monday, and offered to let me do it myself , tomorrow, with supervision just to make sure I've got the process down right. After we finished there, we headed back to the fairgrounds, had some breakfast in the trailer, then headed over to the South building, got unloaded, and got our booth set up in short order, did a little running around for some last minute items, and had a fairly relaxing evening, though the temps were dropping fast, with snow predicted for tomorrow night! I certainly hadn't expected that in Indianapolis in April! But there you go. Good thing we brought our parkas with us!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 – Travel to Indiana State Fairgrounds

Px to come!

After an extremely stormy night, where once again I wasn't able to sleep for hours, we did let ourselves sleep a little later once the weather and the dogs settled down. Lola kept trying to climb up the stairs to the bed, and we kept having to push her off and sometimes swat her with a fly swatter until she finally gave up and settled onto her huge warm doggy bed. We let ourselves stay in bed a little extra just to make up for the tough night, plus we didn't need to arrive too early as the event doesn't even start until Friday and load-in isn't until tomorrow. We just wanted to get there a day ahead of schedule because we had an appointment for Hubby's dialysis early tomorrow morning. Stopped for breakfast along the way at a Denny's, conveniently located next to a Speedway where we filled up with fuel as well. Arrived at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, where the Hoosier Horse Fair is being held this weekend, right at 2:00, was quickly met by organizers Connie and Donnie Cressman, who graciously walked us through the procedure of getting us signed in, getting Apollo in an oval pen to stretch his legs, loaded in our booth set to a stall for temporary storage, led us to the camping area of the parking lot, filled up with water, got signed in with security, trimmed Apollo's two front hooves (which haven't been touched in months, and looked it!), got him settled into his stall and fed, took the dogs for a walk, got them fed, and finally settled us down for a drink and dinner of nachos, all while we watched intermittent flakes of snow swirl around in a frigid wind. Now that the cold front has gone through, we went from nearly 80 to below freezing, wouldn't you know! Finally climbed into bed nice and early, watched a few programs on Netflix, which was working great here in the big city, and hoped to get to sleep quickly tonight!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018-Back on the Road Again!!!

After almost a year at home, remodeling the house, dealing with Hubby's health issues, saying good-bye to little Billy, our poor blind little dog that traveled with us to every state, having to put down Hubby's mare Clio (my Apollo's mama) in February, acquiring a new puppy rescued from a nearby ledge where she was trapped (a Blue tick coon dog we named Dottie, partly because she has dotted ticking all over her belly, and also because the country music legend Dottie West was from a nearby town, and we thought a Tennessee state dog should have a country music name!) Hubby has had to start kidney dialysis in December, and then they trained me up to be able to do it at home, so now we have a machine that we can carry with us on the road. Since Hubby no longer feels confident driving and towing the little horse trailer while I tow the big Open Range, we've had to change our travel configuration to a living quarters horse trailer, the first one we've ever had! We had to find one with a cupboard big enough for the dialysis machine, which was harder than you'd think, and it had to be affordable so we didn't have to sell our Open Range beforehand, and we managed to find a used American Spirit that fit the bill! It's a three horse (though when we bought it we had two horses, and hopefully, when Hubby is feeling well enough again, we'll get back to two horses), with enough space to have a full bath and dining table which drops down into the perfect dialysis bed, right next to the big cupboard where the machine will live. It's about the same 36' length as the Open Range, but of course it's a gooseneck instead of a bumper pull, and half of it is dedicated to the horses' space, so it's definitely going to take some getting used to this much smaller space! After a hectic couple of weeks of getting everything all loaded (and compounded by the fact that Hubby's dialysis graft clotted on Sunday, for the second time in the past three weeks, requiring a day long trip to Vanderbilt so they could put in a temporary catheter in his neck until we come back from our trip and they can reschedule surgery to completely remove and reconfigure the graft so that it won't clog up again... Whew!), I was exhausted by the end of the night last night, too tired to sleep, actually, even though it was midnight. I tossed and turned, getting only about 4 hours or so of sleep before running around for another two hours packing all the rest of the stuff. Frankly, it's easier to just stay on the road than to keep packing and unpacking! Finally managed to get it all done and was out the gate by about 9:20, halfway between my desired departure time (9:00) and my drop dead departure time (9:30). It was unseasonably warm traveling today, and we were supposed to get some rain along the way, but didn't as we were driving. Just after we arrived at our overnight stop at Deam Lake State Recreation Area in Indiana, when I was just getting ready to get Apollo out of the trailer and walk him up to the barn, it started to sprinkle. I got him to the barn, then walked back down for hay and feed, and about the time I reached the barn again, there was a tremendous downpour. It was actually a silver lining though, because they hadn't turned the water on here yet, and the spigots by the barn didn't work, which meant I would have had to carry water all the way from the trailer, up a hill to the barn. Instead, I just put the bucket under the eaves of the roof, and the bucket was full in just a few minutes! Gotta make the best of things, no matter what! It started to slack off at last, and I headed back down to the trailer, only to get drenched again in a second downpour. Sigh. Half an hour later the sun was coming out, and I took the dogs for a walk down to the lake, which is right by the campground, and Lola went swimming after the ball while Dottie did her best to explore while on a very long leash. I've been so busy with Hubby I haven't had time to train her in the niceties of dog responsibilities, like coming when she's called, and because she's a hound, she's prone not to listen too well anyway, but I'm hoping to have more time once things settle down a bit, to get her a little more familiar with the custom. Anyway, we had a quick dinner and settled down early, determined to get a good night sleep to make up for the many hours I've missed lately. Lousy cell phone signal here, so Netflix wasn't an option, at least not after 8:00, when I'm convinced Verizon reduces their bandwidth or something, slowing it down from 4G to 1x, not enough for digital video. Trying to live without dragging the satellite dish around this trip, see how it goes. This whole trip is an experiment to see if we can still travel while dialyzing, though I'm the only one that will be going riding for a while, at least until Hubby can prove to me he's strong enough to get on a horse. But that's a discussion for another day. Well, I've gone on long enough for one post, but there was so much to catch up on!

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.