Archives for February 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 – The Best Laid Plans…

Our new back yard. Was determined to work in the morning and ride in the afternoon, as the temps were expected to get near 60 today, but I had to find a cell phone signal, plus we needed to get our gas tanks for the generator filled, so I drove to the nearest town, about 15 miles away and got gas. I looked for a cell phone signal the whole way, and couldn’t find anything good enough for broadband, so I ended up back at the campsite without finding anything. I decided to head in the other direction (the way we came in) because I knew I had a signal before we arrived, and fortunately found a good spot off the road, at the quail area, where I could get some work done. I then spent HOURS trying to get everything done I needed to get done, watching the time slip away in frustration, until I concluded we weren’t going to have time to ride today, so I better just finish up everything I could and ride tomorrow. At least our got our travel plans confirmed for a flight to DC in a few weeks. Aaargh! Got back frustrated, by Hubby and spent the time productively, fixing a light on the trailer and doing some much needed spring cleaning like the windows. It was a beautiful day weatherwise, but fortunately, the forecast calls for more sunny and warmer days. Yeah!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 – Cold Day at Cane Camp

Pretty frosty, though sunny today, though we decided it was to cold to go riding. Had a hard time getting a cell phone signal, which always make life a little more complicated. Did some housekeeping and bookkeeping, otherwise laid low today.

Monday, February 15, 2010 – Travel Day to Cane Camp, LA

Managed to struggle our way out of Brushy Creek, though by now the vehicles are covered with mud with all the potholes splashing and a few soft spots my wheels started spinning in. Scary! Glad to get out of there, crossing that one off the list!
Had a peaceful drive to Cane Camp, though I had several different sets of directions that didn’t seem to correlate with each other. Fortunately we ran into a large horse trailer at a stop sign, and I yelled out the window, “Which way to the horse camp”, and he pointed up a road that I hadn’t planned on turning on, so more confusion reigned. I turned where he said, then traveled for miles, sure we were going to far. I finally stopped and pulled out my computer and looked at a map I had downloaded before, found where we were and confirmed we were headed in the right direction. At last we reached it. What a lovely place! A nice loop, numerous campsites, every one has a water spigot and posts for a highline or a picket line, flush toilets, a nice grassy area all around, even a clear shot for a satellite signal, and best of all, no one else was here! All for 3 bucks a day, or in our case, with Hubby’s Golden Age Passport, $1.50! Quite a few horse and multi-use trails around, it seems, over 600,000 acres in the Kisatchie National Forest. I think we’ll be staying here for quite a while! Will get a picture of our new back yard tomorrow!

Sunday, February 14, 2010 – Valentine’s Day Drive

Packed up and headed out to our next stop, Brushy Creek in Homochitto National Forest, Mississippi. We had enjoyed Big Foot, I’m sure we’ll be back to that one, it’s so close to I-10, it’s very convenient. Cut cross country to Brushy Creek, had some trouble finding water in the town nearby, ended up poaching some from a local lumberyard that was closed. As we reached the turnoff, Hubby and I became very concerned. The road was steep, curvey and looked muddy, and neither of us liked the look of it, but it was 4:00 and we didn’t really have a Plan “B”, so we decided he should go first and scout it out with the pickup truck before I tried to get in with the big rig. Once he hit the top of the hill, he radioed back that he thought I could make it, but to take a run at it just in case (very reassuring!) So I did, and managed to make it. The road was narrow, barely one lane with very soft shoulders in some places, and it got worse the further we got back. Potholes big enough to swallow up a St. Bernard. We finally reached the “campground.” To call is “primitive” is generous. It’s not even a campground. There are a few turnouts, but you have to go into a ditch or up a slope to get to any of them. A few have a very narrow entries, but it’s almost impossible to navigate. Whatever you do, don’t go past the “no horse trailers” sign, that becomes the trail down to the creek, which is much farther away than any camper would want to lug water from, or even walk your horse to, unless you’re heading out on the trail. The worst thing was, there was no loop, no place for a big rig to turn around. After much discussion, we finally settled on trying to back into one spot far enough to turn around, but when we tried it, we couldn’t quite get far enough up the slope before the wheels started spinning. We opted for another spot where I could drive forward over the hump, then back up to turn around. We had just enough room to do that, but came very close to hitting bottom. All the while, we had a man who was spending the night in his truck nearby trying to “help”. Once we got turned around, we found a semi-graveled area by the side of the road that had been occupied by a horse trailer when we arrived, but the owners had ridden by while we were discussing our options, so we took that spot once they left. At least now we were headed in the right direction. We quickly made the decision not to stay more than the night, it was just too ugly and unmanaged. Naturally, after dark it started to rain, then started to pour, and since we knew the forecast was calling for below freezing temps, I ran out and put the horses in the trailer, getting soaked in the process. It stopped a bit later, but since the horses were wet at this point as well, I left them in to stay warm. A really crummy place. I don’t know what the trails were like (other than wet, of course), but frankly, I wasn’t really interested after seeing the sad shape of the campground. It’s a pity, too, because it wouldn’t take much to fix it up nicely, a few truckloads of gravel and a little TLC. Very disappointing…

Saturday, February 13, 2010 – Ride Day at Big Foot

At last, we have a chance to ride. At first we thought it would be too cold, but the sun started warming up things pretty nicely, and we decided that we’d dress extra warm, wear our parkas and take a chance. Our original plan was to take the yellow trail to the red trail to the blue trail, which is a long loop, then back again. Before we got to the blue trail, however, we ran into high water, and a one-lane bridge with a sign that said “Impassable with high water.” It wasn’t kidding. We were horse-chest high in water and we still had 5 or 6 yards to the bridge. We couldn’t even tell what the bridge was costructed with, and were very concerned that the horses might get freaked out when the surface changed under their hooves, so we decided caution was in order and we retreated back up the red trail. We went for option B, which was the yellow trail to the green trail in a figure 8, before heading back to the campground, We did run into a few more water hazards, but nothing more than knee-high, which my horse barreled through (once he got started :-). Truly nice trails, though, very well-marked, several picnic tables and hitching rails to stop for lunch along the way, good footing except for a few muddy spots (understandable with all the rain), mostly pine needles and sand, no need for shoes or boots. Was out about 4 hours in the end. A lovely day!

Friday, February 12, 2010 – A Snow Day at Big Foot

Rained most of the night, particularly hard around 4 am, then at about 9 am it started to snow big fat wet flakes for about ten minutes. Naturally, nothing stuck, but it was so cold we made it a snow day instead of a ride day. Spent the day on the computer revamping my business website and getting caught up on paperwork. Even on the road with horses, regular life must go on!

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 – A Day at Big Foot Horse Camp, MS

Here’s our new back yard today. I always like it best when we can see horses right outside our door! Here at Big Foot, there are a couple of folks in tents and cars, unfortunately they’re camped in the area where the horse stalls and tie-ups are, so the only way to stay private (which is always our desire 🙂 is to be parked in an area where there are no pipe stalls. Frankly, that’s fine with me, as a high-line gives the horses a lot more freedom to move around, even lay down when they want. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the no-fee areas attact that sort, though there are other campgrounds nearby they could stay for free without interfering with the horse campers use of the area.

Way too cold to ride today, though a group came in this morning with four horses and riders who went out. I got the impression it was to check out a new saddle, there was a lot of fussing going on with one horse before they left. They weren’t gone long, not much more than an hour, if that. They either took the shortest trail, or they turned around and came back. A couple of them had no gloves on, which is insanity in this cold and damp weather. The forecast is calling for rain/sleet/snow from this afternoon through tomorrow afternoon, so it looks like we won’t be riding anytime soon. Very unusual weather for south Mississippi. The lady at the hay barn yesterday was saying how she used to work at a florist shop, and it was always so hot around Valentine’s Day they had trouble keeping the flowers looking fresh! She couldn’t believe they were forecasting snow. Strange winter this year!

Hubby went up to the nearby town of Wiggins to shop at the Wal-mart, also picked up a few other things we needed, and managed to track down a Forest Service office with a trail map. Seems they’re hard to come by! I’ll be scanning it and keeping it for posterity should anyone need it. Just email me at, for this and any other trail map of the places we’ve been, I’ve been saving them all.

Will probably put the horses in the trailer tonight, it’s too cold and wet for them to be comfortable outside. Did some bookkeeping today while Hubby was gone, but he’s back now, so cocktails, dinner and a movie are next!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 – Hay and Travel Day

Whew! Another busy day. Packed up and left Coldwater by about 9:30, a bit later than usual, but we didn’t feel a huge hurry because our trip was just a little over three hours, with a stop for hay along the way… at least that’s what we THOUGHT was going to happen. That’s what we get for thinking! Made our way to the place where I had scheduled to pick up some hay, only to be sorely disappointed in the quality. Frankly, it was the worst hay I had ever seen short of something I might use to mulch my garden. Yuck! So I quickly got on the phone and called another man who had returned my call the night before, and asked if we could arrange to get hay from him. He managed to swing it so that I could go to his mother-in-law’s where the hay was kept and pick it up ourselves and pay her. Fortunately, this was much better hay (though no quite as good as the hay we got in Blackstone, VA, but that was EXCEPTIONAL). Apparently, he’s a vet who’s taken over his father-in-law’s farm, so he did all the soil testing, fertilizing and nutritional testing to prove it’s worthy of being horse hay. Glad he was able to work us in, we’re set now for another three weeks.
It was nearly 3:00 by the time we finished, WAY behind schedule, and then, because all my maps were from the south, and we were now coming from the north, and Gracie (my Verizon GPS) couldn’t get a bead on the address, so I had to program her for the nearest town (Saucier, MS). We ended up getting lost a few times anyway, till we got close enough for her to find the road we were looking for. Then I missed the turn for the road to the horse camp, and ended up at the Airey Tower Forest station, which was just as well, we filled up with water while we were there. Got into the campground just as the sun was setting, set up during twilight, and was just finishing as it got dark. But we made it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 – Ride Day!

Woke up around 4:00 am thinking it was near dawn, discovered that there are many security lights throughout the campground. For those who like all the bells and whistles, with stables and paddocks and water and electricity at every site, this is a perfectly fine place. For those like us, that prefer to feel like we’re in a true wilderness, like trailblazers of old, it’s a bit too commercial for us. That said, we did have a ride today. The reason I awoke early was because the rain had come in, but it cleared out by 10:00 or so, though remained cloudy the rest of the day. Then the temperature started dropping, so Hubby and I decided to get out quick while the getting was good. After a morning on craigslist and the phone arranging a hay pickup for tomorrow morning, we saddled up and were on the trail by 12:20. We intended to go out the blue trail and come back on the red, the trailhead where we began was wrong, so we ended up on the red trail. NOTE: The red trail, and red/blue combined trail start just behind the kiosk. The BLUE trail starts closer to the entrance by about 100 feet.

While this is part of the Black River State Forest, this area should really be called a forest in development. Almost all of the forest is young, lots of baby trees, lots of evidence of “forest management” (i.e. cleared tree areas), and lots of prescribed burn areas, but that does leave for wide open skies in many places. There are a few areas that are older, like near the campground, but most of the trails (which are more trail than road, thankfully) are among newer trees. The pic above shows one of the more mature areas of the forest.
Trails are well-marked, no problem finding them, and there’s a good area to stop about halfway around the most popular route, with a picnic table, which is where we stopped to have a quick sandwich and give the horses a much-deserved apple. The temperature soon started dropping, and on the way back we were heading into the cold north wind, so we were quite happy to get back around 4:00. Cocktails, dinner and a Dish PVR movie and we’re set for the night!

Monday, February 8, 2010 – Travel Day to Coldwater SRA

Here’s our new back yard! (Notice the handle of the RV on the left!)
Up at 7:00, out by 8:45, long drive to Blackwater River State Forest north of Milton, FL just east of Pensacola, to the Coldwater Recreation Area, where there is a very well-appointed horse camp. Lots of RV room, water and electric hookups, your choice of covered stalls, covered paddocks and open paddocks. Very helpful volunteer camp hosts. Hoping the weather will be suitable for riding tomorrow, calling for rain overnight and in the morning, clearing out by noon, but temps dropping after that. Will let you know about the trails tomorrow, hopefully! Love to change our backyard! Yesterday a forest of tall pine trees and scrub palms, today, right next to a beautiful river!