Archives for November 2013

Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 – Finally, A Ride Day at Waxahachie!

At last, the temps are warm enough for an enjoyable, un-bundled ride! We had been awakened early by our neighbor leaving, (they began packing up about 6:00, before the sun came up, and finally drove off about 7:30), but stayed in bed, sleeping off and on until about 9:30 before getting up and starting our chores. After breakfast, we headed out to saddle the horses, and saw that another day trailer had come in and were saddling up as well. They were gone by the time we finished, and we left shortly thereafter. As I feared, Apollo was like a stick of dynamite, looking for any excuse to blow up. Before going very far, I got down and tried to lunge him with my Mccarty line in an effort to blow off some steam, but he wasn’t into it, so I got back on and we took a side trail in an effort to get his mind on the job at hand. He did okay, but still was bundled up. He finally burst out on a muddy crossing, and I had to get down and run him around a bit, twice in about a quarter mile. Finally, when we had a choice between a side trail and a straight utility line road, I elected for the latter, figuring I just needed to walk him until he settled down, and that what we did. It must have been close to two miles of walking, but he finally started to drop his head and calm down a bit, enough for me to trust him at a jog. Thankfully, Hubby did a great job of keeping mama Clio behind us, until Apollo was calm enough for her to step up to a trot and pass us, and we soon burned some excess energy with a long trot and even a short, controlled canter. The trails here are mostly grass, but with all the rain there were a few muddy spots. Mostly they were utility lines and trails that bordered fallow fields, but we finally accidentally happened onto the blue trail, which followed a Texas-sized creek (we presume the Waxahachie) for a while, and was very nice, more like what we prefer, before joining back up on the red trail which was a straight road. Eventually, we found the green trail, which, like the blue trail, was more to a liking. By this time, Apollo was back to his normal self, and I was able to relax and really start to enjoy the ride. A nice trot and even a little canter as we headed home, finally wearing off that extra energy. All told, it was about 7.5 miles and we were out almost 4 hours, perfect for what we needed to do. Can’t say the trails are really attractive, but they certainly served the purpose today. After multiple premonitions about ending up on the ground on my butt, I took every precaution to avoid that, it succeeded, yeah! Settled down for the evening, even deciding to have a cocktail, in order to use up some orange juice someone brought us over a week ago. Good excuse, right? : -)

Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 – Neighbors Join Us, Lunch with Old Friend

Discovered that at some point yesterday evening, a neighbor moved in. I felt kind of bad because we had put up some tarps around the corrals opposite our horses to provide a windbreak during those cooler nights, and I guess it looked like we had taken over the entire 8-corral structure, because the couple had put their horses across the parking lot in another corral. I apologized and removed the tarps (weather was warm enough not to need them now anyway), and later in the day they moved their horses back over. Our did pretty well with neighbors, though every time food came out, Apollo was compelled to kick at the horse across from him, as a warning. A remnant from back when he was in a herd in a pasture and had to fight for every scrap. They left to go riding, while we unhooked the truck from the RV. I had found and arranged to buy some coastal hay about an hour’s drive away, which happened to coincide with the halfway point between us and an old friend who now lived in Tyler (the Rose Capital, we learned), so we headed first to Howard’s barn, where we picked up 18 nice heavy, wired bales of coastal at the local price of $8 a bale, then headed down to Lake Jackson Seafood, a sparsely decorated place on Main Street, but it had an extensive menu and excellent prices, with large servings, actually more than we needed so we had leftovers to bring home. Had a pleasant get-together with our friend Phil, then headed back to Ennis, a quick stop for diesel and a few staples at Walmart before getting back to camp a half hour before dark. Got the horses settled in, but Apollo seems way too full of energy. I spent a couple of minutes lungeing him, just to calm him down. Obviously the other horses in close proximity, too many oats and not enough exercise are catching up to him. We definitely need to ride tomorrow, though I’m thinking of using his regular bridle with a bit rather than his hackamore, just because I think I may need the extra control! Had a pleasant evening after a busy runaround day.

Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013 – Thanksgiving Day!

Slept a bit later, and though it was a nicer day, it was still too cold for comfort to ride. Did what everyone does, watched as much of the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade as I could stand (before all the child screamers started to sound alike, which didn’t take long…) and settled down for football. Had a bottle of wine with dinner, first I’ve had in months, and had a pleasant if slightly inebriated evening. Didn’t forget to remember all those incredible things we’re thankful for, first and foremost that we’re living the trail riders dream!!!

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 – Another Work Day

Same as yesterday, though the sun was out more, starting to inch the thermometer up but still a long way from “ride-able.” Since this is our lifestyle rather than a weekend of horse camping, we’ll just wait till the weather improves enough to enjoy it.

Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 – Work Day

Spent the day on the computer working on my latest writing project, again staying warm, out of the elements. Sun started to peek through this afternoon, but not enough to warm it past the low 40’s. Too cold for riding, that’s for darn sure!

Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 – Errands

Ran into town, which is a short 8 mile drive away, got propane, fuel and did our Walmart shopping before heading back to camp. Another cold, blustery day, glad to get back by the fire and warm up!

Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 – Bundle up and Rest Day

A great day for football and keeping warm. Rain, cold, sleet, didn’t quite get the snow that was promised, and quite happy about it. Had to bundle up in parkas for every outdoor chore, but once again, the horses were snug in their winter blankets and covered stalls, so all was right with the world! Continuing to congratulate ourselves with our wise decision to move two days earlier than planned, we stayed toasty in front of our electric fireplace and watched football and other television all day.

Saturday, Nov. 23, 2014 – Travel Day to Waxahachie Creek

Though the alarm went off at 7:30, we put the heat on and snuggled until it warmed up a little, so Hubby didn’t get up to start coffee until nearly 8:00. Since we hadn’t done much prep work last night, it took a bit longer to get packed and out, departing the campground about 9:20. Unfortunately, the forecast changed again since last night, which had been a mere 20% chance of rain after noon, but instead we ran into some pretty good drizzle by 10:30, so the hay was getting damp. Fortunately, it’s pretty tightly packed, and we only have about 6 bales left, so it will probably be fine. We decided to skip shopping entirely and head straight to camp and get set up asap. We had no trouble finding the park, which actually had a manned entrance. They were kind enough to let us run out and find which site we wanted and then I returned to sign in a bit later. We were delighted to discover that the eight corrals here were covered!! What a nice surprise! I thought I remembered seeing a roof of some kind on Google Earth, but didn’t realize those were the actual corrals. We were suddenly much happier with our decision. Plus, there were some very bushy cedar trees separating each site, providing a darn good wind break as well, though they were too short and healthy to be any threat during an ice storm. The electrical breaker gave Hubby a little problem, but he managed to re-seat it and resolve it. It didn’t take long to get set up, and with a quick satellite setup, a great cell phone signal, and 30 amp electric, suddenly the oncoming storm seemed much less threatening. We also got a trail map that showed a lot more trails than advertised, and because it’s a national campground (Army Corp of Engineers), they honored Hubby’s Golden Age Passport, cutting the price in half, from $16 to $8. Such a deal!! Although there are large electrical lines nearby, they’re far enough away to be of no consequence. I put the horses in two dry corrals and before we knew it, we were home once again! No worse for the wear, and congratulating ourselves on making the great decision to move. Monday we’ll go shopping and get more propane and everything else we need, just as we would if we had moved on Monday. Supposed to be in the 50’s by Thanksgiving, so it may turn out to be a good week after all!

Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 – Weather Worsens

It rained and stormed through the night, and the gas furnace came on numerous times during the night, even though we had it set at 63 degrees, so neither one of us had a great night’s rest. Freezing cold this morning, bundled up in our parkas to feed the horses, though they seemed comfortable enough in their blankets. Spent several hours trying to work online, but contrary to my first day’s experience here, getting online has been a real pain. Even though our Kindles seem able to pick up a good 3G signal, my antenna booster is mostly getting a one bar, analog connection, which takes hours to do minutes of work. One thing we have discovered is that the forecast for next week has been continuing to deteriorate, now with ice storms coming in by Sunday, and rain and sleet and possibly snow until at least Tuesday. I had taken a quick trip into town yesterday afternoon, because I needed a post office and to pick up some gas for the generator, and discovered the nearest gas station was practically all the way into town, so a nearly 30 mile round trip for gas. By the time I got back yesterday, I was starting to consider that maybe staying here for another week plus might not be a great idea. Through the day, we ran out of propane and had to switch tanks, we’ve been using a lot more because of the cold, tried to find the nearest propane place, and that seemed like another 15 or 20 miles away. Suddenly this place we had been enjoying so much was starting to look like it could be a logistical problem. I was also concerned about the ice storm and the trees around which we were surrounded. We’ve seen what ice can do to perfectly healthy trees, and it doesn’t take a great imagination to figure out that these drought-stressed and fungus ridden trees could be very hard hit. The last thing we needed was to have trees dropping on us or the horses. After much discussion, and some reluctance, the logic of the situation made itself clear, and we decided we needed to move to someplace with electric. The cold air was moving all the way down to the Mexican border and beyond, so we weren’t expecting the weather to improve much by moving south, but electric was beginning to be important. Our original plan was to go from here to Davy Crockett National Forest, but they don’t have electricity, and often in cold weather their water is turned off, and they also had stressed trees, and worse, no satellite signal, though I knew I could get a cell phone signal. That plan flew out the window, and I started looking a a number of Army Corp of Engineers camps which I had recently discovered, about 6 of them between here and Austin. Passing by East Fork, the closest but most expensive, we settled on Waxahachie Creek, south of Dallas. From the looks of it on Google Earth, it was mostly open, thus allaying any fear of trees falling on us, though it didn’t look too exciting. Supposedly there are 12.5 miles of trails there, but I haven’t found a trail map yet. There are only 4 spots, but the reservation system says two are reservable but empty, and two are walk-in. Somehow, with this weather, I doubt we’re going to have much company. The closest town is Ennis, just 8 miles away, and has a full complement of stores, including Walmart, propane and feed, plus there’s hay available nearby, too, so it has it all. Having made the decision, we set the alarm for 7:30 and did our best to continue to keep warm.

Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 – Yet Another Fabulous Ride at LBJ

With a slight chance of rain forecast, we headed out for another ride in warm temps, our last for a while, as there’s a cold front coming in later today. Had to pull out our ponchos at one point, though it was only for a brief shower or two, better dry than wet! Today we headed out on Trail #4 again, and of course, Apollo was very unenthusiastic, as he hates taking the same trail twice. Once we got the intersection and headed up 4B, however, he woke back up again a little bit. We wanted a ride about the same 6-7 miles in length, so I worked out that if we took 4 to 4B, then looped back to the same #4 rather than continue toward Trail #2, it would be about 7 miles, and it worked out well. Passed a dead fox in the trail, and a dead cow in the bordering pasture, so I guess the carnivores in the forest are happy today. Wide trails intermingled with narrow woodsy trails made this another great ride. When we hit the big field on the home stretch, Apollo decided he wanted to gallop, so off he took, whipping around curves and off the trail across the open field. I was doing fine until he decided to slow down long enough to kick up his back heels, doing a little rodeo move on me. I managed to stay on okay, but it always make my heart pound a bit faster not knowing what he’s going to do at moments like that. Never a dull moment! We got back to camp safely, got everyone up away, blanketed up the horses even though it was still quite warm out, we knew the temps would be dropping fast once the storm came in. And come in it did! Thunder and lightning, temps dropping 20 degrees in less than an hour, and one strike of lightning so close we think it was right in the campground! Glad we’re on rubber wheels! We kept waiting to hear if a tree fell down as a result, but it never did. Wasn’t about to go out and look, it was cold, blustery and pretty ugly. There were several campers in tents here, and I felt sorry for them, it was a pretty miserable evening. We were tucked up nicely in our little bungalow, but we had to run the generator all evening just to keep the heat going, amazing what a difference a few hours make! The horses seemed fine, even with the close lightning strike, but I’m sure they were glad to have those warm blankets on now! Going to bed to cuddle with Hubby and Billy (the little dog, before you get any crazy ideas!), to ward off the nasty weather!