Archives for 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010 – ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Travel Day to Padre Island

Well, incredibly, it’s been a year since we left home on this adventure! Truth be told, we don’t miss home one bit. We love having a new back yard every few days, we love having new trails to explore every week, we’ve been handling every challenge that’s come our way thus far, and frankly, sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to believe we’re really living this dream! It’s days like this that make us realize just how incredibly valuable our freedom is. Two days ago we were planning on going to Brazos Bend State Park south of Houston, but the discovery that we can camp and ride on the beach on Padre Island allowed us to change those plans in an instant, and head south to warmer climes as another cold front moves in. Of course, not everything has worked out perfectly, and it’s the challenges that keep us on our toes. Today was another example. After having been assured two days ago that the beaches were in great shape, when we arrived we learned that that had changed. High tides and strong easterly winds had shrunk the beach and plastered it with slippery seaweed, so that only 4-wheel drive vehicles were now recommended. We checked out a couple of access roads to the beach, but the story was the same everywhere. Finally, we found a popular fishing spot on the inland side of the beach road, just south of the Mustang Island State Park, where there was room and hard enough sand for us to camp on. We highlined the horses between the horse trailer and a utility pole, and settled in for the night. Fortunately, we were at low tide overnight, so the ground stayed hard beneath us. I felt like a true gypsy today, essentially parking by the side of the road for the night! We parked the RV so that it blocked the wind for the horses, and we all had a pretty good night.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 – Play Day, Cut Short

Woke up to discover that Larry had moved our horses out of the large paddock into a much smaller one, but I assumed that the horses had had much of their breakfast before they were moved, I just tossed a moderate amount of hay into the new paddock. I hadn’t taken off their halters when they were in the big paddock because it was so big and I didn’t want to have any trouble catching them later, and should have taken them off after they were moved, but didn’t take the time because we were anxious to get our play day started, and because Larry had assured me all his paddocks were “horse proof”. Considering this was one of the most expensive stables we’ve been in yet, I certainly expected that. That said, we drove downtown, parked the van and started walking down the Riverwalk. It started out very cloudy, but gradually became sunny throughout the day, with very nice temperatures. We finally settled on a late lunch at Landry’s, which served us fabulous broiled seafood platters which we thoroughly enjoyed at a table right on the Riverwalk. Afterward, we walked over to the Alamo and toured around for a while. Once again, we were disappointed, because earlier memories of our last visit were that it was less commercial and more like the original layout. I just don’t understand why “preservationist” want to dress it up these landmarks like an overly landscaped amusement park rather than actually preserve it in it’s original form as much as possible, which is what I always thought they were supposed to do. Anyway, we were walking around, waiting for dusk so that we could see the Christmas lights (our primary purpose for the day), but at about 5:00 we got a call from Larry, who told us that Hubby’s mare had had an accident, and that she had a cut on her face that might require stitches. We were mortified. The one day we had counted on to spend the day enjoying ourselves knowing our horses were safe and then this happened. We cut our day short, went back to the ranch to see how bad it was. Turned out it was about 1 ½ inches long an deep enough to hang open, though most of the bleeding seemed to have stoppe. The cut was so close to her left eye it was a miracle she wasn’t blinded. We got out our super-duper antiobotic spray we had bought a few months back, as well as some wound ointment, and after cleaning it out, I put a couple of long butterfly “stitches” with medical tape across the cut to hold it together. We finished by putting her fly mask back on to keep her from rubbing it all off. She seemed grateful for the attention, and held still for the whole operation. Apparently, she was trying to reach under the gate for some grass (I guess they didn’t have as much for breakfast as I thought), and got her halter caught on some wire at the bottom, then lifted her head up in such a panic she pulled the gate completely off its’ hinges. It’s a miracle she didn’t get hurt worse. What she did end up getting should heal in a few days, and hopfully, if the tape holds, she won’t have much of a scar. Needless to say I was rather unkind to Larry, who I felt should have discussed his plans to move the horses before doing so, and for telling me everything was safe, though I suppose if I had taken the time to remove their halters it could have been avoided as well. Enough said, it was an unhappy end to an otherwise pleasant day. Of course, we took off the horses halters for the night, though left on Clio’s fly mask to protect her cut. Looking forward to leaving in the morning.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 – Short Trip to San Antonio

Didn’t bother to set the alarm this morning, as we only have a relatively short trip today. Penny was nice enough to let us buy a couple of bales of her hay to get us through, and we shoved off around 10:00. Stopped at an IHOP for breakfast in San Marcos, but it was so packed there was a 30 minute wait, so we walked to another restaurant nearby, but decided we were too much in the mood for breakfast to eat peanuts at a Roadhouse, so we moved on. We finally stopped at another IHOP in New Braunfels, which was only about 30 minutes away from the N&S Stables, which is where we’ve arranged to spend the next two nights. We arrived at about 2:00, met owner Larry, who showed us a nice three acre paddock where our horses will be staying. We got them settled in, parked the RV, and I spent the rest of the day on the computer looking for horse trailers, hay and planning our next leg of the journey. We had originally thought that we be heading to Brazos Bend, but I just discovered yesterday that they allow horse camping on the beaches of Padre Island near Corpus Christi, so I called them to get the details and discovered it was all true! There’s another cold front coming, and we want to be as far south as possible before it hits, and what better way to celebrate New Year’s than on a beach? After all, it was riding in the Atlantic that made us want to ride in the Pacific, which started us off on this incredible journey. Now we can ride in the Gulf of Mexico, and next year, ride in the Great Lakes, and then we can truly say we’ve ridden all four corners of the country, touching every border! Cool! And considering that December 30 marks our first anniversary of full-time horse camping, it couldn’t be more appropriate. That decision made, I’ve arranged for mail to be forwarded there, checked to make sure our truck registration got through, and now we’re just about set for the New Year. Yeah!

Monday, December 27, 2010 – Travel Day and Evening with Family

Headed out with the intention of going to Lampasa to pick up a load of hay, but because it was almost an hour out of the way, and because the forecast is calling for two days of rain, we decided the better idea would be to just pick up a few bales at a feed store and stock up later when we wouldn’t be driving in rain. I don’t mind covering the hay when we’re standing still in one place, but it’s really hard to keep a tarp on without damaging the truck with smacking bungees and ropes. I didn’t care so much with our old beater truck, but my new truck has to stay looking new! Stopped for breakfast in Round Rock at a restaurant owned and operated by a group of folks who came up from New Orleans with their church group after Katrina. A very interesting story, and they even have a book out about their journey. After breakfast we made our way to Graymar Farms, an incredible facility owned and operated by Penny, who welcomed us as if we were long lost family. Turns out she had a paddock that had just been made available because the previous horse had been sold. The funny thing was, his name was Apollo, just like my horse! Got the kids settled in, got some water in the RV tank before parking, took a quick shower then headed out to visit with family that lived nearby. Had a very pleasant evening getting reacquainted (we don’t see each other very often), enjoyed a very nice dinner they prepared, and generally had a good time. Left around 10:00, had a nightcap, and finally wound down enough to go to bed about midnight.

Sunday, December 26, 2010 – Boxing Day Ride

Woke up to sunny skies, calm winds and somewhat warmer temperatures, though we slept rather late and didn’t get on the trail until almost 1:00. Putting their boots on was so much easier after the fabulous trim Mr. Peavey put on them! We headed north to take the 9-mile Blue Trail in the clockwise direction. Once we discovered the blazing method (some arrows, a lot more blue ribbons, some flags and the occasion blue spot on a stone), the trail was very easy to follow. We had heard so many bad things about how rough the trails were we were concerned for a while, but the earlier part of the trail was almost entirely sand or dirt, with only a few rocky areas. It did get a little rockier in some places, but it didn’t seem to bother the horses too much, and there was no stone bruising on either their front or back feet. It was a lovely ride. We bundled up in our parkas and gloves, so we were ready for the weather, and the longer the sun stayed out the nicer it became, especially with very little wind. There were lots of opportunities to trot and canter, a number of “water crossings”, though most were nearly dry at this time of year, only a little bit of climbing and none of it was very steep grade, so overall it was a wonder 3+ hour ride. Stopped at the assistant ranger’s house to see if my second package had come in, and met Candice at last. We had talked on the phone and emailed, but this was our first face-to-face. She and some family were just saddling up to go riding as well, and she was working with a 3-year old on how to stand still while mounting :-). We had a nice chat before carrying on with the blue trail, and about an hour later, we met up with them going in the opposite direction. We chatted again for a few minutes before moving on. As usual, the horses were brilliant, willing, happy to be out of the corral and all-around enormously cooperative. I sensed my gelding was having a particularly good time today, as he was able to brush his face against all kinds of soft cedar trees as we passed, something he’s become rather fond of. We all enjoyed ourselves immensely, glad we had waited for a nicer day. Got back, got everyone bedded down for the night, and relaxed the rest of the evening.

Saturday, December 25, 2010 – Christmas Day

Woke up to a very cold, windy, frosty morning. Temps were in the 20’s are rising slowly, but with the 20 mph north wind, the wind chill was forecast to stay in the 20’s, so we decided that a ride was just not sensible. The forecast for tomorrow is a bit warmer and a lot less wind, so we decided to wait until then. Spent the day watching schmaltzy holiday movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and Sleepless in Seattle, all the sentimental romantic stuff that make Hubby and me cry. Had a good rest, some eggnog and some munchies all day before getting to bed in anticipation of tomorrow’s ride.

Friday, December 24, 2010 – Christmas Eve Rain Day

Woke up to a very overcast day, quite a change from anything we’ve seen in quite some time, and there is rain forecast and a precipitous drop in temperature for the next few days, which I guess is appropriate for getting folks in the Christmas spirit. A massive storm is bringing snow across much of the country, including at home in Tennessee, a rare white Christmas for them and everyone around them. I spent the day balancing my checkbook and doing other mundane chores, hoping for a nice enough day to ride on Christmas, but it’s not looking too great. Had a lot of rain today, and as the temperature started dropping, we decided to cover them with new rain sheets we had bought from Valley Vet (our favorite online animal supply store!) back in October. They seemed to appreciate them, but I suspect they won’t stay on very long, at least not until tomorrow morning, but it’s worth a try. Glad we have electricity to keep our little space heaters going, but even with that we’re needing to put on the gas furnace occasionally. Well, like they say at this time of year, the weather outside is frightful!

Thursday, December 23, 2010 – Runaround Day

Because the horses’ vaccinations expired yesterday, we had to find a vet that would get them caught up, and fortunately, the Belton veterinary clinic just told us to come on down and they would service us as a walk-in. The horses jumped into the trailer (literally, they nickered when we brought out the flymasks, which we use to protect their eyes from the swirling dust and hay in the trailer, and which they now associate with going for a trailer ride), and we were off. We stopped at the ranger’s residence to pick up a package (a new phone upgrade), then to Walmart for gas at the Murphy’s before driving east to Belton. The clinic was right across from the Bell County Arena, a huge facility that is obviously centered around the livestock/rodeo industry. We checked in to the vet, and didn’t have long to wait before Dr. Knight came out back, spent several minutes making friends with the horses, and before we knew it, the job was done. (Really, I didn’t even see the needle in his hand!) Within a half hour, we were walking out with a health certificate in our hands, and a reasonable bill, so we were happy. Now all I need to do is get a fax number for the Tennessee Equine department, have them fax the certificate to them, and we’ll have two new passports on the way, the only question will be, where to? Afterward, we found a Feed Store and picked up a couple of bales of shavings for the corrals (the ground is kind of hard), then HEB to get some groceries (it was packed), then Lowes because Hubby decided his old battery power drill had finally given up the ghost (after 20 years, the batteries just won’t hold a charge anymore, and they’ve been discontinued), then I stopped at a book store, then finally, we fought ever-increasing traffic to a liquor store before heading back to the ranch at last. It was nearly 5:00 by the time we got back, and the traffic was ridiculously bad by the time we headed back out to the country. Got everyone settled in quickly, including shavings, and relaxed the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 – Travel Day to Parrie Haynes Ranch near Killeen, TX

Set the alarm for a very early rising, it was still dark when the alarm went off, dawn started cracking about the time we got dressed and made coffee. Out of the campsite by 8:00, a quick stop at the dump and we were on the road by 8:20. Our first stop (after picking up breakfast at a Jack in the Box) was at Terry Peavey’s of Voca, TX, a retired serviceman who trims using the Ramey method part time. He did a great, thorough job of trimming the horses’ hooves, and the horses did a pretty good job of standing for him. We were there almost two hours, chatting with him and his wife, a very nice couple. Then we moved, making excellent time across country. Suddenly, at about 3:00 (and 30 miles from our destination), a tire on the horse trailer blew out. Fortunately, there was a wide shoulder, and we found a level spot just at the end of a driveway. We pulled out our handy Jiffy-Jack (an invaluable tool that has made our life so much easier so many times already!), took off the wheel, and I ran into nearby Lampasas to a tire store that my On-Star folks told me about. Unfortunately, despite assurances on the phone that they had a tire for me, A-1 didn’t have a tire for me, and tried to talk me into a different size, an old tire with a nail in it, which they said they’d fix. I decided to look elsewhere (I really object to these bait and switch shops), and found a tire the right size at a place called Larry’s Lube. Not a trailer tire, it was a truck tire, but considering we’re planning on getting a new trailer very shortly anyway, it didn’t make sense to put one brand new tire on it, so a $29 used tire will be just fine for now. I was gone a bit longer because of that, and got back just before 4:30. We quickly put the wheel back on, and continued on to Parrie Haynes Ranch. Arrived about a half hour before the sun went down, giving us enough time to find a spot to settle in and get the horses settled into a couple of pipe corrals. Dogs are loving it here, because there’s no one else here and they’re wandering everywhere. Rather surprised there’s no one else here, though we discovered that the water here is non-potable, making the cost of staying here higher than it should be, and higher than we normally pay. For the cost, we thought the facilities here would be better, but there’s no grills, few picnic tables, most of the sites aren’t level unless you want to park in the group spot, which has no trees. A little disappointing, but the trail maps seem promising, hopefully that will make up for it (though the weather forecast doesn’t look too promising, rain on Friday and colder on Christmas Day). But that’s been known to change at the last minute, we’ll wait and see.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 – Second Ride Day at San Angelo Park

Had a wonderful ride today! The new trail map was very informative, we didn’t get lost once, which always makes it much more relaxing! It was actually warm enough to strip down to a tank top, so I got some sun (in fact, it almost got too hot!), and rode for about three hours. We went to a place called Cougar Lookout, which was obviously built to overlook the “lake”, which has pretty much dried up by now. We came across one sign on the road that said “Caution Lake Ahead, Slow to 10 mph”, which was so incongruous because the only this “ahead” was essentially a scrub desert. We rode by boat ramps that were 100 feet long and ended up in the same scrub desert. I guess they’ve been having a drought for a LONG, LONG time, or else the folks who thought a dam here were a bit misinformed… But most of the trails were dirt, with only a few parts that were rocky, and we got quite a few trots and canters in. It was a great day, just the kind of day we look forward to most! Went to bed early, satisfied that we had a great stay, and anticipating an early morning and long day tomorrow.