Archives for November 2015

Monday, Nov. 30, 2015 – Ride Day in the Southern Part of Ocala NF

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With rain coming in later in the week, we decided to take a longer ride today, so after noon, we saddled up and headed out the horse trail which passes right behind our site. I had again mapped out a route on Google Earth due to the lack of a trail map, and we headed west across a field to a clear trail. We managed to stay right on track for most of the trip, with most of the trail good two track roads, many of which didn't look like it had had any motorized traffic on it for a long time, if at all. Occasionally we would be on a motorized road, and sometimes we had some lovely single tracks that were just perfect. Eventually, we got back to the main road, and I asked Hubby if he wanted to go straight back to camp along the road, or do another small loop I had planned across the road. Since we didn't want to arrive in camp through the front entrance (there's a leash rule we didn't want to break), but Hubby didn't want to take the loop I had planned, we decided to try to find a trail that took us back to camp without going by road. That choice turned out to be misguided. I found a road the looked like it was going back east, but actually ran more north. I thought eventually I would find a trail that crossed southbound (and in fact, Google Earth indicated such a trail), but it was impassable. After going too far east, we turned back and attempted to take what looked like a trail south that we had seen but decided was too impassable. Considering the alternative, we decided to give it a go. Unfortunately, we ran into a number of downed trees (and I forgot to put my camp saw in my saddlebags), so I resorted to jumping up and down on them until they broke enough for me to move them, or go around, which was very difficult. Apollo continued to be a bulldozer, these trails were almost completely overgrown, and only visible because of a small, pine-needle-covered indentation on the ground. After what seemed for forever, we FINALLY came out on an actual two-track trail, where I consulted my GPS and discovered we had, indeed, pushed ourselves southward, but also eastward, and the trail we crossed was the same trail we had come out on. A short mile or so later, we were once again, back at camp, though an hour after my estimated arrival from my original plan. Hubby had acquired some bruising and bleeding from running up against hard limbs, so I had to clean those up. Before putting the horses away, I walked them down to the dump (yes, this place even has a dump!) and rinsed them off with a very short hose there. Got them fed and bedded down for the night, we congratulated ourselves on our persistence (survival of our own dubious choices), and settled down for the evening.

Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015 – Travel Day to Big Bass Lake Campground

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By the time we got moving in the morning, quite a few people had left already, and we had a quick bowl of cereal and started to get ready. Julie came by to say good-bye, as did Paula, before we headed out. Fifteen short minutes later, we were pulling into our new campground, and just in the nick of time, as another camper at the dump had his eye on Site 10, our chosen site, but even though they're not allowed to reserve sites, the campground host was kind enough to take this new person into going into another site, as 10 was simply perfect for us. Good thing we arrived only moments later! It didn't take long to get set up, with the corral in place, the RV settled and the satellite dish up. Shortly after that, our friend Dee from Palatka arrived, and we had a wonderful afternoon getting caught up, drinking wine, have a good steak dinner, and otherwise enjoying the beautiful weather. She left about 5:00, and we then fed the horses and settled down to watch the football that we had recorded during our visit. A beautiful day! The only drawback of this place is that the mosquitoes are really bad, even during daylight hours, and we both have been getting bitten like crazy, even through our clothes! Well, at least it's not snowing, like in the Rockies and the Midwest!

Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015 – Another Ride Day in Ocala National Forest

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After another decent night sleep and leisurely breakfast, we saddled up and took another route, north of the campground this time. Being the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the place was full of hunters, so we kept off the main trails and tried to follow a GPS route I had created from Google Earth. Dozens of miles of trails here, and no one has a trail map of any kind. Even what I found on the internet was hugely lacking, with nothing comprehensive whatsoever, which is what led me to simply scratching out a route from Google Earth. We wanted to check out a primitive campsite on Trout Lake, as we're hoping to find a place to go tomorrow, when we have to leave Doe Lake, but that is still in the area so we can meet up with a friend of ours who recently moved from PA to Palatka. Trout Lake wasn't really accessible for an RV though, the tree limbs were too low for us to get in, so we had to find an alternative. We swung north around Trout Lake, missed a turn I had planned, but continued to follow trails until we soon came back to camp, barely an hour after leaving. Again, most of the trails were well traveled, though we did get off on one that was pretty overgrown, my Apollo had to push through like a bulldozer to clear the way. Occasionally we came across a downed tree, but I was able to move it or go around it. Overall, the ride was a bit too short for my taste, but it left us time to solve the other logistics problem of where to go tomorrow. After putting the horses away, we headed out in the van to a place marked on a map I had that was supposed represent dispersed campsites that allow horses. Our first stop where called the South Firetower, but when we got to where we thought it should be, there was only a clearing, not a tower, and there were wood posts blocking the entrance for anything wider than a small car, so that was out. I kept heading south to try to find a way back that didn't require us going back over the many miles of potholed dirt road we had just traveled, and came across an official campground known as Big Bass Lake. I drove in to look at the map on the kiosk, hoping it would confirm where we were and if the fire tower site was where we thought it was, and had a lovely chat with the campground hostess, who told me, yes, there USED to be a firetower there, but no more. After a few minutes, I asked if they would allow horses there, and she said, no one had ever asked, and she didn't see why not, but she called her supervisor, and then the top ranger, and they all agreed it would be okay! What a find! Every time I had called the office here, they insisted the only non-primitive horse camping was at Doe Lake, with a group, period! Anyway, we drove around, and Hubby found the perfect site for his satellite signal, plus it had a great little clearing behind it that would make a perfect, concealed paddock for the horses! Fabulous! We told them we'd be back by mid-day tomorrow, and went on our way, happy that we were able to so easily solve our problem of where to go for the next few days! Perfect! We went back to camp, fed the horses, and then I went off to the dining hall to listen to an advocate, named Michelle, for the Great Florida Cattle Drive 2016 that's being held in January, and which Hubby and I have already signed up for. I learned a few things I didn't know before, but mostly it was a repeat of information I already had. Because I wanted to talk with Michelle afterward, I hung around while the club had a meeting, learned a few more rather surprising facts, listened to them discuss the horse slaughter problem that is apparently prevalent in Florida right now, and then run off on some tangents, as most meetings tend to do. I finally had to leave because we hadn't eaten yet, and I knew Hubby would be cranky by now without food, so I asked Julie to ask Michelle is she would stop by for a few minutes before she left. Fixed dinner, and not long after, Michelle and Paula, (the good officer) came by and we ended up chatting for nearly 1 ½ hours! Eventually, they left, Hubby and I watched a quick one-hour TV show and headed off to bed.

Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 – Rest and Computer Day

Now that I have my new computer, at last, I spent the day transferring files and getting to know Windows 10 (ugh, I hate the learning curve on a new Windows OS). Hubby took a rest day, and it was pleasantly spent overlooking the lake and watching TV. To be civil, I won’t mention the confrontation I had with that same officer of the club again, though another officer came to apologize (for the second time) for the other woman’s behavior. Reminds me of why Hubby and I don’t like to do clubs, or club events, as a rule. This as the exception because at Doe Lake, they don’t allow individual campers, only groups, and at $150 a night, that’s not my idea of reasonable.

Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015 – Thanksgiving Day Ride at Doe Lake

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Had a decent night sleep, so after a late breakfast we saddled up the horses for a short ride. I've been taking ibuprofen regularly to keep down the swelling, but it's still pretty painful in many regions of my body, but I thought I would be fine for a short ride. We saddled up and headed out to the north along the beach, passing through an open gate and circling the lake itself. At one point, we took a side path that created a large loop that was very nice. That trail was more narrow, and overgrowth brushed against us often, but it was quite passable. Eventually that loop brought us back to the same intersection where we turned in, took the short trail back to the main lake perimeter trail, and completed the loop. Of course, the trails are sand, mostly hard-packed, typical of Florida, and flat, of course, no hills or grades of any note. We came in through the back gate, and attempted to get back down to the lake so as not to go through the campground, and were promptly stopped by one of the club officers, who lit into us about being in an area where the horses aren't allowed (not marked that way from the trail side, but it is on the campground side, so we never saw it), questioned us as to whether we "belonged" there, and even more for the fact that the dogs weren't on a leash (they were sitting next to us, resting peacefully). We apologized with a smile the whole time, despite the fact her attitude was quite harsh, and made our way up the camp driveway, which is apparently okay to pass through the no horses allowed area, and made our way back to our campsite. It was a great ride, though it was a bit spoiled when we were accosted. We put the horses away, and shortly afterward, my friend Julie came by with a friend of hers, and we shared a bottle of wine and a grand tour of our RV (her friend was looking for ideas for her next unit) and generally socialized. Eventually it was close to dinner time, and we gathered our contribution (an apple pie), and headed down to the dining hall, where we enjoyed a lovely evening of fellowship before heading back for the night.

Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 – Runaround Day

FINALLY got confirmation that my new laptop has arrived, hopefully the end of a 7 week saga of Murphy’s Law, so after breakfast, and putting up the electric corral to give the horses a bit more space and freedom, I left Doe Lake and headed into Ocala, where I had asked for the laptop to be delivered to the UPS Customer Center. I also made stops at Radio Shack for some new coax cable ends Hubby wanted, the liquor store to stock up, and Walmart for all the rest of the usual stuff we forgot last time we shopped, before heading back to camp. Arrived just in time to feed the horses and settle down for the evening.

Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015 – Travel Day to Doe Lake, Ocala National Forest

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Remarkably, I managed to get a halfway decent night sleep (thanks, no doubt, to the ibuprofen), and once I got moving, albeit slowly, we managed to get out before noon, even though we slept in until almost nine.  Fortunately, it's a fairly short trip, less than three hours, and we've reduced our stops to just one, Tractor Supply, because I'm waiting for the delivery of a laptop in Ocala, and will pick everything else up tomorrow.  After a final mile-long stretch on a very bad, potholed dirt road, we arrived at a very nice camping area with a good-sized building in the middle, and half a dozen trailers already here.  There were many highline poles around, and after a quick review, we settled into a lovely area that overlooked the lake itself.  We got the horses up on a highline and the RV settled in, visited with some old friends for a bit, then settled down for the evening.

Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 – Ride Day in Osceola National Forest

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Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 – Ride Day in Osceola National Forest

After another good night's sleep, the clouds went away, a cold front came in, with temps overnight in the mid-30's, brrr! The horses were very frisky, especially my Apollo, and unfortunately at one point he spooked and took off, and I almost managed to stay on the whole way, until the very end when I, as I was just regaining my balance, I tried to do a one-rein stop, which threw me off balance again and came down in a tumble, landing right on my tailbone, ouch! After a couple of minutes of recovery, I climbed back into the saddle and continued. I had selected the shortest loop I could find, just under 6 miles around what is marked on the map as "woodland road." Turned out, a lot of those roads were under water, and we spent a lot of time wading. Plus, there was a lot of overgrown trees that we had to fight our way through at a few points as well. I ended up changing the route a bit to get us out of the woods and back on a road, but that made the trip nearly 8 miles. Overall, it was a rather challenging day, I was bruised both front and back (the horn on my saddle beat up my stomach a bit), so Hubby was kind enough to put the horses away while I went inside and took some ibuprofen, find a comfortable position to sit in, and pack on some ice packs, followed by a heating pad, where I spent the rest of the evening until bedtime.

Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015 – Another Rest Day

More rain, more rest, more reading and TV.

Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015 – Rest Day

Rain came in during the day, and that was fine with us, we both wanted nothing more than to rest today! Movies and recorded episodes of TV series was the order of the day, and early to bed is the plan!