Archives for June 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013 – Recuperative, Rainy Day

Slept later than ever today, probably because of the pills, and despite the fact that one of our new neighbors that came in yesterday ran a generator all night long. I don’t know why people do that, unless it’s a medical emergency, which I highly doubt. Next morning, they cranked up their radio really loud, but fortunately, only for a few minutes before pulling out (thank goodness!). I felt much better today, with only a couple of minor spasms, even though I held off taking any pills. We really wanted to ride today, and I could have made myself if I wanted to, but with rain coming in wave after wave, it seemed best to just take another day off, recover, then go for a ride tomorrow, as the forecast finally has no rain in it, just partly cloudy with a high of 77, a perfect day for riding (assuming I feel well enough, and I should after another quiet day). Watched movies, read, did one load of laundry, relaxed the whole day.

Friday, June 28, 2013 – Attempted Ride Day at Hungerford

After a slow morning, we finally saddled up the horses around 12:30, doing a refit on some of the various saddlebags, as Hubby’s saddle doesn’t have the proper rings to carry our usual saddlebag, so I tied my old cantle bag onto the rings on my modified bareback pad and repacked things to balance. Eventually we hopped up and headed out to camp on trails with some of the best footing we’ve ever seen, a nice firm sand and dirt combination, no stones or gravel, and very well traveled. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn almost immediately, on a not-very-well marked trail that ended up just taking us down to the road. We turned around and headed back when Apollo got seriously startled by something, and, not having a horn to grab on to and not having enough practice grabbing his mane, I took an unceremonious trip to the ground. I landed hard on my hip, and Apollo’s hoof scraped my face as I went by, which I knew would later turn into a nice shiner. It took several minutes for me to gather my wits before I sent Hubby back to camp with instructions to bring back some ice packs. A while after he was gone, I finally felt strong enough to start walking, so I headed down to the road and was almost back to camp when Hubby came out in the van to get me. I knew it would take more energy to get into the van than just keep going, as it was only a few yards away, so I kept walking. I quickly put ice on everything that hurt, hoping that later in the day I would feel well enough to try again. An hour or so later, thunderstorms moved in, nixing any chance of that anyway (which was probably for the best), so I spent the day putting ice packs, then heat, on the offended areas, which did wonders for the swelling. A couple of ibuprofens later, I was feeling at least reasonable by the end of the day, although when I moved wrong, I’d get spasms in my hip. Obviously I haven’t quite yet mastered the art of riding (i.e. keeping the horse between me and the ground), but that’s all part of the same package, I’m afraid. Anyway, the rest of the day was spent quietly, except for the thunder and lightning of the thunderstorms that raged for quite a while. Dropping temps (and more painkillers) promise a good night of sleeping.

Thursday, June 27, 2013 – Truck Repair Day

Grabbed a yogurt and a cup of coffee to go as I headed out to Quality Auto and Truck Repair, which was conveniently located just on the east side of the same freeway exit we came off for Hungerford, so it was a quick trip in. I had read several reviews on the place and it came highly recommended, and frankly, they earned every bit of it. I told them what I thought it was, but that I wasn’t sure. The man in front introduced me to the mechanic, explaining we were to take a test drive so I could identify the noise. I said I didn’t think that was necessary, we could just start the truck and I would show him, so that’s what we did. He agreed with my diagnosis, and that was it. The only problem, I learned a while later, was that the part wouldn’t be in until 3:30, so the truck wouldn’t be ready until after 4:30. After numerous mangled phone calls with Hubby, he heard enough to know to come and get me, but not after I had arranged a ride from the shop, so we ended up meeting on the road just a few miles away. A relaxed day in camp before coming back to the shop to pick up the pickup, then I did some computer work arranging flights for my niece, who’s coming to visit us in Minnesota at the end of July, before settling down for another wonderfully quiet evening.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 – Runaround Day in Big Rapids

After a late morning, where I slept much better, thank goodness, I headed out with the truck to a car repair place, where the best they could do was to make an appointment for tomorrow morning. I did a little shopping at Lowes for some items to better fix our bamboo screen over the main door, and also found someone locally on craigslist with hay for sale. Hubby’s mare just doesn’t seem to be eating very well, and her weight has been dropping. We’ve added extra grain in the morning to try to help, but she’s really gone off this hay, so I wanted to see if I can find something softer and more to here liking. Made arrangements with one guy to pick up a bale from his work (he’s a cop) at the Public Safety Building. Met him about 1:30, looks like really nice soft hay, really green, so I’m buying this one bale to see if she’ll eat it, and if she does, he has lots more to sell. Headed back to camp, which is less than 15 minutes away, and immediately gave Clio a bagful of the new hay, and she tucked into it like crazy. Happy to see that, but will need to make sure she keeps eating it, and not just trying it out, before I get more. Settled in for the rest of day, still endeavoring to get caught up on our rest, looking forward to our first ride out in Michigan!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 – Rest Day at Hungerford

Despite feeling sleepy when I turned my reading lamp out last night, I ended up getting up to write an email that was bugging me, and still took some time getting to sleep after that. Woke up fairly early, laid in bed a while, before finally getting up earlier than what I wanted, but just couldn’t stay in bed anymore. I’m
really looking forward to relaxing here, and I hope that eventually I’ll settle down to a normal schedule, at least like what it used to be. Spent most of the day reading after breakfast, spent a little time disconnecting the RV to make it more level, and also took a look under the truck’s hood, as it’s been making a little noise lately. Determined that the vacuum pump seemed to be gone, so that’s another chore I’ll have to take care of, probably tomorrow. Weather forecast is a lot of rain, even though we only had a short shower early this morning, with sun coming out in the afternoon (but fortunately, not enough to get it too warm) so tomorrow will probably be best. I’m hoping the mostly quiet day will help me get back to sleeping better! Tired of being tired, frankly, but that seems to be the way of things. Sometimes I think we push ourselves too hard, but everyone’s days are numbered, and we’re trying to get in as much as we can, while we can! A tough balance, sometimes. Anyway, got a good portion of the way through my latest book, the first of the Pea Island Trilogy by Tom Lewis, a prolific and diverse author that seems to have no real genre, yet always has a compelling story to tell. The horses had a nice quiet day on the highline, and we kept them fully satisfied with constant hay, though tomorrow we may put them on the anchors to mow the site next to us, the only one with any real grass from what we’ve seen. Finally settled down for the evening, with movies and cocktails till bedtime!

Monday, June 24, 2013 – Good Drive to Michigan

Woke up to the early alarm at 6:30, made coffee, headed to the dump, and were well on our way by just after 8:00. A not-so-quick stop at a BK for breakfast (only because the northbound exit was closed due to construction, so we had to go back south for an exit before heading back north again), another for fuel, the Wal-mart in Big Rapids for final shopping before we headed out to the easy-to-find campground less than 8 miles from town. This looks like a really great horse camp! The only drawback is that there is only one well house with two spigots, but it is a solar powered pump so it works like a regular spigot, thank goodness. For convenience, we had already filled up the RV at the Walmart (love their outside garden center spigots!), so we only needed to fill up the collapsible rain barrel and the horses’ initial water tub. Strange thing happened at Walmart, though, another example of rules gone mad! Here in Michigan you can buy liquor at a grocery store. Though the selection at Walmart was limited, we picked up a couple of bottles of vodka. At checkout, I was told I needed to show my id (which I had left out in the truck, since Hubby had his wallet). Even though Hubby was making the purchase, the cashier claimed that it was Walmart rules that if she thought anyone in the party was under 40 that she needed ID from EVERYONE in the party! First of all, I’m 54, and though I think I do look pretty good for my age (don’t we all!), I haven’t looked 40 in probably 10 years. Secondly, the fact that Hubby was making the purchase should have settled the matter, that’s not what the rule (apparently) says. I asked what the drinking age was (21), and asked if I looked older than 21, and of course the answer was, yes, but because, in her judgment, I looked under 40, and because that’s what the “rule” said, I had to go all the way out to the truck (which, of course, was WAY out in the parking lot, because that’s the only place there is room for my entire rig), get my wallet, and return with my ID, just so that my husband (who is 79!) could buy two bottles of vodka. When I got back, I asked what happens if a parent wants to buy liquor when they have a kid with them, she said kids were exempt. I wonder what she would have said if I had told her my Hubby was my father (a common mistake anyway), and whether she would have allowed the purchase then, but I didn’t. I don’t know how someone can work for a company that has so little trust in their employees, (and so little training that they don’t know what over 40 looks like!) but maybe that’s just me. Glad I work for myself, despite all the aggravations that can cause. Anyway, as usual, once we got to the campground, we found the only site in the campground where we could get a satellite signal, as the rest are deep into the woods, which is very pleasant and cool in the shade after a very hot day in the upper 80’s (and the last few days in Ohio in the low 90’s!). It’s also convenient to the well, so we quickly filled up the rain barrel with our long stretch of Pocket Hoses while we got the RV set up. The only flaw is that it’s not very level, so I think we’ll have to disconnect the truck to get level, but not until tomorrow. Only a couple of other people in the campground, though there are over 40 nice sites, and from what we can see, the trails should be spectacular, a nice hard packed sand and dirt mix, with no stones or gravel, and so well traveled they’re bound to not have may limbs down either. The trail map looks very promising, and we’re excited about our week here, though there’s a lot of rain in the forecast for the next few days. Frankly, though, we’re so exhausted from our recent schedule, we’ll be quite happy to do nothing but sleep, read and watch TV for the next couple of days before we worry about riding. When we do ride, though, that will be our 40th state!! Got everyone settle in by cocktail hour, and settled in for the evening.

Sunday, June 23, 2013 – Second and Last Riding Day at Van Buren

After a VERY leisurely morning, plus a couple of conversations with the local park volunteers, we finally got the horses saddled up and headed out just before 1:00. We headed out on the Red Trail, taking the longest possible path since we wanted to make the ride last and the park is so small, but we did make it pretty long in the end. We swerved around on the Red, then crossed the road over to the west side of the park, following the White Trail. Very well-maintained trails, which is a really nice change after our last two parks, and lots of variations despite the size of the park. The white trail took us all the way around to the dam, all the while we could hear a marching band practicing. We learned later there was a high school right across the railroad tracks, they were obviously either having a band camp, a freshman orientation or maybe even getting ready for the fall season. Most people don’t realize that the band often actually spends more time practicing than the football teams, weeks and even months earlier (as a former high school musician, I know of what I speak!). The return trip, along the river in what truly seemed like a tropical jungle (and the heat and humidity enhanced the same experience!), was really special. The trail was only a little bit muddy in places, they’ve really done a nice job with them. They have put some pea gravel down in some areas, which Apollo kept trying to avoid, thereby pushing me into the bushes and thorns along the way, but it’s hard to convince trail-makers that sometimes occasional mud is better than constant gravel on a horse, but then again, after our awful experience with mud in KY and earlier in OH, it’s a bit hard to even convince myself of that at the moment! Anyway, it was a very nice ride lasting several hours, just right for our last Sunday. Later in the day, just before we were getting ready to feed the horses, I noted some very gray clouds coming in and hustled Hubby to go out and put the drying saddle blankets away and close the tack room door. Moments after he finished doing that, we were inundated with HUGE raindrops that almost looked like sleet! Fortunately the horses were tucked away under a tree, so they just cuddled up with their tails to the wind and waited. Frankly, I was glad to get the rain, I hope it cools things off. The hay is well covered, so all is as right with the world as can be! Once the rain passed, we fed the horses and carried on with our usual evening routine, the plan is to get to bed early as we have a long drive to Michigan (State # 40!) tomorrow.

Saturday, June 22, 2013 – First Ride at Van Buren State Park, OH

With the forecast indicating temps over 90, we decided to get out reasonably early today, and managed to have breakfast and be saddled up by 11:00. It helped that no one’s feet needing trimming, and that from the looks of the trailhead, boots won’t be necessary. We headed out with map in hand, and this map seemed to be more comprehensive, with names and intersection numbers along the way. We only hoped they would actually show up on the trail! (Believe it or not, they often do NOT!) As we came to the first intersection, however, we were relieved to find both numbers and color markers clearly indicating each trail. The footing was hard-packed dirt that, thankfully, didn’t look like it had seen much rain lately, so mud wasn’t any issue. Apollo and I both breathed a sigh of relief, as did Hubby and Clio, and we relaxed into a much more enjoyable atmosphere than we’d had lately. The woods were thick as well, which kept the temperatures much cooler than in the campground. We followed the Red Trail down to the Pink Trail at the south end of the park, a pretty short distance as the park is quite small. On the Pink Trail we encountered several steep ravines, one which caused us great pause, but when we couldn’t find a way around it, we finally managed to persuade the horses down it, with Clio uncharacteristically going first. The problem wasn’t so much the ravine, though it was quite steep, but the sharp turn onto a bridge at the bottom of it, making it look extra scary. I think Apollo remembered how slippery the last trail’s ravines were, and they were making him hesitate as well. There was a sign earlier in the trail indicating to be cautious, and to be sure of yourself and your horse (which, of course, we are! : -), so we couldn’t say we weren’t warned! Anyway, we made it through okay, and then the trail flattened out a bit, and turned into what they called the “Pink Maze,” which was a bunch of spaghetti-like trails that criss-crossed each other. We stayed on the outer loop until we hit the road, then had a little confusion about the trail being linear when we realized that if we crossed the bridge that was part of a main county road, we could pick up the northern trails in the park, so that’s what we did. We stayed on the Yellow Trail for the most part, saving the Red Trail tomorrow. It was a fabulous ride, with several good opportunities to canter, especially as it edges a field, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It was a great way to erase the difficulties we’ve had the last few rides. The only problem was it was too short! We covered the entire perimeter of the eastern half of the park in just over an hour. As we looked more thoroughly at the map, we discovered that there were more bridle trails on the western half of the park that we hadn’t previously seen, and worked out a route for tomorrow so we could cover those. A really, really nice ride, and Apollo seems more comfortable than ever in his new saddle/bareback pad, and so am I! Spent the afternoon on the computer, with Hubby watching sports, until we turned to the sequel of City Slickers (we had watched the original earlier this week) before starting our evening routine. A great day, just the kind we live for!

Friday, June 21, 2013 – Unexpected Rest and Recovery Day

I woke up early to the sound of birds, trains, and freeway traffic, then couldn’t get back to sleep. Got up but didn’t feel very well, and some time later when Hubby woke up, he didn’t feel well either. After making coffee and watching the news, our stomachs settled enough to have some cereal, which was the new Grape-Nuts Fit Cranberry and Vanilla which we got free samples from the Dale Hollow State Park (go figure!) when we registered. After a bit we both decided to head back to bed to try to kick whatever it was as quickly as possible. We both slept for about two hours of deep sleep, and both felt much better afterward, though we woke up hot because the temps had moved up from a nice cozy 66 to nearly 90 but mid-afternoon. Spent the rest of the day finishing up my current Kindle book (the classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin) before we settled down for the afternoon and evening. Had a discussion with Hubby about the book, though, because I had always interpreted an “Uncle Tom” as a derogatory term, but in the book the exact opposite is true, Uncle Tom is a true hero and martyr. But a little research revealed that it was the publications, reviews and mostly theatrical adaptations that FOLLOWED the book, like the old minstrel shows, that caused the term to become pejorative. I can’t believe I didn’t know that already! Amazing what one can learn about our history just by looking a little deeper! Makes me wonder what I learned in school that was the least bit useful… Settled into an evening of movies and relaxation.

Thursday, June 20, 2013 – Travel Day to Van Buren State Park

With just a three hour drive today, we slept in a little, but still managed to be on the road by 9:00. With stops at Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, Lowes, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walmart and Flying J for propane (with a guy who didn’t instill much confidence that he had a clue what he was doing, which is kind of scary when it comes to handling flammables like propane!), we arrived at Van Buren at just about 3:00. Just 1.5 miles off the freeway, it’s convenient, but will likely not be as quiet as we usually like, but since our destination are NEW states, i.e. Michigan, this is just a stopover on the way, and likely the last place we’ll have electric for a while. Only one water spigot at the entrance, but we found the perfect spot for us right across the road, a nice little alcove that provides us with some privacy. The rest of the loop is mostly open, with a mix of electric and non-electric sites, one site with corrals, but most of the rest with a high-line cable already installed (as was the case in our site), and some just with posts. Quite an impressive camp, except for the lack of water, which they really should have at every site, or at least several places around the circle, rather than just one spot. We needed almost all of our hoses to reach from there, but we filled up the RV, and then we decided to try out our new collapsible rain barrel. I had found one in a catalog, 74 gallons, to replace the old hard-sided one we’ve been hauling around with us since our trip out west in 2010, which worked well, but took up a lot of “hay space” in the back of the pickup, so when I saw this collapsible one, I jumped at it. We had bought a piece of board at Lowes to set it on, set it up on the picnic table in the hopes the gravity feed would be enough to work with the automatic waterer. It took one of the old (non-Pocket) hoses to do it, but we finally managed to make it work. We could have just drained it in, but we’ve taken to using the automatic waterer, even just for filling the bucket, because then we can do other things without worrying about spilling in the horses’ living area. I had put a quick connect adapter on it, so now we just slip it on, turn on the tap and walk away, coming back at our convenience and disconnecting it again when it’s full. A nice little system once all the working parts are in order! Eventually we’ll get it all right! Finally settled down for the evening, looking forward to the trails here, which look dry and easy and mostly flat, which will be a nice change for us all!