Tuesday, May 2, 2017 – The Best Laid Plans…

Well, Hubby was not feeling any better this morning, so he stayed in bed most of the day, while I spent the day working on a number of things on my computer, including the outline for the clinic on horse camping I’ll be facilitating next month. So a slow and uneventful day!

Monday, May 1, 2017 – Laundry Day

Well, the plan today was to go riding, but it was quite windy and cool, and Hubby woke up not feeling very well this morning (always happens whenever we go into a crowd like the one on Saturday!), so we decided to hold off until he felt better, so that means it became laundry day! With all the dry air after yesterday’s rain, and the wind, I knew it would take no time at all to dry clothes, so I spent the day washing and hanging out laundry. I also moved the horses’ fence around to a new area, since with all the rain it was starting to look a little sad. There’s lots of weeds around that they don’t seem to like much, and not a lot of grass in between, even though it looks really green, but they’re managing to do a little mowing and lots of fertilizing, of course! Hubby spent the day relaxing, so hopefully he’ll feel better tomorrow, weather-wise it’s suppose to be a beautiful day!

Sunday, April 30, 2017 – Relaxing, Rainy Sunday

After doing our usual morning chores and having our usual Sunday blueberry pancakes, we settled down for a rainy afternoon of movies and relaxation.

Saturday, April 29, 2017 – Went to a Benefit Auction

Had a great night sleep last night (though Hubby’s wasn’t as great for some reason, unusual for him), then a leisurely breakfast, until finally, after Hubby’s soccer game that he likes to watch on Saturdays, we headed out to the benefit event. Many of our camp neighbors had left already, which was unusual on a Saturday, but this seems to be a big day riding area, as a lot of trailers came in during the morning as well. Anyway, we found the benefit with no problem. We spent the first half hour or so just looking at the hundreds of items they had to auction off, including a lot of saddles and horse stuff. If I was looking for a saddle, this would have been the place! Brand new English saddles were going for $40, a number of cordura type western saddles for nearly the same. At the end of the auction, they even sold off a highly ornamented Circle Y saddle for $350! I was tempted to bid on it, just because it was a Circle Y saddle (they usually go for upwards of 2K), but I just didn’t want to buy more stuff we’d have to get rid of again later, we’re trying to pare down to the minimum as it is. We did buy a few things we needed, at rock bottom prices, so we didn’t mind the $10 pp cover charge we paid when we first got there. Besides, it was a benefit, after all! They were also serving lunch, but we only took a bottle of water, a couple pieces of cake, and when we were leaving (MUCH later than we had anticipated) a plateful of delicious smoked pork for the road. It was nearly 6:30 when we got back to camp, I was starting to get worried because we had been away so long, but everything was perfectly fine when we got back. Made dinner fast, while Hubby helped our neighbor borrow our compressor to pump up the air bag suspension in her RV, which apparently had leaked out, even though they had just been installed last week. Finally settled down for a nice quiet rest of the evening.

Friday, April 28, 2017 – Fabulous First Ride Day at Owl Creek, AL-Bankhead NF

Woke up feeling very refreshed after a great night sleep, thank goodness! Waved good-bye to our neighbors as they drove off this morning, and shortly afterward, several day riders came in with their trailers. Guessing it's going to be busy this weekend! Anyway, after breakfast, we saddled up the horses, who seemed quite ready to take a ride, and headed out on the orange trail, an 11 mile loop, which we took in the clockwise direction. What a beautiful trail! Other than some patches where someone got a little carried away with putting large, sharp-edged gravel down, this was spectacular, a real gem of a trail! Entirely forested (though some areas had obviously experienced a burn, and others had been cut for timber a while back), most of it was near-virgin forest, with lots of rock outcroppings and caves and little streams and hills, single-track all the way, exactly the kind of trail we like the best! About 3 miles out there was a picnic area with several highline strings set up, and we stopped for a quick break there. Then halfway around there is a bridge over a nice little stream to another short loop (which also leads to another long 10+ mile loop) and next to the bridge, down a short trail, there is another picnic area that was even larger. What a lovely spot for lunch! We hadn't brought any this time, but we certainly will next time! After taking another break there, we headed out along the stream, but when the trail looked like it actually crossed it and headed away from the trail we came in on, I began to think we should have gone back up the short trail to the point where we started, so I headed uphill until I hit what I thought was the main trail. I started following flags, which seemed to be a newer trail, but that started heading us in the wrong direction. Eventually we found a trail that headed us back north again, and after a while, we were back on the orange trail. Nice to know there are more trails than just the one loop! That will require some more exploration! We saw several deer, and heard and saw lots of birds, which was a nice change. The last few rides, Hubby had been having problems with his legs, not being able to get them far enough out front, and his circulation (which isn't great anyway) was making his legs hurt, but he did a little modification on his saddle before this ride, and it made all the difference. He did the entire 11 miles and didn't have any pain at all! So I'm looking forward to longer rides, as we had been making them shorter for his benefit, but if he can handle it, we're going to do it! We got back to find one new camper parked near us, and within an hour several more had joined us. Also, we had met a couple on the trail toward the end of the ride who invited us to a charity lunch and auction the next day for a neighbor with breast cancer, and Hubby sounded enthusiastic, so we said we'd come along. I invited them to stop off at the camp if they were coming back in that direction, and sure enough, they did! We had a nice chat with them, as well as our other neighbors (one even brought a Weed-Eater to cut down the grass around their camper, which was quite long, with lots of yellow flowers in it, but a little prickly) and offered to whack our yard as well! So we've got a nice little weekend neighborhood going here. I love the South! Eventually we managed to get inside for dinner and a nice evening. What a great ride, a great day!

Thursday, April 27, 2017 – Run Out to Post Office, Visit with Neighbors

Well, the rain started coming in during the middle of the night, but no where near as bad as we thought. The radar showed a really heavy squall line before we went to bed, so we decided to put the horses in the trailer overnight, just to be on the safe side from lightning, but as it turned out, it wasn’t that bad, mostly just rain, not much wind, but just enough lightning to make us glad we put the horses in the trailer. Had a terrible night sleep, though, lots on my mind, so a lot of tossing and turning until I got up and went into the living room so I wouldn’t disturb Hubby too much. Finally started to feel sleepy, so I crawled into Lola’s big dog bed, covered myself up in her blanket, and drifted off. Woke up around 6:30 and went back into the bedroom, to find Lola had managed to slink up on to my side of the bed, so I had to quietly get her off before I could get in bed for another hour of sleep. Not a great night sleep, obviously, but enough to make it through the day. I had received a book order yesterday, so my first order of business was to package up a book, and after breakfast I took it to the nearest post office, which was about 11 miles away. Usually I just drop them off on the way to our next stop, but since the plan is to stay here for more than a week, I didn’t want anyone to have to wait that long. When I got back, I spent some time chatting with the neighbors (Larry and Marla and Debbie and Greg), and eventually Larry wanted to see the book, and he ended up buying one, too. Had a nice chat, though, and learned more about the trails (like it was rocky enough to require boots) and generally felt like I had made new friends today. Closed out the day sitting with Hubby in our lounge chairs until it was time for chores and dinner. By now I was really dragging from lack of sleep. I’m looking forward to a better night sleep tonight, and a good ride tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – More Relaxing Travel Day to Owl Creek

Up with the alarm, packed up expeditiously, and were on the road just after 8:00 this morning. First stop was a nice little post office to ship out a book order that had come in yesterday, then Tractor Supply for propane and horse feed, then Murphy for gas, Burger King for breakfast, a rest area to dump (one of the stupidest setups we've ever seen! A grate over the dump hole so you couldn't put the sewer hose in the hole, a strange flush system you press with your foot, and NO WAY to turn on the hose to rinse any spillover and flushing out the tanks! Crazy!), then finally, the Walmart in Cullman where I had ordered a tire to replace one starting to wear on the RV. If it goes, it will take out another section of the RV panel, which we had replaced a couple of years ago from the last time we had a blowout, trying to avoid that again. Evidently, this is the month we have to replace all tires! This is the fourth tire we've had to buy in the last two weeks, ouch! But that's one of the expenses you have to expect when you're on the road! We still made good time, and were in Owl Creek Horse Camp in the Bankhead NF just after 2:00. We took our time getting setup, and by 4:00 we were relaxing in our lounge chairs with a beer (which I heard from our only neighbors is a no-no here, would you believe!) There were a couple of folks that were in the process of packing up when we got here, and left only two other rigs on the far end of the camp, and they were camping together. I had called the office yesterday to try to find out about the water, and they didn't return my call, so I tried again today, and was told that MAYBE there was a spigot with a connection, but not sure. Then she called back and said there was a screw on connection on the spigot just by the iron ranger, so we didn't bother to fill up at Walmart before heading out to the camp. Of course, it turned out that information was wrong, the spigot by the iron ranger did NOT have a hose connection ability, nor did the one by the vault toilet, but fortunately, the one at the back of the loop did, so I moved the RV over there to fill it up. The bad news is, it's one of these stupid spigots you have to hold down in order to keep it going, and when you do, a great tail spray comes out of the top of it, making it almost impossible to not get wet! Grrr! What a waste of water. Well, not being one to stand around holding down a spigot handle, I rigged up a heavy block to hold the handle down, then went and chatted with our neighbors who were right across from this spigot, and learned a few things about the place. It took quite a while to fill up, and then I filled up the horse tank in the back of the truck as well, just in case. Meanwhile, Hubby had taken the horses out of the trailer and hung them on the highline, which already had a cable and rings across it (not my favorite type, but will do in a pinch) and scouted for the best place for his satellite dish. After our first beer and a few minutes of recovery, we put up the portable corral around the highline area and let the horses off the much on the grass and weeds that were abundant around here. I went and talked to the neighbors again to find out about the condition of the trails to see if we needed to put boots on them, and they indicated it would be a good idea, as there was a number of places on the trail with sharp gravel. Afterward I came back to camp put out all the buckets and Lola's pool again, because I knew there was rain in the forecast overnight, and wanted to catch whatever we could. Finally, we settled down for dinner and a nice quiet evening.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 – Short, Solo Ride to Recover Lost Water Bottle

After a leisurely breakfast, I saddled up Apollo and hooked up Clio to a retractable leash in order to pony her along (these two have NEVER been separated, and if we tried, there would be blood, so no risky business here!) I headed out the same road we went yesterday, of course, and a walk and occasional jog. Hubby had things to do and didn’t want to come, so off I went! I knew for a fact that I had lost them within the first 3 miles, and I suspected I lost them going up the first hill once we got off the road, which was about two miles out. It was a long climb with numerous berms along the way, and we had leaped from one berm to another, so I figured that was the most likely place. I still looked along the side of the road, just in case, and I certainly did find lots of beer cans and other beverage containers, but no Disney metal water bottle! I soon reached the hill and headed up, and sure enough, about 2/3 of the way up I found the metal bottle, and a plastic bottle (for Lola), and a little notebook that had dropped out as well. Having already gone two miles, I considered completing the short 5 mile loop, but that would have meant a lot more climbing, and I was concerned for little Billy dog, as I had brought him along on this trip, and he was already looking a bit tired, so I headed everyone back down the hill and we took the relatively flat road back to camp. Billy still had trouble keeping up, poor thing! I so hate that he can’t go on long rides with us anymore (unless I decide to fix him up some kind of buddy saddle for him to ride on!), but he is at least 13 now (he was a stray, so we’re not quite sure his age) and it’s just getting to be too much for him. It was another beautiful day, though, and everyone behaved perfectly! We were only gone a bit over an hour. Our original plan was to stay here until Thursday, but the weather forecast is showing a beautiful day tomorrow and a very high chance of rain on Thursday, so we’ve decided to head out tomorrow instead, to avoid getting the alfalfa in the back of the truck wet. It’s only about 150 miles to our next stop (Owl Creek Horse Camp in the Bankhead NF in Northern Alabama), but we have numerous stops to make along the way. Fortunately, there is supposed to be potable water there, so filling all the tanks may not be necessary, but I’m waiting for a call back from them to make sure. If it’s a hand pump, I’ll be getting water before we get there!! Anyway, it was a pretty quiet day again, and a nice little ride with a successful end, but we’re looking forward to our next, new back yard!

Monday, April 24, 2017 – Ride Day from Mattox Hunt Camp, Talladega NF

Now that we're fully rested, it's time to go for a ride! Saddled up and were out by noon, figuring on doing the entire 10 mile loop, unless we ran into some trouble in which case we could shorten it to about a 5 mile loop. According to the map, several miles would be on forest road, which we assumed would be the dirt/gravel road like the one that went by the camp, but once we got onto the trail part, we would lose the gravel. Well, it didn't quite work out that way. Some of it became dirt and grass, but much of the "trail" as described in the map was still forest road with dirt and gravel, more than we usually like to travel on. Maybe three miles of the 10 mile loop wasn't on a dirt/gravel road, that's all. But the weather was perfect, the horses were perfect, and the day was a great one for a ride! Hubby thought Clio was limping a tiny bit at first, but once she was warmed up, she seemed fine. Probably just a little arthritis kicking in after standing around for so many days. Somewhere along the line, I lost a metal water bottle, so I'm planning on taking short ride tomorrow to see if I can find it, and maybe take Billy along, since he didn't come today. We felt it was too far for the old guy. Lola had a great time, though! Of course, even after ten miles, her first action when we got back to camp was to find her ball and start putting it in the fetch machine! Indefatigable, that girl! We had a number of nice canters and trots, and there were many ascents and descents that were a wonderful change from the flatness of Florida, and the ride seemed to go quickly with all the variety of landscape. We even surprised a couple of wild turkeys along the way, so obviously the hunters missed a few! Arrived back at camp just before 4:00, put everyone away, broke out the beer and relaxed until dinner time. A very nice day!

Sunday, April 23, 2017 – Rainy Rest Day

Well, it rained all night! Every bucket and pool I put around is overflowing, so a water shortage is not an issue. It also got much cooler, too cool and wet, in fact, to make a ride very enjoyable, so we decided to take yet another day off resting and watching movies. Calling for clearing skies and back in the 70’s tomorrow, so that’s the new plan!