Archives for 2016

Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016 – Long, Wonderful Ride at Shangli-la!

After a much-needed day of rest, Hubby and I were ready for a nice long ride today! After breakfast, we saddled up and headed out of the camp trailhead, with both dogs along for the ride. We realized that we had actually been on some of these trails before, as we had stayed at Ross Prairie Campground back in 2012, which is on the same Greenway just west of here, and when we rode to the Land Bridge over I-75 back then, we were on the same trails. Not that we remember any of them at this point, but when we reached the underpass between two sections, it did jog our memories. We had a nice leisurely ride, with my Apollo a bit tense for the first half hour, head high, looking for anything "horse-eating" thing to come out of the bushes, but he soon settled down. We saw a couple of deer and lots of birds and other wildlife, and it was a lovely ride. We arrived at the Land Bridge after about 2.5 hours, and rested there for a bit. It's a nice spot with a covered bench and a tub with a spigot of non-potable water for the animals. Then we headed back on Trail #1 for most of the way, before cutting over to get back to the campground. Near the end of the ride, little Billy dog was really having trouble keeping up (actually, we were all feeling it by then, we're all a bit out of shape after so much time not riding!), so I put him up with me on the saddle for a bit, something he'd never done before, and was somewhat tense for a while, but finally he relaxed and settled down. After a while, I moved him over to Hubby for a while, and the rest of the ride home was uneventful, though we were all pretty tired by the time we got back. Hubby was beat, so I got the horses washed, fed and settled down, and then we crashed for the evening. Cracked open a bottle of sparkly for New Years, but were in bed by 10:30 🙂 Good thing we only have a fairly short trip to my brother's house tomorrow!

Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 – Beginning of our Eighth Year!

Today is the anniversary of when we first left home to travel with our horses, yeah! Granted we stayed home this summer, but it’s good to be back on the road again, visiting new horse camps that we’ve been wanting to get to for some time. We were both exhausted from the challenges of the last two days, not to mention all the energy expended in the run up to our departure, so today, we were both too tired to do much of anything today but rest.

Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 – Another Hectic Travel Day

With rain in the forecast, we decided to get out as early as possible, so we were up at the crack of dawn, and on the road before 8:00, just moments before we felt a few raindrops coming down on us. We managed to stay ahead of it for the most part, with only a few sprinkles that didn't get the hay very wet, thank goodness. We headed down the highway under cloudy skies, stopping for fuel before heading into Florida. Hubby noticed that one of the tires on the RV seemed to be low, and thought he saw a bubble on the inside, so when we stopped at the Ag Inspection Station (an essential stop here in Florida), he took a closer look and discovered that a lot of air had leaked out. The last time we had a tire go on the RV it ripped out a whole panel on the side of the RV, so naturally we wanted to avoid that. I stopped at the next exit to put air in the tire, but couldn't get the stupid pump to work, so we decided to just put on the spare for the time being. I found a tire store with the right replacement tire about 20 miles down the road, so we headed there. Unfortunately, they had a really small parking lot with a really steep entrance, so that was another challenge we had to overcome, maneuvering out 36' trailer in and out of that dinky space. We had to wait a little bit for the tire to be delivered from their sister store, but once it arrived, they got the job done and we were out of there pretty quickly. We managed to arrive at our destination, the Shangri-La Campground near Ocala, on a section of the Florida Greenway, right around 3:00. We were greeted warmly there, and soon found a spot where Hubby thought he could get a good satellite signal, and close to both a water spigot and the horse wash rack. There were highline posts ready for our own rope system, and it didn't take long to get the horses settled in. We had some trouble getting the electric going, first with our generator, then with the cable, and finally we found a single breaker had flipped on the circuit board, which seemed to solve part of that problem. The inverter still read that it had an error, but it seemed to be working, so we went back to getting up the satellite dish, and finished up just as it was getting dark. We had hoped to get in early and relax more, but at least it was done before dark. Got settled in again, happy to be back on the road again. This is a very nice campground, with nice spacing between the sites and plenty of big old trees. Really looking forward to a ride again!

Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016 – Departure Day! Whew!

What a day! After spending the last few days gradually getting everything ready to go, then getting up early, loading in the horses and taking down the electric fence, we were set to go, and went in to take one last walk-through the house, discovering we’d left behind my computer bag (with passports), Hubby’s wallet (which had fallen out of his pocket) and the satellite receiver, which we both forgot! Good thing we did that final walk-thru! Had to stop at the county courthouse on the way out to renew the registration on one of the vehicles, then hit the road with gusto, figuring we would arrive at our designated campsite in Perry, GA around 3:30 local time, having lost an hour because of the time change. That turned out to be wishful thinking! We ran into really slow traffic several times during the drive, both north and south of Atlanta. The city was actually about normal for that time of day, but large sections on either side, particularly along a new, soon to be opened “Peach Pass” section south of Atlanta REALLY slowed us down. Eventually we made it though, but it was after 5:00 by the time we reached Fair Harbor Campground. Very glad we had built in some extra time on our first day! We were greeted warmly at the desk and was soon directed to a wonderful new barn, where our two guys shared a stall with a good sized 24 X 24 run. Fortunately they charge by the stall here, not by the horse, which really helps make it affordable. By the time we got the horses settled and the RV set up in an electric site, it was getting dark, just in time to take the dogs for a walk before settling down for the evening.

Sunday, December 25, 2016 – Christmas at Home in Tennessee

What an incredible summer and fall! Having made the decision to stay home this summer and work on restoring the house after our seven year horse camping absence, we can proudly look around and see the results of our efforts and smile at the progress we’ve made. We’ve been busy doing a lot of non-horsey things as well, including a performance that Hubby did of his 90 minute version of his Galileo production as a fundraiser for the local Rotary Club, providing one of our Two-Day Workshops to the community, and picking up computers for a charitable cause in a town all the way over by Knoxville, just to name a few. Nevertheless, we’re looking forward to getting back on the road again, and have spent the last week slowly packing up and preparing for our journey to Florida and beyond. If it hadn’t been for that, we would most certainly have taken a ride today, as it was partly sunny skies and over 70 degrees here today in Middle Tennessee!! Gorgeous! (Though we had snow last week, so we know this nice weather won’t last!) We enjoyed doing some chores outside and loading more stuff into the vehicles in preparation, as well as having a fabulous dinner of leg of lamb, Yorkshire pudding and peas, all of which came out brilliantly! We love Yorkshire pudding, but usually it sticks to the pan, but after doing some research on the internet, I learned why, and this time it came out perfect! Spent the evening with movies (Crocodile Dundee and It’s a Wonderful Life) and the (disappointing) football game before heading off to bed. More loading out tomorrow!

Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 – Another Fabulous Ride Day at Skymont!

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After a busy couple of days, we set aside today to map out yet another section of the Skymont Trails, and learned from Ranger Dave's wife Ellen that Ike and Rebecca, the organizers of the SERA endurance race for which I had volunteered a few weeks ago were actually camping in the back, so I was looking forward to introducing Hubby to them when we passed by. After getting saddled up and riding through their camp, it became obvious they were all out on a trail ride, naturally, as it was a beautiful day. We headed out over the dam, this time heading north to mostly follow part of the orange trail. I had mapped out about 6.75 miles of riding, but got a little turned around, as most of the flags near where the buildings and other scout facilities were had been removed, and since they had the most roads and options because it was the most used and populated area, it made it a bit more confusing. Following my GPS, though, we managed to get on track after awhile. Once again it was a gorgeous ride. The leaves are starting to change color, adding to an already gorgeous experience. After about 4 miles, however, after cantering up a hill, we looked back and realized that our little dog Billy was missing! I asked Hubby when was the last time he had seen him, and he couldn't really remember, because he had been running lines of a one-man show he's getting ready to perform next month. So we turned around and headed back to see if we could find him, and after about half a mile and lots of yelling, Billy finally came bounding up the trail towards us. We figured he must have gotten distracted or tired somewhere, and because he's getting a little deaf in his old age, he couldn't hear us well enough to track us down again. Once he caught back up with us, though, we headed back on up the trail, as it was longer to go back than to continue forward, even with the extra mile of backtracking. My horse Apollo wasn't exactly thrilled at going back and forth (he tends to get bored easily, and retracing his steps is boring for him, he always wants a new trail!), so he got a little ornery for a few minutes, but settled down again once we got going. We were afraid Billy would have trouble keeping up (he is over 12 years old, and has tiny little dachshund size legs, after all!), so we slowed down and waited for him more often, which made what should have been a 2.5 hour ride into more of a 4 hour ride. But, of course, any time on the back of my horse is a good time! We finally reached camp, and by then, the other campers were back, and we stopped and chatted with them for a while, comparing notes. We knew from the fresh manure on the trail that they had been on many of the same trails as us, so we talked mostly about the orange trail What a great ride, though! Perfect weather, a gorgeous day! Got back and got everyone put away, gave Billy a baby aspirin because I knew he was going to need it, and settled down for the evening. Wonderful!

Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 – RIDE DAY AT LAST!!

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Finally got a ride in today! Can't believe our last ride was way back in June! The weather has finally become perfect for riding, low 70's, clear skies, gorgeous! After having met the new Ranger at local Skymont Boy Scout Reservation during the SERA Endurance Race ten days ago, we got permission to come and ride, and we volunteered to help GPS the trails to help build an accurate trail map, though the one SERA was really good. Anyway, we packed up the horses into the trailer and drove the quick 5 miles down to the camp, checking in with the Ranger and heading back to where the riders had camped during the race. We got the horses saddled up in no time. Frankly, I was a bit nervous about how the horses would behave after such along layoff, but they were perfect! Everything about the ride was perfect! We've had no rain here for a few weeks, so the trails were perfect. Mostly flat through woods, but with several hillocks that provided some challenge. Hubby got a lot of canters in to keep up with Apollo's fast walk, and we got both got some nice trots in as well. Fabulous, fabulous day, can't wait to come back! Hopefully, later in the week, we'll get another chance, while the weather continues to be perfect!

Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 – Final Volunteer Day

Had another busy day in the morning, though it slowed down more in the afternoon since we didn’t have any more new riders come in. Last riders came in at early dusk, before heading over to the dining hall for a repeat of the awards ceremony. It was a great weekend, made lots of friends, laughed more than I had in a long time, and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Made friends with the new ranger of the Boy Scout Camp and his wife, Dave and Ellen, and offered to help him GPS the trails so we can make an even better map than the ride had provided, which was pretty detailed. He was open to Hubby and I coming over to ride any time we wanted, which I plan on doing in the very near future, as the weather is just cooling off nicely. Can’t wait to get back in the saddle!

Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 – Second Volunteer Day

Got up before the sun came up this morning, made a breakfast burrito and headed out the door, arriving at Skymont just before 8:00 a.m. I was promptly put to work in the vet check area, where I was quickly trained up in how to be a scribe, writing down the results of the vet’s check of each horse as they came in. The first group, doing the 50 mile course, had already left by 7:00, and the 8:00 group was the 25 milers. It wasn’t long before some of the 50 milers completed the first 12+ mile loop and had to “trot through” the vet check. The 25 milers started arriving a while later for a complete check, followed by the 50 milers after they completed their second loop. It was a busy day, as in the afternoon, more riders arrived for tomorrow’s race, and came in for the pre-check, so it was pretty non-stop all day. Ate more junk food than I’ve eaten in the last 10 years, sorry to say :-). Had dinner at the dining hall, and was asked to play “Vanna” as they handed out the awards, which I gladly did. Didn’t get home until 9:30, but had a very enjoyable day.

Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 – Volunteer Day for SERA Skymont Ride

Every year, our local Boy Scout Camp has hosted the Southeast Endurance Riders Association Ride, and for the first time in a long time, we were home and had time to help, so I wrote to the organizers, headed up by Ike, to volunteer to help in any way I could. Hubby has been busy putting down some new tile in the house, so I went on my own, and spent the afternoon helping out with registering the riders as they came in for the weekend. I stayed through the volunteer dinner, and attended the ride meeting at the dining hall and learned quite a bit about how the whole endurance race community works. Hubby managed to feed himself and I got home about 8:30, tired from the day, but happy to be of help!